With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve
THE BIG IDEA today is by Matea Gold. James will be back next week.
President Trump is clearly rankled by the notion that his political support is slipping, pushing back against the idea during a barrage of tweets Monday from his Bedminster, N.J., golf club, where aides said he is having a “working vacation.”
The Trump base is far bigger & stronger than ever before (despite some phony Fake News polling). Look at rallies in Penn, Iowa, Ohio.......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2017
...and West Virginia. The fact is the Fake News Russian collusion story, record Stock Market, border security, military strength, jobs.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2017
... Supreme Court pick, economic enthusiasm, deregulation & so much more have driven the Trump base even closer together. Will never change!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2017
Hard to believe that with 24/7 #Fake News on CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, NYTIMES & WAPO, the Trump base is getting stronger!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2017
In fact, as his overall approval rate has sunk, some of the president’s core supporters have soured on his performance, polls show. A Quinnipiac University poll last week found 23 percent of registered voters “strongly approve” of Trump’s handling of his job, down from 29 percent who felt that way during his first week in office. Even white voters with no college degree — one of the demographics that backed his candidacy most enthusiastically — disapprove of how Trump is handling his job by 50 percent to 43 percent.
Kellyanne Conway, one of Trump’s top advisers and a longtime conservative pollster, acknowledged the erosion in an interview Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
“In some of the polling, which of course I scour daily on behalf of the president, his approval rating among Republicans and conservatives and Trump voters is down slightly,” she said. “It needs to go up. They are telling him, ‘Just enact your program.’”
Notably, Trump’s approval is still in strongly positive territory among Republicans, a dynamic that has kept many GOP lawmakers lashed to the president amid the tumultuous early months of his administration. According to Gallup’s weekly tracking averages, 82 percent of Republicans last week said they approve of Trump’s performance, down from 89 percent in January.
So how weak are Trump’s numbers among his base — and what do they mean for the 2018 midterms and the GOP congressional majority?
“There’s no question they’ve slipped just a little bit,” veteran GOP pollster Neil Newhouse told me. “I think you can probably argue that it’s gotten a little bit smaller.” Still, intensity for Trump remains among his supporters, he added: “They are very protective of the president.”
He noted that Trump’s standing among Republicans is still higher than the lowest assessments of President Barack Obama among Democrats during the last administration. According to Gallup, Obama’s approval fell to a low of 72 percent among fellow partisans in early October 2011.
As he’s conducted polls this year for GOP congressional and gubernatorial primary races around the country, Newhouse said he has not found any place in which Trump’s approval among Republicans has gone below 75 percent.
He also suspects that a share of Americans are reluctant to tell pollsters that they support Trump, a phenomenon some argue impacted public surveys during the 2016 election. “I think you have a small chunk of voters who are just unwilling to admit it,” said Newhouse, who believes that dynamic undervalues the president’s overall approval rating by as much as three points.
In the end, however, nervous Republicans can only take so much comfort from Trump’s support among party loyalists. Scott Clement, The Washington Post’s polling director, noted that the percentage of Americans who strongly approve of the president has declined to about a quarter of the electorate -- lower than his first weeks in office. “His lopsided disapproval among political independents is more worrisome for his political future,” Clement said.
And Trump’s upside-down overall approval rating is a flashing warning sign for the GOP in the 2018 midterms.
The Democrats need to win 24 seats in the House and three in the Senate to take control of Congress next year. For many reasons — including the right’s success at mastering redistricting battles across the country — the party faces stiff head winds.
But Trump’s unpopularity gives Democrats hope that an intense rejection of his politics will overcome their structural disadvantages. Since 1966, when the incumbent president’s job approval has fallen below 50 percent, his party has lost an average of 40 House seats and five Senate seats in the midterms, according to Charlie Cook, editor and publisher of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, who put together a chart that illustrates the past bloodbaths. “Fifty percent has been the magic number,” he said.
Trump’s most recent approval rating in Gallup’s tracking poll: 37 percent.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- Scientists fear that a troubling and expansive new government report on climate change could be suppressed by the Trump administration. The New York Times’s Lisa Friedman reports: “The average temperature in the United States has risen rapidly and drastically since 1980, and recent decades have been the warmest of the past 1,500 years, according to [the report.] … The draft report by scientists from 13 federal agencies, which has not yet been made public, concludes that Americans are feeling the effects of climate change right now. It directly contradicts claims by President Trump and members of his cabinet who say that the human contribution to climate change is uncertain[.] … The report was completed this year and is a special science section of the National Climate Assessment, which is congressionally mandated every four years. The National Academy of Sciences has signed off on the draft report, and the authors are awaiting permission from the Trump administration to release it. …”
“The E.P.A. is one of 13 agencies that must approve the report by Aug. 18. The agency’s administrator, Scott Pruitt, has said he does not believe that carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming. … Scientists say they fear that the Trump administration could change or suppress the report. But those who challenge scientific data on human-caused climate change say they are equally worried that the draft report, as well as the larger National Climate Assessment, will be publicly released. … The study examines every corner of the United States and finds that all of it was touched by climate change.”
-- “It remains unclear how the White House — which announced in June that it would pull out of the Paris climate accord — will handle the report,” Steven Mufson adds. “Many scientists are looking at it as a test case of the administration’s attitude toward science in general. … The Climate Science Special Report is a key element of the National Climate Assessment, which ... is supposed to be issued every four years. However, the assessment has come out only three times. The 2000 assessment, finalized under President Bill Clinton, came under attack once George W. Bush took office. … Trump administration officials received a copy of the most recent version of this report several weeks ago, according to senior administration officials.” (Here's a link to an earlier draft that is said to be very similar).
GET SMART FAST:
- Kenyans heads to the polls today to pick its president. Election observers worry that the race between an incumbent and another member of the country’s political elite could lead to violence, which has already infiltrated the campaign. (Kevin Sieff)
- Emmanuel Macron’s desire for his wife to have an official government role is sparking backlash in France, where hundreds of thousands of people this week have signed a petition protesting the move. The petition comes during what is already a politically difficult time for Macron, whose approval ratings have slipped to just 36 percent. (James McAuley)
- A Google engineer was fired Monday after he penned a divisive memo blasting the company’s diversity efforts. The message, posted on an internal company forum, prompted intense controversy after it was leaked to reporters over the weekend. (CNNMoney)
- Deaths from drug overdoses soared last year, reaching a record 19.9 per 100,000 population in the third quarter of 2016, compared to 16.7 over the same months in 2015. (Lenny Bernstein)
- Missouri authorities are hunting for a man who fatally shot a police officer during a routine traffic stop. The driver, 39-year-old Ian McCarthy, had been pulled over for a registration violation late Saturday when he stepped out of his car and opened fire on the officer. (Kristine Phillips)
The FDA sent a strongly worded letter to a fertility doctor who created a three-parent embryo. The agency said that the technology breaks Congress’s rule that no clinical investigations should involve creating genetically modified embryos. (Ariana Eunjung Cha)
The hackers who stole files from HBO, including “Game of Thrones” scripts, have demanded a ransom. After dumping five of the scripts online yesterday, the hackers threatened to release more files if they didn't receive at least $6 million in bitcoin. (Travis M. Andrews)
- An Australian teen was rushed to the hospital this weekend after he emerged from a relaxing dip in the ocean — and discovered his feet and ankles were covered in hundreds of tiny, profusely bleeding holes. Officials believe the gruesome attack was the work of flesh-eating sea bugs, which typically prey on dead fish. (Amy B Wang)
A California couple purchased a street in a ritzy San Francisco neighborhood. After the association that manages Presidio Terrace’s common areas failed to pay taxes, Tina Lam and Michael Cheng swept in to buy the street for $90,000. (Alex Horton)
PERSONNEL IS POLICY:
-- The New York Times’s Danielle Ivory and Robert Faturechi have a must-read on the “secrecy and suspicion” surrounding Trump’s deregulation teams: “When [Trump] ordered federal agencies to form teams to dismantle government regulations, the Transportation Department turned to people with deep industry ties … One appointee had previously lobbied the department on behalf of American Airlines. Another held executive roles for several electric and hybrid car companies regulated by the department. A third was a lawyer who represented United Airlines in regulatory matters. The appointments, previously unreported, follow a pattern identified by [NYT and ProPublica]: By and large, the Trump administration has stacked the teams with political appointees, some of whom may be reviewing rules their former employers sought to weaken or kill. A full vetting of industry connections has been difficult because some agencies have declined to provide information about the appointees — not even their names …”
The lack of transparency has concerned several Democratic lawmakers, who on Monday called on the White House to release the names of all regulatory team members. “In all, there are now 85 known current and former team members, including 34 with potential conflicts. At least two of the appointees may be positioned to profit if certain regulations are undone and at least four were registered to lobby the agencies they now work for.”
-- Increasingly within the Trump administration, advisory groups that include business executives are crafting policy, causing some legal trouble. McClatchy’s Anita Kumar reports: “In a growing number of cases, the administration has been accused of violating a federal requirement that these advisory groups — working on everything from jobs training to environmental policy — open their meetings, release their documents and announce their members’ names. Three lawsuits have been filed in recent weeks accusing the administration of failing to disclose information[.] … Presidents of both parties have long deployed advisory groups to help develop policy, occasionally running into criticism for failing to disclose more. … But what’s different now is that Trump aides more often state that they do not need to abide by the Federal Advisory Committee Act or that the law doesn’t require as much information to be disclosed as has been in the past.”
-- CIA Director Mike Pompeo has frustrated some of his employees by taking a more political approach to the job than his predecessors. NYT’s Matthew Rosenberg reports: “Unlike past directors, who typically sought to avoid policy discussions, Mr. Pompeo readily joins in when the president asks for his opinion, even on matters far afield of national security[.] … The agency sees its role as delivering hard truths that are unvarnished by political preferences, and there are concerns in the intelligence community that Mr. Pompeo’s partisan instincts color his views of contentious issues, such as Russia’s interference in the election or Iran’s nuclear program. … Administration officials said the president was so taken with Mr. Pompeo that he insisted that the C.I.A. director personally deliver his daily intelligence briefing when in Washington.”
-- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has put a hold on Trump’s pick to lead the Justice Department’s antitrust division. Bloomberg’s Sara Forden and Billy House report: “The delay means [Makan] Delrahim remains on the outside as Justice Department lawyers wrap up their investigation of AT&T Inc. and Time Warner Inc.’s proposed $85.4 billion merger and start early talks with company representatives about possible conditions that could secure approval. AT&T’s bid for the owner of CNN and HBO would reshape the media landscape and has drawn fire from Trump. Warren has described the nomination of Delrahim … as an indication that Trump’s administration will ‘put the interests of giant corporations ahead of the American people[.]’… Seven months into the Trump administration, there are still no permanent antitrust chiefs in place.”
-- Senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller slammed CNN’s Jim Acosta as “cosmopolitan” during a tense briefing room exchange last week. “[But] it turns out that Miller calls home a nearly $1 million condo in CityCenter, one of Washington’s poshest addresses and a complex that proudly offers residents an upscale, urbane lifestyle,” Emily Heil reports. “Miller bought the two-bedroom CityCenter condo in 2014 for $973,000 … At the time, he was a 28-year-old Senate staffer with a $129,000 salary — not too shabby for a public servant. He plopped down a half-million dollars toward the purchase price, according to records."
-- Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, is “running the show” at his new Trump TV project in New York City — including a series of quasi-propaganda videos titled “Real News” — which are funded by the president's reelection campaign. The Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markay and Asawin Suebsaeng report: “Lara isn’t just a campaign surrogate … she is deeply involved in the mechanics of the president’s reelection effort through her role for its top vendor, consulting firm Giles-Parscale, [which is doing] some editing and graphics work on the ‘Real News’ videos ... Co-owned by former Trump campaign digital director Brad Parscale, Giles-Parscale was by far the largest recipient of Trump campaign money last cycle, bringing in more than $90 million in consulting fees ... Giles-Parscale hired Lara in late March. Since then, she has taken over its Trump campaign work, practically replacing Parscale on that front in all respects but his official campaign title.”
-- Pro-Trump media personality Kayleigh McEnany has been named the new spokeswoman for the RNC. CNN’s Tom Kludt reports: “McEnany had announced via Twitter on Saturday that she was leaving CNN, ending her role as one of the pro-Trump pundits the network calls upon to provide commentary. … Then on Sunday she appeared in a video posted on Trump's Facebook page. The minute-and-a-half long video featured McEnany, reporting from Trump Tower in New York City, rattling off a series of positive news stories and crediting the administration with the achievements. More than a few critics compared it to the propaganda disseminated by state-run media outlets; McEnany called it ‘the real news.’” McEnany is expected to make regular television appearances for the RNC.
-- As Trump pressures U.S. companies to “hire American,” his own businesses have failed to heed that same advice. The Post’s David Fahrenthold and Lori Rozsa explored the hiring practices at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, which relies heavily on overseas workers during the winter season: “Late last month, the club placed an ad on page C8 of the Palm Beach Post, crammed full of tiny print … The ad gave no email address or phone number. ‘Apply by fax,’ it said. It ran twice, then never again. This was an underwhelming way to attract local job-seekers. But that wasn’t the point. The ads were actually part of Mar-a-Lago’s efforts to hire foreign workers for those 35 jobs. About a week before the ads ran, the president’s club asked the Labor Department for permission to hire 70 temporary workers from overseas.”
- But Mar-a-Lago’s request for the H-2B visas was particularly noteworthy because it came in the middle of “Made in America Week” at the White House, our colleagues note. “Even as Trump urged other U.S. businesses to ‘hire American,’ his business was gathering evidence to prove that it couldn’t …”
- “In the past, Trump’s club has followed the same pattern of searching for — and not hiring — American workers. Two years ago, for instance, Jeannie Coleman, who lives in nearby West Palm Beach, applied for a job as a housekeeper. Mar-a-Lago called back. She had an interview. Then: nothing. ‘I was very disappointed. At that time, I really needed a job,’ said Coleman, now 50, who works at a clothing store. ‘I had the qualifications. The interview went great. But they never even did the common courtesy to call me …’”
-- The request from Trump’s business reflects a broader surge in demand for temporary workers from Mexico. The Wall Street Journal’s Robbie Whelan reports: “In the first nine months of fiscal 2017, which began Oct. 1, the U.S. Labor Department certified more than 160,000 temporary workers — the bulk of them from Mexico — to harvest berries, tobacco and other crops in the U.S. under the H-2A agricultural visa program. That was up 20% from the period a year earlier. The annual issuance of H-2A visas nearly doubled from 85,248 in fiscal 2012 to 165,741 in 2016.”
-- Peter Thiel, Trump’s most prominent supporter in Silicon Valley, has reportedly been distancing himself from the president — privately telling friends that there is a 50 percent chance Trump’s presidency “ends in disaster.” BuzzFeed News’s Ryan Mac reports: “[Thiel’s] unguarded remarks have surprised associates, some of whom are still reeling from his full-throated endorsement of Trump at the Republican National Convention. And while the investor stands by the president in public … his private doubts underscore the fragility of the president’s backing from even his most public allies.”
-- IF YOU READ ONE STORY ABOUT HOW TRUMP IS CHANGING WASHINGTON --> “How the Trump hotel changed Washington’s culture of influence,” by Jonathan O'Connell: “Since Trump’s election, the Trump International Hotel has emerged as a Republican Party power center where on a good day — such as July 28 around 8 p.m. — excited visitors can watch the president share intimate dinner conversation with his just-named chief of staff, [John Kelly], and be the first to brag about it on social media. The scenes illustrate a daily spectacle of Washington influence at 1100 Pennsylvania Ave., the city’s newest luxury hotel that has quickly become a kind of White House annex. … In conversations with [The Post], the hotel’s management described its strategy to capitalize on the president’s popularity. It markets the hotel to Republican and conservative groups that embrace Trump’s politics but takes care not to solicit business from fringe groups … [Meanwhile], Trump supporters in red ‘Make America Great Again’ caps get a chance to rub elbows with White House officials against an American flag backdrop at the Benjamin Bar, where a signature concoction of winter wheat vodka, oysters and caviar goes for $100 …”
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- North Korea offered no signs that new economic sanctions from the United Nations would alter Kim Jong Un’s stance on protecting its nuclear arsenal. Carol Morello and Anne Gearan report: “North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told diplomats that his country will never negotiate away what he called a rational ‘strategic option’ against the threat of attack from the United States. ‘We will, under no circumstances, put the nukes and ballistic rockets’ up for negotiation, Ri said in prepared remarks, adding that the entire United States is within range of its missiles. … The sanctions can work only if [Kim] concludes that he has too much to lose by hanging on to his weapons. Kim’s calculation has been the opposite — that his weapons and the means to deliver them buy him irreplaceable leverage over the United States, his principal adversary.
-- Adam Taylor has a useful explainer on how the U.N.’s latest sanctions differ from past measures taken against North Korea: “In response to a missile launch last year, the Security Council passed Resolution 2270. The harshest sanctions yet, these sweeping measures took the punishment a step further by targeting North Korean economic activity not directly related to proliferation, including the export of mineral resources such as coal or iron. The new sanctions ... largely expand upon those measures, broadening a cap on coal and iron exports to a full-fledged ban and adding restrictions on things such as seafood exports and the use of North Korean laborers abroad."
-- Trump’s reliance on sanctions and other diplomatic avenues to censure North Korea bears striking resemblance to Obama’s approach. Politico’s Jacqueline Klimas reports: “Administration officials are saying privately that a preventive military attack is ‘not on the table[.]’ … Instead, [one source] said, they’re pursuing a five-part strategy similar to what the Obama administration employed — one that includes increasing pressure on both North Korea and the other countries that facilitate Kim Jong Un’s weapons program. Other elements of the strategy include increasing military readiness and capabilities, building up U.S. missile-defense capabilities and expressing openness to diplomatic discussions with Pyongyang[.]”
-- The U.S. military is sending dozens more Marines to Afghanistan. NBC News’s Courtney Kube reports: “Task Force Southwest, based in Helmand Province in southwestern Afghanistan, requested the additional Marines to help with internal force protection, the officials said. U.S. Central Command approved the request but the Marines have not yet moved into the country. There are currently more than 300 Marines assigned to Task Force Southwest, and the total additional force is less than 100 marines, the officials said. … The officials said this deployment is not tied to the Trump administration's long-awaited new South Asia strategy, but instead fulfills a request from the commander on the ground.”
-- Meanwhile, in Syria, the battle against ISIS to take back Raqqa has become one of “grinding attrition,” Louisa Loveluck and Thomas Gibbons-Neff report. “At times [the U.S.-backed forces in Syria] are fighting house-to-house, battling suicide attacks in narrow streets as they wait to see if the militants will send more bombs among fleeing civilians. … Previous offensives have ended when the militants retreated, apparently deciding to conserve manpower ahead of more consequential battles. This time, [a spokesperson] said, there would be no escape. … While the Pentagon insists that its proxy force is making daily progress backed by U.S. airstrikes, the Islamic State is ensuring that the U.S.-backed units disproportionately pay for each foot of ground. … Estimates of the number of civilians trapped inside Raqqa range between 10,000 and 25,000. As the fight progresses and civilians flee, district-by-district, the city is emptying out.”
-- “The Pentagon is considering a plan that allows the U.S. military to conduct airstrikes on ISIS in the Philippines,” NBC News’s Courtney Kube reports. “If approved, the U.S. military would be able to conduct strikes against ISIS targets in the Philippines that could be a threat to allies in the region, which would include the Philippine forces battling ISIS on the ground in the country's southern islands. … In Manila on Monday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. was providing the Philippines government with ‘intelligence capabilities’ in the fight against ISIS, including ‘some recent transfers of a couple of Cessnas and a couple of UAVs (drones) to allow to them to have better information with which to conduct the fight down there.’” Tillerson also said he saw no conflict between U.S. “concerns” about potential human-rights abuses by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and the collaboration in the fight against ISIS.
ON VACATION, BUT NOT OFFLINE:
Trump took to Twitter instead of the links yesterday, unleashing a torrent of tweets aimed at a regular target — Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). The tweetstorm against the senator came after Blumenthal appeared on CNN and voiced support for continuing the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election — and worried the Justice Department was focused too much on leaks from the administration to the media.
This all came on “Purple Heart Day,” honoring service members wounded or killed in action.
Here's a sampling:
Interesting to watch Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut talking about hoax Russian collusion when he was a phony Vietnam con artist!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2017
Never in U.S.history has anyone lied or defrauded voters like Senator Richard Blumenthal. He told stories about his Vietnam battles and....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2017
...conquests, how brave he was, and it was all a lie. He cried like a baby and begged for forgiveness like a child. Now he judges collusion?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2017
Nine hours later:
I think Senator Blumenthal should take a nice long vacation in Vietnam, where he lied about his service, so he can at least say he was there— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2017
The president’s attacks come in reference to a 2010 controversy over Blumenthal’s military service, John Wagner writes. “During his Senate campaign, Blumenthal came under sharp criticism for repeated remarks over the years that he had ‘served’ in Vietnam, even though he did his full Marine service in the United States. Blumenthal was granted several deferments between 1965 and 1970 and then joined the Marine Corps Reserve but did not serve in Vietnam. He later said he misspoke and intended to say that he was in the Marine Reserve during the Vietnam conflict.” (Note: Trump also deferred the draft five times — for education, and then for bone spurs in his heels.)
“Trump has made attacking the service of political opponents a cornerstone of his brash style while stumbling into self-created controversies,” Alex Horton writes, citing Trump’s 2015 attack on Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for having been captured during the Vietnam War.
-- Blumenthal declined to respond to Trump’s tirade in an afternoon appearance on “The Situation Room,” telling Wolf Blitzer that the president’s remarks only reinforce the need for legislation that would prevent Trump from firing special counsel Robert Mueller. “I have no idea what is in [Trump’s] mind,” he said. “What I do know is I will not be distracted by this bullying. These bullying tweets reinforce for me the need for a piece of legislation ... to prevent the firing of the special counsel, Robert Mueller, whom he has also sought to intimidate.”
But he did tweet about it:
This issue isn't about me - it's about the Special Counsel's independence and integrity.— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) August 7, 2017
Mr. President: Your bullying hasn't worked before and it won't work now. No one is above the law.— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) August 7, 2017
-- In another one of Trump’s tweets since he began his vacation, he thanked a supporter named “Nicole Mincey” for her praise of his leadership. But, as Abby Phillip reports, “Here’s the problem: There is no evidence the Twitter feed belongs to someone named Nicole Mincey. And the account, according to experts, bears a lot of signs of a Russia-backed disinformation campaign. On Sunday, Twitter suspended the Mincey account, known as @ProTrump45, after several other users revealed that it was probably a fake, created to amplify pro-Trump content. The incident highlights Trump’s penchant for off-the-cuff tweeting — and the potential consequences for doing so now that he holds the nation’s highest office. … Aides and advisers have hinted that Trump has been urged to tone down his tweeting habits, but the president has shut down those conversations quickly[.]”
THE TRUMP AGENDA:
-- The White House is pitching some congressional Democrats on a tax overhaul. Politico’s Rachael Bade and Elana Schor report: “Even as congressional GOP leaders largely embrace a partisan path on taxes, White House officials have been wooing 15 to 20 centrist House Democrats since early summer. … At a mid-June dinner at the White House with four centrist House Democrats, President Donald Trump expressed interest in a bipartisan package combining tax reform with infrastructure spending, multiple sources said.” But Mitch McConnell has said as recently as last week that he was pursuing a party-line tax overhaul bill. “Nonetheless, the White House isn't giving up on Democratic buy-in. [Legislative director Marc] Short and his staff have kept in touch with Problem Solvers Caucus leaders[.] … And White House officials have made a pointed effort to gauge centrists’ priorities for tax reform.”
-- “American steel companies are thriving again, largely thanks to China, not President Trump,” Heather Long writes. “The Chinese government has finally curbed some steel production, acknowledging that a glut of steel on world markets was causing prices to fall so low that even Chinese companies couldn't turn a profit. At the same time, China is hungry for steel as it upgrades its infrastructure. Lower Chinese supply and higher Chinese demand has sent steel — and other metal — prices up around the world. … For years, American steel companies have portrayed China as a villain. They have lobbied both Republican and Democratic presidents to fight against Chinese steel. … China is providing some relief this summer, but the steel industry is waiting for its Trump bump.”
-- “After beginning his presidency with a bang by withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact in January, Mr. Trump has accomplished little else of significance when it comes to reorienting deals with other countries,” the New York Times’s Alan Rappeport writes. “Instead, his administration has been struggling to work through the complicated rules that dictate international commerce. … For many businesses that had raised their hopes, frustration is mounting by the day. … Trade experts say the slow movement on trade is another example of the administration’s realizing that governing is more complicated than campaigning. … And imposing tariffs to protect one domestic industry often does damage to another.”
-- Disability activists are worried that the Trump administration may weaken the Americans With Disabilities Act after it dropped a Virginia lawsuit tied to the law. The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff reports: “[Activists] fear the dismissal could be the beginning of a shift away from the prior administration’s energetic stance. … Business groups — which argue the Justice Department sometimes takes too broad a view of the ADA — could be pleased with some changes. … During the Obama administration, the Civil Rights Division moved to aggressively enforce the ADA — looking to craft new regulations on businesses and bringing lawsuits based on a broad view of their jurisdiction ... Trump’s record on disability rights won’t reassure them, as Trump companies have faced numerous lawsuits alleging they didn’t accommodate people with disabilities.”
-- Jeff Sessions harshly criticized Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for his lawsuit challenging the DOJ's ability to crack down on sanctuary cities. Politico’s Josh Gerstein reports: “Sessions' barbed reply argued that record numbers of murders in Chicago in recent years were attributable at least in part to Emanuel's decision to stick with a sanctuary policy that encourages police to ignore the immigration status of those they encounter. … Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson pushed back against the attorney general's portrayal. ‘Undocumented immigrants are not driving violence in Chicago, and that's why I want our officers focused on community policing and not trying to be the immigration police,’ he said.”
-- Trump’s evangelical advisers requested a meeting with Pope Francis this week, seeking to discuss what they characterized as the Vatican’s efforts to “divide evangelicals and Catholics.” Their request comes after two close Francis allies published an article slamming conservative evangelicals and hard line Catholics in the U.S. — accusing them of forming a political “alliance of hate,” and likening their literal biblical interpretations to jihadists. Michelle Boorstein reports: “The piece attracted wide attention because of the connection that the authors … have to the pope and because of its range: It disparaged everything from conservative evangelicalism and prosperity gospel to the popular idea that the United States is blessed by God. The letter, dated Aug. 3, was signed by Johnnie Moore, a former vice president of Liberty University who now serves as a spokesman for a few dozen evangelicals who informally advise Trump ... ”
-- House Republicans continue to face angry town halls over their vote to overhaul the health-care system. Los Angeles Times’s Phil Willon reports: “‘May you die in pain.’ That was the nastiest moment of Republican Rep. Doug LaMalfa's early morning town hall in the Northern California town of Chico on Monday. The wish was uttered by an older man who criticized LaMalfa for voting for the House GOP plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. … But the Richvale congressman, who represents California’s massive 1st Congressional District in the northeast corner of the state, said he will support only a new healthcare program that provides affordable coverage to middle-class Americans. LaMalfa said Obamacare is quickly become unaffordable and unsustainable[.] … ‘People across the board are being hurt by this,’ LaMalfa said. When shouts and boos rained down on him, he chastised the crowd saying, ‘I have the mic folks. Yep, boo away.’”
-- Anthem has decided to leave Nevada’s Obamacare exchange for 2018. Washington Examiner’s Robert King reports: “Anthem was proposing a stiff increase in premiums of 62 percent in 2018. That rate hike didn't reflect the possible elimination of cost-sharing reduction payments to reimburse insurers for reducing out-of-pocket costs for low-income Obamacare customers. The White House has not decided if it wants to continue the payments for 2018. … Anthem said last month it would retreat from 14 counties in Nevada next year, leaving residents in those counties without an insurer. Anthem is now deciding to not offer plans in the three remaining counties where it offered plans this year. Anthem previously announced it is leaving Obamacare exchanges in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Trump’s own history of avoiding service came back under the microscope after the president attacked Blumenthal's war record:
Something that's always struck me as under-reported is Trump's misleading statements about how he avoid Vietnam. https://t.co/0kr4ppjiVF— andrew kaczynski 🤔 (@KFILE) August 7, 2017
I've listened to lifetime archival footage of Trump – for years he always mentioned attributed "high lottery number" never deferments.— andrew kaczynski 🤔 (@KFILE) August 7, 2017
From a Time political correspondent:
Blumenthal received deferments and was a member of the Marine reserves serving stateside. Trump did not wear the uniform at all. https://t.co/6r6EHXeapL— Phil Elliott (@Philip_Elliott) August 7, 2017
From a Weekly Standard editor:
Trump attacks Blumenthal on an issue where Trump's even more vulnerable. An insight there about the character of successful demagoguery.— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) August 7, 2017
Trump was criticized for being undisciplined after his tweetstorm.
From Obama's former speechwriter:
Today's Trump tweets are our umpteenth lesson that the only truly effective WH staff change would be replacing the guy who sits in the Oval— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) August 7, 2017
From CNBC's White House correspondent:
words Trump has used to describe others today: "fake," "failing," "phony," "inept," "lied," "defrauded," "con artist," "child," "baby"— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) August 7, 2017
An anti-Trump GOP strategist responded to the list of Trump's insults:
Projection is a cruel mistress. https://t.co/ZqeHWmtBZt— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) August 7, 2017
The tweets seemed to dispel any notion that Trump's new chief of staff would rein in his social media habit.
From a former senior strategist to John McCain and John Kasich:
That was an interesting experiment with General Kelly.— John Weaver (@JWGOP) August 7, 2017
From CNN's White House correspondent:
In a way, Trump is right that he's not taking a vacation. He appears to be watching the shows and tweeting just like he does at the WH.— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) August 7, 2017
From a Post reporter:
"I'm working hard!"— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) August 7, 2017
15 minutes later: I'm clearly watching TV pic.twitter.com/CKDJIPmk05
Bernie Sanders rejected the "radical" label some have put on him:
If it's radical to think that someone working 40 hours a week shouldn't be living in poverty, then yes, count me as a radical.— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) August 7, 2017
Former congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) went after leakers:
Chaffetz: Rosenstein Has No Credibility on Leaker Issue | Fox News Insider https://t.co/NUgOt1VkQy— Jason Chaffetz (@jasoninthehouse) August 7, 2017
The former ethics official who resigned under Trump responded to Chaffetz's tweet:
Leaks about criminal investigations are, indeed, concerning. pic.twitter.com/zS8jIQ6q1S— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) August 7, 2017
Some of Kayleigh McEnancy's old tweets were resurrected after her job announcement:
Also from 2012:
Who cares if women can serve? Trust me. They're not chomping at the bit to be on the front lines. Let's move on. More important topics.— Kayleigh McEnany (@kayleighmcenany) February 23, 2012
How I Met Your Brother -- Never mind, forgot he's still in that hut in Kenya. #ObamaTVShows— Kayleigh McEnany (@kayleighmcenany) August 30, 2012
birth certificates and college transcripts #ThingsThatEnrageDemocrats— Kayleigh McEnany (@kayleighmcenany) August 20, 2012
From DailyKos's social media editor:
A Politico reporter raised this point about McEnany's new position:
lol. CNN created and paid a media figure who will now call the network "fake news." That's infotainment! https://t.co/xvcYHg4hsO— Marc Caputo (@MarcACaputo) August 7, 2017
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough criticized millennial men:
Young men in the 1940s liberated Europe from Nazism and the Pacific from the Japanese Empire. Today, too many stay home playing video games. https://t.co/e7FTe0O20P— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) August 7, 2017
And he received some incredulous responses.
From a Post reporter and veteran:
Millennials are fighting the longest conflict in U.S. history my dude https://t.co/GJC9m3dyen— Alex Horton (@AlexHortonTX) August 7, 2017
From an Iraq War veteran and congressman:
From a ProPublica reporter:
Yeah damn I mean where is a World War when you need one to free Millennials from their couches. https://t.co/fYzj0RmtLb— Jessica Huseman (@JessicaHuseman) August 7, 2017
And Sen. Orrin Hatch responded to the confusion around his quote that senators "shot their wad on health care":
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- Politico, “Sanders 'litmus test' alarms Democrats,” by Gabriel Debenedetti: “Sanders has decided the moment is right to launch his proposal for the single-payer health insurance system that helped form the backbone of his presidential message. And Democrats who don’t get behind it could find themselves on the wrong side of the most energetic wing of the party[.] … The Vermont senator himself has not explicitly said he’ll support primary challenges to those who won’t support his push for a so-called Medicare-for-all health care plan. But there are plenty of signs that Sanders and his allies view the issue as a defining moment for Democratic lawmakers.”
-- The Atlantic, “How the White House's Immigration Reforms Might Backfire,” by Tom Gjelten: “Stephen Miller says the new White House plan to amend U.S. immigration law, introduced by Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue, is ‘the largest proposed reform to our immigration policy in half a century.’ … The bill’s proposed changes are certainly significant, but their consequences may not be easily predicted. The key lesson of the 1965 [Immigration Act] is that social engineering through the adjustment of immigration policy is no simple matter — and almost any such effort will produce dramatic, unintended consequences.”
-- The Wall Street Journal, “The End of Typing: The Next Billion Mobile Users Will Rely on Video and Voice,” by Eric Bellman: “Instead of typing searches and emails, a wave of newcomers — “the next billion,” the tech industry calls them — is avoiding text, using voice activation and communicating with images. They are a swath of the world’s less-educated, online for the first time thanks to low-end smartphones, cheap data plans and intuitive apps that let them navigate despite poor literacy. Incumbent tech companies are finding they must rethink their products for these newcomers and face local competitors that have been quicker to figure them out.”
HOT ON THE LEFT: “Transgender day camp welcomes preschoolers,” from the AP: “At check-in each day, campers make a nametag with their pronoun of choice. Some opt for ‘she’ or ‘he.’… Or ‘they,’ or no pronoun at all. Some change their name or pronouns daily, to see what feels right. The camp in [San Francisco] … caters to transgender and ‘gender fluid’ children, ages 4 to 12, making it one of the only camps of its kind in the world open to preschoolers, experts say. Enrollment has tripled to about 60 young campers since it opened three summers ago, with kids coming from as far as Los Angeles, Washington, DC – even Africa. Gender specialists say the camp’s growth reflects what they are seeing in gender clinics nationwide: increasing numbers of children coming out as transgender at young ages. They credit the rise to greater openness and awareness of LGBT issues and parents tuning in earlier when a child shows signs of gender dysphoria, or distress about their gender …”
HOT ON THE RIGHT: “House Republicans have launched a new website that slams the media for focusing on ‘chaos’ instead of what they see as a productive first 200 days,” from The Hill:. “The website, ‘Did You Know,’ claims that media coverage doesn’t focus on the issues important to Americans. It also calls out the press for not writing more about the legislative achievements of the House GOP. ‘House Republicans aren’t distracted by the newest countdown clock on cable news or partisan sniping in Washington, D.C.,’ the website reads. ‘You don’t care about those things. You care about finding a good job, taking care of your family, and achieving the American Dream, and so do we.’ It comes as [Trump] hits his 200th day in office. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) had set the 200th day as a bigger marker for Republicans than Trump’s first 100 days.”
Trump is still in New Jersey, but he has a briefing this afternoon with HHS SecretaryTom Price on the opioid crisis.
Pence has a lunch with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Reps. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) and Albio Sires (D-N.J.), who are all members of their chambers’ Western Hemisphere subcommittees.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
CSX chief executive E. Hunter Harrison on the uncertainty in the business community amid upheaval in Washington: “I’ve never dreamed of a time like this. … So I don’t know what’s going to happen in Washington, and the scary thing is I don’t think they’ve got a clue, either.”
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- It will be cloudy for D.C.’s morning commute, but the skies should clear later in the day. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Chance for a few early morning showers, but otherwise mostly cloudy through until about midday before a partly sunny afternoon. Highs range in the lower to mid-80s with humidity levels gradually falling through the day to increasingly more comfortable levels.”
-- The Nationals beat the Marlins 3-2. (Chelsea Janes)
-- Progressive activists invited Republican Rep. David Brat of Virginia to hold a town hall. Laura Vozzella reports: “But Brat, who was jeered and shouted down during the two town hall meetings he presided over earlier this year, said he will not attend. ‘It is clear these individuals are more interested in scoring political points with TV cameras running than in having a constructive dialogue about issues,’ Brat said in an email. ‘I will not spend 90 minutes being shouted at by individuals who have already demonstrated they have no interest in a productive exchange of ideas.’”
-- Corey Stewart, the Republican gubernatorial candidate who lost to Ed Gillespie, has been fighting with Dominion Energy. Stewart, who ran his campaign based on pro-Trump ideas, called Dominion “a corporate bully” for its plans to run a pipeline through a small Haymarket community founded by freed slaves. (Antonio Olivo)
-- Administrators at a Southern Maryland school district waited six months to inform parents at a middle school that one of its employees was being investigated in a sex-abuse probe, which is believed to have involved at least 24 victims. (T. Rees Shapiro)
-- D.C. officials are proposing a five-year composting plan to cut the city’s waste by 80 percent within 15 years. (Perry Stein)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Stephen Colbert looked at the work Trump is doing during his "working vacation":
Seth Meyers suggested a slogan for Mike Pence's possible 2020 campaign:
Rex Tillerson explained what the United States is doing about isolationism:
The Post fact-checked that heated exchange last week between Stephen Miller and Jim Acosta:
Former CNN commentator Kayleigh McEnany made her debut on the “Trump TV” network:
The governor of Missouri ran a commercial featuring him holding an assault rifle:
The Australian Navy found a U.S. military plane that went down and killed three Marines:
National elections are being held in Kenya today, and female candidates are facing violence and intimidation:
And twin panda cubs in Vienna celebrated their birthday — with presents: