“It may have cost me an election in this case, but I stand by every one of those decisions to disagree with the president,” Sanford said during his concession speech at a bar outside Charleston.
His challenger successfully framed the contest as a referendum on the president, and an 11th hour endorsement from Trump himself may have gotten her across the finish line. Katie Arrington, a state legislator, got 50.5 percent of the vote to Sanford’s 46.6 percent, beating him by a little more than 2,500 votes.
“We are the party of President Donald J. Trump,” she said in her victory speech.
This upset is the latest proof point that personal loyalty to Trump has become a litmus test in the GOP for anyone seeking public office. It also helps explain why so few Republicans have been willing to break with the president, even when he drifts far afield from conservative orthodoxy on trade, national security and so many other issues. And Sanford’s defeat will likely have a chilling effect going forward that deters GOP lawmakers who might otherwise be inclined to publicly speak out about Trump’s policy pronouncements or controversies of a more personal nature.
-- It took just six minutes after Air Force One touched down at Andrews, after a 23.5-hour journey back to Washington from his summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore, for Trump to dance on Sanford’s political grave. While still sitting on the tarmac, the president tweeted:
Trump tweeted while polls were open on Tuesday that “Sanford has been very unhelpful to me in my campaign to [make America great again]. He is MIA and nothing but trouble.” The president, despite being enmeshed in the Stormy Daniels saga, even took a jab at the sex scandal that ruined Sanford’s own presidential ambitions.
“He is better off in Argentina,” Trump tweeted, referring to where the then-South Carolina governor traveled in 2009 to visit his mistress when he announced he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. (Sanford’s wife at the time, Jenny, recently remarried.)
Another factor that might have played a role in the president’s last-minute tweet: One of Arrington’s consultants, Mike Biundo, worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign.
-- Regardless of how it came about, no ambitious Republican wants to be the next Sanford, Jeff Flake or Bob Corker — three Republicans who are leaving Congress at the end of the year as a result of disagreements with Trump. The two senators announced retirements rather than risk defeat in a primary. Historians may wind up treating these men as profiles in courage, but for now they’re cautionary tales.
In Alabama, Rep. Martha Roby (R) was forced into a runoff last week because the president’s supporters are still angry at her for saying Trump should drop out immediately after the “Access Hollywood” tape emerged in October 2016. Many don’t care that she’s been a reliable vote for the Trump agenda since he took office.
Even former rivals now go out of their way to emphasize support. Mitt Romney has embraced Trump to win a Republican primary for Senate in Utah, and Ted Cruz has become whatever the opposite of a Never Trumper is to get reelected in Texas.
Even Sanford tried to downplay his differences with Trump during the final days of the campaign. “I’ve supported the president 89 percent of the time,” Sanford said during a debate on Monday. “Talk to my brother and sister — I don’t agree with them 89 percent of the time!”
-- Corker, the Republican senator from Tennessee who seems to feel more liberated because of his retirement, complained bitterly yesterday when GOP leadership blocked consideration of an amendment he introduced that would let Congress overturn some of the president’s latest protectionist moves. The chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee criticized Republicans for being too afraid to “poke the bear” (a.k.a. Trump).
“‘Gosh, we might poke the bear’ is the language I’ve been hearing in the hallways,” Corker said in a floor speech. “We might poke the bear! The president might get upset with us as United States senators if we vote on the Corker amendment, so we’re going to do everything we can to block it.”
Corker noted that this was really the only opportunity for Congress to confront Trump on trade, and that conservative colleagues who have spent years pronouncing themselves disciples of free trade are now looking the other way because they got telephone calls and personal pleas from the president. “The United States Senate, right now, on June 12, is becoming a body where, well, we’ll do what we can do, but my gosh, if the president gets upset with us, then we might not be in the majority,” said the retiring Corker. “And so let’s don’t do anything that might upset the president.”
-- Corker’s comments came on the same day that moderate Republicans in the House failed in their quest to force a vote on a bipartisan bill to protect the “dreamers” from deportation. Several lawmakers are sympathetic to the effort, but they didn’t want to get crosswise with the White House. (More about next steps on immigration below.)
-- Bigger picture, loyalty to Trump largely paid off for Republicans across all five states that held primaries on Tuesday. The former chairman of Trump’s Virginia campaign, Corey Stewart, won the GOP nod to challenge Sen. Tim Kaine (D), even though most of the party establishment backed his opponent. “Republican voters preferred Stewart, who has promised a ‘vicious’ campaign, over a more mainstream option in Del. Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper), a former Green Beret who had little name recognition but support from the party establishment,” Gregory S. Schneider reports.
“At Stewart’s election night party at the Electric Palm Restaurant, overlooking the Occoquan River in Woodbridge, … the loudspeaker blared ‘Sweet Home Alabama.’ Stewart was quick to make clear that he plans to run this race in the manner and style of his political hero, down to his hand gestures. [As the crowd chanted ‘Lock her up!’], Stewart smiled slyly, then replied: ‘That might just happen, by the way. And Timmy, too. Oh, we’re gonna have a lot of fun between now and November, folks.’
“Stewart railed against ‘criminal illegal aliens,’ adding, ‘by the way, they are animals.’ He said that Virginia can choose to let them overrun the state, or ‘we can arrest them, deport them back to the country they came from and build the wall.’ … Stewart gained a statewide following after his strong showing last year [in the gubernatorial primary against Ed Gillespie] but also attracted notoriety after associating with white supremacists.”
-- Meanwhile, Republicans who have distanced themselves from Trump found themselves in hot water. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R), who represents an affluent suburban district in Northern Virginia that Hillary Clinton carried, got an unexpectedly low 61 percent of the vote in her primary. Her challenger attacked her aggressively for opposing the GOP bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act and for chastising the president over his willingness to shut down the federal government.
-- Underscoring rising polarization, the litmus test on the right is happening at the same time Democrats try to outdo one another in who can most stridently oppose the president in their primaries. But in Virginia, the candidates who were favored by party chieftains and seen as most electable bested more liberal insurgents.
State Sen. Jennifer Wexton, for example, beat five other Democrats in the race to take on Comstock. “Wexton won about 42 percent of the vote, besting her nearest rival, anti-human-trafficking activist Alison Friedman, by almost 20 points,” Jenna Portnoy reports. “Wexton, the establishment favorite, ran on her legislative record and the strength of endorsements from Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) … In a primary where Democrats mostly agreed on the issues, Wexton avoided moving too far to the left, while a rival, Army veteran Dan Helmer, wanted to impeach Trump, legalize marijuana and institute a Medicare-for-all option. Friedman, who worked at the State Department on human-trafficking policy during the Obama administration, also posed a threat based on the size of her campaign treasury. Helmer and Friedman criticized Wexton for voting for a bipartisan guns deal in Richmond that expanded concealed-carry rights but also added protections for domestic-violence victims.”
Democrats also chose Elaine Luria to face Rep. Scott Taylor (R) in the Hampton Roads area and Abigail Spanberger to challenge Rep. Dave Brat (R) in the district north of Richmond.
-- Trump celebrated Stewart’s victory this morning:
-- But many mainstream Republicans in Virginia worry that Stewart being at the top of their ticket will cost them down the ballot, especially in these battleground House races.
Bill Bolling was lieutenant governor from 2006 to 2014:
From a GOP pollster based in Virginia:
From a GOP member of the House of Delegates:
And the chairman of the Democratic super PAC Priorities USA recirculated this picture from last year:
-- A president wading into primaries the way Trump did in South Carolina is not unprecedented, but it doesn’t always work. In the 1938 midterms, Franklin Roosevelt traveled to the South to endorse and campaign for primary challengers to sitting Democratic senators who he felt weren’t sufficiently supportive of his agenda. But he got whupped, and FDR’s picks lost.
-- Looking ahead, Sanford’s loss foreshadows that there will be little appetite among Republicans for a 2020 primary challenger to Trump — despite all the speculation from the chattering class about who might do it. “Even as Trump was winning the presidential election, his net favorability (favorable-unfavorable) rating among Republicans in an average of polls was just +50 points,” CNN’s Harry Enten notes. “Trump's net favorability among Republicans is up to +71 percentage points on average. … Trump's approval rating (a slightly different measure than favorable rating) stands at 87% in the latest Gallup poll. To put that in perspective, only two other presidents since 1950 have had higher approval ratings among their own party heading into a potential presidential primary. The idea of a Republican opposing George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan (who had approval ratings among Republicans most similar to Trump) seems nutty on its face.”
-- Sanford’s career arc has followed the GOP’s over the last quarter century. The 58-year-old had never lost an election until yesterday. He was first elected to the House as part of the Class of 1994. Long a fiscal conservative, Sanford became a rock star on the right for his outspoken criticism of the stimulus package that Barack Obama signed soon after taking office. He served out his second term as governor even after the sex scandal and then got elected back to Congress in a 2013 special election. He became a leader in the House Freedom Caucus when he returned.
The first time Sanford spoke out publicly about Trump was in July 2016, when Trump appeared not to grasp the basics of the Constitution during a meeting with House Republicans. “I wasn’t particularly impressed,” Sanford told reporters at the time. “It was the normal stream of consciousness that’s long on hyperbole and short on facts. At one point, somebody asked about Article I powers: What will you do to protect them? I think his response was, ‘I want to protect Article I, Article II, Article XII,’ going down the list. There is no Article XII!”
One of Arrington’s commercials described Sanford as a “Never Trumper” and included a montage of him criticizing the president during cable news appearances. “Enough is enough,” she said to camera. “I want to go to Congress to support President Trump’s bold conservative agenda.”
“I’m running for Congress to get things done, not to go on CNN to bash President Trump,” she said in another ad.
“It’s time for a conservative who will work with President Trump, not against him,” she said in a third.
Sanford’s closing ads emphasized his support for the bulk of Trump’s agenda. “Overwhelmingly, I've voted with the president, and a long list of independent scorekeepers will tell you so,” he said to camera. In another spot, he said he has “joined with the president … to secure the border and build a wall.”
-- Seeing the writing on the wall, Sanford marveled yesterday at how much times have changed. “There’s a different feel to this race, based on something that I’ve never experienced before, which is at times being hit not on ideas that I’ve espoused or held, but based on allegiance,” the congressman told the New York Times before polls closed yesterday. “I’ve never experienced that before. With some people, the allegiance to ideas is secondary to their belief in the importance of their allegiance to a person.”
A former GOP congressman from Illinois:
From the conservative Iowa talk radio host:
A National Review correspondent:
Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), a leading libertarian in the House, pushed back on Trump’s anti-Sanford tweet:
His spokeswoman went further:
A former top aide to Eric Cantor:
-- Other notable results from the latest round of primaries:
-- The mayor of Alexandria went down. Allison Silberberg lost the Democratic primary to Vice Mayor Justin Wilson, following years of strong disagreements about the D.C. suburb's future and virtually ensuring Wilson will succeed her in the blue city after the November general election. (Patricia Sullivan)
In South Carolina:
-- “Four decades in S.C. politics, 16 months in the governor’s office and an endorsement from the president were not enough for Gov. Henry McMaster to avoid a runoff in the Republican primary for governor,” reports The State of Columbia. “The Richland Republican finished first in Tuesday’s primary but fell short of the 50-percent-plus-one vote majority needed to clinch the GOP nomination outright. Instead, the 71-year-old McMaster faces a two-week fight against a candidate virtually no one knew six months ago: Greenville businessman John Warren.”
-- Democrat Archie Parnell, who admitted to abusing his wife decades ago, won his primary bid to face off against Rep. Ralph Norman (R) in a rematch of last year’s special election to replace Mick Mulvaney. From the Post and Courier’s Joseph Cranney: “Parnell's candidacy had been seen by Democrats as an opportunity to flip the GOP-held congressional seat … But after The Post and Courier reported Parnell attacked his ex-wife in a 1970s incident, his chances of defeating [Norman] in November's general election seem to have greatly diminished.”
-- Democrat Steve Sisolak and Republican Adam Laxalt won their respective gubernatorial primaries. Laxalt received a late endorsement from Trump and received more than 71 percent of the vote. Sisolak’s better-funded operation prevailed over Chris Giunchigliani, who was endorsed by Emily's List and Hillary Clinton. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
-- “Pimp Dennis Hof, the owner of half a dozen legal brothels in Nevada and star of the HBO adult reality series ‘Cathouse,’ won a Republican primary for the state Legislature on Tuesday, ousting a three-term lawmaker,” reports the AP’s Michelle L. Price.
-- The state looks prepared to keep its ranked voting system for statewide races. Supporters of a referendum to keep the state’s new system, in which voters rank their choices of candidates, held a 18,558-vote lead early this morning, but the race remained too close to call. (Portland Press Herald)
-- Shawn Moody won the state’s GOP gubernatorial primary to succeed Gov. Paul LePage (R), but Democrats may have to wait up to a week before an official nominee is called. From the Press Herald’s Kevin Miller and Scott Thistle: “Attorney General Janet Mills held a modest lead over Sanford attorney Adam Cote on the Democratic side. … With Moody’s majority vote, ranked-choice voting won’t complicate matters for Republicans, but Democrats will have to wait several days for a retabulation of ballots to determine who will get the party’s nod.”
-- State Rep. Jared Golden appeared to win the Democratic nomination to try to unseat Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R). Golden was close to securing the 50 percent of the vote needed to avoid a ranked-voting round, but results were not yet complete. (Press Herald)
In North Dakota:
-- Rep. Kevin Cramer (R) easily won the primary to take on Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D). State legislator Kelly Armstrong cruised to victory in the GOP primary to replace Cramer and will almost certainly pick up the state’s at-large seat. (Grand Forks Herald)
-- Democrats picked up a state Senate seat that has been held by Republicans for more than four decades. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Molly Beck reports: “Caleb Frostman topped Rep. Andre Jacque in the 1st Senate District … Frostman will be the first Democrat to represent the northeast Wisconsin district since the 1970s — a win Democrats are hailing as more evidence of a so-called blue wave ready to flip more Republican-held seats in elections later this year.” But the Wisconsin GOP also held on to an Assembly seat.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- The United States, Mexico and Canada won their joint bid to host the 2026 World Cup. Steven Goff reports: “The member associations in FIFA, the sport’s governing body, favored the North American effort, known as the United Bid, in a landslide vote, 134-65. … It will mark the first time three countries have shared the planet’s most popular sporting event. In an agreement announced when the bid launched last year, the United States will stage 60 of the 80 matches, including all from the quarterfinals on, while Mexico and Canada will get 10 apiece. Twenty-three cities, including Washington and Baltimore, are in the running to become the 16 match venues.”
GET SMART FAST:
- A federal judge approved AT&T’s $85-billion acquisition of Time Warner with no conditions, rejecting a lawsuit from the Justice Department in one of the most highly anticipated antitrust rulings in decades. The landmark decision is also expected to serve as a bellwether for a string of other megamerger cases playing out across the country. (Tony Romm and Brian Fung)
- A Customs and Border Protection agent who pushed a reporter to disclose her sources is now facing an internal inquiry. Jeffrey A. Rambo identified himself as a government agent to journalist Ali Watkins and then questioned her about how she developed information. Rambo told Watkins he was attempting to stanch leaks of classified information, a matter usually handled by the FBI. (Shane Harris, Matt Zapotosky and Jack Gillum)
- The CIA added four stars to its Memorial Wall to recognize agents who died in the line of duty. According to an agency news release, the wall now includes 129 stars.
Rep. David Valadao’s dairy farm was seized by a bank over unpaid loans. Court documents show the California Republican and his family owe more than $8 million on the property. (LA Times)
- Half of women working in science have experienced sexual harassment, according to a sweeping new report from the National Academies of Sciences. The 300-page study, which drew from dozens of interviews and decades of research, calls for “systemwide change to the culture and climate in higher education.” (Sarah Kaplan and Ben Guarino)
- The Southern Baptist Convention voted to condemn abuse and affirm women’s role in the church. But delegates will debate a much more contentious measure today: whether to dismiss the entire board of trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, which fired ousted president Paige Patterson after he was accused of failing to report an alleged rape. (Julie Zauzmer)
- Tesla announced plans to slash thousands of jobs. The 9 percent reduction comes as the company seeks to return an annual profit -- and as Tesla CEO Elon Musk battles concerns from shareholders questioning his ability to manage multiple companies simultaneously. Musk described the decision as a “restructuring” that would affect only white-collar, salaried staffers. (Danielle Paquette and Peter Holley)
- The Seattle City Council voted to repeal a tax hike aimed at combating homelessness, which was instituted less than a month ago. City officials were accused of bending to the will of big companies like Amazon and Starbucks, which would have suffered the brunt of the tax and had started funding a ballot measure to repeal it. (Jeff Stein)
- A proposal to split California into three states qualified for the November ballot. If the long shot idea succeeded, it would be the first division of an existing U.S. state since West Virginia's creation in 1863. (Meagan Flynn)
- Macedonia agreed to formally change its name to the Republic of North Macedonia, moving to end a bizarre and nearly three-decades-long spat with Greece known as “the name dispute.” In return, Greece agreed to drop its opposition to Macedonia joining NATO and the European Union. (Chico Harlan)
- New FBI arrests reveal a formidable level of sophistication among Nigerian email scammers. The fraudsters pose as royalty in hopes of obtaining unwitting users' bank account information and are often regarded as more of a joke than a legitimate threat. But authorities arrested dozens of people believed to be connected to an international crime syndicate in Nigeria and the United States. (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
- The off-duty FBI agent accused of accidentally shooting someone as he attempted to do a back flip was charged with second-degree assault. Chase Bishop turned himself in to authorities and now faces up to six years in prison. (Kristine Phillips)
THE IMMIGRATION WARS:
-- The House will vote next week on two competing immigration bills after a discharge petition from Republican moderates failed to receive the number of signatures required to force votes on bipartisan legislation. Mike DeBonis reports: “Instead, the House will consider a conservative bill, tilted toward hard-line positions that offers a limited path to permanent legal status for young undocumented immigrants. Another bill that has not been finalized would offer that status, and an eventual path to citizenship, but it remains unclear whether it could pass the House. But without the leverage of the discharge petition, there is less reason for the most conservative Republicans to vote for a bill that would effectively offer amnesty to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants. The agreement, however, is a victory for (Speaker Paul) Ryan and other GOP leaders who feared that unleashing a wide-ranging immigration debate in the midst of midterm primary season could carry unpredictable consequences for the Republican majority.”
-- The Trump administration is looking to erect so-called “tent cities” along the Southern border to house unaccompanied migrant children. McClatchyDC’s Franco Ordonez reports: “The [DHS] will visit Fort Bliss, a sprawling Army base near El Paso in the coming weeks to look at a parcel of land where the administration is considering building a tent city to hold between 1,000 and 5,000 children … HHS officials confirmed that they’re looking at the Fort Bliss site along with Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene and Goodfellow AFB in San Angelo for potential use as temporary shelters. The aggressive plan comes at the same time that child shelters are filling up with more children who have been separated from their parents. The number of migrant children held in U.S. government custody without their parents has increased more than 20 percent as [Jeff Sessions and DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen] rolled out the administration's new zero tolerance policy that separates children from their parents who now face prosecution.”
-- Some asylum seekers have been told at the border that ports of entry are at capacity and cannot handle any more applicants. Robert Moore reports: “U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have been turning back asylum seekers, most from Central America, for several weeks at El Paso and other ports of entry on the Mexican border. They don’t tell the migrants they can’t apply for asylum, just that they can’t apply right now because the port of entry is at capacity. Migrant advocates and others have scrambled to respond to what they believe are illegal attempts to block migrants from making an asylum claim. CBP officials dispute that, saying they have a duty to operate the ports of entry in a safe, orderly fashion.”
THE OBAMACARE WARS:
-- A senior Justice Department lawyer resigned in protest over the Trump administration’s refusal to defend Obamacare in court. Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky report: “Joel McElvain, who has worked at the Justice Department for more than 20 years, submitted his resignation letter Friday, the morning after [Sessions] notified Congress that the agency will not defend the ACA … against lawsuits brought by Republican-led states … The Justice Department’s decision last week reversed years of legal work McElvain and the Justice Department had performed on the issue. McElvain and his team were honored in 2013 with the Attorney General’s Award for exceptional service defending the legislation in court.”
-- HHS Secretary Alex Azar told lawmakers that he personally supports insurance protections for those with preexisting conditions, but he pointedly declined to disclose his view of the administration's move to undercut such protections. Amy Goldstein and Laurie McGinley report: “Calling it ‘a constitutional position . . . not a policy position,’ Azar sidestepped grilling on whether he agreed with a legal brief filed last week by Justice Department attorneys stating they would not defend the Affordable Care Act in a federal lawsuit by Texas and 19 other Republican-led states.”
-- Republican political types in D.C. are growing nervous they could lose seats if people with preexisting conditions lose coverage before the elections. “Everybody I know in the Senate, everybody is in favor of maintaining coverage for preexisting conditions,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said yesterday. “There is no difference of opinion about that whatsoever.” (Bloomberg News)
ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN:
-- Scott Pruitt enlisted a top EPA aide to help his wife secure a job with a conservative political group. Juliet Eilperin, Josh Dawsey, Brady Dennis and Shawn Boburg report: “The job hunt included Pruitt’s approaching wealthy party supporters and conservative figures with ties to the Trump administration. He enlisted Samantha Dravis, then serving as associate administrator for the EPA’s Office of Policy, to line up work for his wife. And when one donor, Doug Deason, said he could not hire Marlyn Pruitt because of a conflict of interest, Pruitt continued to solicit his help in trying to find other possibilities. A spokesman for the Judicial Crisis Network confirmed Tuesday that it employed Marlyn Pruitt ‘temporarily as an independent contractor,’ but it did not disclose via email how long she worked there or what she was paid.”
-- Trump’s top trade adviser, Peter Navarro, apologized for saying Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau deserves a “special place in hell” for engaging in “bad-faith diplomacy” with Trump. “My job was to send a signal of strength,” Navarro said at a Washington conference. “The problem was that in conveying that message I used language that was inappropriate. … I own that, that was my mistake, those were my words.” (John Wagner)
-- During a panel discussion last year sponsored by the foundation of a Ukrainian steel magnate, John Bolton assured the audience Trump would not radically alter U.S. foreign policy. “The notion that [Trump’s election] is going to represent a dramatic break in foreign policy is just wrong,” Bolton said at the time. “Calm down, for God’s sake.” David A. Fahrenthold reports: “Bolton was paid $115,000 in the past year to participate in two panel discussions sponsored by the foundation … Bolton’s appearances at the Kiev event and at another event in Munich this February were paid for by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, according a financial disclosure form released Monday by the White House. … Pinchuk has spent years working to create closer ties between Ukraine and the United States and Western Europe.”
-- Recent financial disclosures show Jared Kushner has expanded his financial ties to Israeli firms as he advises the administration’s Middle East policy. Bloomberg News's Caleb Melby and David Kocieniewski report: “A line of credit Kushner and his father hold with Israel Discount Bank jumped to as much as $25 million during the past year, from under $5 million in late 2017, [the disclosure] shows. … Kushner listed a single property loan as a personal liability — a debt affiliated with Quail Ridge, a New Jersey apartment complex that his family purchased in September. Psagot Investment House, Israel’s largest asset manager, invested alongside the family firm, Kushner Cos. Kushner has divested from some assets that might pose conflicts with his role as a White House senior adviser whose portfolio includes brokering peace in Israel. But the latest disclosure highlights how piecemeal that effort has sometimes been.”
-- The White House said economic adviser Larry Kudlow was expected back at work “soon” after experiencing a mild heart attack. “His doctors expect Larry will make a full and speedy recovery. We look forward to seeing him back at work soon. Larry and his wife Judy wanted to express heartfelt appreciation for all of the thoughts, prayers and well-wishes,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. (CNN)
-- Trump’s billionaire friend Tom Barrack helped him forge crucial alliances with Arab leaders, the New York Times’s David D. Kirkpatrick reports. “In April 2016, [Trump] was about to clinch the Republican presidential nomination. But Mr. Trump’s outspoken hostility to Muslims — epitomized by his call for a ban on Muslim immigrants — was offending the Persian Gulf princes Mr. Barrack had depended on for decades as investors and buyers. ‘Confusion about your friend Donald Trump is VERY high,’ Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba of the United Arab Emirates emailed back when Mr. Barrack tried to introduce the candidate … Not deterred, Mr. Barrack, a longtime friend who had done business with the ambassador, assured him that Mr. Trump understood the Persian Gulf perspective. ‘He also has joint ventures in the U.A.E.!’ Mr. Barrack wrote in an email on April 26.
“The emails were the beginning of Mr. Trump’s improbable transformation from a candidate who campaigned against Muslims to a president celebrated in the royal courts of Riyadh and Abu Dhabi as perhaps the best friend in the White House that their rulers have ever had. It is a shift that testifies not only to Mr. Trump’s special flexibility, but also to Mr. Barrack’s unique place in the Trump world, at once a fellow tycoon and a flattering courtier, a confidant and a power broker.”
-- Rudy Giuliani’s wife filed for divorce after he allegedly cheated on her with a married New Hampshire hospital administrator, Page Six reports: “The mayor-turned-presidential lawyer, 74, and Maria Rosa Ryan, 53, began their affair before he and wife Judith Nathan separated last month — and Nathan filed for divorce five days after the pair was spotted getting cozy at a resort hotel in the Granite State. He acknowledged that he and Ryan had dinner and watched a movie at the posh spa — but claimed he was already ‘in effect separated’ from Nathan at the time.” But Nathan shot back in a statement, “My husband’s denial of the affair with the married Mrs. Ryan is as false as his claim that we were separated when he took up with her.”
SINGAPORE SUMMIT FALLOUT:
-- Many questions remain about the substance of the agreement Trump signed with Kim Jong Un. Karen DeYoung and David Nakamura report: “The brief document signed by Trump and [Kim] provided virtually no detail beyond a stated commitment to ‘denuclearize’ the Korean Peninsula, a promise that Pyongyang has made and ignored many times in the past. … Talks are to be led on the U.S. side by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and, according to the agreement, a ‘relevant, high- level’ North Korean official. But no specifics of a future path were outlined. There was no mention of a declaration of North Korea’s nuclear assets, which normally precedes any arms control negotiation, or of timelines or deadlines.”
-- “To me, it was quite disappointing that we really did not put on paper any way that would test the seriousness of Kim Jong Un,” said Joseph Yun, who served until March as the administration’s special representative on North Korea policy. “We have to suspend our judgment” until something else happens, he said, but “there is nothing from the meeting to say we’ve achieved anything.”
-- “Efforts by previous presidents committed Pyongyang to far more detailed and specific restrictions, though the deals all ultimately failed,” John Hudson reports. “This new commitment to denuclearize is actually more vague and even weaker than the 2005 six-party joint statement and the 1992 inter-Korean Joint Denuclearization Declaration,” said Duyeon Kim, a research fellow at the Korean Peninsula Future Forum.
-- Trump’s unexpected pledge to halt U.S.-South Korean military exercises, which he called “war games,” touched off another day of chaos on Capitol Hill — where lawmakers, including Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), asserted that the joint drills would continue despite the announcement. Seung Min Kim reports: “That was apparently the message delivered by [Mike] Pence to Senate Republicans during a private lunch earlier Tuesday, according to [Gardner], although that was immediately disputed by Pence’s office. ‘I think what the vice president said today — and we’ll continue to clarify what the president had talked about — exercises will continue with South Korea,’ Gardner said … When asked to clarify Pence’s message on whether the joint military exercises would continue, Gardner [responded]: ‘I think there are certain exercises that will continue, yes.’”
Pence spokeswoman Alyssa Farah denied the account provided by Gardner, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee: She said the vice president “didn’t say this.” In response, Gardner elaborated more on Pence’s remarks, insisting that the V.P. made “very clear” that “regular readiness training and training exchanges will continue.”
Other Republicans also expressed varying degrees of hesitation about ending the drills: “I don’t think that’s wise,” said Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa). “We have done these exercises for years with the South Koreans and so I would just ask the president, why do we need to suspend them? They are legal.”
-- North Korea’s state media is claiming that Trump promised to both halt the military exercises and lift sanctions against Kim’s regime. The Wall Street Journal’s Jonathan Cheng reports: “The report quoted Mr. Kim as saying that, if the U.S. were to take ‘genuine measures for building trust,’ then the North could reciprocate in a ‘commensurate’ fashion — a clear suggestion that U.S. concessions would have to come before any North Korean move. While Mr. Trump had said during a press briefing after the event that he would halt joint military exercises while talks were ongoing with the North, Pyongyang’s report suggested that Mr. Trump had also given such a commitment directly to Mr. Kim, after the North Korean leader had called on Mr. Trump to halt ‘irritating and hostile military actions.’ … Mr. Trump also told reporters during his press briefing that he was planning to hold the line on sanctions against North Korea, saying the U.S. still had ‘tremendous pressure’ to keep economic penalties in place — a contrast to Pyongyang’s portrayal of Mr. Trump telling Mr. Kim that he intended to end sanctions.”
-- The aesthetics of the Singapore summit were typical of “a Donald J. Trump production,” Philip Rucker writes. “The nearly nine hours the president spent summiting at the flag-adorned Capella hotel here Tuesday overflowed with Trumpian hallmarks, from his choreographed first handshake with Kim on an endless red carpet to the propaganda-style video [see above] he played at the start of his victory-lap back-and-forth with the press. … As orchestrated as the day was, however, it included plenty of unscripted moments and lighthearted banter, as well. When the two gathered in a dining room for lunch, Trump motioned to the nearby cameramen. ‘Getting a good picture, everybody?’ the president asked. ‘So we look nice and handsome and thin? Perfect.’ The rotund Kim did not chime in.”
About that video: “Trump commissioned a film portraying North Korea as some sort of paradise, with gleaming sky-rises, time-lapsed sunrises, high-speed trains, majestic horses running through water and children merrily skipping through Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang. It included a montage of images of [Kim] and Trump waving their hands and flashing thumbs up, as if running mates in a campaign. The film was reminiscent of Pyongyang’s propaganda videos, only it was made in the United States under Trump’s direction. It included a credit to Destiny Pictures. Trump said he had it made to show Kim what his country’s future could look like if it abandoned its nuclear weapons and normalized relations with the West. Trump said he played the film on an iPad for Kim during one of their meetings — and, Trump said, ‘I think he loved it.’ So the president directed aides to play it on giant screens in the auditorium at the start of his news conference, first a version in Korean and then one in English.”
-- Some reporters originally mistook the video for a North Korean propaganda film. From Avi Selk: “But as the president explained it, the video was more like an elevator pitch. It was the type of glitzy production that Trump might have once used to persuade investors to finance his hotels, and now hoped could persuade one of the most repressive regimes in the world to disarm its nuclear weapons and end nearly 70 years of international isolation and militant hostility to the United States. On Tuesday evening, Trump tweeted a link to the video, for all to see.”
-- “Although every legitimate news organization made efforts, some better than others, to bring context and even a measure of skepticism into their mix of stories, the event overall was a triumph of Trumpian stagecraft,” writes Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan. “And the media played its accustomed role. ... Because of wall-to-wall media coverage, carefully choreographed visuals and the usual Trumpian bluster, the Singapore summit largely came across as a triumph of personal diplomacy by the president.”
-- “What has been on display over the past five days are hallmarks of the Trumpian style: policy initiatives and processes that trample across political and establishment lines, great swings in rhetoric, promises and threats, anger and flattery,” Dan Balz writes. “But then what? ... Trump is betting that it adds up to more than constant motion, that it is a winning political strategy in the end. … But some experts think Trump’s threats of tariffs are likely to produce, in the end, only modest changes in overall trade practices with Canada, Mexico and European allies. Foreign policy analysts remain skeptical about the negotiations with Kim’s regime, which they fear could be long and slow and eventually end the way other efforts have — in failure. If that is the case, then how will voters judge the president’s record?”
THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Russia’s attempts to interfere in U.S. elections are ongoing, according to a new court filing from Robert Mueller’s team, who is trying to limit a Russian company’s access to information on Internet trolling in 2016. Spencer S. Hsu reports: “Public or unauthorized disclosures, prosecutors said in a court filing Tuesday, would release information that ‘would assist foreign intelligence services, particularly those of the Russian Federation,’ and other actors in future operations against the United States and tip off people and firms the government ‘believes are continuing to engage in interference operations like those charged’ in Mueller’s ongoing probe. The filing seeking a protective order for documents came in proceedings against Concord Management and Consulting. Concord was indicted in February with 13 Russian individuals and two other companies … Prosecutors appeared especially concerned that information that Concord’s attorneys are entitled to have for defense preparation could be shared with Concord founder Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, a business executive nicknamed ‘Putin’s chef’ because of his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.”
-- A federal judge ordered Mueller’s team to turn over by week's end the names of European politicians and others who were allegedly involved in Paul Manafort's Ukrainian lobbying efforts. Spencer reports: “The deadline falls on the same day that U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the District of Columbia is set to decide whether to jail [Manafort] while he awaits trial after prosecutors say he tampered with witnesses in the ongoing cases. In a five-page order Tuesday, Jackson mostly denied Manafort’s challenge to the legal adequacy of his indictment in the District for conspiracy and money laundering … Jackson found the charges sufficiently ‘specific’ and enough ‘to put the defendant on notice of the nature of the charges against him.’ However, Jackson found what she called ‘one minor exception’ in saying Manafort’s legal team should be given the names of the politicians and others to help him prepare for ‘a complex trial with a voluminous record.'”
-- Expect a tweet: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein plans to brief Trump tomorrow about the inspector general’s report on the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server. From Karoun Demirjian, Josh Dawsey and Matt Zapotosky: “The president ‘is really anxious to see the report,’ said a person familiar with the planned Thursday briefing for Trump, which is expected to take place around the same time that lawmakers are informed of the inspector general’s findings. … The inspector general announced last week that his office would release its report on Clinton’s use of a private email server June 14 — which is also Trump’s birthday.”
-- Rosenstein wants House Republican staffers investigated after Fox News reported that he threatened to “subpoena” staffers’ records in a “personal attack” against them. CNN’s Laura Jarrett reports: “[DOJ] officials dispute the recounting of the closed-door meeting detailed in the story, and Rosenstein now plans to ‘request that the House general counsel conduct an internal investigation of these Congressional staffers' conduct’ when he returns from a foreign trip this week, a [DOJ] official said. ‘The Deputy Attorney General never threatened anyone in the room with a criminal investigation,’ the official said.” Sessions also came to Rosenstein’s defense, saying he was “confident that Deputy Rosenstein, after 28 years in the Department of Justice, did not improperly threaten anyone on that occasion.”
-- Former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe is suing the DOJ and FBI over access to records relevant to the misconduct allegation against him. From Politico’s Josh Gerstein: “The lawsuit claims that McCabe’s firing ‘violated federal law and departed from applicable administrative rules, standards, policies, and procedures.’ The suit does not directly challenge McCabe’s dismissal, but rather claims that the Justice Department is violating the law by refusing to identify and share the internal policies that led to his termination one day short of the 20 years’ service he would need to be eligible for an immediate pension.”
-- Trump associates fear that, with the Singapore summit behind him, the president will return his tweeting attention to the Mueller probe. Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman reports: “‘It’s going to hit the fan pretty soon,’ a friend of the president told me. Within the next month, Mueller is reportedly planning to deliver his findings in the obstruction of justice investigation to [Rosenstein]. ‘Donald is very worried,’ said a Republican close to Trump. The difference is that Trump is now more unshackled than at any point in his presidency, meaning that firing Mueller or Rosenstein remains a possibility. ‘We’ve entered the era of primal Trump,’ one outside adviser told me.
“Trump allies view the legal cloud hanging over Trump’s former attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, as at least as ominous as the obstruction investigation. According to a source close to Cohen, Cohen has told friends that he expects to be arrested any day now. (Reached for comment, Cohen wrote in a text message, ‘Your alleged source is wrong!’) The specter of Cohen flipping has Trump advisers on edge. ‘Trump should be super worried about Michael Cohen,’ a former White House official said. ‘If anyone can blow up Trump, it’s him.’”
-- Multiple Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee are seeking to interview Ivanka Trump as part of their Russia investigation. BuzzFeed News’s Emma Loop reports: “Calls for the Senate Intelligence Committee to interview Ivanka Trump … follow [reports] that found that in the midst of the presidential campaign, she was in contact with a Russian weightlifter who offered to connect her father to [Putin] in order to facilitate building a Trump tower in Moscow. Democrats on the committee ‘have wanted to bring her in for a while,’ a source familiar with the matter said. However, Ivanka Trump is still not considered a central figure in the investigation, the source said, so the committee has focused instead on scheduling interviews for other, more essential witnesses.” “It’s just a debate about priorities that we haven’t sorted out yet,” the source added.
-- Stormy Daniels's lawyer Michael Avenatti said the Russian government is trying to run a “smear job” on him, largely by planting damaging news articles about him. The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff reports: “Avenatti did not offer concrete proof to support the claim, but said two media figures and a high-ranking American intelligence official have all told him about the alleged Russian effort. ‘They’re doing it because they see me as a threat, a considerable threat,’ he said. ‘If we weren’t a threat, none of this would be happening.’ Avenatti said people in the Russian government have claimed that he traveled to Moscow and had questionable encounters with women there. ... ‘They were trying to claim that I too had taken a trip to Moscow,’ Avenatti said. ‘I’ve never been to Moscow in my life, I’ve never traveled to Russia in my life.’” He also said Moscow has accused him of representing Russian and Ukrainian legal interests before the U.S. government — another allegation he swiftly denied. “I think I’ve been nervous for the entirety of the case,” he said. “Certainly this raises the stakes. But we’re not going to pack up and go home. I’m not going to change what I’m doing just because the Russians don’t like it.”
-- A Bernie Sanders supporter who has pushed the DNC to overhaul its primary rules was accused (without evidence) of being a Russian plant. David Weigel reports: “[Selina Vickers] shelled out $143.60 for a train ticket from West Virginia to Providence, where the Democratic National Committee’s rules and bylaws group was meeting. … A few days later, Vickers was accused of being a Russia-backed agent of chaos, working to destabilize the Democratic Party from within. … [Longtime DNC member Bob Mulholland] speculated over the weekend that ‘someone is picking up her expenses’ and that this was evidence that ‘the Putin operation is still active.’ … Mulholland conceded that he had no proof that Vickers was being funded by foreign operatives. (Vickers shared her receipts with The Post.)”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
After landing back in Washington, Trump claimed North Korea no longer presented a nuclear threat:
He also cited the cost-saving benefits of suspending U.S.-South Korea military exercises:
Trump earlier defended his decision to meet with Kim:
This 2016 tweet from Trump's director of strategic communications recirculated on Twitter:
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) challenged Trump's characterization of Kim:
A House Republican from Wisconsin, who previously worked in counterintelligence as a marine and is considered a rising star in the conference, expressed skepticism about the deal Trump signed with Kim:
From the CIA's former deputy division chief for Korea:
Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt applauded Trump's "candor" about Kim:
A former chief of staff to Joe Biden replied to Hewitt:
A Post foreign affairs reporter compared Trump's actions in Singapore with his decision to abandon the Iran nuclear deal:
Trump's hawkish national security adviser shook hands with the North Korean leader:
Trump's 2020 campaign manager called for a CNN reporter's credentials to be revoked after he tried to ask Trump a question during his signing ceremony with Kim:
The reporter replied:
Parscale came back with one of his boss's favorite lines of defense:
The congresswoman representing Orlando marked two years since the Pulse nightclub shooting:
A Democratic congresswoman from New Mexico lambasted the administration's latest immigration policy shfit:
Meawhile, Trump also went after an actor who recently criticized him:
A Post science editor visited the White Mountains in California:
Tens of thousands of Capitals' fans descended on Washington for the team’s Stanley Cup parade:
The Post's sports team shared this image from the parade:
A Wall Street Journal reporter said this of the photo:
And George H.W. Bush celebrated his 94th birthday. From his spokesman:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- New York Magazine’s Ferris Jabr describes what would happen if a nuclear bomb were to hit New York City: “Traveling much farther than the fireball, a colossal pressure wave would hurtle forth faster than the speed of sound, generating winds up to 500 miles per hour. The shock wave ... would snap utility poles like toothpicks and rip through trees, fling people through the air, and turn brick, glass, wood, and metal into deadly projectiles. A blast in Times Square, combined with the fireball, would carve a crater 50 feet deep at the center of the explosion. The shock wave would reach a diameter of nearly 3.2 miles, shattering windows as far as Gramercy Park and the American Museum of Natural History. All this would happen within a few seconds.”
-- HuffPost, “My Suicide Week,” by Ashley Feinberg: “I had a father and a sister who killed themselves. I want to give you some idea of what it’s like to exist on the internet on a day like last Friday — what it’s like to work on the internet in the midst of the frenzied, all-consuming coverage of an event with personal resonances. And because people so rarely talk about suicide, the days on which we talk about almost nothing else hit especially hard.”
-- NBC News, “Tim Russert: Loss and lessons a decade later,” by Betsy Fischer Martin and Erin Fogarty Owen: “[A] decade after the loss of our former boss and mentor, we both find ourselves on university campuses speaking frequently with students eager to succeed in their careers but with no memory or little knowledge of a man who taught us so much, not just about journalism but about making an impact in any profession.”
HOT ON THE LEFT
“Republican Rep. Steve King Promotes Well-Known Neo-Nazi On Twitter,” from HuffPost: “Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) retweeted a British neo-Nazi on Tuesday, the latest in a series of incidents in which the congressman has parroted or promoted the views of unabashed white supremacists and other bigots. ’Europe is waking up ... Will America ... in time?’ King tweeted, linking to an anti-immigrant tweet from political activist Mark Collett. Collett is one of Britain’s most high-profile white supremacists. He has expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler and has called himself a ‘Nazi sympathizer.’ … Collett was the subject of a 2002 Channel 4 documentary in the United Kingdom called ‘Young, Nazi and Proud,’ in which he states that AIDS is a ‘friendly disease because blacks, drug users and gays have it.’ ‘The Jews have been thrown out of every country, including England,’ he says in the documentary. ‘Let’s face it, when it happens that many times it’s not just persecution: there’s no smoke without fire.’”
HOT ON THE RIGHT
“Pelosi, Lee invite Golden State Warriors to Capitol Hill after Trump brushes off NBA champions,” from Fox News: “Even though Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry previously said he wouldn’t be interested in a trip to the White House, two California lawmakers extended an invite to Capitol Hill after his team scored another NBA championship title. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Barbara Lee, both Democrats representing the West Coast state, sent the invitation to the Warriors and head coach Steve Kerr on Tuesday. … Pelosi and Lee also wrote that they’d be ‘delighted’ to have the Warriors visit ‘publicly as a team or personally as families,’ to Capitol Hill. ‘Please consider this as a blanket invitation whenever your individual schedules allow.’ It is unclear if the team will take them up on their offer, which came days after Curry agreed with his opponent, LeBron James, on not accepting an invitation to the White House following the NBA finals.”
Trump will arrive back at the White House from Singapore by 6 a.m. He has no other events on his public schedule.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said that a GOP immigration bill to provide permanent legal status to “dreamers,” “threatens national security.” “It does not secure the border,” he told reporters. “There seems to be broad agreement we should secure the border. Well, then, why not go and do it and then address these other problems?” (Mike DeBonis)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Washingtonians could see some scattered showers and even storms today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Winds from the south-southwest crank the heat and humidity back up again, as highs head for the mid- to upper 80s under partly sunny skies. A cold front moving through means the chance of a few scattered showers and storms during the course of the day.”
-- The Nationals lost to the Yankees 3-0. (Jorge Castillo)
-- Valerie Ervin dropped out of Maryland’s Democratic gubernatorial primary and endorsed Rushern Baker. From Ovetta Wiggins: “Ervin is the latest Maryland politician to rally around Baker since a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll last week showed him and [Ben] Jealous, a first-time candidate, at the top of the crowded primary field.”
-- A Maryland judge ruled Krishanti Vignarajah is eligible to run in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Rachel Chason reports: “Douglas Horn alleged that the time Vignarajah spent living and voting in the District should disqualify her because Maryland requires that its governor be a resident of the state for five years before the election. Judge Alison L. Asti denied the request ‘in less than 30 minutes’ because Vignarajah has been a validly registered voter in Maryland for more than five years, her campaign said.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Late-night hosts were puzzled by Trump's flattering words for Kim Jong Un:
South Koreans shared their reactions to the Trump-Kim summit with The Post:
Orlando residents gathered to mark the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting:
The American Action Network launched a new ad campaign encouraging congressional efforts to combat the opioid epidemic:
Maine state Sen. Eric Brakey won the GOP nomination to challenge Sen. Angus King (I) in November, bringing renewed attention to his acting past:
And a raccoon who scaled a Minnesota skyscraper went viral: