with Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve.

THE BIG IDEA: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a socially conservative 84-year-old Mormon, was long one of the most outspoken critics of gay people in Congress.

In 1977, as a freshman, Hatch said gay people should never be allowed to teach in public schools because they have a “psychological deficiency.”

“I wouldn't want to see homosexuals teaching school anymore than I'd want to see members of the American Nazi Party teaching school,” he told a group of students.

In 1988, he referred to Democrats as “the party of homosexuals.”

In the 1990s, he championed the Defense of Marriage Act — which prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex unions and barred couples from receiving benefits.

When the Supreme Court struck down the law in 2013, Hatch ripped the justices for relying on their “personal opinion.”

But the times, they are a changin’.

-- Hatch, retiring after 42 years as the longest-serving Republican senator in American history, appears to have had a change of heart. In honor of Pride Month, Hatch took to the Senate floor on Wednesday to send “a message of love” to “my LGBT brothers and sisters.”

“These young men and women deserve to feel loved, cared for and accepted for who they are,” the senator said in a heartfelt speech. “I don’t think they chose to be who they are. They’re born the way they are. And we ought to understand that. They deserve to know that they belong and that our society is stronger because of them …

“No one should ever feel less because of their gender identity or sexual orientation,” he continued. “LGBT youth deserve our unwavering love and support. They deserve our validation and the assurance that not only is there a place for them in this society, but that it is far better off because of them. These young people need us — and we desperately need them. We need their light to illuminate the richness and diversity of God’s creations. We need the grace, beauty and brilliance they bring to the world.”

-- These comments are especially notable because President Trump and Vice President Pence have pointedly declined to acknowledge Pride Month. After Barack Obama issued proclamations all eight Junes he was in office, the White House chose not to do so last year or this year.

It’s not that Trump has been stingy about such things. He’s signed proclamations that this month is Great Outdoors Month, National Ocean Month, National Homeownership Month and African-American Music Appreciation Month.

Instead, Trump has ordered that transgender people should be banned from serving in the military. He’s also removed references to LGBTQ people from various federal websites, rolled back protections for transgender inmates, employees and students and disbanded the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.

While Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a short statement acknowledging Pride Month, senior leaders at the Pentagon declined to formally acknowledge the observances for the first time since the practice became routine after Obama repealed the military’s ban on homosexuals serving openly. (Trump’s transgender ban has not gone into effect because of court challenges.)

-- Against this backdrop and his own history, Hatch pleaded with his fellow conservatives to not just tolerate, but love, those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. “Mr. President, ensuring that our LGBT friends feel loved and accepted is not a political issue,” said Hatch, who as president pro tempore is third in line to the presidency. “We all have a stake in this. We all have family or loved ones who have felt marginalized in one way or another because of gender identity or sexual orientation — and we need to be there for them. … Regardless of where you stand on the cultural issues of the day — whether you are a religious conservative, a secular liberal or somewhere in between — we all have a special duty to each another. That duty is to treat one another with dignity and respect. It is not simply to tolerate, but to love.”

-- An epidemic of teen suicides drove Hatch to reconsider his previous thinking. A report published last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed Utah has the fifth highest suicide rate in the nation. About 630 of Hatch’s constituents kill themselves each year — around one every 14 hours. Many of the victims are gay or transgender teenagers who experience bullying and discrimination. The stigma is especially strong in a state as conservative and religious as Utah, where some young gay people still become ostracized and estranged from their families.

Hatch came to understand this by talking to parents, visiting schools and studying various reports. The CDC has found that LGBT youth seriously contemplate suicide at almost three times the rate of their straight peers and are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide. A separate study in 2015 found that 40 percent of transgender people have attempted suicide in their lifetime. That’s nine times the American population at large.

The senator believes that publicly acknowledging being gay is not a choice is the only way to address this rampant problem. “There are people out there who really suffer, who didn’t choose to be the way they are but who are, and we have to be compassionate enough to help them,” said Hatch. “So I hope that we will, and I hope that our wonderful country will take these things to heart.”

Hatch is trying to shepherd into law a bill that would create a new simple three-number national hotline for suicide prevention, akin to 9-1-1. The legislation already passed the Senate and cleared a House committee on Wednesday. The senator hopes that the high-profile suicides of chef Anthony Bourdain and designer Kate Spade will give fresh urgency to bringing up the bill for a vote on the House floor. But he emphasized that the suicides which get less attention are equally important.

“Mr. President, if there were ever a time to show our LGBT friends just how much we love them, it is now — in a world where millions suffer in silence,” said Hatch. We owe it to each other to love loudly!”

-- Hatch’s change in tone mirrors a broader shift in public attitudes. A Pew study released last October showed that 7 in 10 Americans now believe gay people should be accepted by society, compared to 24 percent who say it should be discouraged. The share supporting acceptance rose 7 percent just last year, and it’s up 19 points in the last decade.

But there’s still a significant partisan divide. While 83 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say homosexuality should be accepted by society, only 54 percent of Republicans and Republican leaners do. Four in 10 think it should be discouraged.

There’s also a strong correlation based on age. For instance, 83 percent of those between the ages 18 to 29 say gay people should be accepted by society, compared with only 58 percent of those who are 65 and older.

-- This is also not the first time that the octogenarian has spoken up in defense of the LGBT community when others on the right would not. Hatch opposed Trump’s ban on transgender troops last year, and he’s endorsed the Employment Nondiscrimination Act.

During the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in 2016, when Ben Carson said transgender identity “doesn’t make any sense” and called it “the height of absurdity,” Hatch criticized him. “Of course there are people who are transgender,” the senator said during a radio interview. “I don’t think they choose to be that way. They are human beings who deserve the best we can give them.”

-- But critics respond that Hatch’s actions matter more than his rhetoric. Yes, he condemned Carson. But then he voted to confirm him as secretary of housing and urban development, where he’s rolled back protections for transgender people who live in homeless shelters. He also voted for Betsy DeVos to be secretary of education, a perch she’s used to roll back protections for transgender students. And he’s supported the confirmation of many Trump judicial nominees who have been critical of transgender rights.

Zack Ford, the LGBTQ editor for the liberal blog Think Progress, argues that Hatch’s speech “rings hollow: “Hatch is a co-sponsor of the so-called ‘First Amendment Defense Act’ (FADA), which would create a religious license to discriminate against LGBTQ people. And just last week, he ‘applauded’ the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. … If Hatch is looking to support LGBTQ youth, he might consider instead co-sponsoring the Equality Act, which would create federal nondiscrimination protections for the LGBTQ community. Not a single Republican in the Senate currently supports it.”

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-- A group of Republican senators exchanged personal (and at times profane) attacks during a closed-door meeting. Sean Sullivan and Seung Min Kim report: “At the center of the ruckus was Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who argued separately with Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) ... Graham, a traditional Republican hawk, took issue with an amendment Lee was pushing to the annual defense bill. His measure was designed to protect Americans from detention without charge or trial. According to the person who attended the lunch, Graham accused Lee of pressing for the amendment [to] raise money, prompting the normally polite and low-key senator to snap back at him. ‘Like hell I’m doing that!’ Lee responded. Graham later apologized to Lee, and Lee accepted. The Mormon senator told Graham that if he drank beer, he’d take him out for one.

“But the fireworks didn’t end there. Later, Graham and Corker got into an expletive-laced exchange ... Graham pointed out that Corker was on his way out, a reference to his upcoming retirement from the Senate, and he argued that Corker was not helping the Republican Party. … Before the lunch, Graham said that Republicans need to ‘add value’ when they speak out against the president. ‘You’ve got to show that if you criticize him, fine. But, you know, be able to add value to his agenda,’ he said.”


  1. The Federal Reserve bumped up interest rates by a quarter point and signaled two additional increases are likely to come before the end of this year. In announcing the hikes, Fed chair Jerome Powell cited low unemployment rates and the “great shape” the U.S. economy is in. (Heather Long)
  2. Comcast made a $65-billion offer to purchase 21st Century Fox  setting up a bidding war with Walt Disney, which made a slightly lower offer last year. News of Comcast’s bid comes as companies scramble to buy up pieces of the entertainment world in the wake of AT&T’s legal victory to purchase Time Warner. (Steven Zeitchik)
  3. A man was indicted on charges of threatening to murder Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). The man, Nicholas Bukoski, also threatened to harm participants of the “March for Our Lives” gun-control rally. (Politico)
  4. London Breed became the first African American woman elected as San Francisco’s mayor. Former state senator Mark Leno conceded the race yesterday, over a week after Election Day as Breed developed a clear lead in the ranked-choice balloting. (San Francisco Chronicle)
  5. Monticello will open Sally Hemings’s room to the public, with a small exhibition on her life. The opening is the culmination of a five-year project to bring more attention to Hemings, who bore six of Thomas Jefferson’s children. (Philip Kennicott)
  6. Elon Musk’s Boring Company won a bid to provide high-speed transportation between Chicago’s downtown and O’Hare Airport. Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration chose Musk’s company, which touts its still unproven tunneling technology, over more traditional high-speed rail options. (Chicago Tribune)

  7. University of Maryland offensive lineman Jordan McNair died this week after being rushed to the hospital during an organized team workout. Details of his hospitalization and death remain unclear, though a GoFundMe page says the 19-year-old was “airlifted to R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore” and received a liver transplant. (Jesse Dougherty)
  8. Adults who snack in the office consume an additional 1,300 calories per week, largely from food and beverages they got in the workplace, according to a new CDC study. The survey studied more than 5,000 U.S. workers, and comes as a rising number of employers stock communal snacks and beverages as an in-office perk for employees. (Lindsey Bever)
  9. CNN’s Jeff Zucker has renewed his contract with the network through the 2020 election. But a number of other Time Warner executives are expected to leave the company now that AT&T’s acquisition has been cleared. (Vanity Fair)


-- Robert Mueller’s team of investigators continues to ask witnesses about Michael Cohen’s activities, suggesting that Trump's consigliere is a focus of the special counsel's probe. Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger report: “Amid his escalating legal concerns, Cohen is feeling neglected by the president, his longtime patron for whom he has long professed his loyalty, [sources] said. … Andrii V. Artemenko, a former member of the Ukrainian parliament, said in an interview that many of the questions he faced during several hours of testimony Friday were focused on his interactions with Cohen. Artemenko met with Cohen in January 2017 to discuss a back-channel peace initiative for Ukraine. … The special counsel’s ongoing questions about Cohen’s activities indicate that Mueller remains intently focused on Trump’s attorney, even after referring a separate probe into Cohen’s business practices to federal prosecutors in Manhattan months ago. … The president’s allies are worried that prosecutors in Manhattan are attempting to build a criminal case against Cohen to push him to cooperate with the special-counsel probe — a prospect they see as potentially dire.”

-- Cohen is expected to cooperate with federal investigators as his lawyers prepare to leave the case, ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos reports: “To date, Cohen has been represented by Stephen Ryan and Todd Harrison of the Washington and New York firm, McDermott, Will & Emery LLP, but a source representing this matter [said] that they are not expected to represent him going forward. Cohen, who has been under criminal investigation for months, which is separate from the special counsel case, has been rushing to meet U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Kimba Wood’s Friday deadline to complete a privilege review of over 3.7 million documents seized in the April 9 raids of Cohen’s New York properties and law office.”

-- “Prosecutors conducting the inquiry have not yet approached Mr. Cohen to seek his cooperation,” per the New York Times’s Alan Feuer, William K. Rashbaum and Maggie Haberman. “But as the investigation continues, and with Mr. Cohen’s legal team in flux, the pressure on him to cooperate with the government may well intensify. … The dispute between Mr. Cohen and his lawyers involves the payment of his legal bills, part of which are being financed by the Trump family. Mr. Cohen has also had more longstanding concerns about the lawyers: As his case moves forward, possibly toward criminal charges, he has been thinking for some time about hiring a new legal team with stronger relationships with the federal prosecutors’ office in New York that is leading the investigation, according to the people briefed on the matter.”

-- “Cohen cooperating with the authorities — specifically, with Mueller and his team — is probably the biggest threat that Trump might face,” Philip Bump argues. “There are others who could provide a sweeping overview of Trump’s activity before, during and after the campaign, certainly … But the combination of dealing with Trump in all three of those phases, [to] to the extent that Cohen was and facing possible criminal charges that might inspire someone to flip? Only Cohen fits that bill.”

-- Former White House attorney Ty Cobb clarified that White House Counsel Don McGahn recused his entire office last summer from working on the Russia investigation. From Politico’s Darren Samuelsohn: “McGahn made the decision to halt his staff’s interactions with [Mueller] because many of his own attorneys ‘had been significant participants’ surrounding the firings of national security adviser Michael Flynn and FBI Director James Comey, Cobb said. … The former Trump White House lawyer explained that McGahn’s recusal was a key reason for why he was hired last summer to manage [Trump’s] official response on the Russia case … While it’s been widely known that McGahn handed over day-to-day responsibilities to Cobb when he started working in the White House last July, neither of the Trump lawyers had ever specified that the entire White House legal office had been recused from the Russia probe in its entirety.”

-- Jared Kushner is aggressively lobbying his father-in-law to pardon more people in a campaign that Attorney General Jeff Sessions “hate, hate, hates,” as one person told Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman: “In recent months, Kushner has cultivated a close relationship with CNN host and criminal-justice reform advocate Van Jones. ‘Jared is obsessed with Van,’ one Trump adviser said. Kushner invited Jones to the White House multiple times and the two communicate frequently, Jones told me. ‘Jared and I have 99 problems but prison ain’t one,’ Jones said … The Kushner-Jones alliance has infuriated some Republican members of the administration, especially [Sessions]. … But Sessions, who is hanging on for survival amidst frequent Trump attacks, has no power to move against Kushner. Sources say Trump may even like that Sessions is outraged because Trump is looking for anything that will get Sessions to quit so he can appoint an attorney general who isn’t recused in the Russia investigation.”


-- The Trump administration is analyzing decades-old fingerprints as part of an unprecedented effort to strip U.S. citizenship from thousands of residents. Nick Miroff reports: “Revoking citizenship, a process known as denaturalization, has long been treated as a rare and relatively drastic measure … But under a new policy memo issued [by the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services], the agency is investigating thousands of old fingerprint records and files to determine whether foreigners made false or fraudulent statements in their attempts to obtain legal residency[.] According to USCIS officials … [DHS] investigators are digitizing fingerprints collected in the 1990s and comparing them with more recent prints provided by foreigners who apply for legal residency and U.S. citizenship. If decades-old fingerprints gathered during a deportation match those of someone who did not disclose that deportation on their naturalization application or used a different name, that individual could be targeted by a new Los Angeles-based investigative division. Violators will be referred to federal courts where they could be stripped of citizenship and potentially deported.”

-- A woman's infant was allegedly ripped away from her arms as she breast-fed the baby at a border detention center. The mother was then handcuffed for resisting. Miguel Nogueras, an assistant federal public defender for the Southern District of Texas, told CNN that some 500 children have been separated from their parents in McAllen since Trump’s zero-tolerance policy was announced last month. “Some parents who are under arrest tell public defenders they don't know what happened to their children,” Nogueras said. Parents report that they have been told that their children are being taken to be bathed or cleaned up, but then the adults never see them again.” 

-- “Inside Casa Padre, the converted Walmart where the U.S. is holding nearly 1,500 immigrant children,” by Michael E. Miller, Emma Brown and Aaron C. Davis: “For more than a year, the old Walmart along the Mexican border [in Brownville, Texas] has been a mystery to those driving by on the highway. In place of the supercenter’s trademark logo hangs a curious sign: ‘Casa Padre.’ But behind the sliding doors is a bustling city unto itself, equipped with classrooms, recreation centers and medical examination rooms. Casa Padre now houses more than 1,400 immigrant boys, dozens of them forcibly separated from their parents at the border … On Wednesday, for the first time since that policy was announced, and amid intense national interest after a U.S. senator was turned away, federal authorities allowed a small group of reporters to tour the secretive shelter, the largest of its kind in the nation.”

-- A California woman is speaking out after her father, a legal permanent resident, was apprehended by immigration agents. Elizabeth Chou and Brenda Gazzar report for the San Jose Mercury News: “Jose Luis Garcia, 62, was watering his lawn and having his morning coffee outside his home in the Arleta neighborhood of San Fernando Valley when ICE agents put him in handcuffs and detained him, according to his daughter, Natalie Garcia. The arrest came as a shock to the 32-year-old Garcia, who said that her father is a law-abiding, legal permanent resident who came to the United States nearly 50 years ago when he was 13 years old. … Garcia said her father has a conviction for a misdemeanor stemming from a domestic violence dispute with her mother that occurred 18 years ago. Her father completed his sentence for that conviction, which was anger management classes and reporting to probation, she said.” ICE officials said in a statement, “Databases reveal that Mr. Garcia has past criminal convictions that make him amenable to removal from the United States.”

-- Leading Catholic bishops are stepping up their criticism of Trump's immigration policies. From Michelle Boorstein: “[Some bishops called] new asylum-limiting rules 'immoral' and rhetorically [compared] the crackdown to abortion by saying it is a 'a right-to-life' issue. One bishop from the U.S.-Mexico border region reportedly suggested 'canonical penalties' — which could refer to withholding the sacrament of Communion — for Catholics involved in implementing the Trump policies.” Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, also condemned family separations at the border. “Families are the foundational element of our society and they must be able to stay together,” he said.

-- Pastors at the Southern Baptist Convention tried and failed to block Mike Pence from speaking yesterday at their annual meeting in Dallas, with an estimated 30 to 40 percent of attendees voting for a measure to cancel his scheduled speech and replace it with a “time of prayer.” Pence’s controversial appearance laid bare the divisions sowed by the Trump administration among evangelicals — including the right-leaning group of Southern Baptists, who have hosted Republican presidents for decades. (Michelle Boorstein)

-- Trump signaled his support for a still unwritten compromise immigration bill to give young undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, though it remains unclear whether such legislation can garner enough support to pass the House. Mike DeBonis and Seung Min Kim report: “Hours after striking a deal to avoid a messy internal rebellion, [Paul Ryan] told Republican lawmakers Wednesday that Trump supports a move to consider a pair of competing bills next week. Later in the day, Trump’s top immigration adviser told a group of conservative lawmakers that the White House is supportive of the more moderate option, which GOP leaders see as the best chance to pass in the House. ‘We’ve been working hand-in-glove with the administration on this,’ Ryan said at a news conference.”

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon "urged a group of two dozen hard-line conservatives gathered Wednesday morning on Capitol Hill to resist any plan offering ‘amnesty’ for both policy and political reasons. ... 'If any bill passes the House with amnesty in it, it fractures the party and the base would be disgusted, and it could cost the party the majority in the fall,' said Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who invited Bannon to speak to lawmakers."


-- Even Scott Pruitt’s closest conservative allies are starting to question how much longer he can lead the EPA. Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis report: “Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) said in an interview Wednesday that he has requested a face-to-face meeting with [Pruitt] to discuss the allegations of ethical misconduct dogging him, saying that Pruitt would be ‘in a very awkward position not to answer to me, and to answer me truthfully,’ if they sat down together. Speaking earlier in the day to conservative talk radio show host Laura Ingraham, Inhofe said that Pruitt needs to put the management problems that have come to mark his tenure behind him, otherwise one of the alternatives would be ‘for him to leave that job.’ In an interview with The Washington Post, however, Inhofe said he was not calling on Pruitt to resign. On Wednesday, Ingraham called on the EPA administrator to quit in the wake of a Post report that he had tasked a top aide with soliciting job offers for his wife from Republican donors.”

-- National Review's editorial board: “Scott Pruitt Should Go.”

-- Meanwhile, Antarctic ice loss has tripled over the past decade, with the ice sheet now pouring more than 200 billion tons of ice into the ocean and raising sea levels by a half-millimeter each year. That is one finding in a new report, prepared by a team of 80 scientists, that is widely considered the most definitive study yet on changes in Antarctica. (Chris Mooney)

-- The Interior Department’s inspector general found the agency had little basis for halting a major study on the health risks tied to mountaintop removal. Darryl Fears reports: “Department officials ended the previously approved study ‘because they did not believe it would produce any new information and felt costs would exceed the benefits,’ Mary L. Kendall, Interior’s deputy inspector general, wrote to Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.). Yet ‘other than a general document entitled ‘Secretary of the Interior’s Priorities,’ Departmental officials were unable to provide specific criteria used for their determination whether to allow or cease certain grants and cooperative agreements,’ she noted.” Kendall added that the money already spent on the study when it was halted – $455,110 – “was wasted because no final product was produced.”

-- House Republicans want to impose financial penalties on states that don't approve offshore drilling for oil and natural gas. Dino Grandoni reports: “The draft proposal, which will be discussed at a hearing of the House Natural Resources Committee on Thursday, says that states will be allowed to disapprove of drilling offshore in up to half of the lease blocks off its coast without incurring a penalty.”


-- Apple announced it will disable access to a port often used by police to crack into the iPhones of suspected criminals, reigniting the debate over whether the company is doing enough to help law enforcement agenciesCraig Timberg and Tony Romm report: “Apple said the change, which would disable the Lightning port on the bottom of iPhones an hour after users lock their phones, is part of software updates rolling out in the fall. Designed to better protect the private information of iPhone users, it will have little obvious effect on most people using the devices. But it will make it far more difficult for investigators to use extraction tools that attach through the port for the purpose of collecting the contents of seized iPhones. The change isn't intended to thwart law enforcement efforts, Apple said. … Yet some authorities almost certainly will see it as yet another barrier to carrying out their legally sanctioned investigations.”

-- In a controversial breach of department policy, the Justice Department declined to tell national security reporter Ali Watkins that it had secretly subpoenaed her communications records because the agency feared she would tip off her suspected source. Matt Zapotosky, Shane Harris and Jack Gillum report: “Free-press advocates asserted that the aggressive tactic seemed to violate Justice Department policies that require reporters be given a heads-up when their materials are about to be seized. The Justice Department [cited a provision allowing] prosecutors to skip giving notice if it would ‘pose a clear and substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation.’”

-- Former Senate Intelligence Committee staffer James A. Wolfe — who has been charged with lying to the FBI about his contacts with multiple reporters, including Watkins — pleaded not guilty in federal court. From Spencer S. Hsu: His lawyers “told [U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson of the District of Columbia] it was ‘highly likely’ they would ask a judge to bar the government and defense from making statements while the case is pending that would endanger Wolfe’s ‘right to an impartial and fair jury.’ [One attorney] in court cited unspecified statements by unnamed Justice Department officials that he said suggested that Wolfe compromised classified information, a crime with which he was not charged, and ‘glib remarks’ by President Trump that ‘prejudged Mr. Wolfe.’”

-- A bipartisan pair of senators accused the federal courts of insufficiently addressing sexual misconduct. Sean Sullivan and Matt Zapotosky report: “The leading Republican and Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee were critical of a working group report commissioned to examine how harassment claims are dealt with and to offer better ways to address them. … Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) opened a hearing on the issue Wednesday with a stern warning: ‘The judicial branch has a problem. They have to deal with it, or Congress will have to do it for the courts.’ … Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said in her opening statement that she was troubled by some aspects of the report. 'I’m also concerned that the working group’s report didn’t quantify the prevalence of sexual harassment in the judiciary and instead relied on previous EEOC data,' said Feinstein.”

-- A federal judge rejected the U.S. government’s bid to throw out a lawsuit over its use of a “kill-list” to target suspected terrorists for drone attacks. American journalist Bilal Abdul Kareem is challenging his alleged placement on the list, claiming he was mistaken for a militant due to his frequent contact with al-Qaeda-linked individuals. (Spencer S. Hsu)


-- Trump and Kim Jong Un continue to offer conflicting accounts about what was agreed to at their summit. From Karen DeYoung and John Wagner: “Both sides said Trump had agreed to halt military exercises with South Korea. Additionally, according to Pyongyang, the president offered ‘security guarantees . . . and [to] lift sanctions’ as their dialogue proceeded, to which North Korea would respond with ‘additional good-will measures.’ … Unlike Kim, whose government brooks no domestic disagreement or questions, Trump faced skepticism that one day of talks had achieved so much. His all-is-resolved description seemed to fly in the face of decades of hostility, unkept promises, and the widespread belief, shared by U.S. intelligence agencies, that North Korea would never give up the nuclear weapons it sought for so long.”

-- Trump is continuing to downplay Kim's human-rights abuses. In an interview aboard Air Force One that aired on Fox News last night, the president said he and Kim “have a very good relationship” and “understand each other.” Asked about the murder of his own family members and other executions conducted by Kim’s regime, the president called Kim a “tough guy” but said “a lot of other people” have “done some really bad things” too. “I mean, I can go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done,” Trump said. “Now look, with all of that being said, the answer is yes,” he added, referring to Bret Baier's query about Kim having done terrible things. (Fox News’s Alex Pappas)

-- Weapons experts expressed astonishment at Trump’s claim that North Korea no longer constituted a nuclear threat, especially given the country’s history of developing and then hiding sophisticated weaponry. Joby Warrick reports: “While the U.S.-North Korean summit may have lessened the immediate risk of a war, the elimination of the North Korean threat is at best a distant prospect, according to weapons experts and veterans of past negotiations with Pyongyang. Such an achievement would require difficult negotiations, years of dismantling and verification, and — perhaps most important — a profound change in the behavior of a state with a long history of cheating and deception on its past commitments, analysts said. Hours after Trump’s declaration of victory at the Singapore summit, some derided the notion of a suddenly defanged North Korea as naive and perhaps even delusional.”

-- Mike Pompeo lost his cool while briefing members of the press about Trump’s meeting with Kim, dismissing a question as “insulting and ridiculous and frankly ludicrous.” Karen DeYoung reports: “Asked specifically about verification of Pyongyang’s denuclearization and whether it will be irreversible — objectives outlined by Trump but unmentioned in the statement — Pompeo said: ‘The modalities are beginning to develop. There will be a great deal of work to do. There’s a long way to go. There’s much to think about.’ ‘But don’t say silly things,’ he said. ‘It’s not productive.’ Pompeo said the statement’s reference to ‘complete’ denuclearization ‘encompasses verifiable and irreversible.’”

The secretary of state, who was present when the discussions took place, said he expected the completion of the denuclearization process “most definitely” within the next two years": "Not all of that work appeared in the final document,” Pompeo said. "But lots of other places where there were understandings reached, we couldn’t reduce them to writing." He said he anticipated the next discussion with North Korea would take place "fairly quickly after we return … I don’t know exactly what form that will take, but I’m very confident that by some time in the next week or so we will begin the engagement."

-- The administration could announce as soon as today the formal suspension of August’s planned U.S-South Korea military exercises. CNN’s Barbara Starr, Pamela Brown and Ryan Browne report: “Detailed Pentagon guidance is expected this week on carrying out Trump's decision to suspend so-called ‘war games’ with South Korea. The Pentagon's post-Singapore involvement in this issue is raising questions about whether the President sought military advice ahead of making his decision.”

-- South Koreans are grappling with what to think of the whirlwind summit. Brian Murphy reports from Seoul: “No place has more at stake with the outreach to [Kim]. Yet so much has happened so quickly that arguments and viewpoints of just last week suddenly seem old. … But the fissures run deeper than just party identity. Some pro-military South Koreans feel deeply betrayed by President Trump’s surprise announcement about suspending joint armed-forces drills, which have been the most vivid display of the U.S.-South Korean alliance since the Korean War.”


-- The White House is moving to block a bipartisan Senate effort to derail the administration's deal with Chinese telecom company ZTE in a must pass defense bill. The Wall Street Journal's Michael C. Bender, Siobhan Hughes and Kate O’Keeffe report: “A senior White House official said Wednesday that the administration would try to remove Senate language that severed a lifeline [Trump’s] administration had extended to the company. The Senate is expected to pass the bill as soon as this week, and the White House official said the administration would try to block the measure later in the legislative process. ‘The administration must be getting some pushback now from China,’ Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) said. ‘I may have a misunderstanding — I don’t think so — but there had been a wink and a nod saying look we did what we did with the leader of China but if Congress wants to counter that they’re free to do so.’”

-- A senior State Department adviser appointed just two months ago has been quietly vetting career diplomats and American employees of international institutions to compile a “loyalty list” based on their commitment to Trump's political agendaForeign Policy’s Colum Lynch and Robbie Gramer report: “Mari Stull, a former food and beverage lobbyist-turned-wine blogger under the name “Vino Vixen,” has reviewed the social media pages of State Department staffers for signs of ideological deviation. She has researched the names of government officials to determine whether they signed off on Obama-era policies — though signing off does not mean officials personally endorsed them but merely cleared them through the bureaucratic chain. And she has inquired about Americans employed by international agencies, including the World Health Organization and the United Nations, asking their colleagues when they were hired and by whom, according the officials.”

-- A Saudi Arabia-led military coalition launched an offensive on the Yemeni port city of Hodeida, defying the United Nations and aid agencies, who warned that further conflict could plunge the Arab world’s poorest country into a full-blown humanitarian crisis. Kareem Fahim and Missy Ryan report: “The offensive, which was announced by Yemen’s government, is aimed at dislodging an Iranian-allied rebel group known as the Houthis that controls Hodeida on Yemen’s Red Sea coast. The port is the main entry point for food and humanitarian aid supplies that millions rely on in Houthi-controlled areas. The government and its Persian Gulf allies argue that defeating the Houthis in the city would force them to the negotiating table more than three years after they took over much of Yemen’s north, setting off a civil war and a devastating humanitarian crisis … Aid agencies have warned that the Hodeida offensive would almost certainly deepen civilian suffering, threatening nearly half a million people who live in the city while cutting off critical aid at a time when a third of Yemen’s citizens are on the brink of famine.”

-- Putin sent a congratulatory telegram to Trump for his birthday, the Kremlin said. Trump turns 72 today. (TASS)


-- Sarah Huckabee Sanders and deputy press secretary Raj Shah are both planning to depart the White House sometime relatively soon, CBS News’s Jacqueline Alemany reports: Sanders … has told friends that she plans to leave the administration at the end of the year. Shah is also considering his exit, but he has not yet settled on an exact date. When reached Wednesday evening, both declined to comment on the record, and Sanders tweeted that she is ‘honored to work for @POTUS.’ Several other lower-level positions in the communications department left vacant in recent weeks are likely to remain unfilled, with more departures expected in the coming weeks …” One source close to the administration said, “There will be even more people leaving the White House sooner rather than later, laid off or just leaving out of exhaustion. And it is going to be harder to find good people to replace them.”

-- Facing a staff exodus, the White House has started advertising at a conservative job fair on the Hill. Politico’s Annie Karni reports: “‘Interested in a job at the White House?’ is the subject line of an email that was blasted out widely to Republicans on the Hill late Wednesday advertising the upcoming event. It promises that ‘representatives from across the Trump administration will be there to meet job seekers of every experience level.’ … The goal of the upcoming Trump job fair, according to a person familiar with the planning, is to specifically target serious conservatives to fill slots, from junior positions all the way up to assistant secretary-level positions.”

-- Rudy Giuliani’s son has lost access to the West Wing several months after Trump ordered his promotion. Axios’s Jonathan Swan reports: “Trump ordered junior White House staffer Andrew Giuliani’s promotion after dining at Mar-a-Lago with Rudy Giuliani, who subsequently became the president’s lawyer. He directed his body man, Jordan Karem, to ensure [John] Kelly promoted Andrew to special assistant to the president …  [Sources said Kelly] did not follow through on the order, and Andrew has not been promoted. It's unclear whether Trump knows his order to Karem wasn't followed. … Kelly and others, including Office of Public Liaison director Justin Clark, won't promote Andrew because they think he ‘subverts the chain of command’ and claim he had other issues in the workplace that they weren't happy about, according to two sources familiar with the situation.”

-- White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow was discharged from the hospital following his heart attack. “Doctors say Larry’s recovery is going very well,” Sanders said in a statement. “The President and the Administration are happy Larry is back home and look forward to seeing him back to work soon.” (John Wagner)


-- “Republicans embrace the ‘cult’ of Trump, ignoring warning signs,” by David Weigel, Robert Costa and Seung Min Kim: “Fiercely and undeniably, the Republican Party this week confirmed its rebranding as the party of Trump. The president has expanded his power throughout the Republican political firmament in an unexpectedly broad way, given his narrow 2016 victory after a campaign filled with internal party drama. His social media habits have commanded the airwaves and obliterated any efforts by Republicans or Democrats alike to change the subject. His hotel, down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, has become the requisite gathering place for Republican groups, political donors and foreign visitors, a visual and, for the president, financially rewarding symbol of demonstrated loyalty. Driving it all has been the sentiment of Republican voters, who have swiftly adopted the president’s issue positions and looked the other way at a progression of missteps and conflicts that would have doomed prior presidents.”

“It’s becoming a cultish thing, isn’t it?” Bob Corker said yesterday. “It’s not a good place for any party to end up with a cultlike situation as it relates to a president that happens to be of — purportedly — of the same party.”

Warning signs of disinterest bedeviled Republicans in several states that held primaries on Tuesday: “In Maine, while just 90 percent of precincts had been counted, Republicans were likely to fall roughly 30,000 votes short of their 2010 turnout. In Nevada, roughly 30,000 fewer Republicans voted than in 2010; Adam Laxalt, who tied himself more closely to Trump than to the state’s outgoing Republican governor, had gotten a last-minute Trump endorsement in the gubernatorial race. In Virginia, Republican turnout was lower than it had been for 2017’s gubernatorial primary; Stewart, who had lost that race with 155,780 votes, won Tuesday’s Senate primary with 136,410 votes.

“In Nevada, brothel owner Dennis Hof, the star of a TV show about prostitution and the author of ‘The Art of the Pimp,’ blew past a Republican incumbent to win the nomination for a seat in the state legislature. In an interview, Hof said that Trump ‘blazed the trail’ for him. ‘He gave me the confidence that I could do this — I could be a reality TV star, an author and a brothel owner and then be elected to serve,’ said Hof. ‘I want to keep the stuff that the president’s got going. The unemployment rate is as low as it’s been forever. I don’t want sanctuary cities. I want them to build the wall. Let’s tighten all that down.’'

“Longtime Republican consultant Mike Murphy, a Trump critic who led the super PAC supporting former Florida governor Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential bid, said the GOP may have to ‘wait for the election’ this fall to finally loosen the president’s grip on the party’s voters and leadership. ‘Trump is king, and the party has a suicide pact,’ Murphy said. ‘You would hope we could see it coming, that there is enough evidence with polling and the special election results, or with him coddling dictators. But it’s clear primary voters disagree.’”

-- Case in point: The victory of Trump loyalist Corey Stewart in Virginia’s GOP Senate primary could have outsized effects on down-ballot candidates. Jenna Portnoy reports: “Stewart pledged Wednesday to run on Trump’s economic and trade record but won support in the past by wrapping himself in the Confederate battle flag and emphasizing gun rights in the wake of school shootings. Now, he will set the GOP tone for the November midterms in an increasingly Democratic state. … The president has a particularly low approval rating in vote-rich Northern Virginia, where Rep. Barbara Comstock is determined to hold on to a suburban congressional district that Trump lost to Hillary Clinton by double digits in 2016. Asked how Stewart’s candidacy could affect Comstock’s race, her campaign manager issued a lengthy statement framing the congresswoman as her own woman. She never mentioned Stewart. Yet he won every locality in Comstock’s district Tuesday night.”

-- The Koch-backed group Americans for Prosperity has decided it will not endorse Stewart or put any money into the race. Michelle Ye Hee Lee reports: “The group typically spends heavily and deploys activists across the country to support key GOP candidates. Its backing, particularly in a swing state such as Virginia, could make a big difference ... But its decision to withhold that support is the latest sign that the powerful network of wealthy donors and well-connected conservative activists is seeking to strike a more independent tone this election, after years of being closely intertwined with Republican campaigns and causes.”

-- Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) told Karen Tumulty that Trump’s tweet against him probably cost him his primary election. Karen writes: “His loss to Katie Arrington, Sanford told me Wednesday morning, will send a strong message to other Republicans about the consequences of calling out Trump for his apostasies on the things conservatives claim to hold dear — from fiscal responsibility to free trade. Or for pointing out, as Sanford did, Trump’s ignorance about what is in the Constitution and the president’s singular lack of transparency in refusing to release his tax returns. ‘They don’t want the tweet that I got last night,’ Sanford said. ‘There’s no motivation like self-motivation.’”

-- The White House seriously considered nominating Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) as Veterans Affairs secretary, report Lisa Rein, Seung Min Kim and Josh Dawsey. “The White House wooed Manchin, 70, in hopes of clearing the way for Republicans to win his seat in the heavily pro-Trump state, concerned the conservative Democrat was popular enough back home to retain his seat despite the president’s high poll numbers in West Virginia. No formal offer was made for the VA post, White House and congressional officials with knowledge of the deliberations said. In an interview, Manchin said he viewed the discussions as being about how to find the best person for the Veterans post — not filling the position himself. …

“But White House officials said they specifically asked Manchin about leading VA himself and believed he was interested. The discussions with him went on for several days and began after [White House physician Ronny] Jackson withdrew his nomination in late April, but Manchin backed out once he saw a poll suggesting he could win his race and heard from others the job was too difficult, White House officials said.”

-- Trump issued a string of Twitter endorsements yesterday — including one supporting Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), who has complained about the president’s warm attitude toward his opponent, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.). From Elise Viebeck: “Heitkamp ‘voted NO on our Tax Cuts, and always will vote no when we need her,’ Trump tweeted. ‘Kevin is strong on Crime & Borders, big on Cutting Taxes!’ ‘We need Kevin in the Senate, and I strongly endorse him,’ Trump wrote of Cramer, whom he personally recruited to run. The president was active on Twitter after Tuesday’s primaries, criticizing Sen. Claire McCaskill (R-Mo.) amid reports that she used a private jet during what was billed as an RV tour of Missouri and congratulating Danny Tarkanian, a Nevada businessman who won a House primary after Trump pushed him out of the state’s Senate race.”


A former counterintelligence analyst for the CIA scoffed at Trump's claim that North Korea no longer constitutes a threat:

A veteran of the last three Republican White Houses is alarmed about Trump downplaying human rights abuses:

House Democrats protested the Trump administration's immigration policies outside the offices of U.S. Customs and Border Protection:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) got choked up about Trump's policy of taking kids away from their parents at the border:

A former top strategist to John McCain and John Kasich said he's ashamed of Trump's “zero tolerance” policy:

Canada's foreign affairs minister was welcomed on Capitol Hill:

The RNC’s chairwoman advised against opposing Trump:

A conservative commentator and HLN host replied:

A Cook Political Report editor considered why congressional Republicans have avoided pushing back against Trump:

National Review has defended Pruitt — but no more:

Ivanka Trump endorsed a bill aimed at improving the quality of technical education:

A House Democrat's press secretary had this awkward encounter with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.):

And Murphy replied with a compliment:


-- “Where do you draw the lines?” by Alice Li, Jayne Orenstein and Dan Balz: “This redistricting process is as old as the republic, enshrined in the Constitution. It has been controversial from the start and vulnerable to distortion. … But is there a fair and equitable way to draw these district lines? Some states, California being the biggest, have decided the only way to produce fairer lines is to try to take politicians out of the process.”

-- New York Times, “School’s Closed in Wisconsin. Forever,” by Julie Bosman: “What happens to a rural town after it loses its only school? Arena, Wis., is about to find out. … Residents worry about what will happen to Arena, population 834, without the school. But the reality of rural life in the Midwest, school officials say, is that younger people are fleeing. They want Starbucks and Thai restaurants, plentiful jobs and high-speed internet, and when they start families, they want schools with amenities and big, thriving athletic programs. ‘In any small community, anywhere in this country, our kids grow up and move away,’ [said one school board member]. ‘They go to college and get a job, but it’s not here, because the opportunity is not here. So who’s left here? Grandma and Grandpa.’”

-- New York Magazine, “What 22 Trump Staffers Looked Like in High School,” by Nick Tabor and James D. Walsh: “Life in the Trump administration often sounds like senior spring. There are no expectations, popularity is capital, and the uncertain future is terrifying. The stakes, of course, are higher, but it’s the teenage drama that’s addicting. Because all good reality-TV shows are carried by casts of grown-ups reliving the drama of their high-school years, here is Trump World’s cast of characters when they were fresh-faced teens.” Best blurbs:

  • White House foreign policy aide Stephen Miller once jumped into a girls’ high-school track race “to prove men’s athletic superiority,” a source recounted.
  • And Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, “looked like a little man, not a student, like he was dressed to go to IBM,” a fellow student said.
  • And Mike Pence was the chairman of “Fun Day Committee”: “He could have been a stand-up comedian,” said classmate Jeff Brown.


“More than 6 in 10 American children were enrolled in CHIP or Medicaid in 2017,” from Philip Bump: “Data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Tuesday reveals the scale of Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program enrollment in the United States. In 2017, 46.3 million children in the United States were enrolled at one point in one of the two programs, a number that totals more than 60 percent of the more than 74 million children in the United States. ... In 38 states and the District of Columbia, more than half of the children in the state were enrolled in either CHIP or Medicaid at some point during the year. In only one state, North Dakota, was less than a quarter of the population of people under the age of 18 enrolled ... About four times as many children were enrolled in Medicaid as in CHIP in 2017. Earlier this month, the House voted to cut funding from the CHIP program.”



“Two Norwegian lawmakers nominate Trump for Nobel Peace Prize,” from the Hill: “A pair of Norwegian lawmakers has nominated President Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize after he signed an agreement with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday to work toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The nomination, reported by Norway's state broadcaster, NRK, comes a little more than a month after a group of House Republicans sent a letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee formally requesting that the president be nominated for the coveted prize. The Norwegian lawmakers who nominated Trump were Christian Tybring-Gjedde and Per-Willy Amundsen of the country's right-leaning Progress Party, which advocates for limited immigration and shrinking the size of government. The nomination is for the 2019 prize, because nominations for this year closed in January.”



Trump has no events on his public schedule today.

The Congressional Baseball Game will be held tonight at Nats Park.


“Look, the last president was handed the Nobel Peace Prize — this president’s actually going to earn it, and that’s all we need to know from this.” — White House adviser Kellyanne Conway on the president's efforts in North Korea (Karen DeYoung and John Wagner).



-- It will be sunny and less humid in the District today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Sunrise (now at earliest of the year) is greeted with clearing skies and falling humidity. The result is a pleasantly sunny and dry afternoon, with highs in the low to mid-80s.”

-- The Nationals beat the Yankees 5-4. (Jorge Castillo)

-- The majority of Capitals' players said they would attend a White House celebration of their Stanley Cup victory. Samantha Pell reports: “[But forward Devante] Smith-Pelly, who is black and Canadian, was asked by a reporter before the Capitals won the Stanley Cup about potentially going to the White House. He said he did not want to go.”

-- Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous is receiving a cash infusion of about $1 million in the final run-up to the Democratic primary. Ovetta Wiggins and Arelis R. Hernández report: “Political analysts say the money could be a game-changer for Jealous, a first-time candidate, freeing up his own resources and paying for television ads, canvassers and get-out-the-vote efforts on Election Day.”

-- A Maryland judge threw out a challenge to gubernatorial candidate Krishanti Vignarajah’s eligibility because of the lawsuit’s timing but did not comment on the case’s merit. From Rachel Chason: “Maryland law requires that challenges to eligibility based on residency be filed within nine days of the filing deadline, which was Feb. 27. [Judge Alison L. Asti] denied the request ‘in less than 30 minutes,’ Vignarajah’s campaign said in a news release. The statement said that the court hearing ‘affirmed that Vignarajah has been a validly registered voter for the requisite period to be eligible to serve as Governor.’ But the court order did not mention Vignarajah’s registration, only the timeliness of the lawsuit.”

-- D.C. officials released figures showing 59 percent of seniors in the District’s public school system graduated on time this month, a dip from last year’s record high of 73 percent. (Perry Stein)


Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci and Stormy Daniels's lawyer Michael Avenatti sat down with Stephen Colbert:

Today is the first anniversary of the shooting at a Republican baseball practice in Alexandria. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) shared this video to recognize the event:

Today also marks the first anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire in London that killed 72 people. The Post spoke to people affected by the tragedy:

The British prime minister was asked her opinion on Trump versus Trudeau:

A CNN host defended the press after Trump declared “Fake News” to be the country's “biggest enemy”:

And Donald Glover surprised a group of Chicago high school students with a performance of “This is America”: