with Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve 

THE BIG IDEA: Young boys who were forcibly taken away from their parents are waking up this morning at an old Walmart in Brownsville, Texas, that’s been converted into a shelter called “Casa Padre.” Painted on the wall is a mural of President Trump and a quote from “The Art of the Deal,” his 1987 book. “Sometimes by losing a battle,” it reads, “you find a new way to win the war.”

Make no mistake: The executive order Trump signed Wednesday to end his own policy of separating families who are caught crossing the border illegally was a tactical retreat. It was not a surrender. The president’s war on immigration — both illegal and legal — rages on.

-- Trump made clear during a campaign-style rally last night in Minnesota that he hopes the order will let him shift the immigration debate back toward terrain he’s more confident he can win on. Speaking to 9,000 supporters at a hockey arena in Duluth, the president leaned into the us-against-them language that propelled his 2016 bid.

“I signed an executive order (so) we’re going to keep families together, but the border is going to be just as tough as it’s been,” Trump said. “Democrats don’t care about the impact of uncontrolled migration on your communities, your schools, your hospitals, your jobs or your safety. Democrats put illegal immigrants before American citizens. What the hell is going on?

“The media never talks about the American victims of illegal immigration,” he added. “What's happened to their children? What's happened to their husbands? What's happened to their wives? The media doesn't talk about American families permanently separated from their loved ones.”

As the crowd chanted “build that wall,” Trump attacked the caliber of Mexican immigrants to the United States: “They’re not sending their finest,” he said. “And we’re sending them the hell back!”

Raul L. Ortiz of U.S. Border Patrol's Rio Grande Valley sector said he anticipates prosecutions will continue under the “zero tolerance” immigration policy. (The Washington Post)

-- To wit, the Border Patrol says Trump’s “zero tolerance” approach will continue, which means any adult caught crossing the border will be prosecuted with a misdemeanor and families will now be held together in federal custody pending the trial. There’s a great deal of uncertainty among experts about whether this can pass legal muster, but immigrant advocates worry that Trump is laying the groundwork for indefinite detention.

And senior administration officials said the order did not stipulate that the more than 2,300 children already separated from their parents would be immediately reunited with them … Top officials at the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees their supervision, were unable to say when the families would be reunited,” David Nakamura, Nick Miroff and Josh Dawsey report. “One senior DHS official acknowledged that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has almost no ability to add detention capacity for families because its jails are already full. … The DHS official said ICE is not planning to put children in adult detention centers as prohibited under the 1997 court settlement in Flores v. Reno, which stipulated immigrant children must be placed in the least restricted environment possible while awaiting immigration court proceedings.”

Trump reiterated that Congress must come up with a solution. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen even told lawmakers during a private briefing that the family separations could resume if they fail to act.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) on June 20 got into an argument on the House floor over two Republican immigration bills. (C-SPAN)

-- But, but, but: The prospects for imminent congressional action are looking grim. “A House immigration bill meticulously negotiated by Republicans appeared to be on the brink of failure ahead of a planned Thursday vote after House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and a top conservative leader engaged in an unusually heated floor confrontation,” Mike DeBonis reports. “Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) argued with Ryan in plain view of lawmakers, aides and reporters during a Wednesday afternoon vote — a dispute that Meadows later confirmed surrounded the immigration votes … The typically mild-mannered Meadows could be seen repeating ‘it doesn’t matter’ as Ryan spoke to him, and he walked away from Ryan at one point only to return and continue arguing.

“Speaking to reporters afterward, Meadows accused Ryan and other House leaders of a bait-and-switch — agreeing to a deal on what would be contained in the compromise legislation only to leave key provisions out of the final text. ‘There were things that were supposed to be in the compromise bill that everybody agreed to,’ Meadows said. ‘The talking points do not match the legislative text.’”

Senators react to President Trump's executive order about family separation at the border on June 20. (The Washington Post)

-- Don’t discount the possibility that this is partly about shifting blame from Trump to the courts.

The executive order directs the Justice Department to appeal a 2015 decision by a federal judge in California that immigrant families can only be held together for 20 days. The judge, Dolly Gee, was appointed by Barack Obama, and legal scholars don’t expect her to necessarily go along with the administration’s request because it could lead to families being indefinitely detained.

Gene Hamilton, a top adviser to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, told reporters during a conference call that the ball will be in Gee’s court. “This is a stopgap measure and the president is doing everything he can within existing authority,” he said. “It’s on Judge Gee to render a decision here: Are we going to be able to retain alien families together or are we not?”

White House Counsel Donald McGahn pushed back internally when the president ordered an end to the separations yesterday morning, arguing that an order could not be written to comply with the existing legal limits on child detentions. “Many aides, though, including Ivanka Trump and Kellyanne Conway, urged the president to end the separations. Eventually, after a number of meetings, ideas and drafts, McGahn said the final product could be legal,” David, Nick and Josh report.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested nearly 150 employees of a Salem, Ohio, meatpacking plant for immigration violations on June 19. (The Washington Post)

-- Meanwhile, the Justice Department has formally requested the Defense Department's help in prosecuting the surge of new immigration cases, and the Pentagon has agreed to deploy active-duty military officers to the border in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico to serve as special assistant U.S. attorneys. These judge advocate generals, known as JAGs, are being told to expect six-month tours of duty, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow reports.

-- ICE is also ramping up raids in the heartland: While we were watching the Southern border this week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 146 workers at a meatpacking plant in rural Ohio. It was one of the largest workplace raids carried out so far by the Trump administration. Agents lined up dozens of workers, in white helmets and smocks. Two weeks ago, ICE arrested 114 workers at a gardening company’s two Ohio locations. In April, the feds raided a meatpacking plant in rural Tennessee and arrested 97 immigrants. In January, ICE agents blitzed dozens of 7-Eleven stores — but made only 21 arrests.

These raids, too, are tearing families apart. “One father said to me, ‘I feel like my heart is being pulled out.’ His wife was taken, and he has two children under the age of 2,” Sister Rene Weeks, director of the Hispanic ministry at St. Paul Church in Salem, Ohio, told Kristine Phillips after this week’s raid.

President Trump told lawmakers June 20 that he'd "rather be strong" on immigration than compassionate. (The Washington Post)

-- Trump remains keen on displaying resolve against illegal immigration and may look for other ways to do so. The president used the word “strong” nine times in rapid succession to describe himself during a meeting with conservative lawmakers in the Roosevelt Room, where he announced the order was being drafted. “We are very strong,” he said. “If you’re really, really pathetically weak, the country is going to be overrun with millions of people, and if you’re strong, then you don’t have any heart. That’s a tough dilemma. Perhaps, I’d rather be strong.”

The president has no intention of rebranding himself as “a compassionate conservative” a la George W. Bush. He made that clear a few hours later when reporters gathered in the Oval Office to watch him sign the order. Before Trump signed it, Vice President Pence announced that doing so showed “compassion and … heart … and respect for families.”

“But it’s still equally as tough,” the president clarified, “if not tougher.”

The Fix's Eugene Scott explains the language President Trump has used to describe immigrants and refugees, dating back to the earliest days of his campaign. (The Washington Post)

-- Bigger picture: “Stoking racial tensions is a feature of Trump’s presidency,” White House bureau chief Phil Rucker reports: “Echoing the words and images of the white nationalist movement to dehumanize immigrants and inflame racial tensions has become a defining feature of Donald Trump’s presidency and of the Republican Party’s brand. Trump has stirred supporters at rallies by reading ‘The Snake,’ a parable about a tenderhearted woman who takes in an ailing snake but is later killed when the revived creature bites her. It should be heard as a metaphor for immigration, he says. The president referred to some African nations as ‘shithole countries.’ He posited that ‘both sides’ were to blame for last summer’s deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. And, again and again, he has accused black football players who took a knee during the playing of the national anthem to protest police discrimination of being un-American.

Throughout his public life, Trump has pitted one group of Americans against another and inserted himself in racial controversies,” Rucker notes. “In 1989, as a celebrity real estate developer, he took out advertisements in New York’s newspapers calling for the death penalty for five black and Latino teenagers who were wrongfully convicted of raping a white female jogger in Central Park. More recently, Trump perpetuated for five years the lie that Barack Obama was born outside the United States to delegitimize his presidency. … Trump is calculating that by playing to people’s fears and anxieties he can maximize turnout among hard-core supporters to counterbalance evident enthusiasm on the Democratic side.”

The Trump administration changed its story on immigrant family separation no fewer than 14 times in one week. (The Washington Post)


-- The Trump administration changed its story on family separation no fewer than 14 times before ending the policy. JM Rieger tracks the evolving messages: “First it was a deterrent. Then it wasn’t. It was a new Justice Department policy. Then it wasn’t. The Trump administration was simply following the law. Then it said separations weren’t required by law. It could not be reversed by executive order. Then it was.” (Check out the video above.)

A Honduran family tried to seek asylum in the U.S. through a port of entry. They were turned away and detained by Mexican authorities. (The Washington Post)


-- “Near the border, different buses take migrants on starkly different paths,” by Maria Sacchetti in McAllen, Tex.: “Some families are deposited together at a small depot downtown, free to head to their next destination and begin new lives in the United States while they await hearings or seek asylum in the backlogged immigration courts. But other buses take the adults alone to a forbidding black office tower nearby, where they stand in shackles and handcuffs as a federal magistrate judge rapid-fire convicts them of illegally entering the United States, virtually assuring their deportation.”

-- The Texas Tribune and Reveal found that some private companies operating immigrant youth shelters have been accused of abuse and neglect: “In nearly all cases, the federal government has continued to place migrant children with the companies even after serious allegations were raised and after state inspectors cited shelters with deficiencies, government and other records show. … In Texas, … state inspectors have cited homes with more than 400 deficiencies, about one-third of them serious. Allegations included staff members’ failure to seek medical attention for children. One had a burn, another a broken wrist, a third a sexually transmitted disease. In another shelter, staff gave a child medicine to which she was allergic, despite a warning on her medical bracelet. Inspectors also cited homes for ‘inappropriate contact’ between children and staff, including a case in which a staff member gave children a pornographic magazine.”

-- Hundreds of demonstrators flocked to New York City’s LaGuardia Airport to protest the policy. Kyle Swenson reports: “The spontaneous demonstration at New York City’s LaGuardia was sparked by rumors of the arrival of migrant children separated from their parents at the southern border. Waving signs and singing songs in English and Spanish, the crowd was both a welcoming party and rebuke of the White House policies that have split the country in recent days. … Although demonstrators had yet to see children deplaning by 1 a.m., the crowd of approximately 300 remained at the airport … Footage from LaGuardia showed lines of individuals hoisting signs — such as ‘Trump Does Not Speak for Us’ and ‘Keep Families Together’ — and crowds singing Mexican folk anthem ‘Cielito Lindo’ and the civil rights hymn ‘Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around.’”

-- New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said hundreds of migrant children have been brought to the city. From the New York Times’s Liz Robbins: “Speaking outside Cayuga Centers in Harlem, one of a group of social service agencies in the state that contract with the federal government to take in unaccompanied minors, [de Blasio] on Wednesday afternoon said 350 children had come through the center and that 239 of them were currently in Cayuga’s care; the agency is not residential, but places children in temporary foster care and runs day programs.”

-- Experts warn the trauma of separation could linger for undocumented children, who may struggle to access psychological services. William Wan reports: “Children who have undergone traumatic separation often cling desperately to their parents after they are reunited and refuse to let them out of their sight, say therapists and child psychologists. Many suffer from separation anxiety, cry uncontrollably and have trouble sleeping because of recurring nightmares. Others develop eating disorders, problems with trust and unresolved anger, in some cases against their parents. … Left untreated, such trauma can lead to deeper problems like post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, alcoholism and even suicidal behavior, said Jodi Berger Cardoso, an assistant professor at the University of Houston who studies the effects of trauma on immigrants.”

-- A Guatemalan woman separated from her 7-year-old son at the border is suing the U.S. government. From Eli Rosenberg: “Beata Mariana de Jesus Mejia-Mejia, 38, says in the lawsuit filed in the federal district court in Washington on Tuesday that more than a month has passed since she has seen her son, Darwin. … The lawsuit names a raft of federal agencies and agency heads that deal with immigration, including the Department of Homeland Security, and sub-agencies like U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection, and the Department of Health and Human Services. It says that the plaintiffs violated Mejia-Mejia’s rights under a United Nations treaties and conventions, as well as the U.S. Constitution.”

-- An 8-month-old and 11-month-old infant arrived in the middle of the night to Grand Rapids, Mich., where they were sent after being torn from their undocumented parents at the U.S. border. And the influx of so many children has alarmed foster care employees in the state, who noted that the children are an average of 8 years old and often arrive petrified and confused. The Detroit Free Press reports: "’These kids are arriving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Not only are they being separated from their family, they are being transported to a place that they don't know in the middle of the night,’ said Hannah Mills, program supervisor [at a foster care program] currently assisting the displaced children. 'We have found on many occasions that no one has explained to these children where they are going.’ … Many have gone 30 days or more without talking to their parents because their parents can't be located, she said.”

-- Actor and activist George Takei argues in Foreign Policy that this situation is in some ways worse than the Japanese internment he was forced to experience during World War II: “[O]vernight my community, my family, and I became the enemy because we happened to look like those who had dropped the bombs. And yet, in one core, horrifying way this is worse. At least during the internment of Japanese-Americans, I and other children were not stripped from our parents. We were not pulled screaming from our mothers’ arms. We were not left to change the diapers of younger children by ourselves.

The Washington Post's immigration reporter, Maria Sacchetti describes what happens to migrant after crossing into the U.S. (The Washington Post)


-- A Nobel Committee member says Trump is “no longer the moral leader of his country or the world.” Thorbjorn Jagland, one of the five members of the Norwegian committee which picks the winner of the peace prize, said: “Everything he does excludes him from the role American presidents have always had. He can not speak on behalf of the so-called free world.” Jagland is the head of the Council of Europe, a Strasbourg-based international human rights organization with 47 signatory states. (AFP)

-- Melania Trump made increasingly clear to her husband in recent days that he should use his power to fix the mess he made. The Slovenian-born first lady’s own lawyer says the family separation policy evoked the internment of the Japanese during World War II and the inhumanity of detention in Nazi Germany. “It reminds us of past mistakes. It’s a big disappointment,” Michael Wildes told Mary Jordan. He also represents Melania’s parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs, and her sister Ines, also from Slovenia. (Wildes declined to say what Ines’s immigration status is at this point…)

-- Theresa May condemned Trump's immigration policy, even as the British prime minister reiterated the importance of keeping open the lines of communication with the United States: “On what we have seen in the United States, pictures of children being held in what appear to be cages are deeply disturbing,” she said. “I clearly, wholly and unequivocally said it is wrong.” But she dismissed calls to cancel Trump’s upcoming U.K. visit., adding that when “we disagree with what they’re doing, we will tell them so.” (Politico)

-- Three major U.S. airlines — American, United and Frontier — each demanded that the federal government refrain from using any of their planes to transport migrant children who have been taken from their parents, saying the practice does “not align with their values.” (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)

-- Longtime flight attendant Hunt Palmquist recounted two flights she took with separated migrant children in the Houston Chronicle: “[T]he images of those helpless children have burned into my psyche. The little children whose faces were full of fear, confusion, sadness and exhaustion left me somewhat traumatized as it occurred to me a few weeks later that I might as well have been a collaborator in their transport.”

-- Others have no qualms about cashing in: An ex-CIA contractor is making millions flying immigrant kids to shelters. The Daily Beast’s Adam Rawnsley and Spencer Ackerman report: “MVM, Inc. went from guarding the U.S. spies in Iraq to hauling children away from the Mexico border on commercial airline flights.”

-- “Tech companies quietly work with ICE as border crisis continues,” by NBC News’s Ben Collins and Meghan Sullivan: “Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Thomson Reuters, Microsoft, Motorola Solutions and Palantir all have active contracts with the agency, known as ICE, according to a public records search … The contracts highlight how technology companies, many of which have developed advanced data analysis and tracking capabilities, are putting their innovations to work with the U.S. government in ways that are often not visible to the public.”

Listen to James's quick summary of today's Big Idea and the headlines you need to know to start your day:
Subscribe to The Daily 202’s Big Idea on
Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple Podcasts and other podcast players.
Welcome to the Daily 202, PowerPost's morning briefing for decision-makers.
Sign up to receive the newsletter.


-- The Trump administration will propose today an overhaul of the federal government that would include merging the Labor and Education departments. Lisa Rein and Damian Paletta report: “The long-awaited proposal to reorganize federal agencies would shrink some and augment the missions of others. It is the result of a directive that Mick Mulvaney, head of the Office of Management and Budget, issued to federal leaders 14 months ago. He urged them to find ways to merge overlapping, duplicative offices and programs and eliminate those the administration views as unnecessary. The plan also is expected to include major changes to the way the government provides benefits for low-income Americans, an area that conservatives have long targeted as excessive, by consolidating safety-net programs that are administered through multiple agencies. The reorganization plan also is likely to revamp the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to shrink its role as the department responsible for employee background checks, retirement claims, benefits and federal workforce policy …

The plan to consolidate the Labor and Education departments … would allow the Trump administration to focus its efforts to train students in vocational skills in one place. Republicans have long expressed an interest in eliminating the Education Department since it was created by President Jimmy Carter in 1980. Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have shown similar leanings. … Many changes the Trump White House will propose Thursday — the Labor and Education merger and other plans to consolidate offices with similar missions, for example — would need to be approved by Congress, making their success a long shot in a politically divided period leading up to the midterm elections.”

President Trump covered many topics during his June 20 "Make America Great Again" rally in Duluth, Minn. Here are some highlights. (The Washington Post)

-- Last night in Minnesota, Trump also aired a string of grievances about how he has not received sufficient credit for his accomplishments. Philip Rucker and Jenna Johnson report: “Trump was simmering with frustration. Trump said he felt wronged that he was not given more credit for his historic meeting last week in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Wronged that his administration’s move to separate migrant children from their parents at the border garnered round-the-clock news coverage. Wronged that the media is not instead focused on this week’s congressional hearings over a Department of Justice inspector general report, and wronged that the report backed up the FBI’s decision not to charge Hillary Clinton with crimes. And wronged that, after defying the predictions of political experts to become elected president as a populist hero, he still is not considered part of the nation’s elite.”

“You ever notice they always call the other side ‘the elite’?” Trump asked. “The elite! Why are they elite? I have a much better apartment than they do. I’m smarter than they are. I’m richer than they are. I became president and they didn’t.”

The former archbishop of Washington, 87-year-old Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was removed from the ministry June 20 due to sexual abuse allegations. (Reuters)


  1. Former Washington archbishop Cardinal McCarrick was “credibly accused” of sexually abusing a teenager and has been removed from the ministry, church officials said. McCarrick's ouster makes the 87-year-old one of the highest-profile figures in the Catholic Church to face accusations of sexual abuse. (Julie Zauzmer, Michelle Boorstein and Dana Hedgpeth)
  2. The organizer of the white supremacist rally that turned fatal last summer in Charlottesville has received approval from the National Park Service to hold an event across the street from the White House on the anniversary of the incident. (Joe Heim)
  3. Deaths now outnumber births among white people in 26 U.S. states, according to a new study, which demographers say significantly ramps up projections for how soon white people will become the new “minority” in America. (New York Times)
  4. The fatal shooting of a black teenager by a police officer has sparked outcry in East Pittsburgh. A video has circulated showing the teenager, identified as Antwon Rose Jr., running with his back to the officer as he is gunned down. (Eli Rosenberg and Keith McMillan)
  5. The Navy’s top political appointee censured three officers for bringing “embarrassment” on the service for their ethics violations in the Fat Leonard corruption scandal. The controversy touched off a sprawling criminal investigation involving the disgraced defense contractor. (Dan Lamothe)
  6. A former Tesla employee being sued by the company claimed he was actually a whistleblower. Tesla has accused Martin Tripp of hacking its computer systems and stealing company secrets, but Tripp says he provided a news outlet with information on “some really scary things” he saw while working for the automaker. (Drew Harwell)
  7. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that his country will legalize the recreational use of cannabis this October, well after his original target date. But Trudeau said the new timeline will ensure a smooth rollout of legalization across each province and will allow vendors ample time to get their storefronts up and running. (CBC)


-- Trump overturned an executive order that was signed by Barack Obama in 2010 to protect the oceans in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. From Darryl Fears: “Obama mentioned the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the largest and costliest oil spill in the nation’s history, in the second sentence of an executive order that detailed the first national ocean policy and called on federal agencies to work closely with states and local governments to manage the waters off their coasts. … In contrast, Trump’s order does not mention the explosion that killed nearly a dozen workers and the spill of 210 million gallons of oil. The second sentence gives a nod to domestic energy production, the jobs it could provide and the financial rewards that can be reaped.”

-- The Senate rejected a plan to cut billions of dollars from the omnibus spending bill Trump signed earlier this year. Erica Werner reports: “The 48-50 vote rebuffed a White House plan to claw back some $15 billion in spending previously approved by Congress — a (symbolic) show of fiscal responsibility that was encouraged by conservative lawmakers outraged over a $1.3 trillion spending bill in March. The House had approved the so-called rescissions package earlier this month. But passage had never been assured in the Senate, where a number of Republicans had been cool to the idea from the start. Nevertheless, Wednesday’s outcome was startling because one of the opposing votes came from Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who does not normally buck the White House or GOP leadership. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a moderate and one of the Republicans who most frequently side with Democrats, cast the other GOP vote against the cuts. Burr’s office said the senator was concerned about $16 million in cuts targeting Land and Water Conservation Fund projects under the U.S. Forest Service.

-- Republican senators criticized Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for the Trump tariffs. Erica reports: “‘Know that you are taxing American families, you are putting American jobs at risk, and you are destroying markets — both foreign and domestic — for American businesses of all types, sorts and sizes,’ Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) told Ross at a committee hearing on the tariffs. Ross countered, arguing that ‘actions taken by the president are necessary to revive America’s essential steel and aluminum industries.’ He added that ‘allowing imports to continue unchecked threatens to impair our national security.’ … ‘I wish we would stop invoking national security because that’s not what this is about,’ Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) said. ‘This is about economic nationalism.’ Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a member of GOP leadership, told Ross, ‘This thing seems to be escalating out of control fairly quickly.’”


-- Rudy Giuliani said Trump’s decision on whether to sit for an interview with Robert Mueller could be delayed until July. Robert Costa and John Wagner report: “Giuliani said last week that he expected Trump and his attorneys to decide about a face-to-face interview by the end of this month. But in an interview, Giuliani said [the newly released DOJ inspector general report] has upended that plan as the president and his team discuss the fallout. ‘I’m advising him to stay put, to hold our horses a little,’ Giuliani [said.]”

-- Michael Cohen resigned from his post as the Republican National Committee's deputy finance chairman, a role that the RNC has allowed the president's longtime fixer to keep for months despite cascading federal investigations into his business dealings. Cohen cited family separations at the border as a reason for stepping down. “This important role requires the full time attention and dedication of each member. Given the ongoing Mueller and SDNY investigations, that simply is impossible for me to do,” Cohen wrote in his resignation letter. He added, “As the son of a Polish holocaust survivor, the images and sounds of this family separation policy is heart wrenching. … While I strongly support measures that will secure our porous borders, children should never be used as bargaining chips.” (ABC News)

-- Federal investigators probing whether Cohen attempted to suppress damaging information about Trump during the 2016 campaign have subpoenaed the publisher of the National Enquirer. The subpoena requests records related to the tabloid’s $150,000 payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who alleges she had an affair with Trump. Authorities are investigating whether the payment for the rights to McDougal’s story violated campaign-finance laws. (Wall Street Journal)

-- A longtime U.S. lobbyist for Oleg Deripaska, the Russian oligarch who was offered private campaign briefings by then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in 2016, visited Julian Assange nine times at the Ecuadoran Embassy last year. The Guardian’s Stephanie Kirchgaessner and Luke Harding report: “Adam Waldman, who has worked as a Washington lobbyist for the metals tycoon since 2009, had more meetings with Assange in 2017 than almost anyone else, [visitor logs show]. It is not clear why Waldman went to the WikiLeaks founder or whether the meetings had any connection to the Russian billionaire … But the disclosure is likely to raise further questions about the extent and nature of Assange’s alleged ties to Russia. Waldman is a lawyer and consultant in Washington and Deripaska’s primary lobbyist.”

-- Oops: ABC News apologized after it aired a graphic that incorrectly said Manafort had pleaded guilty to five charges of manslaughter. Trump's former campaign chairman is in jail while he faces charges of money laundering and fraud. (AP)

-- Testifying before Congress, former Obama administration officials acknowledged mistakes they made in responding to Russian interference and urged the Trump White House to learn from them. From Karoun Demirjian: “‘The Russians, and particularly this Kremlin, watch what we do more than what we say — so active deterrence measures would have perhaps been more effective,’ former assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland told the Senate Intelligence Committee . . . Nuland spoke to the intelligence panel alongside former cybersecurity coordinator J. Michael Daniel, and both said the Obama administration’s approach to countering Russia had been too fractured and too timid to compel the Kremlin to rethink its actions. … Nuland and Daniel warned that the Trump administration was in danger of allowing foreign efforts to influence elections proceed unchecked — exposing the United States to potential interference not just from Russia, but from China and others as well.”


-- Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who left the Republican Party in 2007 to become an independent, is planning to spend $80 million this year to assist Democratic efforts to retake the House. The New York Times’s Alexander Burns reports: “By siding so emphatically with one party, Mr. Bloomberg has the potential to upend the financial dynamics of the midterm campaign, which have appeared to favor Republicans up to this point. Facing intense opposition to [Trump] … Republicans have been counting on a strong economy and heavily funded outside groups to give them a political advantage in key races, especially in affluent suburbs where it is expensive to run television ads. Mr. Bloomberg’s intervention is likely to undermine that financial advantage by bankrolling advertising on television, online and in the mail for Democratic candidates in a dozen or more congressional districts, chiefly in moderate suburban areas where Mr. Trump is unpopular. While Mr. Bloomberg has not chosen his list of targeted races yet, he is unlikely to get involved in rural, conservative-leaning districts where his views on guns and other issues could stir an uproar. . . . The new alliance between Mr. Bloomberg, 76, and congressional Democrats marks a fresh stage in the former mayor’s political evolution.”

-- Democrats need the help: The RNC’s war chest is nearly twice the size of the DNC’s. Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Anu Narayanswamy report: “As the majority of states gear up for 2018 general-election battles, the RNC yet again showed its fundraising power, hauling in another $14 million in May for a total of $187.7 million for the cycle, according to new Federal Election Commission records filed Wednesday night. The Democratic National Committee raised $5.6 million in May for a total of $97.8 million for the cycle. The DNC also remained in debt this month, as it has all year, with $8.7 million cash on hand and $5.7 million in debt, FEC records show.”

-- Giuliani’s relationship with his new girlfriend, GOP fundraiser Jennifer LeBlanc, is causing headaches for national Republicans. Politico’s Alex Isenstadt reports: “In a move that blindsided the West Wing and sent Hill Republicans into a tizzy, [Giuliani] is throwing his support behind an obscure House candidate in Louisiana trying to take out incumbent GOP Rep. Clay Higgins. But the bizarre tale of Giuliani’s interest in an off-the-radar congressional race only begins there. It turns out [LeBlanc] is working for the Republican challenger in the race, Josh Guillory. … LeBlanc had been on Higgins’ payroll until late last year when she abruptly parted ways with the congressman. ‘We have a National Enquirer-type situation going on down in Louisiana's 3rd Congressional District,’ said state Attorney General Jeff Landry[.] . . . [His] foray into the race has infuriated senior party officials … [and] Republican leaders worry that Giuliani will give Guillory the imprimatur of Trump’s blessing, even though the president hasn’t endorsed in the race.”

-- Longtime political strategist Steve Schmidt, who spent three decades working at the highest echelons of Republican politics, elaborated on his decision to leave the GOP in an interview with Dan Balz“Trump’s election did not spell doom for the Republican Party,” Schmidt said. “The reality is that our Founders always predicted [a president like Trump] … What they never imagined is the utter abdication of a co-equal branch of government, which we’re seeing now. … The definition of conservatism now is the requirement of complete and utter obedience to the leader.’”

-- A growing number of House Democratic hopefuls have vowed to dump Nancy Pelosi as minority leader if they are elected in this year’s midterms. Politico’s Elena Schneider and Heather Caygle report: “[At least] 20 House Democratic challengers [have] publicly rejected the minority leader on the campaign trail. . . . A trend that started in earnest with Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.), who won a special election deep in Trump country, has spread rapidly to encompass a growing cadre of candidates — many in must-win districts for Democrats — that threatens Pelosi’s nearly sixteen-year grip on the party’s leadership. If Democrats win the House by a narrow margin, the 78-year-old leader could lose only a handful of lawmakers' support and still secure the 218 votes needed to clinch the speakership in a floor vote. In that scenario, Pelosi would face a freshman class with a significant bloc of Democrats who are on record promising to oppose her or calling for new leadership."

-- During his Duluth rally, Trump appeared to promote Republican Tim Pawlenty’s gubernatorial bid by giving a shout-out to Pawlenty’s running mate. Amy Gardner reports: “[Pawlenty] has struggled to strike a balance between praising Trump’s leadership as president and explaining his strong rebukes of Trump in 2016 after a video emerged showing Trump bragging about groping and harassing women. [Michelle] Fischbach, who is seeking the nomination to serve as Pawlenty’s lieutenant governor, already holds that position, having risen to the job last year after Sen. Al Franken resigned under accusations of sexual harassment. … ‘She has been so great,’ Trump said of Fischbach at his rally in Duluth. ‘She’s got a big race coming along. It’s going to be so great.’ Pawlenty supporters privately have expressed confidence that the president would not support Jeff Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner who is also vying for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.”

-- Last night's rally marks the beginning of the president's ramped-up travel schedule for the midterm elections. CNN’s Dan Merica reports: “On Saturday, Trump will then rally with Republicans in Las Vegas and headline a fundraiser for Sen. Dean Heller[.] Trump will then travel to South Carolina … [to stump on behalf of] South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster …. Trump has told aides that he expects to constantly be on the road for the midterms, with an increased focus on large rallies that bring hundreds of his supporters together for lengthy speeches full of red-meat.” “He has said he expects to be on the road five or six times a week,” said Bill Stepien, White House political director.

-- Maryland’s Democratic gubernatorial primary is reviving party debates over how liberal candidates can win in general elections. Robert McCartney and Ovetta Wiggins report: “The battle between [Ben] Jealous, a first-time candidate, and Rushern L. Baker III, the two-term Prince George’s county executive, mirrors a national pattern: Activists inspired by the 2016 presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — and frustrated by recent Republican victories — are confronting more traditional candidates closer to the mold of [Clinton]. What’s different about Maryland is that Jealous, a former NAACP president, has expanded the Sanders base by adding support from influential unions, prominent African American politicians and cash from national liberal donors. … [Jealous] tells audiences he’s building a multiracial coalition to ‘rebel together’ and says the nation’s economic divide requires bold liberal policies to end poverty and improve the lives of working people. Only with such a platform, he and others say, can Democrats spur turnout to defeat Republicans such as [Gov. Larry Hogan] and President Trump.”

-- A measure that would create a citizens’ redistricting commission to draw state legislative and congressional maps won a place on Michigan’s November ballot. From David Weigel: “Voters Not Politicians had collected more than 425,000 signatures (315,654 were required) for a measure that would amend Michigan’s constitution by taking redistricting out of the state legislature and handing it to a 13-member commission — four Republicans, four Democrats, and three unaffiliated voters. Members of that commission could not include elected officials; anyone serving on the commission would be barred from seeking office until at least five years after their work was complete. By making the ballot, Fahey’s group added to a run of successes for anti-gerrymandering campaigners.”

-- A record 68 percent of voters are weighing which party they want to control Congress in considering their midterm choices. From the Pew Research Center: “Compared with recent midterms, more voters also say their view of the president — positive or negative — will influence their vote for Congress. A 60% majority say they consider their midterm vote as essentially a vote either for Donald Trump (26%) or against him (34%). These are among the highest shares saying their view of the president would be a factor in their vote in any midterm in more than three decades. In early voting intentions, 48% of registered voters say they would favor the Democratic candidate in their district, or lean toward the Democrat, while 43% favor the Republican or lean Republican.”


-- The repatriation of U.S. service members’ remains from North Korea is expected in coming days. Dan Lamothe and Missy Ryan report: “Officials said a transfer could occur in the next few days but that details and exact timing have not been finalized. Trump, speaking at a rally in Minnesota on Wednesday, appeared to suggest the transfer had already occurred. ‘We got back our great fallen heroes, the remains,’ he said. ‘In fact, today, already 200 have been sent back.’ … CNN reported Tuesday that the remains of as many as 200 U.S. troops could be returned as part of that agreement, but officials said it was too early to say how many would be included.”

-- A key nuclear expert involved in the North Korea talks is leaving the White House. John Hudson and Karen DeYoung report: “The departure of Andrea Hall, the National Security Council’s top staff official on weapons of mass destruction, comes as the Trump administration assembles a negotiating team capable of the intricate task of understanding and negotiating over North Korea’s elaborate array of nuclear weapons production facilities, warheads and missiles to deliver them. Until last week, Hall led an interagency task force for denuclearizing North Korea that included members of the State Department, Pacific Command, the National Nuclear Security Administration and other agencies. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo specifically mentioned her job when he criticized a New York Times report last week that noted the paucity of nuclear physicists advising the president on North Korea.”

-- Jared Kushner’s financial ties to Israeli firms are raising alarms among Palestinian officials engaging in peace talks with the White House adviser. Michael Kranish reports: “Kushner and his family company have made substantial investments over the years with Israel-based banks and companies, and his financial interests expanded over the past year, according to a disclosure report released last week. … The diplomatic stakes for Kushner are extraordinarily high as he prepares to arrive in Israel on Friday, seeking to fulfill a challenge made by his father-in-law, President Trump, who said last year that if Kushner ‘can’t produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can.’ … Aaron David Miller, a Middle East negotiator for both Republican and Democratic administrations, said Kushner’s Israeli ties make his peace mission even more challenging because of perceptions of bias. … He said that without ‘buy in’ from Palestinian leaders, the chance of success were ‘slim to none.’”

-- A U.N. report documenting the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war left out many horrifying details the commission’s investigation uncovered. The New York Times’s Rick Gladstone and Maggie Haberman report: “At least twice this year, the Syrian military fired Iranian-made artillery shells filled with a chlorine-like substance that oozed poison slowly, giving victims just a few minutes to escape. In another attack, Syrian forces dropped a chemical bomb on the top-floor balcony of an apartment building, killing 49 people, including 11 children. Their skin turned blue. … The materials in the leaked draft paint a far more frightening picture of chemical weapons use in eastern Ghouta than had been previously reported. And they assert without qualification that Syrian forces and their allies were responsible, rebutting repeated denials by Mr. Assad’s government and his backers in Russia and Iran.” A member of the commission claimed the details were left out of the final draft due to lack of corroboration, not outside pressure.

-- German Chancellor Angela Merkel agrees with Trump that her country’s military needs an upgrade, but the U.S. president’s taunts may be impeding the process. Griff Witte reports from Berlin: “A litany of seemingly immovable German political obstacles, including the country’s obsession with balanced budgets, explains its historically rooted aversion to military might and its desire to match hard power with soft. Plus, there’s Trump himself. ‘He is not helpful — not helpful at all,’ said Reinhard Brandl, a member of Merkel’s center-right party who has used his perch on the parliament’s defense and budget committees to push for higher military spending. ‘In fact, there’s a counter-reaction. When Trump says ‘2 percent,’ our people say, ‘We should not invest 2 percent because we’re not going to be blackmailed.’’”

-- “Mexico’s next president could be a leftist demagogue or a practical reformer. He’s the same man,” by Kevin Sieff and Joshua Partlow: “[Andrés Manuel López Obrador], a longtime fixture of the left and former mayor of Mexico City, holds a commanding lead in polls leading up to the July 1 vote … [M]embers of Mexico’s powerful private sector have suggested that López Obrador’s most dramatic policies could have devastating effects on the economy. Analysts and intellectuals say his lack of respect for Mexican government institutions could usher in a period of quasi-autocracy. … Many Mexicans say the fear of a López Obrador presidency is overblown, and fanned by his political opponents. At this stage of the campaign, the candidate appears to be embracing a kind of centrism, courting some of the business leaders who had expressed concern about his ascent.”


Democratic lawmakers argued that Trump's executive order on border policy didn't go far enough:

Barack Obama encouraged people to welcome immigrants in recognition of World Refugee Day:

Today is World Refugee Day. If you've been fortunate enough to have been born in America, imagine for a moment if...

Posted by Barack Obama on Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) counter-attacked Democrats:

Amid the uproar, Trump canceled the congressional picnic scheduled for today. So he will not need to interact with congressional Democrats:

Other leading Republicans pulled out of a Latino conference where they might not get a very welcoming reception:

Ivanka Trump finally spoke out on the issue — to praise her dad for suspending his own policy. A former senior adviser to Obama replied:

From an information warfare expert:

From a former senior strategist for John McCain and John Kasich:

An MSNBC host who covered Trump during the campaign explained his aversion to appearing weak:

A DHS spokesman attacked airlines for saying they don't want their planes to help take kids from their parents:

Utah's Republican lieutenant governor received an outpouring of responses after tweeting about his anger from the family separations:

Michael Avenatti shared a letter from one of his immigrant clients who was separated from her daughter:

From a CNN host:

A Democratic congressman and Senate candidate remembered another group of migrants who attempted to come to America:

A Post reporter responded to George Takei's piece on Japanese internment:

The Mexican restaurant where protesters confronted the DHS secretary received a lot of Yelp reviews:

A Politico columnist identified one of the few winners of the separation crisis:

One GOP congressman quickly pushed back on Trump's account of his meeting with House Republicans:

During the rally, the president returned to some of his stand-by lines, per a New York Times reporter: 

Fox News took a swipe at its competitors:

Some Republicans, even those critical of Trump, questioned Steve Schmidt's decision to leave the party. From a conservative HLN host:

Meghan McCain explained why she has stuck with the GOP:

This moment from the Capitol, recounted by a Hill reporter, speaks volumes:

And a Post reporter shared the latest complaint against Trump's Washington hotel:


-- FiveThirtyEight, “Doug Jones Thinks He’s Supposed To Be Here,” by Clare Malone: “[Two] years away from standing for re-election, Jones is faced with the reality of what it means to govern as a Democrat in a blood-red state in a country divided by tribal politics. [Trump] won Alabama with 62 percent … and Jones’s tenuous coalition rests not only on the support of the black community, but also on those independents and Republicans — many of whom are white in a state still riven by racial tensions. And that’s meant that Jones has had to become a culture warrior of a different sort, preaching peace, love and understanding to both his liberal base and his more circumspect constituents unused to voting for a Democrat. Call it the gospel of moderation. In today’s politics, a certain temperament is required to be a part of the center that’s barely holding. Most people would tire of centrist sermonizing and turning the other cheek, but Doug Jones swears by it. … His re-election rests on whether Alabamians buy in.”

-- GQ, “The Real Story of Donald Trump Jr.,” by Julia Ioffe: “It's hard being Don. Struggling to make a mark. Living as the junior to Trump senior. Existing as the shy kid who takes solace in the outdoors. Growing into a man who desperately wants his father's love and pride yet is always mindful of the distance between them. His struggles are compounded by the perception that his life of privilege ought to be effortless. Though to understand the strange gantlet of duty and drama that has marked that life is to wonder how anything would be simple for Donald Trump Jr.”

-- NBC News, “Global warming, now brought to you by your local TV weathercaster,” by James Rainey: “The friendly neighborhood meteorologist — found in a 2010 poll to be more skeptical than the general public about global warming — has rapidly evolved to not only accept climate change but to share the news with audiences in hundreds of U.S. television markets. Key to the shift has been Climate Central … The Princeton, New Jersey-based organization sponsors classes and webinars for meteorologists and also shares real-time data and graphics with TV stations. The group has reached more than 500 local TV weathercasters — about a quarter of those working in the U.S. — since it started its ‘Climate Matters’ education program in 2012, and it is expanding this week to a wider group of journalists.”


“PayPal Blocks Sales Of School Shooting Video Game,” from HuffPost: “It’s getting close to game over for a controversial school shooting video game after PayPal joined a growing list of companies that have refused to support it. The online payments company confirmed Wednesday that it has shut down an account being used to sell the video game, ‘Active Shooter,’ which allows players to simulate carrying out a mass-casualty attack with a gun, grenade or knife. Though the game’s developer, Acid Software ― which is listed online as based in Moscow, Russia ― continues to offer a free demo of its product on its websites, PayPal’s decision would significantly hamper its ability to collect profit online. After ‘Active Shooter’ was removed from the gaming sites, it was listed on two separate websites set up by the developer, but removed after the company hosting them received complaints … The sites were subsequently set up on Russian servers[.]”



“ESPN's Internal Political Divide: Bristol Tradition vs. ‘Woke’ Reformers,” from the Hollywood Reporter: “[New ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro] assumed stewardship over a company [as the] 8,000-employee sports behemoth was being buffeted by political controversies (including widespread NFL anthem protests) that exacerbated its relationship with arguably the most powerful league in sports. … So Pitaro's mandate was to calm the waters. When he was asked by staff about charges of a liberal bias at ESPN, he pushed back. The company, he told employees, is not ‘a political organization. Of course there will be an intersection between sports and politics. We will cover that fairly. But we are focused on serving the sports fan.’ … For many ESPN employees, friction between its journalism and its rights partners is nothing new. … [But] the irony of being cast as a target of the right is that much of the leadership in Bristol is actually conservative …”



Trump will hold a Cabinet meeting and participate in a working lunch with governors. He later has two meetings with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.


“I got along with Kim Jong Un — and that’s a good thing, not a bad thing,” Trump said in Duluth. “The fact that we do get along means we’re safe. I’m not saying things can’t happen. Things go wrong. Mistakes are made. Relationships get broken. But right now, you are so safe, and such a great event took place.” (Philip Rucker and Jenna Johnson)


-- It’s the longest day of the year, and Washington is celebrating with lowered heat and humidity. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Lingering showers are possible especially east of the city early on but quickly dissipate. Clouds remain scattered through the day, with light north winds. Humidity is moderate and highs peak in the low to mid-80s — which is near to slightly cooler than normal.”

-- The Nationals lost to the Orioles 3-0. (Jorge Castillo)

-- The fight over Initiative 77, which would raise tipped workers’ minimum wage from $3.33 to $15, has shifted to the D.C. Council after District voters approved the ballot measure this week. From Fenit Nirappil and Reis Thebault: “Opponents of Initiative 77, led by the restaurant industry, want the council to overturn the ballot measure, which voters approved by a margin of 55 percent to 44 percent. But supporters are demanding that the council respect the results of Tuesday’s election, saying it would be undemocratic to negate the will of voters. Now, city leaders find themselves in the uncomfortable position of deciding whether to cancel a pay raise approved by voters in a city with some of the most labor-friendly laws in the country.”

-- A coalition of abortion rights groups is suing Virginia over restrictions they consider to be medically unnecessary. The group argues the restrictions, which include a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion and a state-mandated abdominal ultrasound, are unconstitutional following the 2016 Supreme Court case Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt. (Laura Vozzella)


Late-night hosts mocked Trump for taking credit for ending family separations at the border:

Trump mocked protesters who interrupted him in Minnesota. When one young man was escorted out by authorities, Trump yelled, “Going home to his mom!” A few minutes later, when another man with long, straggly hair was led out of the arena, the president asked: “Is that a man or a woman? I couldn’t tell. Needs a haircut!”

A protester that interrupted President Trump's "Make America Great Again" rally in Duluth, Minn. on June 20, was booed out of the event. (The Washington Post)

The Fix's Eugene Scott analyzed how Trump has talked about immigrants and refugees:

The Fix's Eugene Scott explains the language President Trump has used to describe immigrants and refugees, dating back to the earliest days of his campaign. (The Washington Post)

Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.), who is running for president in 2020, released a television ad about immigrants, telling the story of his grandfather coming to America in 1923:

A female reporter carried on with her live World Cup broadcast even after being groped by a fan:

(The reporter later called out the behavior in an Instagram post, demanding respect for women covering the games.)