“Republicans should stop wasting their time on Immigration until after we elect more Senators and Congressmen/women in November,” Trump tweeted. “We can pass great legislation after the Red Wave!”
The president’s latest morning tweetstorm further reduces the odds that the House will pass a carefully negotiated bill next week, which would protect “dreamers” from deportation, authorize money for a border wall and avert family separation. The legislation designed to garner GOP consensus was poised to go down in flames if it came up today, so House GOP leaders announced last night that they are postponing consideration until next week so that they can make further adjustments. Another bill that more closely matched Trump’s immigration priorities failed Thursday on the House floor, 231 to 193.
Despite Trump’s tactical retreat on family separations this week, he continues to believe that immigration should be a defining issue of the 2018 elections and that it will galvanize the GOP base. This puts him at odds with most veteran Republican strategists, campaign managers and pollsters who think the party would be much better off focusing on the strong economy and the GOP tax cuts. But Trump believes he has superior political instincts than these experts and that his unexpected victory in 2016 proves it.
But two new polls suggest that immigration may not be as effective an issue for Trump in 2018 as it was two years ago. In fact, Trump’s fixation on building the wall and reducing the number of immigrants who are allowed into the country appears to be a key reason that those ideas are becoming less popular.
-- A Gallup poll published Thursday shows that a record-high 75 percent of Americans, including majorities across all party groups, think immigration is a good thing for the U.S., up from 71 percent last year. Just 19 percent of the public considers immigration a bad thing. When asked more specifically about “legal” immigration, 84 percent said it’s a good thing.
Perhaps more significantly, Gallup found a record-low number of Americans — only 29 percent — think immigration into the U.S. should be decreased, which has been one of Trump’s core demands to congressional negotiators. A 39 percent plurality think immigration should be kept at its present level, while 28 percent say it should be increased.
“These results mark a six-point drop from one year ago in the percentage of those preferring a reduction in immigration,” notes Gallup’s Megan Brenan.
Gallup polling has also shown that the public is at odds with Trump over the border wall and strongly favors allowing beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to remain in the United States and have a path to citizenship.
-- A Pew Research Center poll published Wednesday found that Democrats have opened a 14-point advantage over Republicans when registered voters are asked which party would better handle immigration, up from just six points last fall.
This is the largest Democratic advantage on immigration in Pew’s polling since 2006. During Barack Obama’s administration, neither party held a significant advantage in dealing with immigration issues. (Dems had an 11-point edge in 2017, which was also almost certainly the result of anti-Trump backlash.)
Additionally, immigration now tops the list of issues that voters say they most want to hear candidates talking about — a testament to the power of the presidential bully pulpit. Asked as an open-ended question, 19 percent of voters said they want to hear about immigration and 13 percent said they want to hear about health care. A similar share of Republicans (21 percent) picked immigration as Democrats (18 percent).
Trump’s focus on the issue has motivated Democrats to care more about immigration than they did in the past and to hold more progressive views. In 2010, only 28 percent of Democrats said they wanted to hear candidates talking about immigration. Now 48 percent do. Eight years ago, 35 percent of Republicans wanted to hear candidates talk about the issue. That number is essentially unchanged now, at 34 percent.
These immigration numbers must be viewed against the backdrop of other issues. Republicans have opened a nine-point advantage on which party is best to deal with the economy (45 percent to 36 percent). Last October, Democrats had a three-point edge (41 percent to 38 percent). Typically to win elections, you play to your biggest strengths. Trump has not chosen to take this approach:
-- What makes these two polls especially striking is that they were both in the field several days before the national furor over Trump’s separation policy reached a fever pitch. The Pew survey was conducted June 5-12. The Gallup poll was conducted June 1-13.
-- Many Americans now take their cues from Trump — in both parties:
Trump once boasted that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, and his supporters would stick with him. We don’t know if that’s technically true — and hopefully we’ll never find out — but he’s proved to have a Teflon coating that has kept his boosters remarkably loyal and his personal favorability durable. From “Access Hollywood” to Charlottesville and James Comey to Stormy Daniels, he’s continued to consolidate support among Republicans and his approval among members of his own party has never been as high as it is now.
But tribalism is a two-way street: One big reason the border wall has become less popular since Trump made it the centerpiece of his campaign is that Democrats changed their minds about it.
A Fox News poll in 2010 found that 53 percent of Americans supported building a wall to stop illegal immigration, including 60 percent of Republicans and 46 percent of Democrats.
A CBS News poll last month asked the question with almost the same language, and only 38 percent favored the wall: 78 percent of Republicans but just 13 percent of Democrats.
Support among independents dropped from 52 percent in 2010 to 34 percent now.
-- The electorate tends to move in the opposite direction of whoever is president, but the scale of the shift on several issues, including immigration, seems historically unusual. Americans became more liberal on a battery of issues when Ronald Reagan was president and more conservative when Obama occupied the Oval Office. Partly this is because ideas that seem good on paper are often less popular in practice. People loved the idea of health care, but implementing Obamacare was a mess. Repealing Obamacare sounded great to a lot of folks who were frustrated by rising premiums and losing their doctors, but many panicked when it looked like they or people they know could get kicked off Medicaid, lose protections for preexisting conditions, etc.
-- Trump’s war on immigration, both legal and illegal, could have dramatic consequences on the GOP brand over the long-term. In 1994, California Republican Gov. Pete Wilson embraced Proposition 187 — which denied public services to undocumented immigrants — as a way to gin up turnout for his reelection campaign. It worked, just as it surely still might for Trump in 2018 or 2020. But it was a shortsighted move that ensured multiple generations of Latinos in the Golden State wouldn’t vote Republican. It was a turning point that propelled the party toward long-term minority status in the country’s most populous state.
THE LATEST FROM THE BORDER:
-- Trump’s executive order ending family separations sparked confusion at the border as officials struggled to understand the it. Nick Miroff, Dan Lamothe and Seung Min Kim report: “After a senior Customs and Border Protection official told The Washington Post that the agency would freeze criminal referrals for migrant parents who cross illegally with children, Justice Department officials insisted that their ‘zero tolerance’ policy remained in force and that U.S. attorneys would continue to prosecute those entering the United States unlawfully. … And despite the ongoing outcry over the separation of more than 2,300 migrant children from their parents since May 5, Trump administration officials gave no assurances that the families would be swiftly reunited. …
“In scenes reminiscent of the botched ‘Muslim ban’ in the early days of the Trump presidency, federal agencies Thursday were largely left to interpret the sudden changes ordered by the White House the day before and figure out how to implement them. A family separation system that had been planned and tested over several months vanished at the president’s pen, with no stated plan to reverse its effects. Administration officials held a meeting Thursday evening to grapple with the conflicting understandings of what the executive order was meant to do. People familiar with the discussions said the president had indicated his main goal was to lessen the public controversy surrounding separated families.”
-- The Pentagon announced it would house up to 20,000 unaccompanied migrant children on military bases in coming months. Dan, Seung Min and Nick report: “In a notification to lawmakers, the Pentagon said Wednesday night that officials at HHS asked whether beds could be provided for children at military installations ‘for occupancy as early as July through December 31, 2018.’ The plan seemingly will have similarities to 2014, when the Obama administration housed about 7,000 unaccompanied children on three military bases. … The sites will be run by HHS employees or contractors working with them, the memo said.”
-- The Justice Department formally asked a federal judge to waive the limit on how long the government can detain immigrant families together. NBC News’s Pete Williams explains: “Since 1997, an order from a federal district judge in California has set limits on how long children can be detained by immigration authorities. Originally intended to protect only unaccompanied minors, it was amended in 2015 to cover children held with their parents. Under the order, children must generally be moved to an approved facility for minors within 20 days. As long as that limit remains in force, Justice Department lawyers said, the government must either separate the child from the parents or release the family members while they wait for their immigration hearing. But release is not a desirable option, the government said, because many families fail to show up for their hearings and simply remain in the country illegally.”
-- The number of illegal border crossings has jumped as migrants realize Trump’s hard-line immigration proposals have not come to fruition. Kevin Sieff reports: “Figures for apprehensions, a widely used barometer for unauthorized traffic, nearly tripled from March through May compared with the same three months in 2017 . . . There are a variety of reasons for the surge. But for many migrants crossing the border … their attempts are based on close analyses of Trump’s policies. The president who promised a wall, who pledged to make their lives in America impossible, has not managed to shut down the vast smuggling networks that funnel people across the border.”
-- Before Trump’s executive order, the administration was on track to put more than 19,000 migrant children in federal detention by the end of the year. Jeff Stein and Andrew Van Dam did the math: “The number of children being held by the government grew by about 62 per day since May, after Trump's policy of criminally prosecuting all first-time adult border crossers was implemented. Even assuming that the harsher policy deters would-be migrants and slows the rate of increase, the government was on track to detain an additional 1,000 children every month.”
THE LATEST FROM THE CAPITOL:
-- “In a last-ditch effort, Trump called Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) late Thursday and said he backed the broad bill. Goodlatte delivered the president’s message in a rushed, closed-door GOP meeting, but it did little to persuade opponents," Mike DeBonis, Sean Sullivan and John Wagner report. "Key negotiators left the meeting more than an hour later and told reporters they would spend the coming days exploring whether they could find a way to add two elements of the hard-line bill — one requiring employers to screen workers for legal status using a federal database, another dealing with visas for agricultural workers — to the compromise in a bid to win more conservative votes. ... Conservatives have opposed the more moderate measure, believing that it amounts to ‘amnesty’ for the DACA ‘dreamers’ … Days of images and reports about children torn from their parents … has largely failed to change the internal dynamics.”
Republican lawmakers say Trump’s muddled messaging during his Tuesday night visit to the Capitol hurt efforts to whip votes: The president didn’t say which particular bill he wanted and danced on the political grave of Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), whose challenger the president endorsed but who is well-liked by colleagues. “I think the president needs to understand that that may have actually lost him votes in that meeting,” said Rep. Raúl R. Labrador (R-Idaho). “The reason he was there was to emphasize that he had our backs, and I think a different message was sent.”
GOP aides said Trump’s tweet yesterday morning, in which he wondered aloud “what is the purpose” of the House passing a bill that won’t clear the Senate, further deflated efforts to build support “because it signaled to wavering lawmakers that there is little reason to risk a conservative backlash by voting for the more moderate alternative.”
Bottom line: The moderates who agreed to drop the discharge petition in exchange for a vote on a bill crafted by leadership got burned.
-- Paul Ryan “seems to have forgotten the first key step in ‘I’m Just a Bill,’ the ‘Schoolhouse Rock’ jingle that debuted when the future House speaker was 5 years old in 1975,” writes Paul Kane. “‘Bill,’ a piece of legislation, sits on the Capitol steps and explains to a young boy all the hoops he has to go through, from committee to the House to the Senate to the White House, to become law. But when it comes to immigration, [Ryan] has only one mandate for granting votes on immigration bills: President Trump’s support. ‘We’re bringing bills to the floor that, if they got to his desk, he would sign,’ Ryan told reporters Thursday morning. This approach has so far resulted in repeated failure, ensuring that no legislation can actually reach Trump’s desk.”
-- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi criticized the bill that’s been postponed until next week. “They talk, and sometimes you all repeat it, that it’s a compromise,” the California Democrat said at a news conference. “But it is not a compromise! It may be a compromise with the devil, but it’s not a compromise with the Democrats.”
-- Meanwhile, the GOP-led Senate Appropriations Committee approved a Homeland Security spending bill for 2019 that does not include full border wall funding. Erica Werner reports: “The legislation allocates $1.6 billion for border barriers, in line with the original White House request but less than the $2.2 billion the administration later asked for. … The bill also imposes some requirements on the Trump administration related to the current border separation controversy: It requires monthly reports from the administration detailing family separation incidents and requires the administration to make public detention facility inspection reports and reports on detainee deaths. The bill does not provide money to hire new Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, or to expand detention bed capacity, despite the president’s request for more money for both those things.”
THE POLITICAL FALLOUT CONTINUES:
-- Melania Trump made a surprise visit to a child immigrant shelter in McAllen, Tex. But the optics of her trip were quickly marred after she was seen boarding her flight from D.C. wearing a jacket that read, “I Really Don’t Care. Do U?” “Mrs. Trump, who did not wear the coat while touring the facility in Texas, was again wearing the jacket when she deplaned in Maryland, headed back to the White House,” Emily Heil reports. “The choice seemed deliberate: It was 80 degrees and humid and the coat had been a topic of controversy for hours. The controversy was [especially] surprising since Melania Trump, a former fashion model, is particularly attuned to visuals, including her sartorial choices. She is known for carefully selecting her clothing to match the moment … It wasn’t just the media who focused on the jacket. Immigration-reform advocate David Leopold said he first assumed, when a friend sent him the photos, that it was an altered photo intended to be a joke. When he realized it wasn’t, he said he was shocked.”
-- Mixed messages from the White House:
- The first lady’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, said in an afternoon statement: “It’s a jacket. There was no hidden message.”
- A few hours later, the president weighed in to insist that there actually was a message. He said his wife's jacket “refers to the Fake News Media. Melania has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares!”
-- Tone deaf: As she said bye to a group of child migrants in McAllen, Tex., the first lady told them: “Good luck.” When an employee at the facility told her that the average length of stay for the kids is currently 42 to 45 days, she responded: “That’s great.” (HuffPost’s Sara Boboltz)
-- Directly contradicting his earlier statements, Attorney General Jeff Sessions insisted during an interview on the Christian Broadcasting Network that the administration “never really intended” to separate any families. “It hasn't been good and the American people don't like the idea that we are separating families. We never really intended to do that,” said Sessions, who championed the policy internally and announced it publicly. “What we intended to do was to make sure that adults who bring children into the country are charged with the crime they have committed.” Earlier this month, Sessions was unapologetic during an interview with Hugh Hewitt. “Every time somebody gets prosecuted in America for a crime, American citizens, and they go to jail, they're separated from their children. We don't want to do this at all. If people don't want to be separated from their children, they should not bring them with them.” (CNN)
-- White House domestic policy adviser Stephen Miller, a former aide to Sessions when he was in the Senate, got heckled as he ate dinner at Espita Mezcaleria in the D.C. neighborhood of Shaw on Sunday. The New York Post’s Nikki Schwab reports: “'Hey look guys, whoever thought we’d be in a restaurant with a real-life fascist begging [for] money for new cages?’ a customer at the Mezcal joint snarled at Miller, according to a source who saw the encounter. Miller didn’t respond and scurried away, the witness said.” (Yahoo News’s Lisa Belkin reports that Miller's great-grandfather flunked his U.S. naturalization test.)
-- A GOP congressman who is facing a tough reelection in the Denver suburbs called on Trump to fire Miller:
-- Hundreds of alumni from DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s high school signed a letter expressing outrage about her role in the separations. From Eli Rosenberg: “The digital letter was drafted Monday after a group of alumni of Berkeley Preparatory School in Tampa said they were distressed by Nielsen’s vigorous defense during a combative news conference Monday of the separations of migrant families crossing illegally into the United States from Mexico. … The more than 600 signatories to the open letter include members of every class since 1978, as well as alumni from as far back as the class of 1969. It has also been signed by dozens of current students, parents and family members of alumni, and by faculty and former faculty, including a former school headmaster.”
-- Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was dropped by his speakers' bureau after he dismissively said “womp womp” on Fox in response to a story about a migrant girl with Down syndrome who was separated from her mother. (CNN)
MORE ON THE HUMAN TOLL:
-- Attorneys assisting migrant parents have struggled to find separated children, often running up against mixed messaging from the U.S. government. Kevin Sieff reports: “One legal aid organization, the Texas Civil Rights Project, is representing more than 300 parents and has been able to track down only two children. ‘Either the government wasn’t thinking at all about how they were going to put these families back together, or they decided they just didn’t care,’ said Natalia Cornelio, with the organization. Government officials say they have given detained parents a flier with a toll-free number for the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the U.S. agency that is usually in charge of providing shelter for unaccompanied immigrant children. But not a single one of [attorney Jodi] Goodwin’s clients had received one, she said. Lawyers maintain that when they have called the number, often no one answered. In some cases, when someone did pick up, that person refused to offer details of where children had been taken, the lawyers said.”
-- “A senior Trump administration official says about 500 of the more than 2,000 children separated from their families at the border have been reunited since May,” the AP reports.
-- Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) called for an investigation into allegations of abuse at one of the state’s holding centers for young immigrant detainees. Gregory S. Schneider reports: “The Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center holds about 30 Latino youths between the ages of 10 and 17 who have been detained by federal agencies over the past several years for being undocumented. A federal lawsuit filed on behalf of the youths claims that they have faced ‘violence by staff, abusive and excessive use of seclusion and restraints, and the denial of necessary mental health care.’ … ‘If Virginia public safety officials find evidence of abuse or mistreatment at this facility, my administration will do everything we can to ensure the safety of these children,’ Northam said Thursday in a tweet.”
-- A 7-year-old Guatemalan boy and his mother, who sued the U.S. government after the pair were separated at the border, were reunited last night. Spencer S. Hsu and Steve Thompson report: “Darwin Micheal Mejia arrived on a flight from Phoenix just after 2 a.m., wearing small brown boots with red shoelaces. … ‘Look at his face — he’s sad, but we’re going to be together, and no one’s going to separate us again,’ his mother, Beata Mariana de Jesus Mejia-Mejia, told a raft of news crews and cameras waiting to capture the moment. Mejia-Mejia, 38, described her first hug with the boy in a month as ‘muy lindo’ — very beautiful.”
-- Joshua Partlow interviewed the grandmother of Allison Ximena Valencia Madrid, the 6-year-old girl who can be heard in the ProPublica audio begging for her aunt: “Ana Gloria Henríquez instantly recognized her granddaughter’s sobs. … Since Monday, when the audio became public and Ximena was identified by ProPublica as one of the miserable children, Henríquez has been living a nightmare, unsure exactly where her daughter and granddaughter are being held and how they might be reunited."
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- Charles Krauthammer has died at 68. The Pulitzer-winning columnist, Harvard Medical School graduate and intellectual provocateur left a legacy of acerbic and prolific commentary that helped shape decades of public opinion in Washington and the rest of the world. The cause was cancer of the small intestine, according to his son. Adam Bernstein wrote his obituary: “A star of page and screen, [Dr. Krauthammer] was one of the highest-profile commentators of his generation. . . . In addition to his syndicated weekly column in The Post … he was a marquee essayist for magazines across the political spectrum … He also was a near-ubiquitous presence on cable news[.] By any measure, Dr. Krauthammer cut a singular profile in Washington's journalistic and policymaking circles. He graduated in 1975 from Harvard Medical School — on time, despite a diving accident that left him a quadriplegic — and practiced psychiatry before a restless curiosity led him to switch paths. Instead of diagnosing patients, he would analyze the body politic . . . His arguments found favor with the growing tide of neoconservatives in the GOP … Yet Dr. Krauthammer [was] never completely a partisan warrior.”
- “In an age when political commentary is getting shallower and more vituperative, we will especially miss Charles’s style of writing — calm, carefully constructed arguments based on propositions and evidence, tinged with a cutting wit and wry humor but never malice,” writes Pete Wehner, who has worked for the past three GOP presidents. “[He was] temperamentally moderate, deeply suspicious of ideology, aware of the complexity of human society, and empirical in the sense that he was constantly testing what he was saying against what was actually happening in the world … Charles had no interest in being a member of a political team; his goal was to better understand reality.”
- “Charles existed so apart from his quadriplegic disability in the minds and experiences of those of us who knew him … that any anger I might have felt at the imposition of his writerly arrogance seemed entirely permissible [until] the moment that I remembered,” John Podhoretz writes. “I would remember he could not put pen to paper. I would remember he wrote by dictating. I would remember it was a goddamned astonishing fact of facts that he could do any of this, let alone do it with such easy brilliance. Think of it. He read widely and paid attention to everything — a man who had some difficulty turning a page. He wrote weekly, this man who could not write. … It is a key role of the intellectual explicator, which is what Charles was nonpareil — to help you understand what you think. … [And] I can say I’m not sure anyone in my lifetime has ever done that better.”
- “That Krauthammer accomplished all he did from a wheelchair is one piece of his legacy — and for me, a journalist with cerebral palsy, it is the piece that left the deepest impression,” writes The Fix's Callum Borchers. “I did not know Krauthammer personally; though we wrote for the same newspaper, we did not work from the same newsroom. Still, I always viewed him as an impressive and inspirational figure. The reality is there are not many journalists with disabilities at major news outlets — and even fewer who achieve Krauthammer’s level of success.”
- Read a selection of Krauthammer’s writing, including this rumination from 2009 on being a columnist: “Longevity for a columnist is a simple proposition: Once you start, you don’t stop. You do it until you die or can no longer put a sentence together. It has always been my intention to die at my desk, although my most cherished ambition is to outlive the estate tax . . . To be doing every day what you enjoy doing is rare. Rarer still is to be doing what you were meant to do, particularly if you got there by sheer serendipity.”
-- Krauthammer was a devoted baseball fan who loved to chat about the Nationals. So it was fitting that there was a moment of silence at the start of last night's game:
GET SMART FAST:
- The Supreme Court ruled that states may require online retailers to collect billions of dollars of sales tax revenue owed to them. The justices sided 5-4 with the Trump administration and more than 40 states asking the court to overturn a 1992 decision restricting such collection. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said that “dramatic technological changes” had rendered their previous ruling obsolete and “unfairly damaged” traditional stores. (Robert Barnes)
- The court also sided with a discredited financial adviser, ruling the SEC administrative law judge who barred him from the industry for life was improperly appointed. (Ann Marimow)
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, was charged with fraud and breach of public trust. The charges stem from her alleged use of outside caterers in their official residence — who reportedly prepared meals worth a total of $99,000. Though the Israeli prime minister was not implicated in the case, analysts say the charges could have far-reaching consequences for Netanyahu’s government. (Ruth Eglash)
- Former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander (D) is planning to enter Kansas City’s mayoral race. The former Senate candidate, who narrowly lost to Sen. Roy Blunt (R) in 2016, may announce his bid as early as next week. (Kansas City Star)
- Latinos will likely outnumber non-Hispanic white people in Texas by 2022, according to new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Previous data indicated the shift would occur by 2020. (Dallas Morning News)
- The chief executive of Intel, Brian Krzanich, was forced out over the revelation of a consensual relationship with an employee, which violated the chipmaker's “non-fraternization” policy. (Miranda Moore)
- Facebook announced an expansion of its fact-checking tools to help combat the spread of disinformation. New efforts will include working with third-party experts to help identify images that have been manipulated or otherwise distorted. Additionally, the company plans to integrate the use of machine-learning tools to identify duplicates of debunked stories that continue to pop up on the platform. (Hamza Shaban)
- Barry Trotz was named as the head coach of the New York Islanders, three days after he resigned from the Washington Capitals and two weeks after he helped lead the D.C. team to its first-ever Stanley Cup victory. The Caps are looking for a replacement. (Isabelle Khurshudyan)
- ABC announced it's planning a “Roseanne” spinoff without the show’s lead character, Roseanne Barr. The reboot — slated for release this fall — comes just weeks after Barr’s racist remarks on Twitter prompted the network to cancel her show. (New York Times)
- A new investigation found that 650 patients at a British hospital died from overdoses of powerful, unneeded painkillers, including heroin, which doctors issued for decades in “blatant violation” of accepted medical practices. (New York Times)
- Koko, the beloved gorilla who used sign language to communicate, died. She was 46. (Lindsey Bever)
FOLLOW THE MONEY:
-- During the 2016 campaign, the National Enquirer sent any Trump-related stories to Michael Cohen before they were published — a highly unusual practice that speaks to the nature of Trump’s friendship with AMI's chief executive, David Pecker, and underscores the support Trump was offered by the tabloid magazine throughout his presidential bid. Sarah Ellison reports: “Although the company strongly denies ever sharing such material before publication, [three] individuals say the sharing of material continued after Trump took office. ‘Since Trump’s become president and even before, [Pecker] openly just has been willing to turn the magazine and the cover over to the Trump machine,’ said one of the people with knowledge of the practice. The Enquirer’s alleged sharing of material pre-publication with Trump’s attorney … also intersects with a subject that federal prosecutors have been investigating since earlier this year: Cohen’s efforts to quash negative stories about Trump during the campaign.”
-- The Trumps and the Kushners are parting ways on two planned hotel collaborations in New Jersey after the partnership raised eyebrows — and a spate of new concerns — among ethics officials. The New York Times’s Ben Protess and Steve Eder report: “Kushner Companies and the Trump Organization recently dropped plans for the Trumps to manage an oceanfront hotel that the Kushners are building at the Jersey Shore. The companies also terminated an arrangement that had the Trumps managing a hotel outside New York City … Ethics watchdogs had taken aim at [Trump and Mr. Kushner] for retaining stakes in their family businesses while the companies were financially entangled in New Jersey. The families’ dealmaking, the watchdogs suggested, could have influenced Mr. Trump’s judgment about Mr. Kushner’s role in the administration. And Bobby Burchfield, the Trump Organization’s outside ethics adviser, had also asked questions about the potential collaboration.”
-- Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke met with the chairman of the nation’s largest oil-services company — who is involved in a Montana real estate deal that was aided by a foundation Zinke established — at department headquarters. Politico’s Ben Lefebvre and Nick Juliano report: “The new details raise further questions about Zinke's involvement in the project, and whether his conversations with the developers — especially in Interior's office — violated federal conflict of interest laws given Halliburton’s extensive business before this department. POLITICO reported Tuesday that a foundation Zinke established a decade ago agreed to let the Lesar-backed development build a parking lot on foundation land.”
THE TRADE WAR ESCALATES:
-- India imposed retaliatory tariffs on American products — increasing levies on almonds, apples and some metal products. Annie Gowen reports: “It is a $241 million measure that matches the amount of steel and aluminum import duty expected to be collected from India by the United States through the tariffs imposed by the Trump administration earlier this year. More than a third of the figure comes from almonds; India is the world’s biggest buyer of U.S.-grown almonds. … Economists noted that the amount of money involved with India’s levies dwarfed in comparison with that of China … but that the gesture had important symbolism and could presage further strain between the two friendly democracies at time when their diplomats are working to deepen military ties.”
-- The European Union is also expected to announce tariffs today on $3.4 billion worth of U.S. products — “from whiskey and motorcycles to peanuts and cranberries,” the AP’s Paul Wiseman reports.
-- If Trump follows through on his most extreme tariff threats, the thriving economy will sputter. David J. Lynch reports: “[If Trump] puts tariffs on nearly all Chinese imports, as he has threatened, the economy would slow sharply. Growth would dip to an annual rate of 1.7 percent, little more than half of the president’s goal, and 1.5 million to 2 million Americans would be thrown out of work, according to Mark Zandi, an economist at Moody’s. The average U.S. household gained an estimated $900 annually from last year’s Republican-authored tax legislation. Widespread tariffs, which make imported goods more expensive, would consume $720 of that amount, he said.”
-- “[I]t's difficult to discern any method to the madness that is Trump's trade policy,” Matt O'Brien writes on Wonkblog. “Indeed, he has alternated between announcing that he's instituting new tariffs and that he's putting them on hold, like a reality-TV show host trying to gin up ratings by keeping people guessing about what's going to happen next. Which, when you put it that way, makes more sense than anything else. Even then, however, we're still left with the question of why, other than maybe force of habit, Trump seems to be trying to run the global economy as if it were just a slightly more involved episode of ‘The Apprentice.’ And the answer is that, against all evidence, he really does believe, as he has put it, that trade wars are good and easy to win — and that this is how you do it.”
-- A federal judge ruled that the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is unconstitutional and called for the agency to be eliminated. Renae Merle reports: “Senior U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska threw out the bureau’s lawsuit against a New Jersey company that the bureau alleged had scammed former NFL players and 9/11 emergency medical workers out of millions of dollars. Preska’s ruling contradicts a decision by a U.S. appeals court on the issue this year and increases the likelihood that the CFPB’s constitutionality could become fodder for the Supreme Court. Noting that the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit was not binding in New York, Preska said she ‘respectfully’ disagreed.”
-- Democrats are planning to fiercely oppose Trump’s nominee to lead the CFPB, Kathy Kraninger, a former Senate staffer. Renae Merle reports: “Democrats fear [Kraninger] is being brought in to oversee a pull back of the CFPB, continuing a path laid out by [Mick Mulvaney]. … Without a deep understanding in the history and complexity of the topic, Democrats and consumer advocates say, she could become a puppet for influential financial groups. … The nomination has become a pivot point for the fight over the future of the consumer watchdog agency.”
THE SAFETY NET:
-- The House passed a divisive farm bill that narrowly slid through the chamber just one month after lawmakers rejected an earlier version. Caitlin Dewey and Erica Werner report. “The legislation, which passed 213-211 with 20 Republicans joining Democrats in their unanimous opposition, includes new work rules for most adult food-stamp recipients — provisions that are dead on arrival in the Senate. The massive legislative package overseeing more than $430 billion of food and agriculture programs over five years contains a host of measures aimed at strengthening farm subsidies, expanding foreign trade and bolstering rural development. The bill was championed by a dwindling number of farm-district Republicans who feel duty-bound to deliver farm supports to their rural constituents.
“Unlike the more partisan House, the Senate … has taken a bipartisan approach this year. The Agriculture Committee passed a version of the legislation embraced by both parties, and without the controversial food stamp changes in the House version; it's expected on the Senate floor next week. The two competing versions would ultimately have to be merged.”
-- Trump's proposal to overhaul the federal government would consolidate many safety-net programs. Lisa Rein reports: “Other presidents have met mixed success in their attempts to streamline government functions, but Trump administration officials said they intend to shake up what one called a 'nonsensical' bureaucracy that requires multiple agencies — from the Food and Drug Administration to the Department of Agriculture — to regulate the production and distribution of a roast beef sandwich. … But the 132-page plan, which creates some offices and collapses others, is silent on a critical question for federal workers and the unions representing them: How many jobs would be lost under the White House proposals? . . . Many key recommendations . . . would require approval from Congress, where Democrats immediately assailed them as dead on arrival. … The proposal’s centerpieces and most controversial elements are the Labor and Education merger into a new Department of Education and the Workforce and a reconstituted Department of Health and Human Services, which would be renamed the Department of Health and Public Welfare.”
-- If the long shot plan were realized, it “would fulfill a long-held conservative goal that has the potential to reduce federal help for the neediest Americans,” write Amy Goldstein and Caitlin Dewey. “The blueprint does not itself contain funding cuts for food stamps, cash assistance, Medicaid or other longtime pillars of the government’s safety net. But it runs alongside President Trump’s efforts in his budgets to slash funding for such programs. And it would buttress a case for reductions by pulling together programs in ways that make clearer how much the government is spending. The plan’s very lexicon embraces conservative branding of federal assistance for the poor. It proposes to change the Department of Health and Human Services, as it has been called since 1980, to the Department of Health and Public Welfare, reviving a term that has acquired negative connotations on the right.”
-- But even if a merger of the Labor and Education departments were to take place, experts doubt it would accomplish its intended goals. From Danielle Douglas-Gabriel: “Many said they see the value in more closely aligning workforce development and career education, especially sharing the expertise of staff at the agencies. But some said they doubt the administration could effectively pull off the consolidation, and they question the motives. … [S]ome conservatives [also] don’t believe the Trump administration could execute the proposed merger … in a way that would save money and make the agencies more efficient.”
SCOTT PRUITT STILL RUNS THE EPA:
-- A paper trail of the EPA administrator’s emails shows he only sent one message to anyone outside the agency during his first 10 months in office, leading some to wonder if he is communicating privately. Politico’s Emily Holden reports: “EPA says Pruitt mainly holds discussions in person or over the phone, which would explain the meager electronic trail for his external communications. But Pruitt’s critics remain suspicious — especially in light of all the steps the agency has taken to conceal his activities … Oversight groups said it seems implausible that someone as active as Pruitt, who meets frequently with political and industry allies, would have sent only a single email to someone outside EPA. Agency records also include evidence that Pruitt has used text messages at least once to set up a meeting with an Oklahoma lawyer.”
-- A new study found methane emissions from the U.S. oil and gas industry are far higher than EPA estimates indicate. The New York Times’s John Schwartz and Brad Plumer: “The new study, published Thursday in the journal Science, puts the rate of methane emissions from domestic oil and gas operations at 2.3 percent of total production per year, which is 60 percent higher than the current estimate from the [EPA]. That might seem like a small fraction of the total, but it represents an estimated 13 million metric tons lost each year, or enough natural gas to fuel 10 million homes.” (One of Pruitt’s first actions as EPA administrator was to withdraw a request to the oil and gas industry to provide more information on methane emissions.)
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- U.S. officials are close to releasing a long-awaited Mideast peace proposal. But Trump’s recent actions in the region have increased the likelihood that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will summarily reject the framework. Anne Gearan, Karen DeYoung and Loveday Morris report: “The proposal is likely to be released within weeks, with the aim of beginning negotiations between the parties, perhaps as early as this summer … [Jared Kushner] and the chief U.S. negotiator, [Jason D. Greenblatt], are visiting Arab capitals and Israel this week to describe some elements of the administration’s vision and seek help in drawing Palestinian leadership to the table. They are not meeting with Abbas or his advisers. Abbas and his Fatah party have refused to meet or talk with White House officials since December, when Trump announced the change to decades of U.S. policy on Jerusalem.”
-- In many parts of Afghanistan, the Taliban has built a “sophisticated system of parallel governance,” according to a detailed new report finding that numerous insurgent-controlled districts have commissions for health, justice and finance. Pamela Constable reports: “In many areas, the report finds, Taliban representatives interact almost routinely with local government officials, aid agencies and other groups, negotiating terms in a hybrid system to deliver health care, education and other services. Taliban bureaucrats collect taxes and electric bills, and their judges hear civil and criminal cases — some traveling by motorbike between hearings. The main conclusions of the report … are that the Taliban sets the rules in ‘vast swaths’ of Afghan territory but is far more concerned with influencing people.”
-- U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley responded to a U.N. report criticizing U.S. treatment of its poor. “It is patently ridiculous for the United Nations to examine poverty in America,” Haley wrote in a letter to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). “In our country, the President, Members of Congress, Governors, Mayors, and City Council members actively engage on poverty issues every day. Compare that to the many countries around the world, whose governments knowingly abuse human rights and cause pain and suffering.” (Jeff Stein)
THERE'S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- National security adviser John Bolton is planning to travel to Russia next week, the Kremlin said — a visit that comes amid talks of a possible Trump-Putin summit, which could occur as early as this summer. Politico’s Stephanie Murray reports: “Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed an Interfax news agency report that Bolton is coming to Moscow, but declined to comment further … ‘We have nothing to say yet, and if and when we are ready, we will make the relevant statement,’ Peskov said. Trump told reporters last week ‘it’s possible’ he’d meet with the Russian president this summer. A meeting between the two leaders was floated when they spoke by phone in April.”
-- A federal judge rejected Paul Manafort's motion to suppress critical evidence from his upcoming trial, rebuffing his claim that FBI agents violated his constitutional rights last May when they seized materials from his firm's storage unit. Politico’s Darren Samuelsohn reports: “The FBI initially entered Manafort’s storage unit in [Alexandria] with consent from one of his employees but without a warrant. An agent the same day then described what he saw in his application to a magistrate judge for a warrant, noting there were ‘approximately 21 bankers’ boxes that could contain documents, as well as a five-drawer metal filing cabinet’ that might be relevant to the investigation. Ahead of the Washington trial … Manafort’s defense team tried to get the storage-locker evidence suppressed from the case by claiming the agent’s initial entry was illegal because the employee didn’t have the authority to let them into the locker. But Jackson rejected the defendant’s pleading, noting the employee who allowed the FBI agent into the unit was identified as the lessee of the locker, had a key to the premises and also gave the bureau written permission to go inside.”
-- Prosecutors on Robert Mueller’s team want to use written questionnaires to determine whether “widespread media attention” has biased potential jurors ahead of Manafort’s upcoming trial. Politico’s Darren Samuelsohn reports: “To help pick jurors for a possible three-week trial [in Alexandria], Mueller's team provided a list of 52 potential questions seeking more information about the jurors, including whether they'd 'seen, read, or heard anything at all about this case in any form of media, including newspaper, television, radio or internet.' If a potential juror checks the yes box, they're asked to explain what they've seen and the ‘source of that information.’”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
The president also endorsed Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.), who called on Trump to drop out of the 2016 presidential race after the Access Hollywood tape emerged, in her primary runoff:
Trump also once again voiced support for Rep. Ron DeSantis in Florida’s contested GOP gubernatorial primary:
A White House spokeswoman defended the first lady after she was criticized for her “I really don't care. Do u?” jacket:
From the Boston Globe's deputy Washington bureau chief:
A Democratic congresswoman went with a different message:
From a press secretary at the Human Rights Campaign:
A House Republican lawmaker called Trump out on his immigration tweet yesterday morning:
A former GOP governor pointed out an irony:
Demonstrators protested the border policy at the Capitol:
A conservative columnist noted the complexity of the issue:
From the president of the Council on Foreign Relations:
Two new magazine covers confronted the family separations:
A CNN host shared this image:
Trump's 2020 campaign manager praised Kim Kardashian:
And National Geographic remembered Koko the gorilla:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- New York Times, “For Democrats Challenging Party Incumbents, Insurgency Has Its Limits,” by Shane Goldmacher and Jeffery C. Mays: “No congressional Democrat in America has lost a primary in 2018. … While national Democrats have celebrated the President Trump-inspired surge of activist energy coursing through the party in their efforts to take control of the House, many of those same leaders have moved to tame that energy, from Colorado to Massachusetts to New York, when it has turned against them.”
-- Politico, “Conservative breakup: Club for Growth splits with Jamestown Associates,” by Alex Isenstadt: “The anti-tax group Club for Growth has split with the prominent Republican advertising firm Jamestown Associates, a rare breakup in the tight-knit world of conservative politics that could have ripple effects for GOP candidates across the country. On March 20, Club for Growth President David McIntosh sent a memo to his staff effectively severing its relationship with Jamestown Associates, which it had previously endorsed at a time when mainstream Republican Party groups were blacklisting the firm.”
-- Politico Magazine, “Young Trumpies Hit D.C.,” by Daniel Lippman and Ben Schreckinger: “Washington is a hipper city now than it’s ever been, a place where staffers, especially young staffers who want to drink and date and live normal millennial lives, would want to live. The problem is, if you work for Trump, it’s also more hostile territory than it’s ever been.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“To solve his immigration crisis, Trump turns to a table of white men,” from Eugene Scott: “Mark Knoller, a CBS White House correspondent, tweeted a photo Wednesday of President Trump's meeting with Vice President Pence, members of his Cabinet and lawmakers to discuss pending immigration bills and his executive order ending the separation of families of illegal immigrants at the border. The photo was notable for its demographic makeup. ... Those seeking solutions to the problem created by Trump's ‘zero-tolerance’ policy toward illegal immigrants appear to have little in common with those affected … This is partially because of the general lack of diversity within the administration. But that’s not really an excuse for why there were so few people at the table who could identify closely with the immigrant experience. … If the president is truly interested in hearing the concerns of those his policies impact most, a start would be to, at the very least, include them in the conversation. Their absence speaks volumes and gives the impression that people most like Trump are the ones who matter most to him.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Good News for Republicans, It's Not 2006,” from the Cook Political Report: “For much of 2017 and early 2018, GOP consultants of a certain age would tell us that this election had the same look, feel and smell of 2006; the last time Republicans had a terrible midterm election. The President was unpopular, the Democrats were motivated and GOP members were retiring rather than opting to run for re-election in what was shaping up to be an awful, no good, terrible year. Today, however, there are plenty of signs that 2018 isn’t like 2006. For, one, Trump’s job approval rating in the Gallup survey is 45 percent, eight points higher than the dismal 37 percent where George W. Bush was sitting at this point in 2006. Gallup also found that satisfaction with the direction of the country at a 12-year high. A marked improvement from 2006. ‘After a January 2006 reading of 36%,’ writes Gallup’s Jim Norman, ‘satisfaction failed to surpass 35% the rest of that year, and with the economic calamities that followed over the next few years, it descended into single digits in two 2008 polls and has subsequently stayed mostly below 30%.’"
Trump will participate in the credentialing ceremony for newly appointed ambassadors to the United States. He will then give a speech on immigration with “angel families.” Tonight, the president and first lady will attend the Marine Corps' evening parade.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D), who is challenging Heidi Heitkamp for Senate, said there is “nothing inhumane” about keeping children inside “chain-link fences.” “By the way, chain-link fences are around playgrounds all over America,” Cramer said on a North Dakota radio show. He later added on another radio program, “Well, chain-link fences have been used to protect children from predators on playgrounds (and) baseball diamonds.” (HuffPost)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- The District will see rain today and throughout the weekend. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Off-and-on periods of rain are probable. Maybe some thunder. A somewhat stationary front is hanging out for most of the day, a bit too close for comfort (or confident forecast). Heavier (flooding?) rains may focus along this front, with perhaps the best odds of that south vs. north. Up north, it could be a relatively uneventful rain as far as rain goes. Stay tuned since we’re on the edge of the worst.”
-- The Nationals beat the Orioles 4-2. (Chelsea Janes)
-- The crowded Democratic primary in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District is pitting a female state representative against a self-funded business tycoon. From Paul Schwartzman: “As a woman and an immigrant, state Del. Aruna Miller personifies the Democratic candidates dominating the 2018 midterm elections as she seeks to succeed Rep. John Delaney in Maryland and help her party retain the seat. But her chief rival in the race, businessman David Trone, is spending more than $10 million of his own money on his campaign, an amount that threatens to overwhelm any advantage Miller hoped to glean from endorsements from Emily’s List and a trove of state lawmakers.”
-- D.C. is seeking to dismiss a legal challenge to city regulations requiring some child-care workers to get associate degrees. Hannah Natanson reports: “Two day-care workers and a parent are suing the city over the controversial rules that supporters contend will make D.C. a national model for providing high-quality care for the youngest children.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Late-night hosts reacted to the first lady's controversial jacket:
The Daily Show compared Fox News to North Korean state television:
The Post tracked nearly 30 false or misleading claims Trump made during his Duluth rally:
Charles Krauthammer once read a flattering letter from a fan for The Post's "Hate Mail" segment:
The Post's Nicole Ellis interviewed an expert on news anxiety to discover tips on dealing with stressful news cycles:
And a father at a race car track jumped the barrier to pull his son from a fiery wreck: