These are among the sobering results of a major bipartisan poll published Tuesday that was commissioned by the George W. Bush Institute, the University of Pennsylvania’s Biden Center and Freedom House, which tracks the vitality of democracies around the world. The three groups have partnered to create the Democracy Project, with the goal of monitoring the health of the American system.
“We hope this work can be a step toward restoring faith in democracy and democratic institutions,” Bush said in a statement.
The concern about the condition of democracy inside the United States transcends the tribal divide between Republicans and Democrats, with majorities across races, genders, age groups, levels of education and income brackets expressing fear.
“Americans are deeply worried about the health of their democracy and want to make it stronger,” said Michael Abramowitz, the president of Freedom House. “There appears to be a crisis in confidence in the functioning of our democracy, and it is not a party-line issue.”
The report comes against the backdrop of a raging debate over civility and Donald Trump’s polarizing approach to the presidency.
Former vice president Joe Biden, who oversees the Biden Center, said the results show “we can’t take our freedoms for granted — we have to work for them, and we have to defend them.”
The good news is that Americans overwhelmingly still support the concept of democracy and believe it’s important to keep the system we’ve inherited. That’s in contrast to the years before World War II, when many people got caught under the spell of communism and fascism. Asked to rank the importance of living in a democracy on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being “absolutely important,” 60 percent picked 10 in the new poll. Overall, 84 percent picked a number between six and 10. Among Democrats, it was 92 percent. Among Republicans, it was 81 percent.
There was a partisan divide when people were asked to pick whether America is in “real danger of becoming a nondemocratic, authoritarian country” or “there is no real danger.” Overall, 50 percent said there’s a real danger and 43 percent said there’s not. But 57 percent of self-identified Democrats said the danger is real, while only 37 percent of Republicans did.
Racial minorities, women and young people who have missed out on the full bounty of American greatness also tend to perceive fewer benefits from democracy and are thus less convinced of the system’s value. Only 42 percent of nonwhite respondents said they are satisfied with “the way democracy is working in our country,” compared with 51 percent of white respondents. Spotlighting a generational gap in attitudes, only 39 percent of respondents under 35 picked 10 on the scale of one to 10 when asked to rate the importance of democracy.
-- Racial discrimination and money’s corrosive impact on politics are two major factors driving this crisis of confidence. Participants in the survey were presented a list of 11 issues and asked to pick the two that most concern them when it comes to democracy in America. Almost 3 in 10 picked “big money in politics” and “racism and discrimination,” a statistical tie for the top issue.
Overall, 8 in 10 Americans think “the influence of money in politics” is getting worse, rather than better.
Three in 4 Americans think that “the laws enacted by our national government these days mostly reflect what powerful special interests and their lobbyists want.” This includes 81 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of Republicans. Just 17 percent of Americans agreed with the alternative statement: “The laws enacted by our national government these days mostly reflect what the people want.”
Even when controlling for other factors, there is a direct link between people being concerned about the power of money in politics and their level of confidence in democracy.
The survey was designed and conducted by North Star, a Republican firm, and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, a Democratic firm. The nationwide telephone survey of 1,400 adults, conducted between April 28 and May 8, has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percent. The coalition also conducted 10 focus groups across five states with different segments of the public to figure out how to most effectively make the case for democracy.
Money in politics was a top concern that came up in each focus group. “Greed and power are so dangerous,” said one participant in Pittsburgh. “It’s so rampant right now. Whoever has the most money is going to be the most powerful.”
-- Happening tomorrow: The Daily 202 Live with Steve Scalise. I’ll interview the House majority whip at The Post on Wednesday at 6 p.m. We have so much to cover! (Register here.)
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- Trump appeared at a South Carolina rally to boost Gov. Henry McMaster before his GOP primary runoff, but he spent much of his speech slamming his political enemies and late night talk-show hosts. Josh Dawsey reports from West Columbia: “In a discursive 58-minute rally at Airport High School here, he attacked Arnold Schwarzenegger for his TV ratings, revived criticism of Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) for his extramarital affair on what Trump inaccurately called the ‘Tallahassee Trail,’ accused Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) of ‘grandstanding,’ lamented the small high school gymnasium, misstated NATO spending, called home-state comedian Stephen Colbert a ‘lowlife,’ recited his long and recently soured history with comedian Jimmy Fallon over a hair tussle, and repeatedly mocked some of his predecessors as being worse than him.
“He assured the crowd that his hair is real, bragged about the myriad TVs on Air Force One and complained that he has been treated unfairly, saying he deserved more praise for his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un — and most everything else. ‘Sometimes you have to toot your own horn because nobody else is going to do it,’ he said. … And for about five minutes Monday night, he praised McMaster but couched it largely about himself. The president spent more time reminding the crowd that McMaster had supported him early in 2016 than recollecting the governor’s achievements.”
-- Sean Spicer is trying to develop a talk show. The program, which has been given the informal title of “Sean Spicer’s Common Ground,” would feature the former White House press secretary interviewing notable people. The New York Times’s Michael M. Grynbaum and Maggie Haberman report: “A pitch sheet for the show’s pilot … describes Mr. Spicer hosting ‘some of the most interesting and thoughtful public figures for a drink and some lite conversation at a local pub or cafe.’ ‘The relaxed atmosphere is an ideal setting for Sean to get to know his guests as they discuss everything from the media to marriage,’ the pitch continues. ‘They might even tangle over the merits of making your bed or the value of a great point guard.’ No network is attached to the project, but the pilot episode, to be filmed in July, is backed by heavy hitters in the realm of unscripted television.”
GET SMART FAST:
- North Korea will not hold its annual “anti-U.S. imperialism” rally this year, as the two countries take steps toward a diplomatic thaw. (Rebecca Tan)
- Facebook quietly convened a meeting last month with representatives from the biggest players in the technology industry, along with FBI and Department of Homeland Security officials who are responsible for protecting elections from foreign interference. Google, Twitter, Apple, Microsoft, Snap and the parent company of Yahoo and AOL attended. (Elizabeth Dwoskin and Ellen Nakashima)
- Former NATO secretary general Javier Solana, who played a critical role in negotiating Iran’s nuclear deal, was denied entry into the United States because of a trip he took to Iran in 2013. The former E.U. foreign policy chief had been scheduled to attend an event in D.C. (New York Times)
A group of European politicians spent the night on a migrant ship in an attempt to secure a place to dock. The ship has been stranded for five days with 234 migrants on board as both Italy and Malta have refused to allow the vessel to dock at their ports. (CNN)
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte sparked outrage by calling God “stupid.” Duterte, who leads Asia's largest Catholic country, asked why God would create Adam and Eve only to have them succumb to temptation. “Who is this stupid God? This son of a b--- is then really stupid,” Duterte said. (AP)
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has filed a civil suit against the neighbor who assaulted him last year. Paul is seeking an unspecified amount of money from Rene Boucher for “physical pain and mental suffering” after Boucher tackled the senator as he was mowing his lawn last November. (Bowling Green Daily News)
The FDA approved the first drug derived from marijuana. The drug, called Epidiolex, will be used to treat two rare forms of childhood epilepsy. (Laurie McGinley)
Water use in American homes has plummeted since 1980. A typical family of four now conserves about a half-ton of water every single day compared to an American family in 1980. (Christopher Ingraham)
Some retailers are experimenting with blue lights to prevent drug users from shooting up in their restrooms. The color of the lights makes it more difficult for users to see their veins when they attempt to inject themselves. (AP)
- An Arizona Walgreens pharmacist declined to provide medication to a woman who had just suffered a miscarriage. The pharmacist said doing so would go against his “personal ethics,” even though the woman had not willfully terminated her pregnancy. Walgreens has since defended the pharmacist’s actions, saying in a statement that he “acted within company guidelines” and state law. (Erin B. Logan)
- A Chinese college launched a new females-only course with the stated goal of developing “wise,” “sunny” and “perfect” women. Among other things, female students are trained to properly pour tea, apply “just the right amount” of makeup and how to perfect their posture — by sucking in their stomach and occupying the front two-thirds of their chair. (Emily Rauhala)
THE TRADE WAR GETS REAL:
-- Harley-Davidson said it will shift some of its production out of the United States, seeking to escape Europe’s new retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods, which were triggered by Trump’s levies on steel and aluminum. David J. Lynch and Heather Long report: “Harley’s decision to move its production of motorcycles bound for European customers demonstrated the costs of the president’s ‘America First’ trade policies, which he says will return lost manufacturing jobs to the United States. The announcement also triggered a sell-off on Wall Street, where Harley shares lost nearly 6 percent, and the Dow Jones industrial average fell nearly 500 points before closing down more than 300 points, or more than 1.3 percent. The E.U. tariffs will add $2,200 to the cost of an average motorcycle, threatening ‘an immediate and lasting detrimental impact to its business,’ Harley said Monday in [an SEC filing].”
Trump attacked Harley Davidson in a tweet:
“The statement seemed to suggest that the president expects to negotiate a resolution of his complaints about E.U. trade practices, which he blames for the $151 billion U.S. merchandise trade deficit with its European allies. But in the short term, further escalation of the trade dispute seems likely. Trump has threatened to impose tariffs within weeks on foreign autos and auto parts, a move that would hit German carmakers especially hard.”
Trump claimed this morning that Harley's decision was unrelated to his tariffs:
Trump also warned the company could face additional taxes:
-- Harley’s move could result in layoffs, which are already happening at other U.S. companies affected by Trump’s tariffs. Heather reports: “The first casualties of [Trump’s] trade war are 60 workers at Mid-Continent Nail, America’s largest nail manufacturer. They lost their jobs on June 15 at a factory in a part of Missouri that voted overwhelmingly for Trump. The whole company could be out of business by Labor Day.”
-- “Trump’s Trade War Could Shut Cheesemakers Out of Foreign Markets,” by the New York Times’s Ana Swanson in Wisconsin: “It’s a common observation here that you can’t turn off the cows — not for Christmas, and not for a trade war. So as [Trump’s] aggressive trade measures prompt other countries to retaliate with barriers to American goods, dairy farmers and cheesemakers in the rolling, bright green hills of Wisconsin are growing anxious about what will happen to all of the milk and cheese they churn out and typically sell overseas. ‘If export markets get shut off, I could see us getting to the point where we’re dumping our milk in the fields,’ said Jeff Schwager, the president of Sartori Company, which has produced cheese in a nearby town for generations with milk it purchases from more than 100 dairy farms throughout Wisconsin. ‘It’ll be a big ripple effect through the state.’”
-- Watch Wisconsin: Harley and dairy farms are not just only some of the biggest employers in the state. They are central to the culture. And Trump is traveling there on Thursday. He'll attend the groundbreaking for a new Foxconn factory in Mount Pleasant alongside Gov. Scott Walker (R) and Speaker Paul Ryan. State and local governments have committed $4.5 billion in tax incentives for the plant, which will make LCD screens. Polls show voters about evenly split on whether the package is worth it. Trump narrowly carried Wisconsin in 2016, the first Republican president to win it since Ronald Reagan. It's essential to his 2020 reelection hopes, and Walker is locked in a tough reelection fight there this year.
-- Messaging muddle: “Harley’s announcement came as administration officials struggled to present a united front on another element of Trump’s trade policy: new measures designed to curb China’s ability to access U.S. technology by investing in U.S. companies,” David and Heather add.
- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that any new measures would apply to “all countries that are trying to steal our technology,” not just China.
- But hours later, Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro said in a CNBC interview that the pending announcement “does not include any other countries” besides China. “The whole idea that we’re putting investment restrictions on the world — please discount that,” he said.
-- Beijing has started to downplay its “Made in China 2025" plan, which has played a central role in the Trump administration’s proposals to impose technological restrictions on the country. Reuters’s Michael Martina, Kevin Yao and Yawen Chen report: “[Trump’s] administration has fixed on Beijing’s signature effort to deploy state support to close a technology gap in 10 key sectors. Beijing is increasingly mindful that its rollout of the ambitious plan has triggered U.S. backlash. The Trump administration is considering rules that would bar companies with at least 25 percent Chinese ownership from buying U.S. firms with ‘industrially significant technology,’ a U.S. government official said on Sunday. A senior western diplomat [said] that in meetings Chinese officials have recently begun downplaying Made in China 2025. The officials have stressed that the aspects that have raised the most ire abroad were simply proposals by Chinese academics.”
THE IMMIGRATION WARS RAGE ON:
-- With separations on hold, federal officials at the border are returning to their standard operating procedures of releasing most migrant parents who arrive with their children. Nick Miroff reports from McAllen, Tex.: “Trump administration officials had vowed to put an end to the ‘catch-and-release’ practices that have allowed parents with children to be freed from detention while awaiting court proceedings. But with separations mostly halted and little space to hold families, U.S. border officials are essentially once more back where they started before Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ crackdown. Until more family detention facilities are built, the reality is that most parents with children … will be let go.”
-- “Sleeping on America’s Doorstep: A Dispatch From the Border,” by the New York Times’s Julie Turkewitz: “As the debate over the border rages in Washington, the flow of migrants has not stopped, and crossing points like this one are growing into informal bedrooms, washrooms, schools, kitchens and playgrounds for families waiting to request asylum in the United States. Here in Nogales, officials come infrequently to interview people seeking entry, and so this place — a patch of ground between a fence and a line of people who already have permission to enter the United States — is fast becoming a symbol of life in transition. Most families wait here for days before being granted an initial interview with United States immigration authorities.”
-- Republicans in both chambers are pressing ahead with a narrow fix to the separation crisis — all but abandoning efforts for any kind of far-reaching immigration overhaul. Mike DeBonis and Sean Sullivan report: “With Trump proving to be an unpredictable ally, deeply divided Republicans say they have little hope of rallying support for [the broader reforms]. However, GOP leaders are eager to adopt legislation that would make sure migrant children can remain with their parents at the border. Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.), the Senate’s No. 2 Republican leader, told reporters Monday that lawmakers will try to pass a bill narrowly aimed at addressing the crisis this week. ‘Yeah, I mean, we should have done it last week,’ he said. ‘But yeah, I hope so.’
“The measure under discussion in the Senate would address a flaw in the executive order Trump issued last week mandating that migrant children and parents not be separated during their detention. … That order would potentially violate a 1997 court order requiring that children be released after 20 days. The Senate GOP proposal would allow children to stay longer with their parents in detention. However, there was no guarantee that the Senate could act before lawmakers break for the week-long Fourth of July recess.”
Democrats are reluctant to sign on to a bill that they say could keep thousands of families in indefinite federal detention: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) struck a cautious note when asked about the prospect of a quick deal passing the chamber. “I don’t know. It’s too early to tell, okay?” Schumer said. “We’ll certainly look at what people can come up with.”
“Senate Republicans have also explored a relatively narrow fix that was introduced by Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) last week. The bill would add 225 immigration judges and take steps to prevent migrant families from being separated, including expediting court proceedings. Tillis, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and two Democrats, Sens. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.) and Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), met late Monday to discuss the legislation. Upon exiting, Feinstein called the huddle ‘a good first meeting’ but added, ‘Nothing’s going to happen this week, we don’t think.’ Durbin said there were some ‘basic philosophical disagreements’ and explained that he and Feinstein emphasized they are not willing to pare back the protections for children under the 1997 court order.
“In the House, days of last-ditch negotiations have convinced top Republicans that they are unlikely to pass a broad GOP immigration bill this week, prompting them to explore narrower legislation targeting the family separation policy. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and a key negotiator, said Monday evening that talks were ongoing but acknowledged that some lawmakers were eyeing a Plan B. … Meadows said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), the No. 4 House GOP leader, was working on a narrower solution.”
-- The Defense Department has been directed to build two short-term detention camps on U.S. military bases in Texas, which will house detainees in tents and could be available as early as July. Time magazine’s W.J. Hennigan and Philip Elliott report: “Construction crews will begin building temporary housing at Fort Bliss and Goodfellow Air Force Base for the growing number of migrants swept into the federal system … Fort Bliss, located near El Paso on the Rio Grande river across the U.S.-Mexico border, is an Army base comprised of more than 1 million acres across New Mexico and Texas. A [Trump administration] official says Fort Bliss is being prepared to house families whose adults face criminal charges. Goodfellow Air Force Base is located further north near San Angelo in central Texas. The same official says children who arrive on the U.S. border without a parent will stay at Goodfellow.”
-- Contrary to Trump’s claims, federal data shows most immigrants who enter the United States do so legally. Christopher Ingraham explains: “A September 2017 Office of Immigration Statistics data brief estimated that in fiscal year 2016, the latest year for which complete data is available, there were 170,000 successful illegal border crossings occurring outside of authorized ports of entry. That's down roughly 90 percent since 2000, and it's about one-seventh of the roughly 1.2 million immigrants who obtained lawful permanent resident status via a green card, according to the Department of Homeland Security. … Border crossings don't even account for a majority of the people joining the unauthorized population in a given year. In fiscal 2016, for instance, the Department of Homeland Security estimated 628,799 people who had previously entered the country legally overstayed their visa that year.”
-- Demonstrators converged on Stephen Miller’s D.C. home to protest the administration’s immigration policies. USA Today’s Merdie Nzanga reports: “About 20 people protesting Miller's role in the Trump administration's ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy marched about a block to Miller's CityCenterDC apartment building, handing fliers to spectators along the way. Miller … was not home when the protesters arrived. … The group, which identified themselves simply as ‘concerned D.C. residents,’ stood in front of Miller's apartment building chanting ‘immigrants are welcome here.’”
DEMOCRATS DISTANCE THEMSELVES FROM MAXINE WATERS:
-- Trump responded to Rep. Maxine Waters’s call for activists to harass members of his administration, warning the California Democrat in a tweet, “Be careful what you wish for Max!” Waters said she was not advocating for violence, as Trump suggested. “I believe in peaceful, very peaceful protest,” she told reporters at the Capitol. “I have not called for the harm of anybody. This president has lied again when he’s saying that I called for harm to anyone.”
-- In a rare rebuke of one of her members, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tweeted:
-- “Several congressional Democrats issued clear rebukes of Waters’s remarks, although they did not mention her by name,” Felicia Sonmez and Robert Costa report:
- “No one should call for the harassment of political opponents. That’s not right. That’s not American,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a floor speech. “The president’s tactics and behavior should never be emulated. It should be repudiated.”
- Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), appearing on MSNBC, urged protesters to follow the example of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders “who always did it by recognizing the dignity of even those who you oppose, even those who are trying to destroy you, even those that hate you.”
- One Democratic leadership aide described the Waters comments as “a gift” to Republicans. [Yesterday's Big Idea explained why.]
-- Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) introduced a measure to censure Waters and called on her to resign. The measure also suggests Waters issue a formal apology to administration officials “for endangering their lives and sowing seeds of discord.” Five lawmakers have already signed on to the measure. (The Hill)
-- Sanders was asked to leave the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Va., but now other restaurants bearing the same name are taking heat. Rachel Siegel reports: “On Saturday, that Red Hen [in the Bloomingdale area of Washington] tweeted that Sanders ‘went to the unaffiliated [Red Hen in Lexington] last night, not to our DC-based restaurant.’ That tweet received 4,400 replies from nonbelievers and supporters alike. To talk the naysayers down, the Red Hen responded to Twitter threads with the definition of ‘unaffiliated,’ sarcastic gifs and a reminder that businesses in the District of Columbia are prohibited from discriminating against people based on political views because they are in a federal district.” The D.C. Red Hen was also egged by a protester.
THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Robert Mueller’s team is reviewing the communications of Erik Prince, the Blackwater founder and Trump ally who attended a January 2017 Seychelles meeting with the alleged intention of establishing a back-channel line of communications with Moscow. The news also comes just one week after Prince acknowledged he has “cooperated” with Mueller’s investigation. ABC News’s James Gordon Meek reports: “Mueller is also reviewing Prince’s communications, a sign that Mueller could try to squeeze Prince, as he has others, probing potential inconsistencies in his sworn testimony in an attempt to pressure him to turn into a witness against other targets of the investigation. In response to questions, [a spokesperson said] that Prince has provided Mueller with ‘total access to his phone and computer.’” Last April, it was reported Prince traveled to the Seychelles for a secret meeting with Russian official and Putin ally Kirill Dmitriev — which he later described to House investigators as a chance encounter “over a beer.”
-- The man Roger Stone cited as his connection to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said he expects to be subpoenaed by Mueller. CNN’s Sara Murray and Caroline Kelly report: “Randy Credico, the chatty radio host and comedian, [said that Mueller’s] team reached out in early June and requested a voluntary interview. After consulting with his lawyers — who, according to Credico, are well-aware of ‘my wayward lips’ — he declined the request. … [Credico] believes a subpoena could be coming. ‘I don't have a subpoena. If I have a subpoena that means I've got to do it,’ Credico said. ‘I'm not going to go to jail for Roger Stone.’ Investigators have been ramping up their inquiries surrounding Stone … and were hoping to speak with Credico about him. Stone still has not been contacted by the special counsel, Stone [said] Monday.”
-- Lawyers for a Russian firm implicated in the 2016 election interference requested that its charges be dropped on the grounds that Mueller’s appointment was unconstitutional. Spencer S. Hsu reports: “Concord Management and Consulting was indicted in February with 13 Russian individuals and two other companies … On Monday, however, the firm’s Washington-based lawyers said Mueller’s appointment … violated the appointments clause of the Constitution. Concord attorneys Eric A. Dubelier and Katherine J. Seikaly argued that either the special counsel is a principal officer of government subject to presidential nomination and Senate confirmation, or Congress must pass a law allowing a deputy attorney general to confer his boss’s prosecutorial authority on such a designee. The attorneys, with the law firm Reed Smith, also argued that the special counsel’s appointment created, ‘in effect, a fourth branch of government incompatible with fundamental separation-of-powers principles.’”
-- As Mueller’s team continues its sprawling Russia investigation, Trump associates are increasingly turning to financial backers to help them foot the cost of mounting legal bills. The Wall Street Journal's Julie Bykowicz reports: “[On the day he was interviewed by Mueller’s team], Michael Caputo was facing $130,000 in legal bills with no clear way to pay … Mr. Caputo planned to liquidate his retirement savings and children’s college accounts, and said the size of the bills prevented him from speaking his mind, for fear of even more legal action. Twenty-four hours after his interview … thanks to a crowdfunding website … Mr. Caputo had raised more than twice that amount. In all, more than 6,600 people have given his personal legal fund more than $325,000 — so much that he is now helping pay bills for other former [Trump associates and] conducting investigations of his own. A former communications adviser to Mr. Trump in the earliest days of the campaign, Mr. Caputo hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing. Even so, he said lawyer fees have piled up.”
- “It’s not such a bad look to hold out a tin cup, because nobody can afford this level of legal costs,” Caputo said. He believes his legal fund took off because “[Trump’s] supporters feel powerless with the Mueller investigation, and they see donating to something like this as a way to weigh in with their displeasure.”
-- Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort appealed a federal judge’s decision to send him to jail in Virginia as he awaits trial on charges filed as part of Mueller’s Russia probe. Spencer S. Hsu reports: “Attorneys for [Trump’s] former campaign chairman, who is being held at a Virginia jail, gave notice of the appeal in court filings Monday afternoon. … U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson on June 15 revoked Manafort’s release under electronic monitoring after prosecutors alleged he tried to sway the testimony of potential witnesses in the case.”
ANOTHER SCOTUS DECISION DAY:
-- “The Supreme Court signaled Monday that it is in no hurry to decide two important questions it sidestepped earlier this term: whether a business owner’s religious beliefs can justify refusing wedding services to same-sex couples, and how courts should evaluate extreme partisan gerrymandering,” Robert Barnes writes. “It was like punting after a punt — raising questions about the careful path the court is treading this term. One of the biggest: whether the delay is related to the plans of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, a pivotal vote whose future on the bench is a matter of intense speculation. Kennedy, who will turn 82 on July 23, may decide to retire, and the court is sometimes reluctant to take controversial cases when the ideologically divided justices don’t know who will decide them next term.”
- The justices voted to uphold large swaths of Texas’s redistricting laws, rejecting a lower court’s argument that state congressional districts violated the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against black and Hispanic voters. Writing for the 5-4 majority, Justice Samuel Alito said the lower court was wrong in how it considered the challenges, and was “plainly insufficient to prove that the 2013 Legislature acted in bad faith and engaged in intentional discrimination.” (Barnes)
- But SCOTUS remanded North Carolina’s partisan gerrymandering case, declining to weigh in on the issue after a lower court ruled that the state's Republican-led legislature had violated the Constitution in its drawing of their congressional map. (Barnes)
- The justices sent the case of a Washington state florist who denied service to a gay couple back to lower courts. Barnes reports that the court “said the case should be reconsidered in light of its decision earlier this month in favor of Colorado baker Jack C. Phillips, who declined to create a wedding cake for a gay couple. The cases are similar, but the justices decided Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission on a fact-specific finding: that members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had been unfairly hostile to Phillips’s religious justifications for his actions. The state of Washington had argued there was no religious animosity in the court proceedings involving Stutzman and her flower shop, Arlene’s Flowers.”
-- The Supreme Court also sided with American Express in a closely watched case over credit card fees, leaving in place a lower-court ruling that said the company did not violate antitrust laws by insisting its merchants do nothing to encourage customers to use other competing cards. “The decision has implications not only for what one brief called ‘an astronomical number of retail transactions’ but also for other kinds of markets, notably ones on the internet, in which services link consumers and businesses,” the New York Times’s Adam Liptak reports.
-- The Supreme Court rejected a plea to intervene in the case of “Making a Murderer” subject Brendan Dassey, who was sentenced to life in prison as a teenager after confessing to assisting his uncle, Steven Avery, in the 2007 rape and murder of Wisconsin photographer Teresa Halbach. The court gave no reason for denying the petition of Dassey, whose confession in the documentary was widely portrayed as coerced. (Barnes)
WATCH WHAT THEY DO, NOT WHAT THEY SAY:
-- The acting chief of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association floated removing the word “climate” from its mission statement in a presentation earlier this month, and “focusing the agency’s work instead on economic goals and ‘homeland and national security.’” Chris Mooney and Jason Samenow report: “Critics say this would upend the mission of the $5.9 billion [agency]. NOAA’s mission, the agency says, is ‘to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts, to share that knowledge and information with others, and to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources.’ But [during the presentation], Rear Adm. Timothy Gallaudet, the agency’s acting administrator, suggested a change to that mission statement, as well as a new emphasis on tripling the size of the U.S. aquaculture industry within a decade and moving to ‘reduce the seafood trade deficit.’”
Predictably, the new proposal has prompted outrage in the scientific community and among former agency officials. “Elections have consequences,” said former NOAA chief operating officer David Titley. “This is just another example of where the Trump administration is frankly emphasizing short-term aspects, such as economic growth, and de-emphasizing longer-term challenges, things that will be most apparent after their term, such as impacts on climate, conservation of marine resources.”
-- The Trump administration is rejecting a U.N. report saying 18.5 million Americans live in extreme poverty. Jeff Stein reports: “In May, Philip G. Alston, special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights for the U.N., published a report saying 40 million Americans live in poverty and 18.5 million Americans live in extreme poverty. But in a rebuke to that report on Friday, U.S. officials told the United Nations Human Rights Council there only appear to be approximately 250,000 Americans in extreme poverty, calling Alston's numbers ‘exaggerated.’ The rift highlights a long-running debate among academics over the most accurate way to describe poverty in America, one with enormous implications for U.S. policy-making and the nation's social safety net.”
-- The GOP’s efforts to scale back food stamps could have a drastic effect on the white working-class voters who voted for Trump. Andrew Van Dam reports: “On the surface, these efforts seem like they will affect Democratic voters the most. The highest rates of food-stamp assistance tend to be in the most Democratic areas. But that’s a superficial reading of the numbers. … In the Trump era, the Republican Party has relied heavily on rural voters. And the most rural 20 percent of the population is also the most likely to live in a household that receives food stamps.”
-- The new version of the standard 1040 income tax form will be smaller, as GOP lawmakers promised, but it will also be more complicated than ever. The New York Times’s Jim Tankersley reports: “The new form eliminates more than half of the 78 line items from the previous form, reducing it from two full pages of text to one double-sided half page. … Smaller is not necessarily simpler. The new form omits a variety of popular deductions, including those for student loan interest and teaching supplies, forcing taxpayers to search for them — and tally them up — on one of six accompanying work sheets.”
-- A little-noticed provision in the GOP tax law could cost some nonprofits, including churches, tens of thousands of dollars. Politico’s Brian Faler reports: “[Republicans’] recent tax-code rewrite requires churches, hospitals, colleges, orchestras and other historically tax-exempt organizations to begin paying a 21 percent tax on some types of fringe benefits they provide their employees. That could force thousands of groups that have long had little contact with the IRS to suddenly begin filing returns and paying taxes for the first time. Many organizations are stunned to learn of the tax … and say it will be a significant financial and administrative burden.”
-- “In May, Trump predicted the pharmaceutical industry would cut prices in two weeks. It hasn’t happened yet,” by Carolyn Y. Johnson: “Drug companies — and insurers, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) that negotiate drug prices, drug distributors, patients and physicians — are working with the administration, a spokeswoman for the department of Health and Human Services said, ‘to respond to President Trump's call to action and help patients pay less for their prescription drugs.’ But after more than a year of promises to lower drug prices, the silence following Trump's recent remarks suggests that the bully pulpit may not offer the swiftest solution to the problem of high drug prices. And it is increasingly clear that policy solutions — which will likely spark bitter fights between industries — will take longer than Trump has suggested.”
-- Maryland will hold its primaries today to choose a Democratic opponent for popular Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. Ovetta Wiggins reports: “From Bladensburg to Baltimore, progressive candidates are locked in tight battles with party establishment favorites in key races that highlight divisions in the party. The biggest matchup is between two-term Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III and former NAACP president Ben Jealous, the front-runners in the Democratic gubernatorial contest. Baker has widespread support from the party establishment, including former governor Martin O’Malley and U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen. Jealous, a community organizer turned tech investor, has strong backing from unions, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), wealthy liberal donors from across the country, and national and statewide progressive groups."
“Who Is Ben Jealous?” by the Atlantic’s Adam Serwer: “The former NAACP chief wants to turn Maryland into a progressive beacon, fusing Bernie-style economic policy with racial justice. But first he has to win his gubernatorial primary …”
-- “Voters also will choose nominees for Congress, including the closely watched 6th District race,” Ovetta adds. “Democratic state Del. Aruna Miller and Republican Amie Hoeber are both vying to become the only woman in Maryland’s congressional delegation. Hoeber is the Republican front-runner; Miller’s most formidable opponent is David Trone, a businessman who has spent more than $10 million of his own money on the race. The seat is being vacated by Democrat John Delaney, who is running for president.”
-- Up to 80,000 Marylanders – four times officials’ original estimate – will have to file provisional ballots due to a computer glitch at the state Motor Vehicle Administration. Ovetta reports: “State officials originally said that 18,700 Maryland voters would be affected by what they called a programming error. They said late Monday that they recently learned the problem was more widespread. … The state’s announcement of the increased number of voters that could be affected at the polls Tuesday resulted in a swift response from the two state lawmakers who chair committees that deal with election law.”
-- Vogue’s Bridget Read profiles Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who will face Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley in a New York primary today: “[T]he 28-year-old Bronx-born woman is the first person to face off against Crowley in a primary election throughout his entire 14 year tenure in office. [And she shocked skeptics even further by earning a spot on the ballot] for the June 26 primary … Ocasio-Cortez is part of a number of young women of color who are challenging establishment incumbents in the Democratic party. A third-generation New Yorker whose family is originally from Puerto Rico, Ocasio-Cortez looks a lot more like the constituents in the very diverse 14th district than Crowley, a 56-year-old white man. The optics of the race, then, also reflect a battle for the future of party leadership: Who is better equipped to represent the largely working class and non-white Americans in the 14th, and in places like it all over the country?”
-- Former Missouri secretary of state Jason Kander (D), whose trips to early primary states fueled recent speculation about a possible 2020 presidential bid, announced he is running for mayor of Kansas City. John Wagner reports: “The move seemingly takes Kander, considered an up-and-comer in his party, out of what is a crowded field of potential challengers to [Trump] … ‘The next mayor has the opportunity to shape the future of Kansas City for generations,’ Kander said in a statement. ‘I’m running because I am up for that challenge.’ Kander, 37, lost a U.S. Senate bid in 2016 but has remained visible nationally, leading an organization called Let America Vote and making trips to Iowa, New Hampshire and other states … During a trip to Iowa in April, Kander told reporters he [would make a decision on the 2020 campaign] after this year’s midterm elections. The election for mayor of Kansas City is in June 2019, long after Democratic candidates for president will start ramping up their 2020 campaigns.”
-- In Utah, Mitt Romney is expected to handily win today’s GOP primary to succeed Orrin Hatch. Elise Viebeck reports on his balancing act vis-a-vis Trump from West Jordan, Utah: “Romney faced families gathered at a pristine suburban sports park here with a stern message: What was happening to children at the border had to stop. But the man expected to be Utah’s next U.S. senator went out of his way not to blame — or even mention — President Trump, whose ‘zero tolerance’ order had resulted in migrant families being separated. ‘I know that the politicians in Washington, many of them are looking to find fault,’ Romney told voters at the event, held a few days before Tuesday’s primary. ‘I like to find answers instead.’ But Romney delivered no answers, save his vague insistence that a ‘compassionate’ solution be found and that Congress work on a new policy.”
Walking toward his Chevrolet truck after an event, the 71-year-old said: “I’m quite used to being able to play different roles in different circumstances.”
One key reason Mitt might bite his tongue on Trump: “Criticizing Trump risks poisoning the GOP against Romney’s family when at least one of his sons is entertaining political ambitions of his own. His son Josh — next-door neighbor to Romney and his wife, Ann, in Holladay, Utah — has considered a run for Utah governor in 2020. ‘If [Romney] falls out of good graces with the party in the long term, it damages the sons’ prospects and their ability to rise,’ said one friend, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private talks.”
-- “I have and will continue to speak out when the president says or does something which is divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions,” Romney promised in an op-ed for Monday’s Salt Lake Tribune. “I do not make this a daily commentary; I express contrary views only when I believe it is a matter of substantial significance. … Dr. Martin Luther King noted, ‘our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.’ I appreciate the argument made by those who believe we should stay silent, but I cannot subscribe to it.”
ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN AND WOMEN:
-- White House deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin tapped his former business partner, Steve Atkiss, to plan some of Trump’s highest-profile overseas events. Politico’s Josh Meyer and Andrew Restuccia report: “Shortly before [Trump’s first international trip as president], two Washington-based security contractors dined at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh as U.S. and Saudi officials began wrapping the president’s hotel in a security bubble. The pair, Steve Atkiss and John Meyers, were catching up as co-partners of a flourishing security and intelligence firm, Command Group, that at the time had a lucrative contract with a U.S. company operating in Saudi Arabia. But Atkiss was in Riyadh for something else: A volunteer role as the White House’s on-the-ground logistics lead mapping out Trump’s schedule at a summit with leaders of 55 Arab and Muslim countries. It’s common for the White House to farm out the intensive planning known as ‘advance’ work to outsiders … But by tapping Atkiss, 41, for such sensitive and influential positions, Hagin may be helping him gain an edge in drumming up business for Command by affording him easy access to foreign governments and private individuals who could help the firm win future security and consulting contracts[.]
- “Hagin picked Steve Atkiss for two of the most important trips that the White House has done in decades,” said one former Bush White House official. “Because Steve is there wearing two hats — his company hat and his White House hat — it’s like a jobs fair for their company, and a potential gold mine that no amount of money could buy.”
-- Major Trump donor Rebekah Mercer has previously invited guests to play an elaborate parlor game recreating Election Day. The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer reports: The game, called the Machine Learning President, “is a race to the Oval Office in three fifteen-minute rounds. It’s a role-playing game, more like Assassin than like Monopoly, although players of this game do start out with an allotment of ‘cash’ to spend on pushing their agendas, which can include ‘algorithmic policing’ and ‘mass deportation.’ ‘Tonight, the name of the game is POWER,’ reads the first page of the ‘Rules of Play.’ Each player, it goes on, ‘will assume a new political identity.’ Instead of becoming Colonel Mustard or Mrs. Peacock, as in the board game Clue, each player takes on the role of a political candidate or a ‘faction,’ in the game’s parlance. Among the possible roles are Mike Pence, Elizabeth Warren, Black Lives Matter, Russia, Y Combinator, Tom Steyer, Wall Street, Evangelicals, the Koch Network, and Robert Mercer himself.”
-- Former Trump aide David Bossie was suspended as a Fox News contributor after he said Democratic strategist Joel Payne, who is black, was “out of your cotton-picking mind.” Bossie’s suspension is set to last two weeks. (Daily Beast)
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
One Republican senator succinctly criticized Trump's tariffs:
Trump called for public hearings on FBI agent Peter Strzok and others:
A Post reporter who covers DOJ said that's actually what Strzok wanted, but House Republicans refused:
He also suggested a Senate Democrat should be investigated for his comments about the Muller probe:
A spokeswoman for Warner replied to Trump's tweet:
A former spokesman for Obama's Justice Department responded to Trump's tweet directed at Waters:
Paul Begala, who was a top strategist for Bill Clinton, warned that aggressive tactics by the left could backfire by alienating the voters that his party needs most:
A former senior adviser to Obama also questioned the rationale behind refusing service to Trump officials:
But Hillary Clinton’s former campaign press secretary took issue with Axelrod’s stance, highlighting a generational divide in Democratic strategists’ thinking:
A conservative columnist decried divisive rhetoric:
The chief strategist for George W. Bush's 2004 campaign gave this advice:
A former Hillary Clinton campaign officials replied to Dowd:
A CNN host paused to note this:
Another CNN anchor took issue with the description of a White House adviser as a “white nationalist”:
A writer for Slate responded to the CNN clip:
A CNBC reporter provided this reminder:
A Post reporter contextualized the White House's statements about immigration:
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), the civil rights legend, marked the five-year anniversary of the Shelby County case:
A Trump supporter at a South Carolina rally interacted with a CNN reporter:
And two former presidents got the chance to catch up:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- ProPublica, “I’ve Been Reporting on MS-13 for a Year. Here Are the 5 Things Trump Gets Most Wrong,” by Hannah Dreier: “One Long Island boy told me he doesn’t go to parties anymore because he worries any invitation could be a trap. A victim’s father showed me a death certificate that said his son’s head had been bashed in, then lowered his voice and added that the boy’s bones had been marked by machete slashes … [And another] teenager who has left the gang told me he considers himself dead already, and is just trying to make sure MS-13 doesn’t kill his family. … Everyone agrees the gang is bloodthirsty. [But] most of the other assertions I’ve heard from the Trump administration this year about MS-13 have almost no connection to what I’m seeing on the ground … The gang is not invading the country. They’re not posing as fake families. They’re not growing. To stop them, the government needs to understand them.”
-- The Intercept, “The Wiretap Rooms,” by Ryan Gallagher and Henrik Moltke: “The secrets are hidden behind fortified walls in cities across the United States, inside towering, windowless skyscrapers and fortress-like concrete structures that were built to withstand earthquakes and even nuclear attack. Thousands of people pass by the buildings each day and rarely give them a second glance, because their function is not publicly known. They are an integral part of one of the world’s largest telecommunications networks — and they are also linked to a controversial [NSA] surveillance program. Among the pinpointed buildings, there is a nuclear blast-resistant, windowless facility in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood; in Washington, D.C., a fortress-like, concrete structure less than half a mile south of the U.S. Capitol; in Chicago, an earthquake-resistant skyscraper … [A series of other buildings across the U.S. also] appear to serve a similar function, as critical parts of one of the world’s most powerful electronic eavesdropping systems, hidden in plain sight.”
-- The Atlantic, “I Delivered Packages for Amazon and It Was a Nightmare,” by Alana Semuels: “Amazon Flex allows drivers to get paid to deliver packages from their own vehicles. But is it a good deal for workers?”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“GOP candidate: Civil war wasn’t about slavery,” from the Hill: “Republican Senate nominee Corey Stewart said that he doesn’t believe that the Civil War was fought over the issue of slavery, arguing that it was mostly about states’ rights. In a Monday interview with Hill.TV’s ‘Rising,’ Stewart, who recently won the GOP nomination in the Virginia Senate race, said … he doesn’t associate slavery with the war. ‘I don’t at all. If you look at the history, that’s not what it meant at all …,’ Stewart said. [After he was pressed again on whether] the Civil War was ‘significantly’ fought over slavery, Stewart said some of them talked about slavery, but added that most soldiers never owned slaves and ‘they didn’t fight to preserve the institution of slavery.’ Stewart also said he doesn’t support a Richmond elementary school named after a Confederate general deciding to rename it after [Obama].”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“FIFA May Punish English Football Team if Fans Shout Pro-Brexit Chants,” from the National Review: “The English Football Association may be fined by FIFA if their fans shout Brexit-related chants at an upcoming World Cup match against Belgium … The Football Association, which oversees football at the national level in England, will be sanctioned if fans breach FIFA’s prohibition against ‘displaying insulting or political slogans in any form’ or ‘uttering insulting words or sounds’ during the Thursday World Cup match in Kaliningrad, Russia. ‘Of course, there is a risk of some kind of punishment to the FA,’ a FIFA official [said when] asked what would happen if fans shouted chants related to the U.K.’s departure from the European Union.”
Trump will meet with the national executive committee for the Associated Builders and Contractors. He will then have lunch with lawmakers and meet with West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R). Later this afternoon, he will present the Medal of Honor.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“Seems to me the world has gone crazy. It’s just us that are left.” — Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), weighing in on this weekend's political rhetoric.
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- It will be another “Nice Day!” in D.C., but scattered storms will return tomorrow. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Perfect summer’s day with temperatures slightly below normal (low to mid-80s) and partly to mostly sunny skies as high pressure passes by to our north. The cherry on top of this Tuesday is the very low humidity with dew points in the upper 50s to around 60.”
-- The Nationals lost to the Rays 11-0. (Chelsea Janes)
-- Federal regulators are demanding Metro install additional safety barriers to a fleet of its trains by the end of the year. Martine Powers reports: “In a letter sent Friday to Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld, the Federal Transit Administration mandated that Metro officials must install a second set of ‘between-car barriers’ to hundreds of the new stainless-steel rail cars by Dec. 31 or risk having 25 percent of their federal funding withheld. … Metro officials must respond to the FTA’s letter by Friday, outlining a plan for how they intend to complete the required work on the 7000-series rail cars by the deadline. … In July 2016, a visually impaired male passenger fell into the gap between train cars.”
-- D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s plan to replace the huge D.C. General homeless shelter with a set of smaller shelters is already running behind schedule. From Fenit Nirappil: “Officials told the council they were extending construction hours until 1 a.m., hiring extra labor and taking other steps to make up for lost time and ensure the new shelters are ready by the time they close the dilapidated D.C. General shelter in the fall. But lawmakers and advocates for the homeless were outraged, and some suggested the mayor had rushed the project to fulfill a campaign promise in an election year.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Jimmy Fallon explained why he chose to respond to Trump's tweet about him:
Trevor Noah said the Red Hen should have treated Sarah Huckabee Sanders like she treats reporters:
The president and first lady welcomed the king and queen of Jordan to the White House:
And the National Zoo welcomed some new additions to its Bird House: