With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve 

THE BIG IDEA: President Trump believes he understands the world better than the generals, diplomats, intelligence officers and senators who have been working on national security issues for decades longer than he has.

He’s the first president in American history with no prior governing or military experience. Yet he often proceeds with the certitude of someone like Dwight Eisenhower, who led the Allied invasion on D-Day, even if he later changes his mind.

Ten stories from the past few days — mostly overshadowed by Independence Day festivities — highlight the president’s clashes with and disdain for experts in the U.S. government. Read together, they help flesh out what might be considered a Trump doctrine on foreign policy.

1) For Trump, history often seems to have begun when he became president.

“GOP lawmakers went to the White House last month to hear President Trump’s case for lifting U.S. sanctions on the Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE,” Erica Werner and Josh Dawsey report in today’s paper. “But even as Trump tried to convince his skeptical listeners that it was all part of a grand plan to win China’s help on North Korea, he threw in a jab. None of you, Trump told the lawmakers, had even heard of ZTE before the most recent flap. The lawmakers had indeed heard of ZTE. Several had spent years pushing action against what they viewed as unpardonable abuses by a company found guilty of selling U.S. goods to Iran — only to watch Trump sweep aside their concerns in a quick deal done with Chinese President Xi Jinping.”

The GOP senators who were in the meeting are trying to reach a deal with the House to override Trump’s deal with ZTE, but it’s hard to convince Republicans to cross Trump — even when they believe the nation’s security is at stake: “Adding to that pressure is new evidence that ZTE may be flouting the terms of the deal — sparking fresh protests from lawmakers who will have to decide in coming weeks whether to bow to White House demands and back down on punishing the company. The White House on Monday took concrete steps to begin helping ZTE. The Commerce Department issued a waiver allowing U.S. businesses to continue doing business with ZTE for one month without penalty as negotiations continue. That also could give the White House more time to work out a resolution with members of Congress.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a member of the Foreign Relations and Intelligence committees, responded this way to a Wall Street Journal report that new ZTE board members installed as a condition of Trump’s deal also have ties to the Chinese state:

This is just the latest example. Remember when Trump declared that “no one” knew health-care policy was so difficult as he struggled to repeal Obamacare. Last year, Trump said he would be able to convince Xi to pressure North Korea to end its nuclear program. But after the two men met at Mar-a-Lago, Trump said he had not realized the complex history of the region. “After listening for 10 minutes, I realized that it’s not so easy,” Trump said last April. “You know, I felt pretty strongly that they had a tremendous power over North Korea. But it’s not what you would think.”

2) Trump is very willing to use military force.

Last August, Trump caught the world off guard when he declared that he was “not going to rule out a military option” in Venezuela. At the time, pretty much everyone laughed off the comment as a joke and said the president should not be taken seriously when he makes such threats.

But it turns out Trump was totally serious. A new dispatch from the Associated Press reveals that Trump pressed top officials multiple times on the possibility of U.S. military action. The day before that public statement, during an Oval Office meeting about sanctions, Trump asked why he couldn’t just order an invasion of the troubled country.

“The suggestion stunned those present at the meeting, including U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, both of whom have since left the administration,” the AP’s Joshua Goodman reports. “In an exchange that lasted around five minutes, McMaster and others took turns explaining to Trump how military action could backfire and risk losing hard-won support among Latin American governments to punish President Nicolas Maduro for taking Venezuela down the path of dictatorship … But Trump pushed back. Although he gave no indication he was about to order up military plans, he pointed to what he considered past cases of successful gunboat diplomacy in the region, according to the official, like the invasions of Panama and Grenada in the 1980s…

“Shortly afterward, he raised the issue with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, according to the U.S. official. Two high-ranking Colombian officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid antagonizing Trump confirmed the report. …

“Then in September, on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, Trump discussed it again, this time at greater length, in a private dinner with leaders from four Latin American allies that included Santos … The U.S. official said Trump was specifically briefed not to raise the issue and told it wouldn’t play well, but the first thing the president said at the dinner was, ‘My staff told me not to say this.’ Trump then went around asking each leader if they were sure they didn’t want a military solution, according to the official, who added that each leader told Trump in clear terms they were sure.”

3) Trump is willing to reject the considered judgment of the U.S. intelligence community and the Republican members of the Intelligence committee.

Just last week, Trump tweeted: “Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!” As if that means it’s true.

On the night before the July Fourth holiday, the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Richard Burr released a seven-page report affirming the intelligence community’s conclusion that the Kremlin, following the personal orders of Vladimir Putin, sought to help Trump win in 2016.

“The Senate panel called the overall assessment a ‘sound intelligence product,’ saying evidence presented by the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency supported their collective conclusion that the Russian government had ‘developed a clear preference for Trump,’” Karoun Demirjian reports. “The intelligence community determined that the Kremlin intended to ‘denigrate’ and ‘harm’ [Hillary] Clinton, and ‘undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process’ while helping Trump …

“The panel stressed that intelligence analysts were under ‘no politically motivated pressure to reach any conclusions,’ and that their conclusions had been prescient as well as accurate, noting that ‘the Committee’s investigation has exposed a far more extensive Russian effort to manipulate social media outlets to sow discord and to interfere in the 2016 election and American society’ than the officials who drafted the assessment realized at the time they were writing it.”

Trump tweeted repeatedly about the partisan House Intelligence Committee report and the Justice Department’s Inspector General report. He’s simply ignored the bipartisan consensus of the Senate committee, as he continues to insist publicly that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the interference is “a witch hunt.”

4) Trump has a very high view of his personal ability to charm other world leaders in one-on-one settings.

The president plans to meet one-on-one with Putin in Helsinki on July 16, just as he initially met with Kim Jong Un in Singapore for an hour with only their translators. “At Trump and Putin's first meeting, on the margins of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, a year ago, the only aide to accompany the President was [Tillerson], along with a US translator. The session went so long that first lady Melania Trump was sent in to try to cut it off,” CNN’s Kevin Liptak reports. “In a second conversation during dinner at the same summit, Trump was without a translator who spoke Russian, so instead relied on Putin's. The men spoke for about an hour without any other aides present, officials said later.”

The president of the Council on Foreign Relations was troubled by these reports:

“If he does as badly in his July 16 meeting with Vladimir Putin in Finland as he did with Kim Jong Un in Singapore, the consequences could be catastrophic,” conservative columnist George Will writes in today’s newspaper. “[T]his innocent abroad is strutting toward a meeting with the cold-eyed Russian who is continuing to dismantle one of Europe’s largest nations, Ukraine. He is probably looking ahead to ratcheting up pressure on one of three small nations, Lithuania, Latvia or Estonia … [T]he hard man in Moscow, who can sniff softness, relishes what Singapore revealed.” George quotes at length from a National Review piece (“Kim Wins in Singapore”) by the American Enterprise Institute’s Nicholas Eberstadt (a conservative scholar on North Korea).
 

5) Trump’s unwillingness to admit he might have been played by Kim now constrains him.

The president is so eager to convince the public that his Singapore summit was a success that he’s been reluctant to acknowledge the mounting body of evidence that Pyongyang is continuing its nuclear program and has not destroyed the missile engine test site that Kim said he would last month. “Many good conversations with North Korea-it is going well!” the president tweeted Tuesday.

Trump is in sales mode and has already looked to blame others, including critics in Congress, for any bad news from the Korean Peninsula.

Some experts fear the repatriation of American remains from the Korean War, which Kim committed to during the summit, will now simply be used as a bargaining chip. “[T]he up-and-down nature of past efforts suggests the process could be fraught with pitfalls, including a mixed record of cooperation from the North Koreans,” Dan Lamothe and Paul Sonne report. “Any successful repatriation also will face the laborious identification process that has dragged on for years with the remains already in U.S. possession. ‘They use remains as bait,’ Danny Russel, a career diplomat who focused on North Korea for both the State Department and White House during the Obama administration, said of the North Koreans. ‘They use them to sort of chum the water.’”

6) Trump is very confident that he can negotiate better nuclear deals than his predecessors.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is flying today to North Korea for a third visit with Kim to put some meat on the bones of the generic pledge to pursue denuclearization. In recent days, Trump sent a personal letter to Kim. The contents are unknown.

“Complicating the task is this: Mr. Pompeo, a former C.I.A. chief who knows the details of the North Korean program intimately and has solicited plans for how to accomplish his goals, must show that he can get the North Koreans to go far beyond the agreement his predecessor once-removed, John Kerry, achieved in negotiations with Iran,” David Sanger writes in today’s New York Times. “The president regularly calls Iran a major nuclear threat, even though it no longer has enough fuel to make a single nuclear weapon. Under the 2015 agreement, it shipped 97 percent of its nuclear material out of the country. And it never possessed nuclear weapons. Yet Mr. Trump pulled out after concluding that the United States gave away too much in return for an agreement that would gradually allow the Iranians to resume production around 2030. The stark contrast between how Mr. Trump talks about Tehran, while insisting that the North is ‘no longer a nuclear threat,’ will become harder and harder to sustain if Mr. Pompeo cannot get Mr. Kim on a rapid denuclearization schedule.”

7) Trump does not prioritize historic alliances.

It got lost last Friday night, but the U.S. ambassador to Estonia — a career diplomat who has been in the Foreign Service for 33 years — announced his resignation to protest Trump’s attacks on U.S. allies in Europe.

“A Foreign Service Officer’s DNA is programmed to support policy and we’re schooled right from the start, that if there ever comes a point where one can no longer do so, particularly if one is in a position of leadership, the honorable course is to resign. Having served under six presidents and 11 secretaries of state, I never really thought it would reach that point for me,” James D. Melville Jr., who has been ambassador to Estonia since 2015, wrote in a note to friends that was obtained by Foreign Policy.

“For the President to say the EU was ‘set up to take advantage of the United States, to attack our piggy bank,’ or that ‘NATO is as bad as NAFTA’ is not only factually wrong, but proves to me that it’s time to go,” Melville wrote, adding that he believes in his “marrow” that the U.S. should support the European Union and NATO. “I leave willingly and with deep gratitude for being able to serve my nation with integrity for many years, and with great confidence that America, which is and has always been, great, will someday return to being right.”

“The post surprised several State Department officials who worked with Melville, describing him as a consummate professional who never let domestic politics impact his job,” Robbie Gramer noted. “It means a lot when someone whose had it all in their career just says, ‘I can’t do this any longer,’” one senior State Department official told Foreign Policy. “I just wonder who’s next.”

8) Trump’s willingness to start unnecessary fights strains the Western alliance.

The presidency has a proven tendency to pick at old scabs. Here’s a small, but telling, illustration: “A little-known cross-border dispute that has simmered between Canada and the United States since the late 1700s is now approaching the boiling point,” the Toronto Star reported yesterday. “In the past two weeks, at least 10 Canadian fishing boats from New Brunswick have been intercepted by U.S. Border Patrol agents while fishing in the disputed waters around Machias Seal Island, a spokesperson for the fishermen says.”

9) Trump doesn’t appear to think through the second- and third- order reverberations of his decisions.

U.S. companies in China think the government is already messing with them,” Danielle Paquette reports from Beijing. “An American company that ships cherries to a coastal province in southeast China recently encountered a new hurdle at the border: Customs officers ordered a load into quarantine for a week, so it spoiled and was sent back to the United States. American pet-food makers, meanwhile, say they’re facing more rigorous inspections at ports, which delay goods from reaching shelves and ultimately hurt sales. And a U.S. manufacturer that exports vehicles to China recorded a 98 percent jump in random border inspections over the past month, throwing the firm behind schedule. American business leaders fear these are the ‘qualitative measures’ China warned it would unleash if Trump imposed tariffs on its exports to the United States. Just days before the first 25 percent levy is slated to hit $34 billion in Chinese products, U.S. companies here say they’re already feeling the sting in the form of stalled product approvals, worker visas and licensing applications …

“Executives across industries have raised concerns about an increasingly hostile regulatory environment,” Danielle adds. “They also worry the sparring between Washington and Beijing could fuel anti-American sentiment among Chinese consumers. One sign of fraying relations: a notice posted by the Chinese Embassy in Washington last week, urging tourists to ‘avoid going out alone at night’ in the United States, where cases of ‘shootings, robberies, and theft are frequent.’”

10) Trump thrives on a level of uncertainty that the world order struggles to deal with.

Trump’s scattershot approach threatens to undermine the very industries he pledged to protect during the campaign. “If nothing else, experts say, the unpredictability of many of Mr. Trump’s proposals — the lack of clarity on when or how Nafta might be renegotiated; the risk of potential litigation over his rollback of auto-pollution rules; the ways in which other countries might retaliate against Mr. Trump’s tariffs — seeds confusion across the American economy, making it tough for businesses to plan effectively for the future,” Coral Davenport and Ana Swanson report in today’s New York Times. “Automakers, for instance, had sought looser emissions rules. However, Mr. Trump’s proposed rollback goes further than expected, and now automakers say it could ultimately spawn years of legal battles and perhaps even subject the industry to more regulations, not fewer, if individual states start enforcing their own, separate rules.”

The Daily 202's BIG IDEA> Get James' insight into Washington every weekday on your smart speaker or favorite podcast player.
Subscribe on Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePod and other podcast players.
 
Welcome to the Daily 202, PowerPost's morning briefing for decision-makers.
Sign up to receive the newsletter.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

(University of Maine Climate Reanalyzer)

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. Numerous locations have witnessed their hottest weather ever recorded over the past week. “From the normally mild summer climes of Ireland, Scotland and Canada to the scorching Middle East,” Jason Samenow reports, “large areas of heat pressure or heat domes scattered around the [Northern] hemisphere led to the sweltering temperatures. No single record, in isolation, can be attributed to global warming. But collectively, these heat records are consistent with the kind of extremes we expect to see increase in a warming world.”
  2. The top judge on Poland’s Supreme Court defied an attempt to depose hershowing up to court as usual despite a new law that requires judges to retire at 65 instead of 70. The measure, which would purge at least two dozen lower-court judges off the bench, comes as Poland's ruling party seeks to eliminate judicial checks on its power. (Michael Birnbaum)
  3. Members of the stranded boys’ soccer team in Thailand were given rudimentary diving lessons to help with their rescue, despite the fact that none of them can swim. Officials continue to deliberate over how to best rescue the team from a flooded cave before another round of expected storms. (Shibani Mahtani)
  4. Months after the death of the world’s last northern white rhino, scientists have used his DNA to create a viable hybrid embryo — in the hopes of ensuring some genetic continuity for the near-extinct species. Scientists said they hope to implant the embryos in the next few years. (Ben Guarino)
  5. Protests erupted across France this week after police shot and killed a 22-year-old driver. The angry demonstrators smashed storefronts — including a medical center and a library — and set fire to several neighborhoods in western France. (Rebecca Tan)
  6. Kim Dotcom, founder of the file-sharing website Megaupload, lost his latest bid to avoid extradition from New Zealand to the United States. New Zealand's justice minister will now decide whether Dotcom should be extradited, where he and three others face charges of copyright infringement and fraud. (BBC)

  7. The city of Pamplona has released a smartphone app to help clamp down on widespread sexual harassment at its famous bull-running festival. The city came under fire in 2016 when a group of five men known as the “Wolf Pack” allegedly assaulted a woman during the festival. (DW)

  8. A Baltimore man was exonerated of a 1988 murder after spending 30 years in prison. Defense attorneys argued Jerome Johnson had been convicted on faulty witness testimony. (Baltimore Sun)

  9. The four teams remaining on one side of the World Cup bracket — Croatia, England, Sweden and Russia — only have two previous appearances in the final between them. The teams’ shared history stands in stark contrast to the World Cup’s tendency of elevating titans — such as Germany, which has appeared in eight finals. (Chuck Culpepper)

POWER PLAYERS IN THE NEWS:

  1. When Trump meets Queen Elizabeth next week, he will be the 12th American president she has met since taking the throne 66 years ago. The monarch has met every president since Harry Truman, except for Lyndon Johnson. (Reuters)
  2. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) denied claims that he knew of sexual abuse allegations in Ohio State's wrestling program when he served as an assistant coach. Former wrestler Mike DiSabato — who has accused Richard Strauss, once a doctor in the university's athletics department, of abusing him from the age of 14 — said the alleged abuse was “common knowledge.” (Elise Viebeck)
  3. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer was admitted to George Washington University Hospital to receive treatment for pneumonia. A spokesman for the Maryland Democrat said he is “expected to make a full recovery quickly.” (Paul Schwartzman)
  4. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) denounced the Nazi candidate running as a Republican in a Chicago-area congressional district, but he's declining to support the Nazi’s Democratic opponent. Instead, Rauner called for Holocaust denier Arthur Jones to drop out of the race. Ted Cruz last week urged residents of the district to write in a candidate or choose the Democrat — in this case, Rep. Dan Lipinski. (Politico)
  5. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) made another trip to the Middle East as she seeks to strengthen her foreign policy credentials. She spent the holiday in Kuwait and Iraq after touring Asia during Easter weekend. (Boston Globe)
  6. Western diplomats are struggling to understand the political philosophy of Moqtada al-Sadr, the Shiite cleric whose ticket unexpectedly won Iraq’s national elections in May. “The performance of his militia, now known as the Peace Brigades, suggests Sadr has genuinely shed his earlier sectarianism and is committed to healing the Sunni-Shiite wounds that have corroded Iraq’s society and security,” Tamer El-Ghobashy and Mustafa Salim report. “But the brigades’ conduct in Samarra also shows that he may not have been so fast to relinquish his autocratic tendencies and still retains a taste for subordinating Iraq’s laws to his own rule.”

THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:

-- Robert Mueller is tapping additional Justice Department resources for his Russia investigation. Bloomberg News's Chris Strohm reports: “As Mueller pursues his probe, he’s making more use of career prosecutors from the offices of U.S. attorneys and from Justice Department headquarters, as well as FBI agents — a sign that he may be laying the groundwork to hand off parts of his investigation eventually, several current and former U.S. officials said. Mueller and his team of 17 federal prosecutors are coping with a higher-then-expected volume of court challenges that has added complexity in recent months, but there’s no political appetite at this time to increase the size of his staff, the officials said.”

-- “Two more victims of Soviet-era nerve agent poisoned in British town where Russian ex-spy was attacked,” by William Booth and Karla Adam: “Authorities said the latest two victims — identified by friends as British nationals Charlie Rowley, 45, and Dawn Sturgess, 44 — were found unconscious over the weekend at a residential property in Amesbury just a few miles from where a nerve agent was used in March to poison the former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his adult daughter, Yulia. Witnesses told the British press that before Rowley and Sturgess succumbed they were frothing at the mouth, hallucinating and incoherent. Testing to identify the poison in both cases was conducted by British scientists at a U.K. military research laboratory in nearby Porton Down, which specializes in work related to chemical weapons. … Authorities said the cases may be related, but they did not say how. … A spokesman for the prime minister said the incident ‘is being treated with the utmost seriousness.’”

-- Sergei and Yulia Skripal were being monitored by the Russian authorities in the months before their poisoning, the BBC reports: “The government alleged, in a letter to Nato, that the Russian authorities had hacked into Yulia's email account in 2013. … [B]riefings given to UK ministers and allied governments suggested it went well beyond this. … Yulia's mobile phone has since been closely studied for signs of malware that could have allowed it to be used to track her whereabouts. Questions remain though about whether any of the surveillance of her and her father was detected before the attempt, and should have prompted an increased level of protection.”

-- “Inside the Online Campaign to Whitewash Donald Trump’s Russian Business Ties,” by the Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markay and Dean Sterling Jones: “A mystery client has been paying bloggers in India and Indonesia to write articles distancing [Trump] from the legal travails of a mob-linked former business associate. Spokespeople for online reputation management companies in the two countries confirmed that they had been paid to write articles attempting to whitewash Trump’s ties to Felix Sater, a Russian-born businessman who, with former Russian trade minister Tevfik Arif, collaborated with the Trump Organization on numerous real estate deals from New York to the former Soviet Union. The campaign appears designed to influence Google search results pertaining to Trump’s relationship with Sater, Arif, and the Bayrock Group, a New York real estate firm that collaborated with Trump on a series of real estate deals, and recruited Russian investors for potential Trump deals in Moscow.”

THE SUPREME COURT SEARCH:

-- Trump appears to have narrowed his shortlist down to three judges, according to the Wall Street Journal’s Peter Nicholas and Louise Radnofsky. “Following a brisk round of interviews Monday and Tuesday, the three front-runners at this late stage in the president’s search are all U.S. appeals court judges: Brett Kavanaugh of Maryland, of the D.C. Circuit; Raymond Kethledge of Michigan, of the Sixth Circuit; and Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana, of the Seventh Circuit. … A central tension is whether to base the selection primarily on a dispassionate review of judicial records and written rulings, or on a candidate’s biography and the personal chemistry Mr. Trump feels during the interviews, people close to the White House said.”

-- Vice President Pence has met with some of the contenders for the vacancy in recent days, the AP reports, but it’s not clear which ones.

-- A liberal group, Demand Justice, will launch a $5 million campaign today in Maine and Alaska to highlight the possibility that Anthony Kennedy’s replacement could provide the fifth vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. The spots are aimed at the two key Republican votes on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee: Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. (Michael Scherer)

-- “I understand just how important this appointment to the Supreme Court is,” Collins told reporters as she marched in a Fourth of July parade in Bangor. “It would be very difficult for me to support a nominee who did not consider Roe v. Wade settled law. … How can you ask me to take a position on a nominee whose identity I don’t know yet?” (The local NBC affiliate has more.)

-- “Barrett would pose a clear and present danger to abortion rights,” writes deputy editorial page editor Ruth Marcus. “While Barrett has the shortest judicial paper trail of the likely nominees, her academic writings are the equivalent of a flashing neon sign: I’ll do it.” Ruth cites two strands of evidence: “The first is her 1998 article with John H. Garvey, ‘Catholic Judges in Capital Cases,’ discussing the ethical obligations faced by judges who are observant Catholics and who are called on to handle death-penalty cases. … [The second is] a series of law review articles in which Barrett outlines her view that the Supreme Court should not be so tightly bound by the doctrine of adhering to precedent — stare decisis — especially on matters of constitutional law."

  • “I tend to agree with those who say that a justice’s duty is to the Constitution and that it is thus more legitimate for her to enforce her best understanding of the Constitution rather than a precedent she thinks clearly in conflict with it,” Barrett wrote in 2013.
  • “In a 2003 article, Barrett called for a more 'flexible' understanding of stare decisis, arguing that courts should be less focused, in deciding whether to overrule a case, on so-called reliance interests — the degree to which a decision has been woven into the settled expectations of those affected."

To be sure, Kavanaugh cannot be counted on to save Roe either. He recently ruled that it was not an undue burden to force a 15-week-pregnant 17-year-old undocumented immigrant to wait to get an abortion while authorities searched for a sponsor for her. “Amazingly enough, Kavanaugh, who complained that the appeals court majority was providing a right to ‘immediate abortion on demand,’ is being criticized from the right for not going even farther,” Ruth writes.

-- The president's potential nominees tend to fall into two categories, Paul Kane observes: “One set … hail from a throwback era, having won confirmation to their federal court posts by overwhelming votes last decade with the support of dozens of Democrats still serving today in the Senate. Then there’s another cluster who just went through the more modern confirmation process — highly partisan with almost no Democratic support — to secure seats on the federal appeals court. … If the choice comes from the first group, it might become ‘a more traditional fight’ that focuses on the dozen or so years of judicial opinions written off that bench on the hot-button issues of the day, according to Chris Kang, chief counsel for [the progressive group Demand Justice]. If the choice comes from the newer crop of judges, the showdown would turn into a higher-profile replay of recent confirmations that focused less on judicial opinions and more on qualifications and personal background.”

THE IMMIGRATION WARS RAGE ON:

-- “A woman wearing an anti-Trump T-shirt climbed the base of the Statue of Liberty on Independence Day, sparking a mass evacuation of Liberty Island and a nearly four-hour standoff with first responders before she was taken into custody,” the New York Daily News reports. “The protester, identified as Therese Patricia Okoumou, 44, was seen scaling the base of the statue about 3 p.m., moments after the group Rise and Resist formed a protest against Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Liberty Island.”

-- The U.S. border town of McAllen, Tex., has become ground zero in the political battle over Trump’s immigration policies. It houses both a vibrant bilingual community and a massive U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility tasked with splitting up migrant parents and children. Kevin Sullivan reports: “As McAllen prepared for its massive annual Fourth of July parade and fireworks display of patriotism, this city found itself feeling like a punching bag in the furious national immigration debate. The city has been through similar strains in the past … But this time is the most intense anyone can remember. The Rio Grande Valley is the U.S. Border Patrol’s busiest sector, accounting for 40 percent of the apprehensions of illegal border-crossers along the entire 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border. Migrants use the valley as a gateway to cities across America, but few stay in McAllen. ‘There’s some impression around the world that people are dying to come to McAllen, and that’s just not the case,’ said Police Chief Victor Rodriguez. ‘It happens to be a crossing point, but the destinations are everywhere else in the country.’”

-- Migrant parents separated from their children are being asked to choose being between being deported alone or with their children. The Wall Street Journal’s Alicia A. Caldwell and Stephanie Armour report: “[ICE] started giving parents who have been given deportation orders a form laying out their options after a federal judge in San Diego last month ordered the administration to reunite immigrant families separated by federal authorities at the border with Mexico. … The new form is specifically for parents who were separated from their children at the border under the administration’s zero-tolerance policy. … Separately, the Department of Health and Human Services told lawmakers this week that congressional interest in visiting shelters for unaccompanied migrant children has become so overwhelming that it was constraining federal resources and threatening the ability to quickly reunite families.”

-- Some of the major contractors tasked with housing migrant children at detention centers and shelters along the U.S. border have a long history of political connections — and have particularly strong ties to the Trump administrationThe New York Times’s Ben Protess, Manny Fernandez and Kitty Bennett report: “The president’s education secretary provided funding to one of the groups. His defense secretary sat on the board of another. Mr. Trump’s own inauguration fund collected $500,000 from two private prison companies housing detained migrant families. And some of the contractors employ prominent Republican lobbyists with ties to Mr. Trump and his administration … There is no indication that political favors or influence motivated any of the contracts … Yet the administration’s new focus on ending the practice of ‘catch and release’ … has meant that the business of housing and caring for migrant children is booming. A review of regulatory filings, campaign donations and lobbying records reveals a number of important links between people in Mr. Trump’s orbit and the groups poised to earn financial rewards from his immigration policies.”

-- Conservative columnist and foreign policy scholar Max Boot: “I left the Republican Party. Now I want Democrats to take over . . . After a lifetime as a Republican, I re-registered as an independent on the day after Donald Trump’s election. … I am more convinced than ever that I made the right decision. The transformation I feared has taken place. Just look at the reaction to President Trump’s barbarous policy of taking children away from their parents as punishment for the misdemeanor offense of illegally entering the country. While two-thirds of Americans disapproved of this state-sanctioned child abuse, forcing the president to back down, a majority of Republicans approved. … That is why I join … other principled conservatives, both current and former Republicans, in rooting for a Democratic takeover of both houses in November. Like postwar Germany and Japan, the Republican Party must be destroyed before it can be rebuilt.

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Trump called on OPEC members to lower oil prices:

Elizabeth Warren shared photos of her Middle East trip:

The first lady visited Walter Reed:

Trump's former lawyer seems to be cutting all ties — over Twitter at least:

The co-writer of “The Art of the Deal” slammed Trump's claim that he wrote “many best selling books”:

A BuzzFeed News reporter obtained this email from March 2017:

A former spokesman for Hillary Clinton analyzed this piece of local news:

And Twitter celebrated the Fourth of July:

From Hillary Clinton:

Many lawmakers reflected on the birth of the nation:

From another Senate Republican:

From a Democratic senator:

From a former CIA director:

From a former State Department counselor under Condoleezza Rice:

The embattled EPA leader attended a White House picnic:

A presidential historian shared this historical fact:

And the British Embassy in D.C. warned its fellow Britons to hide their tea:

GOOD READS:

-- “Inside the Christian legal powerhouse that keeps winning at the Supreme Court,” by Jessica Contrera: “[The Alliance Defending Freedom, an Arizona-based Christian conservative legal nonprofit better known as ADF], has had nine successful cases before the court in the past seven years, including Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which allowed corporations to opt out of covering contraceptives based on religious beliefs. And it was ADF that created model legislation for ‘bathroom bills’ … To describe these cases is to traffic in loaded language. ADF regularly sues colleges for creating versions of ‘safe spaces’ that it sees as First Amendment violations. What some people call birth control, ADF calls ‘abortion-inducing drugs’ . . . Allowing transgender students into their chosen bathrooms is, to ADF, failing to protect the privacy of the majority of students. [Opponents] say ADF is seeking to enshrine discrimination into law. But to its supporters, ADF is fighting for the right of Christians to openly express their faith — and winning. Or as ADF’s CEO, Michael Farris, put it: ‘We would say the combination of hard work and God’s blessing appears to be paying off.’”

-- New York Times, “Wives and Children of ISIS, Unwanted Back Home, Are Warehoused in Syria,” by Ben Hubbard: “The so-called caliphate of the Islamic State, which once stretched across large swaths of Syria and Iraq, drew tens of thousands of partisans from around the world who came to fight or to live in what was billed as a pure Islamic society. Among them were many women, some who were brought by their husbands or fathers. Others came alone and married, or were forced to marry, after they arrived. But as the caliphate collapsed under a military campaign by Kurdish militias backed by a United States-led military coalition, many of the men were killed or captured. The wives and children who survived ended up in camps like this, unwanted by anyone.”

-- Wall Street Journal, “In This Economy, Quitters Are Winning,” by David Harrison and Eric Morath: “Workers are choosing to leave their jobs at the fastest rate since the internet boom 17 years ago and getting rewarded for it with bigger paychecks and/or more satisfying work.”

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“#CampaigningWhileBlack: Someone Called the Cops on an Oregon Legislator Who Was Out Canvassing,” from the Root: “A black Oregon state representative, who was out canvassing and checking in on her community had the cops called on her by one of her constituents. … Rep. Janelle Bynum, a Democrat, who is running for a second term in the state House of Representatives this fall, was knocking on doors and chatting to the residents for about two hours in Clackamas, when a deputy pulled up on her … [and asked] if she was selling something. Bynum introduced herself as she was, a state legislator just trying to find out the best way to serve her community. … The deputy confirmed that someone had called and reported Bynum because she was spending too much time at houses in the area and appeared to be ‘casing’ the neighborhood, and making notes about it on her phone.”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“Trump supporters call to #boycottWalmart over ‘Impeach 45’ shirt,” from Deanna Paul: “Walmart became the target of Trump supporters outraged by a T-shirt sold on the company’s website, leading to calls for a boycott Tuesday. The shirt, which was available in adult sizes and in baby onesies, bore the words ‘Impeach 45,’ in reference to Trump . . . It is unclear how long the shirts were available on Walmart’s website, but Ryan Fournier, a political commentator and chairman of Students for Trump, was among the first to ignite the social media frenzy Monday night after he discovered the listing, tweeting ‘what kind of message are you trying to send?’ … The shirt was not sold directly by Walmart but through its open marketplace by a third-party seller, Walmart said in a tweet to Fournier Tuesday afternoon. ‘We’re removing these types of items pending review of our marketplace policies,’ Walmart said.”

 

DAYBOOK:

Trump will travel to Great Falls, Mont., today for a campaign rally and will then fly to Bedminster, N.J., for the weekend.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“IF (big) [Trump] seeks re-election, I will run, but only if I think that there is no other candidate in the race that has a REAL chance at beating him. We can't relive 2016.  I love this country, our values and our people too much to sit by while they are destroyed.” – Stormy Daniels’s lawyer Michael Avenatti tweets about a possible 2020 bid.

 

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

-- The heat index in D.C. will again near triple digits thanks to another day of high humidity. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Considerable morning cloud cover may decrease some by midday. The increasing sunshine should allow temperatures to jump back up to the upper 80s to lower 90s for afternoon highs. Factoring in the humidity, it’s yet another day in which it feels close to 100. A quick thundershower is possible, but most of us stay dry with light winds from the south.”

-- The Nationals lost to the Red Sox 3-0. Boston completed their sweep, which put Washington under .500 in July for the first time in years. (Chelsea Janes)

-- Fairfax County school officials denied the allegations in a recent lawsuit that they failed to adequately investigate a sexual assault. A lawyer for Fairfax County School Board claimed the incident, as described to school officials, “was not a sexual assault.” “The School Board denies that Ms. Doe reported a sexual assault . . . and denies that she was damaged by FCPS’s response to the sexual encounter that she described to school officials,” the board said in response to the lawsuit. (Debbie Truong)

-- Some Metro bus lines experienced delays yesterday due to what management called an “unauthorized labor action” by the system’s largest union. (Ashley Halsey III)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Trump recognized service members in honor of the Fourth of July:

Scott Pruitt was confronted by a protester at a D.C. restaurant:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) discussed the recent violent threats made against his family:

The French president visited a legendary nightclub during his trip to Nigeria:

And a 6-year-old boy managed to memorize the name of every country: