With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: A new Washington Post-Schar School poll, published this morning, shows that only 32 percent of women approve of President Trump’s job performance, compared to 54 percent of men. His approval rating overall is 43 percent. While 67 percent of women disapprove of Trump’s handling of the immigration issue, only 51 percent of men do. The poll gives Democrats a 10-point advantage on the generic ballot, 47 percent to 37 percent.

Three things the president did Thursday might help illuminate why only 1 in 3 registered female voters approve of him, which is creating a major drag on GOP congressional candidates: After hiring former Fox News co-president Bill Shine and defending Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Trump mocked the #MeToo movement during an evening rally in Montana.

-- Envisioning a 2020 matchup against Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Trump imagined bringing a DNA kit to one of their debates and demanding that she use it to prove that she’s got Native American ancestry. “We have to do it gently because we’re in the #MeToo generation, so we have to be very careful,” he said to scattered laughter. “We will very gently take that kit, and we will slowly toss it, hoping it doesn’t hit her and injure her arm — even though it only weighs probably two ounces.”

The president insisted he will never apologize for derisively referring to the former Harvard Law School professor as “Pocahontas.” “I’ll give you a million dollars for your favorite charity, paid for by Trump, if you take the test and it shows you’re an Indian,” Trump said, after discussing Warren’s high cheek bones.

The unscripted riff, which touched on both race and gender, was reminiscent of Trump’s multiyear campaign to falsely accuse Barack Obama of being born in Kenya. “If Barack Obama opens up and gives his college records and applications, and if he gives his passport applications and records, I will give, to a charity of his choice … a check, immediately, for $5 million,” Trump said in 2012. (He later claimed that he had offered $50 million.)

Responding to the president, Warren observed that the Trump administration is already conducting DNA tests – on children who were separated from their parents at their border:

A feminist author expressed sadness that Trump’s comments won’t get more attention:

-- During his freewheeling speech in Montana, Trump went on to decry Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), one of the longest-serving women in Congress and the former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, as a “low IQ individual.”

“I mean, honestly, she’s somewhere in the mid-60s, I believe,” he said.

The stated purpose of Trump’s trip was to settle a score with Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who torpedoed White House physician Ronny Jackson’s nomination to become secretary of veteran’s affairs. Trump took it personally and offered to campaign for Tester’s challenger. “Get your ass out to vote,” the president told the crowd, which included many children.

“Acting presidential is so easy,” Trump added. “It's much easier than what I do.”

-- Before leaving Washington, Trump named Shine as the new White House communications director and his deputy chief of staff. Shine “was ousted from his role as co-president [of Fox News] last year after lawsuits suggested he enabled alleged sexual harassment by the network’s late chairman and chief executive, Roger Ailes,” Paul Farhi and Felicia Sonmez report. “Shine has spent the past 14 months off the public grid after his ouster from Fox last May. … Shine himself was never directly accused of harassment at Fox. But his latter years at the network were pockmarked by his association with Ailes, especially accusations that he helped facilitate Ailes’s predatory behavior. Shine has consistently denied wrongdoing. He also was part of Fox’s senior management during the period in which the network was paying millions of dollars in settlements to former employees who had accused Ailes and host Bill O’Reilly of harassment.”

Shine was named in suits filed by former host Gretchen Carlson and former network contributors Julie Roginsky and Andrea Tantaros for his role in allegedly discouraging women at the network from taking their harassment claims to court. “Roginsky, who said Ailes sexually harassed her, accused Shine of retaliating against her for her refusal to join ‘Team Roger,’ a cadre of women who supported Ailes in his battle with Carlson. Shine denied those allegations,” per Paul and Felicia. “He also allegedly played a role in covering up Ailes’s relationship with Laurie Luhn, a former Fox booker who claimed she had a long, abusive affair with Ailes that eventually led to her mental breakdown. Luhn received $3.1 million from Fox in 2011 to settle her allegations of abuse and mistreatment by Ailes.”

Carlson, who received a $20 million settlement from Fox’s parent company in 2016, was disturbed by Shine’s promotion:

So was conservative Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, who served as chief of staff to Dan Quayle when he was vice president: 

“It's extraordinary that the president of the United States could hire someone like this,” one senior Fox News executive told BuzzFeed. “This is someone who is highly knowledgeable of women being cycled through for horrible and degrading behavior by someone who was an absolute monster.”

“I don’t want [to] see the ghost of Roger Ailes running the White House communications operation,” Judicial Watch founder Larry Klayman told the Daily Beast.

-- Speaking to reporters during the flight to Montana, joined by Shine in his office on Air Force One, Trump fiercely defended Jordan in the face of mounting allegations that the congressman knew about an Ohio State doctor’s alleged sexual abuse of students while he was an assistant wrestling coach at the school.

“I don’t believe them at all,” Trump said of the four former wrestlers who have now come forward to speak on the record. “I believe him. Jim Jordan is one of the most outstanding people I’ve met since I’ve been in Washington. … No question in my mind. I believe Jim Jordan 100 percent. He’s an outstanding man.”

Shawn Dailey, a former wrestler, told NBC News yesterday that he was groped half a dozen times by Dr. Richard Strauss in the mid-1990s: “Dailey said he was too embarrassed to report the abuse directly to Jordan at the time, but he said Jordan took part in conversations where Strauss' abuse of many other team members came up. ‘I participated with Jimmy and the other wrestlers in locker-room talk about Strauss. We all did,’ Dailey [said], referring to Jordan. ‘It was very common knowledge in the locker room that if you went to Dr. Strauss for anything, you would have to pull your pants down.’

“Dailey corroborated the account of [wrestler] Dunyasha Yetts, who (said) that Yetts had protested to Jordan and head coach Russ Hellickson after Strauss tried to pull down his wrestling shorts when Yetts went to see him for a thumb injury. 'Dunyasha comes back and tells Jimmy, ‘Seriously, why do I have to pull down my pants for a thumb injury?’’ Dailey recalled. ‘Jimmy said something to the extent of, ‘If he tried that with me, I would kill him.’’

Calling Jordan ‘a close friend,’ Dailey said he is a Republican and that he contributed to the powerful Ohio congressman’s first political campaign for state representative in 1994. ‘What happened drove me out of the sport,’ said Dailey. ‘So I was surprised to hear Jim say that he knew nothing about it. … [To] say that he had no knowledge of it, I would say that’s kind of hurtful.’”

Jordan, a potential contender to replace Paul Ryan as the House GOP leader next year, said yesterday he has been in contact with the lawyers investigating Strauss, but no interview has been scheduled. Taking a page from the Trump playbook, Jordan then attacked the law firm that is assisting the investigation. The congressman noted, on Fox News naturally, that Perkins Coie also represented Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election. (Elise Viebeck has more.)

-- Trump has defended other Republican politicians when they are accused of wrongdoing. The president campaigned for Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore last fall even after multiple women came forward to accuse him of unwanted sexual advances when they were minors and he was a prosecutor. The national Republican Party apparatus initially abandoned Moore but reopened the spigot when Trump said he believed Moore’s denials of wrongdoing.

-- The president also essentially defended, and stayed in touch with, former White House staff secretary Rob Porter after he resigned in the wake of reports that he had physically and emotionally abused both of his ex-wives.

-- More than a dozen women have separately accused Trump, 72, of sexual assault or improper conduct. The president has categorically denied every allegation against him, though he’s also paid hush money to multiple women to get them to sign non-disclosure agreements related to their interactions with him. He also was caught on video boasting in 2005 about being able to get away with groping women and propositioning married women.

-- An appeals court in New York last month rejected an attempt by the president to halt a lawsuit against him filed by a former “Apprentice” contestant who has accused him of sexual harassment. Summer Zervos is suing Trump for defamation after he called her “a liar.” There is a very high possibility that the president could be deposed in this case, and a judge recently set a deadline of January for him to sit down for a deposition.

-- In addition to Trump, down-ballot Republicans also must deal with #MeToo fallout in three states with key 2018 races: 

-- Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) and the GOP leaders of the state House and Senate last night called on Republican Attorney General Curtis Hill to resign amid what they say are credible claims that Hill drunkenly groped four women, including a lawmaker and three legislative aides, at an Indianapolis bar. “Earlier Thursday, many Republicans either declined, or were reluctant, to comment on Hill,” the AP’s Brian Slodysko reports from Indy. “The call from high-level Republicans for Hill to resign comes after Democrats ratcheted up political pressure in an election year where female voters could make a big difference … Over the past week, Democrats have harshly criticized what they characterize as a lackluster Republican response to the allegations against Hill. A Statehouse rally calling for Hill’s resignation was being planned for Saturday.”

A memo outlining the allegations against Hill, based on interviews with six women, describes especially boorish behavior in the early morning hours of March 15 after the legislative session ended: “The lawmaker said Hill was ‘very intoxicated’ when he slid his hands down her back, put them under her clothes and grabbed her buttocks … She told him to ‘back off’ and walked away, but Hill again approached her, reached under her clothing and grabbed her again, according to the memo. Hill also gave a staffer a two-minute back rub, which made her uncomfortable, the memo states. Another staffer said Hill put his arm around her and slid his hand down her back. When she tried to remove his hand, she said he groped her buttocks, the memo states. He put his arm around a third staffer’s waist and ‘hugged’ her close, according to the document.”

Hill has denied the groping allegations and insisted this week that he will not resign: He’s “a staunch social conservative who is married and has been viewed as a rising star in the Republican Party,” according to the local AP reporter. “The former Elkhart County prosecutor, who is also an Elvis imitator, has visited the White House several times since [Trump] took office. In May, he warmed up the crowd at a rally Trump held in Hill’s native Elkhart.

-- There continues to be fallout in Missouri from the resignation of Republican Gov. Eric Greitens in a sex scandal. Democrats are trying to use the scandal to attack state Attorney General Josh Hawley, who is challenging Sen. Claire McCaskill (D).

-- And the Arizona Supreme Court ruled last week that the first state lawmaker in the country who was expelled from office as a result of sexual misconduct claims in the #MeToo era is eligible to run this year for state Senate. Don Shooter, a Republican, was expelled from the Arizona state House in February after investigators concluded that he sexually harassed at least seven women, including fellow lawmakers. “He has apologized for what he called insensitive comments involving women but said he never sought to touch anyone or have a sexual relationship,” the AP reports.

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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- The U.S. economy added 213,000 jobs last month as the unemployment rate rose slightly to 4 percent. Heather Long reports: “Despite the small bump in unemployment, a decade of steady job growth following the Great Recession has pushed unemployment to the lowest level in decades. And as executives say they cannot find enough qualified workers, many are turning to hiring people who are currently incarcerated or people with disabilities. Despite the low unemployment and struggles to find workers, companies still appear hesitant to significantly raise pay in many industries. Average hourly earnings are 2.7 percent higher than a year ago, a lackluster pace compared to past eras of healthy job growth when wages were rising at 3.5 percent or more a year.”

-- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has arrived in North Korea for another round of denuclearization talks. John Hudson reports: “The top U.S. diplomat is under pressure to show progress following the meeting between [Trump] and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore . . . Pompeo sounded a note of optimism as he sat down with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Yong Chol, a septuagenarian former spy chief who has resisted U.S. efforts to spell out a detailed understanding of what denuclearization would look like. ‘I count on [this meeting] being very productive,’ Pompeo said. Sitting at a large square table, Kim Yong Chol welcomed the U.S. delegation, which includes officials from the CIA, State Department, Pentagon and White House. ‘Today’s meeting is really meaningful meeting,’ Kim Yong Chol said.”

-- The South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reports Pompeo is bringing two gifts for Kim Jong Un: a letter from Trump and an Elton John CD that includes the song “Rocket Man.”

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. A retired Thai Navy SEAL died while helping the attempted rescue of a boys’ soccer team from a flooded cave. The diver, identified as 38-year-old Saman Kunam, fell unconscious from a lack of oxygen and died shortly after, heightening concerns about how the group of boys and their coach might safely escape. (Shibani Mahtani)
  2. James Fields Jr., a self-professed neo-Nazi accused of using his car to mow down counterprotesters in Charlottesville last year, pleaded not guilty to more than 28 federal hate crime charges — one of which carries a possible death sentence. Fields also faces state court charges of first-degree murder in the death of Heather Heyer. (Hannah Natanson and Paul Duggan)
  3. Newsrooms around the world observed a moment of silence for the Capital Gazette shooting victims. The moment occurred at 2:33 p.m. yesterday, exactly one week after a gunman opened fire in the Annapolis newsroom. (Justin Wm. Moyer and Rachel Chason)

  4. The Charles Koch Foundation has been increasing its contributions to free-speech and journalism-related causes. The Newseum alone has received more than $500,000 from the organization, but the money has also raised questions about the foundation’s motives. (Paul Farhi)

  5. The former leader of a Japanese doomsday cult that carried out the 1995 sarin gas attack in Tokyo was executed. Shoko Asahara and six of his former followers were hanged earlier today, 23 years after their attack killed 13 people and poisoned more than 6,000 others. (Simon Denyer)

  6. A member of MS-13 was sentenced to 95 years in prison by a Maryland judge. Josselin Ramirez was accused of helping an armed MS-13 robbery crew case businesses and clean weapons to remove evidence. (Dan Morse and Michael Brice-Saddler)

  7. A 92-year-old Arizona woman is accused of murdering her son after he discussed placing her in an assisted living facility. “You took my life, so I’m taking yours,” the woman allegedly said, who fired several bullets into her son before turning her weapon on his girlfriend, who survived the attack. (Kristine Phillips)
  8. Recent storms and floods in Maryland have caused the state’s mosquito population to multiply at a rapid clip this summer. The itch-inducing insects have tripled their normal population in many areas. The spike in population is likely to put the rest of the region on high alert for West Nile virus, Zika and other mosquito-transmitted diseases. (Scott Dance)
  9. At least two suspected rhino poachers were mauled to death and eaten by lions in South Africa. Rangers on a game reserve discovered the remains of two — possibly three — people earlier this week. “We're not sure how many there were,” the reserve owner said of the bodies. “There's not much left of them.” (BBC)

THE MILITARY BECOMES LESS INCLUSIVE:

-- The U.S. Army has been abruptly discharging immigrant reservists and recruits who were promised a pathway to citizenship if they enlisted. The AP’s Martha Mendoza and Garance Burke report: “The AP was unable to quantify how many men and women who enlisted through the special recruitment program have been booted from the Army, but immigration attorneys say they know of more than 40 who have been discharged or whose status has become questionable, jeopardizing their futures. … Some of the service members say they were not told why they were being discharged. Others who pressed for answers said the Army informed them they’d been labeled as security risks because they have relatives abroad or because the Defense Department had not completed background checks on them. … It’s unclear how the service members’ discharges could affect their status as legal immigrants. In a statement, the Defense Department said: ‘All service members (i.e. contracted recruits, active duty, Guard and Reserve) and those with an honorable discharge are protected from deportation.’ However, immigration attorneys [said] that many immigrants let go in recent weeks were an ‘uncharacterized discharge,’ neither dishonorable nor honorable.” (This plan appears to have been in the works for more than a year.)

-- Six months after a federal court ordered Trump not to ban transgender people from serving in the military, nearly all transgender applicants say their recruitment process has been stalled and are still awaiting acceptance. The New York Times’s Dave Philipps reports: “[Sparta], an organization for transgender recruits, troops and veterans, says that out of its 140 members who are trying to enlist, only two have made it into the service … Others have been stymied by the Military Entrance Processing Command, which has rejected some of the applicants and kept others in limbo for months by requesting ever more detailed medical documentation. … The applicants are being stalled or turned away at a time when some branches of the military face a shortage of recruits, and when recruiters have been ordered to work Saturdays to try to make up the shortfall. Most [transgender applicants] say that military recruiters have supported their enlistment, but their applications have gotten hung up in the medical review."

PRUITT PUSHED OUT:

-- Embattled EPA chief Scott Pruitt submitted a letter of resignation following months of ethics and spending scandals that have plagued his leadership at the agency and touched off more than a dozen federal inquiries. Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin report: “Pruitt’s reputation as a dogged deregulator and outspoken booster of the president allowed him to weather ethics scandals in recent months, including questions about taxpayer-funded first-class travel, a discounted condominium rental from the wife of a D.C. lobbyist and the installation of a $43,000 soundproof phone booth in his office. But revelations about his behavior continued to mount, including reports that he repeatedly enlisted subordinates to help him search for housing, book personal travel and help search for a six-figure job for his wife. … In recent weeks, an exodus of trusted staffers left Pruitt increasingly isolated, and some Republican lawmakers wearied of defending him.”

This is a win for White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who traveled with Trump to Montana last night and has privately pushed for Pruitt's removal over the past several months: “The accumulation of several new revelations about Pruitt’s conduct allowed Kelly to make a convincing case to Trump on Thursday’s flight to Montana that the stories about the administrator’s behavior would not stop, according to a senior administration official. . . . On Thursday, the White House informed Pruitt, who was not in the office, that he had to submit his resignation … Trump did not speak to the administrator directly [but] instead called Pruitt’s top deputy, Andrew Wheeler, to inform him that he would be taking the helm of the agency.” Trump announced the news on Twitter shortly after, writing: “Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this.”

-- An “adoring tone” only gets you so far: “Pruitt survived months of misconduct allegations by preserving his relationship with one person at all costs: President Trump,” Josh Dawsey writes. “Trump had sought to ignore Pruitt’s problems, officials said, even as he enjoyed spending time with Pruitt, who often struck an adoring tone in his interactions with the president. After much prodding by numerous advisers, Trump eventually decided Pruitt’s troubles would only grow and that [Wheeler] — whom he deemed an ‘early Trump supporter and a very environmental person’ could do just as well, administration officials said. … The problems will continue for both men: Pruitt still faces a dozen investigations and must file forms disclosing his income — and his wife’s. And Trump must now confirm another EPA head in a razor-thin Senate where Pruitt was popular among some conservatives.”

-- Wheeler’s work history suggests he, like Pruitt, will take a pro-industry approach to running the EPA. Steven Mufson reports: “Wheeler spent a decade lobbying for just the sort of companies the agency regulates, and before that he worked for Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), who rejects climate change. Drawing on more than a quarter-century in Washington, Wheeler is expected to pick up where the departing Pruitt left off — only without the controversy that constantly plagued him. Even if Wheeler ends up recusing himself from specific EPA decisions, his record as a lobbyist suggests his views might not differ much from those of [Trump].”

-- Hours before Pruitt’s resignation, a fresh round of reports emerged that an EPA scheduler was let go after raising objections about being instructed to alter records of the administrator’s schedule in violation of federal law. Juliet Eilperin, Brady Dennis and Josh Dawsey report: “After [Pruitt] returned from a trip to Italy last summer, a newly hired scheduler at the agency was asked to remove a particular name from his calendar: Cardinal George Pell, who had dined with Pruitt in Rome and later was charged with sexual misconduct. Madeline Morris objected to that request and other deletions to the EPA chief’s calendar, which she believed could be illegal under federal rules, according to two individuals who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal agency deliberations. Not long after pushing back against the practice, Morris was dismissed after barely three months on the job. She received severance pay for a month and a half after leaving the agency … However, federal employment law experts said such severance payments are not permissible.

-- “Pruitt routinely alienated many senior staff members and would-be allies. Their subsequent press leaks and congressional whistleblowing made Pruitt too much of a liability even for Trump,” the Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markay and Asawin Suebsaeng write. “In his resignation letter, Pruitt alluded to — and dodged any responsibility for — the torrent of ethics scandals that plagued his tenure atop the agency. ‘The unrelenting attacks on me personally, my family, are unprecedented and have taken a sizable toll on all of us,’ he told Trump. But the multitude of scandals surrounding Pruitt were in fact his own doing. It was the defensiveness evident in his letter to the president that led to a routine mistreatment of his subordinates that led them to speak out — and may have sealed his fate.”

-- “All told, Trump has had more turnover of Cabinet-level positions than any president at this point in their tenure in the last 100 years,” the AP’s Jonathan Lemire, Catherine Lucey and Zeke Miller report: “The Cabinet members are lashed to a mercurial president who has been known to quickly sour on those working for him and who doesn’t shy from subjecting subordinates — many of them formerly powerful figures in their own rights — to withering public humiliation. … Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross came in for an Oval Office tongue-lashing after he used a mundane soup can as a TV prop. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis got overruled by President Donald Trump’s announcement that a new ‘Space Force’ is in the offing.”

THE TRADE WAR ESCALATES:

-- U.S. tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods officially went into effect at 12:01 a.m. today. David J. Lynch, Danielle Paquette and Emily Rauhala report: “After months of rhetorical exchanges between Washington and Beijing, the imposition of the new import taxes makes real a conflict that has rattled markets, scrambled corporate supply networks and chilled business investment. … The potential exchange of tariffs comes as trade-related cracks are beginning to appear in an otherwise robust U.S. economy, according to minutes of the Federal Reserve Board’s most recent meeting, on June 12 and 13, which were made public Thursday. Farmers fear the loss of export sales as U.S. trading partners like China erect trade barriers in response to Trump’s tariffs, while businesses across the country ‘indicated that plans for capital spending had been scaled back or postponed as a result of uncertainty over trade policy,’ the Fed said. Even in the steel and aluminum industries, protected by tariffs Trump imposed in March, producers were not planning new investments to increase their capacity, the Fed reported.”

-- China immediately retaliated with tariffs of its own. Danielle and Emily report: “[Beijing] accused the U.S. of violating WTO rules and setting off ‘the largest trade war in economic history to date.’ ‘In order to defend the core interests of the country and the interests of the people, we are forced to retaliate,’ the Chinese Commerce Ministry said in a statement. The Asian nation slapped levies on an equal amount of American goods, including heartland staples like soybeans, corn, pork and poultry — a move [Trump] said would compel him to hit China with another round of duties on up to $500 billion in products. The financial jousting prompted worry that the cost of a wide range of goods to soar.”

-- Meanwhile, “the president’s businesses continue to benefit from partnerships involving the Chinese government, via state-backed companies and investors,” Jonathan O'Connell and David A. Fahrenthold report: “Chinese government-backed firms are slated to work on parts of two large developments — in Dubai and Indonesia — that will include Trump-branded properties. The Trumps are the landlord to one of China’s top state-owned banks, which has occupied the 20th floor of Trump Tower in Manhattan since 2008. The bank’s lease is worth close to $2 million annually … And despite the Trump administration’s focus on American manufacturing, assembly-line workers in China still produce blouses, shoes and handbags for the clothing line created by [Ivanka Trump]. The tariffs … are not expected to affect the Trumps’ financial interests, but the family’s business presence in China is awkward as the two countries ratchet up their protectionism.”

-- Mexico began imposing its second wave of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods. Politico’s Sabrina Rodriguez reports: “The tariffs complete Mexico’s two-part retaliation on almost $3 billion worth of U.S. products. … Most of Mexico’s retaliatory tariffs will be imposed on U.S. agricultural exports, such as apples, cranberries and various cheeses. Mexico is also targeting a number of American steel products. The majority of products on the list will face tariffs between 15 and 25 percent. Mexico has said the duties will remain in place as long as the Trump administration maintains its tariffs on Mexican steel and aluminum.”

SCOTUS SEARCH:

-- Three Trump associates and a White House aide say the president’s shortlist for the Supreme Court continues to narrow – though the search process remains “fluid.” Seung Min Kim and Robert Costa report: “Trump is now mostly focusing his attention on federal judges (Brett) Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Raymond Kethledge, they said … During Fourth of July festivities at the White House, Trump asked friends and advisers about Kavanaugh and Kethledge, in particular … prompting much of Trump’s circle to believe those two contenders could be the top finalists. Still, most Trump advisers also caution Trump could change his mind and consider other names in the coming days.” The announcement is still scheduled for next Monday night.

-- Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) privately urged Trump in a phone call this week to consider nominating Obama’s Supreme Court pick, Merrick Garland, to replace Anthony Kennedy. 

-- Barrett has written legal articles supporting a “soft” and “flexible” approach to honoring Supreme Court precedents, which could jeopardize her potential confirmation. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), considered a critical swing vote in the upcoming confirmation battle, said last week, she would “look for judges who respect precedent.” Beth Reinhard reports: “‘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 is clearly in conflict with it,’ she wrote in 2013 in the Texas Law Review. … While judicial nominees typically avoid commenting on specific court rulings, Barrett’s philosophy on [court precedent] — along with her religious views and her earlier writings on the topic — are being scoured for clues to how she might regard [Roe].”

-- Kavanaugh once argued in favor of a broad definition of obstruction of justice that could eventually have implications for the Russia investigation. The New York Times’s Mark Landler and Matt Apuzzo report: “Judge Kavanaugh’s arguments — expressed in [Ken Starr’s report on Bill Clinton], which he co-wrote nearly 20 years ago — have been cited in recent days by Republicans with reservations about him and have raised concerns among some people close to Mr. Trump. But Judge Kavanaugh has reconsidered some of his views since then, and there is no evidence that they have derailed his candidacy. … At a minimum, [Kavanaugh’s] views about when to impeach a president are sure to come up during a Senate confirmation hearing and would allow Democrats to shine a spotlight on Mr. Trump’s handling of the Russia investigation.”

-- The Fix’s Aaron Blake made a list of the pros and cons for the finalists:

  • Barrett might be the most politically provocative pick here, which could suit Trump … [and] give Trump the kind of culture war he loves. And she hails from Indiana, where vulnerable Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly may feel compelled to vote for her …” BUT: She’s “relatively inexperienced, having served on the appeals court for less than a year. That means it's less certain how she might rule going forward.”
  • "Kavanaugh might be the most conventional pick. He is reportedly a favorite of White House counsel Donald McGahn, who is running the selection and confirmation process for the White House.” BUT: “That long history of decisions could be 53-year-old Kavanaugh's biggest liability … [and] conservatives have raised concerns about a few of those decisions being a little too wishy-washy, including one on the Affordable Care Act.”
  • "Kethledge's decade on the court might be his biggest asset. Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt wrote … that [Kethledge] bears the most similarities to [Neil] Gorsuch. Trump clearly loves reminiscing about that chapter of his presidency, and Kethledge could give him a chance to relive it.” BUT: He “might be the least-exciting pick on this list, which could be a strike against him for the reality TV-star president.”
  • “The one thing people keep coming back to with [Tom] Hardiman, 52, is his blue-collar upbringing. (Did you know that he once drove a taxi!?) The federal judge also was the other finalist last year when Trump wound up picking Gorsuch, which would suggest he has to be a favorite here …” BUT: “He's also got a bit of a whiff of a potential [David] Souter/Kennedy situation about him, which will give some conservatives heartburn.”

THE IMMIGRATION WARS:

-- The new Post poll found majorities of Americans oppose migrant family separations as well as Trump’s proposals to build a border wall and limit legal immigration. Nearly seven in 10 Americans opposed the family separation policy, but respondents were much more divided on who to blame for the separations. While 37 percent said the Trump administration was responsible, another 35 percent said the migrant families should shoulder the blame for attempting to enter the United States. Respondents also said immigration ranks among the three most important issues for the midterms, along with jobs and the economy and health care. (Here are the full results of the survey.)

-- HHS Secretary Alex Azar said the Trump administration is “racing” to reunite migrant children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. Maria Sacchetti reports: “Azar did not provide a precise number of children who have been separated from their parents under the Trump administration, but he said hundreds of government employees are working verify that information, including through DNA testing. The children are being held in shelters overseen by HHS. Their parents are in federal immigration jails. Azar signaled that, once reunited, the families will likely remain together in the [DHS’s] custody to await asylum interviews or deportation hearings. U.S. District Judge Dana M. Sabraw last week ordered the Trump administration to reunite parents and children by July 26. Under the same ruling, about 100 children under 5 years old must be handed over to their parents by Tuesday night, Azar said.”

-- Complicating the reunification process: Some of the records linking separated migrant children to their parents have disappeared. The New York Times’s Caitlin Dickerson reports: “[T]hose closest to the process raised questions about the initial assertions that federal authorities could account for the locations of both parents and children after they were separated. In fact, the [HHS] agency charged with overseeing the care of migrant children, the Office of Refugee Resettlement, established such procedures, which included identification bracelets, the issuance of registration numbers and careful logs to keep the records of parents and children linked. But those precautions were undermined in some cases by the other federal agency that has initial custody of apprehended migrants in the first 72 hours after they cross the border — Customs and Border Protection. In hundreds of cases, Customs agents deleted the initial records in which parents and children were listed together as a family with a ‘family identification number,’ according to two [DHS] officials … As a result, the parents and children appeared in federal computers to have no connection to one another.”

-- Lawmakers demanded a detailed accounting of all the migrant children who were separated from their parents at the border. Colby Itkowitz reports: “In a bipartisan letter, sent Thursday to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, [the two leaders of the House Oversight Committee] make 11 specific requests for information about every single child — including their age, gender, and current location. … Lawmakers have complained about the lack of access to information and the facilities where parents are detained and children are sheltered.”

-- Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach has sought permission to hire an additional 40 foreign workers to serve as waiters during the winter and social season, according to an application filed with the Labor Department. David Fahrenthold reports: “The posting showed that Trump’s club wants to pay the workers a minimum of $12.68 an hour and to employ them from October to the end of May. At the end of that term, the workers would be expected to return home. The [application] signals that — despite Trump’s insistence that immigration is holding down wages and crowding out native-born American workers — his club believes it cannot find any Americans willing and able to hold the waiter jobs. The Mar-a-Lago Club … has repeatedly used foreign workers in the past. [And] other Trump businesses have hired foreign workers for temporary jobs. Earlier this year, the company asked to hire 14 foreign workers to be cooks and waiters at the Trump golf club in Westchester County, N.Y. And the Trump Winery near Charlottesville sought to employ 23 foreigners.”

-- The Trump administration is expected to slash the country’s ceiling for refugee admissions by approximately half compared to last year, which was already the lowest quota for refugees since 1980. The Daily Beast's Spencer Ackerman reports: “The administration doesn’t officially have a refugee number set on paper yet, sources said, and officials don’t have to reach a formal decision until September. But they’re sending signals internally and to outside interlocutors that the next year’s cap on refugee admissions will be between 20,000 and 25,000 people . . . That’s about half of the 45,000-refugee ceiling the Trump administration set last year, and four to five times lower than the Obama administration’s final-year refugee ceiling of 110,000. [Ex-officials] say they’re worried about a downward spiral in the United States’ ability to admit vulnerable people fleeing dire conditions . . . Lowered admissions ceilings can lead to the U.S. cutting off resources for resettling refugees, which can in turn prompt anti-refugee officials to cite the diminished capacity for lowering the ceilings further — sparking a structural degeneration in infrastructure for admitting refugees that threatens to outlive the Trump administration.”

-- The woman who climbed the Statue of Liberty to protest Trump’s immigration policies has pleaded not guilty to trespassing and disorderly conduct. If convicted, she could face up to six months in prison. (AP)

-- Yet again reversing his position, Trump is now demanding that Congress immediately take up and pass an immigration overhaul. (Last week, he said the legislative branch should punt until after the midterms.) John Wagner reports: “The president’s new plea came in tweets in which he also renewed his call to deprive undocumented immigrations of their due-process rights before ejecting them from the United States. ‘Tell the people ‘OUT,’ and they must leave, just as they would if they were standing on your front lawn,’ Trump wrote.”

THERE'S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:

-- Michael Cohen has hired attorney and PR guru Lanny Davis — who famously defended Bill Clinton against multiple scandals in the 1990s — to represent him in tightening federal investigations. Politico's Darren Samuelsohn reports: “'Like most of America, I have been following the matter regarding Michael Cohen with great interest,’ Davis said in a statement. ‘As an attorney, I have talked to Michael many times in the last two weeks. Then I read his words published on July 2, I recognized their sincerity. Michael Cohen deserves to tell his side of the story — subject, of course, to the advice of counsel.’ . . . Davis will be working alongside Guy Petrillo, a New York-based lawyer hired last month to replace Stephen Ryan and Todd Harrison. Both men have been representing Cohen as he deals with the fallout from the FBI raid in early April of his office and residences.”

-- Cohen has been telling friend he does not think Trump would offer him a pardon, according to CNN’s MJ Lee. “Cohen …[told a friend] he did not believe Trump would wipe his slate clean using the presidential pardon. … ‘I brought up the pardon, and he said, 'I don't think so. I just don't think so,'‘ Cohen's friend [said]. ‘He's certain in his mind that he has been dismissed.’ According to the friend, Cohen also said: ‘I don't know what to think any more.’ A second friend who is in frequent touch with Cohen also told CNN that they have discussed the possibility of a pardon, and that it is clear that Cohen is not ‘counting on it.’”

-- Robert Mueller's team urged a federal appeals court to reject Paul Manafort’s bid to be released on bail from a jail in Virginia as he prepares for two criminal trials. Politico’s Josh Gerstein reports: “In a filing Thursday, Mueller's team urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit not to disturb a lower court's order last month jailing Manafort over charges that he tampered with witnesses related to the cases against him. Prosecutors encouraged the judges to reject Manafort's argument that the witness tampering allegations against him are less worrisome than in some other cases because no threat of force was involved. … Prosecutors [also revealed in the Thursday filing] that they have offered ‘orally and in writing’ to try to have Manafort moved closer to the Washington area. Mueller's team said Manafort's attorneys never responded to the request.”

-- A Republican delegation that traveled to Russia this week was blasted by critics in Washington for spending the Fourth of July with foreign adversaries who interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Karoun Demirjian reports: “Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) led the eight-member delegation on a multiday tour … [which] included meetings with Russia’s foreign minister and parliamentarians. … Members of the delegation set off on their trip late last week promising to be tough with Russian officials ahead of [Trump’s] visit, especially on matters of election interference. But they struck a conciliatory tone once there: The point of their visit, Shelby stressed to the Duma leader, was to ‘strive for a better relationship’ with Moscow, not ‘accuse Russia of this or that or so forth.’”

Appearing Thursday on Fox News, Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) said the Russia trip was “productive:” “'We sent a very strong message and a direct message to the Russian government,’ he said, ticking off four items he said they pressed[:] Don’t interfere in U.S. elections, respect the sovereignty of Ukraine, work with us toward peace in Syria, and uphold obligations under nuclear arms treaties.”

But in Russia, the message did not appear to have much impact: “We heard things we’d heard before, and I think our guests heard rather clearly and distinctly an answer that they already knew — we don’t interfere in American elections,” said former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, now a member of parliament. “[And] on Russian state television, presenters and guests mocked the U.S. congressional delegation for appearing to put a weak foot forward, noting how the message of tough talk they promised in Washington ‘changed a bit’ by the time they got to Moscow.”

-- Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty was fined by a Moscow court for allegedly violating Russia’s “foreign agent” law. RFE/RL’s operations in Russia could be threatened by the ruling, which the organization’s president described as a “sharp new escalation in a series of Russian actions aimed at hamstringing the work of the company and at casting public suspicion on its Russian staff.” (RFE/RL)

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Trump once again defended immigration authorities, slamming Democrats in the process:

(Trump's claim that ICE has liberated communities from MS-13 is “misleading,” the New York Times's Jacey Fortin wrote Sunday. "[ICE] agents have arrested hundreds of MS-13 members in recent months, but the president did not present evidence to show that any particular towns had been ruled by or liberated from the gang.")

Trump repeated past complaints about the media during his Montana rally. From a CNN reporter:

A Fox Business reporter called out Trump's criticism of anonymous sources:

A Politico reporter fact-checked one of Trump's claims about his electoral victory:

The Senate's top Democrat criticized Trump for how long Pruitt remained in his job:

From Obama's former Cabinet liaison:

Trump's hometown paper weighed in on the news:

A Post columnist joked about Pruitt's government spending habits:

A presidential historian made this 1960's reference:

One nonprofit had a succinct response to the Pruitt news:

Trump's son extolled the virtues of the new White House deputy chief of staff, who was accused of enabling the culture of sexual harassment at Fox News under Roger Ailes:

The former FBI director attended a naturalization ceremony:

And a Senate candidate in Texas got the chance to play guitar with a country legend:

GOOD READS:

-- ProPublica and Frontline, “He is a Member of a Violent White Supremacist Group; So Why is He Working for a Defense Contractor with a Security Clearance?” by Ali Winston and A.C. Thompson: “There likely isn’t such a thing as a ‘typical’ violent white extremist in America in 2018. Still, Michael Miselis — a University of California, Los Angeles doctoral student with a U.S. government security clearance to work on sensitive research for a prominent defense contractor — makes for a pretty unusual case.”

-- “At Tesla, Elon Musk casts himself as a superhero. But he sweats the details on the factory floor,” by Drew Harwell: “The chief executive had created a makeshift factory under a tent in the carmaking plant’s parking lot. He torqued bolts on the assembly line and emailed employees about shadowy forces. He slept on the factory floor. But now, the question dogging investors is whether Musk’s self-styled ‘nano-manager’ approach to overseeing Tesla — America’s youngest major carmaker, and worth about as much as General Motors — will prove sustainable.”

-- New York Times, “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf Scientist?” by Christopher Solomon: “Not long ago, [Rob] Wielgus was a respected researcher at Washington State University in Pullman, in the far eastern part of the state, with his own prosperous lab and several graduate students under his guidance. His specialty was North American apex predators — mountain lions and bears. … Wielgus, by his nature, hasn’t been shy about emerging from academia to tell wildlife managers, ranchers and politicians exactly how they have screwed up and why they should pay more attention to him and his findings. He is accustomed to being the least-popular man in the room. Wielgus had no idea how unpopular he could get, though, until he began to study wolves. By the time I met him, his academic reputation lay in shreds.”

-- David Corn, a former Fox News contributor who is now the Washington bureau chief of Mother Jones magazine, recalls a meeting he had in Bill Shine’s office a few years ago when he was the No. 2 at the cable network (yesterday Shine was named the new White House communications director): “He struck me as a die-hard, only-ratings-matter TV exec who could easily fit into a cooking or sports network,” Corn recalls. “On the wall across from his desk was a deck of TVs showing all the news networks. The volume on each was turned off. Shine was sitting at his desk, and I was in a chair facing him. The televisions were behind me. In the middle of our conversation, Shine said, ‘Excuse me.’ He picked up the phone and dialed an extension. I heard his end of the call: ‘Why did you change the shot? Why did you cut away from the fire?…OK, OK. Go back to it, and stay on it.’ Polite but firm. He hung up…

“Shine explained that there was an underground electrical fire near the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, and Fox had been airing a live shot of smoke rising through a grate. When Shine noticed that the director had switched to other news, he called the control booth. Shine wanted to stick with the happening-now images of billowing gray smoke—even though this was far from a dramatic image of a major blaze. It was simply smoke coming through a hole in a sidewalk. No flames. No heroic fire-fighters battling a conflagration. No soot-covered victims. Just smoke. The network followed Shine’s command and returned to the shot.

“Why do you want to broadcast that? I inquired. With a wide grin on his face, Shine explained: ‘People will sit on their couches and watch a live shot of a fire for hours and hours. They will not switch the channel. Flames are the best. But smoke is the next best thing. We have smoke. We stick with smoke.’

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“A giant blimp depicting Trump in a diaper is likely to greet the U.S. president when he visits London,” from Siobhán O'Grady: “It's big, it's orange, and it's wearing a diaper. And now the blimp depicting President Trump as an infant with an iPhone in hand has permission from the mayor of London to fly over Parliament Square Garden when the U.S. leader visits London next week. On Thursday, a spokesman for Mayor Sadiq Khan confirmed to The Washington Post that his office had granted permission for the blimp to take off, saying in an email that Khan ‘supports the right to peaceful protest and understands that this can take many different forms.’ … Trump is scheduled to visit London next week after much delay, with concerns over protests having scuttled previous plans.”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“Talent Agent Drops Conservative James Woods as Client By E-mail: ‘It’s The 4th of July and I’m Feeling Patriotic,’” from Mediaite: “Actor and outspoken conservative James Woods appears to be looking for new representation. Woods whose notable films include Videodrome, Casino, and Disney’s Hercules, has become a Twitter icon among conservatives for his political commentary and politically incorrect humor. However, one person seems to have had enough, his talent agent Ken Kaplan. In an email with the subject ‘Well …’ sent to Woods … he said the following: ‘It’s the 4th of July and I’m feeling patriotic,’ Kaplan began the email. ‘I don’t want to represent you anymore. I mean I can go on a rant but you know what I’d say.’ Woods noted [on Twitter] that his agent was a ‘political liberal.’”

 

DAYBOOK:

Trump and the first lady will have dinner with Pence and the second lady tonight in Bedminster, N.J. The president has no other events on his public schedule.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

Kay Bailey Hutchison, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, said the Trump administration has no plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Germany: “There is nothing being said at all about the troop alignment in Germany or anything that would change” the basing arrangements there, Hutchison said. “I’ve heard nothing on that score.” (Karen DeYoung)

 

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

-- A cold front will bring D.C. a string of likely storms today but should make the weekend less humid. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Umbrella day. Showers and thunder could occur almost anytime; but late morning to around the evening commute could see the highest chance — and heaviest — of rain activity. Perhaps a quick half-inch or a bit more, if your locale sees a downpour. Although, it does seem likely the “worst” of today’s rain ends up south and east of us. Mugginess remains steamy-high until nearer sunset. Luckily, high temperatures are muted in the low-to-mid 80s most spots.”

-- The Nationals beat the Marlins 14-12, overcoming a 9-0 deficit that threatened to put Washington two games below .500. (Jorge Castillo)

-- The National Zoo announced no panda cub would be joining its ranks this year. Michael E. Ruane writes: “It would have been nice in this season of heat and hot air, but the National Zoo said Thursday that experts have determined that the female giant panda, Mei Xiang, is not pregnant. It’s the second year in a row that Mei Xiang has had a false pregnancy.”

-- Every vote counts: Maryland election officials said they will likely continue to count ballots into the weekend to determine winners in a few close contests from the June 26 primaries. Jennifer Barrios and Rachel Chason report: “The Democratic nomination for the Montgomery county executive is coming down to absentee and provisional ballots, with two men — a wealthy businessman and a longtime progressive politician — locked in a close battle. In Prince George’s County, all eyes are on two County Council races. After 6,329 absentee ballots were counted in Montgomery County last week, council member Marc Elrich (D-At Large) was 149 votes ahead of Potomac businessman David Blair.”

-- Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Hospital was evacuated due to possible tuberculosis exposure. Justin Wm. Moyer reports: “The Baltimore City Fire Department responded to Johns Hopkins Hospital to investigate after ‘a small sample of frozen tuberculosis’ being used for research purposes was inadvertently released in an internal bridge between Cancer Research Building 1 and Cancer Research Building 2, Johns Hopkins Medicine spokeswoman Kim Hoppe said in a statement. Employees were in the area, which does not connect to the hospital, during the incident and were isolated.”

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Here's a three-minute summary of Trump's Montana rally:

Basketball players from North and South Korea held their first friendly match in 15 years:

Jaisaan Lovett, the first black valedictorian at his Rochester, N.Y., high school, was blocked from giving his speech at graduation. So Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren (D) allowed Lovett to deliver his remarks at City Hall:

A fireworks show in Pennsylvania was interrupted by lightning:

And a Brazilian soccer fan who is blind and deaf was able to experience the World Cup thanks to a system devised by his interpreter friends: