With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: Donald Trump sounds genuinely baffled by George H.W. Bush’s 1988 campaign mantra. “A thousand points of light,” the president riffed during a rally in Montana on Thursday night. “What the hell was that? … What did that mean? Does anyone know? … Has anyone ever figured that one out? And it was put out by a Republican!”

“I know one thing,” the 72-year-old added. “‘Make America Great Again’ we understand! ‘Putting America First’ we understand! ‘A thousand points of light,’ I never quite got that one.”

Bush, seeking election after two terms as Ronald Reagan’s vice president, believed America was already great. It also never would have occurred to the World War II hero, now 94, to use “America First” as a slogan because he had come of age in the 1930s when Charles Lindbergh and other isolationists were using the same maxim to advocate the appeasement of the Nazis.

A “thousand points of light” became shorthand for Bush’s vision of a kinder and gentler America. He spoke of individuals finding meaning and reward by serving a purpose higher than themselves, thereby illuminating society.

“I’ve spoken of a thousand points of light – of all the community organizations that are spread like stars throughout the nation doing good,” Bush said in his 1989 inaugural address. “I will go to the people and the programs that are the brighter points of light, and I’ll ask every member of my government to become involved. The old ideas are new again because they are not old. They are timeless: duty, sacrifice, commitment and a patriotism that finds its expression in taking part and pitching in."

Trump’s bewilderment when it comes to these concepts stems, at least in part, from the fact that he holds a fundamentally different view of the presidency than most of his predecessors, particularly the patrician Bush. The current occupant of the Oval Office has done little to indicate that he sees unifying or uplifting the country as central responsibilities of his job. Recall his “both sides” response to the violence in Charlottesville last summer. He’s embraced many divisive wedge issues since then, including attacking NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem, and pushed policies that are designed to help red states at the expense of blue states, such as in the tax code overhaul.

“The presidency is not merely an administrative office,” Franklin Roosevelt once said. “That’s the least of it. It is more than an engineering job, efficient or inefficient. It is preeminently a place of moral leadership.”

“You have to appeal to people’s best interests, not their worst ones,” said Harry Truman. “You may win an election or two by doing the other, but it does a lot of harm to the country.”

“For only the president represents the national interest,” said John Kennedy.

The same week as Bush’s inaugural, Reagan evoked John Winthrop’s “city upon a hill” in his farewell address to the nation. The outgoing president said he always envisioned the shining city “teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace … with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity.”

“If there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here,” Reagan said. “That’s how I saw it and see it still. … And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness toward home.”

At the Republican National Convention in 1988, where he most famously said to read his lips and promised no new taxes, Bush elaborated on his worldview. “I’ll go from the hills to the hollows, from the cities to the suburbs, to the loneliest town on the quietest street to take our message of hope and growth for every American to every American,” he said. “I will keep America moving forward … toward an endless, enduring dream and a thousand points of light.”

Compare that to Trump’s acceptance speech at the 2016 RNC, where he declared: “I alone can fix it.” Or his inaugural address last January, where he spoke of “American carnage.”

In contrast, conservatives have historically believed in the ingenuity of individuals — not the state — to imagine innovative solutions at the local level, which can then be replicated and scaled up. They have believed government is incapable of fixing problems alone. (Trump, the first president in U.S. history with no prior governing or military experience, was an outspoken liberal on many issues and a major Democratic donor when Bush ran in 1988.)

In 1995, after the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, the National Rifle Association sent a fundraising letter that derided law enforcement officers as “jackbooted thugs.” Bush, a life member, resigned from the group in protest. “Your broadside against federal agents deeply offends my own sense of decency and honor, and it offends my concept of service to country,” the former president wrote in an open letter. (There’s a reason that his son never spoke to the NRA’s convention as president, but Trump has now done so twice.)

-- How great is Trump’s enmity for the Bushes? Since Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, insiders in Washington legal circles and on Capitol Hill have presumed that Brett Kavanaugh is the front-runner to succeed him. Kavanaugh, who sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, once clerked for and is thought to be a favorite of Kennedy — who, don’t forget, was nominated by Reagan in 1987.

“But Kavanaugh’s tenure in George W. Bush’s White House as staff secretary — a senior position that controls documents moving across the president’s desk — has emerged as a last-minute snag,” Robert Costa and Robert Barnes report in today’s newspaper. “Trump has privately and repeatedly questioned whether Kavanaugh’s work for the Bush family … could tarnish his brand or pose a problem for his core supporters. … One person who is close to Trump said the ‘Bush factor’ could be the chief reason if Kavanaugh is passed over.”

Trump, who crushed Jeb Bush in 2016, has routinely soured on people if he perceives them as overly close to the Bush dynasty. He’s never viewed Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen favorably, for example, because she was a homeland security adviser in George W. Bush’s White House. He reportedly reminds staff when he’s mad at her that she is “a George W. Bush person.”

Donald Trump Jr. canceled a fundraiser last month for Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush’s reelection campaign after former first lady Laura Bush wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post likening the president’s family separation policy to Japanese internment.

Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman from Florida, laced into the 6,500 people who cheered on Trump in Montana as he mocked Bush. He cited it as evidence that the GOP has lost its moral compass. “I’m not shocked by Donald Trump doing this,” Scarborough said on his MSNBC morning show last Friday. “Donald Trump doesn't understand this because he is the most selfish man who has ever sat at the White House — personally, politically, professionally. There's overwhelming evidence to prove that. This is about the Republicans that are sitting in the crowds, that voted for George H.W. Bush in 1988 and 1992 and voted for John McCain in 2008 who are now sitting there laughing at two men in their final days. What does that say about their character? Forget about Donald Trump's.”

Other Republican traditionalists also expressed outrage about Trump’s comments. Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass was a special assistant to the president and served on his National Security Council:

From another alumnus of the Bush 41 administration:

“This is so uncalled for,” added Ari Fleischer, who served as George W. Bush’s White House press secretary. “Going after a 94-year-old former President’s promotion of volunteerism. I don’t mind potus being a fighter. I do mind him being rude.”

A former Republican congressman from Illinois added:

Jenna Bush Hager replied to Trump’s comments about “a thousand points of light” by quoting from a letter her grandfather wrote in 1997 about selfless service:

It would have been difficult to envision Jesse Jackson praising Bush in 1988, when he sought the Democratic nomination to challenge him. But Trump makes for strange bedfellows:

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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- David Davis, the “Brexit minister” who has been tasked with negotiating his country's delicate split from the European Union, abruptly announced his resignation, putting Prime Minister Theresa May's government in jeopardy. William Booth and Karla Adam report: “The midnight resignation came as a shock to British politics, exposing [May] to challenge by Conservative Party members outraged over what they see as her plan to secure a ‘soft Brexit’ that keeps Britain tied to many rules and regulations of the European Union after it leaves the bloc next year. Hard-line Brexit backers who argue that May should have a clean, decisive break from Brussels spent the weekend complaining that her recently revealed proposals were a timid capitulation, a ‘Brexit in name only,’ that ignored ‘the will of the people’ who voted 52 to 48 percent in June 2016 to leave the European bloc.”

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. A fifth boy was rescued from the flooded cave in Thailand. But seven members of the youth soccer team, as well as their 25-year-old coach, remain trapped as rescue operations continue. (Shibani Mahtani)
  2. A U.S. soldier killed in Afghanistan this weekend was deployed there as part of a new Army “adviser brigade” that began under the Trump administration. Members of the brigade were dispersed across the country and tasked with advising and training Afghan soldiers and police. Cpl. Joseph Maciel, who was killed by an Afghan soldier as part of an inside job, is the brigade’s first casualty. (Dan Lamothe)
  3. Tropical Storm Chris picked up strength off the coast of the Carolinas. The third storm of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season is expected to intensify into a hurricane in the coming days but should remain off the coast until possibly striking Newfoundland. (Jason Samenow)
  4. The Turkish government moved to dismiss more than 18,000 civil servants this weekend, expanding a massive two-year purge of state employees that comes just hours before President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is slated to be sworn in for another five-year term. (Kareem Fahim)
  5. The leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea met for a historic summit, where they agreed to normalize ties and end a 20-year military standoff in hopes of bringing stability to the region. (Paul Schemm)
  6. Starbucks plans to stop offering plastic straws by 2020. Instead, the coffee giant will offer “strawless lids” and straws made from biodegradable materials as environment-friendly alternatives. (Abha Bhattarai)
  7. The white man who called the police on a black woman who brought her son to their neighborhood pool has lost his job. Jasmine Abhulimen accused Adam Bloom of racial profiling after he asked to see her ID to confirm she belonged at the private pool. (Alex Horton and Keith McMillan)
  8. Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin brought the Stanley Cup to his hometown of Moscow. Ovechkin’s two-day visit was marked by both celebration and sorrow, as he brought the cup to the cemetery where his older brother is buried. (Isabelle Khurshudyan)
  9. England has become consumed by World Cup fever as it strives to win its first championship since 1966. The British team will play Croatia on Wednesday as France and Belgium also face off. (Liz Clarke)

TRUMP WILL ANNOUNCE HIS SCOTUS PICK AT 9 P.M. EASTERN:

-- The president said last night he was “close” to making a final decision on whom to nominate for the Supreme Court, after spending the weekend evaluating four leading candidates at his New Jersey golf club — and gaming out how the Senate would likely respond to each of them. Robert Costa and Robert Barnes report: “Over rounds of golf with friends, meals with family, and a flurry of phone calls and meetings with aides, Trump remained coy about his final decision, which is expected to be announced Monday evening from among the four federal judges atop his shortlist: Brett M. Kavanaugh, Thomas Hardiman, Raymond Kethledge and Amy ­Coney Barrett.” (Trump said it's down to those four: “They’re excellent. Every one. You can’t go wrong.”)

“Hardiman, a runner-up when Trump chose Neil M. Gorsuch ... last year, received a wave of new attention ... This weekend, Trump recounted how close he came last year to selecting Hardiman, who was recommended by the president’s sister and sometimes-confidante, retired federal judge Maryanne Trump Barry. She served with the Pennsylvania-based Hardiman on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. And Hardiman’s working-class roots — he drove a taxi during his days as a law student at Georgetown University — have been cited as a plus inside the White House, along with his conservative rulings. His boosters, sensing this weekend that Hardiman could be ascending on the president’s list, have been busy making phone calls to friends in Trump’s inner circle.”

-- White House counsel Don McGahn is playing an outsize role in the process. Joel Achenbach explains why: “Typically, the in-house lawyer at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue shares responsibility for Supreme Court picks with the attorney general. But Trump’s fraught relationship with his own Justice Department … has increased McGahn’s importance.”

-- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has told Trump that Kavanaugh's long paper trail would make him harder to confirm than Kethledge or Hardiman. The New York Times’s Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Martin report: “While careful not to directly make the case for any would-be justice, Mr. McConnell made clear in multiple phone calls with Mr. Trump and [McGahn] that the lengthy paper trail of [Kavanaugh] would pose difficulties for his confirmation. Mr. McConnell is concerned about the volume of the documents that [Kavanaugh] has created in his 12 years on the United States Court of Appeals ... as well as in his roles as White House staff secretary ... and assistant to Kenneth W. Starr ... The number of pages is said to run into the millions, which Mr. McConnell fears could hand Senate Democrats an opportunity to delay the confirmation vote until after the new session of the court begins in October, with the midterm elections looming the next month.”

-- Kavanaugh also has a problem with some social conservatives, who wonder whether he’s a true believer. “He looks, walks and quacks like John G. Roberts Jr.,” said former Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli last week. “The Bush lives loudly in Kavanaugh.”

-- But Leonard Leo, on leave from the Federalist Society to advise Trump on his pick, says Kethledge and Hardiman have less-established conservative track records, which would make it harder to line up support for them. “I think in regards to Kethledge and Hardiman, they are a little less known by conservatives and their records are a little bit lighter so it might take some time,” Leo said on ABC’s “This Week.” “It’s important to have people who are extremely well known and have distinguished records.”

-- Trump loves the drama around the pick, report Maggie, Adam Liptak and Michael S. Schmidt of the Times, who write that the president is an “incorrigible gossip, [but] can be effective at keeping a secret when he chooses to ... Over the past three days, he has stoked uncertainty among even his closest aides by asking lots of questions but offering little in return, according to those who have spoken with him. The suspense-laden process bore similarities, but also some differences, to how the president handled the announcement last year of [Gorsuch]. White House officials worked hard to encourage speculation over the pick until just before Judge Gorsuch was announced in another prime-time address. But in that case, the president notified Judge Gorsuch that he was the choice a day ahead of the announcement, and Mr. Trump was said to have settled on the judge days before that.”

DRIP, DRIP, DRIP:

-- Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) is facing increasing scrutiny now that seven former Ohio State wrestlers have come forward to say Jordan knew or must have known about sexual abuse in the program when he was an assistant coach. Elise Viebeck and Alice Crites report: “It is unclear how the allegations could affect a potential bid for speaker by Jordan. One of his defenders, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), suggested the allegations are designed to hurt Jordan, a leading critic of [Robert Mueller’s] investigation, as he prepares to grill FBI agent Peter Strzok in a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday. … When the House reconvenes Tuesday, many Republican lawmakers will face questions about the wrestling controversy for the first time. Only a handful of conservatives jumped to defend Jordan over the break as the story unfolded.”

Norm Eisen, President Barack Obama’s ethics czar, and Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, will argue in a letter to the Office of Congressional Ethics on Monday that it should conduct a preliminary inquiry into whether Jordan’s denials are false. OCE findings are sometimes referred to the House Ethics Committee. ‘If Rep. Jordan is lying, he failed to protect student wrestlers under his supervision,’ Wertheimer said in a statement to The Washington Post. ‘This is a very serious matter that goes to the institutional integrity of the House and its Members.’

David Range, who wrestled for Ohio State in the late 1980s, said Jordan had to have known about the alleged misconduct because wrestlers discussed it frequently in the locker room when Jordan was present. ‘Jordan definitely knew that these things were happening — yes, most definitely,’ Range told The Washington Post on Saturday. ‘It was there. He knew about it because it was an everyday occurrence. ... Everybody joked about it and talked about it all the time.’

One of the most direct charges that Jordan knew came from Dunyasha Yetts, another former wrestler at the university, who told Politico on Friday that he once asked Jordan and head wrestling coach Russ Hellickson to accompany him to an examination with Strauss so the doctor wouldn’t touch him inappropriately. Jordan’s office denied this happened…” The congressman denies any wrongdoing.

WATCH WHAT THEY DO, NOT WHAT THEY SAY:

-- U.S. officials sought this spring to weaken a normally noncontroversial resolution backing breastfeeding at the World Health Assembly by threatening Ecuador, prompting that country to withdraw the measure it planned to introduce. The New York Times’s Andrew Jacobs reports: “The Americans were blunt: If Ecuador refused to drop the resolution, Washington would unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid. The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced. … Health advocates scrambled to find another sponsor for the resolution, but at least a dozen countries, most of them poor nations in Africa and Latin America, backed off, citing fears of retaliation, according to officials from Uruguay, Mexico and the United States. … In the end, the Americans’ efforts were mostly unsuccessful. It was the Russians who ultimately stepped in to introduce the measure — and the Americans did not threaten them.

“Although lobbyists from the baby food industry attended the meetings in Geneva, health advocates said they saw no direct evidence that they played a role in Washington’s strong-arm tactics. … The intensity of the administration’s opposition to the breast-feeding resolution stunned public health officials and foreign diplomats, who described it as a marked contrast to the Obama administration, which largely supported W.H.O.’s longstanding policy of encouraging breast-feeding. During the deliberations, some American delegates even suggested the United States might cut its contribution to the W.H.O., several negotiators said.”

-- Federal agencies will begin implementing Trump’s executive orders on employee unions today. Lisa Rein reports: “The administration describes Trump’s new rules, issued in May, as an effort to streamline a bloated bureaucracy and improve accountability within the federal workforce of 2.1 million. The unions counter that the orders are only the latest in Trump’s aggressive actions intended to weaken their bargaining power and make it easier to fire government workers. … The conflict appears headed for a showdown, either in federal court, where the unions have filed numerous lawsuits challenging the orders, or in Congress. The administration and the unions have courted Capitol Hill allies, with Republicans supporting Trump’s tactics and Democrats backing the unions, a key constituency.”

-- The Trump administration halted billions of dollars in payments to health insurers required under Obamacare. Amy Goldstein reports: “In a rare Saturday afternoon announcement, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said it will stop collecting and paying out money under the ACA’s ‘risk adjustment’ program, drawing swift protest from the health insurance industry. Risk adjustment is one of three methods built into the 2010 health-care law to help insulate insurance companies from the ACA requirement that they accept all customers for the first time — healthy and sick — without charging more to those who need substantial care. The other two methods were temporary, but risk adjustment is permanent.”

-- Insurance executives warned that the move will create market instability and drive up premiums. The New York Times’s Robert Pear reports: The administration’s decision “comes just as insurance companies are developing premiums for 2019 and states are reviewing proposed rates."

-- GOP state legislators are pushing measures that would require a two-thirds supermajority to raise taxes, making it more difficult for Democrats to enact their agendas if they win majorities in statehouses. Jeff Stein reports: “At least 14 states already have supermajority tax requirements, according to a 2017 tally by the National Conference of State Legislatures. They include some states that Democrats are hoping to take back this year, such as Wisconsin and Michigan. In three additional states — Florida, Oregon and North Carolina — conservative lawmakers and business groups are currently advancing similar measures … ”

ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN AND WOMEN:

-- Scott Pruitt may try to restart his political career in his home state of Oklahoma. The New York Times’s Richard Fausset reports: “Though a comeback for Mr. Pruitt is far from assured, some liberals and conservatives in Oklahoma agree he could engineer one in this oil- and gas-dependent state where he used to be attorney general. His hard-line anti-regulatory message remains popular here, and many of his supporters consider the spreading plume of scandal from his time at the E.P.A. the product of unfair liberal persecution. … It is not clear whether Mr. Pruitt, 50, and his family will return to Tulsa.”

-- McConnell was confronted by immigration protesters as he left a Louisville restaurant Saturday. Avi Selk reports: “At least half a dozen people, several with cameras, were waiting out front when McConnell walked out. ... The Democratic Socialists of Louisville said three of its members were in the crowd, but said the group had nothing to do with the man who called the majority leader ‘turtle head’ — and a few moments later shouted: ‘We know where you live, too, Mitch! We know where you live! Yeah! We know where you live, Mitch!’ ”

-- “For as long as the White House has existed, its star occupants have inspired a voluble mix of demonstrations, insults and satire,” Paul Schwartzman and Josh Dawsey write. “Yet what distinguishes the Trump era’s turbulence is the sheer number of his deputies — many of them largely anonymous before his inauguration — who have become the focus of planned and sometimes spontaneous public fury. … ‘I would say it’s burning people out,’ said Anthony Scaramucci, Trump’s former communications director. ‘I just think there’s so much meanness, it’s causing some level of, ‘What do I need this for?’ And I think it’s a recruiting speed bump for the administration. To be part of it, you’ve got to deal with the incoming of some of this viciousness.’”

-- Stormy Daniels will return to Washington tonight to perform at a downtown strip club. The adult-film actress will appear at the “Official Grand Opening” of the K Street nightclub Cloakroom. (Frances Stead Sellers)

-- Many administration and Capitol Hill staffers who helped secure the passage of the GOP tax bill are now lobbyists. From the Times’s Alan Rappeport: “... while the frenetic two-month sprint last year to pass the tax legislation left some lobbyists marginalized, the businesses now scrambling to navigate the changes are increasingly recruiting the people who wrote it. … More than a dozen people have already migrated this year, and more are expected to follow as the elections draw closer.”

TRUMP LEAVES FOR EUROPE TOMORROW:

-- Ahead of this week’s NATO summit, allies are wondering whether their relationship with the U.S. can survive Trump's presidency as he prepares for his meeting with Vladimir Putin. Michael Birnbaum reports: “The heartburn comes ahead of a possible two-headed diplomatic assault from Trump this week. First, he jets to a summit of NATO leaders, where he is expected to continue to complain that Europeans are slacking on defense spending. Days later, he’ll sit down with [Putin] for their first one-on-one summit. European leaders worry that Trump could bargain away their security in the name of better relations with the Kremlin. European Council President Donald Tusk warned European leaders last month that judging by Trump’s language, allies could no longer assume that NATO would endure. … NATO diplomats are making dark jokes about whether Trump and Putin could unveil a globe-shifting alliance of the sort that helped lead to World War I. Others are considering the legal architecture for a NATO in which the United States is no longer the preeminent player. ... Few believe that Trump would actually withdraw from NATO … But they worry about moves that could initiate an unraveling.”

-- Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said he is “concerned” about what Trump might promise Putin: “I'm glad that the President is talking to [Putin],” Flake told Dana Bash on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I'm glad that he's talking to North Korea as well ... But I am concerned, and I know there is concern across Europe, about what might be promised.” 

-- Trump will also finally make his first visit to London as president later this week. “London was supposed to be the first foreign trip for the new President Trump, a nice recognition of the ‘special relationship’ between two staunch allies,” the National Journal’s George E. Condon Jr. notes. “But then Trump read of his deep unpopularity across the Atlantic and heard of the planned protests. According to multiple reports both in England and the United States, Trump complained about his ‘negative coverage’ in a phone call with [Theresa May]. He demanded assurances that he would not face large protests. When May demurred, Trump ended up postponing the trip. Now, it is rescheduled for this month and is being planned so that public protests can be kept far from his sight.”

THERE'S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:

-- “The unfolding of the Russia scandal has been like walking into a dark cavern,” Jonathan Chait writes in a long piece for New York Magazine. “Every step reveals that the cave runs deeper than we thought, and after each one, as we wonder how far it goes, our imaginations are circumscribed by the steps we have already taken. The cavern might go just a little farther, we presume, but probably not much farther. ... But what if that’s wrong? … What is missing from our imagination is the unlikely but possible outcome on the other end: that this is all much worse than we suspect. ... If that’s true, we are in the midst of a scandal unprecedented in American history, a subversion of the integrity of the presidency … And it would mean the Russia scandal began far earlier than conventionally understood and ended later — indeed, is still happening ...”

-- Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani blasted Mueller’s investigation, telling ABC News's George Stephanopoulos that it is “the most corrupt investigation” he’s “ever seen” and stacked with “very, very severe partisans.” “We can’t find an incriminating anything, and we need a basis for this investigation, particularly since we now know it was started from biased … [origins],” Giuliani said of the special counsel’s probe. He also attempted to undermine testimony from Comey, which he argued is “hardly worth anything.” (Politico)

  • Rudy seemed to confirm that Trump asked Comey to drop the investigation against former national security adviser Michael Flynn by comparing the president's words to his own time as a prosecutor: “The reality is, as a prosecutor, I was told that many times, 'can you give the man a break,' either by his lawyers, by his relatives, by his friends. You take that into consideration. But you know that doesn't determine not going forward with it.”
  • When asked why Trump just “doesn’t fire Mueller,” Giuliani replied: “Because if he did it, everybody would say that he was guilty and that's why he fired him.” And while he said he does not believe Mueller himself is corrupt, “he's surrounded by biased people. Almost exclusively.”
  • Giuliani dismissed concerns that Trump’s longtime attorney Michael Cohen could cooperate with federal investigators: “We want Michael to handle this in a way that’s most helpful to him. Michael’s not going to lie … Long as he does that, we have nothing to fear,” he told Stephanopoulos. “As long as [Cohen] tells the truth, we’re home free.”
  • Rudy also defended Cohen’s hush-money payment to Stormy Daniels during the 2016 campaign, saying he believed Trump did not “originally know” about the deal. “[At] some point … probably a little foggy as to exactly when, [the] president found out and reimbursed him,” said Giuliani.

-- British authorities have launched a murder investigation into the death of Dawn Sturgess, who died days after being exposed to the Soviet-era nerve agent known as Novichok. She came into contact with the chemical just four months after it was used in a “deliberate” attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter. William Booth reports: “Sturgess lived in a supported-living facility that helps residents struggling with alcohol or drug addiction. Police said she was exposed to the chemical last weekend, absorbing it through her hands. She survived for eight days. Her boyfriend, Charlie Rowley, 45, was also exposed and became sick a few hours later. Rowley remains in critical condition and in a coma … Friends told the British press that Rowley would often search dumpsters for items to barter or sell. Specialists at the nearby Defense Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down, a military research facility, identified the agent used against the Skripals, Sturgess and Rowley as Novichok.”

-- “Lawyers for [Trump] unleashed a blistering attack on [James Comey] in a confidential memo last year to the special counsel, casting him as 'Machiavellian,' dishonest and 'unbounded by law and regulation' as they sought to undermine the credibility of a law enforcement leader they see as a critical witness against the president,” the AP’s Eric Tucker and Chad Day report. “The letter … underscores the intense effort by Trump’s legal team over the last year to tarnish Comey’s reputation and pit the president’s word against that of the former FBI director. The June 27, 2017, letter was written by Marc Kasowitz, then the president’s lead lawyer … [and] aims to identify for Mueller what the lawyers believe are grievous errors both in how Comey handled the Clinton investigation and in his early, and limited, encounters with the president.”

-- Paul Manafort’s legal team is crying foul over an April 2017 meeting between Justice Department prosecutors and AP reporters – arguing that the off-the-record sit-down serves as “confirmation” the journalists had been fed inside information about the Russia investigation. Politico’s Josh Gerstein reports: “ 'The meeting raises serious concerns about whether a violation of grand jury secrecy occurred,’ Manafort's lawyers wrote in a filing Friday with U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis, who’s set to oversee [Manafort’s upcoming trial in Virginia]. ‘Now, based on the FBI’s own notes of the meeting, it is beyond question that a hearing is warranted.’ ”

“However, the memos indicate that the bulk of the information flow at the meeting went the other way, with the AP journalists providing the FBI with a bevy of facts [it] uncovered during its inquiries into Manafort's work and finances. The meeting took place a day before the AP published a story saying that Manafort received at least some payments ascribed to him or his companies in a so-called black ledger of off-the-books spending by former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. … One of [the] memos also says the purpose of the meeting was for the FBI to ‘obtain documents from the AP reporters,’ although it’s unclear any documents were shown or changed hands.”

A SETBACK IN PYONGYANG:

-- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded to North Korea’s claims that U.S. negotiators acted in a “gangster-like” way: “If those requests were gangster-like, the world is a gangster.” John Hudson and Adam Taylor report: Pompeo noted “that U.S. demands for North Korea to denuclearize were supported by a consensus among U.N. Security Council members. The secretary of state also said that despite a critical statement released by North Korea’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday night, he thought that the two sides had made progress during the meeting and that his North Korean counterpart, Kim Yong Chol, negotiated in ‘good faith’ during the meeting. Pompeo added that the United States and world powers would maintain economic sanctions against North Korea until full denuclearization was achieved.”

-- Behind the scenes, Pompeo was repeatedly stonewalled by North Korean officials in Pyongyang. Bloomberg News’s Nick Wadhams reports: “In the end, Pompeo stayed at neither of the hotels where he thought he’d be. ... It was the start of a confused visit of less than 30 hours, marked by a pair of lavish banquets that the secretary and his staff appeared to dread for their length and the daunting number of courses presented by unfailingly polite waiters. He only learned of his own schedule hours ahead of time, and the meeting with Kim Jong Un never happened — despite strenuous efforts from his staff.”

THE ROAD TO 2020:

-- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and his family spent the weekend at the summer home of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). A spokesman for de Blasio wouldn’t comment on whether the two progressives' time together was personal or political. (New York Post)

-- The 2020 Democratic primary could see two of Massachusetts’s political heavyweights — Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former governor Deval Patrick — face off against each other. The Boston Globe’s Matt Viser reports: “On the issues, they are almost twins. But in the matter of style, their contrasting approaches offer a window into the debate coursing through the Democratic Party as a whole: how best to take on the strangely formidable force that is Donald Trump. An eye for an eye? Or eyes on the prize? … Warren, whose most recent book is called ‘A Fighting Chance,’ relishes her image as a fighter, always ready to battle with Trump and talk, even in the midst of a debate over financial regulations, of leaving ‘plenty of blood and teeth left on the floor.’ Patrick’s memoir was called ‘A Reason to Believe,’ and he built much of his career as a hopeful politician attempting to bring together disparate viewpoints.”

-- Case in point: Warren called Trump a “bully” who targets “every woman who speaks up” during a campaign event last night. “He tries to bully me to shut me up, and he’s also trying to bully women all across this country. He talks about Me Too. It isn’t just me he is going after,” Warren said. “It’s every woman who speaks up. He thinks we should sit down and shut up. It’s just not going to happen.” (Michael Scherer)

-- Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) will headline the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications' First Amendment program in Manchester, N.H., this fall. Trump was the 2015 featured speaker for the event, which is known for attracting national political figures to the early-primary state. (New Hampshire Union Leader)

-- Sen. Ben Sasse’s continued criticism of Trump has intensified speculation that the Nebraska Republican may launch a primary challenge against the president in 2020. Politico’s Alex Isenstadt reports: “As the ‘never Trump’ faction of the Republican Party dwindles to a lonely few, the Nebraska senator has shown little interest in backing down — leaving him vulnerable to a Trump-fueled primary challenge in 2020, when he’s up for reelection. … [Sasse] has a book coming out three weeks before the midterm elections and has quietly launched a new political non-profit group … "

-- Former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D) is facing calls to run for president, but he appears truly torn. Politico Magazine’s Edward-Isaac Dovere reports: “After eight years in his dream job and as he nears turning 58 in August, he wants to take a moment by himself to think. But ever since his speech last year about taking down four Confederate monuments — when he launched himself into the center of a national conversation about race and racism, and saw the hate that others see, and confronted what’s inside America and Americans — he hears at every turn people urging him to think about running for president, and telling him that he’s made for the moment to go up against [Trump] and what his presidency has unleashed in the country. And maybe he is, he thinks. But with a 2020 field that could include a dozen or more serious Democrats, he wonders: Is running for president the only way to get anyone to pay attention? …

“For now, Landrieu is more concerned about understanding why Trump happened, and figuring out what he is prepared to do about it. … For now, there’s no wink-wink travel or fundraising. He doesn’t have consultants, other than a rickety breakfast-nook cabinet of Donna Brazile, James Carville and Mary Matalin. … What he does have is a loose affiliation of people who watched that speech last year about removing the Confederate monuments, or heard about that speech, and fell in love: a scattering of Obama alums, desperate Democrats convinced that the bald white guy from the South could be the only way to answer Trump, thought leaders and prominent African-Americans who keep pushing him.”

-- “Long-form” political ads have become an important medium for Democrats as they seek to recapture the House. Politico Magazine’s Michael Kruse reports: “More broadly, these ads highlight a wholly new way to envision a campaign. Especially for first-time long-shot candidates, these spots have flipped the typical path to electoral success. It used to be one ran locally in an effort to get attention nationally. But the preponderance of smartphones and a hunger for clickable media have enabled the opposite. … But can virality lead to victory?”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Previewing the fireworks to come later this week, Trump slammed European allies on Twitter this morning for not contributing enough to NATO:

A Pentagon correspondent for The Post noted that Trump literally re-posted word-for-word a tweet from a Fox News reporter:

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee criticized Giuliani's parameters for a Mueller interview:

A former U.S. attorney who was fired by Trump defended Mueller:

Senate Democrats lined up against one of Trump's nominees to be an assistant attorney general (I wrote a Big Idea about him last summer):

Rep. Sean Maloney (D-N.Y.), who is running for New York attorney general, called for an investigation into Jim Jordan:

A GOP senator celebrated the rescue of some of the Thai boys trapped in a cave:

A CNN executive producer shared this image:

A civil rights icon marked an important anniversary:

A presidential historian looked back at a past All-Star Game that took place in D.C. as Washington prepares for next week's game:

Russia's World Cup loss sparked a string of election-related jokes. From a New York Times reporter:

A movie set took over Washington:

And Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) decided on a name for her new puppy:

GOOD READS:

-- “This national security writer broke a cardinal rule of journalism by outing her source to the FBI. Here’s why.” from Margaret Sullivan: “Marcy Wheeler said her dealings with her source brought her around to believing something she initially questioned: that Russian interference in the 2016 election was very real, and that associates of President Trump played a part.”

-- Rolling Stone, “Nancy Pelosi: ‘They Come After Me Because I’m Effective,’ ” by Tim Dickinson: “[F]or all the talk about Nancy Pelosi, less time has been spent actually listening to her. Rolling Stone sat down with Pelosi for an hour on a May evening in Des Moines, Iowa, where she was raising money for the local Democratic Party. At the fundraiser, standing before a wall-sized American flag, Pelosi sought to flatten the difference between President Trump and GOP candidates. ‘He’s their guy,’ she says of Trump. ‘Make no mistake: This election, it’s not – well it’s about him in certain respects, we can’t ignore that — but it’s about them.’ ”

-- Politico, “The secret story of how America lost the drug war with the Taliban,” by Josh Meyer: “A high-stakes plan to indict Afghan drug lords and insurgency leaders on criminal conspiracy charges ran afoul of the Obama team. Five years later, it remains buried under Trump.”

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“Is Hillary Clinton secretly planning on running in 2020?” from the New York Post: “[Hillary] Clinton is up to something. Five times in the last month alone, she sent e-mails touting her super PAC’s role in combating [Trump]. Most seized on headline events … And the day after [Justice Kennedy] announced his retirement, Clinton introduced a newly minted resistance partner. Called Demand Justice, it promises to protect ‘reproductive rights, voting rights and access to health care’ by keeping Senate Democrats united in opposing any conservative Trump nominee. … With the Democratic Party locked in a battle between its far left wing and its far, far left wing, no single leader has emerged to unite it. Clinton is trying to play that role by being a mother hen to the fledgling activists drawn to politics by their hatred of Trump. If they were active in 2016, most probably supported Bernie Sanders in his primary challenge to Clinton. But by helping to fund them now, she is putting them in her debt for later.”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“Richmond bookstore owner says he called police after woman confronted Steve Bannon in his shop,” from the Richmond Times-Dispatch: “A bookstore owner in Richmond said he called the police after a woman confronted Steve Bannon … in his shop Saturday. Nick Cooke, owner of Black Swan Books on West Main Street in the Fan District, said Bannon was in the bookstore Saturday afternoon and that a woman confronted him, calling him a ‘piece of trash.’ Cooke said he called 911 and that the woman left as he made the call. ‘Steve Bannon was simply standing, looking at books, minding his own business. I asked her to leave, and she wouldn’t …’ [Cooke said]. The incident mirrors other protest actions taken directly against Trump supporters and officials in their private time.” “We are a bookshop. Bookshops are all about ideas and tolerating different opinions and not about verbally assaulting somebody, which is what was happening,” Cooke said.

 

DAYBOOK:

Trump’s Supreme Court announcement is scheduled for 9 p.m. EST. He will also have lunch with Pence today.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“Republicans are holding four lottery tickets and all of them are winners.” – Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Trump’s Supreme Court shortlist. (Politico)

 

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

-- Temperatures will creep upward in D.C. today, but humidity levels will remain low. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “It’s a third straight very enjoyable day to be outside, especially if you can find some shade. Temperatures soaring into the mid-to-upper 80s this afternoon do start to feel hot in the sun and there’s little breeze to cool you off. But humidity levels are low (dew points in the 50s) so the air feels rather refreshing if you can find some cover.”

-- The Nationals lost to the Marlins 10-2. (Chelsea Janes)

-- Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer and Sean Doolittle won spots on the National League all-star team. Trea Turner could join his teammates at the July 17 All-Star Game if he wins the “Final Vote” contest. (Jorge Castillo)

-- Marc Elrich was declared the victor of the Democratic primary for Montgomery County executive, edging out David Blair by 80 votes. It took nearly two weeks to finalize the results, which came down to provisional and absentee ballots. (Jennifer Barrios and Faiz Siddiqui)

-- Asian American students are pushing to make Lunar New Year a school holiday in Montgomery County. From Donna St. George: “Some see the effort as a sign of growing activism among Asian American families at a time when their children account for more than 14 percent of districtwide enrollment and they have become increasingly vocal on education issues.”

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Trump tweeted this video compilation that revels in his electoral history:

This clip of conservative commentator William F. Buckley recirculated online:

A challenger to Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.) explained why he is running against his congressman:

Demonstrators protested the Supreme Court's potential rightward swing as Trump prepares to announce his nominee:

Gun-control protesters in Chicago shut down part of a major highway:

And the Tesla founder found a way to help in the rescue of the Thai children trapped in a cave: