With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle privately complained to one of his GOP primary opponents that their race for governor had become about “who had the biggest gun, who had the biggest truck and who could be the craziest.”

Cagle, the establishment favorite, is facing Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp in a July 24 Republican runoff that polls show is neck and neck.

Kemp this week posted a snippet from a secretly recorded conversation between Cagle and Clay Tippins from two days after the May primary. Cagle was seeking the support of Tippins, who finished in fourth place.

Tippins, a former Navy SEAL who once swam for Stanford, emphasized making Georgia friendlier to business, expanding access to medicinal marijuana and combating human trafficking during his campaign.

“Listen, the issues you talked about are issues I care about as well,” Cagle told him (it’s not clear which specific issues he was referring to). “The problem is in a primary — and you and I are talking off the record [to be] frank — they don't give a s--- about those things, okay? In a general, they care about it. But they don’t care about it in a primary.”

“This primary felt like it was who had the biggest gun, who had the biggest truck and who could be the craziest,” Cagle added. “That’s what it felt like. So with all that being said, I care about your issues.”

-- Tippins recorded the conversation on an iPhone in his coat pocket. Last month, he shared another chunk of it with local media outlets and gave the rest to Kemp, who has hinted that more clips are still to come. In the portion that came out last month, the lieutenant governor acknowledged that he shifted his position on an education tax credit to dissuade donors from giving to a super PAC that would support another rival.

“Is it bad public policy? Between you and me, it is. And I can tell you how it is [in] a thousand different ways,” Cagle said on the tape. “It ain’t about public policy. It’s about s--- politics. There’s a group that was getting ready to put $3 million behind Hunter Hill.”

Cagle identified the group in question as the Walton Family Foundation. The political arm of that group, which supports the expansion of charter schools, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that it has not spent any money on the governor’s race and declined to comment on the recording. Hill finished third in the primary. “I was playing defense,” Cagle told Tippins. “I’m being honest with you.”

-- What’s happening in Georgia comes against the backdrop of a pattern across the country that has contributed to voter cynicism: Many Republican candidates have embraced positions this election cycle with which they previously disagreed to win primaries and sync up better with President Trump and his agenda.

-- Cagle’s caught-on-tape comments are also reminiscent of Trump White House budget director Mick Mulvaney’s acknowledgment in April that he gave preferential treatment to political donors when he was in Congress. “If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you,” Mulvaney said at the American Bankers Association conference. “If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you.”

-- Cagle campaign manager Scott Binkley defended the comments that have emerged this week. He said that the lieutenant governor was referring to his opponent’s ads. In one commercial, Kemp pointed a shotgun in the direction of a young man interested in dating his daughter. “I got a big truck just in case I need to round up criminal illegals and take ‘em home myself,” Kemp said in another.

“Casey talked policy. Kemp talked crazy,” Binkley said in a statement to local media outlets. “And yes, Casey Cagle called Brian Kemp out on it. Share the transcript. PLEASE. We have nothing to hide.”

On the education bill, Cagle has said he was trying to reach a compromise and no one got everything they wanted.

-- Kemp went on television yesterday with a new attack ad highlighting Cagle’s comments. “You’ve heard the tapes,” the secretary of state says to the camera in the 30-second spot. “Cagle admitted that he thought a new state law was bad policy for Georgia, but it could mean millions to his campaign, so Cagle passed it anyway. Well, if that’s not criminal, it should be.”

-- Cagle was previously in the national news in February when he vowed to “kill” a major tax break that benefited Delta Air Lines, whose hub is in Atlanta, as retaliation for the company discontinuing discounted fares for members of the National Rifle Association to fly to their annual meeting in the face of student protests following the massacre in Parkland, Fla.

The NRA rewarded Cagle with its endorsement a few weeks later. Now the gun rights group is deploying its incoming president, Oliver North, to headline three rallies for him this Saturday, the Journal-Constitution reports.

-- The intra-GOP drama increases the odds that Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams could prevail in November. She would be the first African American female governor in U.S. history.

-- This is not your granddaddy’s Georgia, which Trump carried by only five points in 2016. The Peach State was one of 11 in which Hillary Clinton improved on Barack Obama’s performance. Slowly but surely, the country’s eighth-most-populous state is becoming more purple.

Cagle’s not wrong that what plays well in a low-turnout GOP primary is different from what wins a general election. Atlanta isn’t just Delta’s hub. It’s a hub of the New South. The typical voter in many of the suburbs around the city is as likely to drive a foreign luxury car as a pickup truck.

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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- Trump ramped up his trade war with China, placing tariffs on an additional $200 billion of Chinese imports. This will make products such as televisions, clothing, bedsheets and air conditioners more expensive for U.S. consumers. “The move [comes after Trump threatened to] respond to China’s retaliation for the initial U.S. tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese goods, which went into effect on Friday,” David J. Lynch and Danielle Paquette report. “Administration officials said the tariff fight is aimed at forcing China to stop stealing American intellectual property and to abandon policies that effectively force U.S. companies to surrender their trade secrets in return for access to the Chinese market. ... Beijing has vowed to respond in kind to any U.S. trade action.”

-- In response to the new tariffs, Beijing accused the United States of “hurting China, hurting the world, and hurting itself,” in a statement from its Ministry of Commerce. Danielle Paquette and Emily Rauhala report: “The Chinese government went on to paint itself a defender of free trade, urging the international community to ‘work together’ to protect a global commerce flow that has brought wealth to nations worldwide. … Officials also announced that Beijing had leveled another complaint against America’s ‘unilateralist behavior’ to the World Trade Organization, marking China’s 12th such filing against the United States. … Chinese markets seemed rattled by the news Wednesday, dipping after three days on the upswing.”

-- BMW announced plans to produce more of its SUVs in China, instead of the United States, because of the tariffs. The Charleston Post and Courier reports: “BMW also said it will raise the price of South Carolina-built vehicles sold in China to help offset that country's new 40 percent import tax on cars from the U.S.”

-- The vice president is planning a Midwest trip to campaign for GOP House candidates and assuage major conservative donors’ fears about the growing trade war. (Politico)

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. GOP officials are finalizing plans to bring the 2020 Republican National Convention to Charlotte, N.C., a swing state that Trump captured in 2016. David Bossie and Ron Kaufman are among the top contenders to chair the convention. (Wall Street Journal)
  2. Pfizer delayed a planned price hike after Trump attacked the drugmaker on Twitter. The company said the increase would effectively be delayed at least until the beginning of 2019. (Damian Paletta)
  3. France advanced to the World Cup final after defeating Belgium, 1-0. The victory makes France the only country to advance to three World Cup finals in the last 20 years. (Chuck Culpepper and Jacob Bogage)
  4. A majority of universities no longer require SAT or ACT essay test scores for admission. All but 25 percent of U.S. colleges have moved to reject the exam requirement, which was introduced less than 15 years ago. (Nick Anderson)
  5. Tropical Storm Chris strengthened into a hurricane as its course shifted away from the Mid-Atlantic coast and toward the open Atlantic Ocean. But meteorologists fear the storm could still clip Newfoundland between late Thursday and early Friday. (Jason Samenow)
  6. A majority of D.C. Council members backed the repeal of Initiative 77, the ballot measure that would raise tipped workers' minimum wage. Voters in the District approved the measure last month. (Peter Jamison)
  7. The family of a 25-year-old motorist and accountant, Bijan Ghaisar, who was shot dead by two unidentified U.S. Park Police officers last fall, has filed FOIA requests seeking information about his death. Both the Park Police and the FBI have refused to provide details about the Nov. 17 incident, which remains under investigation, and neither officer has been charged in his death. (Tom Jackman)
  8. The Thai navy SEALs who rescued the 12 boys from a flooded cave barely made it out in time. The pump siphoning rainwater out of the cave failed, leading to rising water levels as the crews scrambled to escape. (ABC News)
  9. At least three vehicles were damaged in Northeast D.C. after life-size chess pieces were thrown from the roof of a luxury apartment building in the H Street corridor. (Dana Hedgpeth)

A BULL IN A CHINA SHOP:

-- Trump arrived in Brussels for the NATO summit and kicked off his appearance by accusing Germany of being “captive to Russia.” Michael Birnbaum and Seung Min Kim report from Belgium: “ ‘Germany, as far as I’m concerned, is captive to Russia because it’s getting so much of its energy from Russia,’ Trump told NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, in a fiery on-camera exchange that was nearly without precedent in the history of the post-World War II alliance. ‘We have to talk about the billions and billions of dollars that’s being paid to the country we’re supposed to be protecting you against,’ Trump said, referring to European purchases of Russian natural gas. … Germany’s energy relationship with Russia has long frustrated Washington and Eastern Europe, who fear that the Nordstream pipeline that bypasses the Baltic nations and Poland could be used to cut them off from crucial energy supplies.”

-- Trump also struck a combative tone yesterday as he prepared to travel to Europe — refusing to defend British Prime Minister Theresa May and suggesting that his upcoming meeting with Vladimir Putin “might be easier” than today’s summit. Philip Rucker, Michael Birnbaum and William Booth report: “[Asked Tuesday if] May should remain in power, Trump said, ‘That’s up to the people,’ and he complimented her top rival, Boris Johnson. Some of Europe’s counters to Trump, including May and [German Chancellor Angela Merkel], arrive with heavy domestic political baggage of their own, making them vulnerable in negotiations with Trump as they seek to protect the Western alliance from his impulses on defense spending and trade.”

Before boarding Air Force One yesterday, Trump declined to say whether he sees Putin as a friend or foe, telling reporters only that he considered the Russian leader a “competitor.”

Trump’s seven-day journey begins in Brussels … and will take him to England for his first visit there as president, to Scotland for a weekend respite at his private golf course and finally to Helsinki for his tete-a-tete with Putin,” per Phil, Michael and William. “May plans to roll out the red carpet for Trump and … Melania Trump at a gala supper Thursday at Blenheim Palace … and at a luncheon Friday at Chequers. … She also secured him an audience with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle. [It] was a startling gambit for Trump to risk offending his host by showering Johnson with praise while May faces threats of a revolt — even a no-confidence vote — by her own Conservative Party over how she is handling Brexit.”

-- Trump retweeted a welcome message from a convicted forger. “The British people are looking forward to your much anticipated visit to our country this week and we extend a warm WELCOME!” Sheena Fox, who tweets under the handle Deplorably Scottish, wrote on Twitter. Last year, she was convicted of stealing thousands of pounds from a community choir to pay for the group’s 2015 trip to New York to perform at Carnegie Hall, John Hudson reports.

TRUMP'S PRIORITIES:

-- In the latest attempt to undermine Obamacare, the Trump administration is slashing grants for groups that help Americans sign up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Amy Goldstein reports: “The reduction — the second round of cuts that began last summer — will shrink the federal money devoted to the groups, known as navigators, from $36.8 million to $10 million for the enrollment period that starts in November. Last August, federal health officials announced that they were reducing the navigators’ aid by 41 percent, from $62.5 million, and slashing by 90 percent a related budget for advertising and other outreach activities to foster ACA enrollment.” “They’re just strangling the program,” said Catherine Edwards, executive director of the Missouri Association of Area Agencies on Aging. “They couldn’t kill the program in Congress, so they are cutting the money.” 

-- Trump pardoned two cattle ranchers whose prison sentences for committing arson on public lands set off the 2016 occupation of a national wildlife refuge. John Wagner, Juliet Eilperin and Mark Berman report: “Trump’s decision to set aside the convictions of [father and son] Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond could have major implications for how federal officials enforce rules on grazing and other activities on tens of millions of acres owned by taxpayers. The two men’s return to prison helped spark the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in early 2016. Robert ‘LaVoy’ Finicum, a rancher who acted as the protesters’ spokesman, was killed by a state trooper during an encounter between the armed occupation group and law enforcement officers — a shooting that led to charges against an FBI special agent. In a statement, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the ‘overzealous appeal’ of the Hammonds’ original sentences during the Obama administration, which sent them back to prison, was ‘unjust.’ ”

-- Trump issued an executive order allowing individual agencies to directly hire administrative law judges, a move that could lead to more politically motivated decision-making. Eric Yoder explains: “Administrative law judges (ALJs) conduct trial-like hearings within federal agencies in disputes over decisions such as claims for benefits and enforcement actions against individuals or businesses. … Although they are federal employees and most civil service rules apply to them, they are independent in their decision-making. … The [Supreme Court] held last month that administrative law judges are ‘inferior officers’ of the United States, as opposed to ordinary employees, and thus can be hired — in government parlance, ‘appointed’ — only by the president or the head of an agency. … The American Constitution Society, a progressive legal organization, said the change ‘could have a stunning impact on how myriad administrative claims are handled."

THE HUMAN TOLL OF TRUMP'S IMMIGRATION POLICY:

-- A federal judge demanded the Trump administration move more quickly to reunite separated migrant families, as the government blew past a Tuesday deadline to release all of the youngest detained children. Maria Sacchetti, Arelis R. Hernández and Marissa J. Lang report: “The government told [U.S. District Judge Dana M. Sabraw] it would have returned 38 of the youngest separated children to their parents by Tuesday night, and would reunite more once DNA testing and other checks were complete. But Sabraw said he believed as many as 63 children could be released Tuesday, or soon afterward, if the government streamlined the process and worked harder to locate parents who were no longer detained. ‘There’s still much time left today,’ he said from the bench during a late-morning hearing in San Diego. ‘These are firm deadlines. They’re not aspirational goals.’ "

-- Some children, having been separated from their families for months, no longer recognize their parents. From the New York Times’s Miriam Jordan, Katie Benner, Ron Nixon and Caitlin Dickerson: “One mother had waited four months to wrap her arms around her little boy. Another had waited three months to see her little girl again. When the reunions finally happened Tuesday in Phoenix, the mothers were met with cries of rejection from their children. ‘He didn’t recognize me,’ said Mirce Alba Lopez, 31, of her 3-year-old son, Ederson, her eyes welling up with tears. ‘My joy turned temporarily to sadness.’ For Milka Pablo, 35, it was no different. Her 3-year-old daughter, Darly, screamed and tried to wiggle free from her mother’s embrace. ‘I want Miss. I want Miss,’ Darly cried, calling for the social worker at the shelter where she had been living since mother and daughter were separated by federal agents at the southwestern border.”

-- According to one migrant shelter, the government told women separated from their kids they would have to pay for the cost of the DNA tests required to prove their familial connection. The Daily Beast’s Justin Glawe and Adam Rawnsley report: “The tests are being administered by a private contractor on behalf of the [Health and Human Services] Office of Refugee Resettlement, which oversees the care and housing of children. HHS has refused to name the contractor, which may be a violation of federal law. ‘None of them have the money [for the tests], so it’s going to fall back on us to push back on that,’ said Ruben Garcia, the director of Annunciation House, an immigrant shelter in El Paso where the women are staying. … ‘The government wants the parents to foot the bill for the DNA testing when they’re the ones that caused the need for DNA testing,’ said immigration attorney Iliana Holguin. ‘It’s incredible.’ ”

-- Trump offered a “solution” to migrant parents still waiting to see their children: “Tell people not to come to our country illegally,” he defiantly told reporters yesterday. “That’s the solution. Don’t come to our country illegally. Come like other people do. Come legally.” (John Wagner)

-- The U.S. and Mexican governments are negotiating a deal to curtail migration at the southern border. Joshua Partlow and Nick Miroff report: “The proposal, known as a ‘safe third country agreement,’ would potentially require asylum seekers transiting through Mexico to apply for protection in that nation rather than in the United States. It would allow U.S. border guards to turn back such asylum seekers at border crossings and quickly return to Mexico anyone who has already entered illegally seeking refuge, regardless of their nationality. U.S. officials believe this type of deal would discourage many Central American families from trying to reach the United States. … The proposed agreement has divided the Mexican government and alarmed human rights activists who maintain that many of the migrants are fleeing widespread gang violence and could be exposed to danger in Mexico.”

-- House Democrats are readying “Abolish ICE” legislation — which, among other things, would shutter the agency and investigate whether its actions violated international law. The bill would also create a special commission to rethink the U.S. government’s handling of asylum seekers and immigrants. Jeff Stein and David Weigel report: Rep. Mark Pocan's “legislation, still being tweaked before release, is co-sponsored by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), both of whom are immigrants. In an interview, Pocan (D-Wis.) said the legislation would allow immigration laws to be enforced but put an end to a 15-year-old agency that had diverged from its original mission. … If passed, the bill would sunset ICE within one year and immediately create a bipartisan group to work out a replacement. … ‘The ICE brand has been so damaged by the president that it can no longer accomplish its original mission,’ Pocan said. ‘Even ICE agents recognize that ICE doesn’t do what it was intended to.’ "

THE SUPREME COURT:

-- Senate Republicans commended Trump’s pick to replace retiring Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Brett Kavanaugh. Their Democratic counterparts launched a probably futile campaign to sink his nomination. Mike DeBonis and Paul Kane report: “[Mitch McConnell] told reporters he expected to 'handle this nomination fully by the fall' after most Republican senators enthusiastically backed Kavanaugh. … Meanwhile, Democrats … believe their best chance to defeat Kavanaugh lies in highlighting the stakes for average Americans, not in re-litigating past political battles. Numerous Democratic senators, led by Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), said Tuesday that Kavanaugh’s confirmation would cast into doubt a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion and the viability of the Affordable Care Act. … The strategy is aimed in part at turning public opinion against Kavanaugh’s confirmation, but it is more firmly aimed at the votes of two moderate Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.”

-- Murkowski and Collins seemed to signal comfort with Kavanaugh in interviews yesterday, even as they said they remain undecided. “Let’s put it this way: There were some who have been on the list that I would have had a very, very difficult time supporting, just based on what was already publicly known about them. … We’re not dealing with that,” Murkowski said. Collins added: “It will be very difficult for anyone to argue that he’s not qualified for the job. He clearly is qualified for the job. … But there are other issues involving judicial temperament and his political, or rather, his judicial philosophy that also will play into my decision.” (Politico)

-- Outside conservative groups plan to spend at least $5 million promoting Kavanaugh’s nomination. Michael Scherer reports: “Great America PAC and Great America Alliance will next week launch a campaign to confirm Kavanaugh built around cable television, radio and digital ads in seven states that were won by Trump in 2016 and where Democratic senators are campaigning for reelection. The focus is not just on influencing the confirmation votes in the Senate but on using the Supreme Court nomination battle to energize Trump supporters to turn out for Republican candidates in the fall elections.”

-- Vice President Pence told CNN that he still supports overturning Roe v. Wade but added, “I haven't been nominated to the Supreme Court.” “I stand for the sanctity of life,” Pence said. “This administration, this President are pro-life, but what the American people ought to know is that, as the President said today, this is not an issue he discussed with Judge Kavanaugh. I didn't discuss it with him either.” (CNN)

-- “Inside Trump’s sometimes wavering decision on Kavanaugh,” by Ashley Parker and Robert Costa, who spoke to more than two dozen Trump insiders to capture the drama behind the selection: “After the two couples — [Trump and his wife and Kavanaugh] and his wife — gathered in the residence of the White House for over an hour Sunday night, Trump made Kavanaugh a historic offer: to be his choice to succeed [Kennedy] on the Supreme Court. Yet just hours later on Monday morning, Trump seemed to waver — making a flurry of calls to friends and allies and asking them what they thought of Kavanaugh and whom he should nominate. Some White House advisers fretted Trump might reverse himself even after informing [Pence] and White House Counsel Donald McGahn that he had reached a final decision. Others shrugged off his apparent waffling as the showman president attempting to inject a last bit of suspense into his second Supreme Court nomination.”

Trump’s next Supreme Court pick? “On the same day as the Kavanaugh interview, Trump also met in person with three of the four other finalists — Amy Coney Barrett, Raymond M. Kethledge and Amul Thapar. … Trump told advisers that he liked all of them but that none immediately stood out. … When Barrett sat down with Trump, she was friendly but reserved and did not particularly connect with the president. Nonetheless, he later told associates he was impressed by her and her large family, including one child with special needs and two adopted from Haiti, and that he hoped to save her as a future pick for the high court once she has more experience on the federal bench.”

MORE DAY TWO SCOTUS COVERAGE:

-- From the mainstream media:

  • Laura Meckler: “Kavanaugh record suggests he would favor religious interests in school debates.”
  • Moriah Balingit: “With Brett Kavanaugh, Georgetown Prep can count two Supreme Court nominees among its alumni.”
  • William Wan: “Every current Supreme Court justice attended Harvard or Yale. That’s a problem, say decision-making experts.”
  • Amber Phillips: “The 7 senators most likely to cross party lines on Trump’s Supreme Court pick, ranked.”
  • New York Times: “Who Might the Court Fight Help in the Midterms? Democrats. And Republicans.”
  • Politico: “Kavanaugh’s four hurdles to the Supreme Court.”
  • CNN: “Why do Catholics hold a strong majority on the Supreme Court?”
  • TVNewser: “Nearly 26 Million Watched Trump Nominate Judge Brett Kavanaugh For SCOTUS; Down From Neil Gorsuch Announcement.”

-- From the opinion pages:

  • Lawfare’s Benjamin Wittes: “Kavanaugh and the Mueller Investigation: What Do His Writings Really Say?”
  • Noah Feldman for Bloomberg News: “Kavanaugh’s Papers Don’t Help Trump Avoid Indictment.”
  • Kenneth W. Starr: “[Kavanaugh] possesses a basic sense of decency and goodwill that an increasingly impoverished public discourse sorely needs.”
  • David Von Drehle: “Poor Chuck Schumer.”
  • Ronald A. Klain: “Kavanaugh faces a tougher path to confirmation than Gorsuch. Here’s why.”
  • Julie O'Brien: “I don’t know Kavanaugh the judge. But Kavanaugh the carpool dad is one great guy.”

DRIP, DRIP, DRIP:

-- Yet another former Ohio State wrestler is coming forward to say he believes Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) ignored sexual abuse while he was an assistant coach at the school. From CNN’s Madeleine Thompson: “The former wrestler said he doesn't have any personal grudges against Jordan — he supported him when he first ran for office, despite identifying as a Democrat. He remembers directly telling Jordan about [team doctor Richard Strauss's alleged] behavior. ‘I remember coming up and saying, "Strauss held my balls longer than normal." He just snickered.’ The former wrestler recalled one time when he went into the wrestling room at OSU and a few athletes and Jordan were ‘clumped together.’ He said he remembered saying ‘something to the effect of 'His hands are cold as s--t; he checked out every hair on my ball,' and said Jordan replied, ‘I have nothing to do with this,’ and walked away.”

-- A conservative communications firm is helping Jordan deal with the mounting fallout of the scandal. Elise Viebeck and Mike DeBonis report: “Shirley & Banister Public Affairs ... sent the news media statements and reported quotes from 15 former wrestlers saying they believed Jordan when he said he knew nothing about alleged groping and other misconduct by [Strauss].”

-- Jordan’s fellow members of the House Freedom Caucus are also coming to his defense, after initially trying to avoid the controversy: “Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the Freedom Caucus, said there was ‘unanimous support’ within the group for Jordan and suggested there was a ‘political component’ to the allegations."

THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:

-- Facebook was fined by a British agency this week over the activities of Cambridge Analytica, the London-based political consulting firm accused of harvesting the data of millions of users without their consent. Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin report: “On Tuesday, U.K. watchdogs announced a $664,000 preliminary fine — the maximum amount allowed — after finding Facebook lacked strong privacy protections and overlooked critical warning signs that might have prevented Cambridge Analytica from trying to manipulate public opinion on behalf of clients around the world, including those who sought to withdraw Britain from the European Union in 2016. … The U.K.’s early efforts could inform ongoing investigations elsewhere in Europe as well as in the United States, where a probe by the Federal Trade Commission could result in a penalty well into the hundreds of billions of dollars.”

-- A federal judge ordered Paul Manafort moved to an Alexandria jail to prepare for his upcoming trial — but attorneys for Trump’s former campaign chairman pushed back, asking that he be permitted to stay in a remote detention center some 100 miles away. Rachel Weiner reports: “Manafort … last week asked for his July 25 trial in Alexandria [to] be delayed until this fall, saying his incarceration at Northern Neck Regional Jail has made it too difficult to prepare. He also wanted the trial moved to Roanoke. Now the defense says moving Manafort to Alexandria would be more challenging than leaving him where he is. ‘[After] further reflection, issues of distance and inconvenience must yield to concerns about his safety and, more importantly, the challenges [Manafort] will face in adjusting to a new place of confinement and the changing circumstances of detention two weeks before trial,’ his defense attorneys wrote. … Judge T.S. Ellis III issued the order Tuesday, while saying he would give the special counsel prosecuting Manafort until Friday to weigh in on whether the trial would be moved or delayed.”

-- Hours after a new lobbying firm aimed at domestic and global clients announced it was partnering with former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, his attorneys said that the deal was off with Stonington Global LLC and that the notice had been released because of a “misunderstanding.” The Wall Street Journal’s Julie Bykowicz reports: “Nick Muzin and Joey Allaham said that they had started their firm with Mr. Flynn. They also launched a Stonington website and promotional video Tuesday. ‘We cannot comment on General Flynn’s considerations about the timing of the announcement, but we have faith in his patriotism and long history of service to our country,’ Messrs. Muzin and Allaham said after Mr. Flynn’s lawyers issued their statement. ‘We look forward to working together.’ ”

-- Flynn appeared in federal court yesterday for the first time since pleading guilty last December. Spencer S. Hsu and Rosalind S. Helderman report: “[Flynn’s] lawyers confirmed that he continues to cooperate with prosecutors and is eager to be sentenced and wrap up his case. But it was no clearer after Tuesday’s hearing when [Flynn’s] federal case will conclude. Flynn’s presence in court in Washington punctured ongoing speculation by conservative media that the prosecution of Flynn is falling apart and that the retired Army lieutenant general might withdraw his guilty plea.”

-- Russian pop star Emin Agalarov confirmed that he spoke to Donald Trump Jr. before the infamous Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign. “I said, ‘Listen, there's some people that want to meet you.’ They obviously want something that could potentially help them resolve things that you could be interested in or maybe not,” Agalarov said in an interview. “If you can spare a few minutes of your time, I'd be grateful. If not, no problem. Obviously Don Jr. obviously being Don Jr. said, ‘Of course. I'll do it if you're asking.’ ” (Vice News)

-- The president’s son has been consistently evasive on the question of whether he spoke to Agalarov before the meeting. Philip Bump notes: “In an interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity shortly after the story came out, [Trump Jr.] said that, as he recalled, ‘it was all basically this email coordination’ — that he hadn’t been informed by Agalarov about the nature of the information he would receive. In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in September, he made a similar assertion.”

-- Former FBI attorney Lisa Page, who was expected to testify on Capitol Hill today, plans to defy the subpoena. Politico’s Kyle Cheney reports: “Page's attorney, Amy Jeffress, said the House Judiciary Committee — which issued the subpoena on Saturday — failed to provide her with enough detail about the nature of lawmakers' questions and that the FBI had so far refused to provide key documents for her to review. … The decision scrambles House Republicans' efforts to get Page's testimony ahead of a public hearing Thursday with Peter Strzok, the FBI counterintelligence agent who was on the receiving end of Page's texts and shared his own anti-Trump sentiment with her.”

-- The GOP senators who traveled to Moscow last week expressed surprise and opposition to Sen. Ron Johnson’s (R-Wis.) claims that Russian sanctions are ineffective and that election interference is “not the greatest threat to our democracy.” From the Daily Beast’s Andrew Desiderio: “[Johnson’s] colleagues, who attended the same meetings with Russian lawmakers and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, had a different impression. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), who led the congressional delegation, said in an interview that he and his colleagues told their Russian counterparts that ‘the worst thing you can do is try to meddle in our elections.’ The senators also disputed Johnson’s argument about the effectiveness of sanctions. ‘The Russian leadership that we met with talked about the sanctions and how they were making no difference, but then they kept talking about the sanctions,’ [Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.)] said when asked about Johnson’s comments.”

ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN:

-- Several of Scott Pruitt’s closest allies at the Environmental Protection Agency are also leaving the agency. Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis report: “The departures include Jahan Wilcox, who as Pruitt’s combative spokesman fiercely defended the embattled Cabinet member and found himself facing criticism for his sometimes antagonistic approach to reporters covering the EPA; Lincoln Ferguson, a longtime aide and confidant who worked for Pruitt in Oklahoma and was nearly always by his side during his travels; Hayley Ford, deputy White House liaison; and Kelsi Daniell, an EPA spokeswoman. … Several of the aides had been seeking other work, according to several current EPA officials.”

-- White House insiders predict Bill Shine’s rising stock in the West Wing will hasten Chief of Staff John Kelly’s departure. From Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman: “Kelly opposed the hiring of Shine and has seen his role continue to be diminished, sources said, sometimes in humiliating ways. ‘They’ve basically stopped telling Kelly when meetings are. People leave him off the calendar,’ one administration official told me. ‘When he finds out, he storms into the room and is like, “What’s going on?” ' A Republican close to the White House told me that Trump hopes Shine’s expanding role will encourage Kelly to quit. ‘Trump is too chickens--- to fire Kelly himself,’ the source said.” An administration official added that Shine would eventually like to replace press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders with someone who has “more energy.”

-- Jared Kushner and Mike Pomepeo will visit Mexican President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Friday. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen will attend the meeting. (AP)

-- The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee voted to advance Robert Wilkie’s nomination as VA secretary to the full Senate. Lisa Rein and Paul Sonne report: “The senators approved sending Wilkie’s nomination to the Senate floor in a voice vote, with only Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) being recorded as a no. … Democrats on the panel apparently were convinced that Wilkie, who is widely respected on Capitol Hill for his command of legislative procedure and military policy, would serve all veterans despite his association with controversial politicians.”

-- The Post's Lisa Rein reported on another personnel development at the VA:

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Trump accused European allies of being "delinquent" on NATO payments:

A New York Times reporter corrected Trump:

The libertarian Rand Paul defended POTUS's stance on NATO:

A CNN reporter added context to Trump's comments about Putin:

Retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) noted that the Senate will vote on a nonbinding resolution to express support for free trade:

Trump shared this behind-the-scenes photo of his Supreme Court announcement:

Mitch McConnell noted the extensive legal writings of Trump's Supreme Court pick:

From the New York Times on Saturday: “Mr. McConnell is concerned about the volume of the documents that Judge Kavanaugh has created in his 12 years on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. … 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."

Attention on Capitol Hill is focusing on a couple of key swing votes in Kavanaugh's confirmation:

Senate Democrats are already pressing one another to reject Kavanaugh's nomination:

A House Democrat returned to demands that Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings be delayed:

A Crooked Media founder and Obama's former National Security Council spokesman demanded thorough records from Kavanaugh:

A former Clinton campaign spokesman highlighted the vice president's comments on Roe:

One Democratic senator recalled Kavanaugh's law school days:

A writer for Salon raised alarm bells about a particular case Kavanaugh ruled on:

And a Commentary magazine editor noted the evolution of the Supreme Court:

Trump also thanked Pfizer for deferring its planned drug price hike:

A GOP Senate candidate in Ohio pledged to limit his time in office:

A CNN reporter offered more insight into the secretary of state's Pyongyang trip:

Senate Democrats criticized Trump's nominee to run the DOJ's Criminal Division:

A Post polling analyst uncovered this throwback photo of a CNN host:

GOOD READS:

-- “ ‘A miracle, a science, or what’: How the world came together to save 12 boys trapped in a Thai cave,” by Shibani Mahtani and Panaporn Wutwanich: “Divers compared it to mountain climbing — but in tight, pitch-black spaces and buffeted by swirling floodwaters, towing a child. They had to guide their charges through passages as narrow as a couple of feet, weighed down by bulky equipment. A diver in front led the way, with a boy tethered to him and another diver following behind. Each arduous round-trip extraction took between nine and 11 hours. Finally, on Tuesday, the ‘all-star’ team of expert cave divers from at least six countries completed the mission once feared impossible, pulling to safety the last of the 12 young soccer players and their 25-year-old coach from the remote cave where they had been marooned for more than two weeks.”

-- New York Times Magazine, “The Fast and Furious Michael Avenatti,” by Matthew Shaer: “Two decades ago, a different Los Angeles lawyer, William Ginsburg, appeared on all five Sunday talk shows on a single morning, in an attempt to vindicate his client, Monica Lewinsky, in the court of public opinion. The feat is known today as ‘the Full Ginsburg.’ Avenatti has taken Ginsburg’s underlying approach — let the American people be the jury — and updated it for the social-media era. He has learned, with practice, to leverage Twitter in much the same manner as the president. … ‘There’s a progression happening: We have President Trump because of reality television, and we have Avenatti because of President Trump,’ says Tom Rosenstiel, a media scholar and the executive director of the American Press Institute. ‘But I’d argue we also have Avenatti because the left so desperately desires an anti-Trump: A person who can elicit the same dopamine reaction in his supporters that Trump can from his.’ ”

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“Ocasio-Cortez with another surprise election win — in a district she wasn't even running in,” from the New York Daily News: “In addition to recently whipping longtime Queens Rep. Joseph Crowley in the 14th congressional district Democratic primary, [Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez also won the Reform Party write-in primary over Bronx Rep. Jose Serrano in the neighboring 15th congressional district. Neither she nor Serrano were competing for the line. Still, the city Board of Elections certified Ocasio-Cortez’s write-in victory on Tuesday. Of the 22 people who received write-in votes, Ocasio-Cortez got the most with nine. While write-in votes are not unusual, someone actually winning a race she wasn’t running for is. But having won it, Ocasio-Cortez had to decline one of the nominations she won since state law bars individuals from being candidates for two different offices at the same time. Ocasio-Cortez, after the Daily News reported her surprising win online Tuesday evening, said she’d be rejecting the Reform Party line in the Serrano district.”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT

“Sarah Palin Says Sacha Baron Cohen Duped Her in ‘Sick’ Interview,” from the Hollywood Reporter: “Sarah Palin on Tuesday took to Facebook to reveal that she was unknowingly interviewed by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen for his upcoming Showtime series, Who Is America? [Palin] said she sat down for an interview with Cohen thinking he was a wounded U.S. veteran. ‘Yup — we were duped. Ya’ got me, Sacha. Feel better now?’ Palin began. ‘I join a long list of American public personalities who have fallen victim to the evil, exploitive, sick 'humor' of the British 'comedian' … enabled and sponsored by CBS/Showtime.’ Palin went on to say that she and one of her daughters traveled across the country to meet with Cohen, who, she says, ‘had heavily disguised himself as a disabled U.S. Veteran, fake wheelchair and all.’ ” “Mock politicians and innocent public personalities all you want, if that lets you sleep at night, but HOW DARE YOU mock those who have fought and served our country,” she said.

 

DAYBOOK:

Trump is in Brussels today. He will participate in a meeting with the North Atlantic Council and later attend a photo op and Belgium’s welcoming ceremony with the first lady.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“There are probably communicable diseases that are more popular in Europe right now than Donald Trump." — Post columnist Max Boot discussing Trump’s Europe trip on HLN.

 

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

-- Washingtonians will face higher temperatures but lowered humidity today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “After spiking higher last night, our humidity gradually decreases once again today as the cold front that came through overnight pushes farther to our south. We do get quite warm by afternoon with highs topping out near 90 under partly to mostly sunny skies. But it’s relatively comfortable with that lower humidity by afternoon, and a light wind from the north around 10 mph.”

-- The Nationals beat the Pirates 5-1. (Jorge Castillo)

-- An independent police group criticized D.C. officers’ response to the Trump inauguration protests. From Peter Hermann: “D.C. police were overwhelmed by violent demonstrators on the day President Trump was inaugurated, and some officers indiscriminately fired pepper spray and other nonlethal munitions and arrested people not involved in destructive behavior, according to [the nonprofit Police Foundation].”

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Late-night hosts reacted to Trump's Supreme Court announcement:

Michael Flynn, who led a "Lock her up!" chant at the 2016 Republican convention, was greeted by similar chants as he exited a D.C. courthouse:

A "haboob," a dust storm combined with a thunderstorm, swept through Arizona:

French soccer fans celebrated their team's advancement to the World Cup final:

And Australian authorities captured a 15-foot crocodile they have been pursuing for almost 10 years: