National Political Correspondent

With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: Tom Steyer is angry that none of the 49 senators who caucus with the Democrats have endorsed his campaign to impeach President Trump and that party leaders have blunted momentum in the House.

The liberal billionaire, who expects to spend more than $110 million on politics this year, plans to intensify pressure on Democrats this fall to call for impeachment. This will put him further at odds with establishment leaders in Washington like Nancy Pelosi, who has repeatedly warned that talk of impeachment is “a gift to the Republicans” and fears it could imperil her dream of getting back the speaker’s gavel.

In a fiery speech last night to progressive activists at the Netroots Nation conference in New Orleans, Steyer went further than he ever has before in blasting leaders of his own party for having what he described as “no sense of urgency” to remove Trump from office.

“I don’t see the Democratic establishment doing anything real to stop him,” he said. “They’re not willing to face the devastating and obvious facts about this president. Like the fact that Donald Trump is wildly corrupt, and we are well past the threshold to kick him out of office.”

Encouraged by millions of dollars in television and digital advertising, more than 5.5 million people have now signed his petition calling for impeachment. This has given Steyer a massive email list. He plans to use it to drive up turnout in the fall but also to amplify pressure on elected Democrats to ignore pleas from party bosses to avoid the using “I” word in public.

“To you, to me and to millions of Americans, this is all pretty obvious, but not a single person in the Senate Democratic caucus has shown the courage and sense of right and wrong to support impeachment,” Steyer complained to thousands of activists in New Orleans. “In fact, there hasn’t been a serious effort to introduce a motion for impeachment in the House since December. That was eight months ago!”

“A lot of people in the Democratic establishment will privately tell me that they agree, but when I ask them if they are willing to step up and take action — to take a stand publicly — I get a lot of long-winded nonanswers,” Steyer added. “Their message … is that it’s bad politics. It’s off message. It will galvanize Republicans. So my question for the Democratic establishment is: How corrupt is too corrupt for you?”

Steyer is building a Koch-style network on the left. He’s growing his own constellation of groups outside the structure of the Democratic Party. He’s partnering with labor unions, immigrant legal services and groups that support gun control. He’s funding ballot initiatives to require that states use more clean energy in Nevada and Arizona.

Forbes Magazine estimates that Steyer, 61, is worth $1.6 billion, making him the world’s 1,477th richest person in their ranking. He sold his stake in the hedge fun he ran for a quarter of a century to focus on activism in 2012.

The two main entities directly under his purview are Need to Impeach and NextGen America. A top priority in 2018 is to engage infrequent voters, including millennials, people who don’t typically vote in midterms and communities of color. The NextGen campaign aimed at young people already has 370 field staffers spread out across 11 states. That number will grow to more than 750 by November. Forty percent of these employees are people of color, and 60 percent are women. They’re targeting more than 400 college campuses, including many historically black schools, and will launch a major voter registration drive as students start classes later this month. The goal is to turn out a half-million voters under 40.

-- Steyer’s lead strategists from these groups, which are based in San Francisco, spent an hour outlining their fall plans for me yesterday. To push back on Pelosi, they brought a packet of private polling to make the case that pushing for impeachment will activate the left more than the right. Their polling found, for example, that 35 percent of Republicans and conservative independents say they are either extremely worried or worried that Democrats will impeach Trump. (A larger group of 43 percent said they are not worried, while 20 percent said they are “a little worried.”)

Compare this to 73 percent in the same poll who said they worry Democrats will raise their taxes if they win the House, 72 percent who said they are worried Democrats will be weak on immigration and 69 percent who said they are worried that Pelosi will become speaker and push an extremely liberal agenda. “We have a lot more intensity on our side of this equation than Donald Trump has on his,” said Kevin Mack, the lead strategist for Need to Impeach.

-- Steyer considered running for governor or Senate in California this year, but he decided in January to take a pass. He’s not ruled out running for president in 2020. He did persuade the California Democratic Party last month to pass a resolution calling for Trump’s impeachment. “For everyone in office claiming to be part of The Resistance,” Steyer said at the meeting where the vote was taken, “if you don’t have what it takes to lead now, when we’re under the gun, then you shouldn’t bother asking for our support in the future.”

-- David Weigel, who is covering the Netroots conference, relays that last night’s speech was politely — but not loudly — received. Steyer drew applause when he talked about voter registration, but the room came to a hush when he criticized “the Democratic establishment” for not moving to impeach Trump. Weigel talked with Steyer at the Marriott before his speech and emailed over highlights from their conversation:

Steyer acknowledged that his support for candidates is not conditional on the impeachment issue. Asked if he would ever run an ad or campaign against an anti-impeachment Democrat, the mega-door said he could not imagine a situation where it would be preferable to elect a Republican than a Democrat. While Ohio congressional candidate Danny O’Connor has not come out for impeachment ahead of next Tuesday’s special election, for example, Steyer’s group is still sending postcards to voters in the district, urging them to back O’Connor. (Trump is flying to Ohio this weekend to campaign for the Republican.)

Steyer maintains that Democrats are making a strategic miscalculation by shying away from impeachment. “We haven’t heard people say, ‘Oh, there isn’t clear evidence.’ We do hear people say they’ll wait for the [Bob] Mueller report,” he said. “[The founders] gave us impeachment to deal with this president, somebody who’s really lawless and really dangerous.”

Asked about recent comments by Steve Bannon and Rudy Giuliani, who said they would love for the midterms to be a referendum on impeachment, Steyer accused Republicans of bluffing. He said candidates and committees on the right would be running commercials warning that House Democrats will impeach Trump if they truly thought it would gin up their base. “I’ve seen a lot of Pelosi ads. If you believe it, show me who’s spending millions of dollars on this,” Steyer said. “Not to disparage Mr. Giuliani, but he says a lot of things.”

Steyer believes reality will bite down if Democrats win the House and don’t try to impeach Trump. “There’s so many things that are going to happen between November 2018 and November 2020,” he said. “What experts tell us, who are psychologists and psychiatrists, is that this president is only going to get worse. We got 78 leading psychologists and psychiatrists to opine on this guy, and they said two things: He is a malignant narcissist, which is something he shares with every dictator you can think of. And he’s deteriorating. Whatever you think of him today, it’s going to get worse. There’s a human expectation that there’s a reversion to the mean. There’s not going to be a reversion to the mean.”

-- The Daily Beast identifies a handful of examples of Republicans using the impeachment push in ads: “Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) began running a Facebook ad on August 1 saying that his Democratic opponent Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) wanted to impeach Trump … A now inactive ad that ran from mid-June to the end of July from Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), who is in a tough reelection battle in California, used an image of Rep. Al Green (D-TX) with the caption: ‘BREAKING: Democrats claim they will impeach Trump if they take the majority. ENOUGH!’ And Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) has a Facebook ad saying ‘Congressional Democrats promise to impeach President Trump if they take the House this November. We can’t let that happen.’”

--Veteran Democrats also remember what happened in 1998 when Republicans stumped in the midterms for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton,” the Atlantic’s Dick Polman reports in a story that published yesterday about why D.C. Dems are so leery of touching the issue. “House Speaker Newt Gingrich led the chorus, and the GOP expected big gains on Election Day. The strategy flopped. Republicans lost three House seats, and Gingrich promptly quit. The lesson of the episode: Impeachment, as a partisan issue, is a loser on the trail. …

An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, released in April, suggests that impeachment would turn off a huge share of independents. Yes, 42 percent of all registered voters would definitely support a candidate who calls for Trump’s removal — but 47 percent (including the same percentage of independents) said they’d definitely oppose such a candidate. For many independents, impeachment likely implies a worsening of the partisan gridlock they reputedly abhor.”

-- Short of impeachment, internal polling shared exclusively by the Steyer network illustrates a desire, even among many Republicans, for Congress to more forcefully assert itself vis-a-vis the executive branch. A national survey of 1,200 registered voters conducted by Democratic pollster John Marttila from June 10-23 found that Trump is viewed favorably by 45 percent (25 percent very favorably and 20 percent somewhat favorably) and unfavorably by 55 percent (8 percent see him in a “somewhat” unfavorable light and 47 percent view him “very” unfavorably). The bulk of the poll’s questions asked whether a president, without naming Trump, should have the right to make certain decisions on his own or whether he should need to seek the approval of Congress. The cross tabs are intriguing:

Only a third of voters, for example, said presidents should be able to unilaterally impose tariffs on American allies, while the other two-thirds said they should seek legislative approval. A quarter of the people who viewed Trump very favorably said Congress should need to approve them and 55 percent who viewed him somewhat favorably thought so, as well.

Similarly, just one-third in the poll thought a president has an absolute right to make and change the rules determining which immigrants can and cannot get asylum in the United States, including 72 percent of those who view Trump very favorably and 42 percent who see him somewhat favorably. Overall, two-thirds of voters polled think Congress must approve.

Three quarters of those surveyed said presidents should seek approval from Congress “to make deals with dictators,” and just 21 percent the president has the “absolute right” to unilaterally make such unspecified “deals.” Not surprisingly, 9 in 10 people who view Trump very unfavorably think a president must seek approval from Congress. But 51 percent of people who view Trump very favorably think so too — and so do 66 percent of those who see Trump somewhat unfavorably.

Even on the question of whether a president should have the authority to launch nuclear weapons, 24 said he has “the absolute right” to use them and 72 percent said he should get approval from Congress. That included a narrow 53 percent majority of folks who view Trump very favorably.

-- Mack, the veteran Democratic operative who is working for the pro-impeachment group, said his team continues to run focus groups, conduct interviews and organize town halls to sharpen the anti-Trump message. “Part of this whole effort for us is to send a loud message to Congress that they actually have to step up and do their damn jobs, and so we're pushing, pushing, pushing on both parties in Congress to actually do something other than tweet,” he said. “These numbers would suggest that there is national support, even among Trump supporters, for Congress actually stepping up. But what we have to do is create the environment where these members of Congress get some backbone … And that's not just on impeachment. That's all the stuff that Donald Trump does every single day while they look the other way or try to be civil about the whole thing. In both parties!”

He sees three paths to defeat Trump. “The first is to get Congress to step up and do their jobs. We're still working on that,” Mack said. “The second is the Nixonian model of creating the environment where he has to resign. The third is, if neither of those two work, then you focus on 2020. We'll continue to focus on all three of those things until he's removed from office.”

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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- The U.S. economy created slightly fewer jobs than expected last month, adding 157,000 jobs and bringing the unemployment rate down to 3.9 percent. Heather Long reports: “The U.S. economy has added jobs for 94 consecutive months, a record streak that shows no signs of waning despite [Trump’s] escalating trade war. … Hiring remained solid in nearly every industry in July. Blue-collar jobs, especially in manufacturing, have grown solidly this year. … The only red flag in the U.S. labor market remained wages. Despite many company executives complaining they cannot find workers to fill their open positions, wage growth remains sluggish. Typically businesses raise wages when it’s difficult to find the talent they want, but annual wage growth remained at a disappointing 2.7 percent, the Labor Department said.”

-- China warned it would impose tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods if Trump presses ahead with his latest trade threats. Emily Rauhala reports: “In a statement, the Commerce Ministry said the tariffs would be at rates of 5, 10, 20 and 25 percent. The measure was presented as a response to the United States on July 11 imposing a 10 percent tariff on imports of approximately $200 billion from China. The U.S. trade representative said Thursday they planned to up that to 25 percent. China called its move a ‘necessary counter-measure.’”

-- Republican Diane Black goes down in Tennessee. The four-term congresswoman, who gave up her chairmanship of the House Budget Committee to run for governor, was the strong favorite when she launched her campaign a year ago. But she finished third in a five-way GOP gubernatorial primary on Thursday to business executive Bill Lee. Another self-funding businessman, Randy Boyd, finished second. Black is the fifth House Republican this year to lose a primary for higher office, joining Indiana’s Luke Messer and Todd Rokita, Idaho’s Raúl Labrador and West Virginia’s Evan Jenkins. It’s another proofpoint that 2018 is a change election, and that conservatives in the Trump era continue to disregard governing experience as they look to upend the status quo — whether in Nashville or Washington.

  • Former Nashville mayor Karl Dean won the Democratic gubernatorial primary.
  • Former state agriculture commissioner John Rose won the GOP primary to replace Black in her heavily Republican district, which stretches to the north and east of Nashville. Rose ran ads showing him standing behind the president at a rally.

-- As expected, GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn and former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen won their party’s primaries for the Senate seat that Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R) is giving up. This sets the stage for one of the marquee fights of 2018. Trump won the Volunteer State by 26 points in 2016. “[Bredesen] gives his party its best chance of statewide general election victory in more than a decade,” Sean Sullivan reports. “He has presented himself as an affable centrist willing to work with [Trump], and his presence on the ballot forces the GOP to play defense on its home turf as the party seeks to preserve a narrow 51-49 Senate majority. … The fall campaign will test the enduring appeal of Trump’s brand of politics in a state that he won handily two years ago but historically has been dominated by more traditional Republicans such as . . . Corker. [And Lamar!] . . . Limited public polling has shown Bredesen, who served as governor from 2003 to 2011, leading Blackburn . . .

  • Blackburn and her allies plan to try to pierce Bredesen’s bipartisan image by highlighting his past support of Hillary Clinton and other national Democrats.
  • “This week, Blackburn signaled that she intends to soften her image, issuing a TV ad on the eve of the primary that featured family photos — and no mention of Trump. But in her victory speech Thursday night, she said Tennesseans want a candidate who stands with the president, 'to finish the agenda that they voted for when they elected him.'”
  • “We’ve just turned into a country where everybody stands on opposite sides of the room and shouts at each other,” Bredesen, 74, said in his victory speech. “I’d like to be part of the fix for that.”

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. Zimbabwean ruling party candidate Emmerson Mnangagwa was named as the country’s new president, narrowly avoiding a runoff with just 50.8 percent of the vote and sparking nationwide protests from opposition supporters. It was Zimbabwe’s first election since Robert Mugabe was ousted last fall after 37 years. (Max Bearak)
  2. The World Health Organization warned a new Ebola outbreak in Congo’s northeast region poses a “high risk” to the surrounding area, given its proximity to heavily trafficked borders, including Uganda. The outbreak in Mangina has already sickened four people, and comes just one week after health officials eradicated a previous outbreak on the other side of the country. (Reuters)
  3. A New York man was charged with threatening two Republican House leaders over Trump’s immigration policy. A court document alleged the man called the offices of Majority Whip Steve Scalise (La.) and Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.) last month and made physical threats, including that “we are going to feed them lead.” (Mike DeBonis)
  4. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is stepping down as chairman of the International Republican Institute board after 25 years. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) will serve as the next chair of the organization, which advocates for democracy, freedom and human rights around the world. McCain called his service as chairman “one of the most satisfying experiences of my life.” (Josh Rogin)

  5. Lawyers for former FEMA official Corey Coleman claim he was ousted over false allegations of sexual misconduct based on “rumor and innuendo.” But the DHS inspector general has confirmed it received complaints about Coleman demanding sex for jobs or promotions. (Elise Viebeck and Lisa Rein)
  6. The New Hampshire Senate’s top Democrat was arrested on domestic violence charges. Jeff Woodburn was charged with four counts of simple assault, two counts of domestic violence, two counts of criminal mischief and one count of criminal trespassing. (Concord Monitor)

  7. Conservative commentators criticized the New York Times’s latest editorial board hire, Sarah Jeong, for years-old tweets in which she disparaged white people. The newspaper issued a statement saying that, while it did not condone Jeong’s rhetoric, it stood by its decision to hire the technology writer, predicting she “will be an important voice for the editorial board moving forward.” (CNN)
  8. Apple became the first publicly traded company in U.S. history to be valued at $1 trillion. A strong third-quarter earnings report exceeded expectations and caused the company's shares to spike 9 percent. (Thomas Heath)
  9. Brookstone filed for bankruptcy for the second time in four years. The chain store, known best for its massage chairs and other unique gadgets, will close all 101 of its mall locations, but keep its website and 35 airport stores open. (CNNMoney)
  10. One of Japan’s top medical schools has “systemically blocked” female applicants for nearly a decade by automatically lowering their entrance exam scores. The tampering was meant to keep the ratio of women in the schools below 30 percent. (Rebecca Tan)
  11. Scientists studying ancient human remains at Stonehenge found that at least 40 percent of the people buried there were not locals. Their findings offer new evidence connecting the group to a far-off Welsh region, which is believed to be the source of Stonehenge’s bluestones. (Ben Guarino)

THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:

-- Top national security officials appeared together in the White House briefing room to emphasize Russia’s continued attempt to interfere in U.S. elections and vow that combating it is a “top priority” in the run-up to November. Shane Harris and Felicia Sonmez report: “Although the officials, including Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and national security adviser John Bolton, did not offer new details about any attacks or announce new policies, their show of unity just steps from the Oval Office appeared aimed at easing public concerns about [Trump’s] public skepticism of Russia’s intentions. ‘In regards to Russian involvement in the midterm elections, we continue to see a pervasive messaging campaign by Russia to try to weaken and divide the United States,’ Coats told the White House press corps. … Coats added that other entities also have the capability to wreak havoc on the election and could be considering an influence campaign.” “We’re here to tell the American people that we acknowledged the threat, it is real, it is continuing, and we’re doing everything we can to have an election the American people can have trust in,” said Coats.

-- But, but, but: Hours after the news conference, Trump told a Pennsylvania crowd that his efforts to broker better relations with Vladimir Putin “are being hindered by the Russian hoax.” “In Helsinki, I had a great meeting with Putin,” Trump said during a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. “We discussed everything — I had a great meeting. We got along really well. By the way, that's a good thing, not a bad thing. That's a really good thing. Now we're being hindered by the Russian hoax. It's a hoax, OK? I'll tell you what, Russia's very unhappy that Trump won, that I can tell you.” Putin said publicly in Finland that he hoped Trump would win the election. (NBC News)

-- A bipartisan group of senators unveiled a package of sanctions for Russia and measures for combating cybercrime. Karoun Demirjian reports: “The bill’s backers face an uphill battle convincing congressional leaders that the moment is ripe for additional sanctions, or any other measures, to counter interference campaigns.”

-- Going against the zeitgeist: Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) — who has downplayed Russian interference — will embark on a trip to Russia next Monday to show support for Trump's conciliatory approach toward Putin. Karoun Demirjian reports: “[Paul] has emerged in recent weeks as a fierce proponent of Trump’s dealings with Russia and [Putin], making him a unique voice in Congress at a time when Republicans and Democrats have been chiding or excoriating the president for not taking a harder line against the Kremlin. … In the weeks since announcing his trip, Paul also objected to an effort from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to affirm the intelligence community’s conclusions about Russian interference, calling the resolution a sign that ‘Trump derangement syndrome has officially come to the Senate’ and an affront to diplomacy.”

-- Mole alert: A suspected Russian spy was caught working inside the U.S. Embassy in Moscow for more than a decade, according to a senior administration official. She was fired last year. CNN’s Elise Labott reports: “The woman, a Russian national, worked for the US Secret Service for years before she came under suspicion during one of the State Department regional security office's routine security reviews in 2016 . . . The security office found the woman was having regular, unauthorized meetings with the Russian intelligence service, the FSB. The regional security office alerted the embassy in January 2017 and the woman was dismissed last summer, after being caught red-handed[.]”

-- A former aide to Trump confidant Roger Stone has been ordered to testify before a grand jury convened by Mueller. The aide, Andrew Miller, tried to block subpoenas from Mueller’s team, but a judge rejected his challenge and ordered him to “appear before the grand jury to provide testimony at the earliest date available.” (Ann E. Marimow and Manuel Roig-Franzia)

-- Mueller also wants to interview Russian pop star Emin Agalarov, who helped set up the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. NBC News’s Anna Schecter, Keir Simmons and Ken Dilanian report: “‘Conversations are ongoing’ about a potential interview, [Agalarov’s] lawyer, Scott Balber, wrote in an email. ‘Unclear how this will play out.’ Balber did not elaborate on whether Mueller is also interested in speaking to Agalarov’s father, Aras Agalarov, a billionaire with ties to [Putin].”

-- Rudy Giuliani said Trump’s legal team would decide whether to grant Mueller an interview with the president within a “week to 10 days.” From Politico’s Kyle Cheney: “The former New York City mayor said Trump’s legal team will spend the weekend contemplating a new set of parameters proposed by Mueller for an interview with the president, then make a decision shortly thereafter. … But he added that the team is still considering declining an interview altogether, despite what he described as Trump’s ongoing desire to meet with Mueller.”

-- “Trump sat with [Mueller] in the Oval Office in May of last year to interview him for a job: director of the FBI. The next afternoon, Trump was in another Oval Office meeting when an aide interrupted with news that Mueller had taken a different post: special counsel to investigate Trump’s campaign,” Bloomberg News’s Shannon Pettypiece  and Chris Strohm report: “Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who attended both meetings, were blindsided, according to a person familiar with both meetings. The president immediately blasted Sessions for not knowing the announcement was coming and challenged how the person he’d just interviewed for the FBI job -- and who Trump said had a past dispute with him over golf club fees -- could now be investigating him … It’s not clear whether Trump turned down Mueller for the job before the special counsel’s appointment, but from that moment on, Trump has complained to aides about a perceived grudge.”

-- Alleged Russian agent Maria Butina’s attempts to infiltrate GOP circles were not subtle. CNN’s Sara Murray reports: “People who met her through school and through political events described her as a little too friendly. She was quick to start playing footsy under the table or sidle up to an older man at a political event and suddenly request that they become friends on Facebook ... On at least two separate occasions she got drunk and spoke openly about her contacts within the Russian government, even acknowledging that Russian intelligence services were involved with the gun rights group she ran in Moscow.”

THE MANAFORT TRIAL:

-- Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort appeared in court for day three of his federal trial in Alexandria, Va., where he is being prosecuted by Mueller’s team on charges of tax and bank fraud. The most notable development was the testimony of Manafort’s longtime bookkeeper, Heather Washkuhn, who told jurors that her former boss’s “seven-figure lifestyle” lasted until about 2015, “when the cash ran out, the bills piled up, and he and his business partner began trying to fudge numbers to secure loans.” Rachel Weiner, Justin Jouvenal and Devlin Barrett report: “Washkuhn spent hours on the witness stand, describing account balances, bills received, and payments. … Washkuhn characterized Manafort as a ‘very knowledgeable’ client. ‘He was very detail oriented. He approved every penny of everything we paid,’ she said. That point could prove vital to jury deliberations because Manafort’s lawyers have made clear they aim to place blame on [his former deputy, Rick Gates]. On the witness stand, Washkuhn said she prepared ledgers for Manafort’s finances, which she would eventually hand off to his accountants … She said she sometimes saw transactions in those accounts from other accounts to which she did not have access. Critically, Washkuhn testified she did not have any records of foreign accounts controlled by Manafort, and had not been aware of such accounts.”

-- “Jurors saw more evidence of Manafort’s luxurious lifestyle. He spent, for example, hundreds of thousands of dollars on landscaping that included a flower bed in the shape of the letter ‘M,’ and $20,000 on a . . . karaoke machine in one of his homes,” Rachel, Justin and Matt Zapotosky report. “A prosecutor also said the government had ‘every intention’ of calling Gates as witness, walking back another prosecutor’s remark a day earlier that the government might do without his testimony.”

-- “[U]ltimately, the one thing that most folks will remember from the first week of Manafort’s trial on bank and tax fraud charges is his $15,000 ostrich-leather bomber jacket,” Robin Givhan writes. “The jacket is an atrocity — both literal and symbolic. It’s a garment thick with hubris and intent. For the prosecution, it was not an opening statement; it was an opening salvo. … The jacket, with its white topstitching and white satin lining, lacks finesse, artistry and sophistication. It’s simply a celebration of ostrich leather, which is to say that it is a celebration of money and excess. … A man should not be prosecuted for his fashion choices; but those choices say a lot about whom the man believes himself to be.”

THE SUPREME COURT:

-- The National Archives said it will not be able to produce even the limited set of documents requested by Republicans from Brett Kavanaugh’s tenure in the George W. Bush White House until the end of October. But Republicans indicate they plan to rush forward with his confirmation hearings next month anyway. Seung Min Kim reports: “Gary Stern, the Archives’ general counsel, told Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) in a letter that the records he has requested could total more than 900,000 pages. … ‘Please note that we will not be able to complete our review of all of the records that you have requested by August 15, 2018,’ Stern wrote to Grassley . . . Republicans had hoped to confirm Kavanaugh in time for the opening of the Supreme Court’s fall term on the first Monday in October . . . Politically, a delay in document production could give red-state Democrats a reason to wait on saying how they would vote on the Trump nominee.”

-- Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) characterized Democrats’ demands for more documents on Kavanaugh as “dumb---.” “I want to really compliment the Democrats who have stood up and are willing to stand up for Judge Kavanaugh,” Hatch said. “We can't keep going down this partisan, picky, stupid, dumb--- road that has happened around here for so long. I am sick and tired of it to be honest with you and I'm tired of the partisanship.” (CNN)

-- Kavanaugh now cautions against aggressive investigations into the president, but in the '90s, he provided the legal rationale for expanding the Ken Starr investigation to include the death of Vince Foster. Robert O'Harrow Jr. and Michael Kranish report: “Kavanaugh, then 30, argued that unsupported allegations that Foster may have been murdered gave Starr the right to probe the matter more deeply. Foster’s death had already been the focus of two investigations, both concluding that Foster committed suicide. ‘We are currently investigating Vincent Foster’s death to determine, among other things, whether he was murdered in violation of federal criminal law,’ Kavanaugh wrote to Starr and six other officials in a memo offering legal justification for the probe. ‘[I]t necessarily follows that we must have the authority to fully investigate Foster’s death.’ The four-page memo, obtained by The Washington Post from the Library of Congress, sheds light on how Kavanaugh’s thinking evolved on the legal rights of sitting presidents . . . Ultimately, Kavanaugh’s report in October 1997 affirmed earlier findings of suicide. The Foster component of Starr’s investigation cost about $2 million and lasted three years.”

-- “In multiple meetings, Kavanaugh has discussed his skepticism of the Chevron deference, a doctrine stemming from a 1984 Supreme Court ruling that calls on the judiciary to largely defer to federal agencies and their interpretations,” Seung Min Kim reports. “Kavanaugh has also delved into his views on legal precedent, with senators describing his philosophy as one that is respectful of stare decisis yet aware of when long-standing precedent should be overturned.” One example he cited, senators said, was the overturning of Plessy v. Ferguson by Brown v. Board of Education.

-- That's potentially big: Democrats are concerned that Kavanaugh would act to overturn Roe v. Wade, despite it being the law of the land.

-- “If Roe were overturned, abortion-rights advocates anticipate that 20 or more states would ban most abortions,” the AP’s David Crary reports. “Abortion-rights advocates have intensified efforts to make it easier for women to obtain abortions, bracing for a wave of state bans or restrictions that could occur under a conservative-leaning Supreme Court. The efforts include boosting financial aid for women needing to travel long distances to get an abortion, and raising awareness about the option of do-it-yourself abortions.”

THE REST OF THE AGENDA:

-- An assault on federalism: The Trump administration officially announced plans to freeze national fuel-efficiency requirements through 2026. Brady Dennis, Michael Laris and Juliet Eilperin report: “The proposal represents an abrupt reversal of the approach during the Obama administration, when regulators argued that requiring more-fuel-efficient vehicles would improve public health, combat climate change and save consumers money without compromising safety. [Trump’s] plan also would attempt to revoke California’s long-standing legal ability to set its own, more stringent tailpipe standards and restrict the ability of other states to follow its lead. … If California were to prevail in the likely legal clash to come, the state could set tougher standards than the federal government, leaving automakers with the prospect of manufacturing vehicles that meet different rules in different states — something the industry has said it does not want.”

-- Trump pressed the Senate to include food-stamp work requirements in the 2018 farm bill. “When the House and Senate meet on the very important Farm Bill — we love our farmers — hopefully they will be able to leave the WORK REQUIREMENTS FOR FOOD STAMPS PROVISION that the House approved. Senate should go to 51 votes!” Trump wrote in a tweet. Caitlin Dewey reports: “The House work requirement proposal … narrowly passed on strict party lines in June. But the Senate version of the farm bill made only technical tweaks to food stamps.”

-- The DOJ suggested the ACLU take the lead in locating deported parents separated from their children at the border. “Plaintiffs’ counsel should use their considerable resources and their network of law firms, NGOs, volunteers, and others, together with the information that defendants have provided (or will soon provide), to establish contact with possible class members in foreign countries,” the DOJ said in a court filing. Politico’s Ted Hesson reports: “The administration suggested that the ACLU find out whether the deported parents wish to be reconnected with their children, or whether they waive that option.”

-- Documents show officials did little to intervene after learning that a fast-acting class of fentanyl drugs was frequently being prescribed unnecessarily, increasing patients’ risk of opioid addiction. The New York Times’s Emily Baumgaertner reports: “The F.D.A. established a distribution oversight program in 2011 to curb inappropriate use of the dangerous medications, but entrusted enforcement to a group of pharmaceutical companies that make and sell the drugs. Some of the companies have been sued for illegally promoting other uses for the medications and in one case even bribing doctors to prescribe higher doses. About 5,000 pages of documents … show that the F.D.A. had data showing that so-called off-label prescribing was widespread.”

-- Advocacy groups sued the Trump administration over what they said was the biased makeup of his wildlife protection council, arguing the group consists largely of “hunting enthusiasts” and “politically-connected donors.” Erin B. Logan reports: “The lawsuit filed in a U.S. District Court in New York alleges that the International Wildlife Conservation Council is made up of [members who are likely] to craft favorable policy for groups that profit from hunting ‘imperiled animals,’ the complaint said. ‘It’s very obvious [the 17-member council has] an intent to undermine some of the protections put in place’ based on the affiliations of its members, [said] Zak Smith, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council … Smith said the law requires advisory councils to be balanced so that all sides are represented.”

ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN AND WOMEN:

-- During the premiere of far-right filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza’s new documentary, first son Donald Trump Jr. compared liberalism to Nazism. “You see the Nazi platform in the early 1930s . . . and you look at it, compared to the DNC platform of today, you’re saying, ‘Man, those things are awfully similar’ to a point where it’s actually scary,” the president’s son said. Sarah Polus reports: “Conservatives filled E Street Cinema at Wednesday night’s D.C. premiere of ‘Death of a Nation: Plantation Politics and the Making of the Democratic Party,’ based on D’Souza’s book of the same name. The documentary draws comparisons between [Abraham] Lincoln and [Trump], who recently granted D’Souza a full pardon. The film’s poster, which features Lincoln’s and Trump’s faces merged together, embodies what D’Souza has become known for: provocative stunts intended to get a rise out of critics.”

-- Ivanka Trump broke with her father on two high-profile issues: his relationship with the media and migrant family separations. John Wagner and Felicia Sonmez report: The White House adviser said “that she did not agree with [her dad's] characterization of the media as ‘the enemy of the people’ and that she was ‘vehemently against’ separating migrant children from their parents at the border — calling the latter a low point of her tenure in the White House. Her comments at a public event underscored the difficult balance Trump has sought as she tries to preserve her reputation independent of an administration led by her father that is consistently courting controversy.”

-- The president tried to undercut his daughter’s comments about the media over Twitter: “They asked my daughter Ivanka whether or not the media is the enemy of the people. She correctly said no. It is the FAKE NEWS, which is a large percentage of the media, that is the enemy of the people!”

-- “Unlike the rest of us, [Ivanka] is in a position to have done something about [family separations], given her unprecedented role as both first daughter and a top White House adviser,” writes columnist Karen Tumulty. “At a minimum, it might have been helpful if she had spoken up publicly months ago. Or proposed some kind of alternative. Or resigned. … But like pretty much everything else Trump does, her comments Thursday told us more about her than about the issue she supposedly cares so passionately about. Her tenure in Washington has amounted to little more than an elaborate personal branding exercise, to burnish her modern-working-mom aura. But that image has gone the way of her soon-to-be-defunct line of shoes and dresses. In the case of both, no one is buying it anymore.

-- White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dodged several questions about whether she considers the media to be "the enemy of the people." Amber Phillips writes: “[F]our times in two days, Sanders refused to say that the media is not the enemy of the people or to condemn people who heckled a CNN reporter Tuesday in Tampa, to the point where he feared someone was going to get hurt. Instead, the White House press secretary ticked off a list of sometimes-inaccurate and sometimes-unrelated grievances about how these hyperpartisan times have affected her life and the president's life, and why they blame journalists for that.”

-- A major Trump donor offered the president's longtime fixer and consigliere Michael Cohen $10 million to help him obtain government funding for a nuclear-power project. The Wall Street Journal’s Michael Rothfeld, Rebecca Ballhaus and Joe Palazzolo report: “The donor, Franklin L. Haney, gave the contract to Trump attorney Michael Cohen in early April to assist his efforts to complete a pair of unfinished nuclear reactors in Alabama, known as the Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant ... Had he been paid the success fee, Mr. Cohen’s deal with Mr. Haney could have been among the most lucrative of the known consulting agreements he secured after Mr. Trump’s election by emphasizing his personal relationship with the president, according to people familiar with his pitches.”

-- In an excerpt from her forthcoming book, Omarosa Manigualt Newman writes that she realized during Trump’s interview with Lester Holt last year that his “mental decline could not be denied.” “While watching the interview I realized that something real and serious was going on in Donald's brain,” the former White House adviser writes in “Unhinged: An Insider's Account of the Trump White House.” “ … Many didn't notice it as keenly as I did because I knew him way back when. They thought Trump was being Trump, off the cuff. But I knew something wasn't right.” (Daily Mail)

THE MIDTERMS:

-- The chairwoman of the Republican National Committee is trying to strong-arm GOP donors and candidates to steer clear of the Koch network after billionaire industrialist Charles Koch spoke out against the president's nativism and protectionism. “Some groups who claim to support conservatives forgo their commitment when they decide their business interests are more important than those of the country or Party,” Ronna Romney McDaniel wrote in a memo to party contributors . . . This is unacceptable,” Politico’s Alex Isenstadt reports. McDaniel also complained that the Koch network has developed its own data program for Republican candidates, which many outsiders agree is superior to the party's. “McDaniel also warns Republican candidates to steer clear of the Kochs,” writes Isenstadt. “While some GOP contenders have chosen to use the Koch data program over the years, McDaniel argues that decision could come at a cost.”

-- In a speech riddled with tangents about himself and the media, Trump promoted Republican Lou Barletta’s Senate bid at a Pennsylvania rally. Ashley Parker and David Nakamura report: “Trump spent most of the 80-minute rally hailing his own achievements, re-litigating his 2016 victory and what he considers the news media’s unfair coverage of it, and criticizing the press corps. In the moments in which he focused on the midterm election, Trump cast Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.), whom Barletta, a House member, is trying to unseat, as a liberal in thrall to Democratic leaders who are determined to undermine the president’s agenda, including tougher immigration policies and [Kavanaugh’s nomination].”

-- Kansas Democrats see Kris Kobach’s gubernatorial bid as an opening to win a statewide office. The New York Times’s Jonathan Martin reports: “A Kobach candidacy could have profound political implications for both local and national Democrats. Not only could they take back a Great Plains state governorship — winning veto power in the next round of redistricting — but they could also pick up a pair of House seats, making Kansas as pivotal to the battle for control of the House as more traditional, and more liberal, battleground states. The potential for such pickups, turning Bleeding Kansas several shades bluer, has alarmed Republican officials in Topeka, the capital, and in Washington.”

-- The online fundraising platform ActBlue has raised over $1 billion for Democratic candidates and causes this election cycle. USA Today’s Fredreka Schouten reports: “The fundraising milestone … offers a sign that the liberal activism fueled by [Trump’s] election isn’t slowing down. The group predicts donations will top $1.5 billion by year’s end, double the amount the fundraising clearinghouse processed in the 2016 election cycle. By comparison, it took ActBlue nearly 12 years — from its founding in June 2004 until March 2016 — to raise its first $1 billion. The average donation this cycle: $34.”

THE NEW WORLD ORDER:

-- Kim Jong Un sent a letter to Trump in which the North Korean leader left the door open to meeting again. The Wall Street Journal’s Michael R. Gordon, Michael C. Bender and Jonathan Cheng report: “But the warm feelings at the highest level of government haven't led to major progress in working-level diplomacy over eliminating North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, according to accounts by the two sides. And while Mr. Kim has been effusive in praising Mr. Trump, the North Korean leader spent his time visiting a potato farm instead of meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his July visit to Pyongyang. … By writing to Mr. Trump this week, Mr. Kim went around Mr. Pompeo and the U.S. national security bureaucracy, possibly in hopes of a more sympathetic reception.”

-- Mike Pompeo warned the Turkish government “the clock had run” out on imprisoning Americans. Carol Morello and Shibani Mahtani report: “Speaking to reporters aboard his plane en route to Singapore from Malaysia, Pompeo said he planned to raise the matter during a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on the sidelines of a conference of 27 Asian nations. … Pompeo met with Cavusoglu immediately after arriving from Malaysia. A State Department description over their conversation only said they addressed a number of issues, during a ‘constructive’ conversation.”

-- U.S. officials appear to have ignored Trump’s Twitter directive to back out of the G-7 summit agreement in June. BuzzFeed News’s Alberto Nardelli reports: “‘The White House and State Dept. are actively ignoring the tweets of the president,’ one of the sources said. ‘It's like there's a reality TV president, in his own bubble, thinking he controls stuff. It's like The Truman Show.’ Trump’s tweet, the source explained, wasn’t sufficient to pull out of the communique itself because ‘the G7 has a suite of diplomatic tools for communications, and Twitter isn't one of them.’ The lack of a formal US notification means the G7 communique remains intact as agreed by the seven leaders in Quebec, the source added.”

-- Iran deployed more than 50 small boats to the Strait of Hormuz for a large-scale “swarming” exercise, which was expected to last several hours. The drill comes amid heightened tensions between Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani following Trump’s decision to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal. U.S. officials said there has been no indication of any threats to American forces. (Fox News).

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Hillary Clinton focused attention on separated migrant families:

A House Democrat slammed Ivanka Trump for the timing of her comments on family separations:

A BuzzFeed News reporter expressed confusion about Trump's tweet on the Ohio special election:

A Post reporter summed up Trump's Pennsylvania rally:

A CBS News reporter noted what Trump did not talk about at the rally:

Top Senate Republicans staged a photo op:

A Politico reporter compared two feuds with the Koch network:

The communications director for Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) disputed the RNC chairwoman's statement on the Koch network:

A CNN reporter who covered this weekend's Koch network seminar fact-checked the president's false attack on Charles Koch: 

The moderator of "Meet the Press" criticized Sarah Huckabee Sanders's comments on the media:

From the CNN reporter who fielded insults from Trump supporters at the president's recent Tampa rally:

From a writer for the New Yorker:

From a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute:

A former Obama DOJ spokesman gave a different take:

Edward Snowden defended the New York Times's editorial board new hire:

From a Guardian columnist and feminist author:

The president of Liberty University echoed Trump's criticism of the attorney general:

Journalism legend Walter Pincus offered an ominous book recommendation:

Maryland's governor promoted a new brewery in his state:

A Post reporter expressed awe over Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer:

And Businessweek issued a mea culpa on a trillion-dollar company:

GOOD READS:

-- New York Times, “How Fake Influence Campaigns on Facebook Lured Real People,” by Kate Conger and Charlie Savage: “Facebook has been under intense pressure since the 2016 presidential election for failing to detect foreign meddling on its platform. But [now, even as Facebook moves] more quickly this time to limit meddling, some said the company had become heavy-handed … removing videos and messages that real people had posted. … [Their experience shows] how real people continue to become entangled with fake accounts and pages on Facebook — and the sometimes significant consequences for them as the company has tried to clamp down.”

-- “‘Do that on your own time’: Official’s decision to kneel during pledge divides her small town,” by Kristine Phillips: “[Melissa] Schlag has been both vilified and admired in the small Connecticut town of Haddam since she began kneeling during the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance last month. The Democratic town official said she’s kneeling to protest [Trump], and for as long as he is in office, she will keep kneeling. It was the kind of silent protest that has both angered and inspired people nationally as NFL players took a knee during the singing of the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality. In Haddam, where 51 percent voted for Trump and 43 percent for Hillary Clinton, the issue seemed just as polarizing, as evidenced by events of the past two weeks.”

-- New York Times, “Apple’s $1 Trillion Milestone Reflects Rise of Powerful Megacompanies,” by Matt Phillips: “In a span of just 21 years, a near-bankrupt computer maker evolved into the most valuable publicly traded company in the United States, pushing the tech industry away from big, bulky machines and producing some of the world’s most popular consumer products, like the iMac, the iPod and the iPhone. Apple’s products have reshaped swaths of everyday life. Apple’s new 13-figure valuation highlights how a group of enormous companies has come to dominate the United States economy. Today, a smaller cluster of American companies commands a larger share of total corporate profits than since at least the 1970s.”

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“Judge Throws Out Lawsuit By Seth Rich’s Parents Against Fox News,” from HuffPost: “A New York judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit brought against Fox News by the parents of former Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich over the network’s coverage of a conspiracy theory involving their slain son, claiming that it was not portrayed as ‘sufficiently outrageous’ … Rich was killed in what his family believes was a botched robbery attempt in July 2016 near his Washington, D.C., home. … He became the focus of a right-wing conspiracy theory that he was targeted for supposedly leaking thousands of DNC emails to WikiLeaks. Fox News posted a story linking Rich’s death to the leak on its website and left it up for six days as anchors on the channel, including Sean Hannity, promoted the idea on air. According to [the judge], claims in the suit brought by the parents, Joel and Mary Rich, ‘fail to adequately allege essential elements of the causes of action asserted.’”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“Politico reporter apologizes for calling CNN haters at Trump rally ‘garbage people’ with bad teeth,” from Kristine Phillips: “After watching a video of [Trump's] supporters yelling, cursing and flipping their middle fingers at the media during a rally in Tampa this week, a Politico reporter weighed in, unleashing no-holds-barred tweets that described the screaming crowd as toothless ‘garbage people.’ The tweets from Marc Caputo, who covers Florida politics for Politico, fueled criticism from conservatives, who said his mockery of the president's supporters validates their hatred of the media. … ‘If you put everyone's mouths together in this video, you'd get a full set of teeth,’ he wrote [in sharing the video]. When faced with immediate backlash, Caputo doubled down. ‘Oh, no! I made fun of garbage people jeering at another person as they falsely accused him of lying and flipped him off. Someone fetch a fainting couch,’ he wrote.”

 

DAYBOOK:

Trump, who is in Bedminster, N.J., has no public events on his schedule.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“I'm not in a position to either understand fully or talk about what happened in Helsinki.” — DNI Dan Coats. (Aaron Blake)

 

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

-- The District will likely once again see afternoon storms today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “It’s possible that north and west of D.C. have the highest chance of seeing heavy downpours and perhaps a strong storm. But none of us in the region should write off getting wet or even encountering a flooded roadway, especially during afternoon hours. Clouds hang tough. Southerly breezes may blow near 15 mph, which is not exactly refreshing in the steaminess. Muggy dew points above 70 degrees make high temperatures around 80 to mid-80s feel near 90 (especially if the sun peeks out).”

-- The Nationals beat the Reds 10-4. (Chelsea Janes)

-- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) was asked whether he would consider running for national office. “You never say never,” Hogan told a group of Montgomery County business leaders. But the popular governor added, “I have never really given that much thought. … Right now, I’m a lot more focused on just getting reelected because there’s a lot more things to get done in the second four years.” (Erin Cox)

-- The Senate failed to advance a measure blocking the District’s requirement that most residents have health insurance. Jenna Portnoy reports: “Senators from both parties on Wednesday effectively killed a measure sponsored by Cruz (R-Tex.) that would have eliminated the District’s version of the individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act. The action represents a victory for city officials in their quest to reduce congressional meddling in D.C. affairs — what Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) calls ‘attacks on our local autonomy.’”

-- Virginia is asking the Supreme Court to pause the resentencing process for Beltway sniper Lee Boyd Malvo. From Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow: “The commonwealth said it wants the high court to overturn a decision by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond. But in the meantime, it asked the court to simply delay any resentencing process. … Malvo, now 33, was a 17-year-old when he and John Allen Muhammad [killed 10 in sniper attacks]. … In June, a federal appeals court said Malvo must be resentenced because of a 2012 Supreme Court decision that declared unconstitutional mandatory life sentences for juveniles without the possibility of parole.”

-- An Amber Alert was issued Thursday after a 12-year-old girl visiting from China was abducted at Reagan National Airport. Authorities called the situation “very serious,” and said Jinjing Ma was last seen with an unknown woman entering an Infiniti vehicle with New York tags. (Michael Brice-Saddler)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Late-night hosts made hay out of Paul Manafort's ostrich jacket:

The fact checker team ruled the administration has overstated how many regulations Trump has cut:

A viral video spurred French lawmakers to pass a law addressing street harassment:

And a bald eagle found injured last month was released back into the wild: