With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve
THE BIG IDEA: If the polls are correct, Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley will lose by double digits in today’s Republican primary for governor. He’s got the strong support of outgoing Gov. Rick Snyder (R), who he has loyally served for eight years. Snyder, the former chief executive of Gateway Computers, is even paying out of his own pocket to run ads touting Calley. But state Attorney General Bill Schuette secured the endorsement of President Trump, largely because he supported him after the “Access Hollywood” tape broke in October 2016 when Calley would not.
Trump’s endorsement may also make the difference in today’s gubernatorial primary in Kansas. Ignoring pleas from aides and the Republican Governors Association, the president yesterday tweeted a strong endorsement of Secretary of State Kris Kobach over the Republican incumbent. After two terms as lieutenant governor, Jeff Colyer replaced Sam Brownback in January when he resigned to become a U.S. ambassador at large for religious freedom. Most GOP strategists believe that Kobach, who served on Trump’s short-lived voter fraud panel, is so polarizing that he could lose to a Democrat in the fall — even in a state as red as Kansas. That’s why Bob Dole, among others, reiterated his support for Colyer after the president’s tweet.
-- Even before Calley and Colyer face the voters, 2018 has already been a historically abysmal year for Republican lieutenant governors running for promotions to the top job:
Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle lost by 39 points in the GOP runoff for governor two weeks ago to Secretary of State Brian Kemp. He was the early front-runner and had the endorsement of outgoing Gov. Nathan Deal, but Kemp got Trump’s support.
Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor lost by 20 points in her May primary against state Attorney General Mike DeWine to replace Gov. John Kasich.
Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb only got 24 percent in the June primary to succeed Gov. Mary Fallin (R), putting him in third place behind the mayor of Oklahoma City and a self-funding businessman. Fallin is the most unpopular governor in America, with an approval rating of just 19 percent in the Morning Consult quarterly tracking poll. Lamb, a former state senator and a top aide to Frank Keating when he was governor, routinely criticized Fallin on the stump, but one of his opponents still branded him as “Mary’s Little Lamb.”
-- Being a state’s second-in-command is not the steppingstone it used to be. Trump’s support for Schuette, Kobach and Kemp is part of the story, but the explanation is more complicated. Lieutenant governors are hostage to a lot of prevailing winds that are beyond their control. They’re perceived as part of the political establishment, even if they’re not. They struggle to build their own brand outside the shadow of the governor, even if they’re elected separately.
It’s also much easier to build a brand and grow name recognition as an attorney general, especially in these litigious times, or a secretary of state, with voting rights and election security on the front burner. Think of all the Republican state AGs who made a name for themselves suing the Obama administration, and now all the Democrats who are doing the same thing by suing Trump. They can earn beaucoup free media coverage any day they want. LGs often struggle to get reporters to cover their events, especially in the many states where the press corps at the state capital has been decimated.
-- Republicans continue to hanker for outsiders as much as ever. Many conservative base voters have devalued governing experience and policymaking expertise. Looking to reject the status quo, just like they did by nominating Trump two years ago, GOP voters keep gravitating toward self-funding business executives or elected officials who successfully claim the anti-establishment mantle.
The only sitting lieutenant governor to actually win a GOP primary this year was Idaho’s Brad Little, and perhaps that was because his opponent was four-term congressman Raúl Labrador. If being an LG is hard, being a House Republican right now is harder. Rep. Diane Black, a former Budget Committee chair, finished third last Thursday in the Tennessee primary for governor behind two business executives. In the Indiana GOP Senate primary to take on Sen. Joe Donnelly (D), Reps. Luke Messer and Todd Rokita lost to entrepreneur Mike Braun – who linked them both to D.C. dysfunction.
-- Obamacare is another significant factor: In Michigan and Ohio, the LGs supported their governors when they chose to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act while the AGs sued in court to try to kill the law. Both DeWine and Schuette, along with allied outside groups, ran blistering attack ads against their primary opponents that accused them of being pro-Obamacare.
-- As Kasich remained an outspoken leader of the Never Trump movement, alienating rank-and-file Republicans, his running mate awkwardly tried to distance herself. “I haven’t always agreed with the governor,” Taylor said last summer. Then she claimed in January that she had not had a “substantive conversation” with Kasich in more than a year. “I don’t remember the last time I spoke to him,” she said. Kasich’s spokesman responded at the time that this wasn’t true, and public records showed the two had been in the same meetings together at least eight times during that period. The Cincinnati Enquirer later reported that she told a county-level GOP gathering that Kasich had endorsed DeWine — when, in fact, he had endorsed her. This angered Kasich’s allies.
“Republican lieutenant governors are struggling to find their footing as their party lurches to the right in the Trump era,” said Jared Leopold, a strategist for the Democratic Governors Association. “They’ve been unable to escape the shadow of their bosses, as they’ve been outflanked to the right by attorneys general and secretaries of state.”
-- A top Republican strategist in Ohio who is from the Kasich wing of the party said Taylor’s mistake was not cultivating major donors from the business community early in her tenure or identifying signature issues that could have made her popular with the base. “She wasted the opportunity,” said the veteran GOP operative. “I think the LG platform, if used properly and with enough foresight, can really be a powerful place. … Too often, people don’t use the power of their office in a productive electoral way. I don’t know if that’s analogous to the other states you mentioned, but my guess is it is.”
-- In Michigan, Calley also didn’t really try to use the lieutenant governor’s platform to become a well-known figure statewide — until it was too late. The last Detroit Free Press poll before the primary, conducted by EPIC-MRA two weeks ago, puts Schuette ahead by 18 points among likely Republican voters, 42 percent to 24 percent.
Bernie Porn, who conducted the survey, said Snyder’s endorsement is competing with Trump’s endorsement. Among Michigan Republicans, Trump is viewed favorably by 80 percent and Snyder is viewed favorably by 64 percent. “Where Trump’s endorsement helps Schuette in the primary, it could be a kiss of death in the general election,” he said. “In the general, Snyder’s endorsement would help Calley more than Trump’s endorsement would help Schuette. But this is the primary.”
Calley has been particularly dependent on his identification with Snyder because most voters don’t have a strong impression of him — despite being the state’s No. 2 since the start of 2011. In a poll conducted this February, 59 percent didn’t even know who Calley was. Another 21 percent recognized his name but said they did not know enough to offer an opinion. Only 12 percent of those polled viewed him favorably, and 8 percent viewed him unfavorably. Schuette was much better known.
-- To be sure, the job is still worth more than a bucket of spit. Fourteen current governors are former lieutenant governors. Sex scandals forced the GOP governors of Missouri and Alabama to resign, elevating Mike Parson and Kay Ivey. After Trump won, South Carolina’s Nikki Haley stepped down to become ambassador to the United Nations and Iowa’s Terry Branstad stepped down to become ambassador to China. The lieutenant governors who succeeded them won the GOP nod to run for full terms. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb also got the top job because Mike Pence withdrew to run for vice president.
-- The 2020 cycle might be better. Justin Richards, the vice president for political affairs at the RSLC, which oversees the Republican Lieutenant Governors Association, noted that Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves is “consistently mentioned as a potential gubernatorial candidate to succeed” Gov. Phil Bryant and North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest “would be the strongest challenger” to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. “Republican Lt. Governors have been highly successful in a competitive political environment where multiple, strong Republicans are stepping in to run,” Richards emailed.
-- Democrats have fared better this cycle because their party establishment remains stronger. California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), the former mayor of San Francisco, beat Antonio Villaraigosa, the former mayor of Los Angeles, in the state’s June jungle primary and is now almost certain to replace outgoing Gov. Jerry Brown. Ralph Northam, who was lieutenant governor of Virginia, beat former congressman Tom Perriello in a Democratic primary last summer and won the general election last November.
-- A brand new group, the Democratic Lieutenant Governors Association, is launching today to help elect people to the No. 2 spot. There are only 14 Democratic lieutenant governors right now, but there are 30 LG races this fall. In 19 of those states, the No. 2 runs on a ticket alongside the gubernatorial nominee. In the other 11 states, the LG is elected independently.
Roshan Patel, a former finance director of the Democratic Governors Association, will serve as executive director of the new group. “We view it as a start-up campaign,” said Patel. “At some point, we’d like to be a full service political committee.”
Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) will serve as the first chairman of the association. Joining him on the executive committee will be the current Democratic lieutenant governors of Delaware, Montana and Washington State. Fairfax said he saw the need for a group to match what the Republicans have on their side during his campaign last fall. “There really was a hole there,” he said in an interview on Monday. Fairfax, a rising star, is considered the front-runner for Virginia’s Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2021.
GET SMART FAST:
- The Mendocino Complex Fire has become California’s largest wildfire in nine decades. The fire, which is actually a pair of small blazes, has burned through 443 square miles — an area almost the size of Los Angeles. (Kristine Phillips, Sarah Kaplan and Keith McMillan)
- Hurricane Hector, nearly a Category 5 storm, is spinning dangerously close to Hawaii. Meteorologists expect the storm to stay south of the island chain, but even slight forecast alterations could have devastating effects. (Angela Fritz)
- The ocean temperature off San Diego’s coast climbed to a record-breaking high of 78.8 degrees. It’s the warmest temperature to occur since 1916, when scientists in the area first started collecting records. (Angela Fritz)
The Trump administration argued against the AT&T-Time Warner merger before a federal appeals court. DOJ lawyers called a lower court’s decision to allow the $85 billion merger to proceed a “deeply flawed assessment of the government’s evidence.” (Brian Fung)
A federal judge rejected an administration request to dismiss a lawsuit over the transgender military ban. The ruling means an injunction blocking the ban’s implementation will remain in effect. (The Hill)
Former Nevada governor and senator Paul D. Laxalt died at the age of 96. The Republican lawmaker served as one of Ronald Reagan’s most influential advisers, becoming the president’s gatekeeper and conduit to Capitol Hill. (Steve Friess)
Former Republican congresswoman Margaret M. Heckler died at the age of 87. Heckler served Massachusetts for eight terms in the House before becoming Reagan’s HHS secretary and later a U.S. ambassador to Ireland. (Matt Schudel)
- The Parkland, Fla., shooting suspect told police that for years he had heard a “demon” in his head telling him, “Burn. Kill. Destroy.” Authorities released a transcript of their nearly 12-hour interview with Nikolas Cruz shortly after 17 people were gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a massacre which Cruz claimed responsibility for in the interview. (Mark Berman)
- West Virginians serving overseas will become the first Americans allowed to cast ballots using a smartphone app in November. The innovation is meant to make it easier for troops living abroad to vote, but one election security expert called the move “a horrific idea.” (CNN)
- The Pentagon has barred U.S. troops from using geo-locators on fitness trackers, smartphones and other electronics while deployed. The restrictions come after it was revealed earlier this year that GPS-equipped fitness trackers were revealing location information of secret U.S. bases abroad. (Dan Lamothe)
- NASCAR chief executive Brian France announced an “infinite leave of absence” after he was arrested on charges of drug possession and “aggravated drinking while intoxicated.” After police pulled over France's car, they discovered oxycodone pills and found his blood alcohol level to be more than twice the legal limit. (Matt Bonesteel)
- For the first time in 50 years, a new species of invasive tick has been found in the United States. While no U.S. long-horned ticks are believed to carry human diseases, health officials warned the new species poses a risk to livestock and is capable of sucking a young animal’s blood until it dies. (New York Times)
THE MANAFORT TRIAL:
-- Rick Gates took the stand in the trial of his former business partner and boss Paul Manafort — and admitted to committing crimes on Manafort’s behalf while confessing to stealing from him and others. Rachel Weiner, Matt Zapotosky, Ann E. Marimow and Devlin Barrett report: “In his first hour … Gates catalogued years of illegal activity, saying most of his wrongdoing was committed on behalf of [Manafort], while other crimes were for his own benefit, including the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars. ... Gates said that he and Manafort had 15 foreign accounts they did not report to the federal government and that they knew it was illegal. ‘Mr. Manafort directed me’ to not report those accounts, Gates testified.
- “Gates said that even while he was committing crimes with his boss, he was also stealing from him. He testified that he had control over some of the Cyprus-based bank accounts that held Manafort’s money and that he created phony bills to siphon off hundreds of thousands of dollars … to pad his salary by ‘several hundred thousand’ dollars.
- “As part of his plea deal, Gates said, prosecutors agreed not to pursue charges on those matters and to drop a second indictment … accusing him of bank and tax fraud. Gates said he was guilty of those crimes[.] He also admitted wiring money from Cyprus for Manafort that was not declared as income. … Repeatedly, Gates insisted that most of his crimes were committed at Manafort’s explicit instruction.
- “[Gates also] described for the jury how the two first met — at a Christmas party at Manafort’s house, when Gates was working as an intern. Gates said that as he worked for Manafort over the years, his duties increased, but he still considered himself merely ‘an employee of the firm,’ and he believed that Manafort thought of him the same way.”
-- “[As Gates] implicated himself and Manafort in multiple criminal acts, Manafort — who could spend the rest of his life in prison — fixed the cooperating witness with an icy glare,” Politico’s Darren Samuelsohn and Theodoric Meyer report. “Gates’ testimony … made vivid the rupture of a relationship that once involved exotic foreign travel and huge profits — but now pits Gates against his longtime boss in what one of their mutual acquaintances called a betrayal. The two men, colleagues for a decade, hadn’t been seen in the same room since mid-February, shortly before Gates, whom Mueller also indicted, agreed to plead guilty … The reunion of sorts seemed to make Gates uncomfortable: The 46-year-old former lobbyist and consultant looked at just about everyone in the courtroom — the judge, the lawyers, the jury — other than the man he was incriminating.”
THERE'S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Trump’s legal team is drafting a letter to special counsel Bob Mueller outlining their “reluctance about allowing any questions about obstruction” in a possible sit-down with the president, Rudy Giuliani told Robert Costa: “[The president's lawyer] said he and other Trump lawyers have been discussing the details of a draft version of the letter in recent days and hope to send it to Mueller ‘sometime on Tuesday or Wednesday.’ Giuliani said he expects the letter to ‘continue the negotiations’ rather than formally decline Mueller’s request [of a presidential interview]. ‘The president still hasn’t made a decision, and we’re not going to make a final decision just yet,’ he said.”
-- Op-ed: “Trump is acting with a desperation I’ve seen only once before in Washington: 45 years ago when President Richard M. Nixon ordered the firing of special Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox,” writes William D. Ruckelshaus, who served as acting FBI director and deputy attorney general in 1973. “In fact, in some ways, Trump is conducting himself more frantically than Nixon, all the while protesting his innocence. Nixon fought to the end because he knew that what was on the tape recordings that the prosecutor wanted would incriminate him. We don’t know what Trump is hiding, if anything. But if he is innocent of any wrongdoing, why not let [Mueller] do his job and prove it?”
-- Trump has been urged to stop tweeting about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between his son and a Russian-aligned lawyer, after he offered his most direct acknowledgment yet on Sunday that the sit-down was designed to get “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. CNN’s Dana Bash reports: “The President was advised that his tweeting only gives oxygen to the topic, even if those around Trump do not believe there is any truly new development. ... There appears to be less concern among associates about other recent Trump tweets in which he's gone after [Mueller's] investigation.”
-- “Manhattan Madam” and former Roger Stone associate Kristin Davis is slated to testify before Mueller’s grand jury in Washington this week. NBC News’s Anna Schecter reports: “Davis, 41, told NBC News in July that someone in Mueller's office called her attorney to ask her to speak to investigators, and that she believed it was because of her ties to [Stone]. She also said she had no knowledge of Russian collusion. … Davis said she couldn't have worked on Trump's presidential campaign and has no information about it because she was in prison during much of that time. She was arrested in 2013 after allegedly selling drugs to an FBI cooperating witness.”
-- A legal fund to aid Trump aides ensnared by Mueller’s investigation raised $180,000 in the second quarter. The Wall Street Journal’s Julie Bykowicz and Rebecca Ballhaus report: “California real-estate developer Geoffrey Palmer, a longtime friend of Mr. Trump’s, donated $100,000 to the fund, called Patriot Legal Expense Fund Trust, according to the filing. Billionaire casino owner Phil Ruffin, another Trump friend, gave $50,000. Continental Resources Inc. — a gas company owned by billionaire Harold Hamm, who has advised the president on energy policy — gave $25,000. The remaining $5,000 was contributed by donors who gave less than the minimum threshold for disclosure. The filing marked the fund’s first disclosure of its donors since its creation earlier this year ... The filing does not identify any Trump associates who received the fund’s cash. In previous administrations — including under [Bill Clinton] — beneficiaries of such funds were clearly identified, ethics experts said.”
-- Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who traveled to Moscow this week, announced that Russian lawmakers have accepted his offer to visit Washington as “early as this fall.” Amie Ferris-Rotman reports: “In a meeting at Russia’s upper house of parliament, Paul [invited] Russian lawmakers to meet with U.S. Congress members, in Washington or elsewhere ... That meeting could take place as soon as this fall, said Konstantin Kosachev, head of the foreign relations committee in the upper house. Monday’s whirlwind visit to Moscow, however, was not part of official diplomacy."
ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN AND WOMEN:
-- The launch of Melania Trump’s signature initiative, Be Best, has been hampered by a key staffer’s recent departure and the inexperience of other aides. Emily Heil reports: “Last week, Trump’s 28-year-old policy director, Reagan Hedlund, a former Hill staffer and National Security Council executive assistant tasked with leading the first lady’s initiatives, left her job. According to people familiar with the office, Hedlund brought some policy and congressional experience to the first lady’s office, where few other staffers have deep roots in the wonkier quarters of Washington. Hedlund’s departure, which came less than seven months after she was named to the position, also hints at an East Wing struggling to gain momentum. … A person with knowledge of the situation, however, indicated that the move was not voluntary, saying Hedlund was asked to leave.”
-- In 2013, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh defended a president's right to ignore laws the White House considers unconstitutional as a “traditional exercise” of power. CNN’s Manu Raju reports: “Critics contend that the Bush White House abused the use of signing statements to ignore laws passed by Congress … In 2013, Kavanaugh was speaking at Case Western Reserve Law School in Ohio when he was asked about signing statements … Kavanaugh said that injured parties can take their grievances to court if they believe the president is not following the law — and that Congress can push back as well. And Kavanaugh noted that if a president signs a bill ‘and says these certain provisions in here are unconstitutional, and we're not going to follow those provisions, that is a traditional exercise of power by Presidents.’”
-- As Bill Clinton was weathering the Monica Lewinsky scandal in the 1990s, Mike Pence argued presidents could be removed from office for violating moral standards. CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski reports: “Pence made the argument in two columns in the late 1990s, where he wrote that [Clinton's admission] of an affair with a White House intern and prior lies to the public about the matter, possibly under oath, meant Clinton should be removed from office. … Dismissing the idea that the president is ‘just the like the rest of us,’ Pence wrote, ‘If you and I fall into bad moral habits, we can harm our families, our employers and our friends. The President of the United States can incinerate the planet. Seriously, the very idea that we ought to have at or less than the same moral demands placed on the Chief Executive that we place on our next door neighbor is ludicrous and dangerous.”
-- Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s largely unknown chief of staff is playing a key role in attempts to restart trade talks with China. Bloomberg News’s Saleha Mohsin reports: “Seven years ago, Eli Miller was an unpaid intern giving tours on Capitol Hill. Now, he’s in the middle of an effort to avert a full-blown trade war between the world’s two largest economies. … The China talks are a test for Miller, 35, a political insider who channels [Trump’s] instincts but lacks experience in diplomacy, business and the inner workings of Treasury. His performance will contribute to the outcome of a confrontation that may shape the future of many of America’s key industries, not to mention his own career.”
-- While running the New York Observer, Jared Kushner ordered a software engineer to delete negative stories about his friends and associates. BuzzFeed News’s Steven Perlberg reports: “Kushner in 2012 went around the editorial leaders [of the Observer] to mandate the removal of a handful of articles from the website … Kushner requested the removal of a 2010 story about a settlement between then-New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo and real estate firm Vantage Properties regarding allegations that the company had illegally forced tenants out of their apartments to raise rents. Kushner also ordered another 2010 article deleted about Vantage’s top executive Neil Rubler. That story’s URL suggests that Rubler had appeared on some sort of ‘10 worst landlords’ list.”
-- Apple, Facebook, YouTube and Spotify each moved to penalize Infowars host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in recent days for repeated violations of their hate speech guidelines. Hamza Shaban, Craig Timberg and Isaac Stanley-Becker report: “Late Sunday, Apple stripped the majority of podcasts published by Jones’s website Infowars from iTunes and its podcast apps … Apple’s decision came after other popular tech platforms, including Spotify, Facebook and YouTube, had removed some of Jones’s offending content. But Apple’s move was the most sweeping yet. Apple removed five of the six Infowars programs from its listings, including ‘The Alex Jones Show’ and ‘War Room' ...
“In a series of text messages to The Washington Post, Alex Jones called the decisions to remove him … ‘a counter-strike against the global awakening.’ He accused Apple and Google of colluding with the Chinese government, mainstream news organizations, the Democratic Party and establishment elements of the Republican Party to misrepresent his views and deprive him of platforms that allow him to spread his messages.” “You’re on the wrong side of history mainstream media,” Jones texted. “You sold the country out, and now you’re going to pay for it.”
-- Fox News’s “hard news” shows have implemented a soft ban on Sebastian Gorka. The Daily Beast’s Asawin Suebsaeng and Maxwell Tani report: “After his departure from the White House, the ex-Trump aide returned to Fox News as a frequent contributor, and found a home on reliably Trump-loving programming such as Hannity, Fox & Friends, and The Ingraham Angle. While he has appeared multiple times a week on Fox’s flagship ‘opinion’ shows … Gorka has not been on the network’s straight news shows [since early this year]. Fox’s news division simply does not view Gorka as credible enough to regularly comment on subjects on which Gorka has branded himself a longtime expert, or to analyze the administration of which he was a member. One Fox News producer in the news division [said] their show avoided booking Gorka because he was essentially ‘useless’ to them, and could offer nothing more than his typically unabashed, unconditional cheerleading for Trump. … Another staffer working on a hard-news show bluntly stated that ‘we will take other counterterrorism experts. We will not take Seb. Ever.’”
PREVIEWING TODAY'S ELECTIONS:
-- Kansas, Missouri, Michigan and Washington state hold primaries today, while Ohio holds a special election for a congressional seat.
-- Democrats are already declaring victory in Ohio's 12th District, as polls show a dead heat in the race to replace Pat Tiberi (R) in a red district outside Columbus. The seat was held for 18 years by Kasich and nearly 18 more by Tiberi, another pro-business, establishment Republican. Both are campaigning for GOP state Sen. Troy Balderson ahead of the special election to finish Tiberi’s term. “Balderson, 57, is a Trump supporter but also is aligning himself with Kasich, who’s an outspoken Trump critic,” the AP reports. “He rebuffed questions about whether appearing with Trump might have cut into the popular governor’s influence in bringing out voters in Kasich’s home district. … Democrats are being careful to manage expectations, pointing to Trump’s 11-point margin in the district two years ago as they try to hedge against a loss that could dampen their overall enthusiasm.”
- The Ohio race will likely come down to Delaware County, where Trump held his Saturday rally. The Columbus Dispatch’s Jessica Wehrman reports: “The county supported Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton by 15 points in 2016. But while that seems a solid lead, it was narrower than in most other counties in Ohio. The county is also heavily populated by a more business-friendly, moderate breed of Republican than the populist Trump.
- “It’s appropriate that Columbus is holding such a bellwether race,” John Fund writes in National Review. “The area has long been known as a favorite for companies testing products. Its demographics are almost identical to those of the rest of the country. ‘It was a microcosm of the U.S., in that what happens here will probably happen elsewhere,’ Shashi Matta, at Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business, told Columbus Monthly in 2015.”
-- The Democratic primary for governor in Michigan has turned into a battle over progressive credibility. NPR’s Cheyna Roth reports: “There's Gretchen Whitmer, the former leader of the state Senate Democrats who says she's got a proven, progressive track record. Shri Thanedar is the scientist and millionaire businessman who says he's the only candidate who knows what it's like to live in poverty. And there's Abdul El-Sayed, a Detroit health official who's Muslim, and has the backing of the Senator who reignited the whole progressive movement with his bid for the White House, Bernie Sanders. … [But] Shri Thanedar is the candidate who, in his ads, claims to be, ‘The most progressive Democrat for governor.’” (Operatives in both parties see Whitmer as the strong favorite to win.)
-- Missouri labor unions are hopeful they can pass a ballot initiative to overturn the state’s recently passed “right to work” law. Jeff Stein reports: “Republicans in Missouri’s state government in February 2017 approved a right-to-work law, preventing unions from signing contracts that force all workers to pay for union representation. … Unions and their supporters last summer gathered 310,000 signatures to temporarily nullify the law until the vote. If a majority of voters rejects the law, the legislation will not go into effect.”
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- The Trump administration moved to restore the first round of Iranian sanctions lifted as part of the 2015 nuclear deal, ratcheting up tensions with Tehran. Carol Morello reports: “U.S. officials said the sanctions … will be snapped back officially on Tuesday morning at one minute past midnight. From that moment on, Iran will be prohibited from using U.S. dollars, the primary currency used for international financial transactions and oil purchases. Trade in metals and sales of Iranian-made cars will be banned. Permits allowing the import of Iranian carpets and food … will be revoked. So will licenses that have allowed Tehran to buy U.S. and European aircraft and parts — a restriction that comes just days after Iran completed the acquisition of five new commercial planes from Europe. Those who don’t comply could be subject to ‘severe consequences,’ [Trump] said in a statement. ... In a background call to reporters, senior administration officials said the goal was twofold: to prod Iran to renegotiate the nuclear agreement so it also addresses Iran’s ballistic missile tests and adventuresome activities in the region, and to change the government’s behavior.”
-- National security adviser John Bolton said the White House is *not* seeking regime change in Iran. Felicia Sonmez reports: “‘Our policy is not regime change, but we want to put unprecedented pressure on the government of Iran to change its behavior, and so far, they’ve shown no indication they’re prepared to do that,’ Bolton said in an interview Monday on Fox News. He described the Iranian regime as standing 'on very shaky ground' and argued that protests in the country were due to dissatisfaction with Iran’s leaders and its collapsing economy rather than opposition to U.S. sanctions.”
-- A Saudi-led, U.S.-backed military coalition in Yemen has cut secret deals with al-Qaeda — reflecting America’s contradictory interests as it seeks to both eliminate extremists and prevail in a civil war against Iran-backed Houthi rebels. The AP’s Maggie Michael, Trish Wilson and Lee Keath report: “Again and again over the past two years … [the coalition] has claimed it won decisive victories that drove al-Qaida militants from their strongholds across Yemen and shattered their ability to attack the West. Here’s what the victors did not disclose: many of their conquests came without firing a shot. That’s because the coalition cut secret deals with al-Qaida fighters, paying some to leave key cities and towns and letting others retreat with weapons, equipment and wads of looted cash … Hundreds more were recruited to join the coalition itself. These compromises and alliances have allowed al-Qaida militants to survive to fight another day — and risk strengthening the most dangerous branch of the terror network that carried out the 9/11 attacks. Key participants in the pacts said the U.S. was aware of the arrangements and held off on any drone strikes.”
-- Saudi Arabia’s decision to expel Canada's ambassador, who criticized the recent arrest of a women’s rights activist, highlights Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s aggressive approach to foreign policy. Kareem Fahim and Amanda Coletta report: “While [MBS] has won praise for shaking up the hidebound kingdom, trying to diversify its economy and easing some social restrictions, he has also helped entangle Saudi Arabia in foreign conflicts — including a civil war in Yemen and a feud with neighboring Qatar — that the kingdom has struggled to exit.” A State Department official said the U.S. government has also “asked the Government of Saudi Arabia for additional information on the detention of several activists.”
-- Protests in Iraq are dimming the prospect of pro-American Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi securing a second term. Tamer El-Ghobashy and Mustafa Salim report: “The protests, which have morphed from chaotic and sometimes violent marches into daily sit-ins, have prompted powerful religious and political figures to zero-in on [Abadi] as the source of Iraq’s many troubles. This could cost him another term, despite his widely acclaimed successes last year in leading the Iraqi government to victory over the Islamic State and firmly turning back a Kurdish bid for independence.”
-- The death of a Syrian rocket scientist, who was killed by a car bomb last weekend, has been blamed on the Israeli spy agency Mossad. The New York Times’s David M. Halbfinger and Ronen Bergman report: “It was at least the fourth assassination mission by Israel in three years against an enemy weapons engineer on foreign soil, a senior official from a Middle Eastern intelligence agency confirmed on Monday. … The Mossad had been tracking [Aziz] Asbar for a long time, according to [the official]. … An official from Syria and Iran’s alliance … said he believed Israel had wanted to kill Mr. Asbar because of the prominent role he played in Syria’s missile program even before the current conflict broke out in 2011.”
-- Bangladeshi authorities are investigating an attack on a car carrying U.S. Ambassador Marcia Bernicat. The U.S. Embassy said the incident was unrelated to recent protests in the country over road safety and confirmed the ambassador escaped unharmed. (Vidhi Doshi)
-- As Brazil’s Supreme Court weighs loosening the country’s abortion restrictions, demonstrations on both sides are getting more heated. Women in favor of decriminalizing abortion through the 12th week of pregnancy wore red robes like those seen on the “The Handmaid’s Tale,” while churches sounded their bells in protest of the court’s decision to take up the issue. (Marina Lopes)
THE IMMIGRATION WARS:
-- Trump intends to nominate Ron Vitiello, a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Border Patrol, as the head of ICE. The experience of Vitiello, who has served as acting ICE director since last month, could help avert a confirmation showdown after Trump’s last nominee, Thomas Homan, stepped down amid a stalled nomination process. (Nick Miroff)
-- The Trump administration is considering a proposal to limit citizenship and green-card access for legal immigrants who have used public welfare programs. NBC News’s Julia Ainsley reports: “The move, which would not need Congressional approval, is part of White House senior adviser Stephen Miller's plan to limit the number of migrants who obtain legal status in the U.S. each year. Details of the rulemaking proposal are still being finalized, but based on a recent draft seen last week and described to NBC News, immigrants living legally in the U.S. who have ever used or whose household members have ever used Obamacare, children's health insurance, food stamps and other benefits could be hindered from obtaining legal status in the U.S.” If implemented, the change could affect more than 20 million immigrants.
-- “How Trump Radicalized ICE,” by the Atlantic's Franklin Foer: “Under the current administration … immigration enforcement has been handed over to a small clique of militant anti-immigration wonks. This group has carefully studied the apparatus it now controls. It knows that the best strategy for accomplishing its goal of driving out undocumented immigrants is quite simply the cultivation of fear … And it knows that the latent power of ICE, amassed with the tacit assent of both parties, has yet to be fully realized.”
-- A government report estimates that construction of Trump’s border wall could waste billions of taxpayer dollars. The New York Times’s Ron Nixon reports: “The report, conducted by the Government Accountability Office, found that Customs and Border Protection, the agency responsible for construction of the wall, did not consider the cost of building along each segment of the border, which can vary depending on factors such as topography and land ownership. The report also found that the agency selected locations for barriers without fully assessing where they were needed to prevent illegal border crossings. … It added that the [DHS] ‘faces an increased risk that the Border Wall System Program will cost more than projected, take longer than planned or not fully perform as expected.’”
-- “In 2008, America Stopped Believing in the American Dream,” by Frank Rich in New York Magazine: “Today’s America is [marked] by fear and despair [akin] to what followed the crash of 1929, when unprecedented millions of Americans lost their jobs and homes after the implosion of businesses ranging in scale from big banks to family farms. It’s not hard to pinpoint the dawn of this deep gloom: It arrived in September 2008, when the collapse of Lehman Brothers kicked off the Great Recession that proved to be a more lasting existential threat to America than the terrorist attack of seven Septembers earlier. The shadow it would cast is so dark that a decade later, even our current run of ostensible prosperity and peace does not mitigate the one conviction that still unites all Americans: Everything in the country is broken. No longer is lip service paid to the credo, however sentimental, that a vast country, for all its racial and sectarian divides, might somewhere in its DNA have a shared core of values that could pull it out of any mess. … That loose civic concept known as the American Dream … has been shattered.”
-- A Sikh man was brutally attacked last week and told to “go back” to his home country while placing campaign signs for Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.). TPM’s Nicole Lafond reports: “The man, Surjit Malhi … was walking back to his truck when two men reportedly approached him, threw sand in his eyes and beat Malhi in the head, shoulders and neck, all while shouting that he should ‘go back to your country!’ The men also reportedly vandalized Malhi’s truck with hate symbols[.] Malhi, a Republican and longtime active member of the Turlock, California community, who has reportedly raised thousands of dollars for people who are homeless or victims of California wildfires, [told reporters] that he was surprised by the attacks.” “I’m American 100 percent, no doubt, so they say, go back to my country? This is my country,” he said. “That is not the American way.”
-- Karl Rove, the architect of George W. Bush's presidential campaigns, advised Trump to “tone down the rhetoric” in his attacks on the media, warning the president’s comments have gone too far and risk alienating key voters ahead of the midterms. Felicia Sonmez reports: “Rove’s remarks Monday echoed his sentiments in an interview the previous day … during which he pointed to a speech last week in which Trump repeatedly took aim at the press.” “I watched the speech and there was — I lost track — about 18 or 19 times that the president went after the press,” Rove said. “And every time he did, that crowd roared its approval. But that crowd represents the hardcore Trump base. This does not help him with his bigger problem. … To win the election this fall, he’s got to win the people who are up for grabs in this election.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Trump struck a tough tone on Iran sanctions in a morning tweet:
The Iran sanctions have officially been cast. These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed, and in November they ratchet up to yet another level. Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2018
He also sent out another endorsement of the Republican candidate in Ohio’s special election:
Ohio, vote today for Troy Balderson for Congress. His opponent, controlled by Nancy Pelosi, is weak on Crime, the Border, Military, Vets, your 2nd Amendment - and will end your Tax Cuts. Troy will be a great Congressman. #MAGA— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2018
Yesterday, Trump once again blamed California's wildfires on the state's environmental policies:
California wildfires are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amounts of readily available water to be properly utilized. It is being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Must also tree clear to stop fire from spreading!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 6, 2018
But those fighting the fires pushed back against Trump's claims:
‘We have plenty of water to fight these fires,’ Cal Fire says in response to Trump’s misleading statements. ‘Let’s be clear, it is the changing climate that’s leading to more severe fires.’ https://t.co/QtxFIzQdSW— Trip Gabriel (@tripgabriel) August 6, 2018
One of The Post's weather editors added this:
Allowing rivers to continue to flow is not "diverting" water. https://t.co/AZhAbWlBtC— Angela Fritz (@angelafritz) August 6, 2018
A bipartisan group of senators demanded information on migrant family reunifications:
I joined @SenatorLankford, Sen. @ChrisCoons, & 12 other Senators from both parties in writing to @HHSGov to request critical information about family reunification & urge the Department to update Congress regularly until all families are reunited. (2/2) pic.twitter.com/DxylPEBse2— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) August 6, 2018
GOP lawmakers defended Trump's decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran:
Make Iran Great Again— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) August 6, 2018
Dump the Ayatollah!
I fully support @realDonaldTrump's reinstatement of sanctions against #Iran. The Obama #IranDeal emboldened the largest state sponsor of terrorism & put the security of our nation & allies at risk. These tough sanctions are needed to hold Iran accountable. https://t.co/Ooli39FJno— Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) August 6, 2018
A House Republican defended Trump's statements about the media:
The First Amendment shields the press from government infringement, not presidential criticism.— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) August 6, 2018
Kris Kobach highlighted an endorsement from former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio:
Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown's wife questioned the Republican candidate in Ohio's special election:
A CNN reporter noted the icy exchange between Paul Manafort and Rick Gates at Manafort's trial:
I have seen some cold stares in my life but watching Paul Manafort stare down his former deputy, arms crossed, as Rick Gates recounted the long list of his alleged crimes was remarkable. #ManafortTrial— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) August 6, 2018
Another CNN reporter shared a scene from the courtroom:
Never before have I seen such a stampede of reporters as when the defense attorney goes, “Well Rick Gates is up next!” https://t.co/ufsrEsFMri— Elizabeth Landers (@ElizLanders) August 6, 2018
A New York Times reporter provided some background information on Gates's testimony:
Some context: When @BarryMeier and I were reporting on Gates last year, we asked him if Manafort had ever dealt him an equity stake in any of their ventures. The answer was no--and I got the sense it bothered Gates to always be the "downstairs" guy. https://t.co/kCxtXtir77— Nick Confessore (@nickconfessore) August 6, 2018
HuffPost made a pun out of Gates's appearance:
The former editor in chief of the New York Observer reacted to reports that Jared Kushner attempted to delete some of the newspaper's stories:
But if you want to be the worst possible owner of a news operation, vindictively and unethically erasing the work of your own your own (severely underpaid, hardworking) journalists solely to lubricate the volume and frequency of your cocktail party invites is a good way to do it.— Elizabeth Spiers (@espiers) August 6, 2018
A civil rights icon marked the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act:
53 years ago today, the Voting Rights Act was signed into law by President Johnson. I shed a little blood on that bridge in Selma and friends of mine gave their lives so that no person would be denied their right to vote. Now do your part—get registered, and vote. #goodtrouble pic.twitter.com/wgKUs37JAG— John Lewis (@repjohnlewis) August 6, 2018
An information warfare expert criticized Infowars:
- when the info about Infowars comes out, it will be crossing-the-streams bad— Molly McKew (@MollyMcKew) August 6, 2018
- it will also be clear who knew, & did nothing
- need to stop coddling people who admit they mindf*ck people, whether it be for ideological or financial gain
- ps InfoWars collected data on people /2
From a Democratic senator of Connecticut, where the Sandy Hook shooting occurred:
Infowars is the tip of a giant iceberg of hate and lies that uses sites like Facebook and YouTube to tear our nation apart. These companies must do more than take down one website. The survival of our democracy depends on it.— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) August 6, 2018
From a Free Beacon editor:
First they came for Infowars, and I didn’t say anything because I didn’t like Infowars.— Alex Griswold (@HashtagGriswold) August 6, 2018
Then they never came for me because I never accused grieving parents of murdered children of being crisis actors.
Rudy Giuliani reacted after someone on Fox News claimed he chain-smoked cigarettes worrying about Trump's tweets:
There is a moron on Fox claiming I chain smoke cigarettes worrying about the President’s tweets. Don’t smoke cigarettes. Hate ‘me. Smoke only premium cigars and I hope this idiot is not a lawyer because if he is he should sue his Law School.— Rudy Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) August 6, 2018
The original commentator, National Review editor Jonah Goldberg, responded:
LOL. That was me mayor. You missed the joke. Or maybe you’re so stressed you don’t think his tweets are a laughing matter anymore? And I know you smoke cigars. Last time I was at the Havana Room (actually every time) you were there. https://t.co/gYOZksUfdq— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahNRO) August 6, 2018
And a “West Wing” actor gave a gift to his president:
-- New York Times Magazine, “This is the Way Paul Ryan’s Speakership Ends,” by Mark Leibovich: “Ambitious 48-year-old politicians at the peak of their powers don’t suddenly just decide to quit because they’ve discovered that their teenage children are growing up fast back in Wisconsin. Ryan should, by rights, be riding out of town at the pinnacle of his starlit Washington career. Yet he remains a distinctly awkward match to a moment — and president — that seem certain to define much of his legacy.”
-- Bloomberg News, “Brexit Noise Drowns Out London’s Cry for Help,” by Jess Shankleman: “In the heart of London’s theater district opposite the Savoy Hotel, with rooms for up to $800 a night, scores of people are lingering patiently on a balmy summer evening. The snaking line [displays] a portrait of contemporary London: men and women of all ages and ethnic backgrounds ... Some are dressed smartly in shirts and trousers, others in jeans and baseball caps. But they’re not there for a deal on tickets to a West End show or a table at Gordon Ramsay’s joint. They’re there for food handouts from a local charity. Images of rich aside poor, homelessness and soup kitchens are hardly new ... But in Britain today, they reflect a society under increasing strain as Brexit — the relentless quest to leave the European Union — drains the country’s political energy and focus from confronting other pressing matters …” “We call it ‘neglexit,’” said opposition Labour lawmaker Neil Coyle. “It’s when every other major policy issue is being neglected because of Brexit.”
-- “The strange birth, death and rebirth of a Russian troll account called ‘AllForUSA,’” by Craig Timberg: “An Indiana man named Jesse D. Allen created a website in 2005 with the title AllForUSA.com, apparently to pursue some business interests, but he soon abandoned the site. A decade later, at the age of 80, Allen died. But AllForUSA was just getting started … As the [2016 campaign] heated up, AllForUSA.com suddenly bristled with what appeared to be news articles celebrating [Trump and bashing Clinton]. ‘HILLARY May END UP in PRISON AFTER ALL,’ read one headline. … A clue to the mystery of this multilingual burst of activity appeared in a February indictment by [Mueller]. It said the Russians who operated fake social media accounts to manipulate American voters used firstname.lastname@example.org to fraudulently access a PayPal account and to promote a ‘March for Trump’ campaign rally in New York. The other ‘AllForUSA’ accounts probably were operated in tandem with this email address and with each other.”
HOT ON THE LEFT
“West Hollywood City Council Approves Resolution Urging Removal of Trump's Walk of Fame Star,” from the Hollywood Reporter: “West Hollywood City Council has voted ‘unanimously’ to approve a resolution urging Los Angeles City Council and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce to permanently remove Donald Trump’s Walk of Fame star. The star, which was unveiled in 2007, has been vandalized numerous times and completely destroyed twice. The most recent destruction came in late July when 24-year-old Austin Mikel Clay allegedly took a pickaxe to it. For his actions, he was booked on felony vandalism and jailed on $20,000 bail. He has since been released. The council considered the removal of the star at a meeting on Monday evening. … The staff report for the resolution lists numerous reasons for the matter, including the separation of children from their parents at the border, the denial of the impacts from climate change on the word, Trump's treatment of transgendered individuals and the denial of findings from the intelligence community of Russian interference in the 2016 election, among others.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“‘Conservatives aren’t safe’: Protesters swarm super PAC leaders at a Philadelphia restaurant,” from Cleve R. Wootson Jr.: “Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens are outspoken leaders of the pro-Trump super PAC Turning Point USA. … But on Monday morning, they were hungry diners who showed up at Philadelphia’s Green Eggs Cafe in Midtown before it opened and managed to nab a window seat. Then the screaming started. The pair barely had time to peruse the menu before people — apparently demonstrators — started jeering at them from other tables … Outside their window, they could see a large group of protesters approaching the restaurant, flanked by police. … At some point, Owens pulled out her phone. She tweeted the scene from inside and outside the restaurant, including the moment when one demonstrator dumped a cup of something onto Kirk’s head. ‘Charlie Kirk and I just got ATTACKED and protested by ANTIFA for eating breakfast,’ Owens wrote a short time later. ‘They are currently following us through Philly. ALL BLACK AND HISPANIC police force protecting us as they scream.’”
Trump will have dinner with business leaders in Bedminster, N.J. He has no other events on his public schedule.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Mahlon Mitchell told HuffPost why he thinks it’s an advantage to be African American in a Democratic primary: “I can run faster and jump higher than the other candidates.”
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Today will be Washington’s hottest day of the week, with intense humidity adding to the trouble. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Steamy hot weather today, with highs in the low to middle 90s and heat indexes up around 100 degrees. Be extra careful with outdoor activities on days like these. Sky conditions should vary between partly and mostly sunny, with the risk of some widely scattered showers and thunderstorms from around midafternoon onward. Most of us should get missed.”
-- The Democratic Governors Association released a 1,418-page opposition research report on Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. Ovetta Wiggins reports: “Normally, opposition reports are closely guarded documents used by campaigns to create talking points and attack ads. But Doug Thornell, a Democratic strategist not involved in the Maryland gubernatorial race, said Republicans and Democrats sometimes make such research available for various reasons, including so that independent expenditure campaigns — which can support candidates but may not coordinate with them — can access the information.”
-- Immigration activists in the District are demanding Mayor Muriel Bowser do more to protect the city’s undocumented immigrants. As many as 12 D.C. residents were arrested by federal immigration officials last month. (Marissa J. Lang)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Late-night hosts picked apart Trump's attacks on LeBron James:
A woman recently deported to Mexico accused Trump of punishing her husband, an Iraq combat veteran:
The Post's Fact Checker ruled Democrats were cherry-picking numbers in claiming “Medicare for All” would save $2 trillion:
Tens of thousands of people in Indonesia tried to break a Guinness World Record by gathering for a line dance:
And a violinist, a Venezulean activist who fled the country after being jailed for protesting, provided the soundtrack for an impromptu New York dance party: