With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve
THE BIG IDEA: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), the No. 4 in House Republican leadership, only got 47 percent in Tuesday’s jungle primary for her Spokane-area seat. She’s leading her Democratic challenger, Lisa Brown, by 525 votes, or less than a half-percentage point. This is a race that has not been on the national radar. President Trump won the district by 13 points, and McMorris Rodgers will probably be okay in the fall, but her poor performance is especially notable because this was once Tom Foley’s district. As the sitting Democratic speaker of the House, Foley unexpectedly lost reelection in 1994 after a similarly weak showing in that summer’s open primary against Republican George Nethercutt. The wave that year broke late, and incumbents who did not think they were in trouble found themselves washed away.
The president spiked the football last night once it appeared that Republican Troy Balderson would narrowly win a hard-fought special election in Ohio, but his celebration might be premature. In a district Trump carried by 11 points in 2016, the state legislator is ahead by less than one percentage point. Pat Tiberi, whose resignation to take a cushy job leading the Ohio Business Roundtable prompted the election, won reelection two years ago by 37 points. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, but provisional ballots that still need to be counted, Balderson has 50.2 percent to Democrat Danny O’Connor’s 49.3 percent. Out of more than 200,000 votes cast, the Republican leads by 1,754 votes.
The GOP must defend 72 districts in November that are rated as less Republican than Ohio’s 12th Congressional District. Democrats need to net 23 House seats to seize the majority. Many of those 72 races don’t currently look competitive, but last night’s returns show there’s good reason to believe some may come onto the map in the final weeks. Especially districts that are heavily suburban.
-- The trend of Democrats beating their 2016 performance by double digits continued. “Ohio 12 looks to have shifted by about 13 points towards Democrats relative to its partisan lean (how we would expect it to vote in a neutral political environment),” Micah Cohen notes on FiveThirtyEight. “That’s just about in line with Democrats’ average overperformance in these elections in the Trump era.” Remember, Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.) eked out a victory in March in a district Trump won by 20 points.
From the House handicapper for the Cook Political Report:
If anything, tonight's #OH12 result reinforces our view that Dems are substantial favorites to retake the House in November.— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) August 8, 2018
The editor of Inside Elections:
There will probably be a GOP effort to explain away a Balderson loss or narrow victory w/ a local excuse. But what could the common denominator in closer-than-usual races in #OH12, #MT-AL, #KS04, #SC05, #AZ08, #PA18, #ALSen?— Nathan Gonzales (@nathanlgonzales) August 8, 2018
The GOP’s focus group guru:
I’m sure Republicans will celebrate tonight, but a 1-point victory in that district is nothing to commend. #OH12— Frank Luntz (@FrankLuntz) August 8, 2018
The GOP have to do something really significant in September if they want to keep the House in November. https://t.co/lK93kxxE2c
-- Claiming victory, though the AP has not called the race, Trump credited his visit to the district on Saturday night as a decisive factor:
When I decided to go to Ohio for Troy Balderson, he was down in early voting 64 to 36. That was not good. After my speech on Saturday night, there was a big turn for the better. Now Troy wins a great victory during a very tough time of the year for voting. He will win BIG in Nov.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 8, 2018
-- But John Kasich, who held this seat before Tiberi, might have helped pull Balderson across the finish line as much as Trump did. The outgoing Republican governor, a leading Never Trump figure who is mulling a 2020 challenge to the president, recorded an ad and campaigned for the GOP nominee. In Delaware County, a suburban Republican stronghold that has long been known as Kasich’s base, several voters told the Guardian’s Ben Jacobs that they supported Balderson despite feeling uneasy about Trump because he had the governor’s blessing. O’Connor garnered 46 percent in Delaware County, seven points more than Hillary Clinton two years ago. The last Democratic presidential candidate to carry Delaware County was Woodrow Wilson, when he beat Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes in 1916.
From Kasich’s longtime chief strategist John Weaver:
Trump's choices are set to win primaries in states today, setting up landslide wins by Democrats in November. The GOP is shrinking before our eyes & while Trump has strong numbers for those left in the phone booth, sets up certain trouncing soon.— John Weaver (@JWGOP) August 8, 2018
-- Republicans won’t be able to replicate the resource advantage that they’ve had in these special elections this fall. GOP committees and outside groups spent about four times what their Democratic counterparts did, partly to compensate for O’Connor massively outraising Balderson among small-dollar donors online. “This remains a very tough political environment and, moving forward, we cannot expect to win tough races when our candidate is being outraised,” said Corry Bliss, who runs the Congressional Leadership Fund, the main House GOP super PAC. “Any Republican running for Congress getting vastly outraised by an opponent needs to start raising more money.”
-- The GOP still hasn’t settled on a message for the midterms. “Virtually every Democratic special-election candidate has run on health care and economic fairness — not taking direct aim at Trump and his administration as much as a Republican policy agenda that they say favors the rich and well-connected over ordinary Americans,” Mike DeBonis notes. “Republicans, meanwhile, have flitted from issue to issue seeking to promote their own candidates and disqualify Democrats. Early hopes of riding last year’s GOP tax cuts to victory have largely faded along with the tax bill’s popularity; more recently, Republicans have seized on calls by some liberal Democrats to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency as fodder for attacks.”
-- Other Democrats are handling the Nancy Pelosi problem better than O’Connor did. O’Connor, a 31-year-old county recorder, won the nomination because few Democrats thought this race was winnable. He botched an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, admitting that he might vote to make Nancy Pelosi the speaker if Democrats win the House. This gave powerful ambition to Republicans.
To be sure, the 56-year-old Balderson was not a stellar candidate either. On the eve of the election, he told voters in his hometown of Zanesville: “We don’t want somebody from Franklin County representing us.” The county, which includes Columbus, is 23 percent African American. A small part of Franklin, however, is in the district. You can bet Democrats will use this during the fall rematch.
-- The same two candidates will face each other again in November, and the race will likely be very competitive. Connie Schultz, who is married to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), notes that students will be back at colleges in November and therefore easier to turn out.
-- Fun election night color: O’Connor’s party had an open bar while Balderson’s had a cash bar, per the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
-- Even as his popularity threatens to cost Republicans the House, Trump continues to be a kingmaker in primaries. As I forecasted in yesterday’s Daily 202, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette easily beat Lt. Gov. Brian Calley in the GOP primary for governor. He’s yet another lieutenant governor who has failed in trying to run for higher office. The GOP primary for Senate in Michigan was neck-and-neck until Trump endorsed John James. James won easily but is not expected to pose a serious threat to incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow.
But the Kansas Republican primary for governor remains too close to call. After Trump issued a strong endorsement for Secretary of State Kris Kobach on Monday, Kobach is currently ahead of sitting Gov. Jeff Colyer by about 600 votes, or less than 0.2 percent, with 95 percent of precincts reporting. Johnson County, which includes the suburbs of Kansas City, has been slow reporting because of problems with new voting machines.
Going into Tuesday, the president was 11 for 11 since June when endorsing in GOP primaries. If Kobach hold his very slim lead, which is not a sure thing, POTUS will be 14 for 14.
A SETBACK FOR THE LEFT AND MORE WINS FOR WOMEN:
-- “The Democratic Party’s left-wing insurgency found its limits Tuesday night, with voters favoring establishment candidates over more liberal challengers in almost every closely watched race across several states,” David Weigel reports. “In Michigan, former state senator Gretchen Whitmer easily won the Democratic nomination for governor over Abdul El-Sayed, a doctor backed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) who was vying to become the country’s first Muslim governor. In suburban House districts across the Midwest, left-wing candidates lost to Democrats backed by party leaders, abortion rights groups and labor unions. And in St. Louis, where party giant-slayer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez traveled to help another young insurgent candidate topple an incumbent, Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) cruised to an easy primary win over challenger Cori Bush.”
-- Last night provided a lot of fresh evidence that 2018 truly is shaping up to be a record-shattering year for female candidates. Whitmer, whose campaign tagline is a promise to “fix the damn roads,” will lead an all-women ticket in Michigan. In Kansas, state Sen. Laura Kelly beat two men to win the Democratic primary for governor. While independent Greg Orman could play the role of spoiler, she has a shot to defeat Kobach if he prevails.
-- There are now 11 female nominees for governor — eight Democrats and three Republicans. That eclipses the previous record of 10, and a handful more are poised to win in the next few weeks. Women will be the ballot in upcoming gubernatorial primaries in Hawaii, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Vermont, Wyoming, Florida, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and New York.
-- Former Michigan state Rep. Rashida Tlaib won the Democratic primary to replace former congressman John Conyers, who resigned in the face of mounting sexual harassment allegations, guaranteeing she will become the first Muslim woman elected to Congress. There are no Republicans running for the seat in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District. (Detroit News)
-- Women also won several primaries in top-tier House races. Kim Schrier, a physician, likely beat Jason Rittereiser, a lawyer, to take on Republican Dino Rossi in a suburban Seattle race to replace the retiring Rep. Dave Reichert (R). “In two competitive House seats in Michigan, Democrats Gretchen Driskell and Elissa Slotkin cruised to victory in their races. Both are considered top recruits by national Democrats as they go on to face GOP Reps. Tim Walberg and Mike Bishop, respectively,” the Hill’s Lisa Hagen and Max Greenwood note. “While the race is too close to call in both primaries for retiring Rep. David Trott’s (R-Mich.) seat, the Democratic and Republican nominees are likely to both be women. … Republican Lena Epstein, a staffer on Trump’s Michigan campaign, was ahead of her closest competitor by 6 points. And on the Democratic side, Democrat Haley Stevens, who was endorsed by Hillary Clinton, holds a small lead.”
WINS FOR ORGANIZED LABOR AND BLACK LIVES MATTER:
-- Missouri voters overturned a “right to work” law in a rare victory for the state’s unions. The state legislature last year approved a right-to-work bill, which would have effectively allowed union members to opt out of paying dues. Unions gathered over 300,000 signatures to put the legislation up for a ballot referendum. (Jeff Stein)
-- Robert McCulloch, who has been St. Louis County's lead prosecutor for 28 years and faced criticism for his inquiry into the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, was defeated by a challenger in the Democratic primary. Wesley Bell, a Ferguson city councilman, toppled McCulloch by running on a platform of overhauling the criminal justice system. Acknowledging the role that the Ferguson protests played in his victory, Bell told a reporter, "Out of tragedy, comes opportunity. ... I'm a product of that evolution.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
GET SMART FAST:
- Tesla founder Elon Musk stunned investors by tweeting that he is considering taking his carmaker private. It was unclear if he was serious and might have been a ploy to hurt people short-selling his stock, which spiked 7 percent on the news. (Drew Harwell and Renae Merle)
- Officials in several West Coast states have issued air-quality alerts as wildfires continue to burn in California. Sacramento County residents were warned to remain indoors if possible through Friday. (Greg Porter)
- The Broward County School Board asked for the South Florida Sun Sentinel to be held in contempt for publishing embarrassing details about its mishandling of red flags related to Parkland shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz. The school system says the newspaper reported details that it knew a judge ordered redacted. (Sun Sentinel)
- The Roanoke Times filed a lawsuit against one of its former sports reporters for failing to relinquish control of his Twitter account when he took a job with a competing news outlet. The lawsuit has attracted attention for the paper’s claim that it controls the access and rights to an employee’s social media account. (Rick Maese)
- The number of people who committed “suicide by train” declined to its lowest level in 2017, but the total number of “trespasser” deaths and injuries on rail lines climbed to a 20-year high of 1,017 — reflecting the difficulty of keeping people away from the maze of freight railroad lines. (Ashley Halsey III)
- A 5 to-6-month-old fetus was discovered in the bathroom of an American Airlines plane at LaGuardia Airport. Reports indicate that a member of the airline’s cleaning crew discovered the body in the toilet of a jet that flew from Charlotte to New York on Monday night. (Lori Aratani)
- More than 600 people fell ill after eating at a Chipotle outlet outside of Columbus. Two people affected are now suing Chipotle, which has had recurring food-safety issues. (Eli Rosenberg)
- A retired engineer has proposed using a biogas digester to transform human waste left behind on Mount Everest into fertilizer and methane. The average mountaineer produces nearly 60 pounds of excrement in the roughly two months it takes to climb Everest. (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
THE MANAFORT TRIAL:
-- The courtroom showdown between ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his former business associate Rick Gates grew painfully personal as a defense lawyer forced Gates to admit to an extramarital affair in a bid to attack his credibility. Rachel Weiner, Matt Zapotosky, Rosalind S. Helderman and Devlin Barrett report: “During his second day on the witness stand, Gates detailed the lies, phony documents and fake profits he claims to have engineered at Manafort’s direction. … The most jarring testimony Tuesday came when Manafort’s lawyer Kevin Downing got his turn to question Gates. ‘There was another Richard Gates, isn’t that right? A secret Richard Gates?’ Downing asked. Gates, who seemed to immediately understand the lawyer’s hint, began speaking in a quiet, strained voice, saying that about 10 years ago, he had ‘another relationship’ — an extramarital affair. … For around two months, Gates said, he had kept a separate apartment in London. Under questioning, he admitted he had also flown first class and stayed in luxury hotels as part of that relationship. Gates also testified that he had used money embezzled from Manafort to help fund his relationship. When Downing asked if he had spent as much as $3 million on his affair, Gates replied that he thought the figure was lower, but agreed that he had taken money from Manafort without his permission. . . .
“Many of Downing’s questions seemed aimed at buttressing his central defense strategy — that Gates, not Manafort, is the real villain in the case, a man who told so many lies and stole so much money he could not remember them all . . . In his testimony, Gates has admitted to repeatedly telling lies and submitting false documents, but insisted he was following his boss’ instruction.”
-- “Over all, the testimony filled in a picture of two men with few scruples and a powerful thirst for money, hiding payments from Ukrainian clients in foreign bank accounts and deceiving accountants, banks and tax authorities, both individually and together,” write the New York Times’s Sharon LaFraniere and Kenneth P. Vogel.
ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN:
-- Former Trump lawyer and consigliere Michael Cohen is under federal investigation for tax fraud in New York. The Wall Street Journal’s Rebecca Davis O’Brien and Nicole Hong report: “Federal authorities are assessing whether Mr. Cohen’s income from his taxi-medallion business was underreported in federal tax returns . . . That income included hundreds of thousands of dollars received in cash and other payments over the last five years . . . Prosecutors also are looking into whether any bank employees improperly allowed Mr. Cohen to obtain loans for which he didn’t provide adequate documentation … Convictions for federal tax- and bank-fraud may carry potentially significant prison sentences, which could put additional pressure on Mr. Cohen to cooperate with prosecutors if he is charged with those crimes.”
-- Mixed messaging: Rudy Giuliani said Trump’s legal team would “leave a little wiggle room” in allowing Mueller to ask the president questions about obstruction of justice. “If he can demonstrate to us he’s got a couple questions on obstruction that he doesn’t have the answer to, that he really needs the answer to and he hasn’t made up his mind that Trump is lying, we might — we might — allow that,” Giuliani said. This marks a reversal from just Monday, when the Trump lawyer told Robert Costa that the legal team had a “real reluctance about allowing any questions about obstruction.” (Politico)
-- Civil rights advocates fear Brett Kavanaugh would weaken legal protections for minorities, including affirmative action, if he's confirmed to the Supreme Court. Ann E. Marimow reports: “Civil rights advocates and Democratic lawmakers point in particular to an opinion he wrote in 2012 delaying but ultimately allowing voter identification requirements in South Carolina that were opposed by the Justice Department, and to his description in 1999, when he was a lawyer in private practice, of a government program for Native Hawaiians as a ‘naked racial-spoils system.’ In that case, embracing the language of Justice Antonin Scalia, Kavanaugh wrote in a newspaper column that the Supreme Court would eventually, inevitably find that ‘in the eyes of government, we are just one race.’”
-- “New Details About Wilbur Ross’ Business Point To Pattern Of Grifting,” by Forbes’s Dan Alexander: “It is difficult to imagine the possibility that a man like Ross, who Forbes estimates is worth some $700 million, might steal a few million from one of his business partners. Unless you have heard enough stories about Ross. . . . Over several months, in speaking with 21 people … Forbes uncovered a pattern: Many of those who worked directly with him claim that Ross wrongly siphoned or outright stole a few million here and a few million there . . . all told, these allegations — which sparked lawsuits, reimbursements and an SEC fine — come to more than $120 million. If even half of the accusations are legitimate, the current United States secretary of commerce could rank among the biggest grifters in American history.
- “Those who’ve done business with Ross generally tell a consistent story, of a man obsessed with money and untethered to facts. . . . 'He’ll push the edge of truthfulness and use whatever power he has to grab assets,’ says New York financier Asher Edelman. One of Ross’ former colleagues is more direct: ‘He’s a pathological liar.’”
-- Three members of the “Mar-a-Lago Crowd” are exerting “sweeping influence” over the VA from behind the scenes: Palm Beach doctor Bruce Moskowitz, Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter and lawyer Marc Sherman. ProPublica’s Isaac Arnsdorf reports: “The Mar-a-Lago Crowd spoke with VA officials daily, [obtained] documents show, reviewing all manner of policy and personnel decisions. They prodded the VA to start new programs, and officials travelled to Mar-a-Lago at taxpayer expense to hear their views. ‘Everyone has to go down and kiss the ring,’ a former administration official said.
“If the bureaucracy resists the trio’s wishes, Perlmutter has a powerful ally: The President of the United States. Trump and Perlmutter regularly talk on the phone and dine together when the president visits Mar-a-Lago. 'On any veterans issue, the first person the president calls is Ike,' another former official said. Former administration officials say that VA leaders who were at odds with the Mar-a-Lago crowd were pushed out or passed over.”
-- Speaking of kissing the ring: Several CEOs who quit Trump advisory boards in the aftermath of his Charlottesville comments had dinner with the president last night. CNBC’s Christina Wilkie and Tucker Higgins report: “Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo and Mark Weinberger, the CEO of EY were both original members of Trump's Strategic and Policy Forum, which was dissolved in the wake of his comments on Charlottesville. On Tuesday, [they both dined] with the president at Trump's private golf club in Bedminster, N.J. … [Alex Gorsky, who leads Johnson & Johnson] called Trump's response to the rally ‘unacceptable,’ and said in a statement that it ‘has changed our decision to participate in the White House Manufacturing Advisory Council.’ Nonetheless, Gorsky [was] on the guest list Tuesday for dinner at Bedminster.”
THE CREDIBILITY GAP:
-- The Trump-appointed chief of the General Services Administration may have misled Congress about the president's personal involvement in the FBI headquarter's project, according to a draft report. Jonathan O'Connell reports: Trump has said he supported a plan to build a smaller headquarters in downtown D.C. and move some staff to other states, scrapping a plan for a new FBI campus in the D.C. suburbs. “Although GSA Administrator Emily Murphy . . . mentioned discussions of funding with the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, she downplayed the role of the White House in the decision-making process. The [inspector general’s report], which is expected to be released publicly in the coming weeks, states Murphy’s testimony ‘was incomplete and may have left the misleading impression that she had no discussions with the President or senior White House officials about the project.’”
-- The FCC’s inspector general concluded the agency’s comment system was not disrupted by a cyberattack at the height of the net neutrality debate, as Trump's appointees at the agency claimed. Gizmodo’s Dell Cameron reports: “A report from the inspector general’s office . . . released Tuesday finds that the comment system issues were … more likely [caused] by a combination of ‘system design issues’ and a massive surge in traffic, which came after Last Week Tonight host John Oliver told millions of TV viewers to flood the FCC’s website with pro-net neutrality comments. Investigators were unable to ‘substantiate the allegations of multiple DDoS attacks’ alleged by then-FCC Chief Information Officer David Bray, the report says.”
-- Trump’s tariffs are having an outsized effect on small businesses, which cannot withstand the trade war costs as easily as large corporations. The Wall Street Journal’s Ruth Simon reports: “Smaller firms also are less able to shift production to other locations and have smaller reserves to draw on when times get tough. Even those that benefit from a surge in domestic business are struggling to ramp up quickly enough to take advantage. As a result, small firms selling all manner of goods, including high-tech light switches and the coated paper used to handle deli meats, are rethinking their strategies, suppliers, manufacturing locations and pricing.”
THERE’S A BEAR IN WOODS:
-- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said that Trump brought up the idea of ending Robert Mueller’s special counsel probe “about 20 times” when the two went golfing on Sunday in New Jersey. NBC News’s Rebecca Shabad reports: “The South Carolina Republican . . . was asked about the investigation of Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election at a Monday evening event hosted by the Greenville County Republican Party. ‘Did Trump ask that question? He must have mentioned that about 20 times,’ Graham quipped in response to an audience question about ending the Mueller probe.”
-- A pair of former Trump campaign officials are now lobbying on behalf of a pro-Russian separatist party in Bosnia. Mother Jones’s Dan Friedman reports: “Former Trump campaign aides Jason Osborne and Mike Rubino have registered with the Justice Department to lobby for the political party of Milorad Dodik, the president of Republika Srpska, the Serbian enclave in Bosnia. Dodik has talked of his republic seceding from Bosnia and merging with Serbia, escalating tensions in a country governed by the 1995 Dayton Accords, which ended a bloody three-year war among former Yugoslavian states. The United States sanctioned Dodik last year for undermining the accords through his calls for secession and other actions. Dodik has won backing from Russia, which has embraced his opposition to Bosnia joining NATO and generally supports nationalist parties and movements, especially those in Eastern Europe.”
-- A leaked Russian document about the Helsinki summit last month shows a list of requests Putin made to Trump, including new talks on controlling nuclear arms and prohibiting weapons in space. Politico's Bryan Bender reports: “Putin shared the contents of the document with Trump during their two-hour conversation, according to a U.S. government adviser[.] … The person who provided the document … obtained it from Russian officials who described it as what Putin had conveyed to Trump in Helsinki. The memo points to a surprising normalcy in the priorities that Putin brought to the meeting, which included a willingness to extend a series of landmark nuclear treaties and pursue new weapons limits.”
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- National security adviser John Bolton said North Korea has not taken steps to denuclearize in the months since Trump and Kim Jong Un met in Singapore. Felicia Sonmez reports: “'The United States has lived up to the Singapore declaration. It’s just North Korea that has not taken the steps we feel are necessary to denuclearize,’ Bolton said [on Fox News]. He added the United States will continue to apply pressure until Pyongyang produces results. ‘The idea that we’re going to relax the sanctions just on North Korea’s say-so, I think, is something that just isn’t under consideration,’ Bolton said. ‘We’re going to continue to apply maximum pressure … until they denuclearize, just as we are to Iran.’ . . . The Trump administration has consistently sought to reassure critics that Kim will make good on his pledges to denuclearize. . . . Yet the most tangible result of the June 12 summit so far has been last week’s handover by North Korea of the remains of more than 50 service members killed in the Korean War.”
At last week’s ASEAN conference in Singapore, Mike Pompeo handed North Korea’s foreign minister a letter from Trump to Kim. On Tuesday, Bolton said the letter contained a proposal for Pompeo to make another visit to Pyongyang to meet with Kim. "[Pompeo] is prepared to go back to North Korea to meet with Kim Jong Un. We’ve proposed that in our most recent letter from the president to Kim Jong Un,” Bolton said. “The president’s prepared to meet at any point,” he added. “But what we really need is not more rhetoric. What we need is performance from North Korea on denuclearization.”
-- U.S. and Turkish officials will meet in Washington today in an effort to resolve a dispute over Turkey’s ongoing detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson. Karen DeYoung reports: “The outlines of a possible deal, possibly including an exchange of Brunson for a convicted Turkish national in the United States, are apparent to both sides, and both have expressed some optimism. … But despite the temperature-lowering moves, mutual suspicion and allegations of bad faith remain between the NATO allies over a variety of issues, including the Turkish purchase of F-35 jets, as well as Syria, said officials … ”
-- Intelligence experts fear Iran may launch cyberattacks against the United States in retaliation for reimposing sanctions. The AP’s Deb Riechmann reports: “Concern over that cyber threat has been rising since May, when Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal … U.S. intelligence agencies have singled out Iran as one of the main foreign cyber threats facing America, along with Russia, China and North Korea.”
-- Colombia’s new pro-Trump leader took office. Anne Gearan and Anthony Faiola report: “Standing in rain and a stiff wind before a wall of roses and other flowers in historic Bolivar Plaza, newly elected President Iván Duque listed the expansion of coca production, corruption and the terror of drug cartels among the problems he will address. He also pointed to a rise in killings of social-movement leaders as one of the threats to the country’s fragile peace pact that ended five decades of war. … Duque, 42, has advocated a more aggressive approach to the drug war, positioning him as a leading ally of the Trump administration.”
THE IMMIGRATION WARS:
-- The ACLU sued the Trump administration over its stricter requirements for migrants seeking U.S. asylum. From Maria Sacchetti: “The complaint filed in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia asks a federal judge to halt new screening policies the government recently rolled out in what it described as an effort to crack down on asylum fraud. The suit says the policies prevent migrants from getting a fair hearing on whether they should be able to stay in this country. It focuses on migrants who have been placed in fast-track deportation proceedings known as ‘expedited removal’ and asks the court to bar the federal government from sending them out of the country.”
-- Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy does not appear to be stemming the flow of migrant families crossing the southern border. The AP’s Astrid Galvan reports: “The Border Patrol’s Yuma Sector has seen a more than 120 percent spike in the number of families and unaccompanied children caught at the border over the last year, surprising many in an area that had been largely quiet and calm for the past decade. So far this fiscal year, agents in the Yuma sector have apprehended nearly 10,000 families and 4,500 unaccompanied children, a giant increase from just seven years ago when they arrested only 98 families and 222 unaccompanied children.”
-- Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), who is facing a difficult reelection, said he would rather give Trump more money for his border wall than risk a government shutdown. Politico’s Burgess Everett reports: “Donnelly, who is facing a new round of ads criticizing his position on immigration this week, said that Trump should get much more than the $1.6 billion the Senate Appropriations Committee has been preparing to send him. … ‘I’m fine with providing him some more. I actually voted for border wall funding three different times,’ Donnelly said in an interview here. ‘I’m fine with that. I’m fine with $3 [billion], $3.5, $4 or $5’ billion this fall.”
-- U.S. Border Patrol is engaged in a legal battle over the frigid temperatures in holding cells. Immigrant advocacy groups accuse the government of using the thermostat to deter migration. (Nick Miroff)
-- A federal appeals court ruled that a woman whose son was killed by a Border Patrol agent on Mexican soil can sue for damages in U.S. courts, saying the Fourth Amendment still applies in the cross-border case. (Politico)
MORE ON THE MIDTERMS:
-- A special prosecutor is investigating claims that aides to Rep. Scott W. Taylor (R-Va.) committed election fraud. Jenna Portnoy reports: “Aides to Taylor, a freshman lawmaker from Virginia Beach, collected signatures for independent candidate Shaun Brown, who analysts say could siphon votes away from Taylor’s Democratic challenger, Elaine Luria. Taylor, a former Navy SEAL, is seen as somewhat vulnerable to Luria, a first-time candidate and former Navy commander, in a district that voted for [Trump] by about four points and backed Ralph Northam (D) for governor over his GOP rival in 2017.”
-- Sen. Ted Cruz (R) said he has asked Trump to campaign for him in Texas, as he seeks to fend off a tougher-than-expected Democratic challenger this November. The Houston Chronicle’s Jeremy Wallace reports: “During a campaign stop in Seguin late Monday, Cruz said he has reached out to his former rival for the White House to help him with his re-election effort against Democrat Beto O’Rourke. ‘I would certainly welcome his support and I hope to see him in Texas,’ Cruz said[.] Cruz said while his relationship with Trump has had its ‘ups and downs’ due to their 2016 GOP primary battle, he has tried to become an ally to the President. ... Polls from the last week have shown Cruz holding onto a single-digit lead over O’Rourke, a congressman from El Paso who has set records for Democrats fundraising in Texas."
-- Democratic midterm ads have disproportionately focused on health care in key Senate races. USA Today’s Deirdre Shesgreen and Maureen Groppe report: “Senate Democratic candidates and allied outside groups have devoted more than 40 percent of their TV ads this year to health care … The sharp focus on health care from Democrats stands in contrast to a more diffuse message on the GOP side. In hotly contested races across the country, Republicans and the GOP-leaning groups have divided their ad dollars on a broader set of issues – spending about $10.5 million on spots embracing [Trump], $14 million on ads touting the GOP tax law and $7.6 million on commercials highlighting a hard line on immigration.”
-- Trump will travel to Upstate New York on Monday to sign a defense bill named after one of his frequent critics, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). Seung Min Kim reports: “Trump will head to Fort Drum, represented by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), to sign the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act … But the annual defense policy measure is an overwhelmingly bipartisan measure that helps Trump boast of resources for the military, a top priority for the president.” The trip is designed to help two vulnerable House incumbents: Stefanik and Claudia Tenney.
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
A House Democrat from California sought to correct Trump's comments on the state's wildfires:
You've been in office for 18 LONG months and you still don't have a science adviser, so allow me to help.— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) August 7, 2018
Environmental protections have nothing to do with the wildfires in CA. Climate change does.
We're not going to let you use fires as an excuse to clear-cut our forests. https://t.co/R5IdRmPpO7
A Toronto Star reporter questioned a criticism Trump leveled at the media:
Before Trump's Ohio rally, he tweeted to tell people to vote Steve Stivers. Stivers isn't running. Trump deleted, posted a Vote Troy Balderson tweet.— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) August 7, 2018
Then, at the rally, he pretended his own error was a media error for which he was owed an apology. The crowd chanted CNN SUCKS. pic.twitter.com/thmGfTyxW7
A Business Insider reporter responded to a New York Times Magazine profile of Paul Ryan:
Every Paul Ryan profile goes out of its way to note that he’s a “think tank conservative” who read Ayn Rand as a child and who works out every morning.— Joe Perticone (@JoePerticone) August 7, 2018
None of them ever note the federal deficit has doubled under his speakership https://t.co/Ps8IIH1f3v
The NRSC is posting detailed advice on its website for how outside groups should engage in the North Dakota Senate race, with a breakdown by media market:
A New Hampshire Democratic Party dinner was renamed two years ago from Jefferson-Jackson to Kennedy-Clinton. Now it's being renamed again:
Dems began re-naming these dinners -- usually Jefferson-Jackson -- as concern rose over the racial records of those presidents. So they paid tribute to Kennedy-Clinton. And then #MeToo happened https://t.co/ixV9AgM4mS— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) August 7, 2018
Twitter's founder explained why his platform would not join others in blocking conspiracy theorist Alex Jones:
Truth is we’ve been terrible at explaining our decisions in the past. We’re fixing that. We’re going to hold Jones to the same standard we hold to every account, not taking one-off actions to make us feel good in the short term, and adding fuel to new conspiracy theories.— jack (@jack) August 8, 2018
A CNBC anchor shared one of Robert Mueller's military commendations on his birthday:
On 12/11/68, 2nd Lt. Mueller “with complete disregard for his own safety, personally led a fire team across the fire-swept terrain to recover a mortally wounded marine ..”— Carl Quintanilla (@carlquintanilla) August 7, 2018
Mueller born today in 1944.
(via Army Ranger Hall of Fame) @RangerAssoc pic.twitter.com/acLFhu5uUV
The Supreme Court nominee swore in his former clerk:
A Post reporter shared a photo from Colombia's presidential inauguration:
At the presidential inauguration in Colombia today. Each of the special police forces were represented, including this guy. Don’t mess with Chewie. pic.twitter.com/sDryeO8phc— Anne Rumsey Gearan (@agearan) August 7, 2018
And a presidential historian marked the anniversary of Richard Nixon leaving office:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- New York Times Magazine, “War Without End,” by C. J. Chivers: “In early October, the Afghan war will be 17 years old, a milestone that has loomed with grim inevitability as the fighting has continued without a clear exit strategy across three presidential administrations. With this anniversary, prospective recruits born after the terrorist attacks of 2001 will be old enough to enlist. And Afghanistan is not the sole enduring American campaign. The war in Iraq, which started in 2003, has resumed and continues in a different form over the border in Syria, where the American military also has settled into a string of ground outposts without articulating a plan or schedule for a way out. … On one matter there can be no argument: The policies that sent these men and women abroad, with their emphasis on military action and their visions of reordering nations and cultures, have not succeeded.”
-- Politico Magazine, “How to Raise an ‘Army of Angry Moms and Women’ From Your Own Kitchen,” by Edward-Isaac Dovere: “Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, on how she created one of the most successful gun control groups in the country — and where they go from here.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“No, Greg Abbott, Winston Churchill never said that about Antifa,” from Lindsey Bever: “Texas Gov. Greg Abbott shared a pointed statement on Twitter that he attributed to former British prime minister Winston Churchill. ‘The fascists of the future,’ the statement said, ‘will call themselves antifascists.’ The Republican governor hailed the quote by noting that ‘some insights are timeless.’ Just one problem: Churchill does not seem to have said it. David Freeman of the International Churchill Society [said] he could not find any documentation that Churchill ever uttered that string of words. On Tuesday, Churchill historian Richard Langworth confirmed that [the words in Abbott’s tweet] … do not show up when digitally searching millions of published words in letters, speeches, articles and books written by Churchill[.] Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But the governor’s tweet was deleted Tuesday morning, hours after it was posted.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT
“‘It doesn’t play to his authoritarian tendencies’: Trump doesn’t want an educated workforce, Obama education secretary says,” from Felicia Sonmez: “Former education secretary Arne Duncan on Tuesday sharply criticized the Trump administration’s policies on education and said he doubts the president wants an educated workforce because ‘it doesn’t play to his authoritarian tendencies.’ Duncan, who served as Barack Obama’s secretary of education through the end of 2015 and is currently promoting his new book, made the comments Tuesday morning during an interview with CNN. … Duncan criticized the Trump administration’s emphasis on school choice as ‘a small strategy’ rather than an overarching goal, before taking aim at the president himself. ‘I’m not sure President Trump wants to have the best-educated workforce,’ Duncan said. ‘I think it doesn’t play to his authoritarian tendencies.’"
Trump will have a dinner tonight with supporters at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. He has no other events on his public schedule.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“If you could remove News Corp from the last 25 years of American history, we would be in an entirely different place.” — New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Rupert Murdoch’s media empire. (The Guardian)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- There could be more afternoon storms in D.C. today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Maybe a passing shower this morning. But mainly, we’re partly sunny with continued high humidity as highs reach the low 90s again. Clouds build mid- to late afternoon followed by a good chance of some showers and storms, especially between 5 and 10 p.m. the way it looks now. Isolated storms could produce damaging winds and localized flooding.”
-- The Nationals beat the Braves 8-3 in their makeup game before losing to Atlanta 3-1 in the night’s second matchup. The split result left Washington 4.5 games behind the second-place Braves. (Jorge Castillo)
-- D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) is requesting a hearing on the federal government’s Metro shutdown plan. The Post published the contingency document, which outlines the government’s potential response to a substantial safety risk on the transit system, earlier this week. (Faiz Siddiqui)
-- The District government briefly promoted the Trump administration’s abstinence-only sex education program. The grants' office removed the program once a Post reporter tweeted about its inclusion. (Fenit Nirappil)
-- The Georgetown Library was closed after several snakes were found in the building. The library remained closed for more than two days until pest control declared the area clear. (Marissa J. Lang)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) sat down with Stephen Colbert:
Trevor Noah explored why Paul Manafort hasn’t flipped yet:
The Fact Checker awarded Trump Four Pinocchios for his claims about the trade deficit:
A "firenado" was captured on video in California:
Ferocious "firenado" seen swirling amid the so-called Holy Fire, which has scorched thousands of acres in Southern California's Cleveland National Forest.— ABC News (@ABC) August 8, 2018
The wildfire is one of nearly two dozen burning across the state. https://t.co/n9X7dhucFb pic.twitter.com/SNlN8AVF1Z
Softball-sized hail rained down on the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, killing at least two animals:
And dogs participated in the World Dog Surfing Championships: