With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: Donald Trump is the do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do president. For years, he ripped Barack Obama for taking summer vacations to Martha’s Vineyard and told voters he’d be too busy governing to golf if he got elected. On Thursday, Trump hit the links again on his 11-day summer vacation in New Jersey.

As he did so, his Slovenian in-laws attended a naturalization ceremony in Manhattan. Viktor and Amalija Knavs were able to become U.S. citizens because their daughter, Melania, sponsored them. Trump decries this form of family reunification and has moved aggressively to block other parents from following their children to America.

It’s part of the president’s campaign to reduce the flow of illegal and legal immigrants, even though three of his son Barron’s four grandparents came to this country via what he denigrates as “chain migration.

The White House declined to answer questions about whether this is hypocritical. “They are not part of the administration,” Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for the first lady, said of the Knavses.

But the Trump team has also declined to answer specific questions about Melania’s pathway to citizenship. She got a green card in 2001, five years after arriving in the states to model and one year after she started dating the celebrity billionaire, through a program that was intended to help academic geniuses, corporate executives, Olympic athletes and Oscar-winning actors. “The year she got her legal residency, only five people from Slovenia received green cards under the EB-1 program,” David Nakamura notes.

In August 2016, The Donald announced to great fanfare that his wife would hold a news conference “over the next couple of weeks” to reply to accusations that she violated immigration laws when she first arrived. Melania, he promised, would offer proof that “she came in totally legally.”

Like the tax returns Trump also pledged to release, it never materialized.

There’s nothing wrong with golfing, vacationing or entering the U.S. through legal channels, but yesterday brought another blow to Trump’s credibility as a messenger on the immigration issue.

-- Bigger blows have come recently in courts of law: A federal judge here in Washington threatened to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt yesterday after learning that the Trump administration was in the process of deporting a woman and her daughter back to El Salvador before her appeal could be heard in court. “This is pretty outrageous,” U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan said of the removal. “That someone seeking justice in U.S. court is spirited away while her attorneys are arguing for justice for her? I’m not happy about this at all. This is not acceptable.”

“The woman, known in court papers as Carmen, is a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed this week by the American Civil Liberties Union,” Arelis R. Hernández reports. “It challenges a recent policy change by the Justice Department that aims to expedite the removal of asylum seekers … After being informed of the situation, Sullivan … ordered the government to ‘turn the plane around.’

The DOJ attorney said she didn’t know the deportation was happening and didn’t know the whereabouts of the mother or daughter. The government eventually tracked them down on a plane that was bound for El Salvador, and they were put on a return flight back to the United States last night.

Sessions has changed government policy so that women can no longer qualify for asylum even if they prove that they’ve been victims of domestic violence or that they’re at risk of being targeted and murdered by gangs. “Carmen fled El Salvador with her daughter in June, according to court records, fearing they would be killed by gang members who had demanded she pay them each month or suffer consequences,” Arelis reports. “Several co-workers at the factory where Carmen worked had been murdered, and her husband is also abusive, the records state.”

Nevertheless, Sessions and Trump want to send her back — even if it means almost certain death. The Justice Department declined to comment, and U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement did not respond to questions.

-- We’re hearing stories like Carmen’s almost every day now. Bloomberg News's Jennifer Epstein reports from San Antonio this morning on another case: “The day [Trump] ordered his administration to stop separating migrant children from parents caught illegally crossing the Mexican border, a Salvadoran woman named Raquel arrived in Texas with her two sons. She had fled her country in fear of a police officer who had harassed her for years, she said in an interview.

She hoped to claim asylum in the U.S. and make a better life for herself and her children. Instead, Immigration and Customs Enforcement took them from her, despite Trump’s order. The agency asserted that she’s in MS-13, the violent gang whose members the president has called ‘animals,’ and so a danger to her children. Raquel and her lawyers vehemently deny that she’s a gang member, and an immigration court concluded that she doesn’t pose a danger to the public; she was released from U.S. detention on bond while her asylum claim is processed.

“‘I left my country because I had suffered and here, also, I’m suffering,’ Raquel, 33, said in Spanish in the living room of the San Antonio home where she’s been staying since her release from an immigration detention center a week ago. … Bloomberg News is identifying her only by her first name because she says local police in her hometown have threatened to kill her … ICE refused to provide any substantiation to Bloomberg or to Raquel’s lawyers … for its assertion that she is a gang member.

How exactly does this Kafkaesque situation constitute due process?

-- As of last Wednesday, 572 children who were taken from their parents or guardians remain in government custody and have not been reunited with their families as the result of Trump’s family separation policy. “The reality is, for every parent who is not located, there will be a permanently orphaned child, and that is 100 percent the responsibility of the administration,” U.S. District Judge Dana M. Sabraw, who was appointed by George W. Bush, told a government lawyer during a hearing last Friday.

-- Moreover, data released by the government on Wednesday shows that the intentionally cruel policy of taking kids away from their parents failed to achieve its desired effect of deterring illegal immigrants. Yearning to live the American Dream, they keep coming.

-- On a host of other measures, Americans are becoming more supportive of immigration and immigrants as part of a backlash to Trump’s nativism — especially the family separations. (I wrote a whole Big Idea about this in June.)

-- The AP reported last night that public controversy has also prompted the U.S. Army to stop discharging immigrant recruits who enlisted seeking a path to citizenship — at least temporarily. Martha Mendoza and Garance Burke obtained a memo that spells out orders to high-ranking Army officials to stop processing discharges of men and women who enlisted in a special program for immigrants that was created by Bush: “The disclosure comes one month after the AP reported that dozens of immigrant enlistees were being discharged or had their contracts canceled. Some said they were given no reason for their discharge. Others said the Army informed them they’d been labeled as security risks because they have relatives abroad or because the Defense Department had not completed background checks on them. In a statement Thursday, Army Lt. Col. Nina L. Hill said they were stopping the discharges in order to review the administrative separation process. The decision could impact hundreds of enlistees.

The Army has reversed one discharge, for Brazilian reservist Lucas Calixto, 28, who had sued. Nonetheless, discharges of other immigrant enlistees continued. Attorneys sought to bring a class action lawsuit last week to offer protections to a broader group of reservists and recruits in the program, demanding that prior discharges be revoked and that further separations be halted. One Pakistani man caught by surprise by his discharge said he was filing for asylum. He asked that his name be withheld because he fears he might be forced to return to Pakistan, where he could face danger as a former U.S. Army enlistee.”

-- Meanwhile, the White House has lost another of its most prominent Latino staffers. Helen Aguirre Ferre, who is of Nicaraguan descent, has left her job as director of media affairs at the White House. She plans to start a much lower profile and less important job in public affairs at the National Endowment for the Arts later this month when she returns from a vacation with her family. It will not involve answering questions about the president’s immigration policies. She came to the White House last year from the Republican National Committee, where she was director of Hispanic communications. Before that, as an aide to Jeb Bush, she blasted Trump for his nasty remarks about minorities and women.

Aguirre’s departure follows that of another high-profile Latino, Carlos Diaz-Rosillo, who in June left his job at the White House as deputy assistant to the president and director of policy and interagency coordination to become a senior deputy chairman at the National Endowment for the Humanities,” the AP’s Luis Alonso Lugo reports.

In its Spanish-language story on these high-profile departures, Univision notes that the White House still does not offer a Spanish version of its website — even 18 months after Trump took office. That’s a break with both Bush and Obama.

-- Meanwhile, Fox News host Laura Ingraham is under fire for comments she made on her show Wednesday night about immigrants. “In some parts of the country, it does seem like the America we know and love doesn’t exist anymore,” Ingraham said over b-roll of farmworkers. “Massive demographic changes have been foisted upon the American people. And they’re changes that none of us ever voted for and most of us don’t like.”

George W. Bush's former deputy White House press secretary accused Ingraham of “startling racism”:

Outside the context of the moment, Ingraham’s comments are shocking. In context, though, the surprising part is that it took her so long to be so explicit,” Philip Bump writes on The Fix. “Two hours before her show, Tucker Carlson hosts ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight,’ where he’s repeatedly made comments that are even more pointed toward protecting the interests of white America. In January, conservative media institution Bill Kristol — at one point Carlson’s colleague — described Carlson’s frequent forays into the realm as ‘close now to racism, white — I mean, I don’t know if it’s racism exactly — but ethno-nationalism of some kind, let’s call it.’”

-- Ingraham opened her show Thursday night with a monologue aimed at cleaning up the controversy. “A message to those who are distorting my views, including all white nationalists and especially one racist freak whose name I will not even mention: You do not have my support, you don’t represent my views and you are antithetical to the beliefs I hold dear,” the host said to camera. Ingraham stressed that she supports legal immigration. “I made explicitly clear that my commentary had nothing to do with race or ethnicity,” she added.

-- As Ingraham made those comments on television, Trump was eating dinner at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., with a group of business executives. Multiple attendees told CNN afterward that the corporate titans pressed him to ease restrictions on hiring “talented” foreign workers. “The President said he would consider taking action to assuage their concerns via executive order,” Jeremy Diamond and Kevin Liptak report. “But reached the next morning about the President's comments, a White House official said ‘no imminent action’ is planned to address the CEOs concerns.”

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  1. A 51-year-old man has been arrested and charged with starting the so-called “Holy Fire” in Southern California, after repeatedly threatening that “this place is going to burn.” The blaze has torched 10,000 acres so far and prompted evacuation orders for 20,000 people. (Emily Wax-Thibodeaux) ​​​​​​
  2. Tennessee executed Billy Ray Irick using a controversial new three-drug cocktail after the Supreme Court denied Irick’s final request to stay the execution. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented. “In refusing to grant Irick a stay, the Court today turns a blind eye to a proven likelihood that the State of Tennessee is on the verge of inflicting several minutes of torturous pain on an inmate in its custody,” she wrote. (Deanna Paul and Mark Berman)
  3. Puerto Rico estimated in a report to Congress that more than 1,400 people died from the effects of Hurricane Maria. But the official death toll remains at 64 pending a scientific review of the storm’s aftermath. (AP)
  4. The same videos that Facebook and YouTube cited in banning Alex Jones and InfoWars also appeared on Twitter, which did not oust the far-right conspiracy theorist. Twitter's vice president for trust and safety told employees, “It's worth noting that at least some of the content Alex Jones published on other platforms … that led to them taking enforcement against him would have also violated our policies had he posted it on Twitter.” (CNN)
  5. Some NFL players resumed their anthem protests as the league began its preseason. The NFL has said it won’t discipline players for protesting during the anthem as it attempts to reach a compromise on the issue with the NFL Players Association. (Mark Maske)
  6. A California police chief’s son was arrested for allegedly taking part in the brutal attack of a 71-year-old Sikh man, who was hospitalized after being assaulted, kicked and spat on earlier this week. In a lengthy, emotional Facebook post, the officer said he was “disgusted” and embarrassed to learn of his son’s actions. “Words can barely describe how embarrassed, dejected, and hurt my wife, daughters, and I feel right now,” he said. “It’s difficult for us to comprehend how one of three kids who grew up with the same parents, under the same roof … could wander so far astray.” (Samantha Schmidt)
  7. Swimmer Katie Ledecky set a meet record in the women’s 800 freestyle at the Pan Pacific championships in Tokyo. The quadrennial event is held at the midpoint in the Olympic cycle and is considered 2018's most anticipated meet. (Rick Maese)
  8. The government of Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, has relaxed its rules on shooting kangaroos, giving struggling farmers the authority to shoot the animals that compete with their livestock for pasture. (USA Today)
  9. A heat wave in Britain has caused a rare breed of tropical pink flamingos to lay eggs for the first time in 15 years. Researchers said the near-record-setting temperatures likely reminded the Andean flamingos of their hot, humid natural habitat. (Lindsey Bever)


-- Bowing to growing pressure, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach agreed to recuse himself from the recount process in the GOP gubernatorial primary between him and Gov. Jeff Colyer. The Kansas City Star’s Bryan Lowry and Hunter Woodall report: “Kobach said that he would recuse himself in an interview with CNN hours after Colyer had sent a letter demanding that Kobach refrain from instructing county election officials on the counting of ballots … ‘I’ll be happy to recuse myself. But as I say, it really doesn’t make any difference. My office doesn’t count the votes. The counties do,’ Kobach said in an interview with host Chris Cuomo. Colyer spokesman Kendall Marr [said] that the governor had not been notified by Kobach or his office that he intended to recuse himself. … ‘We don’t have an official recusal,’ Marr said. ‘We want to see what that looks like tomorrow. We want to make it’s not a symbolic recusal.’”

-- Kobach’s comments came a few hours after his lead over Colyer narrowed from 191 to 121 votes due to updated tallies from the counties. Amy B Wang and Felicia Sonmez report: “Thomas County elections clerk Shelly Harms said they had submitted 522 votes for Colyer on Tuesday night and a clerical error at the secretary of state’s office caused it to be entered as 422 votes. To complicate matters, the Haskell County Clerk’s Office said late Thursday afternoon that the secretary of state’s website did not accurately reflect their county’s numbers either. The Haskell County results should show 257 votes for Kobach and 220 votes for Colyer, instead of 110 for Kobach and 103 for Colyer.”

-- Democrats, feeling optimistic about their chances in November, are “increasingly anxious” about Nancy Pelosi, who is making it harder for their candidates to compete in swing districts. A number of candidates have pledged not to vote for the California Democrat as leader if they win their races. Mike DeBonis reports: “The tension was apparent Thursday, when Rashida Tlaib became at least the 27th Democratic House candidate to decline to say whether she would support Pelosi. Some Democrats fear that anti-Pelosi attacks aimed at the Democratic candidate in this week’s special election in an Ohio congressional district helped push the Republican to a narrow lead. The dynamic creates a conundrum for Democrats, many of whom rely on Pelosi’s fundraising prowess and admire her political savvy and status as one of the country’s most influential female leaders. But some also are beginning to speak out about how allowing Pelosi to remain in charge of the caucus could reduce the size of a Democratic wave in November or worse, imperil their ability to win the majority.”

  • “People pretend that it isn’t a problem, but it’s a problem that exists,” said Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), who said he heard from frustrated colleagues this week concerned that the anti-Pelosi messaging cost Democrats in Ohio.
  • Tlaib, of Michigan, called for generational change. She said her constituents “don’t feel like they’re being heard, and I think that starts at the top with leadership.”
  • Abigail Spanberger, challenging Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) in the suburbs of Richmond, told the New York Times Thursday that “under no circumstances” would she support Pelosi for speaker.

-- Republicans are hitting Democratic candidates on Pelosi, whether they support her or not. The Congressional Leadership Fund, allied with House Republicans, launched an ad against Kansas congressional candidate Paul Davis after he won a Democratic primary this week that says “a vote for Paul Davis is a vote for Nancy Pelosi.” Davis is one of more than two dozen House Democratic candidates who have openly spurned Pelosi. Watch the spot:

-- Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) declined to endorse his party’s gubernatorial nominee, state Attorney General Bill Schuette, who defeated Snyder's lieutenant governor on Tuesday. “I’m focused on being governor of Michigan,” Snyder replied when a reporter asked him about the glaring non-endorsement. When asked if he even likes Schuette, Snyder demurred: “I’m sticking to governing and less politics at this point in time.” (Detroit News)

-- The defeat of Missouri’s “right-to-work” law this week has put a spotlight on pro-Trump, pro-union voters. Jeff Stein reports: “The margin defeating the legislation — 67 percent to 33 percent — came in a state where Trump commanded nearly a 20-point lead in 2016, and Republicans control the governor’s office, the state legislature, one U.S. Senate seat and six U.S. House seats. Even some of the most conservative counties rejected the measure. As president, Trump has shown hostility toward organized labor, and his Republican allies in Missouri were behind the right-to-work legislation. But pro-union, pro-Trump voters say that even if they consider unions crucial, they see many other reasons to back Trump.”

-- Florida’s toxic algae blooms are taking center-stage in the state’s hotly contested Senate race. Brady Dennis and Lori Rozsa report: “Incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D) and his Republican challenger, Gov. Rick Scott, have taken turns blaming each other for the toxic blue-green algae blooms plaguing parts of the state, which have killed marine life, raised public health concerns and threatened the Sunshine State’s tourism industry. And even as they accuse each other of inaction, both the two-term governor and the three-term senator have scrambled to prove how dedicated they are to addressing the problem.”

-- Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who for years was considered the front-runner for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, is in danger of losing to a GOP House member endorsed by Trump. Putnam criticized the president for attacking a Gold Star family and boasting about groping women on the “Access Hollywood” tape. Aaron Blake writes: “At a debate Wednesday, his Trump-backed gubernatorial primary opponent, Rep. Ron DeSantis, threw these comments back in Putnam’s face … DeSantis is favored to win the primary, in large part because of his efforts to associate himself in nearly every way with Trump. … This is a tried-and-true strategy in GOP primaries. But it also sends a specific message to other Republicans: Any criticism of Trump — even in cases in which the vast majority of Americans agreed Trump went too far — can and will be used against you, possibly out of context.”

-- Speaking of 2016: A comprehensive new study from Pew suggests that Americans who chose not to vote were just as responsible for Trump’s victory as those who did. Philip Bump reports: “Demographic groups that preferred Trump were three times as likely to be a bigger part of the voter pool than nonvoters. Among groups that preferred (Hillary) Clinton, they were about 50 percent more likely to be a bigger part of the nonvoting community. Clinton nonetheless won the popular vote. But an increased turnout of under-30 voters in, say, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan could easily have changed the results of the history.”


-- The federal judge overseeing former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s trial in Alexandria instructed jurors to disregard one of his outbursts from the previous day, saying he was “probably wrong” when he ripped Bob Mueller's prosecutors. Rachel Weiner, Matt Zapotosky, Lynh Bui and Devlin Barrett report: “U.S. District Court Judge [T.S. Ellis], a 78-year-old jurist with a reputation for being tough on lawyers in his courtroom, showed none of the temper he’s flashed throughout the trial … and instead instructed the jury to disregard his remarks made the day before excoriating prosecutors for allowing an expert government witness to sit in the courtroom before he testified. During Wednesday’s dust-up, Assistant U.S. attorney Uzo Asonye pointed out the judge had previously told prosecutors the witness could sit in the courtroom, and the judge shot back: ‘I don’t care what the transcript said. Maybe I made a mistake. Don’t do it again.’ … [But on] Thursday morning, the judge told the jury, ‘I may well have been wrong,’ adding that he had not read the court transcript. ‘I was probably wrong,’ Ellis said.” “This robe doesn’t make me any more than a human,” he said, concluding, “Any criticism of counsel should be put aside — it doesn’t have anything to do with this case.”

-- More highlights from Day 8, via Rachel, Matt, Lynh and Tom Jackman:

  • “Officials from two banks testified that Manafort received seven-figure loans he wouldn’t have gotten but for false statements on his applications. … The initial application showed an income of $400,000, which [former Trump deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates testified that] he changed at Manafort’s direction to $6 million, with $4.4 million in net proceeds, and resubmitted to the bank.”
  • “Manafort listed, and occasionally rented, his SoHo condo on Airbnb while claiming to one bank it was his ‘second home’[:] [Manafort] … would not have gotten a $3.4 million loan in March 2015 against his lower Manhattan condo if the bank had known the property was a rental rather than a second home, Citizens Bank Vice President Peggy Miceli said.”

-- A court filing suggests Gates may be assisting Mueller’s investigation beyond the Manafort trial. CNN’s Katelyn Polantz and Jeremy Herb report: “In a filing Thursday, Mueller's team said it wanted to keep a discussion between trial attorneys and Judge T.S. Ellis regarding a question to Gates secret because the transcript of the conversation would ‘reveal details of the ongoing investigation.’ When Gates pleaded guilty and flipped on Manafort in February, he also agreed to help the special counsel with its investigation into Russian election interference as he was needed. It's unclear how he has aided the special counsel's probe beyond the Manafort case … ”

-- Rudy Giuliani said there are two major topics that Trump’s lawyers want Mueller to take off the table in an interview: Why Trump fired James Comey, and what Trump said to Comey about the investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn. “Giuliani mentioned those as if they were minor details — totally reasonable areas for Mueller to agree to avoid,” writes Axios's Jonathan Swan. “In fact, they’re central to the question of whether Trump obstructed justice.”

-- Giuliani called Mueller’s investigation “a different kind of Watergate,” suggesting any wrongdoing resided with the special counsel’s office. “You know how sometimes the coverup is worse than the crime? In this case, the investigation was much worse than the no-crime,” Giuliani said on Fox News, maintaining that “the president did nothing wrong.” (Felicia Sonmez)

-- Alleged Russian operative Maria Butina used a powerful public-relations executive as her conduit for receiving money from a Moscow oligarch. The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff and Allison Quinn report: “In Konstantin Nikolaev, she had an oligarch willing to help bankroll her undertakings. And now, in Igor Pisarsky, she had a worldly, sophisticated public relations professional whose firm boasts having worked for a host of Kremlin entities, as well as Vladimir Putin’s political party. Pisarsky’s firm also has worked for two banks whose CEOs have faced U.S. sanctions.”

-- The Treasury Department granted — and then revoked — an aluminum tariff exemption to a Russian oligarch who is closely linked to Vladimir Putin and subject to sanctions. The New York Times’s Jim Tankersley reports: “How Rusal America . . . managed to win an exclusion highlights the chaotic and unwieldy process surrounding [Trump’s] tariffs. While Rusal and its controlling stakeholder, Oleg V. Deripaska, are restricted by American sanctions, one of the company’s dozens of exemption requests was granted by the Commerce Department in July, apparently for the simple reason that no American manufacturer objected. Department officials reversed the decision this week, after concluding that an American aluminum manufacturer had meant to object, but made a mistake in its paperwork.”


-- Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s choice of public service over private-sector riches “has left him living a lifestyle on the outer edge of his means, mingling with the 1 percent social circles in a Chevy Chase neighborhood that has among the highest median incomes in the country,” Amy Brittain reports. “Kavanaugh has reported credit card debts that exceeded $15,000 for six of his 12 years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. At the end of 2016, those debts ranged from $45,000 to $150,000 and were spread among three credit cards, before being paid off sometime last year. … The same year he accumulated the highest debts of his judicial tenure, Kavanaugh also joined the Chevy Chase Club — an elite country club that counts Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. among its members and, as of 2017, required a $92,000 initiation fee and annual dues of more than $9,000. …

A financial statement that was filed last month as part of the Senate vetting process reveals that Kavanaugh’s net worth, the calculation of what an individual owns minus debts, is around $942,000. … Kavanaugh has government retirement accounts worth about $480,000 and more than $400,000 in equity in his home, which has a mortgage of $815,000. He holds roughly $27,000 in cash accounts and drives a Jeep Grand Cherokee, which he values at $25,000. … [Kavanaugh’s financial disclosure forms] offer a glimpse into personal finances that have appeared shaky at times, including a recent year when Kavanaugh’s reported debt ranges could have exceeded what he had available in high-liquidity assets such as money-market or cash accounts.” 

-- The Senate Judiciary Committee released a small sliver of documents from Kavanaugh’s time in the George W. Bush White House, all of which were approved by a lawyer representing Bush who is friends with the nominee. Robert Barnes reports: “The Senate Judiciary Committee [Republicans] released 5,700 pages of about 125,000 that [the Bush lawyer] turned over to the committee. … Among them were inconclusive emails about what role, in any, Kavanaugh played in discussions about legal issues in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Mostly, the documents detailed minutiae from the daily life of a White House lawyer, such as ethics questions about accepting baseball tickets or plane rides. But overshadowing the documents was a debate about how the records were selected. Democrats said the Republican-led committee is using an unprecedented process.”

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a member of the Judiciary committee, condemned the partisan process:


-- An airstrike by a U.S.-backed Saudi coalition killed dozens of Yemeni civilians and children — many of whom were under the age of 10 — after it struck a school bus in the northern Saada province. Ali Al-Mujahed and Sudarsan Raghavan report: “In a tweet, the International Committee of the Red Cross said the attack struck a bus carrying children in Dahyan market[.] A hospital supported by the aid group has received ‘dozens of dead and wounded,’ it said, adding that ‘under international humanitarian law, civilians must be protected during conflict.’ ‘Body parts were scattered all over the area, and the sounds of moaning and crying were everywhere,’ said Hassan Muwlef, executive director of the Red Crescent office in Saada . . . ‘The school bus was totally burned and destroyed.’ The assault was the latest airstrike against civilians carried out by [a regional coalition] led by Saudi Arabia and the [UAE].”

-- Senior U.S. officials, including national security adviser John Bolton, pushed NATO ambassadors at last month’s meeting to finalize an agreement before the forum began to prevent Trump from dismantling it. The New York Times’s Helene Cooper and Julian E. Barnes report: “Described by European diplomats and American officials, the efforts are a sign of the lengths to which the president’s top advisers will go to protect a key and longstanding international alliance from Mr. Trump’s unpredictable antipathy. Allied ambassadors said the American officials’ plan worked — to a degree. … But the approval of the communiqué … was critical for the alliance. It ensured that, despite Mr. Trump’s rhetorical fireworks, NATO diplomats could push through initiatives, including critical Pentagon priorities to improve allied defenses against Russia. …

“In June, weeks before the meeting, Mr. Bolton sent his demand to Brussels through Kay Bailey Hutchison, the American ambassador to NATO. He wanted the NATO communiqué to be completed early, before the president left for Europe … NATO’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, reinforced Mr. Bolton’s directive during a gathering of the ambassadors on July 4. The usual infighting over the summit agreement, he said, had to be dropped. … Two senior European officials said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis were also keen to avoid another confrontation similar to the G-7, and the NATO declaration was completed days before leaders set foot in Brussels.”

-- “How Mike Pompeo is succeeding where Rex Tillerson failed,” by David Ignatius: “Many secretaries of state say they want to practice quiet diplomacy, and that was certainly Tillerson’s goal. But Pompeo has made it an operating principle. Pompeo is behaving at State much as he did as CIA director. His role is often that of a secret presidential envoy; he manages the North Korean denuclearization talks, the administration’s most sensitive file, pretty much out of his briefcase. And, perhaps most important, he’s able to speak authoritatively (mostly in private) for the president, something that Tillerson could never do.”

-- A set of newly released cables details waterboarding and other techniques used against terrorist suspects in the wake of 9/11 at a secret prison in Thailand, which was then overseen by Gina Haspel, the current director of the CIA. The New York Times’s Julian E. Barnes and Scott Shane report: “In late November 2002, C.I.A. interrogators … warned a Qaeda suspect that he had to ‘suffer the consequences of his deception.’ As interrogators splashed water on the chest of the man, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, he pleaded that he was trying to recall more information, according to [one of the cables]. As he cried, the cable reports, the ‘water treatment was applied.’ The ‘water treatment’ was bureaucratic jargon for waterboarding … As the chief of the base, Ms. Haspel would have written or authorized the cables, according to Tom Blanton, the director of the National Security Archive, a research organization at George Washington University.”

A Roll Call columnist compared the release of the Haspel cables to the fight over Brett Kavanaugh's White House documents:


-- The vice president outlined a plan to create a new branch of the U.S. military known as a “Space Force” by as soon as 2020. Christian Davenport and Dan Lamothe report: “Pence warned of the advancements that potential adversaries are making and issued what amounted to a call to arms to preserve the military’s dominance in space. ‘Just as we’ve done in ages past, the United States will meet the emerging threats on this new battlefield,’ he said in a speech at the Pentagon. ‘The time has come to establish the United States Space Force.’ But the monumental task of standing up a new military department, which would require approval by a Congress that shelved the idea last year, may require significant new spending and a reorganization of the largest bureaucracy in the world. And the idea has already run into fierce opposition inside and outside the Pentagon, particularly from the Air Force, which could lose some of its responsibilities.”

-- Former Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James called the idea “a solution in search of a problem.” “[F]or some number of years, we have been pumping billions of dollars more into the space programs, not to stand up a new bureaucracy but rather to invest in new technology and new capabilities,” James told CBS News. “That is what will make the difference going forward.”


--  Trump is pressing for prison overhauls, meeting several times on the issue from his Bedminster working vacation. Seung Min Kim reports: “Behind the scenes, the administration and congressional officials are crafting an agreement that would add significant changes in the nation’s mandatory sentencing laws to a widely popular prison reform bill that passed the House earlier this year[.] The deal in progress would add four provisions overhauling the sentencing system — legislation written by [Chuck Grassley and Dick Durbin] and backed by a broad coalition of Senate Democrats and Republicans — to the House bill, which does not touch sentencing laws but focuses on reducing recidivism among prisoners.

“Under the agreement in the works, the new package would include provisions from the Senate bill that lowers mandatory minimum sentences for drug felonies, including reducing the ‘three-strike’ penalty from life behind bars to 25 years. It would also include Senate language that retroactively applies the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which reduces the disparity in sentencing guidelines between crack and powder cocaine offenses. … The deal also would reduce mandatory minimum sentences that go into effect when a firearm is used during a violent crime or a drug offense.”

-- The Trump administration is proposing restricting an Obamacare program meant to slow Medicare spending. Amy Goldstein reports: “Health-care researchers hail the model’s promise to improve quality and efficiency, but government data suggest it is not saving enough money. The changes . . . would significantly curtail Accountable Care Organizations. The ACOs can be teams of doctors, hospitals or other providers who become responsible for all the health-care needs of a specific group of patients.” Federal health officials want to limit ACOs who have entered into a financial agreement with the government to limit their liability, an arrangement that the officials say has made Medicare more costly.

-- A new CDC report reveals the number of U.S. women who gave birth while addicted to opioids has quadrupled over the past 15 years, triggering a sharp increase in the number of infants who were forced through painful drug withdrawals at birth. (Guardian)

-- Another new study discovered that doctors who were told their patients died of opioid overdose because of prescriptions they wrote were 7 percent less likely to start new patients on the same drugs. The docs also issued fewer high-dose prescriptions than doctors who were not informed of their patients' fate. (Carolyn Y. Johnson)


-- District leaders are bracing for a Sunday gathering in Lafayette Square that's being organized by the same people who put together last year’s Charlottesville march that turned violent. Peter Hermann and Joe Heim report: “As many as 1,500 counterprotesters are expected at Lafayette Square and more at two nearby parks, setting up a possible volatile showdown that District and federal law enforcement officials say they are prepared to confront. Unlike in Charlottesville, where police allowed the opposing factions to clash in what turned into a bloody melee, D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said Thursday that the goal ‘will be to keep the two groups separate . . . When they are in the same area at the same time, it leads to violent confrontations. Our goal is to prevent that from happening.’”

-- A climate of fear: An African American woman Uber driver told me yesterday that she's scared of possible racial violence and therefore planning to leave town for the weekend. 

-- The National Park Service is considering a proposal to require protesters to reimburse the agency for costs related to support and security of Washington demonstrations. From Marissa J. Lang: “Experts said that it was unclear whether imposing fees on groups exercising their First Amendment rights would pass constitutional muster. Joshua Geltzer, executive director of Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, said that although the Park Service may have a legitimate grievance about how much it has spent, several lower courts have ruled that government entities should bear the burden of supporting First Amendment events such as protests and rallies.”


Trump this morning aimed his Twitter ire at protesting NFL players:

A CNN reporter tweeted a photo from Bedminster:

George W. Bush's former speechwriter reflected on Trump's legal team negotiating with Mueller's prosecutors for a potential interview:

Trump's former communications director offered one explanation for his legal team's reluctance:

A Post reporter posed questions about Trump's proposal of a Space Force:

Trump's 2020 campaign manager invoked the potential U.S. military branch in an email to supporters:

From a CNBC reporter:

A Cook Political Report editor predicted a blue wave in November:

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund president criticized Kris Kobach for waiting to recuse himself from the primary recount:

Richard Painter, George W. Bush's former chief ethics lawyer and a Democratic Senate candidate in Minnesota, attacked one of Trump's defenders:

Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez responded to conservative commentator Ben Shapiro's offer to donate $10,000 to her campaign if they debated:

Shapiro fired back:

The vice president mistakenly referred to a college hockey team in Minnesota as high school champions:

A Democratic strategist shared a picture he snapped on the road:

And Bob Woodward remembered Richard Nixon's final moments at the White House:


-- “Surviving Parkland,” by Sarah Kaplan: “It’s April, two months since the day Kyle was shot. He still has the rest of this difficult school year ahead of him, then a long and lonely summer packed with doctor appointments instead of days at the beach. He and his parents, still learning to navigate the universal trials of adolescence, now also face the lingering horror of a mass shooting.”

-- New York Times, “How Broad, and How Happy, Is the Trump Coalition?” by Nate Cohn and Alicia Parlapiano: “Mr. Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters were vital to his victory in the primary, and Obama-Trump voters in old industrial towns were decisive in the general election. But the midterms could be decided by voters at the edge of Mr. Trump’s coalition and of the public's imagination: stereotype-defying female, college-educated or nonwhite Trump supporters, who are somewhat likelier to harbor reservations about the president. They may have been reluctant to back him, but they were still essential to his 2016 victory and are essential to the G.O.P.’s chances today.”

-- CNN, “White anxiety finds a home at Fox News,” by Tom Kludt and Brian Stelter: “Laura Ingraham's forceful denunciation of ‘massive demographic changes’ served as another raw example of a Fox News host echoing white nationalist language. Perhaps it was a glimpse into [Trump's] well of support, too. The Fox News audience is almost 100% white, according to Nielsen. And on the channel's highest-rated shows, the politics of white anxiety play out practically every day, as hosts and guests warn about the impacts of immigration and minimize or mock the perspectives of people of color. The talk show segments are clearly intended to appeal to people who perceive they are losing their grip on power.”


“Massachusetts man arrested for threatening ICE agents on Twitter,” from NBC News: “Brandon Ziobrowski, 33, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, was arrested [in New York] Thursday morning after posting on Twitter in July that he would give $500 to anyone who would kill an [ICE] agent. According to the indictment, Ziobrowski had previously tweeted his desire to ‘slit’ Sen. John McCain's throat. Starting in February, he began to post tweets promoting violence against law enforcement. In March he began tweeting threatening messages about ICE, according to the indictments. On July 2, he tweeted: ‘I am broke but I will scrounge and literally give $500 to anyone who kills an ice agent. @me seriously who else can pledge get it on this let's make it work.’ He is expected to make his first appearance in federal court in Brooklyn on Thursday and will face a charge of using interstate commerce to transmit a threat to injure another.”



“ICE employee continued posting pro-Clinton messages despite warnings, Office of Special Counsel says,” from Fox News: “An employee of [ICE] agreed to resign this week after admitting she posted more than 100 social media messages during work hours or on agency property in 2016, urging people to vote for Hillary Clinton. The agreement between the employee and the OSC includes a five-year ban from working in the federal government … The posts were considered a violation of the federal Hatch Act, which prohibits most government employees from engaging in most political activities while on duty ... The woman continued the behavior despite being approached by ethics watchdogs[.] ‘When a federal employee emphatically and repeatedly engages in political activity while on duty or in the workplace, OSC takes that very seriously,’ Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner said."



Trump has no events on his public schedule today.


“I’m exploring a run for the presidency of the United States, and I wanted to come to Iowa and listen to people and learn about some issues that are facing the citizens of Iowa and do my homework.” — Stormy Daniels’s lawyer Michael Avenatti at the Iowa State Fair. (Des Moines Register)



-- It will be sunny and muggy (but not oppressively so) in D.C. today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Sunshine should dominate, even with slowly increasing cloud cover possible. It’s muggy but not oppressive as high temperatures reach the 87-to-93-degree range. Only a very light west-southwesterly breeze gets going later in the day, near 10 mph. An isolated late-day shower or storm can’t be ruled out, but it’s not too likely.”

-- The Nationals beat the Braves 6-3. (Jorge Castillo)

-- The Redskins lost their preseason opener to the Patriots 26-17. (Kimberley A. Martin)

-- After Wednesday’s deadline to file as an independent in the D.C. mayoral race, Muriel Bowser (D) is officially on a glide path to winning reelection. Bowser will become the first D.C. mayor to win reelection since Anthony Williams in 2002. (Fenit Nirappil)


Jimmy Kimmel questioned Kanye West about his opinions of Trump:

Trevor Noah interviewed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams of Georgia:

Michael Moore released the trailer for his new anti-Trump documentary:

The Fact Checker corrected five claims from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

An Australian farmer took drone footage of her cattle swarming a water truck amid a severe drought:

And kids visiting the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles shared their thoughts on the Space Force: