With Joanie Greve and Mariana Alfaro

THE BIG IDEA: Ken Starr he is not.

President Trump does not appreciate it, but he may have lucked out that it was Bob Mueller who investigated him.

The president attacked Mueller on Twitter this morning as “highly conflicted” and claimed that the special counsel “would have brought charges, if he had anything, but there were no charges to bring!”

In fact, the former FBI director emphasized during his nine-minute speech at the Justice Department on Wednesday that he felt hidebound by an opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel that sitting presidents cannot be indicted. He added that he was also “guided by the principles of fairness.”

“It would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of an actual charge,” the special counsel said in his first public comments since being appointed two years ago. “If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”

Since filing their detailed report, Mueller and his team have been frustrated by what they perceive as a lack of understanding, even among lawmakers, about DOJ guidelines. “Under that policy, Mueller and his team also think it would be improper for Mueller to say that the president would be charged with obstruction were it not for the Justice Department policy, because saying that would amount to a criminal accusation against the president,” Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett report. “Mueller’s team came to believe that making any sort of impeachment referral to Congress also would fall under the category of accusing the president of a crime, according to people familiar with their discussions. For those reasons, Mueller has been guarded … and wants to avoid being drawn into a back-and-forth in congressional testimony that could be tantamount to accusing the president of a crime.”

Starr opened his report by advocating for Bill Clinton’s impeachment. “There is substantial and credible information supporting the following eleven possible grounds for impeachment,” he wrote.

A Republican investigating a Democratic president, Starr was assisted by a retinue of known anti-Clinton partisans, including a young Brett Kavanaugh.

-- Starr testified before the House Judiciary Committee in 1998. Mueller, a registered Republican, has no desire to play along with House Democrats who want him to be the star witness of a televised hearing. In fact, the primary goal of his remarks on Wednesday appeared to be obviating the need to appear before Congress. “The report is my testimony,” Mueller said, adding that he’s resigning from the Justice Department and returning to private life. “I hope and expect this to be the only time that I will speak to you in this manner.” If compelled to appear, Mueller emphasized that he “would not go beyond” what’s in the report. “We chose those words carefully, and the work speaks for itself,” he said.

-- This is a blow for Democrats, who are now struggling internally with how aggressively to pursue Mueller’s testimony. As a House Democratic leadership aide put it to Rachael Bade: “There are tons of benefits to the visual. … To animate and dramatize the report elevates public awareness of it.”

-- During his investigation, Mueller opted not to force a legal confrontation with Trump to secure an in-person interview. The special counsel agreed to accept written answers that he knew could be vetted carefully by lawyers, and he accepted the president’s refusal to engage on questions related to obstruction of justice.

-- Other prosecutors also might have felt more compelled to vocally defend their integrity, as well as the government lawyers who work for them. Trump has repeatedly sought to cast doubt on the integrity of Mueller’s probe, characterizing it once again this morning as both a “WITCH HUNT” and “The Greatest Presidential Harassment in history.” Mueller nodded only briefly yesterday to the professionalism of the career civil servants who assisted him. He did not directly push back against Trump’s two years of attempts to delegitimize and politicize his investigation. Instead, he seems content to let the final product speak for itself.

-- Mueller is at the end of his career. The Vietnam veteran, on what’s clearly his final tour of duty in government, didn’t need a platform to make a name for himself. The 74-year-old was “the adult in the room,” explains Marc Fisher. “He delivered his message in the way he has conducted his career — by the book, in a code designed to inform rather than inflame. Anyone expecting the special counsel to let his hair down and speak from the heart about what he really thought of Trump did not know who Mueller is. A decorated Marine, a career prosecutor who wears a white shirt to work every day, Mueller rose through the government and became FBI director and a valued adviser to presidents of both parties not by speaking his mind but by proving his reserve.

“Until now, Mueller had played the role of the sphinx of the capital. … When he finally spoke, Mueller did so in a voice thinned by age, but strong in its controlled rectitude. … After Mueller finished, a reporter tried to elicit something beyond the written statement, but the special counsel said, ‘No questions,’ turned, and strode out of the room.”

-- First in the 202: Republicans for the Rule of Law, an initiative spearheaded by lifelong conservatives who are critical of Trump, has produced a five-minute testimonial video with three former federal prosecutors who are registered Republicans discussing how, if Trump was not president, they believe he would have been charged with obstruction of justice, based on the information in the Mueller report.

The video features Donald Ayer, Paul Rosenzweig and Jeffrey Harris. Ayer served as the deputy attorney general under President George H.W. Bush. Rosenzweig was a senior counsel to Starr and deputy assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security under George W. Bush. Harris served as deputy associate attorney general under Ronald Reagan and was a principal assistant to Rudy Giuliani when he was in the Justice Department.

The three are among the more than 1,000 former prosecutors who have signed onto a statement asserting that Mueller’s findings would have produced obstruction charges against Trump if he wasn’t the president. 

“These veterans of the Reagan and Bush Administrations are reminding us that the law applies the same to everyone, even the president,” said Chris Truax, a spokesman for Republicans for the Rule of Law, which produced the video in partnership with Protect Democracy, a nonprofit whose charge is to hold the executive branch accountable. “Republicans and all Americans need to listen.” (Watch the video here.)

-- “Wednesday’s press conference was consistent with … a persona that frustrates anti-Trump partisans who dreamed of [Mueller] as an avenging superhero,” former federal prosecutor Ken White writes in the Atlantic. “Mueller is a man out of time. This is the age of alternatively factual tweets and sound bites; he’s a by-the-book throwback who expects Americans to read and absorb carefully worded 400-page reports. Has he met us?”

-- Actor Robert De Niro, who has played Mueller on “Saturday Night Live,” pleads with the special counsel to testify before Congress in an op-ed for today’s New York Times. “I know you’re as uncomfortable in the spotlight as the president is out of it,” De Niro writes. “I know you don’t want to become part of the political spectacle … I understand why you’d want to do it away from the public glare. But the country needs to hear your voice. Your actual voice. And not just because you don’t want them to think that your actual voice sounds like Robert De Niro reading from cue cards, but because this is the report your country asked you to do, and now you must give it authority and clarity without, if I may use the term, obstruction.”

-- Here are five other takeaways from the speech:

1. Mueller emphasized how hard he leaned on opinions from the OLC that were released to protect presidents during past crises and that have not been tested in the courts. “The Special Counsel’s Office is part of the Department of Justice, and by regulation, it was bound by that department policy. Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider,” he said.

“The opinions — written in 1973 when President Richard M. Nixon faced the Watergate investigation and then in 2000 following the Starr inquiry into … Clinton’s behavior — concluded that initiating criminal proceedings against a sitting president would interfere with the unique constitutional responsibilities of the nation’s chief executive,” Rosalind Helderman reports. “Mueller cited the 2000 opinion on the first page of the volume of his report explaining his office’s approach to assessing whether Trump committed obstruction of justice. …

“Mueller’s view that department policy and issues of fairness prevented him from even assessing whether the president broke the law took some constitutional scholars and Justice Department veterans by surprise. … Even senior Justice Department officials did not appear aware of Mueller’s interpretation until he was finalizing his report.”

  • “The fact that a president cannot be prosecuted does not foreclose a finding by a special counsel of whether a president committed a crime,” said J. Michael Luttig, a former federal appeals court judge who served in the Office of Legal Counsel from 1989 to 1991.
  • “The opinions are not nearly as clear as people suggest they are,” said Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, who said there has been a long-standing dispute about whether the Constitution truly prohibits the president’s indictment.

2. Mueller’s statement highlighted key differences he has with Bill Barr over the facts and the law.

Mueller said he would have said so if he had confidence the president clearly did not commit a crime. But the attorney general announced in March that he had determined Trump didn’t commit the crime of obstruction of justice based on his review of the special counsel’s report.

“On Wednesday, Mueller said there was ‘insufficient evidence’ to show a conspiracy among Trump associates or Americans to aid Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election. When Barr announced Mueller’s findings, he said there was ‘no evidence’ to show any such conspiracy,” Barrett notes. “Asked about his disagreements with Mueller, Barr has made a point of emphasizing that when the two men met privately on March 5 to discuss the findings, Mueller said he would not claim the president would have been charged with a crime if he weren’t the president. Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, called Mueller’s comments Wednesday ‘a direct rebuke’ of the attorney general’s statements. … Spokesmen for Mueller and Barr said Wednesday evening that the two men’s statements about the OLC memo are not in conflict.”

“Trump has repeatedly praised Barr to White House aides and friends — saying he has defended him and proved to be a ‘real’ attorney general,” per Josh Dawsey. “Trump gave positive reviews to Barr’s congressional testimony, his news conference before the report and his public comments, White House officials said. The president was pleased that Mueller does not want to testify, an aide said.”

Barr is on a four-day trip to Alaska to focus on public safety problems facing the native population. He declined to answer questions from reporters there about Mueller’s remarks.

3. Mueller really wants Americans to read both volumes of his 448-page report.

The obstruction evidence in Volume II has received the lion’s share of coverage, but the special counsel emphasized Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, which he outlines in Volume I. “That allegation deserves the attention of every American,” Mueller said.

“Russian intelligence officers who are part of the Russian military launched a concerted attack on our political system,” he added. “They used sophisticated cyber techniques to hack into computers and networks used by the Clinton campaign. They stole private information and then released that information through fake online identities and through the organization WikiLeaks. The releases were designed and timed to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate.”

This comment is notable because Trump has so often downplayed the Kremlin’s efforts. “Russia, Russia, Russia! That’s all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax,” the president tweeted this morning. “And now Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected. It was a crime that didn’t exist.”

“If our country’s political health were better, the Russian attack would get the attention of every American. But Mueller gives us more credit than we deserve,” writes columnist Dana Milbank. “His report assumed that our leaders would take seriously the Russian threat when presented with overwhelming evidence. Instead, Trump laughs about the whole thing with [Vladimir] Putin, Republican leaders quash bipartisan efforts to protect the 2020 election from another attack, and GOP lawmakers, instead of pondering the president’s culpability and Mueller’s damning findings, demand investigations of investigators’ ‘treason’ and attempted ‘coup.’ In appealing to their better angels, Mueller was naive. Yet even Wednesday, as he entered the Justice Department briefing room, stooped and alone, he continued to act as though things were on the level. Russia is preparing to attack us — again. Trump is poised to benefit — again. Unlike in 2016, we now know Russia’s bad intentions, thanks to Mueller.”

4. Mueller’s statement increases pressure on Nancy Pelosi to begin impeachment proceedings.

At least two House Democratic chairmen — Bennie Thompson (Miss.) of the Homeland Security Committee and Jim McGovern (Mass.) of the Rules Committee — joined the impeachment push for the first time yesterday. That means 40 House Democrats, plus Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), are on the record in support of at least opening an impeachment inquiry. (JM Rieger and Amber Phillips are keeping a running whip count. Here’s an alphabetical list.)

“On Wednesday, Pelosi responded to the latest clamor by pointing to Democratic victories in the courts to justify a more measured approach,” Bade and Karoun Demirjian report. “Pelosi has argued privately and publicly that even if the House voted to impeach Trump, the outcome was preordained in the Republican-led Senate, where she said no GOP member would vote to convict the president. That would give Trump an opportunity to claim vindication twice — by Mueller and by Congress. … Pelosi bemoaned the news coverage, arguing that pro-impeachment Democrats received far more attention than some 200 members of the House Democratic Caucus who do not support such a step. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) — who has stopped short of advocating for impeachment in public but has privately pushed Pelosi to allow an inquiry to begin — said Congress must act.”

“Nothing is off the table, but we do want to make such a compelling case, such an ironclad case,” that even the Republican Senate “will be convinced of the path that we have to take as a country,” Pelosi said in California. “Many constituents want to impeach the president. But we want to do what is right and what gets results.”

There continue to be no real cracks in Republican congressional support for Trump beyond Amash. Tribalism helps Trump. Congressional Republicans, with one exception, largely backed up the president. The chyron on Fox News minimized Mueller’s findings the same way Barr did with his initial four-page letter: “Mueller: There was insufficient evidence to charge broader conspiracy.”

William Cohen, a former Republican congressman, senator and defense secretary who served on the House Judiciary Committee in 1974 during the Watergate impeachment inquiry, calls on GOP lawmakers to put country before party in an op-ed for today’s Post. “The silence of Republicans today in the face of presidential behavior that is unacceptable by any reasonable standard is both striking and deeply disappointing,” Cohen writes. “When one talks privately to some Republican members … they express their disdain and even alarm at how he conducts the nation’s affairs. Yet, the same members are reluctant to speak out publicly even in the face of behavior they would find intolerable by any previous occupant of the Oval Office. Fear is a potent weapon.”

5. Mueller may be resigning, but the case is not closed.

A federal judge yesterday ordered Andrew Miller, a former aide to Roger Stone, to testify on Friday before the grand jury that Mueller impaneled to assist his investigation. “The grand jury that worked with Mueller continues to hear testimony in ongoing matters related to Mueller’s now-concluded investigation, and a number of cases charged in the probe — including Stone’s — have been handed off to local federal prosecutors, including in Washington,” Spencer Hsu reports.

“Miller, 34, for 10 months waged an ultimately losing battle to quash a grand jury subpoena and faced jail time for contempt if he continued to refuse to testify,” Hsu adds. “Miller, of St. Louis, was on speakerphone Wednesday for the hearing at which U.S. District Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell denied a last-ditch motion by Miller’s attorney, Paul D. Kamenar, to block his client’s grand jury appearance.”

“If Mr. Miller does not appear before the grand jury on Friday, he will be in contempt and there will be an arrest warrant issued for him. Do you understand, Mr. Miller?” Howell asked.

“Yes, your honor,” Miller answered.

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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- Federal prosecutors have sent subpoenas to Mar-a-Lago and Trump Victory, a political fundraising committee, demanding they turn over all records relating to Li “Cindy” Yang, the GOP donor and massage-parlor entrepreneur who has been implicated in a corruption investigation. The Miami Herald’s Jay Weaver, Sarah Blaskey, Caitlin Ostroff and Nicholas Nehamas report: “Investigators are seeking evidence from Mar-a-Lago and Trump Victory as they build a potential case against Yang and possibly others close to her. The president’s club and the fundraising committee are not the targets of the investigation. The subpoenas cover records from January 2017 to the present. A spokeswoman for Yang did not immediately respond to a request for comment. One subpoena, issued by a federal grand jury in West Palm Beach, compels Mar-a-Lago to turn over all documents, records and communications relating to Yang, as well as 11 other people, one charity and seven companies affiliated with her, according to a person familiar with the investigation who asked for anonymity to discuss an ongoing probe.”

-- The White House asked Navy officials to obscure the USS John S. McCain while Trump was visiting Japan. Pentagon and White House officials acknowledged this last night after a report in the Wall Street Journal. Colby Itkowitz and Dan Lamothe report: “A senior Navy official confirmed he was aware someone at the White House sent a message to service officials in the Pacific requesting that the USS John McCain be kept out of the picture while the president was there. That led to photographs taken Friday of a tarp obscuring the McCain name. When senior Navy officials grasped what was happening, they directed Navy personnel who were present to stop, the senior official said. The tarp was removed on Saturday, before Trump’s visit. …

The crew of the McCain also was not invited to Trump’s visit, which occurred on the USS Wasp. A senior White House official also confirmed that they did not want the destroyer with the McCain name seen in photographs. The official … said the president was not involved in the planning, but the request was made to keep Trump from being upset during the visit.”

-- An email was sent to Navy and Air Force officials saying that the White House wanted the McCain “out of sight” during Trump’s visit, the Journal’s Rebecca Ballhaus and Gordon Lubold scooped: “Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan was aware of the concern about the presence of the USS John McCain in Japan and approved measures to ensure it didn’t interfere with the president’s visit, a U.S. official said. … Sailors were directed to remove any coverings from the ship that bore its name. After the tarp was taken down, a barge was moved closer to the ship, obscuring its name. Navy officials acknowledge the barge was moved but said it was not moved to obscure the name of the ship. Sailors on the ship, who typically wear caps bearing its name, were given the day off during Mr. Trump’s visit, people familiar with the matter said.”

-- “A Navy service member based on Yokosuka said that all of the American warships in the harbor were invited to send 60 to 70 sailors to hear Mr. Trump’s address, with the exception of the McCain. When several sailors from the McCain showed up anyway, wearing their uniforms with the ship’s insignia, they were turned away, the service member said,” per the New York Times’s Maggie Haberman and Helene Cooper.

-- Visiting Indonesia this morning, Shanahan denied that he "authorized" the activities. “I never authorized ... any action around the movement or activity regarding that ship. Furthermore, I would never dishonor the memory of a great American patriot like Sen. McCain. I would never disrespect the young men and women that crew that ship," he said, per Defense One's Katie Bo Williams.

-- Meghan McCain said this latest insult to her late father's memory “makes my grief unbearable:

-- McCain’s longtime speechwriter and co-author Mark Salter said Shanahan — who is facing what could be a tricky confirmation fight  should be held accountable by Senate Republicans:

-- Trump denied having advance knowledge:

-- A former White House speechwriter for George W. Bush floated this idea:

-- Before McCain’s death in August 2018, the Navy added the senator’s name to the ship, which was already named the USS John McCain after his father and grandfather, who were both admirals. The family's tradition of service continues.

-- A final thought: This snub happened over Memorial Day weekend, which makes it all the more stunning and might have been why military sources leaked what was going on.

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. A group of scientists concluded the deaths of thousands of tufted puffins in the Bering Sea is at least partially attributable to climate change. A new paper says that between 3,150 and 8,500 of the beloved birds died of starvation after the fish they eat migrated away from the sea’s warming waters. (Brady Dennis)

  2. There have been nearly 1,000 tornadoes in the U.S. so far this year, part of an explosion of extreme weather events. Twisters are driven mainly by the jet stream, the powerful winds at high altitudes that sweep across the continent, which has lately fallen into a roller coaster pattern resulting in extremely unstable weather. (Joel Achenbach and Jason Samenow)
  3. California had an unseasonably cold and wet May. Temperatures dipped below 50 degrees in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, the city’s first sub-50 day in the fifth month of the year since 1967. (Mike Branom)

  4. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) underwent surgery to remove a benign tumor from his leg. The senator's chief of staff said Alexander, who is not seeking reelection next year, “looks forward to returning to Senate work shortly after the recess.” (Felicia Sonmez)

  5. Uber will start banning riders with ratings that are “significantly below average.” The company said the bans for bad behavior won’t come as a surprise to offending passengers, who will receive several notifications before they lose access to the app’s services. (Hamza Shaban)

  6. Alex Trebek said his Stage 4 pancreatic cancer is in “near remission.” The “Jeopardy!” host told People magazine his body has shown “mind-boggling” progress in fighting the disease, which has a 9 percent chance of survival after five years. “The doctors said they hadn’t seen this kind of positive result in their memory,” Trebek said. (Alex Horton
  7. A 7-year-old from Allen, Tex., was this year’s youngest participant at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. He was cut from the competition after he misspelled “knoll.” The speller, Faizan Zaki, said he enjoys the challenge of big words the most. He was one of 292 kids to qualify under a new, controversial program. (Marissa Lang)

  8. Rescuers are making a last-ditch attempt to find survivors after a sightseeing boat sank on the River Danube in Budapest. At least seven people have been confirmed dead and 21 are reported missing, most of whom were South Korean tourists who officials said were not wearing life jackets. (Gergo Saling and Simon Denyer)

  9. A man is suing Delta Air Lines and the owner of an emotional-support dog who he says attacked him on a flight. Marlin Jackson claims in his lawsuit the dog lunged at his face immediately after he took his seat, causing injuries that required 28 stitches. Jackson said that Delta “took no action to verify or document the behavioral training of the large animal” and that the owner “should have known that his large animal was foreseeably dangerous.” (Paulina Firozi)

THE ABORTION WARS:

-- Louisiana’s legislature passed one of the country’s strictest abortion bans, and the state’s Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, plans on signing it, defying his party. Jacqueline Kantor and Reis Thebault report: “The Wednesday vote came after an ardent debate over amendments to the bill, including one that would have added an exception to the abortion ban for cases of rape and incest. That change, and others that sought to make the law more lenient, were rejected. After nearly two hours, 79 lawmakers voted to pass the bill, while 23 voted against it. More than a dozen Democrats supported it. ‘As I prepare to sign this bill,’ Edwards said in a statement after it passed, ‘I call on the overwhelming bipartisan majority of legislators who voted for it to join me in continuing to build a better Louisiana that cares for the least among us and provides more opportunity for everyone.’”

-- The last time the Supreme Court had a clear chance to overturn Roe v. Wade, in June 1992, a majority of justices — most of whom were nominated by Republican presidents — were unwilling to do so. Robert Barnes reports: “More opportunities to limit — or eliminate — the fundamental right established by Roe are coming to the court. How the justices respond will define the court in the public’s mind. A look back at what happened exactly 27 years ago next week provides a moment of pause for both sides of the abortion fight … On June 3, 1992, three Republican-nominated justices who once were thought to hold similar promise — Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony M. Kennedy and David Souter — circulated a ruling that reaffirmed what they called the ‘essential holding’ of Roe. Their decision recognized ‘the right of the woman to choose to have an abortion before viability and to obtain it without undue interference from the state.’”

-- Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R), who has been an outspoken foe of abortion rights, claimed he has “serious health concerns” about the last clinic in his state that provides access to abortion. The clinic could be forced to stop offering the procedure at the end of this week if political appointees at the state health department don't renew its license. Marissa Iati reports: “The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services performed a routine, annual investigation of the clinic in March and found ‘numerous violations of state laws,’ [Parson said.] … The Planned Parenthood facility in St. Louis will get its annual license if it addresses the state’s complaints by Friday, Parson said. It would be ‘reckless’ for a judge to issue a temporary restraining order allowing the clinic to keep performing abortions before the state acted on the license renewal, he said. ‘No judge should give special treatment to Planned Parenthood in this instance,’ Parson said.”

-- Disney CEO Bob Iger warned it would be “very difficult” to film in Georgia if the state’s restrictive abortion law takes effect. Reuters’s Lisa Richwine reports: “Disney has filmed blockbuster movies in Georgia such as ‘Black Panther’ and ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ and it would be a blow to the state’s efforts to create production jobs if the entertainment giant stopped filming there. … Asked if Disney would keep filming in Georgia, Iger said it would be ‘very difficult to do so’ if the abortion law is implemented. ‘I rather doubt we will,’ Iger said. … ‘I think many people who work for us will not want to work there, and we will have to heed their wishes in that regard.’”

-- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would raise the topic of abortion with Vice President Pence, who is coming to Ottawa today to ostensibly discuss trade. “Obviously, I am very concerned with the backsliding of women’s rights we are seeing from conservative movements here in Canada, in the United States and around the world,” Trudeau told reporters. “I will have a broad conversation with the vice president, in which that will of course come up, but we are mostly going to focus on the ratification process of NAFTA and making sure we get good jobs for Canadians.” (Emily Rauhala)

-- Adam Cohen, the author of “Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck,” said Clarence Thomas knows “nothing” about his work, which the justice cited repeatedly as he sought to link abortion and eugenics. From an op-ed for the Atlantic: “Thomas’s concurring opinion is an example of a common form of argumentation: the false analogy to a universally acknowledged historical atrocity. … Thomas is absolutely right that we need to remember our eugenics past and make sure that we do not make the same mistakes again. He is absolutely wrong that individual women making independent decisions about their pregnancies are the eugenicists of our time.”

THE TRADE WARS:

-- Pelosi is slowing down the Trump administration’s plan for quick approval of its new NAFTA deal. The Times’s Glenn Thrush and Ana Swanson report: “Ms. Pelosi has said privately that she is convinced the agreement can be approved — ‘I can get to yes’ she told a supportive lawmaker last week — even if that would hand Mr. Trump with a much-needed domestic policy achievement ahead of his re-election campaign. But the president’s slight, in that it was a factor at all, only reinforced Ms. Pelosi’s resolve to extract significant revisions to the accord as a precondition of holding a floor vote, and those changes could require a renegotiation of the updated [NAFTA], which the three countries agreed to last year … During a meeting at the Capitol this month, Ms. Pelosi told Robert Lighthizer, the United States trade representative, that she planned to create four House task forces to examine key components of the agreement, including labor standards, environmental issues, pharmaceuticals and the creation of a verifiable enforcement mechanism to hold Mexico accountable for promised changes to labor laws and other provisions in the deal. That came as unwelcome news for administration officials who had been hoping to get congressional approval for the deal before Congress takes it long August recess. … But with Ms. Pelosi in no apparent hurry to strike a deal, the window for a summer ratification is closing fast.”

-- China is putting American soy purchases on hold as the tariff war between both nations escalates. From Bloomberg News: “State-grain buyers haven’t received any further orders to continue with the so-called goodwill buying and don’t expect that to happen given the lack of agreement in trade negotiations … Still, China currently has no plans to cancel previous purchases of American soybeans, the people said. … Government data indicates China bought about 13 million metric tons of American soybeans after the countries agreed to a truce in December, in a move that showed goodwill toward getting the trade dispute resolved. While U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in February that China had pledged to buy an additional 10 million tons of American soy, purchases have now stopped.”

-- Senators are urging the Agriculture Department to stop Trump’s farm bailout money from going to foreign-owned companies. Rachel Siegel reports: “Trump’s bailout program, which buys surplus commodities from farmers and ranchers, was pitched as a way to protect farmers during the nation’s trade war with China. But the USDA hasn’t turned away foreign-owned corporations that want in. Earlier this year, taxpayer money was used to buy $5 million in pork products from a Brazilian-owned meatpacking firm. A Chinese-owned pork product also was slated to profit from bailout money until the contract provoked intense criticism and was eventually canceled. ‘It is unacceptable that American taxpayers have been subsidizing our competitors through trade assistance,’ according to a letter addressed to [Agriculture Secretary Sonny] Perdue and signed by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and eight other Democratic lawmakers. … ‘USDA only buys American commodities, produced on American farms by American farmers,’ a USDA spokesperson previously told The Post in an email. ‘Approved vendors who choose to participate in USDA food purchasing programs, regardless of their business structure or domicile, provide direct benefits to U.S. farmers and ranchers.’”

-- Investors are quickly fleeing equities and seeking the relative safety of bonds, alarming U.S. markets and raising fears that a recession is coming. The markets were detoured after the U.S.-China trade deal evaporated, erasing stock market gains and creating uncertainty among companies and consumers. (Thomas Heath)

-- Economists may have analyzed the effects of the trade war too narrowly by just calculating the cost of tariffs and where those costs may appear. The longer-term consequences, however, are harder to model. From the New York Times’s Neil Irwin: “If there is a slowdown in the Chinese economy that causes its demand for oil and other commodities to fall, American makers of those commodities could face pain over and above that caused by tariffs directly. Falling global commodity prices would pull the world economy even further into its deflationary rut. That last story is particularly consistent with the swings in markets this month. Because tariffs tend to increase consumer prices, you might expect the escalating trade war to cause investors’ expectations for inflation to rise.”

THE NEW WORLD ORDER:

-- Israel will hold an unprecedented second election after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition. Loveday Morris and Miriam Berger report: “Despite his reputation as a ­master of political maneuvering, Netan­yahu proved unable to bring Avigdor Liberman, his former defense minister, into a coalition that would give the prime minister a majority in the parliament, or Knesset. The two veteran politicians were at loggerheads over legislation sought by Liberman to draft ultra-Orthodox Jews into the military, a measure bitterly resisted by Netan­yahu’s powerful political allies in the religious parties. The move for new elections leaves Israel in political disarray as it now embarks on an expensive nationwide vote that has no guarantee of shifting the balance of power among the parties.”

-- Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, arrived in Israel to witness the country’s political chaos — and a new roadblock for his Middle East peace plan. Loveday Morris reports: “The White House is running short of time to release its plan for how to solve the decades-long conflict between Israel and Palestinians before the 2020 U.S. election campaign kicks into full swing. Analysts say Netanyahu is unlikely to want to address thorny political issues or the prospect of any concessions with the Palestinians during a campaign period. ‘It’s death for the peace plan,’ said Gil Hoffman, a political columnist for the Jerusalem Post, referring to Netanyahu’s failure to form a government and new elections. Kushner, who is traveling with U.S. Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, is scheduled to meet with Netanyahu later Thursday.”

-- A U.S. intelligence assessment determined that Russia has been violating an international nuclear treaty by conducting low-yield nuke tests. The Wall Street Journal’s Michael R. Gordon reports: “The assessment marks the first time the U.S. has said the Kremlin has failed to strictly observe its commitments under the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. … At issue are activities at Novaya Zemlya, a remote archipelago above the Arctic Circle where Russia conducts nuclear tests. There, Russia likely has tested nuclear weapons with very low yields, as part of its push to develop new nuclear weapons, U.S. intelligence analysts say.” In a speech at the Hudson Institute, Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley Jr., the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said Russia is “probably” not adhering to the treaty but stopped short of accusing the Kremlin of conducting illegal tests.

-- National security adviser John Bolton said Iran is “almost certainly” to blame for mines that damaged oil tankers in the Persian Gulf earlier this month. Karen DeYoung and Josh Dawsey report: “Bolton, speaking to reporters during a visit to the United Arab Emirates, provided no evidence for the charges. ‘Who else would you think is doing it?’ he said of the mines. ‘Somebody from Nepal?’ While he warned of a ‘very strong response’ from the United States against Iran and its proxies, Bolton did not specify what would trigger that reaction. He is in the Middle East to consult ‘more closely with our allies in the region to discuss what to do next,’ Bolton said.”

-- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Swiss foreign minister Ignazio Cassis to discuss Iran before heading to the exclusive Bilderberg meeting. Carol Morello reports: “Also on Wednesday, [Shanahan], speaking to reporters accompanying him on a trip to Asia, said that some of the troops sent to the Middle East would go to Saudi Arabia and Qatar. While the State Department officials insisted Iran will not be a primary focus of Pompeo’s talks in Europe, the timing lends an urgency and could signal Trump’s efforts to diffuse the bellicose rhetoric of late coming from both capitals.”

-- The former mayor of Tehran, Mohammed Ali Najafi, confessed to killing his wife while sipping tea on Iranian state television. He turned himself in to authorities. Erin Cunningham reports: “He said he had killed Mitra Ostad, his wife, the night before after threatening her with a gun because she refused to grant him a divorce. Najafi, a 67-year-old reformist politician, said he killed her accidentally after surprising her in the bathroom at their home in a wealthy Tehran neighborhood. The dramatic case, Najafi’s bizarre and televised confession, and the hands-off approach of investigating authorities have scandalized, enraged and baffled Iranians, who have long criticized the preferential treatment given to government officials in matters before the law. State television filmed Najafi, who also once served as education minister and is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as he sat un-handcuffed and casually sipping tea in a police commander’s office. The officials shook Najafi’s hand and bowed deferentially, while a reporter interviewed him.”

-- Prominent Brexiteer Boris Johnson was summoned to court over allegations he falsely inflated the amount of money Britain sends to the European Union. Johnson, who is the front-runner to become the next British prime minister, was accused of misconduct in a public office for putting the figure at 350 million pounds (about $440 million), rather than the actual 280 million pounds (about $350 million), during the 2016 debate. “I accept that the public offices held by Mr. Johnson provide status, but with that status comes influence and authority,” said District Judge Margot Coleman, who determined that sufficient evidence existed to send the case to trial. Imagine if that standard existed in the United States. (Karla Adam)

-- Children in Britain are whitening their skin to avoid a rising tide of racial hate crimes, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children found. The organization found that racial abuse and bullying of children has risen by one-fifth since 2015-2016, with more than 10,000 such incidents recorded by police last year. (The Guardian)

-- A Swedish town banned Islamic headscarves in schools for children under age 13. The measure is part of an “integration plan” for the town of Staffanstorp, which is led by the country’s center-right Moderate Party and the populist Sweden Democrats. (The Local)

BIG TECH IN THE CROSSHAIRS:

-- Pelosi said Facebook’s refusal to take down an altered video of her showed the social network's leaders are “willing enablers” of Russian election interference. “We have said all along, ‘Poor Facebook, they were unwittingly exploited by the Russians.’ I think wittingly, because right now they are putting up something that they know is false. I think it’s wrong,” the speaker of the House told KQED News. “They’re lying to the public. ... I think they have proven — by not taking down something they know is false — that they were willing enablers of the Russian interference in our election.” She added she believed the company’s response would have been different if the target of the video had been CEO Mark Zuckerberg. If it was “one of their own, would this be — is this their policy?” Pelosi asked. “Or is it just a woman?” (Drew Harwell)

-- Amazon tweaked its Alexa voice software to allow customers to delete recordings of what they’ve said during the day. The change comes as concerns grow over the artificial-intelligence assistant’s ability to record its users. Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, owns The Post. (Jay Greene)

-- Twitter is conducting research to determine whether white nationalists and white supremacists should be kicked off the platform. Many academics commended the social media giant for taking up the issue, but several complained that the company should have started considering these options long ago. (Vice News)

-- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) placed a “Break up Big Tech” billboard in San Francisco. The billboard is next to the city’s primary Caltrain stop, where a large portion of the city’s technology workers arrive each morning. It's steps away from the headquarters of Lyft and Dropbox. (The Verge)

THE IMMIGRATION WARS:

-- Social conservative activist Scott Lloyd, an antiabortion hard-liner who ran HHS’s refugee office and was heavily criticized for his leadership role in the botched separations of migrant families, is leaving the department next week. Lloyd, who was transferred to the HHS office for faith-based initiatives in November, has faced mounting questions over whether his congressional testimony about the separations was truthful. HHS leaders previously concluded that he mismanaged efforts to reunite the families and was disorganized. (Politico)  

-- Immigration and Customs Enforcement said a Colorado policy prohibiting police from keeping immigrants in custody could lead to violence. The Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reports: “Gov. Jared Polis (D) on Tuesday signed House Bill 1124, ending Colorado’s compliance with ICE detainers, or holds, which are requests by federal law enforcement to detain immigrants for up to 48 hours beyond their release date if ICE believes they’re in the country illegally. ‘By signing Colorado’s House Bill 1124, the state has codified a dangerous policy that deliberately obstructs our country’s lawful immigration system, protects serious criminal alien offenders, and undermines public safety,’ ICE said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. As a result of the new law, ‘criminals will now be returned to the streets throughout Colorado,’ the agency said. ‘This is an irresponsible law that will undoubtedly have tragic future consequences at the expense of innocent citizens, lawful residents and visitors.’”

-- More than 230 undocumented immigrants detained at the border have been transferred to jails in the New York City area. The New York Daily News’s Stephen Rex Brown reports: “An immigration official said the transfer of 235 immigrant detainees to ICE jails in Bergen, Hudson and Orange Counties appeared to be the first time the New York City area had received such a large number of border crossers.”

-- “The Lost Boys of Galveston, Texas,” by the New Yorker’s Jessica Weisberg: “I first visited the Children’s Center in March of 2015. At the time, Texas had at least twenty-six facilities for underage undocumented immigrants—more than any other state. I wanted to report a story about what it was like to grow up in one of these facilities, in a state of legal suspension. I reached out to all of them, and the Children’s Center was the only one to return my call. The first time [Children’s Center President James Terence] Keel and I spoke, he invited me to come by for breakfast. … Throughout the day, boys filtered in and out of the house to use the bathroom, or to ask Keel if he could give them a ride. The mood was hectic and familiar. Most of them were from Honduras, El Salvador, or Guatemala—countries known collectively as the Northern Triangle, where rising gang violence and poverty has forced people to flee en masse.”

THE REST OF THE DOMESTIC AGENDA:

-- Trump is preparing an executive order aimed at increasing transparency around drug pricing, triggering pushback from the private industry. Amy Goldstein and Josh Dawsey report: “The most far-reaching element favored by the White House aides developing the order would require insurers and hospitals to disclose for the first time the discounted rates they negotiate for services, according to health-care lobbyists and policy experts familiar with the deliberations. The idea has stirred such intense industry opposition, however, that it may be dropped from the final version. … Other parts of the order are expected to make it easier for people on Medicare, the federal insurance program for older and disabled Americans, to find out what they would pay for treatment at various hospitals by widening the range of services for which hospitals must post their prices.”

-- The Trump administration scrapped a proposal to require federal job applicants to disclose whether they participated in a diversion program to avoid prison. Lisa Rein scoops: “The proposed expanded criminal background checks appeared to conflict with [Trump’s] support for criminal justice reform, an effort championed by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, that has become an early issue in the 2020 presidential race. … The change would have required applicants who receive a conditional job offer to note on a form any participation in a diversion program. The answer could lead a hiring manager to rescind the offer.”

-- The District’s Office of Human Rights released a report showing D.C. employers have had to pay nearly $500,000 in settlements since a “ban the box” law went into effect in 2014. The law made it illegal to ask job applicants about their criminal history, but the office said the city has received nearly 2,000 complaints since the law’s implementation about employers continuing to ask such questions. (Justin Wm. Moyer)

-- The new freedom fries: “The Energy Department announced the approval of a liquefied natural gas project in Texas, saying it would allow ‘molecules of U.S. freedom to be exported to the world,’” Steven Mufson reports. The department said the permit for the expansion of the Freeport, Texas facility ‘is critical to spreading freedom gas throughout the world.’ It wasn’t the first time the Trump administration and others have linked U.S. exports of natural gas to political freedom in other parts of the world, especially places like Lithuania and Poland, which both rely on natural gas purchased from Russia. At the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2018, Energy Secretary Rick Perry used the phrase, ‘exporting freedom,’ to describe growing gas exports.”

2020 WATCH:

-- Bernie Sanders is struggling to attract new supporters (and keep some of his old ones) in a crowded Democratic field. Sean Sullivan reports: “Sanders consistently polls second to former vice president Joe Biden, but often in the teens, a precarious spot for someone who is known by virtually all Democratic voters. One of his trademark proposals — Medicare-for-all — has attracted fewer co-sponsors in Congress than two years ago. And although Sanders continues to draw larger crowds than most candidates, they are generally less diverse than the Democratic Party, highlighting one of his key weaknesses. … His message of left-wing change has clear limits, as reflected in Biden’s rise. And for those who do embrace his revolutionary cause, a messenger such as [Elizabeth] Warren, who has been rising in polls, may be fresher and more appealing.”

-- Beto O’Rourke released an immigration plan aimed at reversing many of Trump’s initiatives and increasing refugee admissions. Jenna Johnson reports: “O’Rourke’s plan focuses on three broad objectives: Use executive authority to quickly reverse many of Trump’s policies; halt construction of a wall along the southern border; overhaul the asylum system to more quickly process claims and protect young undocumented immigrants from deportation. It would push Congress to enact sweeping immigration changes that include a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States and a new visa category that would allow communities and religious congregations to sponsor refugees; invest $5 billion in the Northern Triangle region of Central America, which comprises Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.”

-- Biden’s personal loss — the death of his son Beau to cancer — has emerged as a touchstone as he campaigns. NBC News’s Mike Memoli reports: “’I was diagnosed with cancer in August of 2017,’ one man shared with Biden at a recent house party in New Hampshire. ‘My son died also,’ another woman told Biden as he worked his way through a tent in the cold rain. ‘He couldn’t get treatment.’ ‘My daughter has cancer too,’ offered another. … Now that shared grief is providing an unspoken bond between Biden and some of the voters he encounters. ‘I wish I could tell you the names of the people coming up to me,’ Biden told NBC News after several such interactions at that Nashua house party. Now, those moments are helping to shape his campaign. ‘You know there’s a lot of people who we can help, for real,’ he said. ‘There's no reason why we can’t do so much more.’”

-- Roy Moore, the former Alabama judge who blew a special Senate election to Democrat Doug Jones, hit back at Trump after the president publicly warned him not to run again. Politico’s James Arkin reports: “‘The president doesn’t control who votes for the United States Senate in Alabama,’ Moore said in a phone interview. ‘People in Alabama are smarter than that. They elect the senator from Alabama, not from Washington, D.C.’ … Trump tweeted Wednesday morning that he has ‘NOTHING’ against Moore, despite the sexual misconduct allegations against the former judge. But, he wrote, Moore ‘cannot win, and the consequences will be devastating.’ That came after Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., also tweeted at Moore to steer clear of the race.”

-- Former South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison announced he would challenge Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) next year. The former aide to House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) hopes to become the first Democrat to win one of South Carolina’s Senate seats since 1998. In his campaign kickoff video, Harrison highlighted his own biography and Graham’s past contradictory comments about Trump. One highlighted clip from the 2016 GOP nomination fight shows Graham calling Trump “a race-baiting, xenophobic religious bigot.” Subsequent clips show the senator saying of the president, “No, I don’t think he’s a xenophobic, race-baiting, religious bigot,” and that Trump “deserves the Nobel Peace Prize and then some.” (John Wagner)

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Several 2020 Democrats called for impeachment proceedings to begin against Trump:

Meanwhile, Trump's allies rallied to his defense. From the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee:

The former speaker:

The only Republican lawmaker to call for Trump's impeachment said the ball is in Congress's court:

One of Amash's Democratic colleagues made a bold prediction that is perhaps more wishful thinking than grounded in reality:

A HuffPost reporter analyzed Amash's stance on Mueller's findings:

A Mueller biographer argued the special counsel was also calling for impeachment:

An NBC News reporter compared Mueller's comments to a Pixar movie:

From a former senior adviser to Barack Obama:

From a Times reporter:

From a conservative columnist for the Daily Beast:

Meanwhile, former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper shot down hopes that he would run for the Senate instead of the White House:

GOOD READS:

-- Foreign Policy, “Let the Monroe Doctrine Die,” by Kori Schake: “While the Monroe Doctrine had support of countries in Latin America because it protected them from predatory Europeans, the Roosevelt corollary was reviled because it resulted in U.S. military occupations of the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Mexico’s Veracruz port; the separation of Panama from Colombia with the U.S. taking control of the canal; and the annexation of Puerto Rico. It wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century that U.S. policy changed in a fundamental fashion. The same threat of hostile European powers colonizing fragile states in Latin America that provoked the Monroe Doctrine in 1823 emerged again during World War II in concern about Nazi Germany making inroads. But instead of the gunboat diplomacy that characterized U.S. policy from the 1890s through 1914, President Franklin Roosevelt orchestrated hemispheric solidarity. Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor policy succeeded where imperialism had failed the United States: building the Western Hemisphere into a U.S. bastion.”

-- The Atlantic, “There Are Two Types of Airport People,” by Amanda Mull: “Because I’m a compulsively early person, I’ve always assumed the other people trucking through the airport were doing their best to be on time, even if their best was different from my own (superior) best. Why would anyone look at an experience as expensive and anxiety-inducing as flying and want to make it a little bit riskier? Some chronically late people do, of course, intend to be on time. But a smaller group of frequent fliers heads into air travel with lateness as the goal, relishing the thrill of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. ‘I just really live for the feeling of literally running through the airport barefoot because you didn’t have time to put your shoes on after security, and your laptop is in your hand because you didn’t have time to put it back,’ says my colleague Ellen Cushing, a senior editor at The Atlantic.”

-- Michael Wolff’s “Siege,” the sequel to his bestseller “Fire and Fury,” features a trip inside Trumpworld guided by Steve Bannon, writes Ryan Lizza in a review for The Post: “So the new Wolff book is much like the last one: a sail through the Trump diaspora and inside the president’s head with Bannon as the cruise director. But also like the last book, ‘Siege’ is ultimately crippled by three flaws: Wolff’s overreliance on a single character, and one who is now more distant from the action; factual errors that mar the author’s credibility; and sourcing that is so opaque it renders the scoops highly suspicious and unreliable. … In ‘Siege,’ the dead arrive at Bannon’s doorstep in the form of former Trump aides such as Corey Lewandowski, David Bossie, Sam Nunberg and Jason Miller, and Wolff, like many other Washington reporters, absorbs a mix of gossip, misinformation and occasional insight that the outer rings of Trump advisers are famous for circulating.”

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“Steve King: Presuming all cultures contribute equally to our civilization devalues the Founding Fathers,” from Colby Itkowitz: “Rep. Steve King, who earlier this year was condemned by his congressional peers for favorable comments about white supremacy, argued Tuesday that presuming all cultures are equal devalues the Founding Fathers. The Iowa Republican made his latest comments during a tense exchange with a constituent at a town hall meeting. … Christina Russell, who lives in King’s district, challenged the congressman on the premise that his social media posts were funny. ‘Making fun of brown people and criminalizing them, it’s not a joke … Dehumanizing the Mexican culture is not a joke,’ said Russell, according to video of the event posted on King’s Facebook page. … ‘If we presume that every culture is equal and has an equal amount to contribute to our civilization, then we’re devaluing the contributions of the people that laid the foundation for America and that’s our Founding Fathers,’ King said.”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“Ad Firm Cuts Ties With NRA, Says ‘Chaos Led Us to Lose Faith’ After 38 Years” from Bloomberg News’s Neil Weinberg and David Voreacos: “The firm, Ackerman McQueen Inc., said Wednesday that it would cease working with the NRA after 38 years because ‘the NRA’s chaos led us to lose faith’ in the group. … ‘We were attacked in frivolous lawsuits and defamed with made-up stories that were then cowardly peddled to the media,’ the Oklahoma City firm said in a written statement. ‘The intent was to make us afraid. We will never fear the truth.’ Ackerman McQueen added: ‘The turmoil the NRA faces today was self-inflicted. It could have been avoided. We deeply regret that it wasn’t.’ … ‘It is not surprising that Ackerman now attempts to escape the consequences of its own conduct,’ William A. Brewer III, a lawyer for the NRA, said in a statement.”

DAYBOOK:

Trump will travel to Colorado Springs to speak at the United States Air Force Academy's graduation ceremony.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway slammed James Comey as “a grandstander and a showboat” after the former FBI director wrote a Post op-ed accusing Trump of telling “dumb lies” about the bureau’s investigation into his 2016 campaign. “Who cares what he thinks?” Conway said of Comey. “We said ‘no collusion’ for two years, and they couldn’t take us for our word.” (John Wagner)

 

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

-- A few scattered storms will likely break the heat. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Storms could approach severe levels today but at least manage to push the real heat and humidity out of the area tomorrow. Weekend warmth is tolerable and, while afternoon or evening showers and storms are possible both days, Sunday afternoon/evening presents the greatest chance of getting wet.”

-- The Nationals swept the Braves 14-4. (Jesse Dougherty)

-- The House Committee on Oversight and Reform will hold a hearing on D.C. statehood on July 24, making this the first time in about 25 years that the issue will be formally reviewed by a House committee. Jenna Portnoy and Fenit Nirappil report: “The location of the announcement, at the D.C. War Memorial on the Mall — during Memorial Day week — is also significant. The 499 names on the marble monument represent soldiers who ‘died without any representation in the Congress or in the city itself because they’re from World War I,’ Norton said. ‘Nothing could symbolize what we’re doing more than going to the World War I memorial.’”

-- D.C.’s Mead Theatre backed out of hosting conservative filmmaker Phelim McAleer’s staging of “FBI Lovebirds: UnderCovers,” a play based on the texts between FBI lawyer Lisa Page and former agent Peter Strzok. The theater cited “threats of violence” as the reason the performance was shut down. (The Hollywood Reporter)

-- A Bethesda man who set himself on fire on the Ellipse has died. Arnav Gupta, 33, was taken to a hospital Wednesday afternoon in critical condition. (CNBC)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Trevor Noah broke down Mueller's public statement: 

Jimmy Kimmel came up with a song to remember all the 2020 Democratic candidates: 

The singer Halsey teamed up with the ACLU for a video in which she criticizes recent state laws restricting abortion:

And the remains of a U.S. soldier who died during World War II finally returned home: