With Joanie Greve and Mariana Alfaro

THE BIG IDEA: Joe Biden met with senior members of the Congressional Black Caucus last night. He called Cory Booker to try smoothing things over after awkwardly demanding an apology from the African American senator. The Biden campaign distributed talking points touting the 76-year-old’s record on civil rights. And the former vice president released a statement decrying President Trump’s Iran strategy as “a self-inflicted disaster.”

All these moves, including wading into the Iran debate, should be viewed as part of the broader damage control effort by the Biden campaign after his boast during a fundraiser on Tuesday night about working collegially to get things done with racist senators who championed segregation, specifically cotton plantation owner James Eastland. “At least there was some civility,” Biden said of his fellow Democrats, who died a generation ago. “He never called me ‘boy.’ He always called me ‘son.’”

Biden would much rather be trashing Trump on Iran than defending the leading role he played during the 1970s in partnering with segregationists to advance legislation that thwarted court-ordered busing of black children into majority-white schools as a means of integration. The barking dogs of war could thus represent a lucky break for Biden. For the first time since the start of the week, he won’t be the biggest story in the news today.

“Two of America's vital interests in the Middle East are preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and securing a stable energy supply through the Strait of Hormuz. Trump is failing on both counts,” Biden said in the statement. “He unilaterally withdrew from the hard-won nuclear agreement that the Obama-Biden Administration negotiated to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Trump promised that abandoning the deal and imposing sanctions would stop Iran’s aggression in the region. But they’ve only gotten more aggressive.”

-- News broke overnight that Trump ordered an attack on Iran yesterday in retaliation for the downing of a surveillance drone in the Strait of Hormuz, but he called the operation off just hours before it was due to occur.

As late as 7 p.m., military and diplomatic officials were expecting a strike, after intense discussions and debate at the White House among the president’s top national security officials and congressional leaders,” per the New York Times’s Michael Shear, Eric Schmitt, Michael Crowley and Maggie Haberman. “Officials said the president had initially approved attacks on a handful of Iranian targets, like radar and missile batteries. The operation was underway in its early stages when it was called off, a senior administration official said. Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down. The strike was set to take place just before dawn Friday in Iran to minimize risk to the Iranian military and civilians. …

“Trump’s national security advisers split about whether to respond militarily,” per the Times. “Senior administration officials said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; John R. Bolton, the national security adviser; and Gina Haspel, the C.I.A. director, had favored a military response. But top Pentagon officials cautioned that such an action could result in a spiraling escalation with risks for American forces in the region.”

-- Trump confirmed in a tweet this morning that he called off the attack and took a shot at the Obama-Biden administration, as well as the nuclear agreement they signed:

-- Biden clearly views his extensive diplomatic experience as a calling card, even a trump card, over a less experienced field. But it might not be the salve he hopes. The Trump campaign and Biden’s rivals for the Democratic nomination seem perfectly happy to debate what critics on the right and the left consider a decidedly mixed 47-year foreign policy record.

-- Trump’s reelection campaign quickly issued a response yesterday to Biden’s statement: “Iran shoots down an American drone in international airspace, and Joe Biden’s response is to attack President Trump? What is his solution? Send Iran more pallets of cash? Let Iran take more U.S. sailors hostage? More coddling?” The Trump campaign’s “war room” pushed a quote from the memoir of Bob Gates, who served as secretary of defense under George W. Bush and stayed on under Obama: “I think he [Biden] has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”

-- Biden critiqued Iran at the end of his statement, perhaps a preemptive rebuttal to the argument made by the Trump campaign: “Make no mistake: Iran continues to be a bad actor that abuses human rights and supports terrorist activities throughout the region,” he said. “But what we need is presidential leadership that will take strategic action to counter the Iranian threat, restore America's standing in the world, recognize the value of principled diplomacy, and strengthen our nation and our security by working strategically with our allies.”

-- One reason Biden wants to talk about Iran is because it allows him to talk about Barack Obama, who remains enormously popular among Democrats, and to remind the base during a racially hued firestorm that the first black president, who is staying neutral in the primaries, picked him as a wingman. Biden refers constantly to “the Obama-Biden administration,” as he did in his latest statement. “It’s sadly ironic that the State Department is now calling on Iran to abide by the very deal the Trump Administration abandoned,” he said. “By walking away from diplomacy, Trump has made military conflict more likely. Another war in the Middle East is the last thing we need.”

-- On the other side, meanwhile, Biden’s critics on the left have increasingly highlighted his vote for the Iraq War. Polls show it remains a political liability 17 years later. Bernie Sanders has emphasized his vote against the 2002 resolution that authorized the use of force and noted that Biden helped get it across the finish line. When Biden flip-flopped and endorsed taxpayer funding for abortion two weeks ago, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) called on the former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to issue a similar mea culpa on Iraq. “Bravo to [Biden] for doing the right thing and reversing his long-standing support for the Hyde Amendment,” said Moulton, who served four tours of duty in Iraq. “It takes courage to admit when you're wrong, especially when those decisions affect millions of people. Now do the Iraq War.”

At the Third Way conference in South Carolina I covered earlier this week, both Jim Messina and Jen Psaki emphasized that Obama could never have won the Democratic nomination in 2008 — over a field that included Biden and Hillary Clinton — if he had not been an early, consistent and outspoken critic of invading Iraq.

MORE BAD NEWS FOR BIDEN:

-- Correspondence provided to The Washington Post by the University of Mississippi, which houses Eastland’s archived papers, appears to contradict Biden’s characterization of his relationship with the late senator.

“Biden on Wednesday night described his relationship with Eastland as one he ‘had to put up with,’” Matt Viser and Annie Linskey report. “He said of his relationships with Eastland and another staunch segregationist and southern Democrat, Sen. Herman Talmadge of Georgia, that ‘the fact of the matter is that we were able to do it because we were able to win — we were able to beat them on everything they stood for.’ … But the letters show a different type of relationship, one in which they were aligned on a legislative issue. Biden said at the time that he did not think that busing was the best way to integrate schools in Delaware and that systemic racism should be dealt with by investing in schools and improving housing policies. ... ‘I want you to know that I very much appreciate your help during this week’s [Judiciary] Committee meeting in attempting to bring my antibusing legislation to a vote,’ Biden wrote on June 30, 1977.

“In one letter, on March 2, 1977, Biden outlined legislation he was filing to restrict busing practices. ‘My bill strikes at the heart of the injustice of court ordered busing,’ he wrote to Eastland. ‘It prohibits the federal courts from disrupting our educational system in the name of the constitution where there is no evidence that the governmental officials intended to discriminate.’ … The Senate two years earlier had passed a Biden amendment that prohibited the federal Department of Health, Education, and Welfare from ordering busing to achieve school integration. ‘That was the first time the U.S. Senate took a firm stand in opposition to busing,’ Biden wrote.

“The next year, he continued to push for antibusing legislation and again wrote to Eastland. ‘Since your support was essential to having our bill reported out by the Judiciary Committee, I want to personally ask your continued support and alert you to our intentions,’ Biden wrote on Aug 22, 1978. ‘Your participation in floor debate would be welcomed.’

“Biden’s campaign late Thursday issued a statement saying that ‘the insinuation that Joe Biden shared the same views as Eastland on segregation is a lie.’ … ‘Joe Biden has dedicated his career to fighting for civil rights,’ the statement said. … Divisions also emerged in Biden’s campaign over how he should handle such situations. Aides alternately argued that he simply misspoke in telling the anecdote, that he shouldn’t be telling it at all — or that his remarks demonstrate his ability to work with those with whom he disagrees and the words were being purposefully twisted for political gain.”

-- Read the letters for yourself here.

-- This one could leave a mark: Politico co-founder John F. Harris writes that Biden may hope that voters embrace him as a modern-day Winston Churchill. But the latest donnybrook raises the possibility that he is more like Grampa Simpson.

THE LATEST ON IRAN:

-- A spokesman for Iran’s Supreme National Security Council said Iranian forces would respond to any retaliatory strike by the United States,” Erin Cunningham, Missy Ryan and Dan Lamothe report. “Iran’s state-controlled broadcaster Friday published images it said showed pieces of the drone recovered from the debris field. Iranian officials told the Reuters news agency Friday that Tehran received a message from Trump through Oman overnight warning that a U.S. attack was imminent. ‘Trump said he was against any war with Iran and wanted to talk to Tehran about various issues,’ Reuters quoted one official as saying. ‘He gave a short period of time to get our response.’

The Federal Aviation Administration late Thursday barred U.S.-registered aircraft from operating over the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, due to an increase in military activities and political tensions that it said might ‘place commercial flights at risk.’ Several U.S. and international carriers said that they had either canceled flights over Iranian airspace or were taking steps to avoid the Strait of Hormuz.

On Thursday, the European Union said officials from Germany, Britain, France, Russia, China and Iran would meet next week to discuss strategies to salvage the nuclear pact despite renewed U.S. sanctions and Tehran’s threat to exceed limits on its uranium stockpiles. Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister said Friday on Twitter that he met with Brian Hook, the State Department’s special representative for Iran, in Riyadh ‘to explore the latest efforts to counter hostile Iranian acts.’”

-- Democratic lawmakers reiterated calls for restraint and demanded congressional oversight of military action:

FOUR SMART TAKES:

 -- “Iran needs to play a short game to escape the U.S. chokehold before it becomes fatal,” writes columnist David Ignatius: “Iran probably can’t break out of this squeeze play without creating a larger crisis that forces international intervention — perhaps an Iranian attack that kills Americans and triggers a harsh U.S. retaliation. The Trump administration doesn’t want such a war — at least, not yet — because officials know that with every day of sanctions, Iran becomes weaker. … When we examine the inner logic of the confrontation, the surrounding events become more comprehensible. Each side appears to be behaving rationally, hoping to obtain its goals without the broad military conflict that neither wants. That’s mildly reassuring, but the danger of miscalculation remains huge.”

 -- In its latest game of rhetorical chicken, an outmatched Iran will likely lose, writes Jason Rezaian, our former Tehran bureau chief who was imprisoned by the regime: “A key ingredient in the current volatility is the brazen language used by leaders on both sides. Iran has used this sort of rhetoric for decades, but rarely has a U.S. commander in chief been as prepared to engage on that level as our current president — and that should make everyone nervous. … The truth is the United States has an arsenal of weapons — military, economic, political and cultural — that Iran cannot and will never be able counter … But the promise of the regime lies in the false hope that, in the end, God will deliver the ultimate death blow to the country’s enemies. And even if he doesn’t, those who die in the process will be fast-tracked to heaven.”

-- Trump, who so far has played the role of belligerent isolationist, needs allies now that he’s confronting Iran, writes Dennis Ross, a former special assistant to Obama: “Regrettably, our traditional allies have been slow to accept the administration’s charges that the Iranians carried out the recent attacks on two ships. While Pompeo is surely right that no one else, certainly not any proxy forces, had the means to place mines on the hulls of the ships, there is little trust in Washington. When you berate allies, they are not quick to respond when you need them … Our allies fear that supporting U.S. charges will lead the administration to escalate and make a war with Iran more likely. … But this could play to Trump’s advantage. The administration could use the fear that it might provoke a war as leverage on the Europeans and others to internationalize the response to the Iranians.” 

-- Finally, while tensions with Iran escalate, the Pentagon not only lacks permanent leaders in the top two positions but remains mum to the media. Paul Farhi reports: “Officials at the Department of Defense summoned reporters to a hastily arranged briefing to discuss the tense situation unfolding in the Gulf of Oman after Iran’s military shot down an American surveillance drone. The incident followed attacks on shipping vessels in the region last week. But when reporters assembled at the Pentagon’s briefing room, a spokesman, Jonathan Hoffman, quickly set the tone: ‘At this time, we’re not going to be taking questions,’ he announced. What followed was less a briefing than an audio news release. … The all-too-brief briefing marked the first time in more than a year that a military officer or press secretary has addressed the press — and through it, the American public — with TV cameras rolling.”

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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- The Supreme Court overturned a Mississippi man’s murder conviction in a case that raised questions of racial bias, ordering a new trial. Developing: “Curtis Flowers, who is African American, was tried six times in the 1996 slaying of four people in a Winona, Miss., furniture store. His lawyers had argued that the local district attorney, Doug Evans, habitually blocked black potential jurors.”

-- The National Rifle Association has sidelined its top lobbyist, Chris Cox, after accusing him in court documents of participating in what it called a failed extortion scheme to rid the organization of its top executive. “Cox, the NRA’s second-in-command and leader of its powerful political arm, was placed on administrative leave after the organization filed a lawsuit Wednesday in New York against former NRA president Oliver North, who resigned in April after accusing the NRA of exorbitant spending,” Katie Zezima and Beth Reinhard report.

“Chief executive Wayne LaPierre has accused North of attempting to extort the group. In its new suit, the NRA accused Cox of participating in a ‘conspiracy’ with North. LaPierre accused North of working in concert with the group’s estranged public relations firm, Ackerman McQueen. In its lawsuit against North, the NRA claims that North said he could work with Ackerman’s co-founder to negotiate an ‘excellent retirement’ for LaPierre if he cooperated. It also implicated another board member, former Oklahoma congressman Dan Boren (D), in the alleged scheme. Boren did not return a request for comment.”

Cox called the allegations “offensive and patently false.” He’s led the political and lobbying arm of the group since 2002, and tax records show he was paid $1.1 million in 2017. The NRA also placed one of Cox’s top deputies, Scott Christman, on administrative leave.

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. A Republican state senator in Oregon threatened to shoot any state trooper sent to bring him back to the capitol after Gov. Kate Brown (D) dispatched troopers to search for 11 Senate Republicans who fled the legislature to deny Democrats a quorum for a cap-and-trade bill. The Republicans will be fined $500 a day if they don’t return to work this morning. (Oregonian)

  2. A Navy SEAL medic said he — not Chief Edward Gallagher — killed a wounded captive in Iraq. Special Operator First Class Corey Scott testified that he watched Gallagher stab the prisoner but that the wound didn’t appear to be life-threatening. Scott said he then pressed his thumb on the prisoner’s breathing tube until he died. (New York Times)

  3. SpaceX and Boeing have fallen two years behind schedule to successfully develop a spacecraft for NASA. Four years after NASA awarded contracts together worth $6.8 billion to the two companies, the agency still can’t fly astronauts to the International Space Station. (Christian Davenport)

  4. A massive fire broke out at a crude oil refinery in Philadelphia this morning. The fire erupted at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refining Complex, which produces some 335,000 barrels per day. It wasn’t immediately clear how the fire started, and authorities said there are no immediate reports of injuries. (Lindsey Bever)

  5. Millions of business listings on Google Maps are fake, and the company can’t seem to stop the proliferation of the fictional businesses. Google profits off the false listings, which also benefit businesses seeking more customers by adding made-up branches in various corners of a city. (Wall Street Journal)

  6. Sarah Sanders’s allies commissioned a poll in Arkansas to test her support against likely primary opponents for a potential gubernatorial race. The results of the poll purportedly showed Sanders “crushing” any potential Republican rivals, including Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, who has spent years laying the groundwork to run in 2022 and was a central figure, as Karl Rove's deputy, in the U.S. attorney scandal during the George W. Bush administration. (CBS News)

  7. Duke's Zion Williamson was the first pick of this year’s NBA draft. Williamson will head to the New Orleans Pelicans. (Ben Golliver and Matthew Giles)

  8. The U.S. women’s national soccer team defeated Sweden, 2-0, in its last game of group play. The victory clinched America’s top spot in Group F and set up a match against Spain at noon Eastern time on Monday. (Steven Goff and Jacob Bogage)

  9. The Tampa Bay Rays are considering the possibility of splitting the baseball season with Montreal. The MLB’s executive council has granted the Rays permission to explore the plan, which would allow the team to play early-season home games in Tampa Bay and the rest of the year in Montreal after years of failed attempts to build a new stadium in the Tampa area. (ESPN)
  10. Those who spend at least 120 minutes outdoors each week report higher levels of health and happiness. Less time outside yielded no significant benefit in mental health. (Christopher Ingraham)

THE DOMESTIC AGENDA:

-- An NBC-Wall Street Journal poll published at 6 a.m. found Americans aren’t sure the U.S. system is capable of addressing the country's long-term challenges. The Wall Street Journal’s John McCormick reports: “The lukewarm assessment is marked by sharp partisan differences. A majority of Democrats believe American democracy needs a complete overhaul or major changes, while a majority of Republicans say it is working well or needs only minor adjustments. Republicans, unlike Democrats, say they have faith in the office of the presidency and see America as a leader on the world stage. But on many points, both parties hold a souring view of how the federal government is functioning. … The president receives the greatest share of the blame for partisanship in Washington, with 43% saying his administration deserves much or all of the responsibility. By contrast, 34% primarily blamed Republicans in Congress, while 30% cited congressional Democrats.”

-- The S&P hit an all-time high after the Federal Reserve signaled interest rate cuts may be coming. Taylor Telford reports: “The Dow Jones industrial average also surged, climbing nearly 250 points and coming within 1 percent of its own record. … Though the Fed board wrapped up meetings this week without announcing a rate cut, they indicated a willingness to do more to shore up the economy against any slowdowns tied to the trade war. … Popular workplace messaging company Slack beat expectations with its debut on the New York Stock Exchange, with trading starting at $38.50, well above its reference price of $26.”

-- A federal appeals court ruled the Trump administration’s family planning “gag rule” could go into effect immediately. The policy could cut up to $60 million in Title X funds from Planned Parenthood. Ariana Eunjung Cha reports: “The decision is a major setback for the women’s health-care provider and for 21 state attorneys general who filed lawsuits shortly after the policy was published in March, arguing it would undermine the patient-provider relationship and endanger the health of millions of women. Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, called the news ‘devastating’ for the millions of women who rely on Title X for services such as cancer screenings, HIV tests and birth control, and said the organization would immediately appeal.”

-- When Trump visits any of his clubs, federal officials and Republicans pay to go where he is, which has brought his private businesses at least $1.6 million in revenue. David A. Fahrenthold, Josh Dawsey, Jonathan O’Connell and Michelle Ye Hee Lee report: “About one-third of all the political fundraisers or donor meetings that Trump has attended — 23 out of 63 — have taken place at his own properties, according to the Post analysis of federal campaign finance records and the president’s public schedule. Campaign finance records show several Republican groups paying to hold events where Trump spoke. GOP fundraisers say they do that, in part, to increase the chances Trump will attend. … The actual amount of money Trump has received as a result of his visits and campaign events is probably much higher than the $1.6 million The Post identified. That’s because most of the records available about government spending date to the first half of 2017 — covering just the first few months of Trump’s presidency so far. And the records of campaign spending don’t account for other revenue that Trump may have made off campaign events, including overnight stays by donors attending the event.”

-- The Supreme Court upheld a federal program regulating the registration of sex offenders, but a divided court's ruling foreshadowed a fight ahead over the separation of powers. Robert Barnes reports: “More than the fate of a specific federal program, the decision seemed to portend major battles over conservative concerns about the ‘administrative state’ and whether executive agencies and unelected public officials have been given too much power. … The court was split 4 to 4 on the question, and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said he joined the court’s liberals to make a majority only because of how the court had ruled on such questions in the past. He did not endorse their reasoning. … Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the plurality, said her conservative colleagues were close to making a mountain out of a molehill in examining the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).”

-- Nancy Pelosi accused Mick Mulvaney of misrepresenting her position on the debt ceiling, arguing the acting White House chief of staff has “no credibility” on the issue. Colby Itkowitz and Damian Paletta report: “Mulvaney said that during a meeting Wednesday between congressional leaders and White House staff, Pelosi (D-Calif.) had insisted that she would increase the debt ceiling only if the Trump administration agreed to boost spending levels. Asked to respond to this, Pelosi said Mulvaney had ‘no credibility’ on the debt ceiling after his role in the 2011 and 2013 budget fights and had misrepresented her remarks. ‘Do we have to waste time on Mike Mulvaney’s mischaracterization of my remarks?’ she said. ‘We will never question the full faith and credit of the United States of America.’”

-- Luis Alvarez, a retired New York Police Department detective and a Ground Zero responder, sat next to comedian Jon Stewart last week to implore Congress to reauthorize funding for people injured as a result of the 9/11 attacks. Now he’s in hospice care. Michael Brice-Saddler reports: “His heart-wrenching testimony drew national attention, one day before what would have been his 69th chemotherapy session to treat Stage 4 cancer. He was diagnosed 16 years after he rushed to Ground Zero after the twin towers collapsed. But on Wednesday, Alvarez shared heartbreaking news. A nurse noticed he was disoriented before his chemotherapy, and testing revealed his liver had completely shut down. The prognosis was bleak — doctors said there was nothing more they could do … ‘I’m nobody special; I did what all the others guys did, and now we’re paying the price for it,’ Alvarez said Thursday. He added, ‘We did the right thing by going down there; now it’s the government’s turn to do right by us.’”

-- Oklahoma settled a landmark lawsuit against Purdue Pharma over the opioid crisis earlier this year, but most of the $270 million went to a new addiction treatment and research center at Oklahoma State University and not the local governments that need the cash. Lenny Bernstein reports: “The state, which Attorney General Mike Hunter was elected to represent, got nothing in the $270 million deal. Oklahoma’s more than 670 cities and counties, which have absorbed most of the emergency and health-care costs of the opioid epidemic, received just $12.5 million to divvy up. Neither had any say in the agreement, which gave about $60 million to private attorneys hired to work on the case. Two months later, Hunter announced an $85 million settlement with a second defendant, Teva Pharmaceutical. The governor, lawmakers and mayors of Oklahoma were not about to make the same mistake twice.”

-- In a tense hearing on safety, House Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said the nation’s railway system has fallen into the hands of “the jackals on Wall Street” and accused Trump-appointed federal regulators of colluding with them. Ashley Halsey III: “For more than two hours, lawmakers challenged Federal Railroad Administration head Ronald L. Batory about three-mile-long trains that block railway crossings and his decision to withdraw a proposed rule that would have mandated two-member crews on most trains. … Batory told the committee that the railroad workforce had declined from 700,000 when he entered the business in 1971 to about 150,000 now.”

THE IMMIGRATION WARS:

-- Undocumented immigrants are trying to stay out of sight as Trump continues to threaten mass raids. Arelis R. Hernández and Antonio Olivo report: “The president’s proclamation — that federal agents soon will start rounding up families in the country illegally and deporting them by the thousands — has accelerated the fear that has built for more than two years among the nation’s estimated 10.5 million undocumented residents, according to immigrants, advocates and public officials. Parents are vowing to keep their children out of summer programs. Shopping trips are consolidated to limit driving. Migrants without papers are avoiding large crowds and minimizing going out at night and even attending church. … A Honduran woman who spoke on the condition of anonymity said she had been hunkered down in her stuffy apartment since hearing about Trump’s announcement. ‘It feels like we’re prisoners,’ she said.”

-- The legal battle is intensifying over the Trump administration’s policy of returning migrants to Mexico while they await U.S. immigration court proceedings. Maria Sacchetti and Nick Miroff report: “The program has been under court challenge since its limited rollout in January, but a federal appeals court has allowed it to continue while considering its legality. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit is not expected to issue a decision for weeks — possibly months — giving federal immigration officials time to return thousands of migrants from Central America, Cuba and other countries to Mexico in a bid to keep the migrants from residing in the United States.”

-- In an interview with Telemundo — which was billed as his first television interview with a Spanish-language network — Trump insisted his administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy was “not a mistake.” Allyson Chiu reports: “‘I brought the families together,’ Trump said in a wide-ranging and at times contentious interview with Telemundo … ‘I’m the one that put them together.’ … Addressing a predominantly Hispanic audience on Thursday, Trump pushed back against ‘Noticiero Telemundo’ anchor José Díaz-Balart’s assertion that he has been ‘very tough on immigrants.’ … ‘When you say that, you mean illegal immigrants,’ Trump said. ‘I’ve been very good to immigrants.’”

-- A 9th Circuit panel appeared divided over the White House request for an emergency stay allowing the Defense Department to begin spending $1 billion in diverted funds for Trump's border wall. Politico’s Josh Gerstein breaks it down: “Judge N.R. Smith, a George W. Bush appointee, sounded inclined to grant the stay and to overturn the injunction an Oakland, Calif.-based federal district court judge issued last month barring the expenditure as unauthorized by Congress. Judge Michelle Friedland — an Obama appointee — seemed deeply skeptical of the administration’s arguments, effectively accusing officials of trying to evade Congress’s decision to give Trump just a small fraction of the wall funding he requested and to limit it to Texas’s Rio Grande Valley. The decision could turn on the views of the third judge on the panel, Bush appointee Richard Clifton, who was more difficult to read.”

-- María Senaida Escobar Cerritos, the Salvadoran woman who was shot dead by Mexican authorities in Veracruz, was hoping to reunite with her father in California. Kevin Sieff reports: “‘We knew the journey came with risks,’ Darios Escobar Lainez, 58, said this week. ‘But we never thought there was a chance that the Mexican police would kill my daughter.’ … María decided to leave her home in the Salvadoran department of Cabañas for a long list of reasons, her father said. She was tired of being extorted by local criminal groups, who badgered her for money and threatened their family with violence. She was sick of trying to find a job in a place where none existed. And she missed her father. … Escobar Lainez has flown from Santa Cruz to El Salvador to receive his daughter’s body. He was living illegally in California, he said, and he knows returning to El Salvador probably means the end of his life in America, because crossing back would be difficult.”

-- A legal team that interviewed dozens of children at a Border Patrol station found that some 250 infants, children and teens are being locked up in traumatic and dangerous situations. The AP’s Cedar Attanasio, Garance Burke and Martha Mendoza report: “Three girls, ages 10 to 15, said they had been taking turns watching over a sick 2-year-old boy because there was no one else to look after him. When the lawyers saw the boy, he wasn’t wearing a diaper and had wet his pants, and his shirt was smeared in mucus. They said at least 15 children at the facility had the flu, and some were kept in medical quarantine. The children told lawyers that they were fed uncooked frozen food or rice and had gone weeks without bathing or a clean change of clothes at the facility in Clint, in the desert scrubland some 25 miles southeast of El Paso. … In an interview this week with the AP, acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner John Sanders acknowledged that children need better medical care and a place to recover from their illnesses.”

-- A Trump administration lawyer said detained migrant children do not need access to soap or toothbrushes for the government to comply with a requirement that they be held in “safe and sanitary” conditions. Newsweek’s Nicole Goodkind reports: “The administration said that they did not violate a precedent set by a landmark 1985 class action lawsuit which established guidelines for the way minors held in federal immigration detention must be treated. The case, Jenny Lisette Flores v. Edwin Meese, created rules around the timely release of migrant minors to their parents, and said that those not released must be kept in facilities that are ‘safe and sanitary.’ But on Tuesday, the Justice Department's Sarah Fabian claimed that the ruling did not list specific requirements like ‘toothbrushes’ or ‘towels,’ to establish a sanitary condition.”

­-- “‘These People Aren’t Coming From Norway’: Refugees in a Minnesota City Face a Backlash,” by the Times’s Astead Herndon in St. Cloud, Minn.: “In this predominantly white region of central Minnesota, the influx of Somalis, most of whom are Muslim, has spurred the sort of demographic and cultural shifts that Trump and right-wing conservatives have stoked fears about for years. The resettlement has divided many politically active residents of St. Cloud, with some saying they welcome the migrants. But for others, the changes have fueled talk about ‘white replacement,’ a racist conspiracy theory tied to the declining birthrates of white Americans that has spread in far-right circles and online chat rooms and is now surfacing in some communities.”

THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:

-- Former White House communications director Hope Hicks told lawmakers that Trump’s campaign felt “relief” when WikiLeaks started releasing damaging information on Hillary Clinton in 2016. Rachael Bade, Rosalind S. Helderman and Devlin Barrett report: “During a closed-door interview with the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, [Hicks] defended the Trump campaign’s use of private Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign emails that were stolen by Russia, then released by WikiLeaks. … 'I think that ‘happy’ is not — I don’t think that’s a fair characterization,' Hicks told one lawmaker who asked if the campaign was happy to see the WikiLeaks emails released. 'I think relief that we weren’t the only campaign with issues is more accurate.' The committee released a transcript of the interview on Thursday. The question was among the few Hicks would answer during the seven-hour session. The White House barred her from answering 155 questions related to her time working in the Trump administration.”

-- Felix Sater, a former Trump business partner, had agreed to tell a House panel new details about his efforts to get a Trump tower built in Moscow. But he reportedly did not show up this morning. Tom Hamburger and Anton Troianovski reported yesterday: “While the testimony of former Trump aides has been largely stymied so far by White House objections, Sater, who has a long history of assisting government investigations, said he plans to give substantive answers during his closed-door interview with the House Intelligence Committee. ‘I will answer every question without exception,’ said Sater, who worked on two separate efforts to develop a Trump tower in Russia. … Among the topics Sater said he plans to address: How a former Soviet army general offered him advice on developing a Trump tower project in Moscow during the 2016 campaign — interactions that were not detailed in former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report.”

-- The Justice Department accused Trump associate Roger Stone of violating his gag order by sharing new Instagram posts. Spencer S. Hsu and Manuel Roig-Franzia report: “Prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson to demand that Stone explain why the court should not change the terms of his release as he awaits a November trial after postings on his Instagram account this week. The postings included photos of commentators referring to the ‘Russia Hoax’ and claiming that Stone’s defense has exposed ‘the ‘intelligence community’s’ [sic] betrayal of their responsibilities’ and revealed ‘deeply disturbing lessons about the level of corruption at the top levels of the agencies charged with protecting us from external threats.’”

-- Andrew Weissman, a top prosecutor on Mueller’s team, is shopping a book proposal, publishing industry sources told CNN’s Brian Stelter. He should be able to get a pretty penny.

MORE ON 2020:

-- Despite allegations of sexual misconduct involving young girls, Roy Moore announced he will once again seek Alabama’s Senate seat. Prominent Republicans promised to do whatever it takes to stop him. Colby Itkowitz and Paul Kane report: “From the party leader to former presidential candidates, Republicans said that Moore has no place in the national GOP or in the Senate, expressing fear his candidacy would distract from [Trump’s] reelection campaign and their own races next year. … But Moore, who had already heard the complaints from Trump and Republicans, ignored them and declared he would go on to defeat Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) in the conservative-leaning state. ‘I will run for the U.S. Senate in 2020,’ Moore said at his launch in Montgomery. ‘Can I win? Yes, I can win. They know I can. That’s why there’s so much opposition.’”

-- Rep. Jim Clyburn is in the spotlight today as Democrats descend on South Carolina for his famous fish fry. Cleve R. Wootson Jr. and Paul Kane report: “As a member of House Democrats’ establishment wing, he has been caught in the feud over whether to open impeachment hearings against Trump, at one point facing pressure to walk back comments about the inevitability of such a move after they conflicted with [Pelosi’s] posture. On Thursday he had to apologize to Pelosi and her second in command, Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), for comments in the Wall Street Journal that accused them of ‘tokenism’ in staffing. … The party’s rapid shift to the left and toward younger voters has brought new challenges to the 78-year-old’s standing, much as it has introduced a new generation of candidates and activists into the presidential contest.”

-- Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren agreed they wouldn’t attack each other on the campaign trail, but some worry that pact is falling apart. New York magazine’s Gabriel Debenedetti reports: “When [Warren] hosted [Sanders] at her place in Washington for a private meeting late on the second Wednesday of December, both senators finally came clean with what was, by that point, obvious but unspoken. They were almost certainly going to run for president. Neither tried dissuading the other… But they did make one agreement[:] … Warren and Sanders would not go after each other directly on the campaign trail. That’s not what they wanted 2020 to be about. … Bernie 2020 is now four months old, and as the senator’s team continues to wrestle with how, exactly, to shape the latest version of his appeal in a political landscape radically different from 2016’s, the campaign’s posture toward Warren … remains one of its least settled matters.”

-- Marianne Williamson claimed she “misspoke” when she called vaccines “draconian” and “Orwellian.” “To me, it's no different than the abortion debate,” Williamson reportedly said in New Hampshire. “The U.S. government doesn't tell any citizen, in my book, what they have to do with their body or their child.” But the presidential candidate and self-help author walked back the comments over Twitter. “I understand that many vaccines are important and save lives. I recognize there are epidemics around the world that are stopped by vaccines,” Williamson wrote. “I am sorry that I made comments which sounded as though I question the validity of life-saving vaccines. That is not my feeling and I realize that I misspoke.” (CNN)

-- In related news: Real-estate developer Albert Dwoskin, the Democratic megadonor, has pulled the plug on an anti-vaccine group founded and bankrolled by his family. From the Daily Beast’s Jackie Kucinich: “Dwoskin said that he cut funding from the Children's Medical Safety Research Institute long before the current measles outbreak heightened interest in vaccination policy. The group closed at the end of 2018 after he and his wife, Claire, began divorce proceedings. CMSRI had been known for circulating anti-vaxx misinformation including debunked connections between autism and vaccines. The organization, which was founded by Claire Dwoskin, was largely funded by the family’s foundation … But that, Albert Dwoskin said, has come to an end. ‘After seeing a great deal of evidence, I have concluded that concerns about the safety of vaccination are unfounded,’ he said.”

-- Fun read: “The ‘Wife Guys’ of the 2020 presidential race,” by Monica Hesse: “When asked recently to name his personal hero, Beto O’Rourke responded with ‘my wife’ — and he probably thought he’d nailed it. A noncontroversial answer, endearingly personal, good for the women’s vote. … Former congressman John Delaney must have had a similar thought process, because he, too, told the New York Times that his wife was his hero when he answered the same questionnaire, which was distributed to all Democratic presidential candidates. And so did Seth Moulton. And so did Jay Inslee. And so did Steve Bullock. All of them: ‘Personal hero: My wife.’ … A candidate declaring that his wife is his hero has the unintended consequence of making it look like the person he admires most is the person who makes his own life easier, by handling the drudgery that his important dream requires.”

THE NEW WORLD ORDER:

-- Trump hosted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the White House, striking a friendly tone and vowing to help defuse a tense diplomatic standoff between Ottawa and China. Emily Rauhala reports: “Trump said he would raise the detention of two Canadians in China with President Xi Jinping when they meet at a Group of 20 meeting in Japan next week. ‘Anything I can do to help Canada, I will be doing,’ he said. … With cameras rolling, Trump said it was an ‘honor’ to host Trudeau, whom he called ‘my friend.’ The Canadian leader nodded politely. … The apparently drama-free afternoon felt like a possible reset. … After more than a year of gloves-off negotiations over the trade agreement formerly known as NAFTA, both leaders are eager to close the deal. … But before Trudeau calls lawmakers back from summer holiday to work on the USMCA, he wanted to know how ratification is progressing on the U.S. side.”

-- Ebola has spread in Congo for nearly a year. Officials are now trying to “reset” their response to the crisis. Max Bearak reports: “‘Ebola is like water. If you don’t build a perfect dam, even a small hole can lead to a flood of new cases,’ said Marie Roseline Belizaire, the World Health Organization’s deputy manager for the response. Health officials are confident the outbreak is not spiraling out of control but are worried the holes in that dam are opening up faster than they can plug them. … Unlike past Ebola outbreaks in Congo, which occurred mostly in remote regions, this one more closely resembles the devastating Ebola epidemic in West Africa that killed more than 11,000 across three closely linked countries between 2014 and 2016. Belizaire said she sends urgent messages each week to colleagues in bordering countries, warning of a possible carrier of the virus headed their way.”

-- In Hong Kong, protesters have again blocked main streets demanding that the island’s leader Carrie Lam fully withdraw the extradition bill. Timothy McLaughlin reports: “Lam has suspended the bill, and offered up two public apologies, but has refused to withdraw the legislation completely. Her apologies have been dismissed as self-serving and many continue to demand that she resign. … Friday’s protests were originally organized by the student unions of Hong Kong universities but gathered support online and through messaging apps popular with younger demonstrators.”

-- The Senate voted to block Trump’s “emergency” arms sales to Saudi Arabia, as well as the United Arab Emirates, but fell short of a vetoproof majority because only seven Republicans defected. Karoun Demirjian reports: “A bipartisan group of senators, led by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), had filed 22 resolutions of disapproval against the sales — one for every contract the administration had expedited by emergency order, effectively sidestepping congressional opposition. But after weeks of negotiations, Senate leaders agreed to hold just three votes encompassing the substance of all resolutions seeking to block the deals. … The first two resolutions, to prohibit sales benefiting Saudi Arabia and various Western nations, passed 53 to 45 with seven Republicans voting in favor: Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Graham, Mike Lee (Utah), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Todd C. Young (Ind.). Only five of those Republicans backed the third resolution, which sought to block several arms deals also benefiting Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and others. It passed 51 to 45.”

-- European leaders appear reluctant to bring their citizens who went to fight for the Islamic State back home to face trial. Michael Birnbaum reports: “Three months after the collapse of the Islamic State, about 2,000 foreign fighters are imprisoned in Syria and Iraq, and about 800 of them are believed to be European, according to U.S. officials. Those figures don’t include the thousands of wives and children with foreign citizenship. European leaders have made little movement to repatriate their citizens, even as U.S. and Kurdish authorities beg them to take back their people. Some security officials warn that inaction could enable future attacks, and human rights advocates deplore the conditions in overcapacity camps.”

-- The deaths of American tourists in the Dominican Republic have been characterized as suspicious and mysterious. But, so far, there’s no evidence that they're out of the ordinary for a popular tourist destination. Rachelle Krygier, Eli Rosenberg and Anthony Faiola report: “As the news seemed to reach a fever pitch this week, the U.S. State Department shared some reassuring information with The Washington Post. It said it has seen no unusual spike in deaths reported from the Dominican Republic. … It is a matter of statistics that a certain number of travelers will experience serious illnesses, accidents and even death while traveling internationally. And the death rate in the Dominican Republic is not any higher than the death rate in the States, officials said.”

-- Walmart will pay $282 million to settle federal criminal and civil charges that it ignored evidence of internal corruption for years as it expanded its overseas empire. Between 2000 and 2011, Walmart executives were aware of problems within its anti-corruption programs at its foreign subsidiaries, including Mexico and China, but failed to act, according to court documents. (Renae Merle)

-- Mark Field, the British Foreign Office minister, has been accused of assaulting a Greenpeace activist during a black-tie event. He has apologized but said he acted in self-defense because he thought she was armed. Still, calls for his resignation are growing. From the BBC: “Thursday night's incident - filmed by TV news cameras - happened after climate change protesters disrupted the beginning of Chancellor Philip Hammond's annual Mansion House speech about the state of the UK economy. Dozens of activists - dressed in suits, red dresses and sashes – ‘gatecrashed’ the dinner, according to Greenpeace, and refused to leave. Footage shows Mr Field getting out of his seat and stopping one female protester by pushing her against a column and marching her out of the room.”

­-- Vladimir Putin is bowing to international pressure, and Russia has begun releasing 100 valuable orcas and belugas held hostage for months in what’s become known as a “whale jail.” The Times’s Ivan Nechepurenko reports: “The whales were initially captured by four private companies [that] used loopholes in Russian law to obtain permits to catch animals and then sell them to China, where they would spend their lives performing in theme parks.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

We published a piece this morning analyzing what issues the 23 Democratic candidates are discussing most on social media. The field overall has been prioritizing health care and social justice. However, some candidates are choosing to focus their campaigns on other topics, such as climate change, foreign policy and gun control:

Kamala Harris's husband confirmed her preferred comfort food:

Former GOP congressman and convicted tax felon Michael Grimm is raising money for Trump's former political confidant Roger Stone as he prepares for his own trial:

A Guardian columnist made this point about Marianne Williamson's comments on vaccines:

Obama's former ambassador to Russia made this prediction about escalating tensions with Iran:

Mitt Romney's former chief strategist decried Ivanka Trump:

The president's eldest son slammed Roy Moore for getting into the Alabama Senate race:

A Post columnist highlighted this unfortunate phrasing from Moore:

A New Yorker writer mocked some Republicans' response to the Biden controversy:

A HuffPost reporter shared this color from the Capitol:

A satirical website joked about the poor polling position of Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.):

A presidential historian looked back on this seminal moment:

GOOD READS:

 -- “Driven from Paradise by fire, kept out by gentrification?” by Frances Stead Sellers: “Concerns that the ambitious vision for Paradise excludes the town’s lower-income residents has ignited debate in this economically diverse community. With California’s housing crisis already fueling demand, many worried that plans to upgrade housing and utilities here will alter the town’s character, ensuring that the Paradise that rises from the ashes will be unaffordable for some locals. ‘If you check what happened after New Orleans, they got rid of all the poor people like me,’ said Paradise resident John Gillander, 62, referring to the redevelopment of flooded communities after Hurricane Katrina. … The fire primed the neighborhood for gentrification, some say, describing neighborhoods that were sullied by drug dealing, debris-strewn lots and disused cars. ‘The fire kind of cleaned that out,’ said Frank Lewis, a local developer … ‘They’ve got a real chance to clean up their act.’”

-- “A gay first lady? Yes, we’ve already had one, and here are her love letters,” by Gillian Brockell: “In the summer of 1910, Evangeline Simpson Whipple told the caretaker of her home not to move anything in her absence. The wealthy widow was going on a trip, but would be back soon, she said. She never returned. When she died in 1930, she was buried at her request in Italy next to the love of her life — a woman with whom she had a relationship that spanned nearly 30 years. That woman, Rose Cleveland, had served as first lady. … When Grover Cleveland took office in 1885, he was a 50-year-old bachelor, a fact that almost derailed his campaign when rumors spread that he had fathered a child out of wedlock. (He had.) Protocol for unmarried or widowed presidents called for a female relative to fill the role of first lady. In stepped his sister Rose.”

-- “Aretha: Her story was in her songs,” by Geoff Edgers: “Six songs tell you as much about Aretha Franklin as any memoir ever could. The Queen of Soul was not much for talking about her life, so with the help of Oprah Winfrey, Paul Simon, Questlove and others, we peel back the layers of emotion, technique and lived experience she packed into these key performances.”

-- Nick Hanauer, a wealthy philanthropist, said he no longer believes that school “reform” efforts are the best way to redistribute wealth in the country — and his announcement received a surprising endorsement from Obama. Valerie Strauss writes: “What makes that surprising is that Obama called education reform ‘the civil rights issue of our time,’ as did his education secretary, Arne Duncan (and, for that matter, a number of Republicans). Duncan repeatedly said education was the best way to lift people out of poverty … Hanauer’s revelation came after he spent a small fortune promoting charter schools and other education causes. … Critics argued such philanthropy is fundamentally undemocratic, because it allows wealthy private individuals, who have not been elected and who are not accountable to anybody but themselves, to set a public agenda. And, in the case of school reform, they have noted that much of the money has been wasted.”

-- The Economist, “Texafornia dreaming”: “Texas and California are the biggest, brashest, most important states in the union, each equally convinced that it is the future. For the past few decades they have been heading in opposite directions, creating an experiment that reveals whether America works better as a low-tax, low-regulation place in which government makes little provision for its citizens (Texas), or as a high-tax, highly regulated one in which it is the government’s role to tackle problems, such as climate change, that might ordinarily be considered the job of the federal government (California). Given the long-running political dysfunction in Washington, the results will determine what sort of country America becomes almost as much as the victor of the next presidential election will.”

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“Laura Ingraham Dismisses Reparations: ‘No Do-Overs...We Won, You Lost, That’s That,’” from the Daily Beast: “Fox News star Laura Ingraham waded into the ongoing debate over reparations for descendants of slaves during her podcast on Thursday by proclaiming there are no ‘do-overs’ after a ‘conquest.’ … ‘People would argue that the whole world, and I would, the whole world has been reshaped by people taking other people's land,’ Ingraham weighed in. ‘It's called conquest.’ … ‘As Trump always says, ‘You don't get do-overs,’’ she declared. ‘No do-overs, that's it. There was an argument, sometime—I think it was the 1980s. There was a quote, you won, we lost, that's that. Describing world politics, we won, you lost, that's that. That's just the way it is.’”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“Tucker Carlson Slams Republicans for Ignoring Voters in Favor of Koch Brothers’ Priorities,” from National Review: “Carlson … claimed that the Koch political network wields its substantial wealth to guide Republican politicians away from restrictionist immigration policy and trade protectionism … and toward a more libertarian worldview. ... ‘The overwhelming majority of Republicans want a secure border and less immigration … That’s why they voted for Donald Trump. Two-and-a-half years later though, the border is more porous than ever … Republicans in Congress have done almost nothing to help with the situation. Why? You can thank the Kochs for that,’ [he said].”

DAYBOOK:

Trump will receive his intelligence briefing and then have lunch with Mike Pompeo before he and the first lady receive a 2019 hurricane briefing and participate in the congressional picnic. Trump will bring a Ferris wheel to the White House tonight as part of his picnic on the South Lawn. The summer-solstice-themed event will also feature a popcorn cart, lawn games and a baked pretzel stand, per Politico.

Pence will hop on a call with Republican governors about the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal before joining Trump at the congressional picnic.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“Give me a break. This place has enough creepy old men.” — Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) on Roy Moore’s Senate bid. (Politico)

 

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

-- The first day of summer brings us gusty winds and nice weather. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “We’ve got a very decent three days ahead before summertime haze, heat, and humidity return next workweek. Enjoy the longest days of the year, but remember: As the sun hits its highest point in the sky of the year, ultraviolet protection factor clothing, sunglasses and sunscreen are warranted — especially from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.!”  

-- The Nationals beat the Phillies, 7-4. (AP)

-- Federal agents searched the Georgetown house of Jack Evans, a day after a legal memo surfaced saying the D.C. Council member “knowingly” violated ethics rules to help friends and clients rather than serve the interests of the Metro transit agency. From Peter Hermann, Spencer S. Hsu and Fenit Nirappil: “Samantha Shero, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Washington Field Office, said in an email: ‘The FBI is present for court-authorized law enforcement activity; we cannot provide further comment.’ Evans (D Ward-2) is the subject of a federal grand jury investigation into his relationships with clients and questions over whether he used his official positions to solicit business for his private legal and consulting work. … After the memo was reported Thursday, Evans said he would resign from [the Metro board]. The search at the townhouse in the 3100 block of P Street NW is public acknowledgment of the investigation into one of the most powerful politicians in the District.”

-- Police are investigating a “possible hate crime” after a transgender woman was assaulted and followed home by a group of men. Marissa J. Lang reports: “Emmelia Talarico, 30, told her housemates she had been attacked at a nearby grocery store in Northeast Washington by a group that slung homophobic slurs and pushed her as she walked past. Then, about 45 minutes after she arrived home Tuesday, she heard a noise outside: the clang of a rock hitting metal, quickly followed by another sharp thud. Talarico ran to the window, where she saw one of the same men from the store pacing up and down the porch. … D.C. police are investigating the incident — the third in less than a week that has violently targeted members of Washington’s transgender community — as a ‘possible hate crime.’ No arrests have been made.”

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Stephen Colbert sent a team of “pro-Trump” reporters to talk to the president's supporters in Orlando: 

Colbert also introduced a new segment:

Trevor Noah dissected Trump's interview with George Stephanopoulos:

Justin Trudeau coughed in the Oval Office, something Trump doesn’t like but did not seem to notice: 

A fight broke out at a Little League game in Colorado:

And, for a final moment of Zen, the prime minister of India participated in a celebration of International Yoga Day:

Have a nice weekend, everyone.