THE BIG IDEA: Bob Mueller thought his public statement last month could get him out of testifying before Congress about his 448-page report and 22-month investigation. He thought wrong.

Complying with a subpoena issued yesterday, the former special counsel has agreed to appear in back-to-back public hearings on July 17 before two House committees. Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) needed to issue a subpoena to persuade Mueller to appear, but the duo pledged in a letter that they will work with him to address his “legitimate concerns about preserving the integrity” of his probe and said they will respect his desire not to discuss the “several criminal investigations” that he referred to other Justice Department offices, which are ongoing.

Here are five things to watch for at the hearing three Wednesdays from now:

1) Will Mueller say anything he hasn’t said already?

Don’t count on it.

“The report is my testimony,” the former special counsel said on May 29. “Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report. … I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress.”

The 74-year-old is no novice. It seems exceptionally unlikely that Mueller will be baited into saying something he doesn’t want to say. He’s testified before Congress more than 50 times, including during high-profile hearings as FBI director after the 9/11 attacks and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. The C-SPAN archive includes more than 140 hours of footage of him fielding questions from sometimes hostile lawmakers.

“Mueller is no longer a Justice Department employee, and after the special counsel’s office formally closed last month, he and his personal representatives had been negotiating directly with the committee. … Those who know him well said that it was virtually impossible that he would ignore or reject a subpoena,” per Rachael Bade, Matt Zapotosky and Karoun Demirjian. “Still, Mueller is unlikely to answer Democrats’ biggest question: whether he or his team thought there was sufficient evidence to charge President Trump with obstruction, were he not president.”

He said during his brief remarks at the Justice Department that if his office “had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” and he noted that the Constitution “requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.”

On the other hand: Even if Mueller just reads directly from his report, it could have a huge impact. Most Americans and even many lawmakers have not read the whole thing.

From a former FBI special agent who now teaches at Yale:

The former White House counsel who flipped on Richard Nixon said Mueller can change the conversation:

2) Can Democratic leaders keep expectations in check and prevent the hearings from becoming a circus?

Privately, many House Democrats and their aides worry they will not be able to. This is going to be a television extravaganza. Cable channels on the right and left will cover Mueller’s appearance wall to wall. The networks will likely preempt regularly scheduled programming. But if Mueller doesn’t say anything groundbreaking or explosive despite weeks of hype, the narrative could be that his appearance was a let down for Democrats.

Moreover, it’s politically imperative for Democrats that they look like they are motivated by a pursuit of the truth rather than a partisan vendetta against the president. Underscoring why that is, Trump cried “Presidential Harassment!” last night when news broke of Mueller’s appearance.

Grandstanding lawmakers pulling sophomoric stunts could play into Trump’s hands. Think of Rep. Steve Cohen eating Kentucky Fried Chicken last month when Attorney General Bill Barr didn’t show up for a hearing.

An Obama-era Justice Department spokesman tried to keep expectations check:

A Democratic senator from Hawaii emphasized that it will take an election to replace Trump:

3) Will Trump’s Republican allies successfully cast doubt on Mueller’s credibility and stain his sterling reputation? Or will they come across as partisan and unserious about his conclusions?

“Bob Mueller better be prepared," Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) told Laura Ingraham on Fox News last night. "Because I can tell you, he will be cross-examined for the first time and the American people will start to see the flaws in his report."

“The first thing he needs to answer is his own conflicts of interest,” added Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow on Sean Hannity’s Fox show.

Mueller’s unwillingness to engage in a tit-for-tat with Trump and Co. throughout his probe kept him above the fray, but it also allowed the president’s boosters to make scurrilous charges about the Vietnam veteran’s integrity without strong pushback. Does he finally stand up for himself? Or does he cling to the idea that the quality of his work product speaks for itself?

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), the only GOP lawmaker who has endorsed impeachment, does not sit on either committee so he won’t get a round of questioning.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) continues to resist calls to hold hearings on the Mueller report in the other chamber. “It is ‘case closed’ for me,” Graham told Hannity on Fox last night. “They can do anything they want to in the House, and I think it will blow up in their face. … The conclusions can’t change.”

4) Does Mueller’s appearance make it easier or harder for Nancy Pelosi to contain calls for impeachment from her caucus?

“Members of Congress must honor our oath and our patriotic duty to follow the facts, so we can protect our democracy,” the speaker said in a statement last night.

Nearly 80 House Democrats are now on the record calling for opening impeachment proceedings against Trump. Mueller’s sole public appearance in May didn’t include any new information, but it nonetheless offered a justification for a stream of Democratic presidential candidates to call for the president’s impeachment. Something similar could happen again. More House Democrats could use whatever Mueller says as cover to change their positions – or they could oppose impeachment on the grounds that oversight is being conducted without it.

The answer probably depends primarily on whether Mueller’s testimony moves the needle in the polls. As Pelosi loves to say, “Public sentiment is everything.”

5) Will any of Mueller’s lieutenants appear?

“An unspecified number of the special counsel’s senior deputies are expected to accompany their former boss and testify in closed session when Mueller appears next month,” Politico’s Darren Samuelsohn and Kyle Cheney report. “Schiff declined Tuesday night to identify the deputies, and it was also unclear if they would be appearing under subpoena. Democrats also haven’t precluded bringing the former Mueller lawyers back for additional rounds. ‘I think that’s likely to happen after Mueller testifies,’ said Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline, another Judiciary Committee Democrat. ‘There are additional witnesses. But he’s the principal in terms of the contents of the report.’”

Mueller’s team has been scattering. “Andrew Goldstein, a senior assistant special counsel under Mueller, will join the Cooley law firm as a litigation partner working in New York and Washington,” Zapotosky reported on Monday. On Friday, the firm Paul Weiss announced it would add Jeannie Rhee, another senior member of Mueller’s team who had left the WilmerHale firm to work on the special counsel investigation. The Justice Department revealed this week that Michael Dreeben, a deputy solicitor general who has argued more than 100 cases before the Supreme Court and took a sabbatical to work with Mueller, would be leaving the department. … Last month, the firm Davis Polk announced it would add Greg Andres, the senior assistant special counsel who led the prosecution of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, to its litigation department in New York. … Andrew Weissmann, another senior assistant special counsel who is now a fellow at New York University School of Law, is writing a book.”

-- No matter what happens, Mueller’s testimony won’t clear the thicket of thorny legal issues facing Trump. There was a significant development yesterday, for example, in one of the emoluments challenges:

Rejecting a request from President Trump, a federal judge in Washington on Tuesday cleared the way for nearly 200 Democrats in Congress to continue their lawsuit against him alleging that his private business violates an anti-corruption provision of the Constitution,” Ann Marimow, Jonathan O'Connell and Carol Leonnig report. “U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan declined to put the case on hold and said lawmakers could begin this week seeking financial information, interviews and other records from the Trump Organization. … Sullivan ordered the two parties to begin the process of requesting records and other information as part of a three-month discovery period from Friday to Sept. 27. … The Trump administration still can try to delay or block Democrats in Congress from issuing subpoenas for the president’s closely held business information by appealing directly to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to intervene. … Justice Department spokeswoman Kelly Laco said the government would appeal.”

The emoluments clauses bar the president from accepting gifts or payments from foreign or state governments. The cases, which seem destined for the Supreme Court, mark the first time that federal judges have interpreted these clauses. Trump is being sued by the members of Congress in one case and states in the other. In the second case, brought by the attorneys general of the District of Columbia and Maryland, a federal judge also denied the Trump administration’s request for an immediate appeal. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which is based in Richmond and hears Maryland-related federal appeals, agreed to review the case and temporarily blocked subpoenas for financial records and other documents related to Trump’s D.C. hotel. The 4th Circuit heard oral argument in March and could issue a ruling at any time.

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-- The National Riffle Association shut down NRATV. The New York Times’s Danny Hakim reports: “The N.R.A. on Tuesday also severed all business with its estranged advertising firm, Ackerman McQueen, which operates NRATV, the N.R.A.’s live broadcasting media arm ... While NRATV may continue to air past content, its live broadcasting will end and its on-air personalities — Ackerman employees including Dana Loesch — will no longer be the public faces of the N.R.A. It remained unclear whether the N.R.A. might try to hire some of those employees, but there was no indication it was negotiating to do so. … ‘Many members expressed concern about the messaging on NRATV becoming too far removed from our core mission: defending the Second Amendment,’ Wayne LaPierre, the N.R.A.’s longtime chief executive, wrote in a message to members that was expected to be sent out by Wednesday. … Ackerman, in its own statement, said it was ‘not surprised that the N.R.A. is unwilling to honor its agreement to end our contract and our long-standing relationship in an orderly and amicable manner.’”

-- An employee at a high-end Chicago cocktail bar was questioned by the Secret Service last night after allegedly spitting in Eric Trump’s face, per Tim Elfrink and Mark Guarino.

  • The president’s son confirmed the incident at the Aviary to Breitbart News early this morning. “When somebody is sick enough to resort to spitting on someone, it just emphasizes a sickness and desperation and the fact that we’re winning,” the 35-year-old told the right-wing site.
  • The Chicago Police Department’s spokesman referred questions to the Secret Service, which did not immediately comment.


  1. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) illegally misused campaign funds to facilitate extramarital affairs with at least five women, according to a new court filing from the Justice Department. Federal prosecutors want to show jurors evidence that Hunter took money from his campaign account to pay for dinners, drinks and trips with women he was romantically involved with – including an employee of his congressional office, a staffer to a member of House GOP leadership and three different lobbyists. A Democrat running against Hunter in 2020 said "he's literally in bed with lobbyists." Hunter, who promises to fight the charges in court, declined to respond to any of the allegations. (Matt Zapotosky and Hailey Fuchs)

  2. Federal prosecutors are fighting efforts to throw out the lenient non-prosecution agreement that Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, as a prosecutor, offered to alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. The Justice Department told a federal judge that Epstein’s alleged victims, who were not properly notified about what they view as a sweetheart deal, have no right to remedies from the government because the Crime Victims’ Rights Act does not outline specific penalties. (Miami Herald)

  3. The National Security Agency ended a controversial counterterrorism program after learning that millions of Americans’ phone records had been collected in error. The agency said its purged the records in what was the second instance of “over-collection” recorded by the NSA last year. (Ellen Nakashima)

  4. A new Alabama law severs the parental rights of those convicted of first-degree rape. The ability of convicted rapists in the state to seek custody of children conceived through their assaults gained renewed attention after Alabama passed a law outlawing abortion in nearly all circumstances, including instances of rape and incest. (Emily Wax-Thibodeaux)

  5. A court has ruled that the Office of Personnel Management is responsible for the 2015 hack of of 22 million people's personal information. According to a federal appeals court, the office ignored repeated warnings from its inspector general’s office that the databases were vulnerable. (Eric Yoder)

  6. Two U.S. service members were killed in Afghanistan. No more information is known about them at this stage, including how they died. (CNN)
  7. Illinois became the 11th state to legalize marijuana for recreational use. The legalization will also let nearly 800,000 people with criminal records for purchasing or possessing 30 grams of marijuana or less expunge their records. (AP)

  8. An effort to boost lawmaker pay has been nixed after backlash. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's plans were met with bipartisan protest. (Mike DeBonis and Karoun Demirjian)
  9. Tiffany Cabán, a liberal public defender backed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, declared victory in the Queens district attorney Democratic primary. Cabán had a lead of just over 1,000 votes over her closest challenger with 99 percent of precincts reporting in a race that became a national proxy battle. It's a blow for Greg Meeks and the Democratic establishment in New York. (CBS News)

  10. Three men were killed at a Ford dealership in California. A witness said that the shooter, whose body police found with an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound, had been fired that day and came back to shoot two managers. (Mercury News)

  11. Paris is installing temporary water fountains and keeping pools open late to combat a massive heat wave hitting Europe. Temperatures across the continent are expected to rise up to 35 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, but France is being particularly cautious given the 15,000 deaths the country saw during a similar heat wave in 2003. (Claire Parker)
  12. The number of Americans who say they have never attended religious services has nearly doubled since 2000. According to the most recent NBC-Wall Street Journal poll, 26 percent of Americans report never having attended religious services, compared to 14 percent in 2000. Among those between the ages of 18 and 34, the figure is even higher at 36 percent. (Wall Street Journal)
  13. Jan Meyers, the first Republican woman elected to Congress from Kansas, died at 90. A moderate who represented a stretch of northeast Kansas from 1985 to 1997, Meyers rose through the ranks of the House to become chair of the Small Business Committee. (Harrison Smith)
  14. A YouTube star was found dead in New York’s East River following a number of erratic videos and police confrontations. Desmond Amofah, known as Etika, was famous for his gaming channel, which he had recentuly turned into a venue for rants and confrontations with police officers. (Avi Selk)
  15. Breakdancing might make its first appearance at the Olympics soon after the International Olympic Committee voted in favor of a proposal that could bring the dance style to the 2024 Summer Games in Paris. Skateboarding, climbing/bouldering and surfing are also among the activities proposed to be added to the events program. (CNN)  


-- The image of the drowned bodies of a Salvadoran man and his baby daughter lying face down on the bank of the Rio Grande after attempting to cross the border has sparked outrage as Trump's policies continue putting the lives of migrants at risk. From the AP’s Peter Orsi and Amy Guthrie: “Her arm was draped around his neck suggesting she clung to him in her final moments. The searing photograph of the sad discovery of their bodies [see above] highlights the perils faced by mostly Central American migrants fleeing violence and poverty and hoping for asylum in the United States. ... Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, frustrated because the family from El Salvador was unable to present themselves to U.S. authorities and request asylum, swam across the river on Sunday with his daughter, Valeria. He set her on the U.S. bank of the river and started back for his wife, Tania Vanessa Ávalos, but seeing him move away the girl threw herself into the waters. Martínez returned and was able to grab Valeria, but the current swept them both away. ...

"Details of the incident were confirmed Tuesday by a Tamaulipas government official ... and by Martínez’s mother back in El Salvador, Rosa Ramírez, who spoke with her daughter-in-law by phone afterward. ... Ramírez said her son and his family left El Salvador on April 3 and spent about two months at a shelter in Tapachula, near Mexico’s border with Guatemala. 'I begged them not to go, but he wanted to scrape together money to build a home,' Ramírez said. 'They hoped to be there a few years and save up for the house.' El Salvador’s foreign ministry said it was working to assist the family including Ávalos, who was at a border migrant shelter following the drownings. The bodies were expected to be flown to El Salvador on Thursday. ... The photo recalls the 2015 image of a 3-year-old Syrian boy who drowned in the Mediterranean near Turkey, though it remains to be seen whether it may have the same impact in focusing international attention on migration to the U.S. ... U.S. 'metering' policy has dramatically reduced the number of migrants who are allowed to request asylum, down from dozens per day previously to sometimes just a handful at some ports of entry."

-- The House passed a $4.5 billion emergency border aid bill that includes provisions requiring better treatment of migrant children in U.S. custody, which were added to secure passage amid bubbling anger over Trump’s handling of the crisis. Mike DeBonis and Erica Werner report: “The 230-to-195 vote, largely along party lines, followed a flurry of last-minute negotiations among Democrats who said they have been horrified by reports of poor conditions at overcrowded U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities where unaccompanied children have been kept. The bill’s passage sets up a high-stakes negotiation with Trump and Senate Republicans to deliver aid days before a looming deadline. … House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.) unveiled changes to the bill Tuesday morning that would require CBP to establish new health and safety standards for migrants in its custody, as well as protocols for dealing with migrant surges, within 30 days. The changes would also limit children’s stays at ‘influx’ shelters used by the Department of Health and Human Services to no more than 90 days and require the department to report to Congress on their use.”

-- Palace intrigue: A week after beginning his reelection campaign with promises of mass deportations, Trump sent the agencies responsible for immigration enforcement deeper into disarray by replacing his interim border chief with a figure he plucked from cable news punditry last month. “Mark Morgan, who Trump installed as acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in early June, will take over as acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, replacing John Sanders,” per Nick Miroff and Josh Dawsey. “The shake-up Tuesday comes after weeks of interagency squabbles and political knifings among agency officials … Since April, the president has purged nearly all of the top officials remaining at DHS from the beginning of his term, leaving every immigration-related U.S. agency with an interim leader. …

Immigration hard-liners in recent days have been pushing Trump to remove acting DHS secretary Kevin McAleenan at the moment when the policies McAleenan has advanced — including a deal with Mexico for an unprecedented immigration crackdown there — are beginning to yield results. U.S. authorities detained more than 144,000 migrants last month along the Mexico border, the highest level since 2006, but preliminary reports indicate fewer have been crossing in recent weeks and others are being turned back by Mexican military forces. McAleenan on Tuesday was en route to meetings with officials in Central America, where the Trump administration is seeking a separate accord that would allow the United States to send asylum seekers back to the first foreign nation where they step foot after fleeing their homelands.

McAleenan had challenged the feasibility and timing of the [ICE] raids … Morgan had pushed for the ‘family op’ to go forward, and it was not clear whether the decision to move him from ICE to a loftier position at CBP was a consolation for losing out to McAleenan. … One person who has spoken with Trump about immigration said the president has heard from senior immigration adviser Stephen Miller and others around him that ‘everyone at DHS is weak.’”

-- The U.S. returned 100 migrant children to the overcrowded border facility in Clint, Tex., after trying to find temporary alternatives — including tents and other border facilities. Immigration and health authorities say they are simply out of space. Abigail Hauslohner reports: “Officials from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which first takes the migrants into custody, and from the Department of Health and Human Services, which runs the migrant children’s shelters, characterized the situation as a dire humanitarian crisis but also defended U.S. treatment of young migrants as adhering to the law. And universally, Trump administration officials Tuesday used the moment to urge Congress to swiftly approve billions of dollars in border funding that they say would provide bed space and services for children. … A CBP official said Tuesday that the allegations of child neglect at Clint were being investigated but also that the child detainees in the agency’s custody receive ‘continuous’ access to hygiene products and adequate food while awaiting placement in U.S. shelters designed for children."

-- A federal appeals court ordered that a Maryland judge take a fresh look at the new evidence that the Trump administration had discriminatory intent in adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. Robert Barnes, Felicia Sonmez and Tara Bahrampour report: “The order was part of last-minute wrangling in the lower courts, in the Supreme Court and on Capitol Hill as the justices are set to vote on the issue before the end of their term, presumably this week. … Solicitor General Noel Francisco, representing the Trump administration, told the Supreme Court that the order from the 4th Circuit ‘jeopardizes’ the census process. … He had said in an earlier letter to the Supreme Court that the claims in the Maryland case were ‘based on a speculative conspiracy theory that is unsupported by the evidence and legally irrelevant to demonstrating that Secretary Ross acted with a discriminatory intent.’”

-- Reporters are being kept away from the facilities where migrant children are being held. Paul Farhi reports: “News stories emerged last week about squalid conditions at a Border Patrol detention facility housing about 300 migrant children on the U.S.-Mexico border. … Apart from their appalling specifics, the stories were notable for one element: They were all based on secondhand accounts. Reporters were unable to see the facilities themselves or speak to any of the children. Instead, they relied on descriptions provided by lawyers and advocates who were granted access under a legal settlement with the Border Patrol. … The blackout on press access has left Americans largely in the dark about conditions in government facilities designed to handle migrants who have crossed the border. Photographs and TV images are rare and often dated. Rarer still are interviews with federal agency managers and employees or with the children themselves.”

-- Sarah Fabian, the Justice Department lawyer who flippantly argued in open court that toothbrushes and soap are not required for the government to provide children sanitary living conditions, defended herself in a private Facebook post that one of her friends leaked to NBC. Josh Lederman reports: “Fabian says she shares ‘many people’s anger and fear’ about the nation’s future. Saying she is ‘not an official of any administration,’ Fabian points out that she’s a career federal employee who’s served in her role since 2011. Fabian expresses regret that her comments in the video ‘struck a nerve’ but argues that selective editing, combined with a lack of precision in her argument created a false impression. ‘I think that many many people believe I was in court Tuesday arguing against providing certain hygiene items to kids,’ Fabian writes, adding later: ‘I do not believe that’s the position I was representing.’”

-- Elizabeth Warren called for decriminalizing illegal border crossings. HuffPost’s Roque Planas reports: “Warren joins fellow 2020 contender Julián Castro and several other prominent Democrats in backing a reform that, if enacted, would give civil immigration courts exclusive legal control over immigration enforcement at the border. … While Warren has yet to release a comprehensive immigration platform, her campaign confirmed to HuffPost that she also now favors repealing the law criminalizing migration.” Make no mistake: Trump will use this as a devastating cudgel against her if she becomes the Democratic nominee.


-- Any prospect of easing tensions between the United States and Iran seemed increasingly remote yesterday, as threats and personal insults flew between the two governments. Karen DeYoung reports: “Any attack on ‘anything American,’ tweeted the president — who last week called off a military strike that was to have been launched after Iran shot down a U.S. drone — will bring ‘overwhelming’ U.S. force and ‘obliteration’ of some Iranian assets. … Beneath the din, no new options emerged for avoiding a conflict that both sides say they do not want, and more doors appeared to be closing rather than opening. In Washington, even those who fully and vocally support the administration’s ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions policy have begun to question whether Trump has a strategy. … Other experts said that Trump’s summit strategy with nuclear-armed North Korea, in which both leaders had reason to seek the public spectacle of a meeting, but whose governments have yet to substantively address their differences, would not work with Iran.”

-- South Korea’s Moon Jae-in said the U.S. and North Korea are talking about a third nuclear summit between the two countries’ leaders. From the Wall Street Journal’s Timothy W. Martin: “Mr. Moon didn’t provide a timeline for the meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. He said the two sides had held ‘behind-the-scenes’ talks, not official dialogue, after February’s Vietnam summit that ended abruptly without a deal. The South Korean leader’s remarks come just days before President Trump is scheduled to visit Seoul, a trip that is viewed as an effort to help jump-start talks with Pyongyang.”

-- Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, presented his Middle East peace plan but did not reveal how the White House plans to achieve such a deal. Loveday Morris reports: “The White House’s economic plan envisages $50 billion in regional investment projects over the next decade, more than half in the West Bank and Gaza, and the rest in Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon. But the initiative has been met with widespread skepticism and already has been rejected by the Palestinian leadership … The White House plan makes no mention of Palestinian aspirations for statehood or of ending Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. Rather, the plan pulls together previously proposed infrastructure projects, including a transport link between Gaza and the West Bank as well as increased capacity at Gaza’s power station to address crippling electricity outages. … How the economic projects would be financed remains unsettled, and the Bahrain meeting is not intended to raise money, said a U.S. official.”

-- The U.S. Air Force veteran who was accused of acting as a mercenary in Libya’s civil war has been freed. Missy Ryan, Josh Dawsey and Julie Tate report: “Jamie Sponaugle, a 31-year-old Florida man, was piloting an aircraft near the Libyan capital of Tripoli on May 7 when his plane went down, according to officials and individuals familiar with the incident, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The Libyan National Army said it shot down the aircraft, which it said was a Mirage F1 combat jet piloted by a man The Washington Post is now identifying as Sponaugle, as it conducted bombing raids against LNA forces in the area. The Post withheld publication of Sponaugle’s detention at the request of U.S. officials who were working to secure his release.”

-- Trump is flying today to the G20 in Japan with most of his foreign policy gambits hanging in the balance. David Nakamura and Damian Paletta report: “The president is slated to meet at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka with key allies and adversaries — including China’s Xi Jinping, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Japan’s Shinzo Abe, Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman and India’s Narendra Modi — as he seeks to clinch an elusive trade pact with Beijing, consolidate international support in a tense staredown with Tehran and navigate a path forward on stalled nuclear talks with North Korea. … The upshot is that 2½  years into his presidency, Trump is facing a crucial test of his ‘America First’ agenda, one that has alienated traditional allies over disputes on trade and defense spending and set the United States apart from global consensus on how to deal with climate change and Iran’s nuclear program. Having generally thumbed his nose at multilateral engagements in favor of a go-it-alone approach, Trump has shown a preference for leader-to-leader diplomacy and following his gut instincts instead of rigorous preparation, which have left him in a precarious position.”

-- The son of an American jailed in China on spy charges asked Trump to plead his father’s case at the summit. Gerry Shih reports: “Harrison Li, the son of the New York-based aircraft parts exporter Kai Li, is calling on Trump to raise the case of his father — believed to be the only American citizen held in China on state security charges — during a meeting with Xi this week, when Trump is expected to seek the release of two Canadians similarly detained by China's opaque security apparatus. … Harrison Li said Trump should use his meeting with Xi to intervene on behalf of his father, whose ordeal has gone largely unnoticed for nearly three years while the State Department and Li's supporters worked quietly, but unsuccessfully, to secure his release.”

-- Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the U.S.-China trade deal is “90 percent” complete. From CNBC’s Holly Ellyatt: “He said he’s confident Trump and Xi can make progress in stalled trade talks at the G-20 meeting this weekend. ‘The message we want to hear is that they want to come back to the table and continue because I think there is a good outcome for their economy and the U.S. economy to get balanced trade and to continue to build on this relationship.’ He did not provide any detail on what the final 10% of an agreement might entail, or what the sticking points are to completing a deal.”


-- As the Democratic debates start tonight in Miami, Ashley Parker looked back at how the 2016 GOP primary kicked off “the era of the mega-debate — a bigger field of candidates, a bigger slate of debates, bigger ratings, bigger stakes and a bigger need for a standout exchange.” Parker writes: “The trick for the Democrats, as with their Republican predecessors, is to find a way to capture attention and break away from the pack. Trump didn’t necessarily win the debates themselves four years ago, but he always won the show — and, with it, the White House. ‘I tell people these are not debates,’ said former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who ended his presidential run in February 2016. ‘I was a debater in high school and college, and these are not debates. These are television shows.’ Trump, a former reality TV star, quickly realized that every circus needs a ringmaster and appointed himself to the role. … Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, one of Trump’s most vocal rivals in 2016, said moderators ‘are often looking for fireworks’ — a phenomenon he suspects Democrats will also encounter.”

-- DNC Chairman Tom Perez is facing fires on a number of fronts as the debates get underway. Michael Scherer reports: “In just the last month, he has been accused by fellow Democrats of unfairly changing debate qualifications to exclude the governor of Montana, setting thresholds that could unjustly remake the race in September, and treating elected members of Congress as ‘second-class citizens’ by denying them a decisive nominating vote at the 2020 Democratic convention. Nearly 100 climate change activists staged a sit-in at party headquarters Tuesday to demand a debate on the issue. The Republican National Committee recently announced raising $75.6 million through the first five months of the year, more than twice as much as Perez’s party, with a greater share of the money coming from donations under $200. But Perez … is not discouraged. The party, he says, is on track, never mind the haters.”

-- The debates could be a particularly defining moment for Cory Booker, who has struggled to break out in the crowded field even though he had been viewed as a likely candidate for years. The Times’s Jonathan Martin and Nick Corasaniti report: “Mr. Booker is more comfortable ‘leading with love,’ as he often says in speeches, and he warns against ‘fighting fire with fire’ when it comes to confronting [Trump]. It’s an approach that could pay off with Democratic primary voters, who surveys indicate are far more eager to find a candidate who wants to unite the country than merely fight against Republicans. But it does not make for cable television or social media catnip, which has shaped the early contours of the race. … No other Democratic candidate but him has such a sophisticated organization and support network in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina but is mired closer to zero than double digits in most every early nominating state.”

-- The debates are unfolding in a city that is already facing the daily reality of climate change. The Times’s Patricia Mazzei reports from Miami: “[T]he urgency of the climate issue is beginning to take hold in Florida. That is especially true in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area, where 49 percent of respondents, compared with 30 percent elsewhere in the state, said they had made physical changes to their homes in the past year to protect against sea-level rise, flooding or extreme weather. The latest daily heat record in Miami was broken on Sunday, only the third day of summer, when the temperature reached 95 degrees. The high on Monday, 98 degrees, tied the existing record.”

-- Split-screen: Vice President Pence traveled to Miami a day before the debates started to launch a national “Latinos for Trump” initiative. Pence called Trump “a great champion of Latino and Hispanic Americans,” citing a decline in Hispanic unemployment since he took office. “President Trump promised to get this economy moving again, and President Trump delivered,” Pence said. “President Donald Trump is the best friend that Latino and Hispanic businesses have ever had in the White House.” When the vice president touched on border security, the crowd broke out in chants of “Build the wall.” (John Wagner)


-- The latest sexual assault allegation against Trump has been greeted with relative silence on Capitol Hill – particularly by Republicans. Colby Itkowitz, Emily Davies and Hailey Fuchs report: “The muted reaction to the claim by [magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll], who said Trump attacked her in a dressing room more than two decades ago, reflected a sense among resigned Democrats that the president will never face serious political damage from accusations of sexual misconduct, which 16 women have now made. … Republicans remained largely silent about Carroll’s allegation. The one political figure who has brought the most attention to her story is Trump, who has denied it, saying she was ‘not my type.’ When asked Tuesday whether Trump’s response was appropriate, [Mitch McConnell] replied, ‘I don’t have any comments about that.’”

-- Other Republicans dismissed Carroll’s allegation outright, specifically citing the assault allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. “Quite honestly, as somebody who had a front-row seat to the Kavanaugh hearings, we’ve seen allegations that were false,” Tillis said. “We’ll let the facts go where they are, but I take [Trump's] statement at face value.” “Many times when folks have made these allegations they’re also promoting a book,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.). “All I would say: We live in an environment where people can come forward. That’s good. But allegations like this have to be cautiously reviewed,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), adding that he has “no reason not to” believe Trump. (Politico)

-- Two Republican senators – Joni Ernst (Iowa) and Mitt Romney (Utah) – called for Carroll’s allegations to be investigated. "I think anybody that makes an accusation like that, they should come forward," Ernst said when asked about Carroll’s claim. "But obviously there has to be some additional information. They need to interview her. They need to visit with him." Romney called for an "evaluation" of the accusation but added that he didn’t know who should conduct it, "whether it's Congress or whether it's another setting, I'm not sure.” (CNN)


-- Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s communications director, will replace Sarah Sanders as White House press secretary. John Wagner reports: “The move was first announced by [Melania] Trump in a tweet and later confirmed by White House officials. In addition to succeeding Sanders, Grisham will also take on the duties of White House communications director, a job that has been vacant since March. ‘She has been with us since 2015 - @potus & I can think of no better person to serve the Administration & our country,’ the first lady said in her tweet. … Grisham, 42, is one of Trump’s last remaining campaign aides serving in the White House. Before becoming the first lady’s communications director in March 2017, she worked in the West Wing as a deputy to Trump’s first press secretary, Sean Spicer.”

-- House Republicans are preparing to go after a Trump appointee who used to work for them on the Hill after he released a report that said White House counselor Kellyanne Conway should be fired for blatantly violating the Hatch Act. Rachael Bade and Lisa Rein report: “Henry Kerner, head of the Office of Special Counsel, is scheduled to testify Wednesday about his report. ... Democrats on the House Oversight Committee, who invited Conway to testify, plan to vote to subpoena her if she fails to show for the hearing, as expected. Republicans are intent on using the session to question the credibility and judgment of Kerner, one of the panel’s top investigators for more than three years when Republicans were in charge. … After Kerner takes the witness seat, Republicans plan to argue he applied the law unfairly in Conway’s case, pointing to what they say were similar statements by top Obama administration political appointees.”

-- “Sean Lawler, a State Department official whose title is chief of protocol, is departing amid a possible inspector general’s probe into accusations of intimidating staff and carrying a whip in the office," per Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs and Daniel Flatley. "The protocol chief assists the president on overseas trips, and when foreign leaders visit the White House, by making introductions and briefing the president on protocol. Lawler, a fixture in the Oval Office during dignitaries’ visits, served as the president’s liaison to the diplomatic corps at the State Department. ... Trump has little fondness for Lawler, and repeatedly asked why he still worked at the White House.”

-- The Justice Department sued Omarosa Manigault Newman for failing to file a legally required personal financial disclosure report after she was fired two years ago. Politico’s Josh Gerstein reports: “The lawsuit says Manigault Newman never filed the report required from departing senior staffers and largely ignored numerous requests from White House lawyers to submit the report following her acrimonious departure from her post as communications director in the Office of Public Liaison. The suit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Washington, asks a judge to order Manigault Newman to file the report and to pay a civil penalty of $50,000 for ‘willfully’ defying the ethics mandate.”

MORE ON 2020:

-- Joe Biden continues to play down his leadership role in laying the groundwork for policies of mass incarceration that continue to devastate black communities. The Times’s Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Astead W. Herndon call him out: “Mr. Biden apologized in January for portions of his anti-crime legislation, but he has largely tried to play down his involvement, saying in April that he ‘got stuck with’ shepherding the bills because he was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. But an examination of his record — based on newly obtained documents and interviews with nearly two dozen longtime Biden contemporaries in Washington and Delaware — indicates that Mr. Biden’s current characterization of his role is in many ways at odds with his own actions and rhetoric. … While Mr. Biden has said in recent days that he and [Mississippi Sen. James ] Eastland ‘didn’t agree on much of anything,’ it is clear that on a number of important criminal justice issues, they did. As early as 1977, Mr. Biden, with Mr. Eastland’s support, pushed for mandatory minimum sentences that would limit judges’ discretion in sentencing. But perhaps even more consequential was Mr. Biden’s relationship with [South Carolina Sen. Strom] Thurmond, his Republican counterpart on the judiciary panel, who became his co-author on a string of bills that effectively rewrote the nation’s criminal justice laws with an eye toward putting more criminals behind bars."

-- Bernie Sanders has pointed to Germany’s tuition-free universities as an example that America should follow, but such a system involves trade-offs. Michael Birnbaum reports: “[T]here is little magic to how European countries keep costs down for their students: Even though most impose far higher income taxes than the United States does, they still spend less money on education. … [The German university RWTH Aachen] has no grand athletic center. … Professors’ salaries cannot compete with those at top American universities, although they may carry double the teaching load, making it difficult to hire U.S. stars. Its dormitories are modest brick affairs. Some lecture halls are dingy and don’t seem to have been updated much since the 1950s, when they were built from Germany’s post-World War II rubble. Some of its lectures top 1,000 students.”

-- Pete Buttigieg has spoken little of his time spent in Iraq and Afghanistan as a consultant for McKinsey between 2007 and 2010. ABC News’s Lee Ferran and Ali Dukakis report: “In his memoir, ‘Shortest Way Home,’ he mentions his involvement in domestic projects for the firm like doing energy efficiency research in the U.S., and goes into particular detail about one that involved analyzing North American grocery prices. But when it comes to his work abroad with McKinsey, he only drops hints about working on ‘war zone economic development to help grow private sector employment’ in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also refers to a ‘safe house’ in Baghdad. The book doesn't say exactly when or how long Buttigieg was in either country. And beyond that, details are scarce -- by design.”

-- Warren unveiled a $20 billion proposal to federalize national elections. Annie Linskey reports: “Warren proposes buying new voting machines for all of the roughly 8,000 election jurisdictions in the country, mandating automatic and same-day voter registration and giving all voters access to 15 days of early voting and voting by mail. Her plan would also bar purges of voter lists, with exceptions for ‘death, change of address, or loss of eligibility to vote.’ And it would provide financial incentives for states to adopt the new federal standards for local elections. Republicans would almost certainly fight such a proposal, which at a minimum would require major legislation by Congress.”

-- A new Pew poll shows stark partisan divisions in how Americans view capitalism and socialism. The Pew Research Center’s Hannah Hartig reports: “Overall, a much larger share of Americans have a positive impression of capitalism (65%) than socialism (42%) … There are large partisan differences in views of capitalism: Nearly eight-in-ten Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (78%) express somewhat or very positive reactions to the term, while just over half of Democrats and Democratic leaners (55%) say they have a positive impression. But these differences are dwarfed by the partisan gap in opinions about socialism. More than eight-in-ten Republicans (84%) have a negative impression of socialism; a 63% majority has a very negative view. Nearly two-thirds of Democrats (65%) have a positive view of socialism, but only 14% have a very positive view.”

-- Some Democrats believe Stacey Abrams holds the key for victory and are reaching out to her in hopes of copying her tactics and to win her blessing. Cleve R. Wootson Jr. and Vanessa Williams report: “But if Abrams is becoming an oracle for Democrats, she’s an emerging target for Republicans. At a Capitol Hill hearing Tuesday, she was challenged by Rep. Douglas A. Collins (R-Ga.), who complained that her celebrity supporters are maligning the state by claiming that she would be governor ‘if Georgia wasn’t racist.’ Collins also pressed Abrams on whether she had pushed for noncitizens to vote, which she strongly denied. Abrams’s unmistakable presence hangs over the Democratic presidential race, and not just because she hasn’t quite ruled out running. Many black and liberal voters find Abrams a moving, authentic figure — with her unapologetic style, tough childhood and long devotion to voting rights — while many of the presidential candidates are struggling to win over the black community.”

-- Trump endorsed Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), who is facing two GOP primary challengers in North Carolina. Tillis "has really stepped up to the plate,” Trump tweeted last night. “Thom is tough on Crime, Strong on the Border and fights hard against Illegal Immigration. He loves our Military, our Vets and our great Second Amendment. I give Thom my Full and Total Endorsement!” (Felicia Sonmez)


Rudy Giuliani sought to downplay the significance of Mueller’s testimony to a PBS correspondent:

A Bernie Sanders-supporting liberal congressman from California cited Mueller’s agreement to appear as a validation of the approach being pursued by Nadler and Schiff:

A Post economics correspondent has been trying to draw more attention to the deficit, which continues to be undercovered:

A "Today" show anchor provided this early look at the Democratic debate stage:

Jay Inslee's campaign manager briefly filled in for him on the debate stage:

Biden's rapid response director responded to a Washington Post story about the former vice president's speaking contracts, which demanded that he be provided a very specific Italian meal before all his engagements:

Meanwhile, Biden focused on border security:

A Post reporter made this point about the conditions of migrant detention centers:

A House Democrat criticized the Trump administration's Iran policy:

George Conway, who is married to senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, contrasted Sen. Lindsey Graham's comments about sexual assault allegations against Trump:

From the former acting attorney general who Trump fired:

Warren added a stop before heading to the first debate tomorrow:

A Post congressional reporter said this about the latest allegations against Hunter:

A Princeton historian noted this from Hunter's website:

Meanwhile, the Office of Government Ethics gathered for a meeting:

The White House perss secretary endorsed her successor:

And Trump started the day by accusing the Democrats of innaction: 


-- Marshall Project, “First Big Scoop: Student Journalists Expose High School’s Use of Prison Labor,” by Eli Hager: “Last January, at his high school’s chorus fundraiser, 17-year-old Spencer Cliche overheard a chat between a parent and a ‘trusted faculty member.’ (As a student journalist, he told me, he does not reveal his sources.) The seats in the auditorium, Spencer says he heard the two adults saying, were going to be reupholstered using prison labor. He didn’t think much of it at first. But later in the semester when his journalism class studied prison issues, he mentioned what he’d heard to the teacher, Sara Barber-Just, a two-decade veteran of Amherst Regional High in Massachusetts. Couldn’t the fact that the school was using incarcerated laborers—who may learn useful skills but are typically paid next to nothing—be a story for the next edition of the school’s quarterly newspaper, he asked?”

-- The Daily Beast, “David Barstow tried to ghostwrite a book with a top-secret source on the Pulitzer-winning story,” by Lachlan Cartwright: “On April 15, the New York Times staff gathered in the newsroom, looking up at Executive Editor Dean Baquet on a crimson staircase where he announced to rapturous applause that reporters David Barstow, Susanne Craig and Russ Buettner had won the Pulitzer Prize for their groundbreaking story on President Trump’s taxes. … The reporters spoke after Baquet. Craig paid special tribute to their sources. … Almost no one in the room that day was aware that the team was at each other’s throats.”

-- The New Yorker, “Can Emmanuel Macron Stem the Populist Tide?” by Lauren Collins: “’What is new at the European scale is that the rise of extremism, especially coming from the far right, is everywhere,’ he said, speaking in English (his choice). ‘A few months ago, a lot of people thought that this new coalition of the far right could have a majority or could block any majority at the European Parliament, which didn’t happen,’ he said. ‘This is, for me, one of the positive outcomes of these elections, even if they were very much helped by foreign influences.’”

-- Wall Street Journal, “Buyer Makes a Big Bet His New Caravaggio Is Really by Caravaggio,” by Kelly Crow: “Michelangelo Merisi, the artist known as Caravaggio, always drew trouble. The highly anticipated public auction Thursday of a painting credited to the Italian master, who fled Rome after killing a man, was scratched when a buyer cut ahead of bidders to get it first. Even though experts are split over the authenticity of the long-lost work from 1606, ‘Judith and Holofernes,’ the anonymous buyer seemingly had no doubt. ‘He made an offer we couldn’t refuse,’ said Eric Turquin, an appraiser and auctioneer in Paris who advised on the deal. The final price late Monday was ‘exceptionally more’ than the starting bid of $34 million, he said.”


“Sarah Sanders: Farewell happy hour not the ‘appropriate venue’ to discuss honesty,” from Erik Wemple: “There were smiles, handshakes, hugs and photos as Sarah Sanders, the outgoing White House press secretary, hung out on Monday night with colleagues and journalists at a happy hour in a D.C. steakhouse. Amid all the bonhomie, the Erik Wemple Blog attempted to sneak in some business questions for the woman who pretty much ended the tradition of daily White House press briefings. Here’s the back-and-forth: ERIK WEMPLE BLOG: Sarah, hi — Erik Wemple [Blog] with The Post. How’s it going? SARAH SANDERS: Good, are you recording? ERIK WEMPLE BLOG: Yes. SANDERS: Okay. ERIK WEMPLE BLOG: Are you helping out with choosing your successor? SANDERS: Hey, Erik, I’m just here to visit. I’m not going to do [inaudible]. ERIK WEMPLE BLOG: Do you feel you were honest with the media? SANDERS: Hey, Erik, I just don’t think this is the appropriate venue, but I appreciate you being here tonight.”



“Ravelry, the Facebook of knitting, has banned pro-Trump posts over ‘open white supremacy,’” from Alex Horton: “Scarves, gloves, shawls, caps — if it can be knit or crocheted, you can probably find a design for it on Ravelry. It just can’t resemble [Trump]. Ravelry, an 8-million-strong social network known as the ‘Facebook of knitting’ and behemoth of all things soothingly created with needlework, has banned all support for Trump and his administration, it announced Sunday. It’s another indication that politics has seeped everywhere — including forums where you can discuss which yarn works best to create crochet bunnies. ‘We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy,’ the site said. ‘Support of the Trump administration is undeniably support for white supremacy.’ … But they also stressed the site was not endorsing Democrats and shunning Republicans with its move.”



Trump will speak at the Faith & Freedom Coalition 2019 Road To Majority Policy Conference before flying to Osaka, Japan, for the G-20 summit.


“There’s not a lock on the door. Any child is free to leave at any time. But they don’t and you know why? Because they’re well taken care of and yes at some point they are going to live with family, generally not mother or father but some family member, that’s a good thing.” – Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Tex.) on the conditions of migrant detention centers. (MSNBC)



-- We are still in the middle of a heat wave, but at least the humidity is not that bad. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Our late-June heat wave continues today but still lacks the oppressive humidity we so often see around here. The heat and humidity do both step it up a notch tomorrow and especially Friday and Saturday. We may finally see a bit better chance of a few showers and storms this weekend.”

-- D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D) is now trying to share his side of the story after the FBI raided his home as part of a corruption probe. Fenit Nirappil reports: “’The events of the last week, so to speak, have been very inflammatory, and when the actual facts are heard by everyone, I believe that will change everyone’s mind,’ Evans said. ‘It is only fair, and it only gives me due process to be able to tell my side of my story and answer any questions anyone might have.’ Evans declined to answer questions from reporters. The D.C. Council is preparing to launch an internal investigation into Evans and remove him as chairman of the Committee on Finance and Revenue. After Evans’s comments, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) agreed to allow Evans to present his arguments at a public meeting next Tuesday.”

-- The Trump administration has hired two private fireworks firms to put on an extended pyrotechnics display as part of the president’s Fourth of July show. Juliet Eilperin and Michael E. Ruane report: “The approximately 35-minute show will more than double the length of the traditional fireworks event, according to administration officials, and will include an elaborate display illuminating a mile-long stretch of sky above the Lincoln Memorial. Phantom Fireworks and Grucci Fireworks will donate equipment and personnel worth $750,000, according to the two companies.”

-- The Metro plans to extend its July Fourth rush-hour service. (Luz Lazo)


Seth Meyers had some strong words for Trump, who said he didn't rape a woman because she was not his "type":

Stephen Colbert condemned the conditions migrant children are being put under by the administration:

Tyler Perry's speech at the BET Awards brought the entire crowd to its feet:

And a video of a man with dementia remembering a song he composed went viral: