With Joanie Greve and Mariana Alfaro
THE BIG IDEA: Asked at a news conference in Japan on Saturday whether he agrees with Vladimir Putin’s claim that “Western-style liberalism” is in decline, President Trump responded by criticizing the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco, which he said are “sad to look at” because they are “run by liberal people.”
“Trump doesn’t know the difference between West Coast liberalism and Western liberalism — between supporting the Green New Deal and supporting the immortal words of the Declaration of Independence that all people are endowed ‘with certain unalienable Rights,’ including ‘Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness,’” laments conservative anti-Trump columnist Max Boot.
“In another portion of the news conference, he was asked about an exchange in Thursday night’s portion of the first Democratic presidential debate over busing. Trump, yet again, didn’t seem to understand what the term meant,” Aaron Blake reports.
This is part of a pattern: Standing on the world stage as the face of the United States, Trump has routinely fumbled basic facts about history, foreign policy and economics. The president and his allies maintain that he’s consistently underestimated and does not receive credit for his successes. Trump supporters like his unconventional approach, and they take pride in his apparent embrace of the "madman theory" of foreign policy. Critics argue that he puts his foot in his mouth every time he leaves the country. “The President of the United States is breathtakingly ignorant,” tweeted conservative lawyer George Conway, who is married to senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, after the comments about Western liberalism in Osaka, Japan.
-- Trade might be the most notable example: Trump has either knowingly made many false statements about tariffs to the American people, or he does not understand the most basic principles of how they work. Either explanation is plausible.
Speaking about trade in London earlier in June during his European adventure, Trump told British Prime Minister Theresa May: “We are your largest partner. You’re our largest partner. A lot of people don’t know that. I was surprised. I made that statement yesterday, and a lot of people said, ‘Gee, I didn’t know that.’ But that’s the way it is.”
In fact, that’s not the way it is. The U.S.’s largest trading partner is China. The U.K.’s is Germany.
During the state visit, the president met privately with Prince Charles, who tried – and failed – to educate him on climate change. Trump has often cited bouts of severely cold weather as evidence that global warming is not happening, unwilling to see or perhaps unwilling to admit that long-term climate change means more extreme weather – not just warmer weather. During an interview with Piers Morgan in London, Trump recounted his conversation with the prince and said it did not affect his thinking.
-- The 45th president is the first in American history with no prior governing or military experience. This has meant even more on-the-job training than usual, and that’s been apparent to audiences both foreign and domestic. At a state dinner in Japan in November 2017, Trump marveled at all the foreign leaders who called him after his unexpected victory a year earlier. “After I had won, everybody was calling me from all over the world,” he said. “I never knew we had so many countries.”
-- Indeed, Trump reportedly did not know that Nepal and Bhutan were sovereign nations until an adviser told him. “Trump, while studying a briefer’s map of South Asia ahead of a 2017 meeting with India’s prime minister, mispronounced Nepal as ‘nipple’ and laughingly referred to Bhutan as ‘button,’” Politico reported last August. “‘He didn’t know what those were. He thought it was all part of India,’ said one person familiar with the meeting. ‘He was like, ‘‘What is this stuff in between and these other countries?”’
“Meeting with a group of African countries at the United Nations General Assembly last September, Trump, in public remarks, referred to the country of Namibia as ‘Nambia.’ … Trump also raised eyebrows during the same gathering when he announced that ‘I have so many friends going to your countries, trying to get rich. I congratulate you’ — prompting cringes among some aides aware how such talk would resonate on a continent that well remembers the exploitations of its colonial era. … When Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte visited the White House [in July 2018], Trump congratulated him on his ‘tremendous victory,’ even though the Italian had never campaigned for office or run in Italy’s election. (Conte was a compromise candidate by two parties who came out on top in the election.)”
-- In 2017, Trump mentioned that something bad had happened “last night” in Sweden because the country took in so many immigrants. Nothing bad had happened. Trump later tweeted that he was referring to a segment he had seen the night before on Fox News.
-- During a testy phone call in May 2018 with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump invoked the War of 1812 as he sought to justify imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum produced by our northern neighbor for national security reasons. CNN reported that it was not totally clear whether Trump was joking when he said, “Didn't you guys burn down the White House?” The British burned the White House only after the United States attacked Ontario, which was then a British colony.
-- Trump has often underestimated the complexity of foreign affairs. When he took office, for example, Trump thought he could persuade China to pressure North Korea to stop its nuclear program. Then President Xi Jinping tutored him at Mar-a-Lago on the basic history of that part of Asia. “After listening for 10 minutes, I realized that it’s not so easy,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal in April 2017. “You know, I felt pretty strongly that they had a tremendous power over North Korea. But it’s not what you would think."
-- Trump marveled last April that North Korea and South Korea are technically in a state of war. “People don’t realize the Korean War has not ended,” Trump said, his face showing bafflement. “It’s going on right now!”
“Many of Trump’s ‘people don’t know’ remarks have involved foreign policy,” Jenna Johnson observed at the time. “Trump’s public remarks are filled with dozens of similar comments. They often begin with some variation of the phrase, “Most people don’t know…,’ and end with a nugget of information that many of those surrounding him — fellow world leaders, diplomats, journalists, politicians or aides — do indeed already know. …
“In a meeting with the Italian prime minister in April 2017, Trump noted that ‘Italy is one of America’s largest trading partners’ and that ‘a lot of people don’t know that.’ While meeting with the president of Afghanistan, Trump acknowledged that the situation on the ground is complicated and ‘people don’t realize you had 20 terrorist groups in Afghanistan.’ When he visited France, Trump explained that ‘France is America’s first and oldest ally’ and that ‘a lot of people don’t know that.’ … Is Trump playing the role of educator in chief, or simply sharing historical facts he’s newly learned?”
-- He has repeatedly done this on domestic matters, as well. In 2017, he informed top Republican donors during a fundraiser that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. “Most people don’t even know he was a Republican, right? Does anyone know? A lot of people don’t know that,” he said.
“Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who's done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice,” he said at a Black History Month event. “Have you heard of Susan B. Anthony?” Trump asked at a Women’s History Month reception. Trump accused Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) of all people – a civil rights hero who was nearly beaten to death as he marched on Bloody Sunday in Selma – as “all talk, talk, talk - no action or results.”
-- Trump’s dearth of knowledge about the world was on display when he was a candidate. In July 2016, two years after Russia annexed Crimea, Trump was adamant that Putin would not invade Ukraine. “He’s not going into Ukraine, OK? Just so you understand,” Trump told ABC News a full two years after Russia had, in fact, gone into Ukraine. “You can mark it down and you can put it down, you can take it anywhere you want.”
During a GOP primary debate, Trump did not know what the nuclear triad was when questioned about it. He mused during the campaign that Japan should maybe develop its own nuclear weapons to respond to North Korea’s proliferation.
“Belgium is a beautiful city,” Trump said at a June 2016 rally in Georgia. (Belgium is a country. Perhaps he was referring to Brussels, the capital.)
Don’t forget the time Trump referred to Second Corinthians as Two Corinthians during a February 2016 speech at Liberty University.
-- Trump has given little indication, if any, that he is intellectually curious. He volunteered in July 2016 that he has never read a biography of any former president. “He said in a series of interviews that he does not need to read extensively because he reaches the right decisions ‘with very little knowledge other than the knowledge I [already] had, plus the words ‘common sense,’ because I have a lot of common sense and I have a lot of business ability,” Trump biographer Marc Fisher wrote at the time. “Trump said he is skeptical of experts because ‘they can’t see the forest for the trees.’ He believes that when he makes decisions, people see that he instinctively knows the right thing to do: ‘A lot of people said, ‘Man, he was more accurate than guys who have studied it all the time.’’”
-- Some of Trump’s own advisers have reportedly applied harsh labels to him when confronted with advising Trump on complex matters, especially relating to national security and foreign affairs. Before he was fired as secretary of state, Rex Tillerson reportedly called Trump a “moron.” NBC News reported that the nation’s then-chief diplomat used that word after a July 2017 meeting at the Pentagon with members of Trump’s national security team and Cabinet officials. A day earlier, in another session at the White House Situation Room, NBC reported, Trump compared the decision-making process on troop levels in Afghanistan to the renovation of a high-end New York restaurant.
Trump responded to that story by saying that he is smarter than Tillerson. “I think it's fake news, but if he did that, I guess we'll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win,” the president told Forbes.
During seven hours of closed-door testimony in May to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the transcript of which was released this past Thursday, Tillerson described the challenges of briefing a president who does not read briefing papers and often gets distracted by peripheral topics. He said he needed to keep his message short and focused on a single topic. He also reiterated his previous characterization that Trump does not dive into details and said he learned not to give the president articles or long memos. “That’s just not what he was going to do,” said Tillerson.
Tillerson declined to answer questions during the interview with House investigators about whether he had indeed called the president a moron, according to the transcript, which was overshadowed by the Democratic debates. “We really should move on,” Tillerson attorney Reg Brown interjected. When Tillerson was asked again, Brown repeated, “We’re ready to move on.”
-- He is not the only former senior Trump aide who has reportedly questioned the president’s intelligence. During a National Security Council meeting about North Korea last year, Trump wondered why the United States maintained a military presence at all in South Korea. After the meeting, then-Defense Secretary James “Mattis was particularly exasperated and alarmed, telling close associates that the president acted like — and had the understanding of — ‘a fifth- or sixth-grader,’” according to Bob Woodward’s book “Fear.” Mattis denied uttering those words and referred to the book as “fiction.”
- Woodward, an associate editor at The Washington Post, also reported that then-White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, like Mattis a retired Marine general, privately described Trump as an “idiot” and “unhinged.” Kelly denied it.
- “He’s like an 11-year-old child,” former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon told a friend in 2017, according to Vanity Fair. Bannon has denied criticizing the president.
- Then-national security adviser H.R. McMaster said Trump is an “idiot” who has the intelligence of a “kindergartner” during a private dinner with a tech executive in the summer of 2017, BuzzFeed News reported a few months later. McMaster flatly denied doing so at the time.
-- Trump’s lack of historical perspective fuels his apparent sense of grievance. “Abraham Lincoln was treated supposedly very badly, but nobody's been treated badly like me,” he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos a few weeks back. John F. Kennedy, William McKinley and James Garfield, among others, might disagree.
-- In May 2017, Trump wondered aloud why the Civil War happened: “People don't realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why? People don't ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?" Speaking to a reporter from the Washington Examiner about Andrew Jackson, who died in 1845 – 16 years before the traitorous rebels attacked Fort Sumter – Trump said: “Had Andrew Jackson been a little later, you wouldn't have had the Civil War. … He was really angry [about what] he saw with regard to the Civil War. He said, 'There's no reason for this.’”
WHILE YOU WERE IN YOUR MORNING MEETINGS:
-- Protesters stormed Hong Kong’s legislature and occupied the complex on Monday night, the anniversary of the semiautonomous territory’s return to Chinese rule, escalating a crisis that is testing Beijing’s grip on the city. Shibani Mahtani reports: “The mostly young demonstrators smashed metal shutters, broke windows and ripped down metal fencing around the Legislative Council, eventually forcing their way into the building where riot police tried to push them back with tear gas. Meanwhile, a massive peaceful march shut down the city’s main thoroughfares — the latest in a string of acts of civil discontent that have rocked the Asian financial hub in recent weeks.
“Video broadcast from inside the legislative complex by local television stations showed riot police standing behind metal shutters as protesters repeatedly slammed against them and tried to pry them open. By 9:30 p.m. local time, dozens of demonstrators had entered the building and could be seen roaming the complex wearing yellow hard hats and carrying umbrellas. Demonstrators spray-painted graffiti on wood-paneled walls cursing the Hong Kong government. Others emptied the office rooms of chairs and desks. Outside, protesters cheered as more windows and doors were smashed open. The council issued an unprecedented ‘red alert’ urging everyone to leave the area immediately.”
-- Tehran has broken a stockpile limit for low-enriched uranium allowed under a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, its foreign minister was quoted as saying. Loveday Morris reports: “‘I have been informed that we have surpassed the 300-kilogram limit on our enriched uranium stockpile,’ Mohammad Javad Zarif said in comments carried by Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency. He said the move was ‘reversible’ but warned that if Europe does not take necessary action to uphold the other side of the deal, then Iran can continue to reduce its commitment to the agreement. Iran has repeatedly threatened to cross the 300-kilogram (660-pound) limit laid out in the deal for its stockpile of low-enriched uranium unless it receives some kind of relief from sanctions, arguing that it is constrained by the accord but unable to reap the benefits of it.”
-- Deep dive: The maximum pressure campaign from the U.S. is hurting Iran's economy and taking a human toll. Some say sanctions-induced inflation has led them to close their businesses, and the Iranian Central Bank has said factories and companies are closing while unemployment grows. Karen DeYoung, Erin Cunningham and Souad Mekhennet report: “'The behavior of Trump is not that of someone who knows what he is doing,’ said Roya, a housewife and mother of three. ‘First he threatens, and then he says this is not against the Iranian people. But we are the ones suffering.’ ... This article is based on interviews with a dozen Iranians of various walks of life, most of them contacted by telephone inside the country. Nearly all asked to be identified only by their first names to avoid drawing government attention.”
-- Pete Buttigieg’s campaign raised $24.8 million in the past three months for his White House bid. John Wagner reports: “Candidates have until July 15 to file fundraising reports with the Federal Election Commission, but those with impressive numbers typically share their totals soon after a quarter ends. Sunday was the final day of the second quarter. … Biden, who has been leading in early polling among the Democratic field, is also likely to post a large number. Two weeks ago, he told supporters at a Manhattan fundraiser that his campaign so far had raised money from 360,000 donors, with an average contribution of $55. That works out to $19.8 million. … Buttigieg’s campaign said the $24.8 million he raised during the second quarter came from more than 294,000 donors. The campaign said it now has $22.6 million cash on hand, a figure that will ensure Buttigieg can build robust operations in early nominating states.”
-- Trump asked for military tanks on the Mall as part of his planned Fourth of July celebrations. Juliet Eilperin and Josh Dawsey report: “The ongoing negotiations over whether to use massive military hardware, such as Abrams tanks or Bradley fighting vehicles, as a prop for Trump’s ‘Salute to America’ is just one of many unfinished details when it comes to the celebration planned for Thursday, according to several people briefed on the plan, who requested anonymity to speak frankly. White House officials intend to give out tickets for attendees to sit in a VIP section and watch Trump’s speech, but did not develop a distribution system before much of the staff left for Asia last week, according to two administration officials. Officials are also still working on other key crowd management details, such as how to get attendees through magnetometers in an orderly fashion. … Trump has also spurred the use of military aircraft for a flyover, including one of the jetliners used as Air Force One. In addition, the Navy’s Blue Angels were supposed to have a break between a performance in Davenport, Iowa on June 30 and one in Kansas City, Mo. on July 6, but will now be flying in D.C. on the 4th. The White House declined to comment on the ongoing plans."
GET SMART FAST:
Luis Alvarez, a retired New York police detective who worked at Ground Zero, died at 53 of cancer. Alvarez appeared before Congress last month, alongside Jon Stewart, to implore lawmakers to extend the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund to aid first responders who developed illnesses after working at Ground Zero. (Kayla Epstein)
At least 10 died after a small plane crashed into a Texas airport hangar. The noncommercial flight, bound for Florida, crashed shortly after takeoff in Addison, Tex. (New York Times)
A Taliban attack in Kabul killed at least 10. The attack occurred near the Ministry of Defense and sent dozens of people to the hospital. (Al Jazeera)
A salmonella outbreak linked to fresh papayas has sickened at least 62 Americans in eight states. The papayas were imported from Mexico and sent to states including New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. (Fox News)
A pregnant woman died in a stabbing attack in south London, and her baby was delivered by paramedics at the scene. The woman, identified as 26-year-old Kelly Mary Fauvrelle, went into cardiac arrest and died, while her baby was taken to a hospital in critical condition. (Jennifer Hassan)
- George Soros and Charles Koch will jointly finance a new foreign policy think tank in Washington with the aim of ending America’s “forever wars.” The two billionaires, on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, want their think tank to promote foreign policies based on diplomacy and restraint rather than threats, sanctions and bombing. (Boston Globe)
Former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders plans to hit the lecture circuit and write a book. She may have some role on Trump’s reelection campaign as she lays the groundwork for a possible 2022 run for governor in Arkansas. (Axios)
Department of Agriculture employees are facing a tough choice: move to Kansas City or lose their jobs. The department is moving two of its agencies to the Kansas City area, and if employees don’t agree to move by July 15, they will “be separated by adverse action procedures.” (Joe Davidson)
Facebook will ban content that misrepresents the 2020 Census in order to suppress participation by minority groups. The company said it will use “proactive detection technology” to identify what content might violate its policy. (Bloomberg News)
A writer for Barstool Sports was fired for joking about the disappearance of Mackenzie Lueck hours before authorities announced they had discovered the University of Utah student’s charred remains. Francis Ellis’s post for Barstool, which is known for its crass and often offensive content, was deleted shortly after its publication, but the media company’s founder, Dave Portnoy, later announced Ellis had been fired. “I know he meant well with it, but it just doesn’t matter,” Portnoy said. (Orion Donovan-Smith)
A toddler died from complications of E. coli linked to contact with animals at the San Diego County Fair last month. Three other children were sickened after visiting the fair, which featured more than 2,900 animals. (New York Times)
The CDC issued a warning for a “crypto” fecal parasite that can be transmitted via swimming pools. The parasite can leave healthy adults suffering from diarrhea for as long as three weeks and can be even more damaging for children and those with compromised immune systems. (CNN)
Taylor Swift said music mogul Scooter Braun is “manipulative” after her former record label, Big Machine Label Group, sold her masters (the rights to her songs) to him. Swift has publicly feuded with Braun for years, and she called the sale of her “life’s work” to him the “worst case scenario.” (Travis M. Andrews)
Kevin Durant signed a four-year contract with the Brooklyn Nets that could be worth up to $164 million. But Durant is not expected to return to the court until the 2020-2021 season because of his ruptured Achilles’ tendon. (Ben Golliver)
The U.S. men’s soccer team is advancing to the Gold Cup semifinals after beating Curaçao 1-0. They will play against Jamaica on Wednesday. (Emily Giambalvo)
The Yankees swept the Red Sox over two games in London, marking MLB’s first trip to Europe. The AL East-leading Yankees beat the Red Sox 17-13 on Saturday and 12-8 yesterday. (AP)
TRUMP IN NORTH KOREA:
-- Trump became the first sitting president to visit North Korea, meeting with Kim for 53 minutes of private talks and agreeing to set up teams to discuss resuming nuclear negotiations. Seung Min Kim and Simon Denyer report: “History was made at 3:45 p.m. local time on Sunday as Trump and Kim walked up to the line dividing the two Koreas and shook hands. Kim then invited Trump to cross into North Korea. The two men strolled a few yards to a road on the North Korean side, stayed a few seconds, then crossed back. ‘Good to see you,’ said Kim, dressed in a black Mao suit. ‘I never expected to see you in this place.’ Kim said the very fact of the meeting was significant. … Trump said it was ‘my honor’ to cross into North Korea. … The two men then met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in before adjourning for bilateral talks in the Inter-Korean House of Freedom on the southern side of the border.”
-- The U.S. may settle for a nuclear freeze by North Korea as a result of the latest talks between Trump and Kim. The Times’s Michael Crowley and David E. Sanger report: The freeze “essentially enshrines the status quo, and tacitly accepts the North as a nuclear power, something administration officials have often said they would never stand for. It falls far short of Mr. Trump’s initial vow 30 months ago to solve the North Korea nuclear problem, but it might provide him with a retort to campaign-season critics who say the North Korean dictator has been playing the American president brilliantly by giving him the visuals he craves while holding back on real concessions. While the approach could stop that arsenal from growing, it would not, at least in the near future, dismantle any existing weapons, variously estimated at 20 to 60. Nor would it limit the North’s missile capability. … The idea now is to get Mr. Kim’s new negotiating team to agree to expand the definition of the Yongbyon site well beyond its physical boundaries. … But a senior United States official involved in North Korean policy said there was no way to know if North Korea would agree to this.”
-- Trump’s daughter Ivanka became one of the few living Americans to cross into North Korea, demonstrating her outsize influence in the administration. Anne Gearan reports: “The first daughter’s prominence in Japan and South Korea appeared to be by design — a sign of her influence with [Trump] and the current absence of influential opponents within the administration. … The gray area she occupies — family, employee, envoy, advocate — frequently overlaps with the work of career diplomats. But her unfamiliarity with some elements of diplomacy were on display on this trip, including when she pronounced India a ‘critical ally.’ It is a partner in many areas, but U.S. diplomats avoid the higher terminology of ally.”
Key quote: “It looks to the rest of the world like we have a kind of a constitutional monarchy,” said Chris Hill, a former U.S. ambassador to South Korea and other nations who oversaw nuclear talks with North Korea at the close of the George W. Bush administration. “It’s increasingly problematic in terms of our credibility. It says to our allies, to everyone we do business with, that the only people who matter are Trump and his family members.”
Wild: Ivanka and her husband, Jared, who also got a senior White House job, were part of the U.S. delegation that visited North Korea, but national security adviser John Bolton was not: The hawk flew to visit Mongolia instead.
-- Stephanie Grisham, Trump’s new press secretary, was bruised in an altercation with North Korean security officials while trying to help U.S. journalists gain access to the president’s meeting with Kim. Hannah Knowles reports: “The Secret Service intervened as North Korean guards pushed and shoved American reporters to block them from entering the Inter-Korean House of Freedom south of the border, where Trump and Kim were meeting, according to the AP. Grisham stepped into the chaotic scene to help U.S. media gain access, according to tweets from journalists. In video footage, Grisham can be heard telling members of the press, ‘Go, go!’ as she pushes past a man standing in front of a camera. Another man carrying a camera runs through the gap she creates.”
-- Despite being busy in North Korea, Trump still found time to complain about media coverage. Seung Min Kim reports: “Trump was focused on what the headlines could have been if it all went awry and his personal invitation to Kim went unreturned. ‘Of course I thought of that,’ Trump said at a news conference one day prior ... ‘Because I know if he didn’t, everybody is going to say, ‘Oh, he was stood up by Chairman Kim.’ No, I understood that.’ … And at a Blue House news conference alongside [South Korean President] Moon, Trump again seemed to have a rebuttal prepared to a query that was obvious to the journalists following him: What progress, exactly, had been made since failed talks in Hanoi in February? ‘You know, when sometimes the media will say, ‘Gee, what’s happened?’ Well, they know what’s happened,’ Trump responded to the question that, at that point, hadn’t been asked. ‘What’s happened is, there was nuclear testing, there was ballistic missile testing. They had hostages of ours, as you know. Very tough situation.’”
-- “For [Trump], it was the biggest live show yet: A handshake with [Kim], and then a short stroll together — beyond Freedom’s Frontier and into the Hermit Kingdom,” David Nakamura reports. “... The moment was more than simple — it marked another in a series of remarkable set pieces that Trump has used over the past two years — first to bully Kim, then to engage him — in a diplomatic gambit that has no precedent. … Trump has also carefully cultivated elaborately staged moments that, strung together, reveal a president eager to play the roles of producer and director, calling the camera shots, hyping the drama and building public expectations for a big reveal.
“Skeptics have accused Trump of elevating style over substance in his North Korea strategy, pointing out that a memorandum signed by the two leaders in Singapore last year contained no detailed road map and helped lead to the unsuccessful summit in Hanoi. U.S. intelligence agencies said the North continues to develop its nuclear program in secret, even though it has maintained a testing ban on nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Trump countered that each meeting is part of a larger process that eventually will yield results. … Speaking to reporters [yesterday] after Kim had departed, Trump confirmed he had invited the North Korean dictator to visit the United States. ‘At some point,’ the president promised, ‘it will all happen.’”
-- Democratic presidential candidates dismissed the meeting as another instance of Trump trying to govern by photo op and lacking a theory of the case. Rachel Siegel reports: “Summits with foreign leaders typically require advance staff work and preparations, they argued — not haphazard meetings with few concrete terms set in advance. … ‘We’ve seen a history where Trump announces a summit and nothing really comes of it,’ Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’ ‘It’s not as easy as just going and bringing a hot dish over the fence to the dictator next door.’ Julián Castro, a former housing secretary, said North Korea has not kept its promise from last year’s summit in Singapore to produce a detailed account of its nuclear weapons stockpile.”
-- After witnessing Trump walk into North Korean territory, Fox News host Tucker Carlson employed false moral equivalence. Discussing Kim, he said that leading a country “means killing people.” The Daily Beast’s Audrey McNamara reports: “His fatalist assertion came after Fox & Friends host Jedediah Bila questioned Carlson on Trump’s controversial decision to have friendly relations with [Kim]. ‘President Trump recently made a comment about having a certain type of good chemistry with Kim Jong Un,’ Bila said to Carlson. ‘You’re talking about someone who has been responsible for so many human rights abuses.' Carlson responded: ‘There’s no defending the North Korean regime, which is a monstrous regime, it’s the last really Stalinist regime in the world, it’s a disgusting place obviously, so there’s no defending it.’ But then he went on: ‘On the other hand, you’ve got to be honest about what it means to lead a country: It means killing people,’ Carlson said. ‘Not on the scale that North Koreans do, but a lot of countries commit atrocities, including a number that we’re closely allied with. ... It’s important to be honest about that.’”
THERE'S STILL A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- The ongoing investigation Bill Barr ordered into the origins of the Russia probe has put the spotlight back on Joseph Mifsud. Rosalind S. Helderman, Shane Harris and Ellen Nakashima go deep:
“Shortly after Joseph Mifsud’s efforts to help connect a Trump adviser with the Kremlin were detailed in court filings, an Italian reporter found him at a university in Rome, where he was serving as a visiting professor. ‘I never got any money from the Russians: my conscience is clear,’ Mifsud told La Repubblica. ‘I am not a secret agent.’ Then Mifsud disappeared. The Maltese-born academic has not surfaced publicly since that October 2017 interview, days after Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about details of their interactions. Among them, Papadopoulos told investigators, was an April 2016 meeting in which Mifsud alerted him that the Russians had ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton in the form of ‘thousands of emails.’ The conversation between Mifsud and Papadopoulos, eventually relayed by an Australian diplomat to U.S. government officials, was cited by [Bob Mueller] as the event that led to the FBI probe into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
“In Mifsud’s absence, a number of Trump’s allies and advisers have been floating a provocative theory: that the Maltese professor was a Western intelligence plant. Seizing on the vacuum of information about him, they have promoted the idea that he was working for the FBI, CIA or possibly British or Italian intelligence, citing exaggerated and at times distorted details about his life.” Among the people who have publicly peddled or dabbled with this conspiracy theory are Rudy Giuliani, Devin Nunes and Papadopoulos.
“Such a notion runs counter to the description of Mifsud in the Mueller report, which states Mifsud ‘had connections to Russia’ and ‘maintained various Russian contacts,’ including a former employee of the Internet Research Agency, the Russian organization that carried out a social media disinformation campaign in 2016. Former FBI director James B. Comey, in an opinion column for The Washington Post in May, described Mifsud bluntly as ‘a Russian agent.’ … Officials familiar with U.S. intelligence reports told The Post that Mifsud had been identified by intelligence agencies as a potential Russian agent before he met Papadopoulos, an assessment drawn from reporting collected over several years. An examination of Mifsud’s activities also shows that he began forging ties in Russia years earlier — and that he was working to expand his network in that country around the same time he met Papadopoulos in 2016, including by trying to broker new academic deals with a powerful Russian state university.”
-- A Pentagon study found that Russia is beating the U.S. in the race for global influence. Politico's Bryan Bender reports: “The more than 150-page white paper … says the U.S. is still underestimating the scope of Russia's aggression, which includes the use of propaganda and disinformation to sway public opinion across Europe, Central Asia, Africa and Latin America. ... The paper also raises alarm about what the authors view as a burgeoning anti-American alliance by Russia and communist China, who have traditionally been fierce competitors despite being on the same side of the Cold War's ideological divide. Steps to counter that could include sowing Russian distrust of China's expanding power on Russia's eastern periphery, as well as Beijing's economic and infrastructure projects on multiple continents.”
-- Joe Biden faced a fourth day of attacks from his rivals over his past positions on racial issues, particularly from Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.). Annie Linskey reports: “Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) called out Biden on ‘Meet the Press’ on Sunday, saying he has failed at ‘bringing people together’ on racial issues because he won’t speak ‘candidly’ about past legislative work, such as his support for antibusing legislation and work on the 1994 crime bill, which contributed to mass incarceration. … On Sunday, spokesmen for Biden’s and Harris’s campaigns sparred over the topic via Twitter. ‘Busing is sometimes appropriate,’ tweeted TJ Ducklo, a Biden spokesman, adding that Biden supports ‘voluntary’ busing, which he said was how Harris’s school was desegregated. … ‘With all due respect to you and VP Biden, this isn’t true,’ Ian Sams, a Harris spokesman, shot back. ‘There was no voluntary vs. forced distinction.’”
-- Attendees of a Seattle fundraiser for Biden pushed back against the former vice president’s claim that a homophobic remark toward a gay waiter would have gone unchallenged a few years ago. According to a pool report of the event, Biden was arguing that America has made great strides with LGBTQ rights in recent years. As an example, he said that someone would have been let off the hook five years ago if they made fun of a gay waiter during a business meeting. But the audience vocally challenged that claim, yelling, “Not in Seattle!” (CNN)
-- Harris landed 2020 endorsements from two more members of the Congressional Black Caucus: Bobby Rush (Ill.) and Frederica Wilson (Fla.). From the AP’s Juana Summers: “With these two new supporters, Harris now has six endorsements from the CBC. Rush has been sharply critical of Biden in the wake of comments in which he recalled working alongside two segregationist Southern senators … Rush said Harris was ‘the only candidate prepared to fight for all Americans against a Trump Administration that has left them behind’ and that she is a ‘once-in-a-lifetime leader’ who ‘exemplifies what global leadership is all about.’”
-- The first Democratic debates demonstrated the party is moving away from the moderating strategy that helped it win back the House last year. Michael Scherer reports: “Last year’s midterm strategy focused on what party leaders viewed as a sensibly moderate message designed to attract centrist voters. … But many of the leading Democratic presidential candidates are running on a Medicare-for-all plan that would replace private insurance entirely for most Americans and raise middle class taxes to pay for it. … In the short term, the new Democratic messaging is aimed less at suburban swing voters in key states like Wisconsin and Michigan than at liberal donors clustered in coastal cities and nonwhite voters in the party’s base, who tend to be more liberal and hold significant sway over the nominating fight. But it is not clear how dramatically the candidates plan to pivot if they do win the nomination, and whether they will be successful.”
-- Case in point: Castro doubled down on his position about providing government health care to undocumented immigrants. Trump claimed the proposal ignored the need to put “American Citizens first,” tweeting, “That’s the end of that race!” But the former HUD secretary stood by his stance during an ABC News interview. “What I’d like to Americans to know, right now, No. 1, undocumented immigrants already pay a lot of taxes,” Castro told George Stephanopoulos. “Secondly, we already pay for the health care of undocumented immigrants. It’s called the emergency room. And then third, it’s the right thing to do. … We’re not going to let people living in this country die because they can’t see a doctor. That’s not who we are as Americans.” (Politico)
-- Beto O’Rourke traveled to the border this weekend after being challenged on his signature issue — immigration — during Wednesday night’s debate. The Texas Tribune’s Patrick Svitek reports: “The visits were of course not the first time O’Rourke has shown interest in the plight of migrants, particularly those in detention — he most notably helped lead the opposition a year ago to the now-closed Tornillo ‘tent city.’ But the timing was notable, representing an apparent effort to shore up his credentials on the issue following a Democratic debate dustup over it with Castro.”
-- The Post's Editorial Board weighs in on another key element of the party's risky lurch to the left: “A wealth tax isn't the best way to tax the rich.”
-- Five more Democrats are fighting for a spot in the next debate. Dave Weigel reports: “[This] month, when Democrats fight for space in their second presidential primary debates, [Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton] and four other Democrats are trying to take one of the lecterns for themselves. One of them, former Pennsylvania congressman Joe Sestak, has been running for a few days and may never get close to the debate threshold. Another one, Miramar, Fla., Mayor Wayne Messam, has a bare-bones campaign that's been enough to get him onstage at a couple of ‘cattle calls’ but has been largely invisible on the trail. Another candidate, Mike Gravel, is running from his patio, eschewing public events as two teenagers try to get 65,000 donations for a July debate berth. The ‘Gravel teens’ used the former Alaska senator's seats at [last] week's debate to get close to [O'Rourke] and call him a ‘shill.’ That has left Moulton and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock in their own category, as scrappy center-left Democrats who warn that the party sounds weaker when they're not onstage. Bullock, who campaigned in Iowa and New Hampshire on the two debate days, told interviewers that he would have liked to join the chorus against the party's moves left.”
-- The New Yorker’s Adam Entous takes a deep dive on Hunter Biden, who many — including on the Biden campaign — see as a serious liability for his father: “There is little question that Hunter’s proximity to power shaped the arc of his career, and that, as the former aide told me, 'Hunter is super rich terrain.' … [But] Trump and some of his allies, in their eagerness to undermine Biden’s candidacy, and possibly to deflect attention from their own ethical lapses, have gone to extreme lengths, promoting, without evidence, the dubious narrative that Biden used the office of the Vice President to advance and protect his son’s interests. At the same time, the gossip pages have seized on Hunter’s tumultuous private life. He has struggled for decades with alcohol addiction and drug abuse; he went through an acrimonious divorce from his first wife, Kathleen Buhle Biden; and he had a subsequent relationship with Beau’s widow, Hallie. He was recently sued for child support by an Arkansas woman, Lundden Alexis Roberts, who claims that he is the father of her child. (Hunter has denied having sexual relations with Roberts.) …
“Through weeks of conversations, he became increasingly open about his setbacks, aware that many of the stories that he told me would otherwise emerge, likely in a distorted form, in Breitbart or on ‘Hannity.’ He wanted to protect his father from a trickle of disclosures, and to share a personal narrative that he sees no reason to hide. ‘Look, everybody faces pain,’ he said. ‘Everybody has trauma. There’s addiction in every family. I was in that darkness.’”
Entous explores the connection between the Ukraine interests of Joe Biden — who in 2016 wanted Ukraine’s leaders to dismiss prosecutor Viktor Shokin — and Hunter Biden — who sat on the board of Burisma Holdings, for a Ukrainian energy company connected to Shokin: “Several former officials in the Obama Administration and at the State Department insisted that Hunter’s role at Burisma had no effect on his father’s policies in Ukraine, but said that, nevertheless, Hunter should not have taken the board seat. As the former senior White House aide put it, there was a perception that ‘Hunter was on the loose, potentially undermining his father’s message.’ The same aide said that Hunter should have recognized that at least some of his foreign business partners were motivated to work with him because they wanted ‘to be able to say that they are affiliated with Biden.’ A former business associate said, ‘The appearance of a conflict of interest is good enough, at this level of politics, to keep you from doing things like that.’ In December, 2015, as Joe Biden prepared to return to Ukraine, his aides braced for renewed scrutiny of Hunter’s relationship with Burisma. Amos Hochstein, the Obama Administration’s special envoy for energy policy, raised the matter with Biden, but did not go so far as to recommend that Hunter leave the board. As Hunter recalled, his father discussed Burisma with him just once: ‘Dad said, ‘I hope you know what you are doing,’ and I said, ‘I do.’
Biden’s approach was to deal with Hunter’s activities by largely ignoring them. This may have temporarily allowed Biden to truthfully inform reporters that his decisions were not affected by Hunter. But, as Robert Weissman, the president of the advocacy group Public Citizen, said, ‘It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Hunter’s foreign employers and partners were seeking to leverage Hunter’s relationship with Joe, either by seeking improper influence or to project access to him.” It is clear that Hunter and Biden’s decades-old decision not to discuss business matters has exposed both father and son to attacks. (Biden declined to comment for this article.) … There is no credible evidence that Biden sought Shokin’s removal in order to protect Hunter. … [In May] Hunter declined Burisma’s offer to serve another term on the board, believing that the controversy had become a distraction. But he said that he was proud of his work there, and that he thought the criticism was misplaced. ‘I feel the decisions that I made were the right decisions for my family and for me,’ he told me. ‘Was it worth it? Was it worth the pain? No. It certainly wasn’t worth the grief.’ He went on, ‘I would never have been able to predict that Donald Trump would have picked me out as the tip of the spear against the one person they believe can beat them.’”
MORE ON THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- In Sudan, protesters demanded a civilian-led government in a resurgence of the protests that have quieted down since a crackdown last month resulted in scores of deaths. State media report that at least seven died in this weekend’s protests. From Reuters’s Khalid Abdelaziz: “In the biggest demonstrations since a deadly raid by security forces on a protest camp in central Khartoum three weeks ago, tens of thousands of residents took to the streets in several parts of the Sudanese capital. In two areas near the presidential palace and in the upscale eastern neighborhood of Riyadh, they were met by security forces firing barrages of tear gas, witnesses said. The deputy head of Sudan’s ruling military council, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, said unknown snipers were shooting at civilians and soldiers.”
-- Japan resumed its commercial whaling for the first time in 30 years. Fishermen will be allowed to hunt whales starting today after the country withdrew from the International Whaling Commission. (The Guardian)
-- Authorities in China and Vietnam have culled millions of pigs to stop the spread of African swine fever. The disease, which has no known cure but does not affect humans, has reportedly spread to larger-scale farming facilities in Southeast Asia. (Timothy McLaughlin)
-- New Zealand has been trying to buy back the military-style weapons that were banned in the country after a gunman left 51 people dead in March. It hasn’t been easy. Emanuel Stoakes reports: “Growing opposition from New Zealand’s pro-gun groups has complicated efforts to round up the now-banned firearms under a buyback program. Lawsuits are threatened. Gun-control advocates argue that compensation rates may not be fair and warn of a possible spike in black-market sales. The government, meanwhile, is faced with a sobering set of challenges over how to enforce the new law. There is no national registry for many of the weapons targeted by the ban, including the AR-15 — a semiautomatic rifle that has been used in mass shootings in the United States and is often at the center of American gun-control debates. As a result, estimates of the numbers of newly banned weapons vary widely. So far, about 700 firearms have been voluntarily surrendered. Authorities are ‘operating a little bit in the dark,’ said Joe Green, gun-safety specialist and former arms control manager for the New Zealand Police. ‘It’s really an open checkbook,’ he added, ‘because they don’t know how many they are buying back.’”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
The Post's Beijing bureau chief, who just came out with an excellent biography of Kim, called Trump's visit to North Korea a “propaganda victory” for Kim:
Kim Jong Un has Donald Trump totally figured out: "If your excellency takes a step forward, you will be the first U.S. president to cross the border." https://t.co/kLQN2gS1xG— Anna Fifield (@annafifield) June 30, 2019
She later added this:
And here it is: Kim Jong Un’s propaganda victory, in full color across the first three pages of Rodong Sinmun. Look at the smiles. pic.twitter.com/2tfvnUzlUs— Anna Fifield (@annafifield) July 1, 2019
Fellow 2020 Democrats came to Kamala Harris's defense after Donald Trump Jr. retweeted — and later deleted — a tweet from an alt-right commentator claiming she was “not an American Black” because of her Jamaican ancestry:
The attacks against @KamalaHarris are racist and ugly. We all have an obligation to speak out and say so. And it’s within the power and obligation of tech companies to stop these vile lies dead in their tracks.— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) June 29, 2019
These troll-fueled racist attacks on Senator @KamalaHarris are unacceptable. We are better than this (Russia is not) and stand united against this type of vile behavior.— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) June 29, 2019
Donald Trump Jr. is a racist too. Shocker. https://t.co/cy0N6fUseX— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) June 29, 2019
The president's daughter tried to jump in on a conversation among several world leaders:
Ivanka Trump appears to be trying to get involved in a talk among Macron, May, Trudeau and Lagarde (IMF head).— Parham Ghobadi (@ParhamGhobadi) June 29, 2019
The video is released by French Presidential palace. pic.twitter.com/TJ0LULCzyQ
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) reacted to the awkward exchange:
It may be shocking to some, but being someone’s daughter actually isn’t a career qualification.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 30, 2019
It hurts our diplomatic standing when the President phones it in & the world moves on.
The US needs our President working the G20. Bringing a qualified diplomat couldn’t hurt either. https://t.co/KCZMXJ8FD9
From a BBC editor:
This is brilliant. Christine Lagarde’s face as Ivanka tries to join the chat is priceless.... https://t.co/95Fq2f7R55— Jon Sopel (@BBCJonSopel) June 30, 2019
A Post columnist added this:
A presidential historian remembered this moment in U.S. history:
LBJ signed Civil Rights Act 55 years ago this week: pic.twitter.com/DfcgQVQioa— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) July 1, 2019
Meghan McCain looked back on losing her father almost a year ago:
308 days, Dad. Still counting them. pic.twitter.com/8fNr095Sox— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) June 29, 2019
-- The Philadelphia Inquirer, “How the first U.S. city with no daily newspaper will help Trump in 2020,” by Will Bunch: “A political movement infused by anti-immigrant fervor has spread its tentacles all the way to the White House, and the demagogue surfing atop that wave just announced his 2020 campaign for a second term. But the Youngstown Vindicator, with its century-and-half legacy of award-winning journalism, won’t be there to cover it. … It’s another hit for a region that’s suffered 40 years of industrial job losses and is still reeling from GM’s shutdown of its giant Lordstown assembly line, but there’s a much deeper significance to this news. Ever since the rise of the internet sped up declines in print newspaper circulation and blew up that business model in the 2000s, media pundits have speculated when and where a significant American city will no longer have a daily newspaper, and now we know the answer: Youngstown, Ohio, in 2019. It’s hard to imagine a worse place or a worse time.”
-- The New York Times, “Reefer Madness or Pot Paradise? The Surprising Legacy of the Place Where Legal Weed Began,” by Jack Healy: “Colorado’s first-in-the-nation experiment has reshaped health, politics, rural culture and criminal justice in surprising ways that often defy both the worst warnings of critics and blue-sky rhetoric of the marijuana industry, giving a glimpse of what the future may hold as more and more states adopt and debate full legalization. Since recreational sales began in 2014, more people here are visiting emergency rooms for marijuana-related problems, and hospitals report higher rates of mental-health cases tied to marijuana. At the same time, thousands of others make uneventful stops at dispensaries every day, like the hiking guide in the college town of Boulder who now keeps a few marijuana gummies in a locked bag to help her relax before bed.”
-- “The death of the sidewalk,” by Avi Selk: “Thousands of rentable electric scooters have taken over pavement from Washington to Santa Monica, Calif., and Austin to Chicago. They clog narrow sidewalks, startle us from our ambulatory texting sessions and lay strewn in the middle of crosswalks. It’s hard to recall a time in living memory when it was this nerve-racking to attempt a stroll.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“This Trump critic’s cartoon went viral on social media. Within hours, he no longer had a contract,” from Michael Cavna: “Within hours after an anti-Trump cartoon proved popular on social media, its creator, Michael de Adder, was released from his freelance contract with Canada’s Brunswick News company. The timing of the news — which de Adder shared on his Facebook and Twitter accounts over the weekend — raised eyebrows within the editorial cartooning community. But the Brunswick News said Sunday in a statement that its cancellation of de Adder’s contract was not because of the [Trump] cartoon, but rather follows weeks of ‘negotiations’ over bringing back another cartoonist, ‘reader favourite’ Greg Perry.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Portland mayor, police come under fire after right-wing writer attacked at protest,” from the Oregonian: “Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and the city’s police force have come under criticism after an attack on a conservative writer at dueling protests on Saturday. … Andy Ngo, a right-leaning provocateur with online news and opinion outlet Quillette, which identifies Ngo as an editor and photojournalist, went to the left-wing demonstration around noon on Saturday. Around 1:30 p.m., Ngo was attacked by a group of masked individuals who kicked, punched and threw milkshakes at him. He quickly left the scene and was admitted to a local hospital, he said on Twitter. … Police were lined up along the perimeter of the park before the attack, but no one intervened to break up the fight.”
Trump is back from his trip to the G-20 and Korea. He will have lunch with Pence.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“I don’t understand what planet they’re describing. … The United States economy is booming.” — Senior White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on the 2020 Democrats’ economic proposals. (Politico)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Today will be slightly cooler, so feel free to go outside without feeling the pressure of stifling heat. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Some briefly cooler and less humid air visits the region today, but then we’re stuck in a muggy, hot pattern the rest of the week. The combination of heat and humidity Wednesday through Friday, including Independence Day, is especially painful. Today should be dry, but we reintroduce storm chances every afternoon and evening through Saturday, at least.”
-- The Nationals beat the Tigers, 2-1. (Sam Fortier)
-- The Middle States Commission on Higher Education warned the University of Maryland at College Park that it is at risk of losing its accreditation after a tumultuous and tragic year, beginning with the death of student and football player Jordan McNair. Joe Heim reports: “The commission informed the school that it had reached its decision because of ‘insufficient evidence that [it] is currently in compliance with Standard VII (Governance, Leadership, and Administration),’ according to a joint statement by University System of Maryland Board of Regents Chair Linda Gooden and University of Maryland at College Park President Wallace Loh.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Hasan Minhaj talked about the worst things he thinks Mitch McConnell has done to the country:
During the first MLB games in Europe, four famous Brits — Freddie Mercury, Winston Churchill, Henry VIII and the Loch Ness Monster — raced one another:
As the waters of the Mosul dam reservoir in northern Iraq receded last fall, they revealed a stunning sight: a Bronze Age palace, many of its mud-brick walls and carefully planned rooms remarkably preserved.
Lady Gaga gave an emotional speech during Pride events in New York:
Kamala Harris danced at a Pride parade in San Francisco:
Jimmy Carter said Friday that he thinks Trump "lost" the 2016 election and would not be president without help from Russia:
And this kitten is trying her best to scare her owner: