with Joanie Greve and Mariana Alfaro
On a post about a 16-year-old migrant who died in Border Patrol custody, group members reportedly responded with crass comments such as, “Oh well,” and “If he dies, he dies.” In another thread, a member of the group posted a photo of the father and his 23-month-old daughter who drowned last week while trying to ford the Rio Grande to enter the United States. A commenter asked if the photo could have been faked because the bodies looked so “clean.”
“I HAVE NEVER SEEN FLOATERS LIKE THIS,” the person wrote, according to ProPublica, adding, “could this be another edited photo. We’ve all seen the dems and liberal parties do some pretty sick things…”
Some of the memes shared on the group’s page include a photo illustration that depicts Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) being forced to give oral sex to President Trump. Another depicts her giving oral sex at a detention center for immigrants, according to ProPublica. One commenter suggested starting a fundraising campaign to support any agent who would agree to throw burritos at Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Tex.) when they toured immigration facilities with a congressional delegation.
“When we talk about agencies that are rotted to the core, THIS is what we mean,” tweeted Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), with a link to the story. “[Customs and Border Patrol] officers are charged with the care & custody of babies and families who they degrade and dehumanize.”
-- The National Border Patrol Council, the union that represents the vast majority of border agents, “strongly condemned” the “inappropriate” posts and said they’re “not representative of our employees, the overwhelming majority of whom perform their duties honorably.” A statement from the group said union representatives have previously warned agents during membership meetings that they need to be professional while on social media because posting material like this “does great harm to the reputation of the Border Patrol,” suggesting that this has been a problem on the union’s radar for a while.
“ProPublica cited a handful of people who posted inappropriate content out of 9,500 members of the Facebook group, not all of whom are active duty Border Patrol agents,” the statement said. “While one person posting inappropriate content is unacceptable and cannot be condoned, there is bound to be a subset of people whose values do not represent the entirety of those in the larger group. The men and women of the U.S. Border Patrol are by and large professional law enforcement officers who only want to do their job. To have a small minority of Facebook group members tarnish that image is unfortunate and embarrassing. … There are many instances, both told and untold, of agents going above and beyond to care for those in our custody, both humanely and compassionately.”
The union concluded its statement by knocking Ocasio-Cortez for her recent comments. “Whether one agrees with the politics of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Escobar, they both must be treated with dignity and respect,” the statement said. “Similarly, when Rep. Ocasio-Cortez refers to CBP facilities as concentration camps and our agents as Nazis – when neither could be further from the truth – she does nothing to improve the political discourse.”
-- “This isn’t about ‘a few bad eggs.’ This is a violent culture,” Ocasio-Cortez responded on Twitter. “There are 20,000 TOTAL Customs & Border Patrol agents in the U.S. 9,500 - almost HALF that number - are in a racist & sexually violent … Facebook group. They’re threatening violence on members of Congress. How do you think they’re treating caged children + families?”
-- Top officials at CBP said the posts would constitute a clear violation of the agency’s standards of conduct if they are indeed from agents. The agency announced that the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general was informed immediately, and an internal investigation has been initiated. “These posts are completely inappropriate and contrary to the honor and integrity I see—and expect—from our agents day in and day out,” said Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost. “Any employees found to have violated our standards of conduct will be held accountable.”
The Washington Post was not able to independently confirm the existence of the group, called “I’m 10-15,” after the law enforcement code for “aliens in custody,” as the group is not visible to people who aren’t members.
-- Escobar said it’s still troubling if it turns out that many current Border Patrol members and supervisors belong to the group and have tolerated the rhetoric on display there, even if they never posted anything themselves. “Anyone who views vulnerable human lives in this way should have absolutely no access to a badge or a gun,” said Escobar, who holds the El Paso-area House seat that Beto O’Rourke gave up when he ran for Senate.
-- Trump himself said he did not know anything about the Facebook posts when he was asked about the story in the Oval Office last night. Then he praised Border Patrol agents. “I don’t know what they’re saying about members of Congress,” the president told reporters who had assembled to watch him sign the bill that passed Congress last week to appropriate $4.6 billion in emergency aid for the border. “I know that the Border Patrol is not happy with the Democrats in Congress. … The Border Patrol, they’re patriots. They’re great people. They love our country. They know what’s coming in.” (Watch Trump's minute-long answer.)
-- Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.), the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which hosted the day trip to the border, said the Facebook posts show that the larger system is broken. “There are many good agents — men and women working earnestly to care for the people in their custody,” he said. “But they are overwhelmed in a system that is morally bankrupt and challenged by rogue agents whose culture was on full display in the Facebook group.”
-- House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who did not travel to the border but pledged a probe of the secret Facebook group, said those who participated “seem empowered by President Trump and seem all too willing to take his anti-immigrant rhetoric to the next level when they think no one is watching.” He said agents behind the offensive posts should be terminated.
-- Democrats are also quick to note that this is not an isolated incident. Border Patrol agent Matthew Bowen is facing a trial next month for allegedly driving his government-issued Ford F-150 into a 23-year-old Guatemalan man named Antolin Lopez Aguilar, who had jumped the border fence in Arizona, on purpose. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of deprivation of rights under color of law and falsification of records in a federal investigation. An 11-year veteran of the Border Patrol, Bowen has been on indefinite leave without pay since charges were filed against him in May 2018.
Bowen’s lawyer made a motion this spring to suppress text messages his client sent to other Border Patrol agents because he thinks they will prejudice a jury and prevent his client from getting a fair trial if they’re introduced as evidence. A seven-page list of the texts he wants to withhold is divided into categories like “messages that could be perceived as racist or offensive” and another that reflect his pro-Trump political beliefs.
Bowen referred to illegal immigrants as “mindless murdering savages” in one of those texts and added: “PLEASE let us take the gloves off trump! … [They are] disgusting subhuman s--- unworthy of being kindling in a fire.” Bowen texted that to a fellow Border Patrol agent in November 2017 who was facing criminal charges for shooting an unarmed Mexican teenager through the border fence. He would later be acquitted. The incident Bowen faces charges for happened just two weeks later.
In another text, a fellow Border Patrol agent asked Bowen: “Did you gas hiscorpse [sic] or just use regular peanut oil while tazing?? For a frying effect.” Bowen responded: “Guats are best made crispy, with olive oil from their native pais.” Guats is a reference to Guatemalans, the Arizona Daily Star of Tucson notes.
“Bowen’s views are hardly extraordinary, argued his attorney, Sean Chapman. Rather, his sentiments are ‘commonplace throughout the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector,’ Chapman wrote, adding that such messages are ‘part of the agency’s culture,’” Tim Elfrink reported in May. “Chapman later clarified in an email to The Washington Post that he intended that argument only to apply to one particular term Bowen regularly used in texts: ‘tonk,’ which some agents claim is an innocent acronym, the Arizona Republic reported, and others say is a slur derived from the sound of hitting an immigrant on the head with a flashlight.”
“How Mr. Bowen referred to aliens in specific text[s] does not aid the jury in determining whether he, on this occasion, set out to use excessive force to apprehend the alleged victim,” his attorney said.
-- The Democratic lawmakers who went to Texas yesterday visited Border Patrol stations in El Paso and Clint, as well as a facility in El Paso for children operated by the Department of Health and Human Services. “During Monday’s visit to Clint, lawmakers saw only about two dozen migrant children being held there, down from about 700 in May. Members expressed more pointed concerns about the El Paso facility, where they said several hundred people are still detained,” Robert Moore, Mike DeBonis and John Wagner report.
“As the furor over the Facebook posts mounted, Trump supporters gathered outside the Clint detention center while the Democrats were inside. At a news conference afterward, the lawmakers struggled to be heard as protesters shouted them down. ‘Build a wall; deport ’em all,’ one shouted. ‘That’s the way we get rid of this problem!’ When Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), one of three Muslim members of Congress, stood at the event, a protester shouted: ‘We care about Jesus Christ. We don’t care about Sharia law.’ ‘I will outlove your hate,’ Tlaib replied, choked with emotion. ‘You can all scream at me. I will never stop speaking truth to power.’”
-- On social media, the members who made the trip to the border expressed horror at what they saw:
This moment captures what it’s like for women in CBP custody to share a cramped cell—some held for 50 days—for them to be denied showers for up to 15 days and life-saving medication. For some, it also means being separated from their children. This is El Paso Border Station #1. pic.twitter.com/OmCAlGxDt8— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) July 1, 2019
"If you want water, just drink from a toilet." That's what border patrol told one thirsty woman we met on today's #DemsAtTheBorder trip. These are the same CBP personnel who threatened to throw burritos at members of Congress. Changes must be made. #DontLookAway pic.twitter.com/dW34DRduDA— Judy Chu (@RepJudyChu) July 1, 2019
Toddlers quarantined in a 8x10’ room sleeping on the floor w/the flu.— Congresswoman Lori Trahan (@RepLoriTrahan) July 1, 2019
Young girl in a hot warehouse coloring with a chain link fence around her.
Women sobbing in a crowded cell because they were separated from their kids.
Our system is broken. I won’t stop until it’s fixed.
Just left the first CBP facility. The conditions are far worse than we ever could have imagined.— Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (@RepDean) July 1, 2019
15 women in their 50s- 60s sleeping in a small concrete cell, no running water. Weeks without showers. All of them separated from their families.
This is a human rights crisis.
2) Facilities are wholly inadequate. Cells maxed to capacity, concrete floors...It felt jail-like. No way to keep a child or innocent human being. Group of 13 women from Cuba were in tears when we spoke with them.— Rep. Joe Kennedy III (@RepJoeKennedy) July 1, 2019
Our oversight is not deterred. Congress won't let up.— Rep. Joe Kennedy III (@RepJoeKennedy) July 1, 2019
These officers felt brazen in there. While mgmt was telling us it was a “secure facility” where *members of Congress* had to check their phones, we caught officers trying to sneak photos, laughing.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 2, 2019
CBP’s “good” behavior was toxic. Imagine how they treat the women trapped inside. https://t.co/wtkIy8EQWO
The conditions we saw today at CBP facilities in Texas were heartbreaking and abhorrent. From cells that are too crowded to lie down in, to women being told by Border Patrol agents to drink water from the toilet, the situation at the border is unacceptable. #DemsAtTheBorder— Rep. Pete Aguilar (@RepPeteAguilar) July 1, 2019
First of all, I know that what we saw, as members of Congress on a scheduled visit planned in advance, must be far from the worst conditions faced by migrants in Border Patrol custody. (2/5)— Rep. Marc Veasey (@RepVeasey) July 1, 2019
-- On Fox News last night, Geraldo Rivera said he sympathizes with the tough job that border agents have but he called on agents to show more “decency” and he said U.S. citizens are right to be outraged. “This ProPublica expose is an indication of the kind of moral exhaustion within the Border Patrol now that cannot be tolerated,” Rivera told Martha MacCallum. “Members of Congress must be treated with respect. You cannot insult the dead body of a migrant father trying to get his young child across the Rio Grande.”
-- “In a larger sense, the Border Patrol Facebook posts reveal a worrying mind-set among some of those charged with administering the harshest crackdown on migrants and asylum-seekers in decades. The realities of that crackdown have created conditions that Americans would condemn if they were in another country,” says the New York Times Editorial Board. “Only a callous person could find mirth in the misery at the border. And only a desensitized nation could continue to permit the separation of children from their parents — and detaining all of them in atrocious conditions — as a morally acceptable form of deterrence.”
MORE FROM INSIDE THE DETENTION CENTERS:
-- A 12-year-old migrant girl says she and her 6-year-old sister were held inside a detention center in Texas, where they were forced to sleep on the floor. The AP’s Denise Lavole, Martha Mendoza and Garance Burke report: “In a video obtained by The Associated Press, the girl — speaking in Spanish — tells her Minnesota-based attorney Alison Griffith children were ‘treated badly’ and were not allowed to play or bathe. The girl’s face is not visible on the video to protect her privacy and not jeopardize her immigration case. … In the video, the girl says that inside the Clint station, she was given pudding, juice and a burrito she could not eat ‘because it tasted very bad.’ ‘There are some children, like the age of my sister, they cried for their mother or their father. They cried for their aunt. They missed them,’ she said. ‘They cried and they were locked up.’”
-- The DHS inspector general discovered that Border Patrol agents, fearing riots because of the “dire” conditions inside overcrowded detention facilities, have begun arming themselves in areas where they didn’t used to. NBC News’s Julia Ainsley and Jacob Soboroff report on a 25-page report that was leaked to them: “Border agents remained armed in holding areas because they were worried about the potential for unrest, the report said. Agents (traditionally) put their weapons in a lockbox when they enter holding areas, a DHS official said. A cell meant for a maximum of 35 held 155 adult males with only one toilet and sink. The cell was so crowded the men could not lie down to sleep. Temperatures in the cells reached over 80 degrees, the report said. ‘With limited access to showers and clean clothing, detainees were wearing soiled clothing for days or weeks,’ the report said. …
“The report also included interviews with CBP agents at the Paso Del Norte border station in El Paso, where morale was in sharp decline. The agents had concerns that the conditions would lead to riots or hunger strikes by migrants. Some agents were looking to retire early or move to another agency.”
-- The heartbreaking stories from children in Border Patrol custody keep coming: “We are kept in a cage,” a teenager said. “There is no room to move without stepping over the others.” From Mother Jones’s Jessica Washington: “The description of his time in custody appeared in a court document filed and released Wednesday night as part of a lawsuit alleging torturous conditions at CBP detention centers … It’s just one of numerous gut-wrenching accounts from migrant children who, according to the suit, are being denied adequate food and medical care, clean water, and proper sleep. Other testimonials in the document come from doctors who recently visited the facilities. …
“A 5-year-old who was in custody in Clint described the harrowing experience of being separated from her father and being brought to the CBP facility. ‘I left Honduras with my father because Honduras is a dangerous place to live,’ the child said. ‘I was apprehended with my father. The immigration agents separated me from my father right away. I was very frightened and scared. I cried. I have not seen my father again.’ The 5-year-old also recounted being denied medical care after becoming sick in CBP custody. ‘I have had a cold and cough for several days,’ the child said. ‘I have not seen a doctor and I have not been given any medicine.’”
-- A group of lawyers that spoke out about the “appalling” conditions at migrant detention centers said border officials denied them access to the “sickest” children at one Texas facility. Newsweek’s Chantal Da Silva reports: “Human Rights Watch U.S. Program Executive Director Nicole Austin-Hillery said [CBP] personnel refused to grant her and other lawyers visiting the Clint detention center last month access to a ‘sick ward’ where sick children were being detained. … ‘We wanted to see how those children, who are most vulnerable right now, how they are being treated and being cared for,’ Austin-Hillery said. ‘We were prohibited from seeing those children and we were told it was for our own safety. We told them, 'we don't care. We're not concerned about catching a cold.’”
-- More than 140 Holocaust and genocide experts signed an open letter chastising the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum for condemning the use of Holocaust analogies when talking about contemporary events. Specifically, the scholars said Ocasio-Cortez should be allowed to refer to migrant detention centers as “concentration camps.” Newsweek’s Jason Lemon reports: “The scholars argued that the museum's ‘decision to completely reject drawing any possible analogies to the Holocaust, or to the events leading up to it, is fundamentally ahistorical.’ ‘The very core of Holocaust education is to alert the public to dangerous developments that facilitate human rights violations and pain and suffering; pointing to similarities across time and space is essential for this task,’ they wrote.” A Stanford professor is among the signatories.
-- Two boys in Missouri have set up a lemonade stand in front of their home to raise some money to help the migrant children at the border. From the Kansas City Star’s Editorial Board, led by Colleen McCain Nelson: “Thank God, two young brothers in Overland Park, Carter and Ben Wilson, don’t know all the details of what’s happening to migrant children at our border with Mexico. They’re 8 and 10, so their parents have naturally tried to shield them from the worst of it. Still, they know that there are kids just like them in terrible trouble there. ‘They happened to see parts of the story on the news,’ says their dad, John Wilson. And they know, too, that there is something we can do to help them. That is why they have been standing out in the heat this past week, selling lemonade for $1 a cup and donating all of the proceeds to Kids in Need of Defense, or KIND, which provides legal representation to migrant children. ‘I would want them to legally be able to come to America or be able to live in America without being forced into these places away from their parents,’ said 10-year-old Ben.”
MORE ON THE IMMIGRATION WARS:
-- Trump said his delayed raids to round up and deport undocumented migrants inside the U.S. will begin after the Fourth of July. Bloomberg News’s Shannon Pettypiece reports: “Before the delay, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents had been poised to start attempting to round up about 2,000 people in 10 cities, including Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago and Baltimore. Trump said the raids were to start in the coming week.”
-- A Trump administration plan to tighten eligibility for public benefits could result in millions of kids losing access to health care. Reuters’s Lisa Rapaport reports: “The proposed changes are expected to cause many immigrants to disenroll their children from safety-net programs like Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program out of fear and confusion, even among families to whom the rule would not apply. Nationwide, 8.3 million children who have Medicaid and CHIP, or roughly one in four kids currently enrolled, are at risk of being disenrolled in health and nutrition benefit programs if the proposed rule changes take effect. … More than nine in ten of the kids who could lose their benefits are U.S. citizens, researchers estimate.”
-- Mexico’s crackdown on migrants has overwhelmed its shelters and antagonized its southern neighbors. Kevin Sieff reports from Mexico City: “In the weeks since Mexico signed a pact with the United States to stop migration, conditions in detention centers and shelters have deteriorated dramatically, according to diplomats and human rights officials who have visited the facilities. … All that has led to a surge in the number of apprehended migrants, with hardly any shelters or centers to hold them. Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission says multiple shelters and detention centers are now at several times capacity. …
“A 19-year-old Salvadoran woman was fatally shot after the truck carrying her and other migrants sped through an immigration checkpoint in the state of Veracruz. … Salvadoran officials have been careful not to speak out publicly during the investigation. But privately, they have expressed deep concerns about the possibility that more migrants could be shot and killed by Mexican police.”
-- Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele said his country bears responsibility for the recent drowning deaths of the father and his toddler daughter in the Rio Grande. Bukele told the BBC that his country is to blame for the conditions that led the family — along with thousands of others — to flee El Salvador in the first place. “People don’t flee their homes because they want to. People flee their homes because they feel they have to,” he said, per Claire Parker.
-- A Univision anchor noted that the State Department is urging Americans not to visit Tamaulipas because it’s so dangerous, even as CBP forces hundreds of migrants to wait there as part of the new Migrant Protection Protocols program:
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- In the first major shake-up for a 2020 presidential campaign, five senior staffers are leaving former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper’s (D) campaign. Campaign manager Brad Komar, national finance director Dan Sorenson, communications director Lauren Hitt, digital director John Schueler and New Hampshire political director Nolan Varee are out.
The campaign sent a news release announcing that M.E. Smith, who managed the reelection campaign last year of Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), will replace Komar, who previously managed Hickenlooper's 2014 gubernatorial reelection campaign. Smith, who already lives in Denver, where Hickenlooper's campaign is based, was the deputy campaign manager in 2016 for Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Hickenlooper’s former chief of staff who is also running for president, and also deputy manager for Hickenlooper in 2014.
“The news comes on the heels of the first Democratic debate, at which the former Colorado governor's middling bid wasn't re-energized,” ABC News’s Sasha Pezenik reports. “Perhaps more important, this shakeup comes the day after the close of second-quarter for campaign fundraising, making it especially telling that Hickenlooper's finance director is among those on their way out. Hickenlooper [is] lagging behind the Democratic National Committee's 130,000-donor benchmark required to participate in debates in September. …
“Sorenson confirmed he'll be moving to Beto O'Rourke's team as national finance director. After Hitt told ABC News that ‘for personal and professional reasons, it made sense to be in Texas’ for Sorenson, she confirmed she'd also be ‘transitioning out’ very soon. The trail ahead may grow rockier for the Hickenlooper team as Brendan Koch, deputy finance director, also may be leaving the team.”
-- Other campaigns are feeling pressure, as well, that could lead to forthcoming shake-ups: More than half of the Democratic candidates face the possibility of being excluded from the fall debates. The AP’s Steve Peoples and Brian Slodysko report: “Short on support and money and bound by tough party rules, once soaring politicians may soon be seen as also-rans. They include Julián Castro, who is seeking to capitalize on his strong debate performance last week; Kirsten Gillibrand, one of her party’s most outspoken feminists; and Cory Booker, who rose to stardom as the energetic mayor of Newark. A difficult period lies ahead as the party begins to sort through its expansive roster of candidates. The process will help Democrats zero in on someone to challenge [Trump]. But it is also forcing candidates to burn through cash to stay competitive and could result in a field that’s older, whiter and more male — an uncomfortable development for a party that says it prizes diversity.”
-- Hong Kong police used force to clear thousands of protesters in and around the city's legislative building after some demonstrators broke in and occupied it yesterday. Shibani Mahtani and Timothy McLaughlin report: “The escalation has brought Hong Kong into unprecedented and uncertain territory, and represents the biggest test of Beijing’s grip over the global financial hub and the status under which it operates. On Tuesday morning, Hong Kong’s streets were reopened, the rush-hour traffic flowing through like on any other day. … The demonstrators occupying the complex wrote a declaration that included a call for overthrowing the ‘puppet Legislative Council and the Government,’ and they vowed to stay. But just after midnight Tuesday, police equipped with riot shields, tear gas and projectiles began removing protesters from streets surrounding the complex, sending them fleeing. Officers then retook the complex, stopping and frisking those who remained nearby.”
-- “The storming of the Legislative Council presents the strongest challenge to Chinese control of Hong Kong, and many have argued that it is a culmination of more than a decade of popular frustration over repeated encroachments by Beijing on Hong Kong’s special status,” writes Adam Taylor, who explains why Hong Kong has grown increasingly fearful of Chinese control.
GET SMART FAST:
The S&P 500 hit a record high after the United States and China reached a cease-fire on their trade war. The S&P rose 22 points yesterday to close at 2,964, while the Dow and Nasdaq also surged. (Thomas Heath)
NASA is scheduled to test later today the emergency abort system of the Orion crew capsule, its new spacecraft. No astronauts will be on board, but the test is crucial for NASA and Lockheed Martin as well as for the White House, which is rushing the space agency to return astronauts to the moon. (Christian Davenport)
A Yemeni drone struck a Saudi airport, injuring nine people, according to Saudi officials. No one was seriously hurt, officials said. The strike is the latest in a string of attacks targeting Saudi airports. (Sudarsan Raghavan)
Democratic lawmakers are running out of ways to block the Trump administration from moving two USDA agencies from D.C. to the Midwest. Democrats representing many of the federal workers whose jobs are about to be reassigned or moved have warned that the proposal will spark a brain drain at the agencies. (Jenna Portnoy)
Roy Moore, the former Senate candidate from Alabama, “likely failed” a December 2017 polygraph test he took in an effort to clear his name, according to a lawsuit filed for Leigh Corfman, who claims she was sexually molested by Moore when he was 32 and she was 14. The suit is part of an ongoing effort to reopen Moore’s deposition in the defamation lawsuit Corfman filed against him in January 2018. (Birmingham News)
Nearly 11,500 Colorado parolees can now vote under a new law that broadens voting rights for people convicted of felonies. Before the law passed, parolees had to complete their sentences before being able to cast a ballot. (Colorado Sun)
Nike pulled its new sneaker featuring the Betsy Ross flag after Colin Kaepernick and others voiced concerns that the symbol was offensive. Kaepernick reached out to Nike executives to express his view, shared by some users on social media, that the flag was offensive because of its connection to an era of slavery. (Wall Street Journal)
Cori “Coco” Gauff, a 15-year-old tennis player, defeated five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams in the first round of the tournament. Gauff eliminated Williams in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, becoming the youngest female tennis player to win a main-draw Wimbledon match since 1991. (Alex Andrejev)
A freak hailstorm rained down on the city of Guadalajara, Mexico. Streets and cars were buried under more than three feet of ice and hail. (Katie Mettler)
Journalism is experiencing its worst job losses since the Great Recession. About 3,000 people were laid off or offered buyouts in the first five months of 2019, the highest level of job cuts in the industry since 2009. (Bloomberg News)
Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs died at 27. The cause of death was not immediately announced, but authorities in Texas said they were called to the Angels’ hotel and found Skaggs, who had started playing with the team just two days earlier, unresponsive. (Dave Sheinin)
Singer Lil Nas X came out on the last day of Pride Month. The 20-year-old rapper, known for his song “Old Town Road,” didn’t directly address his sexuality but hinted at it to his followers through the lyrics of his song “C7osure.” (Morgan Krakow)
WHAT'S THE OPPOSITE OF FIRE AND FURY?
-- Trump’s meetings with world leaders at and after the G-20 summit show that his hard-line approach tends to soften when it is time to produce agreements. Anne Gearan, Robert Costa and David J. Lynch report: “Trump emerged from his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin with no specific public commitments, although both nations had pledged in principle beforehand to explore a new arms control pact. Despite concerns over Turkey’s plan to purchase Russian defense systems, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Trump told him the United States would not punish his government with sanctions over the decision. And while Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong Un following the G-20 summit appeared to provide the North Korean leader with a propaganda victory to tout back home, the president did not publicly secure more than a commitment to resume nuclear talks that have so far yielded no breakthroughs.”
-- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and special envoy Steve Biegun have been given two to three weeks to start new talks with their North Korean counterparts now that Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong Un is over. John Hudson reports: “Experts say U.S. officials should focus on reaching a shared understanding with North Korea of what denuclearization would look like and getting a better assessment of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons inventory. … One variable that is expected to change in the Trump administration’s favor is the leader of North Korea’s negotiating team. Pompeo said Sunday that the North Korean Foreign Ministry would be leading the talks for the country. ‘I don’t know exactly who from the Foreign Ministry, but it’s likely to be one of a couple people,’ he said. One potential counterpart for Biegun is North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, a seasoned diplomat with years of experience working with American officials on denuclearization issues.”
-- Trump officials are split over what the approach to the North Korea talks should be. Some want the U.S. to freeze Kim’s nuclear activity, some are considering a more comprehensive agreement for North Korea to give up its entire nuclear program, and others have different ideas. The Times’ Edward Wong reports: “But some senior administration officials have been discussing the idea of an incremental approach under which North Korea would first close down its nuclear facilities to prevent it from making new fissile material, in effect freezing its program but leaving its existing arsenal in place. In exchange, the Americans would make some concessions that would help improve the living conditions in North Korea, which is under heavy sanctions, or strengthen relations between Washington and Pyongyang. Among those considering such ideas are senior diplomats, say people familiar with the discussions.”
-- Trump falsely claimed that Barack Obama begged Kim for a meeting. Salvador Rizzo fact-checked the statement: “The White House provided no evidence for Trump’s claim that Obama tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to meet with Kim. Neither the White House press office nor the National Security Council responded to our questions. No public records or news articles show Obama tried to meet with Kim. Former U.S. intelligence officials and experts on North Korea said they knew of no evidence for Trump’s claim. ‘I don’t know where he’s getting that,’ James R. Clapper Jr., who was director of national intelligence during the Obama years, said on CNN. ‘In all the deliberations that I participated in on North Korea during the Obama administration, I can recall no instance whatever where President Obama ever indicated any interest whatsoever in meeting with Chairman Kim. That’s news to me.’”
-- A United Nations court judge quit The Hague, citing “shocking” political interference from the Trump White House and Turkey. The Guardian’s Daniel Boffey reports: “Christoph Flügge, a German judge, claimed the US had threatened judges after moves were made to examine the conduct of US soldiers in Afghanistan. Turkey’s government had earlier made ‘baseless’ allegations to end the tenure of a Turkish judge sitting on a United Nations court known as the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals with the connivance of the UN, he claimed. … Flügge, who had been a permanent judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) since 2008, told the German newspaper Die Zeit that he had concluded in the wake of the developments that the 'diplomatic world' saw no value in an independent judiciary. He warned that the UN’s blind eye to Turkey’s intervention had set an alarming precedent.”
-- The U.S. added more European Union products to a list of goods it could hit with tariffs as a dispute between Airbus and Boeing continues. New products include cherries, cheese, meat, olives and pasta. (Bloomberg News)
THE PRESIDENT'S FOURTH OF JULY PLANS:
-- Tanks, Marine One and much more: Inside Trump’s Fourth of July wish list. Juliet Eilperin, Josh Dawsey and Dan Lamothe report: “Engineers were examining the site this week to determine if the weight of stationing armored vehicles there would affect the Lincoln Memorial’s underground rooms, according to one individual briefed on the efforts. … Trump told reporters late Monday that ‘we’re going to have some tanks stationed outside,’ following a report about the emerging plans by The Washington Post. He cast the spectacle as part of a Fourth of July ‘like no other. It’ll be special.’ But the use of such massive military hardware for Thursday’s celebration sparked sharp criticism from D.C. officials, Democratic lawmakers and advocates of the Park Service, who noted the agency already faces a maintenance backlog of more than $11 billion. … The Defense Department has not released any estimates of how much the celebration could cost. But the use of numerous aircraft could drive it well into the millions of dollars when counting fuel and maintenance.”
-- The Republican National Committee and political appointees are doling out tickets to Trump’s spectacle to major donors. HuffPost’s S.V. Date reports: “'He’s going to have tanks out there. It’s going to be cool,’ joked one RNC fundraiser on condition of anonymity. He said he received an offer for the free tickets on Friday but did not request any. ‘He wants to have a parade like they have in Moscow or China or North Korea.’ … One senior White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Trump’s planned speech will not be partisan. ‘This speech will not be political. It will be about celebrating our nation’s independence, our flag and our great military.’”
-- A group of veterans plans to give out thousands of USS John S. McCain T-shirts during Trump’s event. HuffPost’s Jennifer Bendery reports: “VoteVets has already raised enough money to make more than 5,000 T-shirts, which veterans will hand out to people on the National Mall and, before that, deliver to members of Congress. All of the shirts, which feature an image of the Navy destroyer named after three generations of John S. McCains — including the late Arizona senator and Trump critic — are being made by Rags of Honor, a company that employs homeless veterans. … ‘It’s really a way to honor a family that, through multiple generations, has shown that the country is bigger than any one individual,’ said Peter Kauffmann, vice chair of VoteVets and a Navy veteran. ‘July 4 has never been about who is president. The idea that Donald Trump can come in and sell VIP tickets so you can get good seats while the regular old people have to stay back from the area is antithetical to the whole idea of America.’”
-- Fewer Americans are “extremely” proud of the U.S., a Gallup poll found. Gallup’s Megan Brenan writes: “While 70% of U.S. adults overall say they are proud to be Americans, this includes fewer than half (45%) who are ‘extremely’ proud, marking the second consecutive year that this reading is below the majority level. Democrats continue to lag far behind Republicans in expressing extreme pride in the U.S. … The latest overall declines in patriotism are largely driven by Democrats, whose self-reported pride has historically been lower and has fluctuated more than Republicans'. Democrats' latest 22% extreme pride reading is the group's lowest in Gallup's 19 years of measurement, and is half of what it was several months before Donald Trump's 2016 election victory.”
-- At least two Army tanks arrived in Washington for Trump’s celebration. A photographer saw two M1A1 Abrams tanks with four other military vehicles on a freight train at the southern edge of the city. (AP)
THERE’S STILL A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- House Democrats are seeking copies of all White House communications sent via nonofficial means, including with personal email accounts and on personal cellphones. Rachael Bade reports: “The House Oversight Committee on Monday said the step was necessary ‘after six months of White House stonewalling’ on the matter. This year, Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) asked the administration about reports that some top White House officials — including daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner — used personal email and encrypted applications to communicate. Such communications are against record-keeping laws unless they are forwarded to and stored on official channels. The White House, however, has refused to tell the committee about the results of its own internal investigation of the matter, Democrats say. The panel wants copies of all emails that did not comply with this law.”
-- A new study found that Trump may have benefited from Russian trolls promoting his 2016 candidacy. NBC News’s Ken Dilanian reports: “The study, by researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, does not prove that Russian interference swung the election to Trump. But it demonstrates that Trump's gains in popularity during the 2016 campaign correlated closely with high levels of social media activity by the Russian trolls and bots of the Internet Research Agency, a key weapon in the Russian attack. … The study found that every 25,000 re-tweets by accounts connected to the IRA predicted a 1 percent increase in opinion polls for Trump.”
-- Trump’s congressional allies are eagerly awaiting Bob Mueller’s public testimony, seeing it as an opportunity to tarnish the special counsel’s reputation. Politico’s Kyle Cheney, Melanie Zanona, Darren Samuelsohn and Natasha Bertrand report: “Mueller’s intensely anticipated July 17 testimony will bring him face to face with the Republican lawmakers who have savaged his reputation and called him the ringleader of a ‘coup’ against Trump. While Democrats attempt to squeeze morsels of new information out of the notoriously tight-lipped investigator, these Trump defenders are signaling that they’ll use the historic moment to try to undercut his credibility and paint him as a political pawn in Democrats’ efforts to undermine the president. … They intend to press him on long-held articles of Trumpian faith: that Mueller's team was biased against the president from the start and that the Russia investigation was tainted by inappropriate surveillance.”
-- Trump accused New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) of using Letitia James, the state’s independently elected attorney general, to target Trump’s businesses to score political points. NBC News’s Allan Smith reports: “‘It is very hard and expensive to live in New York,’ Trump began. ‘Governor Andrew Cuomo uses his Attorney General as a bludgeoning tool for his own purposes. They sue on everything, always in search of a crime. I even got sued on a Foundation which took Zero rent & expenses & gave away more money than it had.’ Speaking on a conference call with reporters, Cuomo said Monday that he had not yet seen Trump's tweets, but added ‘nothing that man can say can surprise me.’ ‘He says the most absurd things,’ Cuomo said, adding that Trump's ‘strength is not fact or truth.’ Hillary Clinton also fired back, defending the Clinton Foundation and noting that the New York Attorney General had found that the president's own foundation engaged in a ‘shocking pattern of illegality.’”
-- Russian sanctions froze the fortune of Andrew Intrater, a Manhattan investor and Trump donor once connected to Michael Cohen. He is now taking the case to the courts. The Times’s Ben Protess and William K. Rashbaum report: “The United States sanctions against Russia had swept up businesses with links to Russian oligarchs. Mr. Intrater and his firm are American and not directly subject to the penalties, but his cousin and biggest investor is the oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, who was hit with sanctions in April last year. … Cohen’s critics suggested that Mr. Intrater may have been a front for his oligarch cousin to funnel Russian money to the president’s inner circle, a theory Mr. Intrater denied. The special counsel’s office, which interviewed Mr. Intrater about the issue, never accused him of any wrongdoing and did not mention him in its report. … Though the special counsel’s office moved on, he said, the sanctions on Mr. Vekselberg continued to take a toll, leaving his firm, Columbus Nova, unable to manage most of its investment funds or collect fees and profits. … In a lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court, Mr. Intrater accused the Treasury Department and Secretary Steven Mnuchin of violating his Fourth Amendment rights, arguing that their sanctions policy amounted to an unreasonable seizure of American property.”
-- Spies fear that consulting firm McKinsey helped hobble the country’s intelligence agencies. Politico’s Natasha Bertrand and Daniel Lippman report: “For the last four years, the powerhouse firm McKinsey has helped restructure the country’s spying bureaucracy, aiming to improve response time and smooth out communication. … Instead, according to nearly a dozen current and former officials who either witnessed the restructuring first-hand or are familiar with the project, the multi-million dollar overhaul has left many within the country’s intelligence agencies demoralized and less effective. These insiders say the efforts have hindered decision-making at key agencies — including the CIA, National Security Agency, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. They say McKinsey helped to complicate a well-established linear chain-of-command system, slowing down projects and turnaround time, and applied cookie-cutter solutions to agencies with unique cultures.”
ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN AND WOMEN:
-- House Democratic investigators are probing allegations from whistleblowers at the State Department that Pompeo has been misusing diplomatic security personnel to run personal errands and give his wife her own security detail. CNN’s Michelle Kosinski reports: “Congressional investigators [say] that a State Department whistleblower has raised multiple issues over a period of months, about special agents being asked to carry out some questionable tasks for the Pompeo family. In April, for example, an agent was asked to pick up Chinese food—without Pompeo in the car. The whistleblower said this led agents to complain that they are now serving as ‘UberEats with guns,’ which has created a buzz within the department, according to multiple Democratic congressional aides who cited the whistleblower. On another occasion, the whistleblower told aides, a Diplomatic Security special agent was given the job of picking up the Pompeo family dog from a groomer. ... In January, Diplomatic Security was asked by a person in Pompeo's office to pick up his adult son from Union Station in Washington and bring him to the family home. …
“The bigger issue causing concern among some agents is the question of why Pompeo's wife, Susan, has her own security detail, assigned to her in 2018, even while she is at home in the United States. The whistleblower told these investigators that multiple special agents and supervisors within Diplomatic Security understood that a formal threat assessment had not been carried out, under longtime standard operating procedure, and that there is no specific threat against Susan Pompeo. Furthermore, the whistleblower told aides that shortly after Susan Pompeo received her personal security detail, in July 2018, agents were verbally told not to use her callsign—which is ‘Shocker’ — over the radios or publicly. The reason, according to one aide, citing the whistleblower, was that ‘they knew it wasn't kosher.’ ... Another whistleblower has come forward, who worked on the State Department's executive seventh floor where the secretary of state and top aides are based, telling [House investigators] that employees there have been told not to put information concerning Susan Pompeo into official emails, so that it would not be preserved in required recordkeeping.”
-- Mercedes Schlapp, the director of strategic communications at the White House, is leaving to take a job advising the Trump campaign, becoming the latest administration official to cross over to the president’s campaign team. The Wall Street Journal’s Rebecca Ballhaus reports: “Ms. Schlapp, who joined the White House in September 2017, will help the campaign with ‘strategy as well as Latino outreach with her bilingual capabilities,’ Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a tweet. ... Ms. Schlapp’s departure comes days after Stephanie Grisham, previously communications director for the first lady, was named the new White House press secretary and communications director. Ms. Grisham’s first day was Friday.”
-- Judd Deere, Trump’s deputy press secretary, talked to BuzzFeed News about his experiences as an openly gay member of this administration. Dominic Holden reports: “Deere admits, despite sharing his social life freely in the West Wing, he’s not sure if the president actually knows how he identifies. ‘If he asked me, sure, I'd have the conversation with him,’ he said. ‘It's not something I hide.’ Still, ‘I don’t walk into the White House every day and say, ‘I’m Judd Deere; I’m gay.’’ The fact that gay men can rise through the ranks in the White House, Deere argues, proves the president likes LGBTQ people (despite a litany of policies and positions that target them in workplaces, hospitals, shops, homeless shelters, and more). Deere had previously served as a spokesperson in the Arkansas attorney general’s office when it asked courts to block same-sex parents from listing both of their names on a child’s birth certificate and to strike down Fayetteville’s LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinance. After he came out at the age of 26, he was still welcomed by Republican politicos.”
-- A new CNN-SSRS poll shows that Joe Biden’s lead over the rest of the 2020 field has slipped to a narrow 5 points, as Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren surged after the first round of Democratic debates. CNN’s Jennifer Agiesta reports: “The poll, conducted after the two-night debate, finds 22% of registered voters who are Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents backing Biden for the party's presidential nomination, 17% Harris, 15% Warren and 14% Sen. Bernie Sanders. No one else in the 23-person field tested hits 5%. That represents a 10-point decline in support for Biden since the last CNN poll in May, while [Harris] has posted a 9-point increase, and [Warren] has boosted her support by 8 points. … Among those who watched or followed news coverage about them, 41% say Harris did the best job in the debates, well ahead of the 13% who say Warren had the best performance and 10% who said Biden did.”
-- The contentious debate exchange between Biden and Harris over busing showcased how race has become — and will probably continue to be — a defining issue in the Democratic primaries. Matt Viser and Annie Linskey report: “The rising tensions have the potential to reshape the race, with Biden at risk of losing support from crucial African American voters and Harris appearing to gain momentum. But the emerging dynamics are also sparking concern among some in the party who fear that renewing painful debates over school busing risks turning off centrist voters whom Democrats hope to win next year in their shared goal of defeating [Trump]. … Others, however, insist that the current debate is precisely what is necessary as the party looks to nominate its next standard-bearer. … It has been a striking turn that a little over two years after the first black president left office, his party is now consumed by a major dispute over decades-old policies aimed at desegregation — and the opposition to those policies by that man’s vice president.”
-- Trump said he wants to address the homelessness crisis, telling Fox News that the administration “may intercede” in cities such as Washington, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Eli Rosenberg reports: “‘It’s a phenomena that started two years ago,’ Trump said, drawing a connection between the beginning of this and the early days of his time in the White House. ‘It’s disgraceful.’ … The president went on at some length, painting a dark picture of life in some American cities without giving specifics for how he would address the issue. … ‘Police officers are getting sick just by walking the beat,’ he claimed. ‘We cannot ruin our cities. And you have people that work in those cities. They work in office buildings and to get into the building, they have to walk through a scene that nobody would have believed possible three years ago.’”
-- Conspiracy theories about Harris’s racial identity had been festering on the Internet for months before Donald Trump Jr. threw a spotlight on them. CNN’s Donie O'Sullivan reports: “Benjamin T. Decker, the founder of Memetica, a digital investigations consultancy, tracked a meme that tries to equate Harris to Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who portrayed herself as black. … Decker said the first instance of the meme he found online was from 2018 on the ‘The_Donald,’ a forum for Trump supporters on Reddit. … He then tracked how the meme spread across Twitter, Pinterest, 4chan and other platforms … Birther conspiracy theorists have also circulated material challenging Harris' eligibility to run for president. Harris, who was born in Oakland, California, is eligible to run for president.”
-- Five female presidential candidates spoke to Vogue about what it will take to shatter the “most stubborn” glass ceiling. Amy Chozick writes: “Warren doesn’t lace her speeches with promises to make history or shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling. The steamy spring afternoon we meet in D.C., she is wearing her usual uniform of black tank top and black slacks, more proletariat rabble-rouser than solid-white suffragette. And yet her gender is a subject she and the other female candidates can’t escape … Perhaps that’s because they have so little else in common. The six women running for the Democratic nomination come from different backgrounds. They range in age from 70 (Warren) to 38 (Representative Tulsi Gabbard). They are lawyers and senators, professors and soldiers and even an author and spiritual adviser to Oprah Winfrey (Marianne Williamson). They disagree on campaign tactics and policies. I spoke to Senator Amy Klobuchar just after she came out against Warren’s plan to cancel most student debt and make tuition at public colleges free. (And don’t even get the other women started on Gabbard’s foreign-policy positions.) But they also form an unlikely sisterhood in the inspiring, baffling, often infuriating contest to defeat President Trump.”
-- “Marianne Williamson knows you think she’s a joke. But her campaign isn’t,” from Vice’s Cameron Joseph: “'It’s safe to say ‘Saturday Night Live’ will not be a safe place for me for the next two weeks,’ the presidential candidate and self-help author told me in an interview the morning after the debate. Williamson had gamely taken many questions when I tailed her for two days [on the] campaign trail a week prior to the debate, but she wasn’t so thrilled to be asked about her performance, asking if she could go off-record or ‘pass on that one.’ But she did admit things hadn’t quite gone according to plan. ‘I didn’t know how to play that game. I didn’t know how to box. Hopefully I will be better at that by the time of the next debate. You have to roll with life,’ she said. ‘Some of the snarkiest comments were so funny, even I was on the floor laughing. … The one that said I looked like a Cape Cod potato chip [commercial] made me laugh.’”
-- Dante de Blasio, the son of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, wrote a USA Today op-ed recounting when his father (as well as two of his black cousins) gave him “the talk.” The younger de Blasio writes: “When I was in eighth grade, my family and I went to Atlanta to visit some of my mother’s relatives. Toward the end of the trip, my white father and two of my black cousins sat me down for a serious talk. They told me I was getting older and they needed to make sure that I knew how to talk to the police. … That lecture I got from my father and cousins has been given to countless young black people. We're taught to fear the people meant to protect us, because the absolute worst-case scenario has happened too many times. This reality cannot continue. We shouldn’t need to feel that fear.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Trump applauded New Jersey Democratic legislators for rejecting a proposal from Gov. Phil Murphy (D) to raise taxes on millionaires:
Congratulations to legislators in New Jersey for not passing taxes that would have driven large numbers of high end taxpayers out of the state. Many were planning to leave, & will now be staying. New York & others should start changing their thought process on taxes, fast!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 1, 2019
"Murphy was seeking to raise additional revenue by increasing the top marginal rate paid by those making more than $1 million from 8.97 percent to 10.75 percent. Fellow Democrats, who control both chambers of the state legislature, balked at the move. On Sunday, Murphy signed a budget bill without the provision,” John Wagner explains.
The national security adviser disputed a Times report that the Trump administration has considered settling for a nuclear freeze from North Korea rather than full denuclearization:
I read this NYT story with curiosity. Neither the NSC staff nor I have discussed or heard of any desire to “settle for a nuclear freeze by NK.” This was a reprehensible attempt by someone to box in the President. There should be consequences. https://t.co/TTRPQkksza— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) July 1, 2019
A Post reporter noted the odd phrasing of a White House statement on Iran:
John Kirby, a former State Department spokesman and retired Navy rear admiral, slammed Trump's Fourth of July plans:
He ordered military flyovers for his big speech on the 4th.— John Kirby (@johnfkirby63) July 1, 2019
Now, according to @washingtonpost, Trump is pushing for military tanks on the Mall.
This is not who we are. We should be better than this ... and far above this sort of crass jingoism. https://t.co/pbHnEH8Adk
From a Northern Virginia congressman:
Risking damage to local infrastructure and dumping huge piles of taxpayer money onto the never-ending bonfire of Donald Trump's vanity. My constituents and the other people who live here overwhelmingly do NOT want this.— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) July 1, 2019
This celebration is about US independence, not Trump's ego. https://t.co/wX5yP9uels
From the D.C. Council:
An editor for the Bulwark, the new conservative outlet created to replace the shuttered Weekly Standard, highlighted this 2016 tweet from a White House aide to draw attention to the double standard among Trump supporters about meeting with dictators:
Obama's former campaign manager pushed back against arguments that Democratic presidential candidates must choose between appealing to the base and reaching swing voters:
Debate about swing vs base to get to 270 is dumb and dangerous. There will be Trump/Obama, Romney/Clinton, new swing voters, 3rd party flight risk, registration and turnout targets. Need a nominee and campaign who can appeal to, reach and convert all these cohorts. Not either/or.— David Plouffe (@davidplouffe) July 1, 2019
A former Obama speechwriter and Crooked Media founder voiced a similar point:
The either-or nature of this long-running debate is maddening, and that’s probably especially true for the campaigns who won 40 House seats with messages and candidates who appealed both to the Democratic base AND swing voters.— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) June 30, 2019
A spokesman for the DCCC replied:
This is 100% correct. We won the House in 2018 by turning out our voters AND winning swing R’s and independents. That election isn’t that far behind us, forgetting the lessons we learned is a huge mistake. I’ll tell you this, the @dccc hasn’t forgotten. (1/2) https://t.co/dt0sKxJXOE— Cole Leiter (@coleleiter) June 30, 2019
Elizabeth Warren enjoyed some time away from the campaign trail with her dog:
-- Liberals in Alabama say they’re embarrassed about the many reasons their state has recently found itself in national news. Karen Heller reports from the north Alabama town of Florence: “Florence voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Democratic Sen. Doug Jones in the 2017 special election, in a county that went Republican both times. The town holds an annual Pride parade and, this year, painted downtown crosswalks in rainbow hues. … Yet, there’s plenty that inhabitants are less inclined to promote. … The impending abortion ban, a state prison system in crisis, persistent inequality and, last month, the return of embattled former chief justice Roy Moore in another potential doozy of a Senate race. These developments, liberals argue, are hurtling Alabama back toward its heritage of hurt and injustice. They’re embarrassed for the home they love, one that they’ve worked so hard to fix.”
-- “A ‘volcano’ at the bottom of the gulf,” by Darryl Fears: “Timmy Couvillion first saw the oil plume at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico more than two months ago, but the memory still makes his skin crawl. His small marine construction company had been hired by the U.S. Coast Guard for its biggest job in years: containing the longest offshore spill in American history. … Over the nearly 15 years since Hurricane Ivan knocked down a production platform operated by Taylor Energy Co., the company has claimed that less than three gallons a day were seeping out. But video exclusively obtained by The Washington Post, and verified by federal officials familiar with the site, shows a large volume of oil pouring out of an erosion pit where the tower was destroyed. The government is relying on Couvillion, a former fishing boat captain turned engineer, to contain the spill and recover some of the oil. And the amount he has captured so far is proving Taylor Energy wrong.”
-- The New Yorker, “What Led Peru’s Former President to Take His Own Life?” by Daniel Alarcón: “Twelve hours before he locked himself in his bedroom and took his own life, Alan García, Peru’s two-time former President, gave an interview to the national radio-and-television station RPP, from a local university where he taught. It was a Tuesday evening in mid-April, during Holy Week, and the city was swirling with rumors about García’s imminent arrest. He had been implicated in a dizzyingly complex transnational corruption scandal that had already enveloped much of the Peruvian political class. Now, after months of silence in the face of mounting pressure from prosecutors and the press, he’d decided that it was time to talk. … When the interview began, García frowned and nodded as [reporter Carlos] Villarreal alluded to new allegations that might send him to prison. Finally, Villarreal asked, ‘Are you aware that this interview with RPP could be your last?’”
-- Wall Street Journal, “American Suburbs Swell Again as a New Generation Escapes the City,” by Valerie Bauerlein: “In an echo of the postwar baby boom, many U.S. suburbs are again suffering growing pains: not enough schools, too much traffic for two-lane roads, and scenic farmland plowed under for housing tracts. After several years of surging urban growth, Apex and suburbs like it now account for 14 of the 15 fastest-growing U.S. cities with populations over 50,000, according to the census. Millennials priced out of popular big cities are flocking to Frisco, Texas, Nolensville, Tenn., Lakewood Ranch, Fla., and Scottdale, Ga.—not exactly household names but among the fastest-growing destinations in the U.S.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Ted Cruz's lawyers compare him to Rosa Parks in a lawsuit over $10,000,” from CBS News: “Lawyers for Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas likened the Republican to the civil rights icon Rosa Parks in a court filing over $10,000 they believe he's owed. Cruz is suing the Federal [Election] Commission over a campaign finance law that he claims prevents him from receiving money he loaned to his campaign last year against Beto O'Rourke. … ‘The FEC also asserts that Senator Cruz and the Cruz Committee inflicted their injuries on themselves because they could have arranged to repay the Senator's loans using pre-election funds,’ Cruz's legal team wrote in a memo filed last week. ‘Yes, and Rosa Parks could have sat in the back of the bus. FEC's argument essentially faults Plaintiffs for not forfeiting the very constitutional right they seek to vindicate in this litigation.’”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Center for American Progress Puts ThinkProgress Up for Sale,” from the Daily Beast: “ThinkProgress, the flagship news site of the Democratic think tank Center for American Progress, is up for sale. Staff were informed on Monday afternoon that the site would be sold off and a CAP official [said] that the organization would begin looking for prospective buyers for the website, which has come under severe financial strains during the Trump era. … Launched 14 years ago during the height of the Bush administration, ThinkProgress made a name for itself over time as an unapologetically progressive source of news and a launching pad for several major progressive luminaries. But the site, which is editorially independent from CAP, has struggled in recent years as advertising revenues have dried up and traffic has dipped.”
Trump has no events on his public schedule.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
A French official addressed the video showing Ivanka Trump awkwardly interacting with world leaders, which went viral after being posted on a government Instagram account: “We didn’t anticipate the reaction, and once again, we are not responsible for the use made of the clip.” (Politico)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- It’s hot, hot, hot today — wear some sunscreen. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “After a magnificent Monday free of mugginess, high levels of heat and humidity return today. By tomorrow, we add storms to the mix. This pattern is present for Independence Day, meaning evening storms could disrupt holiday fireworks, and holds in place through at least Saturday.”
-- Federal prosecutors from El Salvador and Maryland are teaming up to fight MS-13. Lynh Bui reports: “The tour in Prince George’s County was part of a two-day meeting between prosecutors from the Central American country and prosecutors with the U.S. attorney’s office in Maryland as the groups combine investigative powers to fight the violent transnational gang on both fronts. Money that gang members extort from businesses in Maryland is being sent directly to El Salvador, prosecutors said. And orders to kill in Maryland often come after a communique from a gang leader in El Salvador, they said. With the operational ties between gang members in both countries so strong, it made sense to develop the same kind of relationship between prosecutors to fight back, said Robert K. Hur, the U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland.”
-- Virginia Lt. Gov Justin Fairfax (D) has left the law firm Morrison & Foerster, which launched an investigation after two women accused Fairfax of sexual assault. Fenit Nirappil reports: “Morrison & Foerster, which hired Fairfax last year as a partner in its trials, commercial litigation and investigations and white-collar defense group, placed Fairfax on leave when the allegations emerged and retained outside counsel to investigate him. The probe found no evidence of misconduct by Fairfax in his brief tenure at the firm, he and the law firm said Monday, but Fairfax still resigned.”
-- Maryland withheld $55.6 million from Metro. Robert McCartney reports: It did so “because the transit system has been 'stonewalling' on audits and refusing to account for money received earlier from Annapolis, state officials said Monday. The unexpected action signaled that the administration of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) plans to take a more aggressive posture toward Metro on its financial performance and governance. By blocking capital funds — which Metro uses to buy new rail cars, buses and other equipment — the move also was a setback for last year’s historic agreement in which Maryland, Virginia and the District agreed to provide $500 million a year in dedicated funding for the transit system.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Dan Scavino, the White House social media guru who was once the president’s caddie, tweeted this weird video of the president this morning:
John Oliver delved into the conditions warehouse workers labor under:
Trevor Noah compared the U.S. and North Korea's “propaganda”:
Julián Castro explained why he, like many Latinos of his generation, didn't grow up speaking Spanish:
Julian Castro is practicing his Spanish, and tells @kasie why he didn't grow up speaking the language: "In my grandparents' time... Spanish was looked down upon. You were not allowed to speak it. People, I think, internalized this oppression..." pic.twitter.com/MLJHq1jCKU— Kasie DC (@KasieDC) July 1, 2019
This is what the Hong Kong legislature looked like after protesters broke in:
WATCH: Hong Kong protestors swarm and vandalize LegCo. Never has this happened in history. @CBSNews is inside. My first time to HK was just before the 1997 handover to witness history. 22 years later we’re reporting more history to the world. #HongKongProtests #TellTheWorld pic.twitter.com/sIcoOc0ecf— Ramy Inocencio 英若明 (@RamyInocencio) July 1, 2019