With Joanie Greve and Mariana Alfaro
THE BIG IDEA: Sir Kim Darroch, the British ambassador to the United States whose diplomatic cables leaked to a London tabloid this weekend, drawing the ire of President Trump, is a career foreign service officer who was just doing his job.
The 65-year-old grew up in the projects, won a scholarship to an elite school and joined the Foreign Office in 1977. He rose to the pinnacle of his profession over four decades, landing the posting in Washington during the final year of Barack Obama’s presidency, by offering clear-eyed assessments to prime ministers across the ideological spectrum as they sought to advance the queen’s interests.
“We pay them to be candid,” the British Foreign Office said in a statement on Sunday. “The British public would expect our ambassadors to provide ministers with an honest, unvarnished assessment of the politics in their country. … Just as the U.S. ambassador here will send back his reading of Westminster politics and personalities.”
The Mail broke the story about Darroch’s secret cables in its Sunday edition. A British official confirmed their authenticity to The Washington Post. Here are five of the most revealing direct quotes from the cables about how the top emissary from America’s closest ally perceives Trump:
1) “We don’t really believe this Administration is going to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept.”
Since the transition, Trump has seemed to embrace what Richard Nixon called “the madman theory” of foreign policy. Even the special relationship has not been spared. Chaos has perhaps been the only constant of Trump’s foreign policy. He has been predictably unpredictable.
Many thought Trump would become more presidential once he took office. But Darroch concluded early on that Trump wouldn’t change. He reported to his bosses that Britain’s own inside sources largely confirmed the news reports about palace intrigue in the West Wing. “The stories about White House knife fights are, we judge, mostly true: multiple sources and confirmed by our own White House contacts,” he wrote. “This is a uniquely dysfunctional environment.”
2) “It’s unlikely that US policy on Iran is going to become more coherent any time soon. This is a divided Administration.”
That quote comes from a memo Darroch wrote on June 22, just over two weeks ago, in which he reportedly called the American approach to Tehran “incoherent” and “chaotic.” The ambassador speculated that Trump called off the strike on Iranian targets at the last minute because of domestic political considerations.
“His claim, however, that he changed his mind because of 150 predicted casualties doesn't stand up; he would certainly have heard this figure in his initial briefing,” Darroch wrote. “It's more likely that he was never fully on board and that he was worried about how this apparent reversal of his 2016 campaign promises would look come 2020.”
The ambassador recounted the confusion in Washington on the night of the aborted strike. “The Administration said nothing for several hours, awaiting guidance from the White House,” he wrote. “Even our best contacts were unwilling to take our calls.”
Going into an election year, Darroch advised, the president might be more averse to “new military adventures.” But the ambassador added that U.S. military action is still possible because he’s “surrounded by a more hawkish group of advisers.”
“This may, however, only be a temporary pause,” the ambassador wrote. “Just one more Iranian attack somewhere in the region could trigger yet another Trump U-turn. Moreover, the loss of a single American life would probably make a critical difference.”
Darroch noted in a wire back to London two years earlier that Trump’s missile strikes on Syria had generated some of “the best headlines” of his presidency and mused that this could embolden him to use force again. “A less well judged military intervention is not inconceivable,” he wrote.
3) “For a man who has risen to the highest office on the planet, President Trump radiates insecurity.”
As they would with any new president, foreign governments tried to get a read on how to influence Trump. Darroch advised his bosses that flattery and frequent contact was best. He said “there is no consistently reliable substitute for the personal phone call from the Prime Minister.”
“You need to start praising him for something that he's done recently,” Darroch wrote before a bilateral meeting. “You need whenever possible to present them as wins for him. … As a senior White House adviser told me, there is no upside with this President in being subtle, let alone ambiguous. … You need to make your points simple, even blunt.”
In June 2017, Darroch said the British should not follow German Chancellor Angela Merkel or French President Emmanuel Macron in distancing themselves from Trump. He said sometimes it made sense to criticize Trump, “'provided we are careful.”
“'Arguably, you get more respect from this President if you stand up to him occasionally – provided the public comments do not come as a surprise and are judicious, calm and avoid personalizing,” he wrote.
4) “It's important to ‘flood the zone’: you want as many as possible of those who Trump consults to give him the same answer. So we need to be creative in using all the channels available to us through our relationships with his Cabinet, the White House staff, and our contacts among his outside friends.”
Darroch placed special emphasis on cultivating the people whom he described as “the Trump whisperers,” those friends of the president who kibitzed with him informally by phone in the evenings, as a way “to ensure the U.K. voice is heard in the West Wing.”
He noted that Trump often reached outside the government “seeking reinforcement or a different take” and reported that the British Embassy has “cultivated” many of those people.
5) “Do not write him off. … Trump may emerge from the flames, battered but intact, like [Arnold] Schwarzenegger in the final scenes of The Terminator.”
The reports are much more nuanced than a lot of the cable coverage from the past 24 hours suggests.
Darroch briefed his bosses on then-special counsel Bob Mueller’s investigation and wrote in 2017 that “the worst cannot be ruled out” vis-a-vis coordination between Trump and Russia. But, perhaps presciently, he told the British national security adviser that he “wouldn’t bet” on the president’s downfall. “Trump has been mired in scandal pretty much all his life and has come through it. He seems indestructible,” Darroch wrote.
Last month, a senior British diplomat flew to Orlando to watch Trump formally kick off his reelection campaign. Based on that, Darroch explained to London that “there is still a credible path for Trump – but so much rides on who the Democrats choose in July 2020.”
THE TRANSATLANTIC FALLOUT:
-- Trump said Sunday afternoon that “the ambassador has not served the U.K. well.” As he left his golf club in New Jersey to return to the White House, the president told reporters: “We’re not big fans of that man.”
-- Britain’s trade minister, Liam Fox, told BBC Radio this morning that he will apologize to Ivanka Trump, whom he was already scheduled to meet with in Washington today. “I will be apologizing for the fact that either our civil service or elements of our political class have not lived up to the expectations that either we have or the United States has about their behavior, which in this particular case has lapsed in a most extraordinary and unacceptable way,” he said. “Malicious leaks of this nature ... can actually lead to a damage to that relationship, which can therefore affect our wider security interest.”
-- Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt promised “severe consequences” for whoever leaked the memos. “I have made it clear that I don’t share the ambassador’s assessment of either the U.S. administration or relations with the U.S. administration, but I do defend his right to make that frank assessment,” Hunt told reporters in London. Reuters notes that May fired Defense Minister Gavin Williamson just two months ago after private discussions in the National Security Council about Chinese telecoms firm Huawei were leaked to the media, and an inquiry concluded that he was responsible. Williamson denied being the leaker.
-- “The author of the Mail scoop is political journalist and commentator Isabel Oakeshott, who wrote an unauthorized biography of former prime minister David Cameron and was the ghostwriter behind the book ‘The Bad Boys of Brexit,’ by Arron Banks, one of the main financial backers of the June 2016 referendum campaign to leave the European Union,” reports William Booth, our London bureau chief. “May is on the way out, pushed from power by her own Conservative Party over her failure to deliver Brexit. She is most likely to be replaced by former London mayor Boris Johnson, for whom Trump has expressed admiration. After Darroch’s wires were published, Brexit campaigner and Trump ally Nigel Farage said the British ambassador should be fired.”
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- Here comes another presidential candidate: Tom Steyer, the billionaire liberal activist, has privately told friends he plans to enter the crowded Democratic field. Robert Costa reports: “While Steyer announced in January that he would not seek the White House, he has grown dissatisfied with the Democrats’ 2020 field and is now eager to jump into the contest ... despite some of his confidants and friends warning him about the challenges and political cost of a bid. The former hedge fund manager could make an announcement Tuesday ... but a firm rollout plan is still being deliberated. ‘You never know with Tom until he actually pulls the trigger, but he’s telling a lot of people he works with and trusts that he’s going to do it,’ one of the Democrats said. ‘He wants in.’ … A Steyer campaign would likely focus on impeaching and defeating President Trump and climate change — two causes that have animated Steyer’s advocacy and where he has become a prominent national voice. Steyer’s Need to Impeach group has generated a large membership list and held town halls across the nation.”
Reading between the lines: Steyer and his impeachment effort have received significantly less attention since he bowed out of the presidential race six months ago. Perhaps he thinks this will make him relevant again. Some of that will depend on how much of his $1.6 billion fortune he's willing to spend. This could potentially hurt Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who has built his entire campaign around climate change.
-- The U.S. women’s national soccer team won its fourth World Cup title, defeating the Netherlands, 2-0. Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle scored the Americans’ two goals, with Rapinoe also winning the Golden Ball as the tournament’s top player. (Steven Goff and Emily Giambalvo)
The U.S. men’s team didn’t fare as well, falling to Mexico, 1-0, in the Gold Cup final. The team played Mexico on Chicago’s Soldier Field. Mexican Jonathan dos Santos scored the winning goal at minute 73. (Emily Giambalvo)
Trump appeared to backpedal on a promise he made last month to invite the women’s team to the White House, regardless of the final outcome. Trump said last night that he hasn’t “really thought” about whether to invite the team. Rapinoe, a team co-captain, has been very public that she won't go if invited. (Des Bieler)
GET SMART FAST:
- Deutsche Bank announced it would significantly restructure by reducing its investment bank operations, cutting up to 18,000 jobs by 2022. The German financial giant is also facing scrutiny from House Democrats over its long-standing business relationship with Trump. (Renae Merle)
A federal grand jury in New York is investigating whether Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy used his position as vice chair of Trump’s inaugural committee to drum up business deals with foreign leaders. Prosecutors are investigating whether Broidy violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and the FBI has interviewed at least one of Broidy’s associates. (AP)
Thawing glaciers in the Arctic are leading researchers to rediscover organisms, some of which have been thought dead for millennia. These previously frozen organisms are showing the ability to once again live, an odd biological side effect of climate change. (Daniel Ackerman)
Harvard University prides itself on being a leader in the fight against climate change, but its $39 billion endowment has yet to divest from fossil fuels. More than 300 Harvard faculty members have signed a petition calling for the fund to sell its Big Oil stocks. (Steven Mufson)
Disney Channel star Cameron Boyce died at 20. His family said the actor died from a seizure connected to an ongoing medical issue. (Travis M. Andrews)
Ten unexploded bombs dropped by the Allies during World War II were found at Pompeii, according to Italian media. They are believed to be among the 165 bombs the allies dropped on Pompeii in August 1943, 96 of which have previously been located and deactivated. (The Guardian)
THE IMMIGRATION WARS:
-- The Justice Department is swapping out the lawyers who were representing the administration in its legal battle to put a question about citizenship on the 2020 Census, signaling that career attorneys have legal and/or ethical concerns over the maneuvering ordered by Trump. Matt Zapotosky reports: “A person familiar with the matter … said that at least some of the career attorneys harbored concerns about the administration’s handling of the case — although the nature of those concerns and how widespread they were could not immediately be learned. … The staffing change comes as the department is moving toward what some analysts say is increasingly unsteady legal ground in its bid to add the citizenship question, despite a Supreme Court decision that would seem to bar it from doing so. … Trump said Friday that he was mulling an executive order to get the question added — a move pushed by some of his conservative allies, although legal analysts have said it would be unlikely to succeed in court.”
-- Agents with ICE and the FBI have turned state driver’s license databases into a facial-recognition gold mine, scanning through millions of Americans’ photos without their knowledge or consent. Drew Harwell reports: “Thousands of facial-recognition requests, internal documents and emails over the past five years, obtained through public-records requests by Georgetown Law researchers and provided to The Washington Post, reveal that federal investigators have turned state departments of motor vehicles databases into the bedrock of an unprecedented surveillance infrastructure. Police have long had access to fingerprints, DNA and other ‘biometric data’ taken from criminal suspects. But the DMV records contain the photos of a vast majority of a state’s residents, most of whom have never been charged with a crime. Neither Congress nor state legislatures have authorized the development of such a system, and growing numbers of Democratic and Republican lawmakers are criticizing the technology as a dangerous, pervasive and error-prone surveillance tool. …
“The records also underscore the conflicts between the laws of some states and the federal push to find and deport undocumented immigrants. Though Utah, Vermont and Washington allow undocumented immigrants to obtain full driver’s licenses or more-limited permits known as driving privilege cards, ICE agents have run facial-recognition searches on those DMV databases. More than a dozen states, including New York, as well as the District of Columbia, allow undocumented immigrants to drive legally with full licenses or driving privilege cards, as long as they submit proof of in-state residency and pass the states’ driving-proficiency tests. Lawmakers in Florida, Texas and other states have introduced bills this year that would extend driving privileges to undocumented immigrants.”
The pushback: San Francisco and Somerville, Mass., have banned their police and public agencies from using facial-recognition software. Top officials from the TSA, CBP and the Secret Service are scheduled to testify on Wednesday at a House hearing about their use of this technology.
-- Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said ICE is ready to identify, detain and eventually deport an estimated 1 million undocumented migrants with pending removal orders. From CBS News’s Camilo Montoya-Galvez: “‘They're ready to just perform their mission, which is to go and find and detain and then deport the approximately one million people who have final removal orders,’ [Cuccinelli] said on ‘Face the Nation’ on Sunday … Cuccinelli, an immigration hardliner who took the helm of the agency last month, said it is within ICE's discretion to determine who among those with final orders of deportation will be targeted in operations, suggesting the full pool of approximately one million immigrants might not face deportation after all. ‘They've been all the way through the due process and have final removal orders. Who among those will be targeted for this particular effort ... is really just information kept within ICE at this point,’ he added. ‘The pool of those with final removal orders is enormous.’”
-- Acting Department of Homeland Security secretary Kevin McAleenan said he does not accept reports of inadequate conditions and limited food and water at migrant holding centers. ABC News’s Quinn Owen reports: “'We have no evidence that children went hungry,’ McAleenan [said]. ‘Police station cells are not a good place for children, as I've said dozens of times. … We had an overflow situation with hundreds of children crossing every single day,’ … For months, McAleenan has raised alarms about the potential for disastrous conditions on the southern border while maintaining his agency has upheld government standards for housing detainees, despite evidence to the contrary. He said on Sunday that the food and water at one facility in Clint, Texas, that has faced scrutiny were ‘adequate’ and that migrants in holding centers had access to showers and clean living quarters.”
THE #METOO RECKONING CONTINUES:
-- A four-star admiral due to take over as the Navy’s top officer on Aug. 1 will instead retire, citing his interactions with a subordinate accused of acting inappropriately toward female officers. Dan Lamothe reports: “Adm. William Moran, the vice chief of naval operations, said in a statement that he will decline his appointment as the next chief of naval operations. Two Navy officials … said that Moran resigned Sunday after meeting with Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer. The officials said the issue emerged after recent Freedom of Information Act requests were made that will lead to scrutiny of Moran’s correspondence with Cmdr. Chris Servello, who was removed from his position as the spokesman for Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, in August 2017.”
The Navy substantiated allegations that Servello drank heavily at a holiday party at the Pentagon while dressed in a Santa Claus costume and acted inappropriately toward women: “Specifically, he has shown a pattern of using his outstanding professional reputation and standing in the [public affairs officer] community as an advantage in attempting to develop sexual relationships,” an investigating officer said in a report that was obtained by USA Today and reported on in September 2017. “He has made very strong advances in both cases involving alcohol toward at least two different junior officers (targets) that either have worked for him in the past or see him on a regular basis through the normal [course of] business.”
Statement from Moran: “To be clear, my decision to maintain this relationship was in no way an endorsement or tacit approval of this kind of conduct. I understand how toxic it can be to any team when inappropriate behavior goes unrecognized and unchecked.”
Servello said it’s “hard not to feel disappointment and disbelief.” He added in a statement: “This is terrible news for the Navy. Beyond that I have nothing else to add.”
-- Multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein is facing new charges of sexually assaulting girls in his Manhattan mansion. The New York Times’s Ali Watkins and Vivian Wang report: “Federal prosecutors are expected to unseal the charges on Monday accusing Mr. Epstein, 66, of running a sex-trafficking operation that lured dozens of underage girls, some as young as 14, to his Upper East Side home, according to three law enforcement officials. He was arrested on Saturday at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, after arriving on a private flight from France, two law enforcement sources said. The sex trafficking charges carry a combined maximum sentence of up to 45 years in prison. The new charges are a revival of a yearslong case against Mr. Epstein, who faced similar accusations involving girls who told the police they were brought to his mansion in South Florida and assaulted. That case unraveled in 2008 after Mr. Epstein was offered a secret plea deal by federal prosecutors, one of whom is now in [Trump’s] cabinet.”
-- “With Jeffrey Epstein locked up, these are nervous times for his friends, enablers,” by the Miami Herald’s Julie K. Brown: “Although details of the case remain undisclosed, there are indications that others involved in his crimes could be charged or named as cooperating witnesses. Among those potentially on the list: Ghislaine Maxwell, a 57-year-old British socialite and publishing heir who has been accused of working as Epstein’s madam; and Jean-Luc Brunel, who, according to court records, was partners with Epstein in an international modeling company. … For her part, Maxwell, whose social circle included such friends as Bill and Hillary Clinton and members of the British Royal family, has been described as using recruiters positioned throughout the world to lure women by promising them modeling assignments, educational opportunities and fashion careers. The pitch was really a ruse to groom them into sex trafficking, it is alleged in court records. …
“[One] woman, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, alleges she was recruited by Maxwell in 2000 when she was 16 years old. Giuffre was working as a spa attendant at Mar-a-Lago, [Trump’s] winter home and resort in Palm Beach at the time, court records show. Trump, who lived less than a mile from Epstein’s waterfront mansion in Palm Beach, had also been friends with Epstein. Records show that he flew on Epstein’s private jet on occasion and attended parties and social events where he was photographed with Epstein.”
-- Christine Pelosi, the daughter of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a Democratic National Committee official herself, said it is “quite likely that some of our faves are implicated” in the scandal. “This Epstein case is horrific and the young women deserve justice,” the younger Pelosi tweeted. "… We must follow the facts and let the chips fall where they may - whether on Republicans or Democrats.” (Fox News)
-- The organizers of the Pamplona bull run in Spain are stepping up efforts to address sexual assault concerns. From NPR’s Bobby Allyn: “It's the latest move by festival planners in responding to a scandal that engulfed the festival after an 18-year-old woman was gang raped at the festival in 2016. The case sparked mass protests and helped ignite a Spanish version of the #MeToo movement, with supporters around Spain adopting the slogan #Cuéntalo, or ‘tell your story.’ At this year's festival police are bolstering surveillance, setting up booths where women can receive resources related to sexual assault and launching a dedicated cellphone app for women to report abuses.”
THE DOMESTIC AGENDA:
-- House Democrats are warning of fallout from disunity as they prepare to return from recess on Tuesday. Rachael Bade reports: “House Democrats are careening toward intraparty battles that will test Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s authority over her caucus, as frustrated lawmakers embark on a legislative-heavy July filled with issues that divide their ranks. … Looming is a fear that, should Democrats fail to unite around these critical bills, the House could get jammed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — just as it did the last week of June on an emergency border bill. House Democrats are still seething that the legislation was entirely negotiated by the Senate and ignored their demands to include standards of care for migrants in federal custody. Liberals are vowing to put up an even tougher fight to secure their own wins in July — demands that could repel centrists whose support is needed for the passage of any bill.”
-- Liberal lawmakers are also upset over Pelosi’s comments about the group of Democratic women who opposed the House’s emergency border aid bill, which includes Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and Ilhan Omar (Minn.). Robert Costa reports: “Although Pelosi maintains that she is aggressively confronting Trump on immigration and other fronts, there is widespread anger among liberals about the president and growing calls for Pelosi to resist working with the administration and begin impeachment proceedings. … ‘All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world,’ Pelosi said in an interview with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd that was published online Saturday. ‘But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got.’ Ocasio-Cortez rebuked Pelosi’s comment to Dowd about her bloc’s ‘public whatever’ in a Saturday tweet, writing, ‘That public ‘whatever’ is called public sentiment. And wielding the power to shift it is how we actually achieve meaningful change in this country.’”
-- The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit will hear arguments tomorrow about whether to uphold a lower court’s decision striking down Obamacare as unconstitutional in a case with potentially massive implications for the 2020 race. Amy Goldstein reports: “If the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit hearing these arguments agrees with the lower court, the ‘win’ for Republicans, who have sought for nearly a decade to ditch the ACA, could perversely cause the GOP the greatest trouble, according to analysts from both parties. A 5th Circuit ruling that the health-care law is unconstitutional would almost certainly catapult the issue back before the Supreme Court — and to the forefront of the 2020 presidential and congressional races, say legal and political analysts. Even if the high court were to decline the case, the drama would raise fresh uncertainties about the millions of Americans who could lose insurance coverage and consumer protections created under the law — especially those with preexisting medical conditions, whom [Trump] has vowed to protect even as his administration tries to eliminate the law.”
-- Trump’s tariffs on foreign steel seem to have helped speed the decline of some U.S. mills he promised to help. Bloomberg News’s Matthew Townsend and Joe Deaux report: “Exuberance over the levies dramatically boosted U.S. output just as the global economy was cooling, undercutting demand. That dropped prices, creating a stark divide between companies like Nucor Corp., that use cheaper-to-run electric-arc furnaces to recycle scrap into steel products, and those including U.S. Steel Corp., with more costly legacy blast furnaces. Since Trump announced the tariffs 16 months ago, U.S. Steel has lost almost 70% of its market value, or $5.5 billion, and idled two American furnaces in mid-June that couldn’t be run profitably at the lowest prices since 2016. Meanwhile, Nucor, down around 20%, has touted $2.5 billion in expansion projects.”
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- Iran surpassed its uranium enrichment limit in its first major violation of the 2015 nuclear deal it made with world powers. Erin Cunningham reports: “In an interview with the IRIB news agency, Behrouz Kamalvandi said that Iran had ‘exceeded’ the 3.67 percent limit — far below the 90 percent needed to produce a nuclear weapons — and that there were no obstacles to Tehran enriching at even higher levels. … Iran had said Sunday it would shortly boost uranium enrichment above the cap, prompting a warning to be careful from President Trump, who has pressured Tehran to renegotiate the pact. … Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that Iran’s decision would ‘lead to further isolation and sanctions.’ … Britain, France and Germany — all signatories to the deal — called on Iran to reverse its decision to ramp up uranium enrichment and to refrain from further steps to undermine the accord. … A senior official suggested Saturday that Iran would increase its enrichment rate to 5 percent, enough to produce fuel for the Bushehr nuclear reactor and other industries. “
-- Experts say Iran may be counting on Trump relenting to avoid further escalating tensions. Politico’s Nahal Toosi reports: “Iran’s moves are a calculated gamble, officials and analysts said — an attempt to both rebuke Trump and pressure European leaders, who are trying to salvage the nuclear deal, to stand up to the United States. The Iranians also may be betting that Trump, who has shown little appetite for war, will fold first, lifting sanctions in exchange for talks. … A U.S. official familiar with the issue [said] on Sunday that the Trump team hopes for three things: that Europe imposes some sanctions on Iran to keep it from further violating the deal; that a financial mechanism the Europeans have set up to help Iran obtain non-sanctioned goods succeeds; and that recent U.S. military maneuvers in the Middle East are enough to deter Iran from further military escalation.”
-- The organs of prisoners executed in Iran could be sold under a new law. From the Telegraph: “Reports suggested that under the new head of the Iranian judiciary, Ebrahim Raeesi, an article in the criminal justice laws has been included which says: ‘If a convict voluntarily offers his or her organ before or after execution and no medical obstacle is offered, then the judge can approve this in coordination with the ministry of justice and the coroners’ office.’ Iran’s Association of Surgeons has strongly condemned the move, describing it as ‘extremely worrying, damaging to our profession and the prestige of Iran in the eyes of the civilised world.’ … According to Mrs. Katayoun Najafizadeh, the head of Iran’s Organ Donations Society, currently more than 25,000 Iranian patients are waiting to receive a transplant, but last year only 926 organs, mainly from victims of car crashes, were made available to the country’s specialist hospitals. The shortage has led to the emergence of an illicit market where many poor people openly advertise the sale of one of their kidneys to those in need for as little as £200,” or about $250.
-- Greece’s center-right party regained power after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras admitted defeat to his rival Kyriakos Mitsotakis in the nation’s general election. From the BBC: “Current projections give New Democracy an outright majority, as the winner receives 50 extra seats in parliament. … Turnout in the election was about 57% – one of the lowest figures in decades. … ‘Today, with our head held high we accept the people's verdict. To bring Greece to where it is today we had to take difficult decisions [with] a heavy political cost,’ Mr Tsipras told journalists. Outgoing European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker congratulated Mr Mitsotakis on his ‘clear victory.’ … New Democracy has promised to lower taxes and privatise services in the country, which is still feeling the effects of the 2008 financial crisis. Greece has been in receipt of a series of bailout programmes over the past decade, which it officially ‘exited’ last August as economic growth returned. But youth unemployment remains high, and New Democracy has counted many 18-24 year olds among its supporters.”
-- The expanding use of social media in Cuba has caused some citizens to digitally confront the leaders of the communist country. Anthony Faiola reports: “Home access to the Web began expanding in 2008, but it was still limited mostly to the government elite and vetted professionals. … All that changed seven months ago, when this nation of more than 11 million took a great leap forward with the introduction of 3G mobile telephone service — an advance that permits those Cubans who can afford it to access the Internet anywhere and anytime they have cellular coverage. The cost, $7 a month for the cheapest package, remains out of reach for many in a country where the median monthly income is $44. Nevertheless, a surging number of Cubans — more than 2.2 million — are accessing 3G service. That’s giving rise to a new class of netizens, who are organizing behind causes and social movements in a manner not seen since the Cuban revolution.”
-- The Australian federal police demanded that Qantas Airline hand over the private travel information of a journalist as part of its investigation into a national security leak. The request is part of a probe into Daniel Oakes, who broke a story on allegations of misconduct by Australian troops in Afghanistan. (Sidney Morning Herald)
-- A German politician was killed last month in his home in what seems to be the first assassination by far-right extremists since the Nazi era. His death has renewed criticism that Germany’s security apparatus is failing to take threats of far-right extremism seriously enough. From the Times’s Katrin Bennhold: “Far-right militancy is resurgent in Germany, in ways that are new and very old, horrifying a country that prides itself on dealing honestly with its murderous past. Raw and hateful language has become increasingly common online, and politicians are increasingly under threat, with some now requiring protection. ‘The murder of Walter Lübcke shocked me like it shocked a lot of people,’ the country’s foreign minister, Heiko Maas, said on public television recently, while calling for Germans to hold weekly protests against far-right extremism. ‘I asked myself — what is happening in our country?’ he said. ‘If you look at how much hatred and harassment there is on the internet — a lot of it directed at local politicians, bureaucrats, sport and cultural clubs — then I think we need to stand up and say that this is unacceptable.’”
MORE ON 2020:
-- Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.) would not rule out running for president next year as an independent or third-party candidate. Costa reports: “The prospect of an Amash insurgency, which would face significant hurdles, has unnerved some GOP strategists because it could pull libertarian and conservative support away from Trump, who won the 2016 election with razor-thin margins in six states, including Michigan. … For the moment, Amash said he plans to run for reelection to the House next year as an independent. He said is he ‘very confident’ that he will win his Grand Rapids-area seat again. … He said some Republican officials and friends have been ‘sending me text messages, calling me’ to offer encouragement after his decision last week to leave the party, and did the same when he said in May that Trump had ‘engaged in impeachable conduct.’”
-- Even though Joe Biden has drawn criticism for his past opposition to busing, none of the Democratic presidential candidates are embracing a return to the controversial policy, despite evidence that it improved outcomes for black students. Laura Meckler reports: “Last week, [Kamala Harris] called it a tool to be ‘considered’ but mandated only if local governments are ‘actively opposing integration.’ … Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has promised to ‘execute and enforce desegregation orders,’ but has not said how. Most candidates have focused on creating incentives for districts and families to create diverse schools on their own. ‘No one is really for compulsory busing today. Public opinion was never for compulsory busing,’ said Richard Kahlenberg, senior fellow at the Century Foundation, a think tank that supports integration.”
-- Biden is trying to turn the page in South Carolina after apologizing for his comments about working with segregationists. Chelsea Janes reports: “Throughout the day, the 76-year-old candidate tried to cast himself as more accessible, breaking from his norm to speak directly with voters as he urged them — and the media — to move on. ‘I say let’s talk about the future instead of talking about the past,’ he said Sunday. ‘That is what this is all about.’ … On Saturday, Biden tried to put the criticism behind him. In a speech, he offered not only regret but a full-throated defense of his record. On Sunday, Biden hit some of the same notes, apologizing again in response to a reporter’s question about why he had waited so long to do so in the first place.”
-- Biden wasn’t at the Essence Festival this weekend, but he seemed to have a large influence nonetheless. Holly Bailey reports: “Harris, Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) pitched policy proposals aimed at closing the racial wealth gap. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio argued for universal health care. Former congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-Tex.) championed his support for a new voting rights act. And Sen. Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.) invoked the road trip he’d taken to the festival through impoverished areas of rural Mississippi to pitch his plan to improve the nation’s education system. But it was the candidate who didn’t show up who seemed to influence much of the conversation here. … Some attendees suggested that Biden’s relationship with Obama was not enough to excuse his recent missteps and, in fact, made them more glaring. ‘The fact that he’s still tone-deaf in 2019, and he served with a black man for eight years . . . it’s offensive,’ said Coretta Graham, a former prosecutor from Corpus Christi, Tex., who chairs the local Democratic Party there. ‘If you’ve been with someone that long, you ought to know. . . . To me, that means you weren’t paying attention.’”
-- Biden’s consistent use of the phrase “c’mon, man!” represents his tendency to “meander rhetorically in sometimes pointless directions with a pithy sense of frustration and urgency.” Matt Viser writes: “During a CNN interview that aired Friday, he used the phrase at least four times. Why wasn’t he more forceful in the debate? ‘C’mon, man.’ Hasn’t Trump used his tactics to get NATO to pay more? ‘Oh, give me a break. C’mon, man!’ Should he contrast himself more with his Democratic opponents? ‘C’mon, man.’ … Biden’s two-word phrase can quickly signal dismissiveness, annoyance, sarcasm or a certain willingness to use words that seem gendered, none of which are sure winners for a candidate trying to attract voters. But it also showcases his folksy plain-spokenness, grounding Biden’s campaign in a two-word, bumper-sticker phrase that sounds precisely how the everyman he claims to represent would talk.”
-- Biden falsely claimed that he opposed spending more money to build state prisons. In 1994 and after, Biden expressed unequivocal support for the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act’s billions in funding for state prisons. (CNN)
-- Harris discussed race and electability in a new interview with the AP’s Errin Haines Whack: “When you break things, you get hurt, you bleed, you get cut,” Harris said. “When I made the decision to run, I fully appreciated that it will not be easy. But I know if I’m not on the stage, there’s a certain voice that will not be present on that stage. Knowing that there is a perspective, there is a life experience, there is a vision that must be heard and seen and present on that stage, and that I have an ability to do that.”
-- Iowa and Nevada are launching caucus voting via phone in 2020. The tele-caucus system, which is the result of a mandate from the DNC, is aimed at opening the political gatherings to more people. (AP)
-- Trump’s approval rating has risen to the highest point of his presidency, helped by a strong economy even as most see him as “unpresidential,” according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll published Sunday morning. Dan Balz and Emily Guskin report: “The survey highlights the degree to which Trump has a narrow but real path to reelection. His approval rating on most issues is net negative, and more than 6 in 10 Americans say he has acted in ways that are unpresidential since he was sworn into office. Still, roughly one-fifth of those who say he is not presidential say they approve of the job he is doing, and he runs even against four possible Democratic nominees in hypothetical general-election matchups. … Trump’s approval rating among voting-age Americans stands at 44 percent, edging up from 39 percent in April, with 53 percent saying they disapprove of him. Among registered voters, 47 percent say they approve of Trump while 50 percent disapprove. In April, 42 percent of registered voters said they approved while 54 percent said they disapproved. …
“The economy is the lone issue in the survey where Trump enjoys positive numbers, with 51 percent saying they approve of the way he has dealt with issues. A smaller 42 percent disapprove of his handling of it, down slightly from 46 percent last October. … On the eight other issues measured, Trump gets negative ratings, ranging from a net negative of seven points on taxes to a net negative of 33 points on climate change. More than half of all Americans disapprove of his handling of immigration, health care, abortion, gun violence and ‘issues of special concern to women.’ … Trump’s hardcore base includes 21 percent of registered voters who support him against any of the five possible Democratic challengers tested and who say it is ‘extremely important’ that he be reelected. That rises to 31 percent when those who say it is ‘very important’ that he win a second term are added to those solid Trump supporters.”
THE BRAVE NEW WORLD:
-- “‘Democracy ... is about to die in Youngstown’ with closing of the local newspaper,” by Margaret Sullivan: “Mere moments after the start of the hastily called community forum, the tears started to flow. ‘Gobsmacked,’ was how one Youngtown reader described her horrified reaction to the surprise announcement, just days before, that the city’s 150-year-old daily newspaper, the Vindicator, would publish its last edition on Aug. 31. … With the Vindicator’s closing, Youngstown will become an unfortunate first: a good-size city with no daily newspaper of its own. (The metro area has more than 500,000 residents; the city about 65,000.) Many other newspapers have folded in recent years, but they were mostly weeklies; the dailies were in cities with a competing newspaper — that was not the case in Youngstown.”
-- “The More You Watch, the More You Vote Populist,” by the Atlantic's Yascha Mounk: “In a study, three economists, Ruben Durante, Paolo Pinotti, and Andrea Tesei, were able to provide strong evidence for a shocking set of conclusions: Watching a lot of entertainment TV does seem to have an adverse impact on your intelligence. And it also makes you more likely to vote for populist parties. Until the late 1970s, Italian television was an earnest affair. … All of this changed when Silvio Berlusconi, one of Italy’s richest entrepreneurs, started buying up regional channels in the 1980s. Though Italian courts repeatedly declared his activities illegal, Berlusconi’s close connections to leading politicians allowed him to build Italy’s first private network, Mediaset. The difference between RAI and Mediaset was about as big as that between American networks of the 1960s and the cable shows of the 2010s. … Amazingly, Italians who had good access to Mediaset for random geographical reasons voted for populists in greater numbers than their neighbors who did not.”
-- “The Fight for the Future of YouTube,” by the New Yorker's Neima Jahromi: “Tech companies have hired thousands of human moderators to make nuanced decisions about speech. YouTube also relies on anonymous outside ‘raters’ to evaluate videos and help train its recommendations systems. But the flood of questionable posts is overwhelming, and sifting through it can take a psychological toll. … Business challenges compound the technical ones. In a broad sense, any algorithmic change that dampens user engagement could work against YouTube’s business model. … Many outside researchers argue that this system, which helped drive YouTube’s engagement growth, also amplified hate speech and conspiracy theories. As the engine dug deeper, it risked making unsavory suggestions: unearth enough videos about the moon landing and some of them may argue that it was faked.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Trump attacked Fox late Sunday night for hiring former DNC chairwoman Donna Brazile:
....their lowest rated show. Watch the @FoxNews weekend daytime anchors, who are terrible, go after her big time. That’s what they want - but it sure is not what the audience wants!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 8, 2019
A Trump biographer reminded his Twitter followers of what the president said about Jeffrey Epstein, who was arrested on sex-trafficking allegations, in 2002:
“I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.” - Donald Trump, 2002 https://t.co/3pbKrcFdn6— Tim O'Brien (@TimOBrien) July 7, 2019
The president celebrated the U.S. women's World Cup victory:
Congratulations to the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team on winning the World Cup! Great and exciting play. America is proud of you all!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 7, 2019
Barack and Michelle Obama also offered their congratulations:
Yes! Fourth star. Back to back. Congrats to the record breakers on the @USWNT, an incredible team that’s always pushing themselves—and the rest of us—to be even better. Love this team. #OneNationOneTeam— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) July 7, 2019
Bill Clinton looked back on one of the team's earlier championships:
And a big congrats to the World Champions! So very proud of the @USWNT ! 🇺🇸— Bill Clinton (@BillClinton) July 7, 2019
Hillary Clinton also celebrated the team:
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) also congratulated the team and took notice of one of the chants fans were repeating at the stadium:
One of Cory Booker's aides captured him snapping a photo of his girlfriend, activist and actress Rosario Dawson, during the Essence Festival:
HOT ON THE LEFT:
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“A barista asked police to leave because a guest felt uncomfortable. Starbucks has apologized,” from Hannah Knowles: “Starbucks has apologized to police in Arizona after six officers said they were asked to leave one of the coffee chain’s stores last week because another customer said the officers made them feel unsafe. The incident was brought to light by the Tempe Officers Association, and soon the hashtag #DumpStarbucks started trending on Twitter. … The way the six officers were treated in the July 4 incident was ‘completely unacceptable,’ Rossann Williams, Starbucks’s executive vice president and president of U.S. retail, said Saturday in a statement posted to Twitter. … According to the association, the officers were standing with their coffees before their shift when a barista told them their presence was making a customer feel unsafe.”
Trump will participate in a credentialing ceremony for newly appointed ambassadors to Washington and receive his intelligence briefing before having lunch with Pence. He will also speak about “America’s environmental leadership” and later attend a dinner hosted by the treasury secretary in honor of Qatar’s emir.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“Would it be too much to pray for a day when the Bible gets a ‘Book of Trump,’ much like it has a ‘Book of Esther’ celebrating the deliverance of the Jews from ancient Persia?” – GOP megadonor Miriam Adelson in an op-ed for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- A flash flood warning has been expanded to much of the immediate D.C. region, including downtown Washington, as torrential rain falls across the region, and all lanes of the Beltway's inner loop at the American Legion Bridge are shut down. The rest of the week should be mostly dry. The Capital Weather Gang reports: “The worst of the rain should take about one to two hours to move through any one area. If possible, delay commuting until the worst of the rain passes in your location. … Conditions improve rapidly by tonight and tomorrow, when we finally can enjoy some time without rain in the forecast. Wednesday is also dry before a front brings the next chance of showers and storms Thursday. The stretch Friday through Sunday also looks promising, but good weather isn’t yet locked in.”
-- The Nationals beat the Royals, 5-2, giving Washington the lead in the National League wild-card standings as the team heads into the all-star break. (Jesse Dougherty)
-- D.C. Council members are questioning the relationship between Jack Evans and a lobbyist as the council prepares to vote on a $215 million lottery and sports betting contract. Steve Thompson reports: “The lobbyist, William Jarvis, helped Evans set up a legal firm, NSE Consulting, that has become the focus of multiple investigations into Evans’s private business dealings. He has also lobbied Evans and other council members on numerous bills, including legislation related to sports betting, which he did on behalf of a venture launched by Intralot. … But emails reviewed by The Washington Post show Jarvis, a lawyer, also provided Evans with detailed legal advice about NSE contracts that Jarvis was involved in negotiating.”
-- A school boundary redrawing has sparked debates about race and inequality in Maryland’s Montgomery County. Donna St. George reports: “This month, the process moves a major step forward, with the school board slated to choose an outside firm to conduct a districtwide boundary analysis — described as the first examination of its kind in at least 20 years. The study is not intended to recommend specific boundary changes but rather to take a more expansive look at what exists — and what is possible — in a county that covers about 500 square miles, with 206 schools and swaths of wealth and poverty.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Trevor Noah talked immigration policy with Bernie Sanders:
Michelle Obama talked about self-care during Essence Fest:
"We have to start having some conversations, number one, about why is it so hard for us as women to put ourselves first." -@MichelleObama on the importance of taking care of ones' self, in conversation with @GayleKing at #EssenceFest— ESSENCE (@Essence) July 7, 2019
Read more: https://t.co/l92IXPu5Bm pic.twitter.com/ibiSjzOSxp
And here's the scene in the locker room after the U.S. women's national team won the World Cup: