with Mariana Alfaro
Six Republican members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee sent a plea Tuesday to President Trump to reconsider his order to dramatically draw down the American troop presence in Germany, warning that following through will “place U.S. national security at risk” and embolden Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. “This is not the time to take any action that might cause the Putin regime to question the credibility of the NATO deterrent or might lead our NATO allies and partners to doubt the U.S. commitment to our collective security,” they write.
The letter, previewed for The Daily 202, was spearheaded by Rep. Michael McCaul (Tex.), the top Republican on the committee, and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), the top Republican on the European affairs subcommittee and a lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard. Reps. Ann Wagner (Mo.), Joe Wilson (S.C.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.) and John Curtis (Utah) also signed.
This is just the latest salvo in an increasingly noisy and public pressure campaign from hawks in both chambers of Congress to get Trump to retreat from what many privately see as a repudiation of the hallmark of Republican foreign policy since World War II, a grave betrayal of the transatlantic alliance and yet another strategic gift for Putin. It comes on the publication day of former Trump national security adviser John Bolton’s tell-all book, which paints a portrait of a president friendly toward the Kremlin but wobbly toward Western European allies.
More broadly, this could be the start of a trend in which congressional Republicans increasingly distance themselves from Trump as the November election nears, particularly if his standing does not markedly improve. Recent polls, nationally and in battleground states, have shown Trump losing ground to presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. GOP strategists privately fear the president’s current weakness imperils their Senate majority and makes winning back the House next to impossible.
Trump approved a plan earlier this month to permanently withdraw up to one-third of about 34,500 U.S. troops currently based in Germany, bringing the total down to no more than 25,000. Defense Department officials are still working on a plan to implement the directive, which was formally signed by national security adviser Robert O’Brien. The Germans have still not been officially notified.
Leading congressional Democrats are as upset, and vocal, as their GOP counterparts. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), trying to fend off a strong primary challenge today, said in a statement that he’s working with his colleagues “on both sides of the aisle” to see what they can do legislatively “to reverse the decision.” Sen. Jack Reed (R.I.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, has called Trump’s order “petty and preposterous,” as well as “another favor to Putin.”
Multiple congressional aides in both parties speculate that there will be an effort to insert language into the defense reauthorization bill to make it harder to move troops away from Germany.
The move to pull troops from Germany had been under consideration in the administration for months, pushed hardest internally by the former ambassador to Berlin, Ric Grenell, according to administration sources, but Trump made the announcement this month partly out of pique after Chancellor Angela Merkel declined to attend an in-person Group of Seven summit he wanted to hold in Washington this month. Merkel raised public health concerns about all the world leaders gathering amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the number of U.S. infections so high, forcing the cancellation of the meeting and undercutting Trump’s narrative that the country is ready to “re-open.”
Trump’s public rationale for pulling out troops is that Germany has been “delinquent” in defense spending. The Republican signatories on the Foreign Affairs letter commend Trump for pushing NATO members to spend more on their defense, and they say Germany ought to increase defense spending to 2 percent of its gross domestic product, up from 1.3 percent last year.
“However, we fear this partial U.S. withdrawal from Germany will fail to convince Berlin to spend more, while putting U.S. strategic interests at risk,” they write. “Our adversaries understand that the American alliance network is at the heart of the U.S. comparative advantage and will seek to exploit any cracks in transatlantic ties. Therefore, we are troubled that many of our allies had not been consulted on U.S. force re-posturing. To ensure that free and open societies triumph over the likes of Vladimir Putin’s regime and the Chinese Communist Party, the United States must continue to build and maintain a united coalition of likeminded allies. The withdrawal of thousands of troops from Germany will only complicate this crucial effort and in turn place U.S. national security at risk.”
Conservatives explain that the point of the American presence has never been primarily about protecting Germany. It’s always been about advancing American interests and projecting U.S. power. For 75 years, in fact, there has been a bipartisan Washington consensus that a large troop presence there was beneficial. Moreover, the U.S. Army’s Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany cares for American soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. Stuttgart, Germany, is home to U.S. Africa Command, which focuses not just on counterterrorism but on checking Russian and Chinese expansionism on that continent.
This new plea follows a letter to Trump from 22 Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee, led by ranking member Mac Thornberry (Tex.). “We believe that such steps would significantly damage U.S. national security as well as strengthen the position of Russia to our detriment,” they wrote. “In Europe, the threats posed by Russia have not lessened, and we believe that signs of a weakened U.S. commitment to NATO will encourage further Russian aggression and opportunism.”
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said pulling U.S. troops out of Germany is such a terrible idea that he cannot believe Trump would go through with it. He has blamed O’Brien for it and also complained that he was not alerted in advance, as he should have been. Trump “has a passionate love for our troops and he would not do anything that would impose an unbearable hardship on our troops,” Inhofe told Politico.
The highest-ranking House GOP lawmaker to publicly chastise Trump’s move as “a serious error” is Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), the No. 3 in party leadership and a hawk in the tradition of her father. “Withdrawing our forces and abandoning our allies would have grave consequences, emboldening our adversaries and making war more — not less — likely,” Cheney said in a statement after signing onto the Thornberry letter.
The latest broadside from Capitol Hill comes on the eve of Trump welcoming Polish President Andrzej Duda to the White House on Wednesday. The visit is intended as a rescue mission to boost the incumbent’s unexpectedly tight reelection fight against the mayor of Warsaw, just four days before the election. Trump has pledged to deploy more U.S. troops to Poland because he personally likes the right-wing populist leader. There’s speculation that Trump could make some announcement related to redeploying troops from Germany to Poland.
“Duda has long been a Trump favorite, praised as ‘an exemplary ally’ who has boosted defense spending and purchased expensive U.S. weapons systems,” Karen DeYoung, Loveday Morris and Michael Birnbaum report. “As Duda’s campaign has flagged, he has increased his focus on stirring up anti-LGBTQ sentiment — branding gay and transgender rights as an ‘ideology’ akin to communism — in an effort to galvanize his right-wing base at a time of economic hardship worsened by the coronavirus pandemic. Emphasizing strong relations with Washington is particularly crucial for Duda, given Poland’s growing isolation within Europe as his government has become increasingly autocratic. The European Union has censured Poland for failing to uphold democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights, and has said his government’s judicial revisions threaten the independence of the courts.”
The two leaders jointly announced plans two years ago to increase the U.S. military presence in Poland. “In 2018, Duda offered to contribute $2 billion toward the permanent basing of a full U.S. Army division in Poland, far less than moving and housing the troops would cost. Instead, in a deal forged last year, the administration agreed to add another 1,000 troops to a 4,500-strong armored brigade that already rotates in and out of Poland,” per Karen, Loveday and Michael. “Progress on implementing what has already been decided has also been awaiting negotiations over a formal bilateral defense cooperation agreement that, among other things, would provide U.S. troops immunity from civilian prosecution in Poland. But talks have been largely suspended during the pandemic and following the Pentagon departure of John Rood as undersecretary of defense for policy. Rood, who had questioned Trump’s withholding of military assistance for Ukraine last year, was among a number of national security officials the president asked to resign in the wake of his impeachment trial.”
Public health officials are leaving their posts amid threats and political pushback.
“For Lauri Jones, the trouble began in early May. The director of a small public health department in Washington state was working with a family under quarantine because of coronavirus exposure. When she heard one family member had been out in the community, Jones decided to check in. The routine phone call launched a nightmare. ‘Someone posted on social media that we had violated their civil liberties [and] named me by name,’ Jones recalled. ‘They said, ‘Let’s post her address. … Let’s start shooting.’’ People from across the country began calling her personal phone with similar threats," Rachel Weiner and Ariana Eunjung Cha report. “Public health workers, already underfunded and understaffed, are confronting waves of protest at their homes and offices in addition to pressure from politicians who favor a faster reopening. Lori Tremmel Freeman, chief executive of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, said more than 20 health officials have resigned, retired or been fired in recent weeks ‘due to conditions related to having to enforce and stand up for strong public health tactics during this pandemic.’ …
“This month in California, Nichole Quick, Orange County’s chief health officer, stepped down after she faced threats and protests at her home for requiring face coverings in many businesses as cases rose. The mandate, issued May 23, was softened to a recommendation a week later. … Georgia’s public health director said last month that she receives threats daily and now has an armed escort. Pennsylvania’s secretary of health, who is transgender, has come under fire over the state’s handling of the pandemic, including from a county official who resigned after saying at a recent meeting that he was ‘tired of listening to a guy dressed up as a woman.’ Four public health officials in Colorado have left their jobs recently.”
Income has emerged as a major predictor of infections, along with race, a federal analysis found.
“The findings released Monday are based on billing records for people on Medicare who have contracted the virus. They echo the commonly understood pattern that black Americans are more likely to test positive for the virus and to be hospitalized … than other racial and ethnic groups. But they also point to the role of poverty as the pandemic has sped through U.S. communities in the winter and spring,” Amy Goldstein reports. “Individuals covered by Medicare, the vast federal insurance program for older Americans, who are poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, the public insurance safety net, were four times more likely to have been infected or hospitalized with the coronavirus than those on Medicare alone, according to billing records from more than 325,000 cases from January through mid-May.”
Memorial Day and the end of lockdown orders in Southern and Western states led to an increase in cases.
“In the last 14 days, Oregon has reported a 234.4 percentage jump in infections, Oklahoma jumped by 202 percent, Florida's number increased by 155 percent, and Arizona's confirmed coronavirus cases climbed by 142 percent,” NBC News reports. “Texas, Utah, Arkansas, Louisiana and more than a dozen other states — as well as Guam and the Virgin Islands — had increases in the numbers of reported cases in the last two weeks. ‘It's basically the same reason for all these states: It was Memorial Day,’ [Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security's Erik] Toner said.”
- Activists halted street protests in South Carolina after at least 13 demonstrators tested positive. Protest organizers in the state urged participants to get tested. (Brittany Shammas, Chelsea Janes, Lateshia Beachum and Lenny Bernstein)
- Infections and hospitalizations in Georgia have reached a new peak, which many experts blame on the lax approach of Gov. Brian Kemp (R). (Teo Armus)
- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) warned that he could impose further restrictions if cases continue to rise but did not outline what measures he’s considering, saying only that “closing down Texas again will always be the last option.” Abbott has not mandated the use of face masks in public. (Dallas Morning News)
- Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) is delaying the next phase of the state’s reopening for 28 days. Edwards said he’ll keep in place the current limitations on bars, restaurants and other businesses enacted on June 5, which were set to expire this week. (AP)
- The FDA is warning against the use of nine hand sanitizers produced by Eskbiochem SA, a Mexico-based manufacturer, due to the potential presence of methanol, a toxic substance. (The Hill)
- Movie theaters thrive on a sense of refuge and the promise of immersion into imaginary worlds. That’s tough to sell when employees are handing out masks, enforcing seat distances and scanning for high temperatures. So, cinema workers are taking on a new responsibility: Assuring customers that it’s safe to share a dark room with dozens of strangers but not to freak them out with details. (Steven Zeitchik)
Quote of the day
“I think everyone should be worried about how this is going to turn out in the end, because it’s a shock unlike anything we’ve ever seen,” said Kevin Hassett, one of Trump’s top economic advisers who returned to the White House in March to focus on the pandemic’s fallout. He announced Monday he's leaving the administration again. (Jeff Stein)
Florida is a crucial location to the return of sports. But it's also become a hot spot.
“Major League Soccer, which plans to relaunch with a tournament beginning July 8, joined the NBA in using Disney World as a hosting ground. The WNBA is set to hold a 22-game season at IMG Academy in Bradenton,” Adam Kilgore reports “Florida added more than 3,000 new cases for the first time Thursday, surpassed 4,000 on Saturday and added nearly 3,500 on Sunday. On Monday, it surpassed 100,000 total confirmed cases. … Even if the NBA could guarantee league and team employees will not become infected, conditions in Florida would still present issues. In Orange County, where Disney World is based, 3.3 percent of tests two weeks ago came back positive, according to state data. With those numbers, [Emory University epidemiologist Zachary] Binney said, the NBA could comfortably bring in enough tests to check players and staffers daily. But on Friday and Saturday, the rate of positive tests reached 17.9 and 16.4 percent. ‘That indicates they don’t have enough tests for the sick people they have,’ Binney said.”
- Nearly 4,000 Disney World workers signed a petition urging for a delay in the reopening of the Florida-based theme park. Disneyland workers in California are also urging the company to delay the reopening of the Anaheim park and have collected nearly 45,000 signatures. (Samantha Pell)
- After the University of Michigan withdrew from hosting a fall presidential debate because of concerns about the virus and large crowds, the debate will be held in Miami. Joe Biden's campaign confirmed that he will participate in the debates scheduled for Sept. 29, Oct. 15 and Oct. 22. Biden’s yet-to-be-named running mate would participate in an Oct. 7 vice presidential debate. (Matt Viser)
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) relaxed the state’s guidelines for ICU reporting, with the state’s surgeon general telling hospitals he no longer wants them to report to the state the number of patients in ICU beds. The government just wants to know the number of patients who require an “intensive level of care.” (Florida Politics)
The bitter negotiation between Major League Baseball and its players union effectively ended last night when the union’s board voted to reject the owner’s last offer of a 60-game regular season and expanded postseason. Owners responded by saying they intend to exercise their power to implement a 2020 schedule. The league insists the season must end by Sept. 27, with the postseason contained to October, to guard against a second wave of the coronavirus wiping out the playoffs. (Dave Sheinin)
The D.C. Metro system will reopen 15 stations.
“The changes are a sudden departure from Metro’s coronavirus recovery plan, which had called for the transit system to continue operating at a level about 65 percent lower than pre-pandemic,” Justin George and Lisa Rein report. “But federal officials anxious to show a government that is back up to speed and Trump’s desire to restart the economy and get people back to work have put pressure on the agency.”
The virus has spread inside D.C.’s largest residential building. The Woodner in Columbia Heights has an estimated population of more than 2,000. “Residents stay in their units, gripped by fear,” Julie Zauzmer reports. “They worry especially that the management company has not shared any information about coronavirus cases in the building, even as more and more residents seem to have gotten infected. Frustrated tenants are withholding rent, signing petitions and, one day last month, holding a protest with social distancing outside the building.”
- Saudi Arabia will drastically limit the number of people allowed to participate in the annual hajj pilgrimage. Last year, the hajj drew nearly 2.5 million to the city of Mecca, but this year, only “limited numbers” of people who are already in the kingdom will be allowed to attend, delivering a blow both to the nation’s economy and to families who’d saved up for it. (Sarah Dadouch)
- European governments are listening to U.S. health experts more than the Trump White House. (Rick Noack)
Police thwarted an attempt by protesters to topple a statue of Andrew Jackson near the White House.
“The scene unfolded dramatically as hundreds of demonstrators protesting police brutality locked arms around the statue in Lafayette Square shortly before 8 p.m., while chanting, ‘Hey, hey, ho, ho, Andrew Jackson’s got to go,’” Fredrick Kunkle, Susan Svrluga and Justin Jouvenal report. “Inside the metal pickets surrounding the statue, a smaller group — some clad in black with goggles, helmets and gas masks — scaled the statue and draped ropes around the seventh president astride a horse. Someone scrawled ‘killer’ in black on the pedestal below. But then, U.S. Park Police officers in riot gear approached from the west and clashed with the protesters, swinging batons and releasing pepper spray as they moved the protesters back. … It was not immediately clear if anyone had had been arrested. In a chaotic scene, a helicopter flew low over the park as 150 to 200 U.S. Park and D.C. police moved through the park. … Protesters threw things at police as they retreated, and officers shoved people in the melee. One woman hurled a folding chair, striking an officer, who staggered away from a police line. Things calmed down by 9 p.m.”
- The Secret Service told members of the White House press corps to leave the White House grounds. “The US Secret Service issued a statement early Tuesday, saying ‘four members of the media were misdirected’ to leave the White House grounds,” CNN reports.
- Trump tweeted videos of black men attacking white people and asked “Where are the protesters.” To critics, Trump’s tweets implied that individual crimes by black men are equivalent to the systemic police violence against people of color. False claims about the prevalence of violent black-on-white crime have been a hallmark of white supremacist websites. (Tim Elfrink)
- A U.S. soldier, Ethan Melzer, is accused of scheming with a satanic neo-Nazi cult to stage a “murderous ambush” on his own unit, as part of a plot to launch a “mass casualty” attack intended to cause “the deaths of as many of his fellow service members as possible,” according to an indictment. (Allyson Chiu)
- The future of Seattle’s Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone is uncertain now that police have promised to return to the area following back-to-back shootings that have left residents, business owners and demonstrators on edge. Neither Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) nor Police Chief Carmen Best have said exactly when police will return, but Best said officers needed to go back to their precinct so they can better respond to 911 calls. (Meagan Flynn)
The military helicopters that roared over D.C. protests produced winds equivalent to a tropical storm.
“One of the helicopters dropped as low as an estimated 45 feet, according to a 3-D model created by The Post,” Alex Horton, Andrew Ba Tran, Aaron Steckelberg and John Muyskens report. “That altitude meant that the helicopter, a Lakota painted with the red cross of a medical evacuation aircraft, was below the height of the tallest nearby buildings. … The maneuvers — which did not appear to result in reported injuries — … stunned human rights groups, military law experts and former pilots, who described them as a show of force more commonly used to disperse civilians in war zones. D.C. Guard officials, who have launched an investigation into the incident, declined to discuss the helicopter’s altitude, whether senior officers ordered the low-flying tactic, whether the pilots received unclear guidance about their mission or whether the pilots were grounded amid a review.”
Senate Democrats plan to block the GOP's policing bill, calling it “woefully inadequate."
“Senate Democrats began laying the groundwork to block a Republican-drafted police reform measure that they say falls far short of responding adequately to a national crisis over racial disparities in law enforcement practices,” Seung Min Kim reports. “Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Sens. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) will send a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) later Tuesday, arguing for bipartisan negotiations on a policing overhaul bill before the legislation can actually advance to the floor. Republicans have instead urged Democrats to let the bill proceed to the floor, where negotiations and amendments votes could occur to revise it. The legislation written by Republicans, led by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), is ‘not salvageable,’ the Democrats say, adding that ‘we need bipartisan talks to get to a constructive starting point.’”
- Hundreds paid their respects to Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta. “Hundreds trickled through Ebenezer Baptist Church on Monday to see the man who galvanized them into action lying in repose,” Fenit Nirappil reports. “Brooks, 27, was fatally shot by a white police officer after a DUI stop at an Atlanta Wendy’s on June 12."
- Chrystul Kizer, a 19-year-old accused of killing her alleged sex trafficker, was freed on bail from a Wisconsin jail after two years awaiting trial. Her $400,000 bond was paid by the Chicago Community Bond Fund. (Jessica Contrera)
Geoffrey Berman refused to join the DOJ’s rebuke of Bill de Blasio before his ouster as U.S. attorney.
Berman “refused to support a Justice Department initiative late last week urging New York's mayor to ease certain coronavirus restrictions,” Shayna Jacobs reports. “A letter from Eric Dreiband, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, was sent to de Blasio (D) on Friday afternoon, about four hours before an announcement from [Barr] publicizing Trump’s plans to replace Berman. Berman on Thursday objected to signing Dreiband’s letter, which characterized de Blasio as having endorsed large public protests over the death of George Floyd while seeking to limit crowds allowed to gather for religious services … Berman considered the move a political ploy that would needlessly jeopardize his office’s relationship with City Hall.”
- Most Senate Republicans reacted with a shrug after Trump fired Berman. Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah) was the only one willing to speak out on Monday. “It looks pretty swampy," he said. (Felicia Sonmez)
- Trump accused Barack Obama of “treason,” citing no evidence, during an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network. He's accused many others of “treason,” but this is the first time he's leveled that claim directly against Obama. (Sonmez)
- The House Judiciary Committee is preparing to subpoena Barr, Chairman Jerrold Nadler said. (Politico)
Virginia governor’s legal case for removing Lee statue was devised by the great-great granddaughter of slaves.
“No woman had served as counsel to a Virginia governor before she got the job in 2018,” Gregory Schneider reports. Rita “Davis, 48, knew the reverence attached to [Robert E.] Lee, because she had walked by his tomb every day as a student at Washington and Lee University. [A scholarship enabled her to be the first in her family to attend college.] She had been a patrol officer in conservative Lynchburg and believed in law and order. And she was black and felt deeply the need for change. All those elements, she believed, were coming together in one unexpected event. … The administration is so confident in her position that it attempted to take down the statue quietly, before [Gov. Ralph Northam (D)] announced it. But they couldn’t find a Virginia-based crane company willing to take on the controversial job … [A]t one company, the younger generation was willing, but the older owners threatened to disown them if they went ahead."
Barring a landslide, we probably won’t know the result of the presidential race on Nov. 3.
“After voters in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Nevada went to the polls this month, some races hung in the balance for days as election officials waded through thousands of absentee ballots. On Tuesday, a similar scenario is expected to play out in Kentucky and New York, where officials have already announced that some results will not be available for as long as a week. In all five states, officials have contended with an avalanche of mail ballots as voters seek to avoid exposure to the novel coronavirus,” Amy Gardner reports. “November is likely to bring an even more massive wave of voting by mail than what has swept across the country during primary season. That, in turn, means that a close race between Trump and [Joe Biden], in a pivotal state could take days, even weeks, to resolve, election officials across the country are warning. …
"Amid that uncertainty, few expect Trump, who has said repeatedly that he thinks mail voting could cost him the election, to soothe voter anxieties. … A volley of warring lawsuits by the national parties could add to the tense environment. Already, party lawyers are battling in court fights across the country to shape voting rules that will govern the election. The situation could plunge the country into an electoral crisis not seen since the acrimonious recount between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush 20 years ago.”
Vice President Pence and a half dozen senior advisers to Trump have voted repeatedly by mail. “That undercuts the president’s argument that the practice will lead to widespread fraud this November” the AP reports. "More than three years after leaving the Indiana governor’s residence, Pence still lists that as his official residence and votes absentee accordingly. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has permanent absentee voting status in her home state of Michigan. [Campaign manager Brad Parscale] voted absentee in Texas in 2018 and didn’t vote in the general election two years earlier when Trump’s name was on the ballot. Two other senior Trump campaign officials — chief operating officer Michael Glassner and deputy campaign manager Bill Stepien — have repeatedly voted by mail in New Jersey. And Nick Ayers, a senior campaign adviser who was previously chief of staff to Pence, has voted by mail in Georgia since 2014.”
Democratic secretaries of state are launching an ad campaign linking voting restrictions to “white supremacy.” The Democratic Association of Secretaries of State juxtaposes images of black protesters from the 1960s demanding voting rights with those of current protests over police violence. (Vanessa Williams)
A few members of Congress are potentially at risk in today's New York’s primaries.
“While Rep. Eliot Engel’s (D-N.Y.) race represents their best shot to oust another incumbent, nearly every sitting House Democrat in New York City and its suburbs faces some level of threat from the left,” Politico reports. “Rep. Yvette Clarke is perhaps the most endangered incumbent after Engel. The Brooklyn Democrat faces a rematch with progressive challenger Adem Bunkeddeko, who lost to Clarke by fewer than 2,000 votes in 2018.” As of Monday, nearly 30,000 New York voters hadn’t received their ballots, the Daily News reports.
Kentucky is preparing for long lines in today’s primary, and the Democratic Senate race seems close. “With only one polling place designated for Louisville on Tuesday, voters who didn’t cast mail-in ballots or show up early could face long lines,” the AP reports. This is significant because that’s the hometown of Charles Booker, who has mounted a strong late challenge against presumed front-runner Amy McGrath.
Trump’s anger over his poorly-attended Tulsa rally underscores the growing problems within his campaign.
“Trump has fumed about his campaign manager Brad Parscale over the half-empty arena, campaign officials are engaged in whisper campaigns against their colleagues, and some Trump allies are calling for a dramatic reorganization of the reelection machine, according to several current and former administration and campaign officials,” Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey and Ashley Parker report. “Trump has turned a skeptical eye on his own campaign — raising the prospect of the kind of reshuffling that took place in 2016 after bouts of infighting, chaos and negative headlines. … Trump’s reelection team and other allies have already begun thinking of how to retool the traditional campaign rally to avoid a repeat of the Tulsa outing … Some campaign officials are pushing for future rallies to take place outdoors, possibly returning to the kind of airplane hangar events Trump held in 2016. … The debate over rally sites is indicative of a broader rift between Trump and his campaign …
“Trump, who has been fixated on news coverage, has complained that moving his rallies to smaller venues would lead to negative attacks questioning his level of support and that airport hangars lack the energy of a raucous indoor rally … Trump’s relationship with his campaign has soured in recent months as officials have presented him with polls showing him trailing Biden in several key states … The campaign resents Trump saying ‘really stupid things that drive the narrative in the wrong direction’ [a] GOP operative said. … While Parscale is not expected to be fired over the Tulsa rally, his influence in Trump’s orbit is waning, according to several Republican allies close to the president. … Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a Parscale ally, has been telling people, including the reporters who ask, that Parscale’s job is safe, according to someone familiar with the matter.”
Kushner, though, might be losing some influence. “Trump is debating revoking his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s control over the campaign,” Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman reports. "Trump has been frustrated with Kushner’s oversight of the campaign … One way to measure Kushner’s diminished influence will be found in whom Trump would choose to replace Parscale. Top candidates include 2016 veterans [Jason] Miller, David Bossie, and Corey Lewandowski, all of whom Kushner successfully kept on the outer fringe of Trumpworld."
Trump is increasingly preoccupied about perceptions of his physical and mental health.
“The early June meeting in the Cabinet Room was intended as a general update on President Trump’s reelection campaign, but the president had other topics on his mind. Trump had taken a cognitive screening test as part of his 2018 physical, and now, more than two years later, he brought up the 10-minute exam. He waxed on about how he’d dazzled the proctors with his stellar performance,” Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey report. "He walked the room of about two dozen White House and reelection officials through some of the questions he said he’d aced, such as being able to repeat five words in order. At the time, the Montreal Cognitive Assessment — which includes animal pictures and other simple queries aimed at detecting mild cognitive impairment such as dementia — was intended to quell questions about Trump’s mental fitness. … The president has encouraged advisers to attack Biden over his mental acuity, White House officials said, but some worry that doing so too aggressively could backfire and hurt him among senior citizens.”
As Trump slumps, his campaign is looking to woo women.
“At the White House, Trump has repeatedly been shown polls in which Biden holds a considerable lead among women and seniors in swing states,” Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey report. "GOP Senate strategists have watched a similar erosion in down-ballot races … Republican strategists close to the president say he has to convince women that his handling of the coronavirus has been better than they currently believe — and that he has saved lives and the economy. … Kushner has talked to allies about promoting an agenda that is more amenable to many suburban voters, and some Trump advisers are considering a push on topics such as school choice. Advisers are discussing sending to swing states Trump surrogates who are less polarizing than the president himself, such as his [eldest] daughter … The campaign hosts virtual ‘Moms Night In’ organizing events as well as state-specific calls, dubbed ‘Mom Talks,’ with female supporters to discuss Trump’s efforts to address the pandemic.”
The president is also largely supportive of sending a second round of stimulus checks out to boost his reelection prospects, but divisions in the White House remain. While Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has advocated sending a second round of checks, leading congressional Republicans and some senior White House officials – including White House National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow – are concerned with the impact more checks could have on the deficit, Jeff Stein and Josh Dawsey report.
Warned that it could cost him Florida, Trump backtracked on meeting with Venezuela’s strongman.
“The economic collapse of Venezuela and erosion of democracy under two elected Socialist leaders is a 2020 election talking point for Republicans, especially in Florida, home to thousands of wealthy Venezuelan expatriates who detest the Cuban-backed [Nicolás] Maduro,” Anne Gearan, John Wagner and Seung Min Kim report. “After a backlash from Democrats and some Republicans, Trump tweeted Monday that he would meet with Maduro, who has clung to power since a disputed 2018 election, only to discuss ‘a peaceful exit.’ … That reversed comments Trump made over the weekend, in which he said he would consider a meeting even though the United States led the world last year in renouncing Maduro and declaring his political rival to be the legitimate leader of what was once one of the wealthiest countries in the hemisphere.”
Social media speed read
NASCAR racer Bubba Wallace’s fellow drivers pushed his car to the front line in a sign of support after a noose was found in his stall:
A woman holding a Confederate flag at a Black Lives Matter protest in Missouri expressed support for the KKK:
“I will teach my grandkids to hate you all” pic.twitter.com/f2IO0awyjg— chris evans (@notcapnamerica) June 22, 2020
An NPR reporter who once held an H-1B visa lamented Trump’s order to block foreigners with temporary work visas:
I came into the U.S. more than a decade ago on a J visa, then scrambled for years on H-1B work visas.— Tim Mak (@timkmak) June 22, 2020
I sought and received a green card.
Then I earned citizenship by joining the military and swore in on the graduation field at Ft. Jackson.
That's a pathway now closed. https://t.co/B1s2gVFOd3
Videos of the day
The late-night hosts had a field day with Trump's Tulsa rally: