with Brent D. Griffiths

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Outside the Beltway

THE ABORTION WARS: So far, Republicans have been the ones on the defensive when it comes to strict new antiabortion laws being passed in red states like Alabama and Missouri. But Democrats are also wading through a messaging muddle of their own: how far to go to ensure that Roe v. Wade is protected, and whether to support antiabortion Democrats running for elected office. 

Right now, that issue is playing out most directly in the Democratic primary in Illinois's 3rd district where a progressive, abortion rights candidate, Marie Newman, is running to unseat the sitting, antiabortion Rep. Dan Lipinski.

  • Incumbent advantage: Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Illinois), the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), is supporting Lipinkski and agreed to raise money for her fellow Illinoisan in the state next month, per Crain's Chicago Business. The DCCC has a policy of backing incumbents in primaries.

Newman, who failed to oust Lipinski by two points in the 2018 primary, called the DCCC and Bustos's support of Lipinski an “absolute anathema” that doesn't square with the Democratic National Committee's party platform. 

Bustos has drawn significant controversy for implementing what critics call a “blacklist” for vendors working with primary challengers (they are barred from working with the House campaign committee.) The rule was “very expensive for my campaign,” Newman told us. 

  • 'Horrified:' “I'm horrified that five states are moving toward a totalitarian, authoritarian type of rule,” Newman told Power Up in an interview regarding the harsh new abortion laws barring them in cases of rape and incest. 
  • DCCC shade: “Trusting women is important and I trust women and Dan doesn’t. And to have this happen now where five states have gone down this horrible path of not trusting women and having a Congress person who is being supported by the DCCC, I’m deeply disappointed.”
  • “What’s funny is that the DCCC and I have a very similar platform and yet they are supporting this guy who has a diametrically opposed platform to them in every way,” Newman added. “If we don't trust women in this country, we don't trust half of the country. So this is not just an emotional issue or a women’s right’s issue, this is just illogical.”
  • Newman told Power Up she spoke with Bustos on Monday morning and discussed their disagreements. The challenger said Bustos seemed to be “aware” of the renewed concerns in backing Lipinski given the new abortion fights.

Establishment support of an antiabortion Democrat as the most aggressive abortion bans since the 1970s are taking hold throughout the country has renewed the debate over whether there's room in the Democratic Party for such candidates. 

  • “This is exactly the wrong time to be forming a circular firing squad when we need to be together, work together, to beat President Trump in 2020, as well as keeping the House and winning the Senate,” Lipinski told The Daily Beast's Sam Brodey and Gideon Resnick last week. 

  • “I'm pro-life because as a Democrat I believe that government has a critical role to play in protecting vulnerable women and men, and the most vulnerable are those in the womb,” Lipinski told Power Up in a statement. 

  • On Roe v. Wade: Lipinski's camp did not respond to whether he supports overturning the landmark ruling that legalized abortion. 

North Carolina and Louisiana may be the next two states to advance antiabortion legislation — in part due to Democratic support.

  • In N.C.: State Sen. Don Davis (D-N.C.) was the lone Democrat to vote in favor of overturning Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's veto of the “Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” per the News & Observer's Paul Specht. 
  • In La.: Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards told reporters he's ready to sign a “heartbeat bill” that would prohibit abortions after a heartbeat is detected.
  • “The bill faces one final vote in the state House. Introduced by Democratic state Sen. John Milkovich, it passed the state Senate at the beginning of May, though a final vote on passage has not been scheduled,” reports USA Today's Nicholas Wu. 
  • “I know that for many in the national party, on the national scene, that's not a good fit. But I will tell you, here in Louisiana, I speak and meet with Democrats who are pro-life every single day,” Edwards said on his monthly radio show earlier in May. 

Programming note: Today, more than 50 organizations (Planned Parenthood, SisterSong, NARAL, and the Women’s March) will hold over 300 demonstrations across the country as part of the National Day of Action to “Stop the Bans.”

  • Leana Wen, the president of Planned Parenthood, in a fresh op-ed for The Post, argues “President Trump and his allies have grossly overreached and made a huge political mistake."
  • More: “This is now a fight we can and will win, if Americans are ready to act on their convictions and make women’s health a priority. And by doing so, we will not only protect women’s health care and rights for this generation and generations to come, but we will also shine a spotlight on Trump’s disastrous overall agenda and cynical political style in a way that will resonate through the 2020 elections.”

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The Investigations

WHAT A DAY: Congress saw Trump in court and for now they have their first win. 

  • “President Trump on Monday lost an early round of his court fight with Democrats after a federal judge ruled the president’s accounting firm must turn over his financial records to Congress as lawmakers seek to assert their oversight authority,” our colleagues Devlin Barrett, Spencer S. Hsu, Rachael Bade and Josh Dawsey reported.

The ruling marks the first victory in House Democrats' ongoing fight with the White House over the scope of congressional oversight and whether the broad range of current subpoenas and document requests pass legal muster. As expected, Trump said his lawyers would appeal the decision:

  • The decision from U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta of the District of Columbia: ““It is simply not fathomable,” the judge wrote, “that a Constitution that grants Congress the power to remove a President for reasons including criminal behavior would deny Congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct — past or present — even without formally opening an impeachment inquiry.”
  • Trump responds: “It’s totally the wrong decision by, obviously, an Obama-appointed judge,” Trump told reporters outside the White House, adding the ruling was “crazy.”
  • It’s a small world after all: The chief judge for the D.C. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, where Trump’s appeal would be heard, is Merrick Garland. Yes, that Merrick Garland.

The legal decision was far from the only news on the oversight front:

  • White House tells McGahn not to testify: The White House ordered former White House legal counsel Don McGahn not to testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee today. Lawmakers had subpoenaed McGahn to expand on what he told special counsel Bob Mueller.
  • What happens if McGahn doesn’t show up: It is quite possible that Democrats will hold McGahn in contempt, but some lawmakers want to go further: 
  • Worth noting: CNBC’s John Harwood reports Cicilline was speaking for himself, but the Rhode Island Democrat is also a member of House leadership as head of the Democrats’ messaging arm, the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.
  • Dissent: Cicilline and Reps. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) all pushed to begin impeachment proceedings in a closed-door leadership meeting on Monday, Politico’s Heather Caygle, John Bresnahan and Sarah Ferris report.
  • Counterpoint: "Pelosi and Reps. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, Hakeem Jeffries of New York and [Bustos] — some of her key allies — rejected their calls, saying Democrats' message is being drowned out by the fight over possibly impeaching Trump," per Politico. 
  • More dissent: "Several hours later, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler met with Pelosi as well and made the case to start the inquiry, he later told his panel member on a call. Pelosi declined to endorse the idea both times,  according to the officials either in or familiar with what happened in both meetings," Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis report. Pelosi declined the idea.

And not a small thing: Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen is once again in the spotlight as House lawmakers released transcripts of his closed-door testimony. It should be noted that Cohen is in prison for lying to Congress.

  • Trump Tower Moscow, again: Cohen “told a House panel during closed-door hearings earlier this year that he had been encouraged by Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow to falsely claim in a 2017 statement to Congress that negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow ended in January 2016 …,” our colleagues Tom Hamburger, Ellen Nakashima and Karoun Demirjian reported.

Nope: “Jane Serene Raskin and Patrick Strawbridge, attorneys for Sekulow, said in a statement that ‘Cohen’s alleged statements are more of the same from him and confirm the observations of prosecutors in the Southern District of New York that Cohen’s ‘instinct to blame others is strong,’” our colleagues reported.

At the White House

CHINA TRADE TALKS STALL: The United States and China are not talking at the moment. Ever since Trump raised tariffs on China as payback for, in his eyes, backing out of a trade deal, Washington and Beijing have engaged in a tit-for-tat escalation of economic warfare that shows little signs of abating at the moment.

Huawei or the highway: The latest skirmish centers on China’s largest telecommunications company, Huawei, which was the target of two separate administration actions last week.

  • The first was a broad presidential executive order widely interpreted as a way to give the government powers to block a company like Huawei from engaging in certain transactions on national security grounds.
  • The second specifically targeted Huawei by adding it to what is known as the export blacklist, requiring U.S. companies to obtain a special license to sell products to the company --- a potentially devastating move since Huawei relies on computer chips and other specialized components that would be extremely difficult to obtain elsewhere.
  • China is not happy: Over the weekend, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and told the U.S. to “not go too far,” according to a report from the state-run Xinhua.
  • Signs of progress: After Huawei shares dove Monday, the Commerce Department announced a three-month delay on requiring U.S. companies to obtain those special licenses.

The expert take: Power Up spoke to David Dollar a senior fellow in the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution, just as the news of a three-month delay was breaking. 

  • What will China do?: “I think it is extremely unlikely that China in some sense would cave in and agree to everything that the U.S. is asking," Dollar argued. "I just find that inconceivable and the Chinese seem to be digging in for a long trade war," he said. 

But overall trade negotiations seem to have a hit a wall:

  • China promised to retaliate for Trump's tariff hike by raising their own tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. imports by June 1. In the meantime, the U.S. is moving forward on imposing tariffs on the remaining $300 billion in Chinese imports that are not currently being taxed.
  • Just don’t do it: Nike, Adidas and more than 170 other shoe retailers wrote to the Trump and top officials on Monday not to place tariffs on more Chinese goods, according to CNBC’s Lauren Thomas.
  • Trump-Xi meeting?: The president had said he will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the upcoming G-20 summit in Japan, but China has refused to confirm that such a session will take place.
  • Beijing has also denied knowing anything about Treasury Secretary Mnuchin’s stated desire to come to China to resume negotiations.
  • Branstad to Tibet: U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad is visiting Tibet this week, which according to Reuters is the first time a U.S. ambassador has visited the region since 2015.
  • More from Dollar: “It is very likely that President Xi and President Trump would meet at the G-20 meeting," Dollar told us. "To me, it seems impossible that they would have worked out a deal that those two could then ratify, so I think the best case scenario is that the two have a good meeting and maybe each of their economies is deteriorating in the background and then they to agree to tell their negotiators to make a compromise, find an agreement.”

Global Power

MY MILKSHAKE BRINGS ALL THE BOYS TO THE... PROTEST?: There's a new preferred method of attack against unpopular right-wing politicans. It's called "milkshaking."

  • “In recent weeks, the act of “milkshaking” has become a symbol of protest on British soil, with Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage becoming the latest target in a string of attacks that have seen dairy-based drinks dashed at controversial European election candidates during events across the country,” the Post’s Jennifer Hassan reports from London.
  • “Farage had only been campaigning in the city of Newcastle for around 20 minutes on Monday when a 32-year-old man hurled a drink at him, covering his suit in a sticky liquid that the attacker later confirmed was a banana and salted caramel milkshake from Five Guys that cost him 5.25 pounds ($6.68).”
  • By Monday afternoon, #Milkshake was the top trend in Britain on Twitter, closely followed by the name of the milkshake thrower, identified as Paul Crowther, who said he did not regret his actions. According to PA reporter Tom Wilkinson, Crowther could be heard talking about his milkshake while standing in handcuffs outside a bookstore, saying: “I was quite looking forward to it, but I think it went on a better purpose.”