with Brent D. Griffiths

Happy Friday, Power People. We made it! Have a fab D.C. Pride weekend 🌈 See you on Monday. 

The People

THAT WAS FAST: After sharp criticism from his campaign rivals and Democratic interest groups, Joe Biden had a change of view on Thursday night: a day after his campaign told NBC News he didn't want to repeal the Hyde Amendment, Biden announced during a speech at the Democratic National Committee's African American Leadership Council summit in Atlanta he could no longer support the ban on federal funding for abortion. 

  • The key quote: “We’ve seen state after state including Georgia passing extreme laws,” Biden explained to the crowd of the dramatic U-turn. “It’s clear that these folks are going to stop at nothing to get rid of Roe.”

For those just getting up to speed on Biden's roller-coaster of a month on abortion, an issue that is already coming to define the 2020 race:

  • At the beginning of May, Biden told an ACLU volunteer on tape he'd commit to abolishing the Hyde Amendment — a departure from his career-long opposition to most federal funding for abortion procedures.
  • Then Biden's campaign said on Tuesday that he actually has not changed his position and still supported the amendment, claiming that Biden had “misheard the woman on the ropelike and thought she was referring to the Mexico City rule.”
  • This was all capped by a pivot back again to Biden's reversal on matter last night, supporting repeal of the amendment. 
  • Why? From a Biden adviser to the Associated Press: " ... some aides were surprised at the speed of the reversal, given Biden’s long history of explaining his abortion positions in terms of his faith. But aides realized that as the front-runner, the attacks weren’t going to let up, and his campaign reasoned that the fallout within the Democratic primary outweigh any long-term benefit of maintain his previous Hyde support."
  • Trump's view: “He’s just not very good at this. Joe Biden is an existential threat to Joe Biden,” said Tim Murtaugh, Trump's campaign communications director said, per the AP.

U-turn: The reversal marks the first major leftward concession for Biden from his middle-of-the-road campaign, eliciting praise from Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America for joining the majority of the 2020 Democratic candidates on the issue. 

The conversation around abortion rights and a commitment to protecting Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling establishing the constitutional right to abortion, has moved to the forefront of the primary after states like Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia have passed the most restrictive abortion legislation in decades.

#MeToo: Biden's dramatic and “awkward flip-flop-flip” is the latest sign of just how integral women's rights and voters are to ousting President Trump from office on the heels of a historic midterm election that sent a parade of women to Congress. New data — including a new NPR/ PBS NewsHour/ Marist Poll out this morning and a study released last month by Brian Schaffner, the Newhouse Professor of Civic Studies at Tufts University — shows that attitudes toward abortion and women in general will be key to the 2020 race. 

  • “Three-quarters of Americans say they want to keep in place the landmark Supreme Court ruling, Roe v. Wade, that made abortion legal in the United States, but a strong majority would like to see restrictions on abortion rights,” per NPR's Domenico Montanaro. 
  • People's views on various restrictions are nuanced, per the poll. But the most acute divide is between women of different parties: “For women of the different parties, 77 percent of Democratic women identified as 'pro-choice,' while 68 percent of Republican women identified as 'pro-life.'”
  • Key: “Eighty-four percent of Democratic women said they are more likely to support state laws that decriminalize abortion and make laws less strict; 62 percent of Republican women said they are more likely to support laws that criminalize abortion or make laws stricter.”

Meanwhile, Schaffner's study concludes that “Trump's hostility toward women has become part of the Republican Party's brand,” and in the 2018 cycle, this “hostile sexism” emerged as a stronger predictor of the House vote than in 2016, ultimately contributing to Republican losses. 

  • “In 2018, this sexism-based divide appeared to cost Republicans more votes than it gained them,” Schaffner writes. “This can be most clearly seen in the analysis of vote switching, which showed that lower levels of sexism were strongly related to switching from voting Republican to Democratic in 2018, whereas increasing levels of sexism produced much smaller swings in the opposite direction.” 

It remains to be seen whether this predictor of partisan divide is a long-term trend or more directly associated with Trump himself. But regardless, Schaffner found that “sexist Americans were strong supporters of Trump while non-sexists strongly opposed him.” 


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At the White House

MEXICO PROPOSES A POSSIBLE DEAL TO AVOID TARIFFS: “U.S. and Mexican officials are discussing the outlines of a deal that would dramatically increase Mexico’s immigration enforcement efforts and give the United States far more latitude to deport Central Americans seeking asylum, according to a U.S. official and a Mexican official who cautioned that the accord is not final and that President Trump might not accept it,” our colleagues Nick Miroff, David J. Lynch and Kevin Sieff report. Remember, tariffs on all Mexican imports are scheduled to go into effect on Monday.

  • The details: “Mexican officials have pledged to deploy up to 6,000 National Guard troops to the area of the country’s border with Guatemala, a show of force they say will immediately reduce the number of Central Americans heading north toward the U.S. border,” Nick, David and Kevin write. Plus, “The plan, a sweeping overhaul of asylum rules across the region, would require Central American migrants to seek refuge in the first country they enter after leaving their homeland, the two officials said. For Guatemalans, that would be Mexico.”
  • How it works: “Any migrants who made it to the U.S. border generally would be deported to the appropriate third country. And any migrants who express a fear of death or torture in their home country would be subjected to a tougher screening standard by U.S. asylum officers more likely to result in rejection.”
  • It’s all up to Trump:Mexican negotiators also made clear that they will withdraw the offer if Trump makes good on his threat to impose tariffs, telling their U.S. counterparts that the economic damage would undermine Mexico’s ability to pay for tougher immigration enforcement.” There could be also court challenges to the asylum changes.
  • What happens if there’s no deal: “Word of the emerging deal comes amid escalating warnings of the tariffs’ potential toll. Approximately 406,000 U.S. jobs would be eliminated if the president proceeded with the measures, according to the Perryman Group, an economic consultancy in Waco, Tex.”

Then there's China: “There’s a case to be made that Trump has the upper hand in these trade disputes because the United States buys more from China and Mexico than those countries buy from the United States. To put it another way, China and Mexico need Trump economically more than he needs them,” our colleague Heather Long explains in a piece about just how long Trump can continue his current approach.

But that hand is only good for so long:

  • Why September is key: “ . . . Trump is dramatically ramping up the costs of the trade war on Americans making it more likely people will start to notice they are paying the tab for these fights.”
  • The holiday shopping season: “Second, according to the National Retail Federation, August and September are the key months when U.S. retailers import goods for the holiday shopping period. If Trump’s tariffs remain in place then, it will be nearly impossible not to pass some — if not all — costs on to consumers for holiday season 2019.”

Global Power

TRUMP FAMILY MEMBERS PROMOTE THEMSELVES ON EUROPEAN TRIP: “As parties go, it’s hard to top a state dinner with the queen of England, but President Trump’s sons — Donald Jr. and Eric — tried to keep the revelry going during an impromptu pub crawl in Doonbeg, Ireland, where they bought rounds of Guinness for the locals and reveled in the adoration of a village where the Trump family owns property,” our colleagues David Nakamura, Toluse Olorunnipa and Amanda Ferguson report.

“Not just Trump, but the Trumps — decidedly plural. As the president has hopscotched on official duties between three European nations this week, his four adult children — also including daughters Ivanka and Tiffany — have been prominently involved in many high-profile moments.”

  • Why it matters: “If the display sought to project the Trumps as global goodwill ambassadors for the United States, it has also raised questions given the president’s refusal to draw strict boundaries between his official duties and his private business,” David, Toluse and Amanda write.
  • Who's picking up the tab?: “The question of who is paying for the family members’ participation — and whether American taxpayers will be on the hook — has emerged as an unresolved subplot, with newspapers in Scotland and London scouring State Department databases and reporting on the fancy hotels and expensive limousines contracted by the U.S. government.”
  • Doing it for the gram: “During the trip, the Trump children have documented their exploits in Instagram posts — touring Buckingham Palace! observing the aerial flyover in Normandy! pouring pints behind the bar in Doonbeg! — in a modern-day slide show of 'wish-you-were-here!' family vacation moments for the public back home. At times, the images appeared discordant with the aims of a U.S. government delegation representing the nation’s geostrategic interests,” David, Toluse and Amanda write. 

From the Courts

UNDERCOUNTED: In the next few weeks, the Supreme Court will decide whether next year’s decennial census will include the Trump administration’s controversial question on citizenship, which is already being asked each year in the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to a smaller segment of the country’s population. In that 2017 survey, one in 12 Hispanics did not answer the citizenship question, allowing my colleagues Ted Mellnik and Kate Rabinowitz to examine “where millions of Hispanics would probably be missed if the same question were added to the 2020 Census.”

  • The very simple question — “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” — could lead to “a 2020 undercount of 6 million Hispanics, or about 12 percent of the Hispanic population, according to a study published this spring by Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy.”

Ted and Kate worked with Harvard to map out just what states would be most impacted by the Hispanic undercount. It was revealed last week the administration's proposal “was crafted specifically to give an electoral advantage to Republicans and whites.”

  • “The census is the only data with that geographic detail, and it’s used exclusively to draw political districts. A significant Hispanic undercount would change how many congressional seats go to some states, starting with the 2022 elections,” per Ted and Kate.

The Investigations

TRUMP LASHES OUT … IN THE WORST POSSIBLE PLACE: It seemed like just another day on Twitter: Trump slamming Biden, Nancy Pelosi (“a disgrace”), Robert Mueller (he made a "fool" of himself). The president even added his traditional slam of Mueller’s team of “13 angry Democrats.”

But all of these lines and more came instead from a 16-minute Fox News interview conducted with crosses and flags of the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in full view — a place where more than 9,380 American soldiers are buried, most of whom lost their lives in the largest combined naval, air and land assault in history.

That's because Thursday was not just another day, but the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

PELOSI WANTS TO SEE TRUMP BEHIND BARS: The remark that has Trump so upset this time? The House speaker told her colleagues behind closed doors: “I don’t want to see [Trump] impeached. I want to see him in prison,” our colleagues Rachael Bade and John Wagner report. But for all the gusto of that slam, Pelosi remains steadfastly against opening impeachment proceedings against the president, a position nearly 60 House members now openly oppose.

  • Pelosi’s compromise for now: “On Thursday, Pelosi’s leadership team unveiled a promised resolution that would hold Attorney General William P. Barr and former White House counsel Donald McGahn in contempt. The measure would authorize the House Judiciary Committee to go to court to force the two to comply with congressional subpoenas.”
  • The calls are expected to keep growing though: “While the vote probably will buy Pelosi more time on impeachment, it’s unlikely to stop the campaign for an inquiry … Privately, Democrats say the numbers favoring impeachment probably will grow,” Rachael and John write.
  • Keep an eye on Nadler: “Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee that has impeachment jurisdiction, has been pressing Pelosi to approve an impeachment inquiry for several weeks. Pelosi has resisted, as she did during the Tuesday night meeting first reported by Politico. Nadler has laid out the legal justification for an inquiry as committee staff and lawmakers argue that opening official proceedings will only strengthen their legal standing to compel the release of documents and testimony.”
  • McCarthy also made an impeachment slam in Normandy: “House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) also chided Pelosi during a Thursday morning Fox News interview from the site of a ceremony in Normandy that he and Pelosi attended, 'At that moment, we weren’t about party,' McCarthy said. 'We were about country. I hope we take that back to Washington, not wanting to put somebody in jail but putting Americans first.'”

The wrong lessons: Ron Brownstein argues in the Atlantic that the conventional wisdom is flawed about the 1998 effort to oust President Bill Clinton after he was impeached.

  • The “straightforward conclusion oversimplifies impeachment’s effects, according to my analysis of the election results and interviews with key strategists who were working in national politics at the time,” he writes. 
  • "While Republicans did lose House seats in both 1998 and 2000, Democrats did not gain enough to capture control of the chamber either time. And in 2000, lingering unease about Clinton’s behavior provided a crucial backdrop for George W. Bush’s winning presidential campaign — particularly his defining promise “to restore honor and dignity” to the Oval Office.”
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In the Media