Good morning, Power People & welcome back. Call me, beep me, if you wanna reach me. Thanks for waking up with us.
Departure lounge: Jarrod Agen, Vice President Pence's communications director, and Fiona Hill, the top adviser on Russia and Europe at the National Security Council are leaving the Trump administration.
- Hill "will be stepping down at the end of August. A longtime Brookings scholar, she had committed to staying two years and will end up leaving after nearly 2-1/2," per the New York Times's Peter Baker.
- Agen is leaving the White House at the end of June and "will become a vice president for communications at Lockheed Martin, one of the nation’s leading defense contractors," my colleagues Ashley Parker and Bob Costa scooped.
Outside the Beltway
YOUR FIRST TIME: Do you remember your first Trump campaign rally?
It's an experience seared into the minds of most political reporters who've dabbled in Trumpworld at one point or another. Consider it muscle memory for the select few who have been covering Trump since he descended his gilded escalator in Trump Tower on June 16, 2015 and said that Mexican immigrants coming were criminals, drug smugglers and “rapists.”
And it's something we're asking ourselves -- and others -- about as Trump prepares to officially kick off his 2020 reelection campaign with a #MAGA rally in Orlando tonight (fans are already lined up to get in, see the above picture).
The Trump Tower spectacle, now four years ago, was a harbinger of Trump's angry rhetoric that ensued, with his rallies eventually morphing into a physical manifestation of the groundswell of support for the businessman who would become president.
Trump and his team's formula for success?: Tailgate meets therapy session meets WWE match — a recipe that whips the crowd into a Trump-crazed frenzy with the ease of a wind up toy. Trump's grievance-laden riffs, the deafening soundtrack, and the practiced crowd chants belie the unpredictability of whatever independent variable Trump brings to the podium on any given night, inevitably seizing the crowd and the news cycle.
- “It's like Huey Long doing a political rally on the infield at Talladega Superspeedway with Creedence Clearwater Revival as the house band providing the sound track,” is how one former Trump campaign staffer described Trump's campaign rallies.
- “Like an acid trip . . . an awakening of the mind!," another source close to the campaign told Power Up.
- “It's honestly a cultural eye-opener,” the former staffer added.
Armed with a Dunkin Donuts iced coffee, I ventured to Norwood, Mass., — a stones throw away from Manchester, N.H., — to catch my first glimpse of then-candidate Trump's nascent campaign.
- It was August 2015 and local Subaru dealer and titan, Ernie Boch Jr., was hosting a fundraiser for Trump on his sprawling Norwood property.
- The party was packed with blue-blazered Republicans, aging rockers, a former Patriot offensive tackle, and stilettoed women who kept sinking into Boch's lush yard. They snacked on foie gras, truffle carrot soup shooters, and mini mango salads before a live band. Reporters were offered champagne and cake.
- These were still the Secret Service free days, where you could get so close to the Trump that you could practically touch his hair (not that I ever tried). This meant chasing the candidate with abandon so that you didn't miss an off-the-cuff remark he'd make to the adoring throng of fans surrounding him as he walked from his SUV to the podium to deliver remarks to the crowd.
Rinse and repeat: In the vein of rallies past and future, Trump griped that night about the media, discussed the “silent majority,” repeated some of his acerbic remarks about immigration, jabbed at then front-runner Jeb Bush, roasted Anthony Weiner and then-Secretary of State John Kerry.
The entry fee was $100, meaning that Trump had already backpedaled on one of his first campaign promises: not to accept contributions for his campaign.
- “I don't need anybody's money,” he had said in his announcement speech, declaring: “I'm using my own money. I'm not using the lobbyists. I'm not using donors. I don't care. I'm really rich.”
It was one of many reversals to come.
Back to the future: Today's kick off will Trump's his 550th campaign event since announcing his bid for the presidency.
“The president’s Trump Tower launch and his relaunch Tuesday show just how far he has come as a candidate for the nation’s highest office, and also how little has changed from those early, frenzied days,” my colleague Ashley Parker reports.
“The Trump campaign currently has 80 paid consultants and full-time staff members, campaign officials said. Trump Victory, the campaign’s joint fundraising entity with the Republican National Committee, has 13 state directors, with more expected soon. And the campaign hopes to have 2 million trained volunteers by Election Day, officials said.”
The president's 2020 campaign won't be a replication of the “underdog, underfunded, underestimated” 2016 campaign, according to Kellyanne Conway. But it's already facing a whole new set of problems: fallout after leaked internal polling showing Trump far behind Joe Biden made the rounds, prompting internal tensions and the firing of one of the campaign's pollsters, my colleagues Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey and Ashley Parker report.
- " . . . the campaign’s first major public stumble — culminating in a personnel shake-up on the eve of Trump’s reelection rally in Orlando — served to undercut its well-laid efforts to portray the president’s 2020 bid as a well-oiled machine ready to carry him to a second term.”
- Key: “Most of the two dozen Democrats seeking to oust Trump have not spent much time discussing polling that shows Trump may be headed for defeat. After Trump’s 2016 victory defied most pundits, there is a fear that polls for 2020 may be wrong.”
Diehards waiting in Orlando thunderstorm more than 24 hours before Trump’s 2020 kickoff, which will be a souped up MAGA rally.— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) June 17, 2019
Campaign is collecting as much data as possible on Florida voters. To get tickets, audience were required to enter a valid mobile number and email. pic.twitter.com/oFNvqTc0AX
ON THE ROAD AGAIN: Power Up touched based with a few Trump-ologists who know him best in advance of what promises to be another wild campaign season. A handful of the "original" Trump reporters, some of whom are still covering the president, passed along some of their observations, hopes, unpopular opinions, and anxieties about Trump's next run for the highest office in the land:
Washington Post White House reporter Ashley Parker:
- “I am a secret Billy Joel fan, so while that playlist — and at that volume — always killed me, I am secretly excited for the return of 'Uptown Girl' to my life."
NBC News political reporter Ali Vitali:
- “President Donald Trump has been exactly as he was when I followed him as Candidate Donald Trump, so the Campaign 2.0 will have lots of chances for 2015 and 2016 redux in terms of how Trump attacks Democrats, the media, and anyone else that finds themselves in the center of the news cycle. I just hope they’ve changed the playlist.”
New York Times NBA writer Sopan Deb:
- “When I covered the Trump campaign, the rallies were a new experience. We saw a lot of stuff that had never been done before at presidential campaign rallies. (Trump once signed a baby on the rope line. The first time he had Secret Service, he invited someone to come stab him in the belt buckle in an effort to mock Ben Carson.) I'm curious if now that the rallies are old news, if they have the same staying power in the news cycle. Will networks air the speeches start to finish? Then again, he IS the president. So who knows?:
- "Also, what am I, in particular, most looking forward in terms of this round of Trump rallies? The joy of being able to switch the channel to NBA games because that's my job now.”
The Associated Press White House reporter Jill Colvin:
- “The rallies never stopped, of course, but as we prepare for the next phase . . . What I’m dreading: The hearing loss. Trump rallies can be exceptionally, painfully loud — so loud that many of us bought construction-grade earmuffs during the campaign so we could file with the music blasting.
- “What I’m not dreading: The playlist. “I Want it that Way” really never gets old no matter how many times you hear it. Also: The voters. So many people over the years have been so generous, sharing stories about their lives, their hopes and their frustrations. That’s the best part.”
At the White House
BREAKING LATE LAST NIGHT: "President Trump said in a tweet Monday night that U.S. immigration agents are planning to make mass arrests starting 'next week,' an apparent reference to a plan in preparation for months that aims to round up thousands of migrant parents and children in a blitz operation across major U.S. cities," my colleagues Nick Miroff and Maria Sacchetti report.
- “Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States,” Trump wrote, referring to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “They will be removed as fast as they come in.”
"ROCKET DOCKET": "Trump and his senior immigration adviser, Stephen Miller, have been prodding Homeland Security officials to arrest and remove thousands of family members whose deportation orders were expedited by the Justice Department this year as part of a plan known as the 'rocket docket,'" per Miroff and Sacchetti.
- "In April, acting ICE director Ronald Vitiello and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen were ousted after they hesitated to go forward with the plan, expressing concerns about its preparation, effectiveness and the risk of public outrage from images of migrant children being taken into custody or separated from their families."
MEANWHILE, at the State Department: "...Trump’s administration on Monday cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, after Trump blasted the three countries because thousands of their citizens had sought asylum at the U.S. border with Mexico," report Reuters's Lesley Wroughton and Patricia Zengerle.
- "The plan will likely encounter stiff opposition in Congress...Lawmakers who opposed the plan said it was cruel to cut off aid to countries grappling with hunger and crime and that the move would be counterproductive because it would more likely increase the number of migrants than decrease it."
State Dept's Morgan Ortagus announced US will halt foreign aid to El Salvador, Guatemala & Honduras "until [they] are satisfied that the Northern Triangle govts are taking concrete actions to reduce the number of illegal migrants coming to the US border"https://t.co/VVu4Ac4JyT pic.twitter.com/Q2qAMkencI— CSPAN (@cspan) June 17, 2019
At the Pentagon
1,000 MORE TROOPS: “The Pentagon on Monday ordered another 1,000 American troops to the Middle East, moving to bolster security in a region reeling from hostile attacks on commercial ships that the U.S. has blamed on Iran,” the Associated Press's Lolita Baldor and Matt Lee report.
- “Officials said the deployment includes security forces and troops for additional surveillance and intelligence gathering in the region. And while the number is small, it represents an escalation of U.S. military might aimed at deterring Iran and calming allies worried that transit through key shipping lanes could be in jeopardy.”
- “Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan issued a statement saying the forces are 'for defensive purposes to address air, naval, and ground-based threats in the Middle East.'”
- “The United States does not seek conflict with Iran,” Shanahan added. “The action today is being taken to ensure the safety and welfare of our military personnel working throughout the region and to protect our national interests.”
Reminder: On Monday, Iran said "that its stockpile of enriched uranium will surpass limits set by the 2015 international nuclear deal 10 days from now, unless European partners in the agreement do more to help it circumvent U.S. sanctions — a step by Tehran likely to add to growing U.S.-Iran tensions," per my colleague Karen DeYoung.
- "The increase in both quantity and quality of the enriched fuel could shorten the time, currently estimated at one year, that it would take to produce enough for a nuclear weapon."
1 of 4: In response to @CENTCOM's request for add'l forces, & w/the advice of the Chairman @TheJointStaff & in consultation w/the @WhiteHouse, I have authorized approx 1,000 add’l troops for defensive purposes to address air, naval, & ground-based threats in the Middle East.— Acting SecDef Pat Shanahan (@ActingSecDef) June 17, 2019
Shanahan, meanwhile, is facing problems of his own: " . . . the man slated to head the Pentagon is facing a protracted FBI investigation that has delayed his Senate hearing until at least next month,” per Yahoo News's Hunter Walker.
- “Despite announcing more than a month ago acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan as his pick to get the Pentagon job on a permanent basis, President Trump has yet to formally nominate Shanahan, forcing the Senate Armed Services Committee to postpone a confirmation hearing it had tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, June 18.”
- “Senators were told that the postponement was because the committee had yet to receive documents from the FBI’s background check, according to a staffer for a committee member.”
- The Pentagon, fielding press inquiries into Shanahan's personal life, “including a messy divorce that involved an accusation of domestic violence from his ex-wife, who was arrested as part of the dispute,” directed Walker to Shanahan's spokesperson.
- “Before his divorce, Pat Shanahan’s ex-wife was arrested and charged for domestic violence. Shanahan asked for the charges to be dropped for the sake of his family and asks that this remain a private matter,” the spokesperson for Shanahan said.
Today I wanted to speak directly to the people of CA-45. There's been a lot of noise in D.C. and in the press about impeachment, so I wanted to share my thoughts with you. pic.twitter.com/ceri6lHwbY— Rep. Katie Porter (@RepKatiePorter) June 18, 2019
On The Hill
IMPEACHMENT 🚨: Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) last night became one of the first endangered House Democrats to endorse launching an impeachment investigation into Trump.
In a video she released on Twitter, Porter alluded to the “political strain of her position. But she argued that Mr. Trump’s refusal to comply with congressional investigations after the report by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, had brought the country to “a crisis” she had not imagined as she campaigned last fall focused on pocketbook issues like health care and housing,” report the New York Times's Nicholas Fandos and Julie Hirschfeld Davis.
- "“The administration has refused to respect the rule of law. They have ignored multiple subpoenas; they’ve directed current and former high-ranking officials to disregard summons to testify; and the president has continued his efforts to spread mistrust of our law enforcement, contempt for our journalists, and false information about the law, Director Mueller’s findings, and basic, uncontested facts,” Porter said.
- “The question is not whether a crisis is in our midst, but rather whether we choose to fight against it," she added.
TALLY: Porter brings the tally to 68 House Democrats who want to open an impeachment inquiry into Trump, per a running list being kept by my colleagues J.M. Rieger, Amber Phillips and Kevin Schaul.
MAYOR PETE TO SOUTH BEND: "Mayor Pete Buttigieg will no longer travel to California for a series of top dollar fundraisers on Tuesday and Wednesday, a spokesman for the campaign tells CNN, and instead will stay in South Bend, Indiana, to handle the fallout from an officer-involved shooting that happened early on Sunday morning," report CNN's Dan Merica, Vanessa Yurkevich, and Donald Judd.
"We have canceled upcoming campaign events so that Mayor Pete can be with the South Bend community after the officer-involved shooting," the spokesman said.
"Sgt. Ryan O’Neill had been responding to a call about a suspicious person going through vehicles when he spotted Logan leaning inside a car, St. Joseph County Prosecutor Ken Cotter said. When confronted, Logan approached the officer with a 6- to 8-inch knife raised over his head, Cotter said. That’s when O’Neill fired twice, with the other shot hitting a car door, Cotter said," per the Associated Press's Tom Davies and Sara Burnett.
"The shooting presents both political peril for a candidate who’s struggled to connect with minority voters and an opportunity to show leadership on issues of race and policing that are critical — and personal — for much of the Democratic primary electorate."
"The white mayor has had a sometimes-tense relationship with the black community dating back to his first term in office, when he fired the city’s first black police chief. He has also faced criticism for his handling of police misconduct cases, including a case involving an officer who was twice disciplined for civil rights violations but not fired, and for not having a police department that reflects South Bend’s diversity. Roughly 40% of the city’s residents are black or Hispanic; the department is almost 90% white," per Burnett and Davies.
In which Biden accidentally (?) reveals his latest fundraising haul:
Per pool report from Biden’s NYC fundraiser tonight, Biden told donors his campaign had 360,000 donors with an average contribution of $55.— Michelle Ye Hee Lee (@myhlee) June 18, 2019
If correct, that math comes out to about $19.8 million since he joined the race on April 25. pic.twitter.com/0vxhsGd3Z1
In the Media
IN OTHER NEWS:
- 6 Themes To Pay Attention To In Upcoming Supreme Court Decisions. By NPR's Domenico Montanaro.
- 22 candidates. 4,400 pounds of fish. Clyburn preps for epic ‘World Famous’ fish fry. By McClatchy's Emma Dumain.
- The Latest: Hong Kong leader Lam apologizes but won’t resign. By The Associated Press.
- ICMYI: Elizabeth Warren Is Completely Serious. By New York Times Magazine's Emily Bazelon.
- Paul Manafort Seemed Headed to Rikers. Then the Justice Department Intervened. By the New York Times's William Rashbaum and Katie Benner.
- R.I.P.: How Gloria Vanderbilt let us believe jeans could actually fit us all perfectly. By The Philadelphia Inquirer's Elizabeth Wellington.
- Favorite Podcast alert: 'Bear Brook' Break: How Victims In Decades-Long Cold Case Were Identified. By Jane Lindholm, Sam Gale Rosen, and Olivia White on NHPR's Jason Moon's podcast Bear Brook.