Good morning. Great news: It's Friday *AND* it's the longest day of the year. Happy summering, Power friends. See you on Monday 😎
AND THEN THERE WERE THREE: Reps. Sean Casten (Ill.), Katie Porter (Calif.) and Tom Malinowski (N.J.) are three Democrats who knocked off Republicans to win their seat in 2018 and take back the House majority. As of this week, they're also now all in favor of initiating impeachment proceedings against President Trump, despite the potential electoral consequences.
- “I didn't run for Congress to impeach the president” is becoming a common disclaimer for those members who are hesitant to launch formal impeachment proceedings against the president.
- Trickle effect: The momentum for impeachment keeps growing as slowly, more Democrats come out in favor of an official inquiry because they are defending their oversight function under the Constitution. That despite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) firm opposition to formal impeachment proceedings.
- The tally: Seventy-three lawmakers are now in favor of beginning impeachment proceedings, per a running list being kept by my colleagues J.M. Rieger, Amber Phillips and Kevin Schaul.
Power Up spoke with Casten about coming out publicly in favor of an impeachment inquiry and why he's decided he needs to "use this moment to make sure that people understand the issues that we are facing." Casten said he spoke with multiple members of House Democratic leadership before his announcement and declined to criticize Pelosi's handling of the situation.
- “Let me first be very clear that I haven't really changed my mind about anything. I decided to become public about what I think so that people know where I am personally,” Casten told Power Up. “And I'm not calling on anyone else to change their opinions . . . there are a lot of members — and I'm sure Speaker Pelosi would tell you as much as well — who are grappling with what is the best way to respond to this moment of constitutional crisis. I do not judge anybody as to how they make that decision.”
- Casten's rationale — read the whole thing: “To be sitting here in a moment where the only thing that really holds this democracy together is that the people still consent to be governed -- I may be only a freshmen here but that seems like something awfully fragile and worth defending. And the fact that the president is not only unwilling to defend that principle but is actively frustrating all attempts we have to do oversight simply to find out what happened and that he seems to be doing so with the complicity of the Republican Party is really, really frightening. Not because this is partisan, but because it shouldn't be partisan. And for me, seeing what is happening here, seeing the threats to this 240-plus year experiment we have going on and seeing it because of the framing the president has taken -- to even speak about that as a Democrat and be accused of partisanship is horribly toxic.
- “It means that for me personally, I feel a personal obligation to stand up to people and talk to them about this and tell them where I am. With those kinds of stakes, it is vastly more important to me that I do what I think is the right thing than I wait until the public opinion is there.”
My colleague Rachael Bade spoke with Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a longtime Pelosi ally, after she called for an impeachment inquiry on Thursday. Schakowsky qualified her decision to break with Pelosi by saying that despite her call to launch an inquiry, " . . . I think that [Pelosi is] ultimately right, that the way that we’re going to get rid of Donald Trump is in the election in 2020.”
- Per Rachael: “The carefully calibrated approach has allowed Democrats to placate the liberal base while avoiding angering or disappointing their leader, who has consistently argued that impeachment will divide the country, lacks the support of a majority of Americans and will backfire on their party.
- BUT: “In recent weeks, Schakowsky, for example, has received hundreds of phone calls from constituents calling for impeachment to begin.”
Coming attraction: Polling shows Democratic support for impeachment growing. “The share of Americans in the survey calling for immediate impeachment hearings jumped 10 points,” since last month, per a Wall Street Journal NBC News poll. Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Calif.), who unseated Republican Dana Rohrabacher and is also considered a “frontline member”, has a June 30 deadline to decide whether he supports an impeachment inquiry:
- “I am going to do what I believe is right,” Rouda told the New York Times's Sheryl Gay Stolberg in an interview. “And if at the end of the day, in a future election, I lose it because of where I stand on the principles of the Constitution, so be it. I’ll wake up in the morning knowing I did the right thing.”
- “There's new people saying this every day so I think it's a statement of fact that people are starting to move there,” Casten added. “I think an awful lot of folks are starting to feel concerned that if the president is going to continue to try to run out the clock” on oversight. "What do we do in that moment? And that's certainly pushing people to think differently about this,” Casten concluded.
Several House Democratic Hill staffers told Power Up they can envision a scenario where a wave of Democrats return from recess in September with a renewed push to impeach Trump after a month of town halls with constituents.
- “Once people go home in August, that's where you could see a groundswell at the grass roots level pushing for impeachment — so September would be the make or break deadline,” a senior Democratic staffer told Power Up.
- “This will be the topic of conversation at home,” another House Democratic staffer speculated. “Members need to get on the train now. At some point, progressive Democrats who are not on this train will look late to the party.”
- “The executive branch would like to pretend that Congress doesn't exist and when it pleases them, that they can ignore the Constitution and do what they want. That's really dangerous and it’s bad for America,” another Democratic House aide told us.
There are two representatives in senior leadership — House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.) and Vice Chairwoman Kathleen Clark (Mass.) — whom the pro-impeachment caucus are watching closely. The duo have sided with Pelosi in holding the line but it's likely they'll face pressure from constituents in their liberal districts.
- “Members are coming out each day but the biggest thing will be if another member of leadership breaks — the most likely being Clark or Jeffries,” the senior House staffer added.
- Cynical caveat: “But then again . . . All of these self-interested members want to work their way up the ladder and Pelosi has demonstrated in the past that if you step out of line there will be consequences,” per the senior House Democratic staffer.
At the White House
🚨 🚨 🚨: The New York Times's Michael Shear, Eric Schmitt, Michael Crowley, and Maggie Haberman scooped that Trump "approved military strikes against Iran in retaliation for downing an American surveillance drone, but pulled back from launching them on Thursday night after a day of escalating tensions."
Trump had "initially approved attacks on a handful of Iranian targets, like radar and missile batteries," but called the operation off when it was "underway in its early stages."
- "Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down," a senior administratoin official told the Times.
- "Trump’s national security advisers split about whether to respond militarily. Senior administration officials said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; John R. Bolton, the national security adviser; and Gina Haspel, the C.I.A. director, had favored a military response. But top Pentagon officials cautioned that such an action could result in a spiraling escalation with risks for American forces in the region."
KEY: "It was not clear whether Mr. Trump simply changed his mind on the strikes or whether the administration altered course because of logistics or strategy. It was also not clear whether the attacks might still go forward."
- Newsweek's James Laporta and Tom O'Connor report that "regional U.S. military assets, including the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf, have been put on 72-hour standby."
FROM THE OTHER SIDE: "Iranian officials told Reuters on Friday that Tehran had received a message from [Trump] through Oman overnight warning that a U.S. attack on Iran was imminent," according to a Reuters report.
- “In his message, Trump said he was against any war with Iran and wanted to talk to Tehran about various issues ... he gave a short period of time to get our response but Iran’s immediate response was that it is up to Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali) Khamenei to decide about this issue,” one of the officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
- The second official said: “We made it clear that the leader is against any talks, but the message will be conveyed to him to make a decision ... However, we told the Omani official that any attack against Iran will have regional and international consequences.”
Only Congress can authorize a war. We should vote next week.— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) June 21, 2019
On The Hill
UNDER ATTACK: Planned Parenthood of St. Louis announced it will no longer comply with "a state requirement that physicians perform two pelvic exams on patients getting surgical abortions," per USA Today's Nicquel Terry Ellis. An OB-GYN argued that it was "deeply traumatizing and inhumane for patients."
- The announcement came before today's court date: Planned Parenthood and state attorneys are scheduled to appear for an update on a license renewal. "If Planned Parenthood loses its court challenge, Missouri would become the first state without an abortion provider," per Ellis.
On the same day: A federal court ruled the "Trump administration can deny critical federal funding to Planned Parenthood and other family planning organizations that also provide abortions or referrals for them," per BuzzFeed News's Brianna Sacks.
- "Federal funding of abortions has been illegal for years, but the Trump Administration in February introduced a rule to bar funding of services like birth control, gynecological exams, and sexually transmitted infection screenings at Planned Parenthood and other clinics that provide abortions."
- "Abortion rights advocates fear the new rule will force dozens clinics across the country to chose between providing abortion services and the federal funding that keeps their other health care operations afloat."
The case of Jeanette Acosta illustrates to advocate why the services Planned Parenthood provides for women -- especially lower income and women of color -- are so important.
- The former Hill staffer and activist went to Planned Parenthood when she couldn't get an appointment with her normal provider for a pelvic examination. It was there that Acosta was diagnosed with stage four cervical cancer. She died at the age of 32.
- "The cancers that most frequently impact women include breast, uterine, ovarian and cervical cancer, and it is estimated that there will be 368,850 new cases of these cancers in 2019. In 2017, Planned Parenthood provided more than 614,000 cancer prevention and screening services," per Planned Parenthood.
- In Acosta's memory, The Black Women's Health Imperative teamed up with Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to introduce a bill expanding access to screenings at "safety-net providers" like Planned Parenthood.
- "Specifically, the bill would create new grant and pilot programs to expand access to preventive services and better train health practitioners, especially in treating low-income women and women of color," according to the Black Women's Health Imperative.
Acosta's father, Dr. Frank Acosta, traveled to D.C. earlier this month to roll out the bill on Capitol Hill.
He told Power Up the bill is "crucial to the health and life of countless women."
"What's at stake is the crucial role of early preventive examination of women to prevent a number of diseases that affect women — such as cervical cancer, which is what my daughter fought and died from. Uterine cancer, breast cancer... There is a mechanism already in place to establish the value of prevention of health services. Planned Parenthood is that role model — my daughter believed that too when she was alive," Acosta told us.
"There's another key element that is very important," Acosta added. "There will be efforts towards training nurses and physicians on being skilled and comfortable with doing preventative examinations because that is not national and not ubiquitous."
In the Agencies
EL PASO, TEXAS — “A 2-year-old boy locked in detention wants to be held all the time. A few girls, ages 10 to 15, say they’ve been doing their best to feed and soothe the clingy toddler who was handed to them by a guard days ago. Lawyers warn that kids are taking care of kids, and there’s inadequate food, water and sanitation for the 250 infants, children and teens at the Border Patrol station,” the Associated Press's Cedar Attanasio, Garance Burke, and Martha Mendoza report.
- “The bleak portrait emerged Thursday after a legal team interviewed 60 children at the facility near El Paso that has become the latest place where attorneys say young migrants are describing neglect and mistreatment at the hands of the U.S. government.”
- “Data obtained by the Associated Press showed that on Wednesday there were three infants in the station, all with their teen mothers, along with a 1-year-old, two 2-year-olds and a 3-year-old. There are dozens more under 12. Fifteen have the flu, and 10 more are quarantined.”
- “Three girls told attorneys they were trying to take care of the 2-year-old boy, who had wet his pants and no diaper and was wearing a mucus-smeared shirt when the legal team encountered him.”
- Overcrowded: “In an interview this week with the AP, acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner John Sanders acknowledged that children need better medical care and a place to recover from their illnesses. He urged Congress to pass a $4.6 billion emergency funding package includes nearly $3 billion to care for unaccompanied migrant children. He said that the Border Patrol is holding 15,000 people, and the agency considers 4,000 to be at capacity.”
THE TAKEAWAY: “In my 22 years of doing visits with children in detention I have never heard of this level of inhumanity,” said Holly Cooper, who co-directs University of California, Davis’ Immigration Law Clinic and represents detained youth.
ABOUT THAT IMPENDING DEPORTATION OPERATION: Power Up obtained notes from an off-the-record briefing conducted with Trump surrogates and supporters by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Assistant Director of Public Affairs Carol Danko
- Danko told participants she couldn't go into detail but that “something is coming” and “there is a plan in place,” according to a written summary of the call obtained by a source close to the White House.
- Danko added no one is exempt from the operation and that ICE will be targeting criminals and worksites.
- “Just know it is happening soon,” she added.
this panel should be on the screens/whiteboards/tables of every editor or producer meeting in every newsroom in the united states. pic.twitter.com/CfwkMIz0K3— C.J. Chivers (@cjchivers) June 20, 2019
In the Media
WHAT ELSE WE'RE READING:
Must read: Mourning refugees risk a war zone to bury their dead at home. By National Geographic's Nina Strochlic.
"You're destroying families”: Their Father Speaks Spanish. Their Foster Parents Raised Them to Speak Slovak. Lydia Fu for ProPublica Illinois.
More clean up: Biden huddles with CBC leaders amid 'segregationist' controversy. By Politico's Heather Caygle and Laura Barron-Lopez.
Facebook's new rapid response team has a crucial task: Avoid fueling another genocide. By NBC News's David Ingram.
“The squirrel is not on meth": Police called it a meth-fueled attack squirrel. An Alabama fugitive says it’s his beloved pet. By The Post's Antonia Noori Farzan.
Powerful AF: VMFA acquires massive sculpture by artist Kehinde Wiley, created in response to Confederate monuments. By the Richmond Times Dispatch's Colleen Curran.
‘They are cutting people off from their right, their fundamental right, to seek treatment.’ — Doctors and hospitals in Sudan are being targeted in violent military raids pic.twitter.com/FWuIRKaIXW— NowThis (@nowthisnews) June 20, 2019