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🚨: "Citing climate-damaging tailpipe emissions, 23 U.S. governors signed a pledge backing California leaders in their showdown with the Trump administration over its plans to relax vehicle mileage standards," the Associated Press's Ellen Knickmeyer reports

  • "The governors’ pledge on Tuesday commits to sticking to the pre-Trump mileage goals — a program of annual tightening in mileage standards that reduce climate-changing carbon emissions." 

From the Courts

#METOO: A decade after cutting a secret deal with federal prosecutors in Florida for two felony soliciation charges, billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein was arrested over the weekend and charged by federal prosecutors on new sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy charges. 

The Justice Department's decision to prosecute Epstein brings the #MeToo reckoning squarely to Washington, which has been generally more insulated from the larger effects of the cultural movement in which women who have been victims of sexual harassment or worse have felt empowered to come forward.

  • “The 'MeToo' movement is now present and having an impact everywhere. Washington, D.C. is no exception, nor should it be,” the high-profile women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred told Power Up of the Epstein case.
  • “Anyone who had contact with underage girls at Mr. Epstein’s residence or parties should be worried about possibly being implicated in Mr. Epstein’s alleged criminal activities involving so many young, vulnerable minors,” she added.  

DOJ made public a 14-page indictment and prosecutors on Monday revealed some of the unsettling details of the case against Epstein, including the alleged extent of his network of underage girls made available for abuse and the seizure of “hundreds — and perhaps thousands” of nude photos of women and underage girls from his New York City mansion. Epstein pleaded not guilty to the charges and is being held in jail without bail at the moment. 

  • “They deserve their day in court and we are proud to stand up for them by bringing this indictment,” the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, Geoffrey S. Berman, told reporters at a news conference. 

Berman shouted out The Miami Herald's “excellent investigative journalism” for assisting federal prosecutors with their case against Epstein, referencing Julie K. Brown's investigative series “Perversion of Justice.” The new case brings back into focus the powerful friends and company Epstein kept throughout the years — including President Trump and Bill Clinton, whose office released a statement claiming the he “knows nothing about the terrible crimes” Epstein pleaded guilty to in Florida or is being charged with in New York.

The case also renews scrutiny on Trump's labor secretary, Alexander Acosta, who oversaw the case, which resulted in a plea agreement, as the former U.S. attorney in Florida. 

  • Acosta “signed off on a deal in which, in exchange for guilty pleas in state court to solicitation, Epstein served the 13-month sentence, registered as a sex offender and paid restitution to certain victims. The deal was initially sealed, keeping it secret until it was released as part of a 2015 lawsuit,” my colleagues Lisa Rein, Michael Kranish and Josh Dawsey report. 
  • A federal judge ruled in February that “under former Miami U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta, broke the law when they concealed a plea agreement from more than 30 underage victims,” The Miami Herald's Julie K. Brown reported.
  • The New York Times goes inside Epstein's seven-floor townhouse in Manhattan which includes a heated sidewalk in front to melt snow; a mural commissioned showing a "photorealistic prison scene that included barbed wire, corrections officers and a guard station, with Mr. Epstein portrayed in the middle;" and "a table covered with framed photographs of celebrities and dignitaries, including a signed photograph of former President Bill Clinton."

Some Democratic lawmakers called for Acosta to resign — including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). But others stayed silent on Acosta's job status:

  • “On Monday, no senator in either party that supported Acosta’s confirmation as Labor secretary called for the former U.S. Attorney’s ouster over the much-criticized 2008 plea deal he cut with Epstein to avoid a public trial over the sex abuse charges and a heavy jail sentence for the financier,” Politico's Burgess Everett and Marianne Levine report. 
  • Others, like Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who chairs a panel on civil rights and civil liberties on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said there is interest in having Aciosta testify before Congress.
  • “In the wake of the New York charges, there is resurgent interest in hearing from him about the dual system of justice in Florida,” Raskin said.

Alan Dershowitz, an attorney who was previously part of Epstein's six-person legal team legal team and is currently being sued for defamation by a woman who claims to be a victim of Epstein and Dershowitz, told Power Up he believes Acosta should explain why he concealed the plea agreement from the victims. 

  • “I think that Acosta is generally getting a bad rep . . . but the part about not notifying the victims, I don’t really know about that and that doesn’t sound right to me,” Dershowitz told us, adding that Acosta's team was “very tough” and that he did not believe that Epstein got a “sweetheart” deal. 
  • “They agreed to the deal only because they felt they couldn’t win an all out federal prosecution,” Dershowitz told us. “Let’s wait to see if there’s a conviction. Let’s see if it’s a strong or a weak case. 90 percent of federal cases are plea bargains.” 
  • [Dershowitz denied the accusations and asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit.] 

Lisa, Michael and Josh report that “Trump has no immediate plan to force out or fire Acosta,” according to two White House officials. But a senior White House official said that “the administration would like to learn the contents of a Justice Department inquiry into Acosta before making any decision.” 

  • A pattern: “There was no substantial vetting done on Acosta until after Trump decided to nominate him, according to current and former administration officials.” 

  • “You would hope we would have a president that would care about making sure his secretary of labor didn’t have a terrible smudge like this on his record,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) told Lisa, Michael and Josh. 

Dershowitz told Power Up that he “never saw Trump's name in an incriminatory way” when he was representing Epstein a decade ago despite Trump's friendly relationship with Epstein. 

  • “I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy,” Trump told New York Magazine of Epstein for a 2002 profile, according to my colleagues David Fahrenthold, Beth Reinhard and Kimberly Kindy. “He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”
  • Now, Alan Garten, an attorney for the Trump Organization, has said Trump had “no relationship” with Epstein, per David, Beth and Kimberly. 
  • “Garten said in an interview Monday that although Epstein was never a member of Mar-a-Lago, Trump prohibited him from visiting the club around that time, as a reaction to criminal charges that had been filed against Epstein.” 

Allred weighed in on the Trump-Epstein relationship and provided the president with some legal advice: 

  • " . . . it depends on whether there is any evidence linking him to the alleged illegal actions regarding Mr. Epstein. We are not aware of what evidence, if any, regarding President Trump that the federal prosecutors have gathered during the course of their investigation.” 

  • “President Trump should make a full disclosure to federal prosecutors and to the public of his relationship with Mr. Epstein, whether he attended any parties or events given by Mr. Epstein at which underage girls were present, and whether he was aware of Mr. Epstein’s involvement with minors,” Allred told Power Up. 

 

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THE LATEST ON THE CENSUS: “The legal battle over the Trump administration’s efforts to put a citizenship question on the 2020 Census further escalated on Monday as the plaintiffs argued that Justice Department attorneys should not be allowed to withdraw from the case because they have not given ‘satisfactory reasons’ for seeking to do so,” our colleagues Felicia Sonmez and Matt Zapotosky report

  • Wait, why do the attorneys want to leave?: “A person familiar with the matter previously told The Washington Post that at least some of the career attorneys were frustrated with the handling of the case after President Trump ordered the department to explore more options for adding the citizenship question to the 2020 Census after the lawyers, seeing no other possibilities, had conceded defeat,” Felicia and Matt write.
  • Barr remains optimistic: “On Monday, Attorney General William P. Barr told reporters in South Carolina that he has been in ‘constant discussions’ with Trump ever since the ruling and that the administration is ‘considering all the options.’” “The next day or two”: ‘I think over the next day or two, you’ll see what approach we’re taking, and I think it does provide a pathway for getting the question on the census,’ Barr said.
  • Pelosi is not having it: “This is about keeping — you know, make America, you know his hat — Make America White Again,” Pelosi told reporters at an event in San Francisco. “They want to make sure that people, certain people, are counted. It's really disgraceful and it's not what our founders had in mind.”
  • A reminder: As NPR’s Hansi Lo Wang wrote on Twitter before the holiday, the Trump administration previously argued on at least five occasions that this case needed to be resolved by June 30. It is now July 9. Also the point that the case needed to be settled before the Census forms could be printed on July 1 was part of the argument used to get an expedited review from the Supreme Court.

The People

WARREN’S CASH HAUL SHOWS GAMBLE PAID OFF: High-dollar fundraisers and ambassador appointments for those who help gather even more cash have long been the norm on both sides of the presidential aisle.

But Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has sworn off both traditions, instead preferring to make impromptu phone calls to her small-dollar donors. Monday we found out just how much this strategy is paying off, our colleague Michelle Ye Hee Lee reports.

  • The details: “Warren’s campaign announced Monday she had raised $19.1 million in the second quarter of 2019 — a significant sum that secures her spot as a competitive candidate in the top tier of the primary field,” Michelle writes.
  • How she did it: Warren has outspent the rest of the Democratic field on Facebook and Google ads as of late June to the tune of $2.7 million, according to ACRONYM’s handy 2020 dashboard. This means that Warren is using another popular avenue to solicit donations and also building her list of supporters. 
  • Her $ bounce came at the right moment: It’s a case of the chicken and the egg, but as The Cook Political Report’s Amy Walter illustrated Warren’s fundraising clip came just as the tone of the media coverage about her was shifting as well. No longer is the daily conversation focused on Warren's past claims of Native American ancestry.

But the field is still chasing Buttigieg: Warren's numbers are impressive, but South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s $24.8 million haul for the second quarter is still the number to beat.

Here’s how much the top five candidates raised in Q2:

  • 1.Buttigieg: $24.8 million 2. Biden: $21.5 million 3. Warren: $19.1 million 4. Sanders: $18 million and 5. Harris: $12 million.
  • Campaigns have until July 15 to file their official reports with the FEC.
  • Concerns: “‘I think the top five all have reasons to be happy, but I would also say that there are real concerns for all five,’ Rufus Gifford, finance director for Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign told Michelle. ‘For example, can you effectively chart a path to victory if you are being outraised more than 2-to-1 by the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend? We’ll need to hear the answer to that.’”

Why you should keep an eye on Warren: The Massachusetts senator spent $1.2 million in the first quarter on staffing an amount that raised eyebrows given that she raised just $6 million total. But now that her fortunes have improved, Warren still has the same talented staff that in many cases started organizing before the competition (especially compared to Biden). Take Iowa for example, where the Iowa Starting Line reports that Warren has over 50 plus staffers in the first-in-the-nation caucus state, which is virtually unmatched. Though Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has promised to bring on 65 paid staffers by this month.

Outside the Beltway

SANDY HOOK FAMILIES FIGHT BACK AGAINST CONSPIRACY THEORIES: “It was just weeks after 26 people were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School when Lenny Pozner first saw people speculating online that the rampage had been staged, with crisis actors responding to a fake attack,” our colleague Susan Svrluga reports

  • The attacks started before the funerals even ended: “Before the funerals had even concluded, an online conspiracy theory made targets of grieving family members. Strangers hurled insults at Pozner, asking how much he got paid to play his part in the government-sponsored hoax,” Susan writes. “They used photos of his son, with his tousled brown hair and round cheeks, on websites claiming the shooting was faked to generate urgency for gun-control laws. Then came the death threats.”
  • June marked a turning point: “June marked a turning point: He won a lawsuit against the editors of a book that claimed no one was killed in the attack. A Wisconsin judge issued a summary judgment against James H. Fetzer and Mike Palecek, finding they defamed Pozner with statements that his son’s death certificate was a ruse. In a separate settlement, the book’s publisher agreed to stop selling it.”
  • Pozner is not alone: “Increasingly, families of others killed at Sandy Hook have started fighting back publicly. Relatives and prosecutors have brought at least nine cases against hoaxers, according to an attorney for a group of plaintiffs, including three in Connecticut consolidated by the court. In recent months, family members have started seeing real gains in a fight most were reluctant to wage.
  • A fight against Alex Jones changed things: “In Connecticut, there was a turning point, too, with a judge imposing sanctions on Alex Jones, who runs the conspiracy-driven Infowars website, and agreeing to a trial in a defamation case,” Susan writes.

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In the Media

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