🚨Breaking: "Turkey takes first shipment of Russian S-400 air-defense system in defiance of U.S. and NATO warnings," per The Post's Kareem Fahim and Amie Ferris-Rotman, "completing a deal that has unnerved Turkey’s NATO allies and is likely to trigger sanctions from the United States."
Outside the Beltway
BIPARTI-WHAT?: Vice President Pence is slated to visit McAllen, Texas today — the heart of the immigration firestorm and location of a migrant detention facility that investigators at the Department of Homeland Security have called “a ticking time bomb.”
The White House is billing the visit as bipartisan — a chance to work together toward resolving the escalating crisis and “dangerous” conditions at the border. Although it invited the entire Senate Judiciary Committee to tag along, it does not appear that any Democrats are willing to make the trip alongside the vice president.
Democrats see it as too politically toxic: “The president says that these detentions facilities are being run just fine — so what do you think that the vice president is going to say?” Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) told Power Up of the decision to decline the administration's invitation. “Do you think he will say something that contradicts [Trump's] perspective? I think not.”
- “I want to see reality and that is not going to happen,” Hirono added, suggesting the Trump administration may try to clean up the facility that officials will tour for a more palatable photo op. “I think we have seen what's real — tremendous overcrowding, as well as all of the other concerns that have been raised. And if we don't see that, I would believe that's being cleaned up for our benefit.”
Counterpoint: A White House official told Power Up that the idea was that both Republicans and Democrats would benefit from a firsthand look at the effects of the crush of migration at the border. The delegation would get more access to the overwhelmed detention facilities than previously offered — all at the president's direction.
- Trump “wants the American people to know the extent of the crisis, but also what our brave law enforcement are doing to try to contain it with limited resources,” the official told us.
Key point: The apparent snub highlights the extreme polarization in Washington as the Trump administration and Democrats remain in a standoff over how to resolve the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.
- It does not bode well for future negotiations: A $4.6 billion emergency spending bill for the border crisis was passed over Democrats' objections it failed to include explicit standards for the care of migrants in custody — and there's been little movement toward broader compromise.
- “We were able to pass the disaster supplemental but the root of the problem still exists: loopholes in our system that incentivize human traffickers, drug smugglers, and vulnerable people who want to take the dangerous journey north,” the White House official said, listing what remains to be addressed to stem the overwhelming flow of migrants attempting to cross the border.
Democrats' refusal could also come with a price: Given the promise of unprecedented access, it risks giving Trump a chance to say he extended an olive branch — and transparency — that was spurned. Yet Democrats argue there's simply no room for bipartisanship when it comes to the Trump administration's detention practices:
- “This is not a missed opportunity,” Hirono told us about the perception Democrats don't want to work with Republicans on immigration. “We have an administration that is doing everything they can to make life as miserable as possible.”
- “I don’t see why anyone would be eager to help the administration give the appearance of bipartisan support to their disgusting treatment of people at the border,” a Senate Democratic aide told Power Up. “When Democrats go to the border, it’ll be to find facts — which means it will be at a time and place of their choosing, not the administration’s.”
- “It's sort of a hilariously transparent stunt. What’s their expectation? That Democrats will go with Mike Pence to an orchestrated visit and just say, 'Oh wait, never mind I guess we were wrong?'," a second Senate Democratic aide told Power Up.
- A separate trip?: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said at a Judiciary Committee meeting that Democrats on the panel plan on visiting detention facilities in the coming week.
View from the right: The border crisis "is beyond sustainable, so if we can have a mini-deal as a confidence building measure to turn off the flow and turn on the aid, that's a good place to start,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who will be traveling with Pence, said at a committee meeting. "All I can say is that we're going down Friday. I wish we could go together but we're not. We'll compare notes.”
On The Hill
Counterprogramming: Pence is also under pressure to nail the tone of a visit that will be highly scrutinized after a week featuring emotional testimonials from migrants and those who have visited the border.
“Yazmin Juárez, a migrant mother whose 19-month-old daughter died weeks after being released from a detention facility in 2018, gave an emotional testimony at a congressional hearing on Wednesday, where she said her daughter died as a result of 'neglect and mistreatment,'" Time Magazine's Julia Webster reports.
- “The poor treatment of migrant children at the hands of U.S. border agents in recent months extends beyond Texas to include allegations of sexual assault and retaliation for protests, according to dozens of accounts by children held in Arizona collected by government case managers and obtained by NBC News,” per NBC News's Jacob Soboroff and Julia Ainsley.
And on Friday morning, The House Oversight Committee will hold a hearing on the administration's child separation policy and on conditions in facilities like the one Pence will visit. In an unusual move, Democratic House lawmakers will be witnesses: Reps. Veronica Escobar (Tex.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), all visited detention facilities in Texas last week.
- Ocasio-Cortez slammed the conditions: In a series of tweets after her visit, she claimed that “People (are) drinking out of toilets, officers laughing in front of members of Congress.”
- Jordan presses for Republicans to testify: Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the top Republican on the committee, urged its chairman, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), to allow Republicans to testify since an entire panel is devoted to the Democratic lawmakers. It's unclear if his request will be granted.
- Other top officials are expected to appear: The Homeland Security Department's acting inspector general, Jennifer Costello, who wrote a scathing report about the conditions and overcrowding inside Border Patrol facilities, is also scheduled to testify along with former Immigration and Customs Enforcement head Tom Homan and a current Health and Human Services Department official.
From the Courts
TRUMP CAVES ON CENSUS QUESTION: “Trump on Thursday backed down from his controversial push to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, effectively conceding defeat in a battle he had revived just last week and promised to continue despite a recent string of legal defeats,” our colleagues Seung Min Kim, Tara Bahrampour and John Wagner report.
- Instead: “Trump announced that he instead plans to order every federal agency to give records to the Commerce Department that detail the numbers of citizens and noncitizens in the United States."
- Not so new: “While Trump portrayed his executive order on data collection as a new proposal, it is similar to the very approach that the Census Bureau recommended after [Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross] said he was exploring adding a citizenship question to the form."
JUST IN: The White House has released President Trump's executive order on collecting information about citizenship status in connection with the decennial census (not on White House website yet, but emailed to reporters)👇https://t.co/xtDn2yGGBU— Hansi Lo Wang (@hansilowang) July 12, 2019
End of a long road: “The announcement marked the end of a 19-month push by the administration to ask about citizenship status on the decennial survey, which opponents decried as an effort to systematically undercount Latinos and scare immigrant communities from participating in a survey that helps determine congressional districts and the disbursement of some federal funds,” Seung Min, Tara and John write.
- "It also followed days of confusion and mixed signals from the administration over how it would proceed following a Supreme Court ruling late last month that the government could not include the question on the census without a solid justification. The court found the administration’s original rationale for the addition 'contrived.'"
Pelosi is “jubilant”: "If he had tried to defy the Supreme Court, that would have been a constitutional crisis," Pelosi told reporters. "So for the basis of the census and the citizenship question, I’m glad it’s gone. For the basis of the country, I’m glad that he was advised to see the light."
So are advocates: "Trump may claim victory today, but this is nothing short of a total, humiliating defeat for him and his administration," said Dale Ho, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Voting Rights Project, who argued the census case at the Supreme Court.
#Barry is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 10-20 inches over SE Louisiana and SW Mississippi, with isolated maximum amounts of 25 inches through the weekend. These rains are likely to cause flash flooding in those areas. More: https://t.co/tW4KeFW0gB @NWSWPC pic.twitter.com/9dFItFsx8r— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) July 11, 2019
14 YEARS AFTER HURRICANE KATRINA: “As New Orleanians recover from floodwaters that inundated the city on Wednesday, residents are preparing for an unprecedented triple whammy this weekend: heavy rain, an already engorged Mississippi River and a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico that is expected to make landfall in Louisiana on Saturday, with a storm surge that could reach six feet," our colleagues Tim Craig and Frances Stead Sellers report as Tropical Storm Barry bears down on the state.
- How we got here: “The Mississippi River, which is usually at 6 to 8 feet in midsummer in the Big Easy, is now at 16 feet, owing to record flooding that's taken place this year all along the waterway,” CNN's Dakin Andone, Paul P. Murphy and Brandon Miller report. But the predicted storm surge from Barry is expected to push the river even higher, “the unusual confluence of factors adds up to a forecast that has the river cresting Saturday at 19 feet, a level not seen since February 1950 and about 2.3 feet shy of the record set in April 1922, the weather service said Thursday.”
- This is the big post-Katrina test: “Fourteen years after Hurricane Katrina killed more than 1,800 people and swamped this city, the deluge will be a major test of the updated drains and pumps that remove water from the streets, the earthen levees that hold back the river, and the elaborate system of barriers that prevents tidal surges from sweeping in — all part of a $14 billion investment in the city’s flood-fighting infrastructure,” Tim and Frances write.
- Trump has already declared a state of emergency: “The declaration, announced Thursday evening, expedites access to some federal resources and flexibility as the state braces for extreme weather,” the New Orleans Advocate and NOLA.com's Elizabeth Crisp reports. “Trump had been briefed throughout the day on the threat to New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana.”
MEGAN WASHINGTON GREAT AGAIN: “All 25 female senators on Wednesday invited the U.S. women’s national soccer team to meet with them to talk about 'challenges women face on and off the field,' which presumably includes the players’ high-profile fight for equal pay,” HuffPost’s Jennifer Bendery reports.
The team has reinvigorated the pay gap conversation, as people are now literally chanting about the topic after their World Cup win. The enthusiasm comes amid the team's ongoing lawsuit against U.S. Soccer that accuses the organization of discriminating in how much they pay the women’s versus the men's team.
- The math: Our fact checkers found that even under a new collective bargaining agreement using a 20-game scenario outlined in the lawsuit, "the women’s team would earn $28,333 less, or about 89 percent of the compensation of a similarly situated men’s team player."
- The disparities at the international level, which is governed by FIFA, are even greater.
TELL US HOW YOU REALLY FEEL, MR. PRESIDENT: Trump caught wind of former House Speaker Paul Ryan's candid comments about him in Tim Alberta's new book, "American Carnage." He responded via Twitter last night in a three-tweet rant:
Paul Ryan, the failed V.P. candidate & former Speaker of the House, whose record of achievement was atrocious (except during my first two years as President), ultimately became a long running lame duck failure, leaving his Party in the lurch both as a fundraiser & leader......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 12, 2019
My colleague Josh Dawsey obtained a copy of the book and reports on some of the juicier quotes from Ryan, who trashes Trump:
- “I told myself I gotta have a relationship with this guy to help him get his mind right,” Ryan recalls. “Because, I’m telling you, he didn’t know anything about government . . . I wanted to scold him all the time.”
“Those of us around him really helped to stop him from making bad decisions. All the time,” Ryan says. “We helped him make much better decisions, which were contrary to kind of what his knee-jerk reaction was. Now I think he’s making some of these knee-jerk reactions.”
In the Media
IN OTHER NEWS:
- ‘Like a rocket’: Trump revels in his love-hate relationship with Twitter. By The Post’s Ashley Parker.
- R. Kelly is arrested by feds on new charges while walking his dog in Chicago. By CNN’s Don Lemon, Sonia Moghe and Christina Maxouris.
- President Trump takes aim at Facebook’s cryptocurrency, Libra, saying it should be regulated. By The Post’s Tony Romm and Damian Paletta.
- Weekend read: Inside Brett Kavanaugh's First Term on the Supreme Court. By Time Magazine’s Tessa Berenson.
- Epstein update: New victims come forward as Epstein asks to be released from jail to his Manhattan mansion. By The Miami Herald’s Julie K. Brown and David Smiley.