with Tobi Raji

Good Monday morning. Tips, comments, recipes? We want to hear from you. This is the Power Up newsletter – thanks for waking up with us. 

The people

DON'T MESS WITH TEXAS: The Texas Democrats who stalled the GOP effort to pass sweeping new voting restrictions with a dramatic late night walkout are visiting Capitol Hill this Tuesday to drum up support for voting rights legislation. 

The legislators will also meet with Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday, who is spearheading the administration's battle against Republican voting restrictions, ahead of what's expected to be a massive voting rights rally hosted by former Rep. Beto O'Rourke in Austin, the state's capital, this coming weekend. 

Meetings have been scheduled with staffers from the offices of Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and John Cornyn (R-Tex.) — two ardent opponents of the For the People Act, a sprawling overhaul of federal elections, ethics and campaign finance law the Senate is expected to consider during the last week of June. 

The group will also meet with Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), according to a person familiar with planning. However, the group has yet to confirm a meeting with the lone Democratic holdout on the voting rights bill, Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), who is also opposed to eliminating the filibuster, which requires 60 votes to allow legislation to move forward. Manchin's office did not respond to request for comment. 

  • “We're at a now or never moment,” state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, a San Antonio Democrat, told Power Up on Sunday. “Voter suppression may not be happening in some parts of the country but in Texas, where the largest Latino and African American population in the U.S. can be silenced, Republicans can do that all over the country.” 
  • “If getting this done requires them getting rid of the filibuster, than that's what they should do,” state Rep. Gina Hinojosa, an Austin Democrat, told us. 

O'Rourke, who embarked on a statewide tour to promote voting rights in Texas last week and compared the current moment to the lead up of passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, refrained from criticizing Manchin and instead commended him for “doing the right thing.” 

  • “He's going to leave no stone unturned, no Republican uncalled, in an effort to find a bipartisan solution to this crisis for our Democracy and I think all of us wish him success and are grateful for the effort,” O'Rourke told us. “But I know the one thing [Manchin] prizes even more than bipartisanship is this democracy that so many have given our lives to protect and defend.”
  • “If you care about bipartisanship,” O'Rourke added. “You should care that every Democrat and Republican should be able to vote.”

Asked whether he's considering running against Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who has vowed to bring the restrictive voting measure back for a special legislative session later this year, in 2022, O'Rourke left the door open to the possibility. 

  • “This fight is the most important before us and I want to see it through to the end and after that, I'll see what way I can be helpful or serve either as a candidate or support other candidates,” O'Rourke told Power Up. “But one way or another I'm in for the distance for Texans.”

‘Hot Call Summer’: Texas isn't the only state mobilizing to pressure lawmakers to pass federal voting rights legislation. “The voting rights group Fair Fight Action, headed by activist and former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, is announcing a month-long campaign to help mobilize young voters of color around the For the People Act,” CBS News's Tim Perry and Adam Brewster reported last week. 

  • The campaign, called Hot Call Summer, will last throughout June, and will feature virtual events, a paid media campaign and plans to text at least 10 million voters in 2022 battleground states that have seen controversial voting legislation move in state legislatures.”
  • "The purpose of Hot Call Summer is to ensure that every single U.S. Senator is hearing from their constituents daily on the urgent need to pass S. 1," Fair Fight Action Organizing Director Hillary Holley said in a statement to CBS News.

Global power

AND THEN THERE WERE SEVEN: “Leaders of the Group of Seven wealthy democracies called on China to respect human rights but stopped short of an outright condemnation of Beijing, as President Biden sought to build momentum for an international coalition to counter Chinese influence in the world,” the Wall Street Journal’s Max Colchester and Andrew Restuccia report.

  • “Concluding the first in-person summit meeting since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the leaders tried to present a unified front against a range of threats,” the New York Times's David E. Sanger and Michael D. Shear report.
  • “The group’s final communique called on China to restore the freedoms guaranteed to Hong Kong when Britain returned it to Chinese control, and condemned [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s ‘destabilizing behavior and malign activities,’ including interfering with elections and a ‘systematic crackdown’ on dissidents and the media.”
  • “It cast the West as the ideological rival of a growing number of autocracies, offering a democratic alternative that Biden conceded they had to prove would be more attractive around the world.”

And yet, “America isn’t quite back. Europe isn’t that united. Brexit still isn’t done,” Bloomberg’s Flavia Krause-Jackson, Arne Delfs, and Ania Nussbaum write.

  • “The awkward photographs — be it of Johnson trying to elbow-bump a masked [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel who didn’t reciprocate, or the barbecue dinner where no one seemed to respect the rules of social distancing — hinted at the tensions and contradictions bubbling under the surface on issues from China to climate change.”
  • “The sense from the meeting was that even as Biden was welcomed in part for simply not being Trump, and for being a convivial member of the group, there is no magic return to a prior ‘norm,’ and that the days of the U.S. dominating decision-making and agenda setting and others obligingly falling into line are over.”

Happening today: Biden will attend a NATO summit in Brussels where “Afghanistan is high on the agenda for the meeting,” our colleague Karen DeYoung writes.

  • “With fewer than 100 days before the Sept. 11 deadline Biden set for the withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Afghanistan, allies in the two-decade-long war are anxiously awaiting U.S. guidance on what comes next.”

On our radar: Biden meets face-to-face with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday. 

It is hard to overstate the stakes for Biden of this first in-person meeting with a geopolitical adversary," our colleagues Ashley Parker, Anne Gearan, and Isabelle Khurshudyan report. “A central theme of his presidency is that democracies do a better job for their people than autocracies, and Putin is among the world’s leading challengers to that idea. Biden also is intent on showing that the United States has moved on from the Trump era’s tolerance of authoritarians, and this is a pivotal moment for that effort.” 

THE END OF AN ERA: “The long and divisive reign of Benjamin Netanyahu, the dominant Israeli politician of the past generation, officially ended on Sunday night, as the country’s Parliament gave its vote of confidence to a precarious coalition government stitched together by widely disparate anti-Netanyahu forces,” the New York Times’s Patrick Kingsley and Richard Pérez-Peña report.

  • “Naftali Bennett, a 49-year-old former aide to Netanyahu who opposes a Palestinian state and is considered to the right of his old ally, replaced him as prime minister after winning by just a single vote. Yair Lapid, a centrist leader and the new foreign minister, is set to take Bennett’s place after two years.”
  • “They lead a fragile eight-party alliance ranging from far left to hard right, from secular to religious, that few expect to last a full term and many consider both the embodiment of the rich diversity of Israeli society but also the epitome of its political disarray. Members of the bloc agree on little but a desire to oust Netanyahu.”

Biden’s response:

The man behind the country: “Netanyahu has been a deeply polarizing figure, governing from the right, branding adversaries as traitors, anti-Israel or anti-Semitic, obsessed with power and comfortable deploying street-fighter tactics to retain it,” the New York Times’s David M. Halbfinger writes

  • “As he relinquishes power for the first time in a dozen years, Netanyahu, 71, leaves Israel in many ways far stronger than he found it. The country has a globally envied tech industry, fearsome military, cutting-edge intelligence and counterterrorism capabilities, diplomatic and trade relationships across Asia, Africa and Latin America that seemed unattainable a decade ago, and fast-knitting ties to Arab lands that were unfathomable even a year ago.”
  • But it’s still a country divided. “To his supporters, Netanyahu, known by all as ‘Bibi,’ leaves behind a booming economy, newfound international respect and a decade without bus bombings by Palestinian militants,” our colleague Steve Hendrix writes.
  • “To critics, he leaves a country more divided, less equitable and largely indifferent to peace with the Palestinians.”

In the agencies

🚨: “The U.S. government has spent the past week assessing a report of a leak at a Chinese nuclear power plant, after a French company that part owns and helps operate it warned of an ‘imminent radiological threat,’” CNN’s Zachary Cohen first scooped.

  • “The warning included an accusation that the Chinese safety authority was raising the acceptable limits for radiation detection outside the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant in Guangdong province in order to avoid having to shut it down.”
  • “Despite the alarming notification from Framatome, the French company, the Biden administration believes the facility is not yet at a ‘crisis level.’”

TRUMP DOJ STRIKES AGAIN: “The Justice Department subpoenaed Apple for information in February 2018 about an account that belonged to Donald McGahn, Trump’s White House counsel at the time, and barred the company from telling him about it,” the New York Times’s Michael S. Schmidt and Charlie Savage report.

  • “It is not clear what FBI agents were investigating, whether McGahn was their specific focus or whether he was swept up in a larger net because he had communicated with someone who was under scrutiny.”
  • “As the top lawyer for the 2016 Trump campaign and then the White House counsel, McGahn was in contact with numerous people who may have drawn attention either as part of the Russia investigation or a later leak inquiry.”
  • “Still, the disclosure that agents had collected data of a sitting White House counsel is extraordinary.”

“The DOJ’s move happened a few weeks after Trump became unhappy with McGahn as he tried to pressure McGahn to cover up his request to fire then-special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, a pivotal move of Trump’s that added fuel to Mueller's investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice,” CNN’s Katelyn Polantz report

  • What to expect: Top Democrats have called on “the Justice Department and former officials to provide a fuller accounting of events,” Schmidt and Savage write. 
  • “They called on the head of the Justice Department’s national security division, John C. Demers, and the former deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, to testify before Congress along with the former attorneys general Jeff Sessions and William P. Barr.” 

The policies

ABOUT THE MIGRANT WOMEN FLEEING CENTRAL AMERICA: “After four years of beatings, humiliation and sexual abuse, María de Jesús mustered the courage to leave the man who would punch her in the face for even changing her clothes to go outside, saying she could only look pretty for him,” our colleague Paulina Villegas writes. “Then the death threats began.”

  • “María de Jesús packed her bags and fled Guatemala City with her 11-year-old son on a cold night weeks later. She paid a smuggler and trekked north to the U.S.-Mexico border, where she hoped the Biden administration, promising a more humanitarian approach toward immigrants, would welcome a domestic violence survivor like herself into the country.”
  • “She is among scores of Central American women who — after fleeing brutal violence from boyfriends, spouses and others in one of the world’s most dangerous regions for women — have recently arrived at the southern U.S. border only to encounter an uphill battle to be let in.”
  • “In the midst of a heated debate in the United States over how to respond to the crisis, the odyssey of women fleeing violence, and domestic abuse in particular, has often been overlooked.”


A ROYAL AFFAIR: Biden told reporters Sunday that Queen Elizabeth II reminded him of his mother after a “fruitful visit with [the Queen] while in town for the G-7 Summit,” People Magazine’s Glenn Garner report.

  • “She was very gracious,” Biden said. “She reminded me of my mother.”

In the media


Monday, June 14

  • President Biden will participate in the NATO summit in Brussels.
  • Biden will hold a bilateral meeting with Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan.
  • Vice President Harris will travel to Greenville, S.C. and deliver remarks at a Covid-19 vaccination mobilization event, tour a pop-up vaccination site and discuss voting rights with community leaders.

Tuesday, June 15

  • Biden will participate in the U.S.-E.U. Summit, and discuss global economic recovery, climate change and additional foreign policy concerns.
  • Biden will travel to Geneva.

Wednesday, June 16

  • Biden will hold a bilateral summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva.
  • Biden will return to Washington.