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The Daily 202

A lunchtime newsletter featuring political analysis on the stories driving the day.

Four things to watch on Biden’s Europe trip

The Daily 202

A lunchtime newsletter featuring political analysis on the stories driving the day.

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Welcome to The Daily 202! Tell your friends to sign up here. On this day in 1948, the Soviet Union blocked all land and water access to West Berlin, prompting the United States and its allies to set up the Berlin Airlift.

🚨 Breaking: The Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, ending constitutional protection for abortion. Get all the latest coverage from The Post

The big idea

On Ukraine, can the alliances pass the Putin test?

The transformed war in Ukraine, the global inflation crisis, soaring energy costs and relations with China will be atop the agenda as President Biden meets with leaders from NATO and the Group of Seven rich democracies on a foreign trip that begins on Saturday.

When Biden last met with his peers in March, the allies formed a united front, imposing unprecedented sanctions on Russia over its newly expanded invasion of Ukraine and shoring up NATO’s military posture, while the president memorably declared Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power.”

But delight over Ukraine’s unexpected early battlefield successes has turned to concern as Moscow refocused on the country’s eastern Donbas region and the conflict turned into an artillery-driven war of attrition, giving the edge to Russia’s heavy equipment and raw numbers.

Here are four things to watch while Biden is in Europe:

  1. Let’s call it “The Putin Test”

Biden’s big foreign policy principle is that democracies can deliver just as well as autocracies — but have to prove this to their people. That’s one of the things in play with Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Back in May, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told Congress Putin was girding for a “prolonged conflict.” U.S. officials have spoken of a fight dragging on potentially for years.

But Haines also noted this: “Putin most likely also judges that Russia has a greater ability and willingness to endure challenges than his adversaries and he is probably counting on U.S. and E.U. resolve to weaken as food shortages, inflation, energy prices, get worse.

So the first thing to watch is how unified the allies remain. In a preview of the G-7 summit, Biden aides teased the prospect of the group agreeing on a new batch of sanctions on Russia and potential new action to rein in European dependence on Moscow’s energy exports.

Biden heads to Europe weaker than he was in March, never mind his June 2021 meetings with leaders from NATO and the G-7 followed by a summit with Putin. Democrats fear a drubbing in November’s midterm elections.

But he’s not the only one. Earlier this month, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson survived a no-confidence vote by a margin that wasn’t exactly confidence-boosting. And French President Emmanuel Macron romped to reelection in April but last week lost his absolute majority in the legislature, forcing him to form a governing coalition and endangering his agenda.

        2. How do you solve a problem like inflation?

Like the pandemic before it, inflation is an international, national and local phenomenon. U.S. media coverage of eroding purchasing power tends to keep its focus at home, but it’s really a global phenomenon.

Like Biden, other world leaders face something of a conundrum, in that they don’t have much power to rein it in but face mounting political pressure to do something, anything to pull soaring prices to earth.

Sure, the war made things worse, notably in the form of gas prices rocketing upward, with food prices threatening to be close behind. But rising costs predated Putin’s fateful February decision.

What will the G-7 leaders do to show they’re serious about the problem?

       3. Progress on getting Sweden and Finland into NATO

This one comes down to Turkey. The 30-member alliance requires every country to agree on admitting a new member — otherwise, the mutual-defense promise at the heart of NATO, that an attack on one is an attack on all, would ring pretty hollow.

Turkey — which recently said the upcoming summit in Spain is not a deadline — has opposed membership for Sweden and Finland, accusing both of supporting Kurdish fighters Ankara regards as terrorists, and angry Helsinki and Stockholm won’t sell arms to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

From Biden on down, senior U.S. officials have been in touch with Turkish counterparts to try to break the logjam. A deal next week seems like a very long shot, but the summit will be an opportunity for leader-to-leader diplomacy. Let’s see how it goes.

      4. What’s Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky going to say?

Zelensky will address both summits virtually. The former actor has galvanized international support for Ukraine. And he hasn’t been shy about complaining of arms deliveries that are too limited or too slow, and pushing America and its allies to step up economic support.

With the war in a kind of bloody stalemate, what will he ask of leaders at each summit? Zelensky has rejected calls to resume negotiations with Moscow and any suggestion Ukraine accept Russian territorial gains since Feb. 24 as the price of peace.

But there are signs Europeans are growing impatient and increasingly worried about the economic fallout from the war. And that could change what sort of reception he gets for any new requests or complaints (no matter how justified).

What’s happening now

Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade

Antiabortion activists reacted on June 24 as the court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was released, effectively overturning Roe. (Video: The Washington Post)

“The Supreme Court on Friday overturned the fundamental right to abortion established nearly 50 years ago in Roe v. Wade, a stunning reversal that leaves states free to drastically reduce or even outlaw a procedure that abortion rights groups said is key to women’s equality and independence,” Robert Barnes, Ann E. Marimow, John Wagner and Mariana Alfaro report.

More key updates:

House poised to send gun legislation to Biden in response to mass shootings

Today, the House is poised to pass and send to President Biden legislation that aims to stanch mass gun violence through modest new firearms restrictions and mental health and school security funding. While the bill includes the most significant new gun restrictions since the mid-1990s, its expected passage comes amid the controversy over Thursday’s Supreme Court decision that will probably make it easier to carry guns in many of the nation’s largest cities,” John Wagner and Mariana Alfaro report.

Lunchtime reads from The Post

Roe’s demise marks new phase in state-by-state battle over abortion

“The tremors from Friday’s sweeping Supreme Court decision to strike down Roe v. Wade will ripple across the country almost immediately, with roughly half of all states poised to ban or drastically restrict abortion,” Caroline Kitchener reports.

Thirteen states will outlaw abortion within 30 days with ‘trigger bans’ that were designed to take effect as soon as Roe was overturned. These laws make an exception for cases where the mother’s life is in danger, but most do not include exceptions for rape or incest.”

U.S. monkeypox response mirrors early coronavirus missteps, experts say

“Public health experts, including within the Biden administration, are increasingly concerned that the federal government’s handling of the largest-ever U.S. monkeypox outbreak is mirroring its cumbersome response to the coronavirus pandemic 2½ years ago, with potentially dire consequences,” Lena H. Sun, Dan Diamond and Fenit Nirappil report.

“As a result, they said, community transmission is occurring largely undetected, and the critical window in which to control the outbreak is closing quickly.”

Echoes of Watergate: Trump’s appointees reveal his push to topple Justice Dept.

“In a series of striking moments, nationally televised to millions, the damning testimony from the nation’s top law enforcement officials was the closest that the investigation has come to events that unfolded a half-century ago in the Watergate scandal,” Michael Kranish and Rosalind S. Helderman report.

“Instead of White House tapes, there were the handwritten notes and fly-on-the-wall testimony about Oval Office conversations by [Richard] Donoghue, former acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen and others. Instead of President Richard M. Nixon’s White House counsel warning that there was a 'cancer on the presidency,' there was an account of Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone saying that an effort to overturn the election was like a ‘murder-suicide pact’ that would affect everyone involved.”

… and beyond

$53.3 Million. 33 Jobs. No Plan. That’s How Mississippi Lawmakers Are Spending BP Oil Spill Money.

“The money that legislators sent to Gautier is part of a $750 million settlement paid by BP to compensate the state for the economic damage caused by the 2010 oil spill. Coastal Mississippi business leaders hoped the money would be used to transform the Gulf Coast economy, attracting new industries, creating jobs and lifting wages in communities dominated by low-paying service jobs,” the Sun Herald's Anita Lee reports in a collaboration with ProPublica.

But Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Restoration Fund is failing to meet any conventional measure of success for an economic development program, a joint investigation by the Sun Herald and ProPublica found.”

‘Unwilling to accept defeat’: How Sinema and Murphy clinched guns deal for Dems

“The Senate’s Thursday night passage of its bipartisan gun safety bill marked a seminal moment for a Democratic Party that pushed through background check mandates in 1993’s Brady Bill but has struggled ever since to reassemble that coalition. Behind this year’s effort is a duo who reflects their party’s ascendant Generation X as well as the future of the caucus: a coalition of stalwart liberals and Sun Belt moderates,” Politico's Burgess Everett and Marianna Levine report

The Biden agenda

Biden limps to G-7 as allies fret over his troubles at home

“German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who will welcome G-7 leaders in the Bavarian Alps, views Biden as a driving force in sustaining pressure on Moscow and believes that unity among allies could fray once again if Republicans win back the White House in 2024, according to a German government official who requested anonymity to discuss internal thinking,” Bloomberg News's Jordan Fabian and Jenny Leonard report.

Biden said the G-7 would counter Chinese influence. This year, he’ll try again

“Since then, his advisers have worked on the initiative, mostly without fanfare. There has been little tangible progress to herald. But at this year’s G-7 summit, which begins Sunday in Germany, Biden plans to relaunch the effort — under a new name — and put forth some initial projects to show how the plan will work,” NPR's Tamara Keith reports.

Education Dept. to cancel $6 billion in debt for defrauded borrowers

“Under the proposed settlement, the department will immediately approve thousands of applications filed by people who claimed they were defrauded by their colleges, resolving a three-year-old case between the government and borrowers,” Lauren Lumpkin reports.

Gavin Newsom jumps onto the national stage and Bidenworld takes notice

“Newsom has stressed that he isn’t challenging President Joe Biden — either on his stewardship of their party or as a candidate in two years … But taken together, the moves have been widely interpreted as a relatively young executive using the specter of a future presidential bid to shine a bright spotlight on himself. And they’ve been enough to elicit early brushbacks from allies of Biden and Harris,” Politico's Christopher Cadelago and David Siders report.

Biden's pick for NATO chief confirmed

“Army Gen. Christopher Cavoli was confirmed Thursday evening as the U.S. and European allies work to help Ukraine blunt Russia’s offensive and NATO looks to expand to include Sweden and Finland in the wake of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion,” Politico's Connor O'Brien reports.

Which states are likely to ban abortion, visualized

Without [Roe's] landmark precedent in place, the national abortion landscape will change quickly. First, 13 states with ‘trigger bans,’ designed to take effect as soon as Roe is overturned, will ban abortion within 30 days. Several other states where recent antiabortion legislation has been blocked by the courts are expected to act next, with lawmakers moving to activate their dormant legislation. A handful of states also have pre-Roe abortion bans that could be brought back to life,” Caroline Kitchener, Kevin Schaul, N. Kirkpatrick, Daniela Santamariña and Lauren Tierney report.

Hot on the left

Liz Cheney aims to recruit crossover Democrats in her primary

“Rep. Liz Cheney, the Wyoming Republican fighting for political survival after clashing with former president Donald Trump, has started sending Democrats instructions on how to switch parties and vote for her, underscoring an urgent effort to try to overcome serious vulnerabilities ahead of an August primary,” Hannah Knowles, Paul Kane and Mariana Alfaro report.

Hot on the right

Rudy Giuliani’s pitch to New York: Hire my son

“The 36-year-old Andrew Giuliani, running an underdog campaign to become the next governor, has in recent weeks deployed his famous father to far-flung corners of upstate New York with a message for Republican primary voters: My kid is the next big thing. That has kept the first-time candidate firmly at the center of attention as he seeks to pull off an upset win on Tuesday,” Politico's Bill Mahoney reports.

Today in Washington

At 12:30 p.m., Biden will address the nation about the Supreme Court's decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

In closing

After Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling, Trevor Noah has some suggestions for new gun laws

Thanks for reading. See you next week.

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