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The Daily 202

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

Four takeaways from Biden’s trip to Europe

The Daily 202

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


Welcome to The Daily 202! Tell your friends to sign up here. On this day in 1991, President George H.W. Bush nominated then-federal appeals court judge Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. Dear readers: After celebrating Independence Day on Monday, The Daily 202 will be back Tuesday.

The big idea

Domestic strife hangs over Biden's successful overseas visit

President Biden wrapped up his trip to Germany and Spain on Friday justifiably boasting of how NATO has emerged stronger from Russia’s war in Ukraine and rich democracies have remained surprisingly united behind imposing costs on Moscow.

But it was the Supreme Court’s recent rulings, especially the one overturning Roe v. Wade, that dominated his pre-departure news conference, as well as his unusually stern denunciation of the conservative justices as having had a “destabilizing” effect on the American republic.

Here are four takeaways from his attendance at the summits of the Group of Seven rich democracies and NATO.

1. Domestic reality intruded. Boy, did it.

World leaders closely follow America’s domestic politics. You never know when a president’s waning powers or a lawmaker’s piqued ego will derail progress on a trade deal, or a diplomatic nominee, or keeping the U.S. government open, with global consequences.

But rarely does the situation at home crowd into the marbled halls of global summitry to the extent it did this week.

Foreign heads of state and government rarely comment on Supreme Court decisions. But many of America’s closest friends — Britain, Canada, France and others — did so to criticize the justices for overturning Roe and decreeing there is no constitutional right to access to abortion.

Asked whether other leaders might doubt his “America is back” slogan and instead see a country moving backward, Biden bristled. “They do not think that. You haven’t found one person — one world leader — to say America is going backwards,” he told reporters.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had called the ruling “a big step backwards.”

And Politico’s Andrew Desiderio reported this, from a NATO foreign ministers’ dinner this week: “At least four diplomats in the room aired concerns with the Court’s decision last week overturning Roe v. Wade and striking down the constitutional right to abortion, according to one of the only two Americans in attendance.”

2. NATO came out stronger. But there’s a but.

Biden successfully lobbied Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to drop his opposition to Sweden and Finland joining NATO, in what would be one of the biggest rearrangements to European security in decades. But.

First, all 30 NATO members must formally agree to bring the new members under the alliance’s mutual defense umbrella. That takes time, as The Daily 202 explained here.

Second, Sweden and Finland made concessions to Turkey, notably on Erdogan’s demands they hand over Kurdish fighters Ankara considers terrorists. They agreed to address extradition requests “expeditiously and thoroughly.” Sorta vague.

But Erdogan now claims they agreed to extradite 73 individuals, and says they must keep their promises or he won’t let them join NATO. Stay tuned.

3. Biden really doesn’t want to be seen begging for Saudi oil.

“That’s not the purpose of the trip,” he insisted yesterday, referring to his upcoming visit to the kingdom.

Okay, but if he meets with Saudi King Salman or Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman? “No, I’m not going to ask them,” Biden said, adding that his request for more oil production was aimed at all Persian Gulf countries, “not to the Saudis particularly.”

4. He faces a big choice now on the Supreme Court.

After days of stressing the limits of his executive power to mitigate the court’s ruling on abortion, Biden pivoted Thursday, saying that Congress should pass legislation enshrining Roe and that the Senate should do away with the filibuster to get it done.

He called the decision a “mistake” and even “destabilizing” and accused the Supreme Court of “outrageous behavior” by rolling back privacy rights. (But his core solution remained for Americans to “vote, vote, vote” for Democrats in November.) Liberals, previously frustrated by what they saw as a listless Biden response, cheered.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) branded the criticism “unmerited and dangerous.”

So now what? Does Biden set aside his instinctive defense of institutions and press forward with his attacks on the court? Or does he back off? Some liberals feel he was too slow to embrace a filibuster exemption for voting rights legislation and hasn’t pushed hard enough on that front.

Over at the Atlantic, Ron Brownstein quoted an anonymous White House official as saying the president will keep using the ruling to attack Republicans. (Attacking the court itself, though? The official apparently didn’t say.)

“What you’ll see us doing is highlight that they want to go in an even more extreme direction, especially a national ban on abortion, especially the threats to marriage and contraception, and specifically some of the specific gut-wrenching attempts to force someone who is raped to go forward with a pregnancy,” the official said.

Some liberals fret Biden is not the right president for this moment. Now we’ll see whether this is the right moment for this president.

What’s happening now

Biden to keep abortion ruling in spotlight by meeting with Democratic governors

“Today, back from a six-day trip to Europe, President Biden plans to meet virtually from the White House with a group of Democratic governors who are moving to protect abortion access in their states in the wake of last week’s decision by the Supreme Court that overturned Roe v. Wade. The meeting will keep an issue in the spotlight that Democrats are hoping will drive up voter turnout in November,” John Wagner reports.

Brittney Griner appears in Russian court over drug charges

“A Russian prosecutor on Friday accused WNBA star Brittney Griner of transporting a ‘significant amount’ of cannabis oil, according to Russian media reports on her trial, where she faces 10 years in prison if convicted,” Robyn Dixon and Mary Ilyushina report.

“Griner, seated in a cage in the courtroom with a bottle of water and a bag of cookies, said she understood the charges. She did not enter a plea. Court officials initially barred media and cameras from the court, according to Russian media, but two journalists were later admitted.”

GW defends Thomas appointment amid calls for removal from law school

“George Washington University rejected calls to remove Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas from its law school faculty by students and others frustrated over the judge’s vote to overturn Roe v. Wade and his urging to reconsider other landmark civil rights cases,” Lauren Lumpkin reports.

The war in Ukraine

Kyiv says 20 dead in strike on Odessa

In Ukraine’s Odessa region, a Russian strike killed at least 20 people and injured 38 at an apartment building and a recreation center, Kyiv said Friday. While the Kremlin denied hitting civilians, Ukrainian officials said at least one child was killed and others wounded. Rescuers were still searching for victims under the rubble,” Ellen Francis, Andrew Jeong, Amy Cheng, Julian Duplain and Karina Tsui report.

Lunchtime reads from The Post

Trauma physicians have become depressingly prepared for mass shootings

“After every school shooting, the nation goes through a grim routine: alerts on cellphone screens, photos of victims trickling onto the nightly news, the familiar cycle of funeral flower arrangements and calls to action and the omnipresent barrage of thoughts and prayers,” Caroline Anders reports.

“But before any of that is the grim routine that the public doesn’t see as doctors and nurses ready hospital rooms, wait to hear how many victims they’re receiving and wonder whether they’ll be able to save them.”

How Trump World pressures witnesses to deny his possible wrongdoing

“Evidence across multiple state, federal and congressional investigations points to a similar pattern: Trump and his close allies privately shower potential witnesses with flattery and attention, extending vague assurances that staying loyal to Trump would be better than crossing him,” Rosalind S. Helderman, Josh Dawsey and Jacqueline Alemany report.

“Meanwhile, Trump publicly blasts those who offer testimony against him in bluntly personal terms, offering a clear example to others of the consequences of stepping out of line.”

The U.S. is ditching coal. The Supreme Court ruling won’t change that.

“When conservative environmental lawyer Jeffrey Holmstead joined the Bracewell firm in late 2006, it represented the whole range of electric power companies, including coal-fired utilities and coal mining firms. Not anymore. The chief executives of electric utilities, wary of the perils of climate change, are marching away from coal, as well as other fossil fuels,” Steven Mufson reports.

… and beyond

Who will help care for Texas’s post-Roe babies?

“One in 10 people of reproductive age in America lives in Texas, which will soon join half of all the states in outlawing almost all abortions. Texas’s conservative leadership has spent decades narrowing abortion access while cutting social spending and publicly-funded health care. Now, even some anti-abortion adherents say their state is woefully unprepared for a likely surge in births among poor women,” the New York Times's Elizabeth Williamson reports.

The sleeper ‘wire fraud’ scheme that could nail Trump World

“While the Jan. 6 hearings have delivered explosive testimony and evidence suggesting that a number of former administration officials may face criminal liability related to the attack on the Capitol—possibly all the way up to Trump—there’s another potential criminal liability that has largely been lost in the news,” the Daily Beast's Roger Sollenberger reports.

That would be the sprawling wire fraud conspiracy which the Jan. 6 special select committee alleged in its second hearing, on June 13, a scheme which legal experts say contains the ingredients for possible federal charges against officials with the campaign and the Republican National Committee—as well as Trump himself.”

The Biden agenda

Young voters are down on Biden. That doesn’t mean they’ll bail on Democrats in the midterms.

“The trend could spell trouble for Democrats in the midterms. Young voters are crucial to the party’s coalition, boosting Democrats with record turnout in the 2018 and 2020 elections. Yet many young people feel the Biden Administration has failed to deliver on its promises as the President’s domestic agenda stalls. The progressive policy wish list items that drew many young people into politics remains undelivered,” Charlotte Alter reports for Time.

Supreme Court handcuffs Biden’s climate efforts

“The Supreme Court delivered a major setback to President Joe Biden’s ambitious climate change goals on Thursday, ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency does not have broad authority to curb planet-warming pollution from power plants,” Politico's Alex Guillén reports.

Biden plans to deliver major Jan. 6 speech when House probe ends

“The goal of the speech would be to emphasize what Biden believes is at stake should former President Donald Trump or his allies return to power in Washington, the sources said. The exact timing of the speech would be influenced by the committee’s progress in concluding its investigation, but could come before November’s midterm elections,” NBC News’s Mike Memoli and Carol E. Lee report.

How the Supreme Court ruled, visualized

“The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and eliminate the nationwide right to abortion dominated one of the court’s most consequential terms. The emboldened 6-3 conservative majority, with three nominees of President Donald Trump, wasted little time expanding the rights of gun owners to carry firearms in public, strengthening the role of religion in public life and sharply curtailing the Biden administration’s power to combat climate change,” Ann E. Marimow, Aadit Tambe and Adrian Blanco report.

Hot on the left

The Democratic primary that could determine the future of abortion rights

“The only way Democrats can codify Roe v. Wade into law is with a world-beating bank shot that requires two new votes to weaken the filibuster. Enter Battleground Wisconsin,” Politico's Burgess Everett reports.

Senate races in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania represent Democrats’ best chance to net two extra Senate seats — enough, presumably, to chip away at chamber rules that empower the minority party to block legislation. President Joe Biden boosted their effort Thursday by endorsing an exemption to the 60-vote threshold to preserve nationwide abortion rights.”

Hot on the right

Texas thrusts itself into the center of battles over personal freedom

“In the wake of the Supreme Court’s historic reversal of Roe v. Wade, Texas appears poised to cement its place at the center of the battle over personal freedoms that have been guaranteed by law for decades,” Annie Gowen reports.

“Leaders in the Republican-dominated state have already enacted one of the most restrictive abortion policies in the nation and been in the forefront of devising measures that would criminalize parents’ efforts to seek medical treatment for their transgender children. Now, the state’s conservative attorney general, Ken Paxton, has signaled that he is willing to revisit the state’s anti-sodomy law, which was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2003 to protect intimacy between same-sex partners.”

Today in Washington

Biden will hold a virtual meeting with governors about abortion rights at 1 p.m.

At 2:30 p.m., he will leave the White House for Camp David. He will arrive at 2:50 p.m.

In closing

James Corden’s day at the White House

Thanks for reading. See you next week.