Morning Report

The Hill’s Morning Report — US, allies vow to back Ukraine ‘as long as it takes’

In this image made from video provided by Ukrainian State Emergency Service, firefighters work to extinguish a fire at a shopping center burned after a rocket attack in Kremenchuk, Ukraine
Ukrainian State Emergency Service via Associated Press
In this image made from video provided by Ukrainian State Emergency Service, firefighters work to extinguish a fire at a shopping center burned after a rocket attack in Kremenchuk, Ukraine.

The Kremlin’s message to Western leaders posing in the Bavarian Alps on Monday during a Group of Seven summit was unmistakable: Russian forces shocked Ukrainians in an industrial city at the center of the country by turning a crowded shopping mall into a fireball with an artillery strike.

The grinding war in Ukraine, which is heading toward its fifth month, shows no signs of ending, and there are no active diplomatic overtures in sight, even as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked Western leaders to help improve Ukraine’s bargaining power with Moscow ahead of what he sees as eventual peace talks. Ukraine wants help to be able to destroy Russia’s missiles from the air. The G-7 leaders pledged in a statement to support Ukraine “for as long as it takes.” They said it is up to Ukraine to decide on a future peace settlement (The Associated Press and The New York Times).

During an interview in Kyiv with NBC News on Monday, Zelensky said the war “will end for sure.”

“I’m sure it will end with Ukraine winning, whatever happens, no matter how difficult it is for us. We must oust the occupiers from our land. For as long as we can, we will do that. That’s our life. That’s our path.” – President Volodymyr Zelensky

At Ukraine’s request, the United Nations Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting in New York today to discuss Russia’s attack on Kremenchuk. The world’s major economies prepared new sanctions against Russia, including a price cap on oil and higher tariffs on goods. Meanwhile, the U.S. appeared ready to respond to Zelensky’s call for more air defense systems, and NATO planned to increase the size of its rapid-reaction forces nearly eightfold — to 300,000 troops (The Associated Press).

© Associated Press / Markus Schreiber | Group of Seven leaders in the Bavarian Alps on Monday.

President Biden and G-7 leaders discussed an idea promoted by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen that would allow Russia to keep selling oil to the world but at a sharply limited price. The concept of manipulating oil prices represents an acknowledgment that the embargoes on Moscow’s lucrative energy exports by the United States and allies failed to squeeze Russian revenues and instead drove up gasoline and other fuel prices, prompting consumer backlash in the U.S. and Europe (The New York Times).

The Washington Post: Biden, G-7 leaders cast about for ways to help Ukraine. Zelensky asks for “additional air defense capabilities that could shoot down missiles out of the sky.”

Biden has departed Germany for Madrid to participate in a NATO summit that wraps up on Thursday. For the president and the alliance, there are difficult talks ahead (The New York Times). Biden opted to speak in advance by phone with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey, a NATO member. Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, told The Associated Press in an interview that NATO aims to demonstrate unity this week in defense of Ukraine.

The Associated Press analysis: NATO meets in Madrid with an urgent need to reassert its original mission: preventing Russian aggression against Western allies.


Related Articles

The Associated Press: U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner, imprisoned in Russia since February on drug charges and facing up to 10 years in prison, has been ordered to stand trial on Friday.

Reuters: Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev says any NATO encroachment on Crimea could lead to World War Three.

The Wall Street Journal: Russian President Vladimir Putin accepted an invitation to a G-20 summit to be held in Bali Nov. 15-16. 


LEADING THE DAY

SUPREME COURT   

The post-Roe v. Wade battlefield continued to take shape on Monday as state judges in Utah and Louisiana issued temporary blockades against state abortion bans from going into effect and pro-choice activists seek to stop trigger bans from taking hold.

The Utah result came after Planned Parenthood’s state chapter filed a for a temporary restraining order against the state law and will allow abortions to be peformed for 14 days (The Hill). In Louisiana, a New Orleans judge blocked enforcement of the trigger law after a filing by a pair of abortion rights groups. The ruling is in effect pending a July 8 hearing (The Hill).

The two ruby-red states were two of seven that had trigger bans instituted almost immediately after the Supreme Court overturned Roe on Friday. On the other side, a federal judge in South Carolina allowed the state’s law restricting abortions after six weeks of pregnancy to take effect immediately. 

The happenings across the three states was a microcosm of the situation enveloping across the country in a post-Roe universe. As The Hill’s Mike Lillis and Mychael Schnell write, Friday’s ruling created a complex legal spectrum running from full access to all-out bans that is just now in its infancy as more rulings are expected throughout the week.

A Florida judge is expected to rule on Thursday on a new law that bans performing abortions after ​​15 weeks with some exceptions following a challenge by abortion rights advocates. Pro-choice activists also made similar filings to those in Utah and Louisiana in four other states where trigger bans or near-trigger bans are in place — Texas, Idaho, Kentucky and Mississippi (The Associated Press). 

Nationally, Democrats are ramping up pressure on the White House to take executive action to protect abortion rights. As The Hill’s Peter Sullivan notes, more than 20 Senate Democrats led by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Patty Murray (Wash.) are calling on Biden to take steps like exploring the use of federal property to provide abortions and giving vouchers to people to travel to other states. 

In addition, the Congressional Black Caucus is calling on the White House to declare a public health emergency. It argues the move would provide additional tools to increase abortion access.

Politico: Democratic exasperation builds at Biden’s slow roll on Roe.

The Hill: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) outlines possible legislative response to Roe reversal.

Niall Stanage: The Memo: Left’s frustration with Biden, Pelosi intensifies on abortion.

Friday’s ruling, however, has presented a political opportunity for Vice President Harris, who is warning that the situation is far from finished after Justice Clarence Thomas argued in his concurring opinion on Friday that the court “should reconsider” other rights to contraception, same-sex consensual relations and same-sex marriage.

“This is not over. [Thomas] just said the quiet part out loud and that is why we all must really understand the significance of what just happened,” Harris told CNN in a rare interview on Monday. 

Harris, a former California attorney general and former member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, added that she did not believe former President Trump’s Supreme Court nominees when they told the Senate that Roe was settled law.

The latest set of comments also comes as the White House was readying to send her on the road on behalf of candidates ahead of the November midterms. Sources told The Hill’s Amie Parnes that her message on Roe will be a big part of Harris’s effort.

Carl Hulse, The New York Times: Senate Minority Leader ​​Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) court delivers.

The Associated Press: Harris emerges as top abortion voice, warns of more fallout.

The Washington Post: Former Vice President Mike Pence leans in on abortion, as Trump, other potential 2024 candidates are more cautious.

Finally, the court’s work carried on through Monday when it ruledthat a former Washington state high school football coach had a right to pray on the field immediately after games, a decision that could lead to more acceptance of religious expression at public schools. 

The 6-3 ruling was a victory for Joseph Kennedy, who claimed that the Bremerton School District violated his religious freedom by telling him he couldn’t pray so publicly after the games. The district said it was trying to avoid the appearance that the school was endorsing a religious point of view because Kennedy insisted on praying at the 50-yard line rather than in a private location (NBC News).

The Hill: Supreme Court sides with doctors convicted of over-prescribing pain medications.

The Hill: Why companies think paying for abortion travel is worth it.

© Associated Press / Ted S. Warren | Joseph Kennedy, former assistant football coach in Bremerton High School in Washington state, in March. 

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

JAN. 6 INVESTIGATION & POLITICS

The Jan. 6 committee took Washington by surprise on Monday by announcing a last-minute hearing scheduled this afternoon “to present recently obtained evidence and receive witness testimony.”

According to multiple reports, Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is the witness who will appear this afternoon (Politico). Hutchinson has been a key source of information for the panel, having delivered crucial testimony during three separate interviews. Among other things, the ex-White House aide told the committee about GOP lawmakers who had sought pardons, and indicated that Meadows had been warned about political violence on Jan. 6 (The Hill).  

Lawmakers on the committee last week told reporters the next set of hearings would take place in July, following a congressional recess, allowing additional time to assess new evidence turned over to the select panel. 

The hearing, the sixth so far by the panel, is set for 1 p.m. (The Hill).

© Associated Press / Mandel Ngan | House panel investigating Jan. 6 attack to hold surprise hearing Tuesday.

Meanwhile, John Eastman, the lawyer who helped Trump with his push to overturn the 2020 election results, said in court filing on Monday that the FBI seized his cellphone last week. 

According to a filing in a New Mexico federal court, Eastman said that he was confronted by agents while exiting a restaurant and called for a judge to have his phone returned.

“The federal agents identified themselves as FBI agents, but they appeared to be executing a warrant issued at the behest of the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General,” Charles Burnham, a lawyer for Eastman, wrote in the filing (CNN).

The Washington Post: They backed a Jan. 6 commission. Now, they face heat in GOP primaries.

On the political side, primary season rages on tonight with contests in seven states, including two that feature runoffs. Headlining this evening’s races are those on the top of the ticket in New York, where Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) and Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado (D) are seeking their first full terms in office.

Hochul is the overwhelming favorite to win the Democratic nomination, but the same cannot be said for Delgado, who recently resigned his seat in Congress to become LG. Delgado is facing progressive activist Ana Maria Archila and former New York City Council Member Diana Reyna tonight. While the governor and lieutenant governor candidates run on a ticket in the general election, they run on their own in the primary. 

Max Greenwood, The Hill: Seven primaries to watch in Colorado, Illinois and New York.

The Associated Press: What to watch in primaries in Colorado, Illinois, elsewhere. 

The Hill: McConnell vows to be “picky” with Biden nominees if the GOP captures the majority in the Senate.


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OPINION

■ Abortion deserves a sober debate. Instead, it gets a war of unreason, by Michael Gerson, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3njShOv 

■ Ukrainians warn — and Russians boast — of eerily familiar famine blackmail, by Kristina Hook, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3yr1FpX

WHERE AND WHEN

The House meets at 9 a.m. for a pro forma session and will resume votes on July 12. The select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol will hold a public hearing at 1 p.m. EDT. Information and livestream HERE.

The Senate convenes at 3:30 p.m. for a pro forma session. Senators will return to Washington on July 11 following the July 4 recess.

The president completed the final day of the annual Group of Seven leaders’ summit in Germany and has flown to Madrid for a two-day NATO summit, including separate meetings today with Spanish President Pedro Sánchez and King Felipe VI. The president and first lady Jill Biden will also attend a dinner for summit leaders. 

The vice president has no public events scheduled.

The first lady while in Madrid will join Queen Letizia of Spain to visit a Ukrainian refugee reception center and meet with Ukrainian families.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is traveling with the president.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra will hold an 11 a.m. press conference at the department to unveil an “action plan” in response to Biden’s direction following Friday’s abortion ruling by the Supreme Court. One feature: HHS information that references a search engine where women can obtain legal abortion services.


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ELSEWHERE  

  PANDEMIC

U.S. health officials are grappling with yet another tough COVID-19 vaccine decision: Should they offer new booster doses this fall that have been modified specifically to the variants of the virus now in circulation? Advisers to the Food and Drug Administration will debate today if it’s time to make a switch — setting the stage for similar moves by other countries. “This is science at its toughest,” FDA vaccine chief Peter Marks told The Associated Press, adding that a final decision is expected within days of the advisory panel’s recommendation. To date, only 31 percent of the U.S. eligible population has received a booster shot, and those doses were created to amplify immunity to the original strain of COVID-19.

Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported as of this morning, according to Johns Hopkins University (trackers all vary slightly): 1,016,208. Current average U.S. COVID-19 daily deaths are 290, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

IMMIGRATION

Ed Gonzalez, Biden’s nominee to head U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, withdrew his name on Sunday following an unsubstantiated allegation of domestic violence that had put his appointment in limbo since March while the claim was investigated (The Hill). Gonzalez, the Harris County, Texas, sheriff, previously said the allegation was false, as did his wife. He said on Twitter that he decided to withdraw his nomination “after prayerfully considering what’s best for our nation, my family, and the people of Harris County who elected me to serve a second term as Sheriff.” 

  OIL AND GAS DRILLING 

Today, the administration holds lease sales for new oil and gas drilling on public lands for the first time under new regulations for producers. Industry wanted more land and fewer federal stipulations, while environmental advocates favored no lease sales at all (The Hill). … The administration is debating the future of offshore oil and gas drilling in the outer continental shelf in advance of a White House-driven policy blueprint due to be released by the Interior Department to Congress by Thursday. It is likely to block new drilling in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in the face of widespread bipartisan opposition from members of Congress and leaders from coastal states, according to sources. The eastern Gulf of Mexico has been closed to drilling since 1995. Still under consideration is whether to continue to allow lease sales in parts of the Arctic Ocean as well as the western and central Gulf of Mexico (The New York Times).

  MEDIA MOVES

Alex Wagner, once part of MSNBC’s daytime lineup, will succeed Rachel Maddow, who is scaling back her workload as MSNBC’s most popular host to Monday nights only. Wagner, 44, becomes the only Asian American to host a prime-time cable program with her new role in MSNBC’s 9 p.m. slot four nights a week beginning on Aug. 16 (The New York Times).  


THE CLOSER

© Associated Press / Patrick Semansky | White House Blue Room, 2019.

And finally … 👏👏 The White House will welcome visitors back to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for a full schedule of free public tours beginning July 19, yet another sign that health concerns about COVID-19 continue to ease (the White House began to tip-toe back into the tours in April). 

The welcome mat will be out Tuesdays through Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and tours must be scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis through a constituent’s member of Congress or through congressional tour coordinators from the House or Senate. Check HERE for details about making reservations.

Face coverings are optional, and masks will be available to visitors who want one. The White House also “reserves the right to adjust availability of the public tours as necessary to adhere to the latest health guidance” (The Hill).


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