The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Protests and anger: Washington in turmoil as elections near

The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Protests and anger: Washington in turmoil as elections near
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Get ready for a long, hot summer filled with protests, extreme rhetoric and unexpected intraparty skirmishes ahead of the 2018 midterm elections this fall.

Thousands of demonstrators, from Washington, D.C., to Portland, Ore., braved the sweltering temperatures to hit the streets over the weekend, underscoring the new era of citizen activism that began with the Women’s March one day after President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE’s inauguration.

The protests, anger and incivility reached new heights in recent weeks, driven by some unexpected new developments that raise the stakes in November and put Washington — and the nation — on edge:

  • The Trump administration underestimated the widespread opposition to its short-lived policy of separating children from their parents at the southern border. Trump’s executive order to reverse part of that policy has not muted the outrage. The “Families Belong Together” protests drove a weekend of activism and energized liberals.
  • Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement announcement launched an election year battle to confirm another conservative Supreme Court justice. Democrats promise to fight but have few tools in the Senate. The president’s pick could tip the balance of the court to the right for a generation. On the left, progressives fear a new court will overturn Roe v. Wade, among other potentially seismic rulings ahead.
  • Rep. Joseph Crowley’s (D-N.Y.) primary defeat at the hands of 28-year-old democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has ignited an intraparty fight among Democrats just four months before voters head to the polls. Democrats are debating whether their party supports abolishing the 15-year-old Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency altogether. Some worry the party is lurching too far left, while others say that’s where the energy is. Crowley is the No. 4 Democrat in the House and chairman of the caucus. His loss kicked off a biting debate last month about future House leaders, pitting the old guard against the new.

All of this is taking place against a backdrop of economic uncertainty driven by Trump’s global tariffs threats, which disturb Republicans, who believe the president is undoing the nation’s gains they calculated from last year’s tax overhaul.

Money has been flowing out of the stock market and rising gas prices could dampen economic enthusiasm, on which Republicans are banking to drive voters to the polls.

To get the week started with all the details, read on ...


***BREAKING THIS MORNING*** Three conservative groups American Family Association, American Principles Project and Judicial Action Group this morning will urge the president to nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett, 46 (she’s on Trump’s list of candidates) … The groups, in a letter, describe the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge as “tested” and “confirmable,” and say she has a “compelling story that preempts the liberal playbook.”


SUPREME COURT: It’s decision time for the president. Trump says he’ll announce his pick to replace Kennedy next Monday, July 9.

The president says he’s narrowed it down to a group of five and will interview “six or seven,” but Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTensions rise in Senate's legislative 'graveyard' 2020 Republicans accuse Schumer of snubbing legislation Key Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock MORE (R-Maine) — who will be a key swing vote in the confirmation process — says she believes she persuaded the president over the weekend to consider some candidates who were not on his list.

The Associated Press: Chief Justice John Roberts may be key as Supreme Court moves right.

Douglas W. Kmiec: Seeking a successor to Kennedy’s complex legacy.

Once the president names his pick, the partisan fight begins in earnest.

Conservative groups have already pledged to spend millions of dollars to pressure Democratic senators — particularly the 10 who are up for reelection in states Trump carried in 2016 — to support the president’s nominee.

Maplight: The conservative group behind the GOP’s Supreme Court push.

The New York Times: Supreme Court defeat for unions upends liberal money base.

But those senators will be under just as much pressure from liberals to do everything they can to block the nominee. Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellSenators grill safety regulator over self-driving cars Hillicon Valley: Commerce extends Huawei waiver | Senate Dems unveil privacy bill priorities | House funding measure extends surveillance program | Trump to tour Apple factory | GOP bill would restrict US data going to China Senate Democrats unveil priorities for federal privacy bill MORE (D-Wash.) offered this warning to her colleagues from both sides of the aisle during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press”:

    “If they vote for somebody who’s going to change precedent, it could be a career-ending move.”

The Hill: Left mounts pressure campaign on swing senators over Supreme Court vote.

Paul Begala: Democrats are about to fight like crazy.

Of course, if Republicans keep senators like Collins and Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiKey Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock Impeachment hearings don't move needle with Senate GOP Hillicon Valley: Federal inquiry opened into Google health data deal | Facebook reports millions of post takedowns | Microsoft shakes up privacy debate | Disney plus tops 10M sign-ups in first day MORE (R-Alaska) in the fold — both support abortion rights — they will have the numbers to get to 51 votes.

Matt Glassman: The Supreme Court nomination, Senate procedure and Democratic strategy.


           “Accepting that they cannot defeat the nominee on the merits, and that a procedural strategy has almost no chance of succeeding and high potential electoral and/or procedural costs, Democratic leaders will instead pursue a strategy of trying to shape the narrative around the nomination and confirmation, in an attempt to extract an electoral benefit in the November elections.” — Glassman, senior fellow, Georgetown University’s Government Affairs Institute.

A large part of the Democratic strategy will focus on debating whether a conservative court will overturn Roe v. Wade.

The president insists he’s not asking prospective nominees about how they’d rule on a potential challenge to the landmark abortion case.


His advisers, like Federalist Society President Leonard Leo, have echoed that sentiment.

The Associated Press: Evangelical leaders downplay potential reversal of Roe.

Still, the issue is likely to shape the nomination process, with Republican senators urging the president to nominate a justice who respects “stare decisis,” or legal precedent.

"You don’t overturn precedent unless there’s a good reason. I would tell my pro-life friends: you can be pro-life and conservative, but you can also believe in stare decisis.” — Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham: Report on alleged surveillance abuse in 2016 to be released Dec. 9 McConnell hopes Senate impeachment trial 'not too lengthy a process' Hillicon Valley: Progressives oppose funding bill over surveillance authority | Senators call for 5G security coordinator | Facebook gets questions over location tracking | Louisiana hit by ransomware attack MORE (R-S.C.) on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”


The Los Angeles Times: Up to 17 states could move to outlaw abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned.



POLITICS: That didn’t take long. The abolition of ICE has gone mainstream in the Democratic Party, with several potential 2020 presidential contenders — Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisFive takeaways from the Democratic debate Gabbard, Buttigieg battle over use of military in Mexico Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE (D-Calif.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE (D-Mass.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandMaloney primary challenger calls on her to return, donate previous campaign donations from Trump Senate confirms controversial circuit court nominee She Should Run launches initiative to expand number of women in political process MORE (D-N.Y.), among them — joining calls to disband the agency that launched in 2003 amid national security concerns at the border.


The Hill: Abolishing ICE becomes new Dem litmus test.

The politics here are fascinating, as it took almost no time at all for the issue to bubble up from the grass roots after Ocasio-Cortez toppled Crowley.

The question is whether this stance will remain relegated to deep-blue enclaves in California and New York, or if it will become an accepted position within the party as a whole.

Some Democratic senators from the Midwest are calling on their colleagues to pump the brakes.

“I think it's the future of the party in the Bronx, where [Ocasio-Cortez] is. I think that you can’t win the White House without the Midwest and I don’t think you can go too far to the left and still win the Midwest.” — Sen. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthDuckworth celebrates Veterans Day with deported veterans in Mexico Senate Democrat introduces bill to protect military families from deportation Nuclear command nominee sidesteps questions on arms control treaties MORE (D-Ill.) on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“We are always going to need immigration enforcement.— Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE (D-Minn.) on ABC’s “This Week.”

Republicans, including the president, are gleeful, believing that Democrats have overreacted to the “zero tolerance” policy that resulted in the separation of migrant children from their parents. According to the spin from conservatives, the minority party wants “open borders,” and will be rejected.

“They’re going to get beaten so badly,” Trump predicted.


The Washington Post: A bad week for Democrats give rise to a big problem — outrage could become an obstacle in the midterms.

Over the weekend, a photo of Ocasio-Cortez’s democratic socialist party went viral, with analysts warning that Democrats should be careful not to leap to the left following a single, surprising outcome in a House primary race.





Ocasio-Cortez says the solution is to run liberal candidates in liberal districts and moderate candidates in swing districts:





Ocasio-Cortez’s victory has also reverberated through the House, where House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiKlobuchar shuts down idea a woman can't beat Trump: 'Pelosi does it every day' Budowsky: Trump destroying GOP in 2018, '19, '20 On The Money: Senate scraps plan to force second shutdown vote | Trump tax breaks for low-income neighborhoods draw scrutiny | McConnell rips House Dems for holding up trade deal MORE (D-Calif.) and her allies are urging caution.

The Hill: Senior Democrats tout achievements as party’s generational divide widens.

“This should not be a generational fight at all, this is about people being able to take care of their families. And people who want to make it into a generational fight are quite frankly people who don’t like seniority because they want power.” — Rep. Lois FrankelLois Jane FrankelUS must lead the charge on global reproductive rights — not stand in the way Charlize Theron: We didn't want the politics to overshadow 'Bombshell' Democrats introduce 'THUG Act' to block funding for G-7 at Trump resort MORE (D-Fla.), a Pelosi ally.

But the new guard got a jolt of energy from the editorial board of the nation’s largest and most influential newspaper over the weekend.


The New York Times: Make way for young Democratic leaders.


           “For too long, this regime has clung to power at the expense of future leaders. Neither of Ms. Pelosi’s two chief deputies, Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse passes stopgap as spending talks stall This week: Round 2 of House impeachment inquiry hearings Lawmakers skeptical of progress on spending deal as wall battle looms MORE [D-Md.], the party whip, and Jim ClyburnJames (Jim) Enos ClyburnGOP senator blasts Dem bills on 'opportunity zones' Harris: Suggestion that older African Americans are homophobic 'just nonsense' Buttigieg pushes back on Clyburn's suggestion that sexuality is issue for some black voters MORE [D-S.C.], the assistant leader, is a remotely viable successor. Like Ms. Pelosi, both men are just shy of 80 and have occupied top-tier posts for over a decade. At this point, the caucus leadership has gone from stale to downright ossified.”


The Washington Post: The story of Trump’s grandfather, who came to the U.S. as an unaccompanied minor.


With 10,000 new seniors every day, it’s more crucial than ever to learn why Medicare Advantage is outpacing FFS Medicare's value.

Read an interactive report from Better Medicare Alliance to learn why.


INTERNATIONAL: From Mexico’s new president, to nuclear threats, to upheavals about tariffs, world capitals are especially busy places this week.


Mexico - elections: Latin America’s second-largest economy on Sunday elected a leftist as its next president. Andrés Manuel López Obrador, 64, says he wants to rid Mexico of corruption and alleviate poverty (The New York Times). ... Trump tweeted a U.S. welcome.





North Korea: North Korea is working to conceal its nuclear arsenal at hidden production facilities, contradicting the rhetoric coming out of the U.S.-North Korea summit on June 12 in Singapore (Washington Post)

> North Korea has increased nuclear production at secret sites (NBC News)

> White House national security adviser John Bolton told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that Washington has devised a one-year program that could dismantle North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs (Reuters).

> The Hill: Despite Kim Jong Un’s rhetoric to Trump in June, experts say North Korea is unlikely to ever give up its nuclear capabilities.

Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel’s fragile government was threatened anew Sunday when Interior Minister Horst Seehofer offered his resignation to party colleagues, escalating ruptures over migration (Reuters). Talks between Seehofer and Merkel’s party are expected today (The Associated Press).

Trade – NAFTA: Trump, who is not on the brink of a reworked North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico but has been talking about one since his presidential campaign, said he won’t sign anything until after November. “I want to wait until after the election[s],” the president told Fox News interviewer Maria Bartiromo. “You don’t know about this, but every country is calling every day, saying, `let’s make a deal, let’s make a deal.’ It’s going to all work out” (The Washington Post).

Trade – Canada: The Hill: Canada imposes reciprocal tariffs on $13 billion worth of U.S. goods.


Tariffs – Chamber of Commerce: Today, the three-million-member U.S. chamber, the nation’s largest business group and usually a close ally of the Republican Party, is launching a campaign to oppose Trump’s trade tariff policies (Reuters).


Tariffs – autos: The Hill: Business groups and General Motors warn the Trump administration that auto tariffs could kill U.S. jobs and harm the growing economy.

Karl Rove assails Trump’s tariffs policies: “All these actions add up to $19 billion a year in new tariffs already levied or pending, and potentially up to $125 billion a year more from additional tariffs the administration has threatened. Most of this money will come from Americans’ family budgets, erasing a large share of their savings from the tax cut.”

> Trump says he remains unmoved by criticism of his trade policies: “The big thing is cars,” he told Bartiromo. “There’s going to be no tax. You know why? They’re going to build their cars in America. They’re going to make them here. … I love free trade.” The president complained about trading partners in the European Union (EU), arguing it is “possibly as bad as China, just smaller. It’s terrible what they do to us” (The Hill).

Tariffs – U.S. impact: The retaliatory tariffs imposed by other nations in response to Trump’s levies will hit U.S. whiskey, autos, soybeans, jeans, cranberries and motorcycles, among other products, CNBC reported.

> And speaking of motorcycles, Harley-Davidson is not the only U.S. bike manufacturer looking to take some production overseas in the wake of the tariffs wars, Minnesota-based Polaris Industries revealed, according to The Associated Press.  … Trump says he’s unhappy with Harley-Davidson, but argues its customers are his political supporters and will object to the company’s decision (The Hill).

> Harley-Davidson’s decision making to assemble some motorcycles outside the United States to avoid EU tariffs actually began with Trump’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (University of Maryland School of Business analysis)

World Trade Organization: The Hill: The president is not talking about leaving the global trading enforcement entity. “I’m not talking about pulling out,” Trump says. “We’ve been treated very badly.”

Oil production: The administration walked back from a Trump tweet in which the president suggested he persuaded Saudi Arabia to effectively boost oil production to its maximum capacity, which would have threatened to blow up a fragile truce agreed by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, and inflamed the Saudi-Iran rivalry (Bloomberg).


Russia summit: Niall Stanage in The Hill writes about Trump’s risks and potential rewards when he meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on July 16. The president says he plans to talk to Putin about “Ukraine, Syria, elections ... we don’t want anyone tampering with elections. … We might be talking about some things President Obama lost.”


Iran: The United States will “absolutely” sanction European companies that do business with Iran in the wake of his decision to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Trump told Fox News (The Hill).

WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Staff churn in the West Wing, a spoof call, and Cabinet-focused investigations...


West Wing Personnel: Trump said Friday he did not know if White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE, his second chief in less than a year and a half, will depart in July or later this summer, as reported by news outlets last week. "We're getting along very well," Trump told reporters. "Look, at some point, things happen, but I will tell you ... we have a very good relationship. He's a wonderful man" (CBS News).

> Turnover among Trump’s top-tier West Wing staff hit 61 percent over 17 months, according to research by presidency scholar Martha Joynt Kumar, director of the nonpartisan White House Transition Project. Her research posted to the project’s website on Saturday, and compares the current turnover to comparable periods for previous presidents.


White House salaries: The White House publicly released its annually mandated list of West Wing staff members, and their salaries for 2018.

> The president’s team, as listed, was less costly to taxpayers this year, in part because the staff is smaller, Forbes reports.

Prank call to Trump: Comedian John Melendez claimed he tricked Trump into believing he was New Jersey Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSenate passes legislation supporting Hong Kong protesters Graham blocks resolution recognizing Armenian genocide after Erdoğan meeting Trump encounters GOP resistance to investigating Hunter Biden MORE (D) in a recent phone call. In audio uploaded to Melendez’s podcast over the weekend, a man who sounded like the president was heard saying “Hi Bob.” During a six-minute conversation, the man congratulated Melendez and spoke as if conversing with the senator (The Hill). … The radio personality said he got Trump to return his call by leaving his cellphone number with the White House switchboard and fooling aides — including the president’s son-in-law, Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerUN pushes back on US reversal on Israeli settlements Pompeo announces Israeli settlements do not violate international law Trump to tour Apple factory with Tim Cook on Wednesday MORE (The New York Post).





EPA - Pruitt: The chief ethics officer of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended a series of independent investigations into possible improprieties by Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittIs Big Oil feeling the heat? Overnight Energy: EPA delays board's review of 'secret science' rules | Keystone pipeline spill affecting more land than thought | Dems seek probe into Forest Service grants tied to Alaska logging EPA delays advisers' review of 'secret science' rules MORE, The New York Times reported on Saturday. Pruitt has been leading the agency for months while remaining in news headlines as the subject of a dozen investigations examining his management decisions. Trump has said he backs Pruitt’s EPA work.


Interior Department - Zinke: During a news media blitz through his home state of Montana last week, Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Energy: House Science Committee hits EPA with subpoenas | California sues EPA over Trump revoking emissions waiver | Interior disbands board that floated privatization at national parks Interior disbands advisory board that floated privatization at national parks Overnight Energy: Senate eyes nixing 'forever chemicals' fix from defense bill | Former Obama EPA chief named CEO of green group | Senate reviews Interior, FERC nominees criticized on ethics MORE made statements that were incorrect, according to topic-by-topic fact-checking details by Aaron Weiss, media director and a former journalist at the left-leaning, nonpartisan Center for Western Priorities based in Colorado. (Zinke said Politico “lied” about him in news coverage about his close ties to a Halliburton executive. The secretary’s actions are under investigation.)


The White House is living in an alternate economic universe, by The Washington Post editorial board

Lawmakers rally to keep Pruitt from restricting science, by Amanda Rodewald, opinion contributor, The Hill.

The Morning Report is created by journalists Jonathan Easley & Alexis Simendinger Suggestions? Tips? We want to hear from you! Share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!


The House will be back in session on July 10.


The Senate resumes work on July 9.


The president today will meet with Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoSondland brings impeachment inquiry to White House doorstep Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Senate eyes sending stopgap spending bill back to House | Sondland delivers bombshell impeachment testimony | Pentagon deputy says he didn't try to block official's testimony Five bombshells from explosive Sondland testimony MORE. Later Trump welcomes Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands to the White House to discuss trade and investment, as well as shared defense and security goals, both within NATO and globally, the White House says.


> Major technology companies Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Salesforce are facing a new crisis as their employees rise up to demand that corporate leadership make more ethical business decisions (The Hill)


> Trump last week said Central American migrants who make their way through Mexico to the United States face conditions akin to walking through “Central Park.” Here’s in-depth coverage that counters such an assertion: Los Angeles Times’s six-part series, “Enrique’s Journey,” by Sonia Nazario, which won a Pulitzer Prize for feature reporting in 2003, and the subsequent 2007 book, “Enrique’s Journey: The Story of a Boy’s Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with his Mother,” by Ana Ras and Nazario.


> How to compose effective business emails in a text-messaging age (Economic Times) … Best sign-off in professional emails is “thanks” ( … Seven easy tricks to get your professional emails read ( … Cheers is “acceptable as a sign-off only if you are British, Australian, or offering to buy the recipient a cold beverage later.” (University of Maryland’s Business School management faculty)


And finally … ESPN published a beautifully crafted feature by Tonya Malinowski that we think is well worth a read today. Mission Accomplished: “In 1986, the space shuttle Challenger stunned the nation when it broke apart 73 seconds into flight. This is the story of the soccer ball that survived -- and the family that sent it into space, twice.”