The Hill’s Morning Report — This week: Russia, migrant families, tariffs
Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report, and happy Monday! Our daily email gets you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch, co-created by Jonathan Easley and Alexis Simendinger. (CLICK HERE to subscribe!)
Hill.TV’s “Rising” program, starting at 8 a.m., features an interview with former White House national security adviser Gen. James L. Jones about NATO and Russia. Jones is a former commander of U.S. European Command and was supreme allied commander, Europe, in charge of military operations for NATO. WATCH: http://thehill.com/hilltv
The fallout from President Trump’s Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin collides this week with explosive new developments around special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, underscoring the political and legal jeopardy the president faces just over three months before the midterm elections.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, where he’s certain to be asked about what the president discussed in his two-hour, one-on-one meeting with his Russian counterpart.
The Hill: Answers still scarce about Trump-Putin details.
The White House added fuel to the fire by inviting Putin to Washington this fall for a follow-up meeting.
The Helsinki summit continues to be a massive political problem for the president. Republicans revolted after Trump refused to confront Putin over Russia’s election meddling and again questioned the findings of his own intelligence officials.
The Hill: Pentagon in a bind after Trump-Putin summit.
The Associated Press: Inside Trump’s isolation after Putin summit.
The Senate is expected to move quickly on legislation that would sanction Russia for future meddling.
Meanwhile, a flood of new developments around the myriad Russia-related investigations will color the debate over Russia:
> The FBI over the weekend released the heavily redacted top-secret applications it submitted to a surveillance court requesting authorization to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in the run-up to the 2016 election (USA Today).
> The FBI is in possession of a taped conversation between Trump and his former attorney Michael Cohen discussing a potential payment to bury a story about an alleged affair Trump had with a Playboy model.
> A court hearing is scheduled today in the case of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort over what evidence will be allowed at his trial (The Washington Post). Mueller’s team last week released a list of 500 pieces of evidence it says it has against Manafort, who faces scores of charges pertaining to alleged financial crimes that are unrelated to the 2016 election. The trial is expected to officially get underway on Wednesday. A federal judge has ruled it will take place in Alexandria, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C., despite Manafort’s efforts to have it moved.
> We’re learning new details about Maria Butina, the woman who is accused of acting as a Russian agent while cozying up to mostly conservative politicians and advocacy groups in Washington. A more complicated portrait is beginning to emerge, with Reuters reporting this weekend that Butina’s efforts to get to know Washington power brokers dates back to 2015 and includes meetings with Obama administration officials (Reuters).
LEADING THE DAY
*** OVERNIGHT *** Trump has a fiery, furious warning for Iran.
The president takes issue with remarks by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who objects to the U.S. pullout from the international nuclear deal with Iran and said on Sunday, “Americans must understand well that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”
Pompeo during a speech on Sunday compared Iran’s leaders to the mafia.
RUSSIA & INVESTIGATIONS: A new NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll finds that 51 percent of Americans disapprove of Trump’s handling of Russia, while only 26 percent approve. The poll also found Trump’s approval rating tick up to 45 percent, the high point in that survey for his presidency (The Wall Street Journal).
An ABC News survey had similar findings, with 33 percent of Americans approving of Trump’s handling of Putin at last week’s summit. Furthermore, only 51 percent of Republicans and 44 percent of conservatives approve of Trump questioning the intelligence community’s findings on election meddling, suggesting that even some of the president’s hardcore supporters are breaking with him on the issue.
The Memo: Summit fallout hits White House.
The Hill: House Democratic leaders fend off calls to impeach Trump.
> The FBI’s release of more than 400 pages of documents pertaining to its surveillance warrant of Page has reignited debate over whether the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) abused their powers to spy on members of the Trump campaign.
The applications, some of them signed by former FBI Director James Comey and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, claimed that there was ample evidence to suggest that Page was “collaborating and conspiring with the Russian government.”
Page has not been charged with a crime and does not appear to be in Mueller’s crosshairs at this point.
“I have never been an agent of the foreign power … by any stretch of the imagination.” – Page on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Trump and his allies are claiming the application is further proof of political bias at the highest levels of the FBI and DOJ.
The application relied in part on the controversial “Steele dossier.” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) blasted the FBI for failing to disclose in the application that the opposition research was funded in part by Democrats.
But not all Republicans agree that the surveillance of Page was politically motivated.
“They did not spy on the campaign from anything and everything that I have seen. You have an individual here who has openly bragged about his ties to Russia and Russians and he’s never — I don’t think Carter Page has ever said he’s a spy but he has certainly talked about it. And the FBI’s job is to protect this country … and to lead our counterintelligence.” — Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
> Trump is furious with Cohen over the revelation that he taped one of their conversations and that the FBI is in now possession of the recording. The president insists that he did nothing wrong and is questioning whether it was legal for Cohen to tape him in secret.
It may be some time before we find out what is on the tape and what it means, but this much is certain: Cohen, who once described himself as Trump’s fixer, is acting increasingly hostile toward his former boss and that’s a huge problem for the president.
Cohen has not been charged with a crime but the Department of Justice is investigating his business dealings. The FBI has seized Cohen’s electronic devices and thousands of documents, many of them detailing the work he did for Trump.
More from around the web…
Byron York: Why is Mueller handing off cases?
Evan Osnos: The GOP stands by as Trump upends American security.
Carl M. Cannon: Revenge of the Deep State.
Julian E. Zelizer: Can the Cohen tapes bring down Trump?
Steve Cortes: Russia mania is the birtherism of the left.
POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: The map is stacked against Democrats in the Senate, as 10 members face reelection in states Trump carried in 2016. However, a new analysis of election results from the past 10 midterm cycles underscores one massive advantage for Democrats: Theirs is not the party that controls the White House .
The study found that incumbents of the party that is out of power are overwhelmingly likely to win, even in states the president carried in the most recent election (The Hill).
That’s the good news for Democrats. The bad news? Liberals are embroiled in a bitter fight over the future direction of the Democratic Party.
Democratic socialism is on the rise, underscored by 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s upset victory of Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), the No. 4 Democrat in the House, in a primary last month (The Associated Press).
Moderate Democrats are worried by this development and warning that a leftward lurch could cost the party in the midterm elections.
The New York Times: Revolution on the left rattles some Democrats.
NBC News: Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) wing of the party terrifies centrist Democrats (and they’d like to stop it).
> The 2018 midterm elections are a little over three months away, but potential Democratic presidential candidates are already looking ahead to 2020 and deciding when and whether to jump into the race. One certainty: The field will be large.
Will it be like 1992, when then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton waited until a few months before the Iowa caucuses to get into the race? Will candidates start piling into the contest a few weeks after the midterms, as former President Obama did in 2008? Or will candidates follow the lead of Howard Dean, who kicked off his campaign before the 2002 midterm elections?
The Hill’s Reid Wilson has the historical perspective HERE.
CNN: Democratic governors eye 2020.
More from the campaign trail … Trump’s decision to get involved in the gubernatorial primary race in Georgia has angered some Republicans, who are hopeful he stays out of other hotly contested races in Kansas and Tennessee (The New York Times) … The Democratic governor of Montana is raising his profile ahead of a potential 2020 run (The Hill) … Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is walking a tightrope as he considers whether to back Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh (The New York Times) … Donald Trump Jr. is holding a fundraiser today for Manchin’s challenger, state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (The Hill).
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
➔ ADMINISTRATION: Big week ahead for the Health and Human Services Department, working to meet a court-ordered deadline to reunite migrant families. And, globally, financial and economic experts are increasingly worried about tariffs as the week begins….
Immigration: The administration faces a deadline Thursday to reunite 2,500 migrant children with their parents. A federal judge has praised the government’s efforts thus far to heed the court’s orders (Reuters).
The Hill: Update on the reunification progress as the week begins.
The Associated Press: In San Diego, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw takes a hard line as he navigates between the ACLU and the Trump administration in legal challenges to immigration policies. The next significant deadline: July 26.
The Hill: Meanwhile, the Trump administration has stepped up efforts to curb legal immigration, edging closer to deportations that could affect people already granted citizenship.
The New York Times: Citizen? Unless someone decides you’re not.
Tariffs: The Hill: The president, who tweeted anew about trade on Saturday, says he’s “ready to go” with $500 billion in tariffs levied on Chinese products imported to the United States. … Wall Street is bracing for more tariffs fallout as it awaits projections and reports due this week (Reuters) … The International Monetary Fund warns that tariffs are hurting the global economy (Financial Tribune) … Trade tensions threaten global growth as the engines of leading economies fall out of sync, the world’s top finance chiefs warned on Sunday (Bloomberg).
> Agriculture fallout: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the administration will be “looking at different opportunities to help the farmers” and provide assistance to other U.S. economic sectors being “unfairly targeted” by retaliatory tariffs from other nations. “But I still think from a macro basis, we do not see yet any impact on what’s a very positive growth” performance for the U.S. economy this year, he added (PBS).
> Mnuchin, participating in the Group of 20 global economic summit in Buenos Aires over the weekend, downplayed Trump’s unusual presidential rebuke about rising U.S. interest rates and his jawboning about currency valuations. The secretary hastened to say the administration supports the Federal Reserve’s independence (CNN) … Trump does not control monetary policy (Bloomberg).
Pentagon – Latinos shut out of top advancement: The Hill: Hispanics have failed to reach top general and admiral posts in the military at the rate of other minorities. Why? And what’s being done about the disparity?
The Morning Report is created by journalists Jonathan Easley firstname.lastname@example.org & Alexis Simendinger email@example.com. Suggestions? Tips? We want to hear from you! Share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!
The Carter Page warrant reflects an attack on our civil liberties, by Harris Poll chairman Mark Penn, opinion contributor with The Hill. https://bit.ly/2LdEKHq
The president’s advisers, whom he ignores, must guard our national security, by Dov Zakheim, senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, opinion contributor with The Hill. https://bit.ly/2LdGm41
WHERE AND WHEN
The House gets back to work at noon.
The Senate returns at 3 p.m. and resumes consideration of the nomination of Robert L. Wilkie to be secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department.
The president hosts a White House showcase of products made in America this afternoon on the South Lawn and in the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden.
Vice President Pence participates in the White House Made in America event and later flies to Philadelphia to campaign for Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) and to headline an event to promote GOP tax cuts.
Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis will host Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop and Minister for Defense Marise Payne for this year’s two-day Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif.
> The water wars of Arizona: Industrial agriculture descended on a remote valley, depleting its aquifer — leaving many residents with no water at all (New York Times magazine).
> 30 hours: How `Putin’s spy agency’ carried out a deadly Novichok nerve agent mission in the U.K. (The Daily Mail).
> A Virgin Mary statue is `weeping’ olive oil, and the Catholic Church and investigators in New Mexico say it remains unexplained (The Washington Post).
And finally … Enjoy two brief video clips that will brighten your Monday morning when it comes to human-animal encounters. Here’s an intrepid paddle boarder knocked off his feet by a body-surfing dolphin earlier this year in Australia (Fox News via YouTube)
And 2-year-old Conway Nelson of Minneapolis plays catch with Dozer, a yellow lab residing next door. It’s the tall fence between them that elevates the game, and the Facebook video over the weekend went viral nationwide (WISTV.com).
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