The Hill's Morning Report — US strikes approved against Iran pulled back

The Hill's Morning Report — US strikes approved against Iran pulled back
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After warning that Iran’s decision to shoot down a U.S. surveillance drone was “a big mistake,” President TrumpDonald John TrumpAlaska Republican Party cancels 2020 primary Ukrainian official denies Trump pressured president Trump goes after New York Times, Washington Post: 'They have gone totally CRAZY!!!!' MORE approved military strikes but pulled back late on Thursday after a day spent conferring with national security advisers and congressional leaders about a measured response, The New York Times reported.

Officials told the Times that the president initially approved strikes on a handful of Iranian targets, such as radar and missile batteries, before the action was called off around 7:30 p.m. without any weapons being fired.

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The retaliation was set to take place before dawn in Iran to minimize risk of casualties, according to the Times. But military officials received word a short time later with planes in the air that the strike was off, at least temporarily, the Times added.

Trump warned Iran overnight that a U.S. attack was imminent by using Oman as an intermediary, Iranian officials told Reuters today. According to the account, Trump conveyed his opposition to any war with Iran and a preference to talk to Tehran, including an offer of a “short period of time” in which to receive Iran’s response. The official quoted by Reuters said Iran responded through Oman that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was “against any talks,” adding a warning that “any attack on Iran will have regional and international consequences.”

The Associated Press, The Washington Post, Bloomberg and ABC News were among news outlets that confirmed The New York Times account overnight, citing unnamed administration officials.

Trump’s reaction to Iran’s drone strike evolved as Thursday wore on. The president said “this country will not stand for it, that I can tell you,” but he also sounded a cautious note, suggesting that the destruction of the surveillance drone was different in his mind than a strike against U.S. pilots or armed forces.

United States Central Command said in a statement on Thursday that the drone was destroyed in “an unprovoked attack” in international airspace, reportedly by a surface-to-air missile. Iran insisted the drone was inside the country’s airspace when it was struck. 

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For more than a year, the Trump administration has applied maximum economic pressure on Tehran and recently warned publicly that Iran was plotting military attacks, and was to blame for this month’s strikes on two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz.

On Thursday, Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate Judiciary Committee requests consultation with admin on refugee admissions Trump reignites court fight with Ninth Circuit pick Trump judicial picks face rare GOP opposition MORE (R-S.C.) emphasized the importance of an assertive rejoinder from Trump, arguing that if the president did not respond to what the senator said was a clear provocation, Trump risked being perceived as “all talk.” 

Graham told reporters after a classified briefing in the Situation Room: "If they do anything else against an American asset and this president doesn't respond like Ronald Reagan, that's a signal to North Korea and the entire world we're all talk."

The senator referred to former President Reagan's decision to order retaliatory strikes against Iranian targets during the 1987 "tanker war."

"I'm confident that if there is a war with Iran, they lose," Graham said. "I'm confident it would be very devastating to the region. It will not be pretty.”

Trump is scheduled at the end of next week to attend the Group of 20 economic summit in Osaka, Japan, where he planned to discuss trade and security issues with world leaders, including President Xi Jinping of China and Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinMaher: Republicans 'right' to say Democrats 'never got over Trump's behavior' We, the People: A radical idea that must persist Trump's 'soldier of fortune' foreign policy MORE

The Hill: Putin warns that war between the United States and Iran would be “catastrophe.” 

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynDC statehood push faces long odds despite record support Trump judicial picks face rare GOP opposition Zuckerberg woos Washington critics during visit MORE (R-Texas) echoed Graham’s support for U.S. retaliation.

“I think it would be a mistake for the president and the United States not to respond in a proportional or appropriate way,” he said Thursday afternoon in the Capitol. “The best way to keep the peace and stop war is to demonstrate to an aggressor that their escalation is going to be met with equal and proportional response that will cost them something they care about." 

Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntClarence Thomas, Joe Manchin, Rudy Giuliani among guests at second state visit under Trump McConnell support for election security funds leaves Dems declaring victory Paul objection snags confirmation of former McConnell staffer MORE (R-Mo.) said, “There should be a response. What the response should be, I don't know. … Whatever action is taken, it needs to be widely supported and I believe it will be. I believe it will be, but it has to be timely and appropriate and they need to figure out what that would be.”

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer, Pelosi push Trump to back universal background check bill Sinema says she would back Kennedy in race against Markey Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall MORE (D-N.Y.) said he worried Trump could drag the United States into a war with Iran in the absence of thorough consideration and congressional approval.

“I told the president that these conflicts have a way of escalating,” he told reporters after a meeting at the White House. “The president may not intend to go to war here, but we’re worried that he and the administration may bumble into a war.” 

The New Yorker: A tanker war in the Middle East — again? 

CNN: Iran said on Thursday that the U.S. drone was a “blatant violation of international law,” calling on the international community to demand the United States end “its continued unlawful and destabilizing measure in the already volatile region of the Persian Gulf.”

The Associated Press: The Federal Aviation Administration barred U.S.-registered aircraft from flying over Iranian-administered airspace in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman following the shoot-down of the U.S. drone, which had a wingspan broader than a Boeing 737. British Airways, Dutch carrier KLM and Australia’s Qantas changed flight routes over the Strait of Hormuz to avoid tensions in the region.

 

 

LEADING THE DAY

POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenUkrainian official denies Trump pressured president Trump goes after New York Times, Washington Post: 'They have gone totally CRAZY!!!!' Warren overtakes Biden in Iowa for first time: poll MORE’s Democratic presidential rivals have continued to ding him for touting his work with segregationist senators, but Senate Democrats have the former vice president’s back and believe the attacks are unfair.

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerIowa GOP swipes at 2020 Democrats' meat positions as candidates attend annual Steak Fry Booker aide sounds alarm about campaign's funding 2020 Democrats defend climate priorities in MSNBC forum MORE (D-N.J.) and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersWarren overtakes Biden in Iowa for first time: poll The polls are asking the wrong question Sanders unveils plan to eliminate Americans' medical debt MORE (I-Vt.) have continued to pound Biden for invoking his work with former Sens. James O. Eastland (D-Miss.) and Herman Talmadge (D-Ga.) at recent fundraisers as examples of “civility” and the ability to get things done. However, as Alexander Bolton reports, Senate Democrats are not fans of the attacks and hope the intraparty sniping will be kept to a minimum, even with next week’s debates on tap.

“I think everybody is picking on him, press as well as others. He’s the front-runner so he’s the one to shoot down, so to speak,” said Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinFeinstein calls on Justice to push for release of Trump whistleblower report Senate Judiciary Committee requests consultation with admin on refugee admissions Trump reignites court fight with Ninth Circuit pick MORE (D-Calif.), a Biden supporter who served with him for years in the Senate.

“I think it’s a little unexpected, I don’t think he has figured for this,” she said of the attacks from fellow Democrats,

Despite firing back at Booker and others, Biden tried to defuse the situation by calling the New Jersey Democrat after he appeared on CNN late Wednesday night and assailed him for not apologizing and asking Booker to apologize, according to The New York Times.

According to CNN, Booker told Biden that he would not apologize.

The Associated Press: Biden’s South Carolina trip to test whether stumbles matter. 

The Washington Post: Biden’s past working relationship with a segregationist senator comes into focus through 1977 letters that show the pair of lawmakers aligned on an anti-busing legislative issue.

Politico: Biden huddles with Congressional Black Caucus members amid ‘segregationist’ controversy.

The Associated Press: Booker campaign gets 2020 jolt with pushback against Biden.

> Judge Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreSen. Doug Jones launches reelection bid in Alabama Flake donates to Democratic sheriff being challenged by Arpaio in Arizona Omar shares anonymous death threat, speaks out against 'hate' and need for security MORE announced Thursday that he will once again run for the Senate in Alabama despite near-unanimous opposition from within the GOP ranks, including from the president and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDC statehood push faces long odds despite record support Overnight Energy: California, 23 other states sue Trump over vehicle emissions rule | Climate strike protests hit cities across globe | Interior watchdog expands scope of FOIA investigation | Dems accuse officials of burying climate reports Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers say Zuckerberg to 'cooperate' on antitrust probes | Dems see victory after McConnell backs election security funds | Twitter takes down fake pro-Saudi accounts MORE (R-Ky.). 

Unsurprisingly, Senate Republicans are not pleased about Moore’s run, especially after what happened nearly two years ago. He defeated former Sen. Luther StrangeLuther Johnson StrangeGOP frets over nightmare scenario for Senate primaries Roy Moore trails Republican field in Alabama The Hill's Morning Report — US strikes approved against Iran pulled back MORE (R-Ala.) before falling to Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.).

Prior to Moore’s announcement, one reporter tried to ask Blunt about Moore’s candidacy. However, before the reporter could finish the question, Blunt interrupted and said “we’ll see what he says,” making it clear he hoped to avoid all Moore-related questions.

 

 

Outside of Moore, three other Republicans are in the race, including Rep. Bradley ByrneBradley Roberts ByrneHere are the lawmakers who aren't seeking reelection in 2020 GOP lawmakers call for provisions barring DOD funds for border wall to be dropped GOP Senate candidate 'pissed off' at Trump over health care for veterans MORE (R-Ala.) and Tommy Tuberville, the former head football coach at Auburn University. Republicans are hoping one can emerge to take on and defeat both Moore and Jones. 

“Unfortunately, we’ve been down this road before where we’ve nominated unelectable nominees and then we lose the election,” Cornyn said. “That’s what happened last time and that’s what I predict will happen again. I hope he reconsiders.”

“I don’t know what will stop him. Maybe nothing,” Cornyn said, referring to the president and Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpDemocrats introduce bill to block taxpayer-funded spending at Trump properties Trump dismisses NYT explanation on Kavanaugh correction The Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico MORE’s attempts to discourage Moore’s run. “The only thing you can do is beat him.” 

One person who is not expected to jump into the Alabama contest is former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump reignites court fight with Ninth Circuit pick Democrats press Nadler to hold Lewandowski in contempt Pelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' MORE, who held Jones’s seat prior to the special election in December 2017. Blunt told reporters that he talked to Sessions a couple of weeks ago, adding that “he doesn’t sound to be interested in coming back to the Senate.” 

At the moment, Democrats are celebrating Moore’s entrance in the race. When told by The Associated Press of Moore’s announcement, Democratic National Committee chairman Tom PerezThomas Edward PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE called the news “awesome.”

> Evangelical leaders and anti-abortion rights groups are preparing to reward Trump for his socially conservative policies by mobilizing the Christian right and spending money to help him get reelected, reports Jonathan Easley. Religious leaders are often pressed to explain their support for the president, who does not have a spiritual life or attend church regularly.

> Former Rep. Darrell IssaDarrell Edward IssaIssa's Senate confirmation hearing delayed over concerns about background check The Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats clash over future of party in heated debate Issa says he will run for Congress if not confirmed to trade post by Nov. 3 MORE (R-Calif.) is weighing a potential second act in Congress next year.

According to Olivia Beavers and Scott Wong, Issa is keeping tabs on the ongoing federal corruption case involving Rep. Duncan HunterDuncan Duane HunterIssa's Senate confirmation hearing delayed over concerns about background check Can Carl DeMaio save the California GOP? The Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats clash over future of party in heated debate MORE (R-Calif.) and is looking into possibly running to replace him in California’s 50th congressional district. Issa represented the adjacent 49th district before he decided against running for reelection in 2018.

Issa was nominated in September to lead the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, but his nomination has stalled in the Senate, leaving him to eye Hunter’s seat.

News of Issa’s possible return comes after Margaret Hunter, the congressman’s wife and a co-conspirator in the case, pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiring to use funds from her husband’s congressional campaign last week. The guilty plea is a reversal from when the charges were first handed down. 

Elsewhere in political news … Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetThe Hill's Campaign Report: De Blasio drops out | Warren gains support from black voters | Sanders retools campaign team | Warning signs for Tillis in NC Williamson: Climate change result of an 'amoral' economic system Bennet: 'This generation has a lot to be really angry at us about' MORE (D-Colo.) released a series of government reform proposals, including a constitutional amendment to institute a lifetime ban on Congress members from becoming lobbyists and a ban on political gerrymandering (The Hill) … Coinciding with her rise in the polls, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren overtakes Biden in Iowa for first time: poll Warren avoids attacks while building momentum Sanders unveils plan to eliminate Americans' medical debt MORE (D-Mass.) will celebrate her 70th birthday on Saturday. She is scheduled to campaign in South Carolina this weekend, including an appearance at the South Carolina Democratic convention on Saturday.

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

CONGRESS:  The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday released the transcript of its closed-door interview this week with Hope HicksHope Charlotte HicksTrump: 'Top shows' on Fox News, cable are 'Fair (or great)' to me Trump criticizes Fox, which 'isn't working for us anymore' Sarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor MORE, the former White House communications director. During her testimony, White House lawyers repeatedly blocked her from answering questions about her work for the president.  

During eight hours of testimony, lawyers advised Hicks not to answer questions 155 times, according to the committee, including a number of questions about Trump and instances of potential obstruction of justice as laid out in the report by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerLewandowski says Mueller report was 'very clear' in proving 'there was no obstruction,' despite having 'never' read it Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network Mueller report fades from political conversation MORE.

Hicks did answer questions related to the Trump campaign in 2016, saying that she would not accept dirt from a foreign entity to use against a political opponent. She also told the panel that there was a sense of “relief” in the campaign after WikiLeaks released emails from Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonUkrainian official denies Trump pressured president The Memo: 'Whistleblower' furor gains steam Missing piece to the Ukraine puzzle: State Department's overture to Rudy Giuliani MORE’s campaign (The Hill).  

The Washington Post: For ally of Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTimeline: The Trump whistleblower complaint DC statehood push faces long odds despite record support Ukraine could badly damage both Donald Trump and the Democrats MORE (D-Calif.), backing impeachment of Trump is carefully calibrated. 

The Atlantic: The White House is nowhere near ready for impeachment.

> The Senate voted Thursday to block the president’s arms sale to Saudi Arabia, setting up a potential veto clash with the White House.

Senators passed 22 resolutions of disapproval, one for each sale noticed to Congress. Two of the sales were voted down, 53-45. The remaining 20 sales were voted against, 51-45.

The arms sale, estimated to be worth more than $8 billion, would provide weapons to Saudi Arabia, as well as the United Arab Emirates and Jordan. it sparked widespread backlash in Congress after Trump used an “emergency” provision of the Arms Export Control Act to sidestep the 30-day notification to lawmakers about a pending sale. 

The White House is expected to veto the resolutions of disapproval, and the Senate is unlikely to override the likely vetoes with a two-thirds majority needed to do so (The Hill).

The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!

 

OPINION

Gulf war would be 'Iran against the world' — but still not easy to win, James R. Holmes, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2FnCjgD 

What the United States and Israel can expect from next week's meeting with Russia, by Jacob Nagel and Jonathan Schanzer, opinion contributors, The Hill. https://bit.ly/31IsSSF

WHERE AND WHEN

Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features Reps. Ed PerlmutterEdwin (Ed) George PerlmutterMarijuana industry donations to lawmakers surge in 2019: analysis Appetite for Democratic term limits fizzling out Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers struggle to understand Facebook's Libra project | EU hits Amazon with antitrust probe | New cybersecurity concerns over census | Robocall, election security bills head to House floor | Privacy questions over FaceApp MORE (D-Col.) and Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversBill requiring carbon monoxide detectors in public housing passes House The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Republicans offer support for Steve King challenger MORE (R-Ohio), who discuss a bipartisan banking measure at 9 a.m. ET at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10 a.m. at Rising on YouTube.

The House meets at 9 a.m.

The Senate returns at 3 p.m. on Monday and resumes consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2020.

The president today is scheduled to have lunch with Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoBolton replacement inherits tough challenges — including Trump Saudi Arabia says it will take 'appropriate' action if Iran's role in attacks confirmed Clarence Thomas, Joe Manchin, Rudy Giuliani among guests at second state visit under Trump MORE. Trump and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpClarence Thomas, Joe Manchin, Rudy Giuliani among guests at second state visit under Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump pushes back over whistleblower controversy White House releases menu for Australian state dinner MORE receive a briefing about the 2019 hurricane season. At 5:45 p.m., the Trumps host a congressional picnic, which was delayed by a day because of inclement weather.

Vice President Pence participates in a conference call at 4 p.m. with Republican governors to champion the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Pompeo speaks at 2:30 p.m. at the State Department about the contents of the 2018 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, mandated by law. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback answers questions about the report following Pompeo’s remarks.

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOvernight Defense: Trump hits Iranian central bank with sanctions | Trump meeting with Ukrainian leader at UN | Trump touts relationship with North Korea's Kim as 'best thing' for US Trump says he's sanctioning Iran's national bank Lawmakers run into major speed bumps on spending bills MORE delivers the keynote address at 10:30 a.m. in Orlando, Fla., at the plenary of the Financial Action Task Force, an intergovernmental body established in 1989 to help combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats. At noon, the secretary visits NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Economic indicators: Information about U.S. existing home sales in May will be released at 10 a.m. by the National Association of Realtors.

The Hill invites you to the “Future of Healthcare Summit” June 26 to discuss some of tomorrow’s biggest questions in health care with policymakers, health officials and industry leaders. Speakers include Sen. Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyAmerica's newest comedy troupe: House GOP EXCLUSIVE: Swing-state voters oppose 'surprise' medical bill legislation, Trump pollster warns Republicans grumble over Trump shifting military funds to wall MORE (R-La.); Dr. Amy Abernethy from the Food and Drug Administration; Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, who advised the Obama administration during enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; and Steve Papermaster, the CEO of Nano Vision. The event happens at Long View Gallery in Washington, D.C. To RSVP, take a look HERE.

 

ELSEWHERE

Supreme Court: Justices ruled on Thursday that an American Legion-built cross can remain in place in Maryland at a state-owned World War I memorial park (The Hill). … Linda Greenhouse, opinion, The New York Times: The Supreme Court is showing an instinct for self-preservation, at least until next year’s election. 

 

 

Tech: Officials with NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration worry the administration’s 5G plan to auction off radio frequency bands adjacent to one used by weather forecasters will hamper the ability to monitor, predict and forecast hurricanes and other dangerous weather events. The solution, they say, is to make 5G signals quieter. The FCC says there’s no problem to resolve (The Los Angeles Times). … Slack, a workplace communications tool, is now worth more than $20 billion (CNN).

July 4th in Washington: Plans for Independence Day celebrations in the nation’s capital are taking shape, according to a schedule of events released by the Interior Department (WTOP). Trump’s “Salute to America” on the National Mall on July 4 begins at 6:30 p.m. and includes the president’s speech at the Lincoln Memorial and a tribute to the U.S. armed services with flyovers, music and military demonstrations. The holiday begins with a parade and ends with a concert at the U.S. Capitol and fireworks at West Potomac Park near the Potomac River. Schedule details are HERE. Security and access details for visitors are to be released next week.

THE CLOSER

And finally …    Congratulations to Morning Report Quiz Winners, who are in the know about the animated Pixar characters in the popular “Toy Story” franchise.

Quiz masters this week are Donna Nackers, Dominique Tonneas, Carol Katz, Candi Cee, Allyson Foster, RGruber42, Dan Stephen, Luther Berg, Aaron Gebard and Ki Harvey.

They knew that the first “Toy Story” movie arrived in theaters in 1995.

Comedian Don Rickles, who died in 2017 at age 90, was the “Toy Story” voice of Mr. Potato Head.

Buzz Lightyear’s archenemy is Emperor Zurg.

Sheriff Woody’s love interest in the 2019 film is Bo Peep, back for “Toy Story 4” after a cinematic hiatus.