The Hill's Morning Report — Trump Denigrates NATO Allies, Floats 4 Percent Solution

 

 

 

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Kevin CramerKevin John CramerSenators highlight threat from invasive species Overnight Defense: Top general wasn't consulted on Syria withdrawal | Senate passes bill breaking with Trump on Syria | What to watch for in State of the Union | US, South Korea reach deal on troop costs GOP senators think Trump would win vote on emergency declaration MORE>, who is running to unseat North Dakota’s Sen.

Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary On The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction MORE> (D) in November.  http://thehill.com/hilltv

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*** BREAKING *** NATO members went into emergency session on the second day of a summit in Brussels amid

President TrumpDonald John TrumpRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports Allies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump States file lawsuit seeking to block Trump's national emergency declaration MORE>’s demands for increased defense spending by the alliance, The Associated Press reports. At this writing, the president is beginning a press conference in Brussels … stay tuned ...

The annual meeting of nations began Wednesday largely where last month’s Group of Seven (G-7) meeting left off — with Trump clashing with American allies and torching longstanding global agreements. As he did at the G-7, the president arrived late to this morning’s NATO sessions.

Trump’s insults and demands renewed global tensions and left Washington scrambling to reaffirm long-held commitments.

The Associated Press: Trump back at NATO after rattling allies, condemning Germany.

> Trump accused Germany of being “totally controlled by Russia” and said the country’s leadership was held “captive” by the Kremlin’s energy interests. Trump’s rebuke to an ally invited criticism against the backdrop of his planned Monday meeting with Russian President

Vladimir Putin, the ex-KGB nationalist he often praises.

German Chancellor

Angela Merkel reacted to Trump’s insult, tartly reminding her listeners that she experienced Soviet control as a child growing up in East Germany.

I’m very happy that we in the federal republic of Germany live united in freedom — and for that reason, we conduct sovereign policy and make sovereign decisions.” – Merkel

Face-to-face later in the day, Trump insisted he and Merkel enjoy a “very good relationship.” Then he resumed his Germany-bashing on Twitter.

Sen.

Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchOrrin Hatch Foundation seeking million in taxpayer money to fund new center in his honor Mitch McConnell has shown the nation his version of power grab Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Utah Senate votes to scale back Medicaid expansion | Virginia abortion bill reignites debate | Grassley invites drug execs to testify | Conservative groups push back on e-cig crackdown MORE> (R-Utah), a Trump ally, scolded the president when asked about the slap at Merkel.

“I have really the highest opinion of her and those who are with her. I think sometimes you can be a little too critical of the other [NATO] counterparts. I don’t think we should be critical. She’s really good.” – Hatch

The Hill: Trump-Merkel relationship goes from bad to worse.

The New York Times: Politically weakened Merkel hesitates to take Trump on alone.

> The president often fumes that most of the 28 NATO member nations are not footing the bill for their shared defense commitments and instead rely on the United States. On this trip, Trump demanded the entire European alliance meet 10-year goals — now.

"The U.S. is paying for Europe’s protection, then loses billions on Trade. Must pay 2% of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025." – Trump tweeted

NATO members agreed in 2014 to move toward committing at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) on their sovereign defense capabilities by 2024.

The president’s assertions that NATO members owe the United States money and are in arrears to the alliance are false, according to a detailed analysis by Politifact

> Trump went on to tell Bulgarian President

Rumen Radev that NATO countries must double their shares of NATO’s support from 2 percent to 4 percent, a statement that puzzled allies and set leaders on edge in Brussels.

“He just left after he announced that … NATO is not a bourse [stock market] in which one can buy security. But yes, on the other hand, President Trump is right, as each country should build its effective capabilities, and the unwillingness with which Bulgaria spends money on defense is obvious.” – Radev

 

 

The reaction back home

> The House unanimously passed a resolution expressing support for NATO, calling it “the most important and critical security link between the United States and Europe.”

“NATO is indispensable. It is as important today as it ever has been.” – Speaker

Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanUnscripted Trump keeps audience guessing in Rose Garden Coulter defends Paul Ryan: This is 100 percent Trump's fault The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Trump escalates border fight with emergency declaration MORE> (R-Wis.)

> Former Secretary of State

John KerryJohn Forbes KerryWarren taps longtime aide as 2020 campaign manager In Virginia, due process should count more than blind team support Trump will give State of Union to sea of opponents MORE> exploded with anger, releasing a blistering statement lambasting Trump’s “disgraceful” and “destructive” behavior that he said “flies in the face of the actual interests of the United States of America.” Kerry’s worries: NATO, which Putin opposes, is being undercut, and the U.S. image as an international  partner is severely frayed.

Kerry defended the Obama administration’s efforts to extract additional defense investments among NATO allies, saying the subject was pursued in a “constructive and collegial way.”

“The president set America back this morning. He is steadily destroying our reputation in the world. He is undermining our interests. He diminishes alliances we built to safeguard an economic and strategic force that has allowed millions of people to live in freedom.” – Kerry

Secretary of State

Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoCongress closer to forcing Trump’s hand on Saudi support Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN ambassador job The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight MORE>, who is accompanying Trump on the trip, said little at the president’s side, but attempted to clean up afterward.

 

 

Backdrop of a tariffs war

Trump’s swing through Brussels unfolded as the trade war between the U.S. and China showed no signs of easing.

The Chinese are threatening new tariffs on $200 billion in U.S. goods, the latest volley between the Eastern and Western powers.

Reuters: China vows to hit back over U.S. proposal for fresh tariffs.

Back in the U.S., the Senate voted 88-11 to include language in the upcoming spending bill “providing a role for Congress” on future tariffs. The nonbinding vote was a symbolic shot at the president and fresh evidence that Republicans in Congress believe Trump’s approach may be politically and economically ill-advised (The Hill).

There’s some anxiety about ... tariffs.” – Senate Majority Whip

John CornynJohn CornynOn unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 Poll shows competitive matchup if O’Rourke ran for Senate again On The Money: Trump declares emergency at border | Braces for legal fight | Move divides GOP | Trump signs border deal to avoid shutdown | Winners, losers from spending fight | US, China trade talks to resume next week MORE> (R-Texas)

“Support for our legislation will only grow. We will continue to push for a binding vote and are hopeful one will be scheduled in the near future.” – Sen.

Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger RNC votes to give Trump 'undivided support' ahead of 2020 Sen. Risch has unique chance to guide Trump on foreign policy MORE> (R-Tenn.)

The Hill: Business groups and congressional Republicans express frustration with Trump’s escalating trade fight with China.

Reuters: China plays nice with foreign investors amid escalating trade war.

Trump this afternoon ends his headline-grabbing participation in Brussels. He and first lady

Melania TrumpMelania TrumpThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Trump escalates border fight with emergency declaration Trump dismisses Ann Coulter after criticism: 'I hardly know her' The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight MORE> fly to England and meet with U.S. Embassy staff gathered at Winfield House in London. From there, the Trumps head to Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, the birthplace of Winston Churchill, to attend a gala dinner tonight hosted by Prime Minister

Theresa May. On Friday, the president will meet again with May and has an audience with

Queen Elizabeth II.

Reuters: Trade and tea with Queen for Trump on visit to Britain in “turmoil” (and 60,000 signed up to protest in London).

The New York Times: Trump visit to test “special relationship.”

LEADING THE DAY

***Spotted last night at The Hill’s launch party for >Hill.TV at the

Andrew W. Mellon auditorium … Trump attorney

Rudy Giuliani; Rep.

Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn Bosher MaloneyAmazon exec invites Ocasio-Cortez to tour facilities after criticism Dem lawmaker rips opposition to Amazon going into New York: 'Now we're protesting jobs' Democrat vows to move forward with impeachment, dividing his party MORE> (D-N.Y.); former Trump campaign manager

Corey LewandowskiCorey R. LewandowskiOvernight Energy: Zinke joins Trump-tied lobbying firm | Senators highlight threat from invasive species | Top Republican calls for Green New Deal vote in House Zinke, Lewandowski join Trump veterans’ lobbying firm Trump campaign spent nearly 0K of donor money on law firm representing Kushner MORE>; Rep.

Pete KingPeter (Pete) Thomas KingGOP lawmaker: Amazon would be moving into NY if Ocasio-Cortez wasn't elected Dems escalate gun fight a year after Parkland Assault weapons ban push tests Dem support MORE> (R-N.Y.); The Hill’s chairman

James Finkelstein; executive vice president

John Solomon and president

Richard Beckman ... and Hill.TV hosts

Krystal Ball, Buck Sexton,

Jamal Simmons and

Joe Concha.***

SUPREME COURT: Less than 48 hours after the president announced his Supreme Court nominee, Senate Republicans sounded decidedly upbeat that while the confirmation process for Judge

Brett Kavanaugh may prove lengthy, the votes ultimately will be there to seat him on the court.

Their confidence grew as Democrats openly conceded they may have a campaign theme this fall but won’t be able to block the nominee.

The Hill: Senate Democratic leadership is stuck between two imperatives.

The Hill: Liberals see Kavanaugh as potential threat to consumer protections.

West Virginia Sen.

Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinDemocrats brush off GOP 'trolling' over Green New Deal Senate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general GOP wants to pit Ocasio-Cortez against Democrats in the Senate MORE>, a Democrat seeking reelection in a pro-Trump state, said Kavanaugh, 53, “seems to be a very fine person,” with attributes he spelled out in some detail.

“You know, we have to just look at making sure that the rule of law and the Constitution [are] going to be followed, and that’s going to basically pre-empt anything else he does. Most importantly, I intend to hear from West Virginians.” – Manchin

Manchin is battling GOP efforts to defeat him. In fact, a super PAC aligned with Senate Majority Leader

Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats brush off GOP 'trolling' over Green New Deal Trump should beware the 'clawback' Congress Juan Williams: America needs radical solutions MORE> (R-Ky.) will spend $4.7 million in new ads in West Virginia, North Dakota, Nevada, Indiana and Arizona, Politico reports.

To confirm Kavanaugh, Senate Republicans need 51 votes. Their strategy envisions a unified caucus, accompanied by a few Democratic defectors. With Sen.

John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP senator says Republicans didn't control Senate when they held majority Pence met with silence after mentioning Trump in Munich speech Mark Kelly's campaign raises over M in days after launching Senate bid MORE> (R-Ariz.) at home in Arizona undergoing treatment for cancer, observers wonder how Republican Sen.

Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOn unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 Congress must step up to protect Medicare home health care Business, conservative groups slam Trump’s national emergency declaration MORE> of Kentucky will vote. He has some objections to positions Kavanaugh has taken.

The Hill: Sen. Paul’s role in the Supreme Court nomination equation.

Kavanaugh continued making courtesy calls to senators on Wednesday as the Department of Justice, outside groups and the news media began gathering and poring over decades of decisions, writings, memos and statements that senators and their staffs will review.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman

Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySmaller tax refunds put GOP on defensive High stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks Senate approves border bill that prevents shutdown MORE> (R-Iowa) is alert to the huge volume of materials he and his colleagues will amass during this confirmation process. He will say only that a hearing on Kavanaugh’s nomination may occur in “August or September.” McConnell would like the full Senate to vote as soon as he’s assembled 51 votes and preferably not later than September.

In an unusual move, Justice Department Deputy Attorney General

Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports Warren: Officials have duty ‘to invoke 25th amendment’ if they think Trump is unfit McCabe: Trump 'may have' committed a crime in blocking Russia probe MORE> turned to federal prosecutors for help with the necessary data collection (The New York Times). The White House disclosed that Kavanaugh accrued credit card and other debts, including for tickets he purchased to sporting events (The Washington Post).

The amount of potentially relevant files, emails, memos, notes, articles, rulings, drafts and public statements is gargantuan. Kavanaugh's record includes a clerkship with Justice

Anthony Kennedy; staff work with former independent counsel

Kenneth Starr; assistance to the GOP during the 2000 election recount in Florida; two years in President

George W. Bush's White House counsel's office; three as Bush's staff secretary; and 12 years as a federal appeals court judge. He also teaches law.

 

 

If Senate Democrats insist on a forensic deep-dive into the entirety of the judge’s career record, the confirmation will slow to a crawl (Politico).

The Hill: Kavanaugh nomination raises questions about ObamaCare’s fate.

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

INVESTIGATIONS: FBI agent

Peter Strzok, who played a key role in the election year investigations into Trump and

Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRoger Stone shares, quickly deletes Instagram photo of federal judge on his case Barack, Michelle Obama expected to refrain from endorsing in 2020 Dem primary: report Why the national emergency? A second term may be Trump’s only shield from an indictment MORE>, will testify in public today before a joint session of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

The Hill: FBI agent set for public grilling.

Strzok, who is on leave from the FBI, was briefly on special counsel

Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE>’s team but was kicked off when Department of Justice Inspector General

Michael Horowitz discovered anti-Trump private messages exchanged with

Lisa Page, a former FBI lawyer with whom he had an affair.

In one of the messages, Strzok said he’d do whatever he could to “stop” Trump from being elected.

The Associated Press: Strzok to testify that he was not tainted by political bias.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman

Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteIt’s time for Congress to pass an anti-cruelty statute DOJ opinion will help protect kids from dangers of online gambling House GOP probe into FBI, DOJ comes to an end MORE> (R-Va.) has subpoenaed Page for private testimony but she refused to show up on Wednesday. That has infuriated Republican lawmakers, but Page is negotiating a new date to meet with lawmakers (The Hill).

The highly anticipated public testimony from Strzok ignited yet another skirmish on Capitol Hill, where Democrats are accusing Republicans of demonizing him to undermine Mueller’s probe.

Lawmakers grilled Strzok behind closed doors for 11 hours in June and Republicans say that session produced new and startling information.

Rep.

Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the ranking member of the Committee on the Judiciary, and Rep.

Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsHouse chairman: Trump lawyers may have given false info about Cohen payments Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Dems blast rulemaking on family planning program | Facebook may remove anti-vaccine content | Medicare proposes coverage for new cancer treatment Rule change sharpens Dem investigations into Trump MORE> (D-Md.), the ranking member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, released a joint letter on Wednesday demanding Republicans release the full transcript of that interview with Strzok.

Nadler and Cummings released the questions GOP lawmakers asked Strzok, which they said were evidence their primary aim is to impede the special counsel’s ongoing investigation.

            “This investigation is a political charade — a platform to elevate far-right conspiracy theories and undermine the Special Counsel’s ongoing criminal investigation of the President and his campaign aides, which has already produced five guilty pleas and criminal charges against 23 individuals and entities.” – Nadler and Cummings

Horowitz’s report found that political bias did not play a role in the FBI’s decision not to charge Clinton. But he suggested that Strzok’s anti-Trump bias led him to prioritize the Trump campaign investigation over the Clinton investigation at key moments in 2016.

 

 

 

More from the investigative front … Mueller’s team revealed in court documents former Trump campaign manager

Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortRoger Stone shares, quickly deletes Instagram photo of federal judge on his case Mueller probe figures use fame to pay bills Mueller subpoenas former Cambridge Analytica employee MORE>

s “VIP” prison lifestyle (

>The Hill) … Attorney

Lanny Davis, an opinion contributor at The Hill who is representing

Michael Cohen, is sending up warning shot after warning shot at Trump and his legal team (

>Hill.TV).

POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: The Obama administration is back on the scene with the midterm elections only four months away.

Former

President Obama loaned his star wattage to a new anti-gerrymandering ad spearheaded by former Attorney General

Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderBarack, Michelle Obama expected to refrain from endorsing in 2020 Dem primary: report Ocasio-Cortez to be first guest on new Desus and Mero show Holder says he will make 2020 decision in coming weeks MORE>’s redistricting group (CNN).

Former

Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenBarack, Michelle Obama expected to refrain from endorsing in 2020 Dem primary: report Klobuchar, O'Rourke visit Wisconsin as 2020 race heats up Biden: 'The America I see does not wish to turn our back on the world' MORE> will headline a fundraiser next week in Arizona for Senate Democratic contender

Kyrsten Sinema (AZ Central).

And this weekend, former Secretary of State

Hillary Clinton and Sens.

Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren set to announce plan for universal child care: reports Barack, Michelle Obama expected to refrain from endorsing in 2020 Dem primary: report Booker seeks dialogue about race as he kicks off 2020 campaign MORE> (D-Mass.) and

Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersCongress closer to forcing Trump’s hand on Saudi support Booker seeks dialogue about race as he kicks off 2020 campaign Capitalism: The known ideal MORE> (I-Vt.) will headline the American Federation of Teachers convention in Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).

There is speculation that Clinton, Warren and Sanders might all seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, underscoring the generational tension in the Democratic Party right now, which is making room for new stars, like 28-year-old

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who recently knocked off the No. 4 Democrat in the House, Rep. Joseph Crowley (N.Y.), in a primary race.

Rep.

Linda Sánchez (Calif.), the fifth ranking Democrat in the House, is calling for a complete overhaul of Democratic leadership next year.

She singled out the top three Democrats in the House — Minority Leader

Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiDonald Trump proved himself by winning fight for border security Trump should beware the 'clawback' Congress The national emergency will haunt Republicans come election season MORE> (Calif.), Minority Whip

Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerOn unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 Dems ready aggressive response to Trump emergency order, as GOP splinters Winners and losers in the border security deal MORE> (Md.) and Assistant Minority Leader

James Clyburn (S.C.) — saying it’s time for them “to pass the torch to a new generation” regardless of the outcome of November’s midterm elections (The Hill).

“Having the top three leadership of the same generation, I think it’s time for that generational change.” – Sanchez

Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Pelosi, responded:

    “House Democrats are focused on winning in November and if you are rowing in the opposite direction, you are only helping Republicans.” – Hammill

The Hill: Democrats struggle with unity amid leadership tensions.

More politics … The battle to control state houses across the country will play out across the rubble of the Blue Wall that Trump punched through in 2016 (>The Hill) … Speaker Ryan is the latest GOP leader to defend Rep.

Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanWhite House, GOP defend Trump emergency declaration Rod Rosenstein’s final insult to Congress: Farewell time for reporters but not testimony House conservatives blast border deal, push Trump to use executive power MORE> (R-Ohio) against accusations he turned a blind eye to sexual assault while acting as a wrestling coach at Ohio State University in the 1980s and 1990s … Ryan was more forceful in defending Jordan than he was last week (

>The Hill).

The Morning Report is created by journalists

Jonathan Easley

jeasley@thehill.com &

Alexis Simendinger >asimendinger@thehill.com

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OPINION

Beyond smart: Kavanaugh’s credentials, and the limits of intelligence, by Ezra Rosser, opinion contributor with The Hill. https://bit.ly/2N9JNoV

Democrats need big-tent energy policies that appeal to Americans, by Paul Bledsoe, opinion contributor with The Hill. https://bit.ly/2N5E97k

WHERE AND WHEN

The House meets at 10 a.m.

The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. and resumes consideration of the nomination of

Paul Ney Jr. to be general counsel of the Department of Defense.

The president leaves Brussels this afternoon for England, where he and the first lady remain until Friday, then on to Scotland over the weekend.

Vice President Pence is participating in a series of regional radio interviews this morning.

The

Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the Consumer Price Index and real earnings reports for June at 8:30 a.m.

Secretary Pompeo has a jammed schedule today in Brussels: This morning he attends a Syria small group meeting, and in the afternoon, he attends an energy security meeting with Lithuanian President

Dalia Grybauskaite and Norwegian Prime Minister

Erna Solberg; meets with High Representative

Federica Mogherini; attends a U.S.-EU Energy Council meeting; sits down with Italian Foreign Minister

Enzo Moavero Milanesi; meets with Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister

Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir; meets with Iraq Prime Minister

Haider al-Abadi; and hosts a Defeat-ISIS ministerial gathering, all at NATO headquarters.

ELSEWHERE

> Facebook is working to prevent the use of its platform to stir ethnic violence in Myanmar, the company tells The Hill’s

Ali Breland. Myanmar’s situation has become a test of Facebook’s pledge to rapidly respond when its platform is used for political or unsavory purposes (The Hill).

>

Lawyers for eight Guantánamo detainees who have never been charged with crimes asked a judge on Wednesday to rule their era of war in Afghanistan ended and they should be freed, by Carol Rosenberg, The Miami Herald.

> Soccer: ⚽ The FIFA World Cup final on Sunday is set: Croatia v. France …

Tennis: Today at 9:15 a.m. ET at Wimbledon, seven-time champion

Serena Williams, 36, plays

Julia Görges from Germany in the women’s semi-final.

THE CLOSER

And finally … Trending: A global push to

eliminate plastic straws, stir sticks and tons of non-biodegradable trash from oceans and the environment... How an eight-minute video of

a struggling sea turtle convinced Starbucks to ditch 1 billion plastic straws (Forbes) … American Airlines the latest company to jettison plastic straws and stir sticks (USA Today) … D.C. City Council plans a hearing on proposed measure to ban plastic straws (The Hill) … Rundown of major companies banning plastic straws (Money magazine). … “STRAWS” (the 2017 documentary) … And that cringe-inducing video clip showing a Texas A&M University marine biologist in 2015 laboring with pliers to extract a straw embedded in the nostril of an injured sea turtle, HERE:

 

 

Source : https://thehill.com/homenews/morning-report/396622-the-hills-morning-report

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