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Mitch Landrieu of Louisiana, who recently said he’s thinking about becoming a 2020 Democratic presidential contender; and Republican Rep.
Kevin CramerKevin John CramerSenate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds The Hill's Morning Report — Trump denigrates NATO allies, floats 4 percent solution Supreme Court vacancy throws Senate battle into chaos MORE>, who is running to unseat North Dakota’s Sen.
Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampSenate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds Bipartisan group introduces retirement savings legislation in Senate Fed chief lays out risks of trade war MORE> (D) in November. http://thehill.com/hilltv
*** BREAKING *** NATO members went into emergency session on the second day of a summit in Brussels amid
President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want to use 'adversary' to describe Russia Comey urges Americans to vote for Democrats in midterms Roby wins Alabama GOP runoff, overcoming blowback from Trump criticism 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.
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.
Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchOn The Money: Fed chief lays out risks of trade war | Senate floats new Russia sanctions amid Trump backlash | House passes bill to boost business investment Hatch threatens legislative action to rein in Trump tariffs GOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki 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
> Former Secretary of State
John KerryJohn Forbes KerryJohn Kerry: Trump 'surrendered lock, stock and barrel' to Putin's deceptions Get ready for summit with no agenda and calculated risks Will Democrats realize that Americans are tired of war? 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 PompeoSenate Dems press for info on any deals from Trump-Putin meeting Pence, Pompeo urged Trump to clarify Russia remarks: report Senate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash 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
“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.
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 TrumpQueen Elizabeth wore brooch from Obamas on the day Trump arrived in the UK: reports Watchdog: First lady spokeswoman may have violated Hatch Act with ‘MAGA’ tweet The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump denies Russian interference at presser with Putin 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 MaloneyA new urgency to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — GOP spars with FBI agent at tense hearing Washington big names celebrate launch of Hill.TV MORE> (D-N.Y.); former Trump campaign manager Corey LewandowskiCorey R. LewandowskiThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — GOP spars with FBI agent at tense hearing Washington big names celebrate launch of Hill.TV The Hill's Morning Report — Trump denigrates NATO allies, floats 4 percent solution MORE>; Rep. Pete KingPeter (Pete) Thomas KingWashington big names celebrate launch of Hill.TV The Hill's Morning Report — Trump denigrates NATO allies, floats 4 percent solution ‘Unmasking Antifa Act' includes 15-year prison term proposal 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.***
Andrew W. Mellon auditorium … Trump attorney
Rudy Giuliani; Rep.
Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn Bosher MaloneyA new urgency to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — GOP spars with FBI agent at tense hearing Washington big names celebrate launch of Hill.TV MORE> (D-N.Y.); former Trump campaign manager
Corey LewandowskiCorey R. LewandowskiThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — GOP spars with FBI agent at tense hearing Washington big names celebrate launch of Hill.TV The Hill's Morning Report — Trump denigrates NATO allies, floats 4 percent solution MORE>; Rep.
Pete KingPeter (Pete) Thomas KingWashington big names celebrate launch of Hill.TV The Hill's Morning Report — Trump denigrates NATO allies, floats 4 percent solution ‘Unmasking Antifa Act' includes 15-year prison term proposal 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
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) ManchinSenate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds Morrisey accuses Manchin of 'lying' to Trump, attacks ‘liberal’ record The Hill's Morning Report — Trump, Putin meet under cloud of Mueller’s Russia indictments 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 McConnellOvernight Defense: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | GOP looks to reassure NATO | Mattis open to meeting Russian counterpart Senate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash House passes bipartisan bill to boost business investment 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 McCainPence, Pompeo urged Trump to clarify Russia remarks: report GOP lawmaker renews call for Trump to release tax returns after Putin summit House conservatives criticize media, not Trump, for Putin furor MORE> (R-Ariz.) at home in Arizona undergoing treatment for cancer, observers wonder how Republican Sen.
Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulThe Nation editor: Reaction by most of the media to Trump-Putin press conference 'is like mob violence' Lewandowski: Trump-Putin meeting advances goal of world peace Rand Paul to travel to Russia after downplaying election meddling 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 GrassleySenate GOP poised to break record on Trump's court picks This week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation Kavanaugh paper chase heats up 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 RosensteinDespite clarification, Trump's Russia remarks put intel chiefs in tough spot More than 100 civil and human rights groups call on Senate to reject Kavanaugh Freedom Caucus lawmakers call on DOJ to probe Rosenstein allegations 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 ClintonOvernight Defense: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | GOP looks to reassure NATO | Mattis open to meeting Russian counterpart Dem pollster: GOP women have a more difficult time winning primary races than Dems Mellman: (Mis)interpreting elections 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 GoodlatteDems try to end hearing on bias against conservatives in tech Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page gets closed-door grilling from House Republicans 5 takeaways from wild hearing with controversial FBI agent 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.
Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the ranking member of the Committee on the Judiciary, and Rep.
Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsDem lawmaker calls on House to subpoena American translator from Trump-Putin meeting Hillicon Valley: Trump denies Russian meddling at presser with Putin | Republicans join in criticism of Trump | FCC chief rejects Sinclair-Tribune merger | Uber faces probe over gender discrimination | Social media execs headed to Capitol Overnight Energy: Koch backs bill opposing carbon taxes | Lawmakers look to Interior budget to block offshore drilling | EPA defends FOIA process 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 ManafortJudge rejects Manafort's bid to move trial further from DC Mueller seeking immunity for up to 5 people to testify in Manafort trial 5 revelations from Mueller's indictment of Russians in DNC hack MORE>’ s “VIP” prison lifestyle ( 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 (
Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortJudge rejects Manafort's bid to move trial further from DC Mueller seeking immunity for up to 5 people to testify in Manafort trial 5 revelations from Mueller's indictment of Russians in DNC hack 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.
President Obama loaned his star wattage to a new anti-gerrymandering ad spearheaded by former Attorney General
Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump, Putin meet under cloud of Mueller’s Russia indictments Eric Holder: Calls to abolish ICE are 'a gift to Republicans' The Hill's Morning Report — Trump denigrates NATO allies, floats 4 percent solution MORE>’s redistricting group (CNN).
Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenRasmussen poll: Nearly three-quarters of Dems want 'fresh face' as nominee in 2020 Biden: Trump, Putin presser was 'beneath the dignity' of the presidency Biden: I’m ‘ashamed’ of Trump’s border policies 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 WarrenSenate Dems protest vote on controversial court pick Dems call for hearings on Trump’s CFPB nominee to be put on hold Dems to propose legislation to prevent ICE from shackling pregnant women MORE> (D-Mass.) and
Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersMellman: (Mis)interpreting elections Dems to propose legislation to prevent ICE from shackling pregnant women Rasmussen poll: Nearly three-quarters of Dems want 'fresh face' as nominee in 2020 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.
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 PelosiRoby wins Alabama GOP runoff, overcoming blowback from Trump criticism Mellman: (Mis)interpreting elections Overnight Health Care: Trump officials score a win against Planned Parenthood | Idaho residents to vote on Medicaid expansion | PhRMA, insurers weigh in on Trump drug pricing plan MORE> (Calif.), Minority Whip
Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerLinda Sanchez announces bid for Crowley’s spot atop Dem Caucus Hoyer: Trump committed 'treason' in Helsinki Pelosi wants party leadership elections post-Thanksgiving 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 JordanFormer OSU wrestlers sue university over sex abuse allegations Freedom Caucus lawmakers call on DOJ to probe Rosenstein allegations Lawsuit alleges USA Diving ignored sexual abuse of divers 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 (
Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanFormer OSU wrestlers sue university over sex abuse allegations Freedom Caucus lawmakers call on DOJ to probe Rosenstein allegations Lawsuit alleges USA Diving ignored sexual abuse of divers 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).
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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.
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.
> Facebook is working to prevent the use of its platform to stir ethnic violence in Myanmar, the company tells The Hill’s
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.
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 : http://thehill.com/homenews/morning-report/396622-the-hills-morning-report8381