THERESA MAY’S Conservatives are slipping down the rankings, according to the latest opinion polls for the European Parliament elections. And the British Prime Minister is in line for even more ‘historic defeats’ as she tries to shoehorn yet another vote on Brexit through Parliament, a negotiations expert has claimed.
Change UK to modify name AGAIN following legal threat – just two months after last change
How Trump built the outrage wheel
WASHINGTON — Sunday marks the fourth anniversary of Donald Trump descending that escalator and stunning the political world by saying that Mexico sends rapists across the border.
And it’s been pretty much the central theme of his four years on the political stage: Say/do something controversial … Country reacts in outrage … Say/do another thing … Country reacts in outage, forgetting that first controversy.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
Consider last week’s dispute: Trump’s “Blazing Saddles” move on Mexico tariffs (“Nobody move … or the United States gets it”).
This week ends with another outrage: Trump admitting that he’d accept dirt — again — from a foreign government.
This controversy-to-controversy-to-controversy cycle has been one of the president’s biggest weaknesses.
It’s why, after all, his approval rating is stuck in the low 40’s when the unemployment rate is at 3.6 percent.
But it’s also one his strengths: The controversy/outrage always changes, and it becomes easy to forget what last week’s controversy/outrage was.
The political world still doesn’t know how to handle this wheel of outrage.
And Democrats don’t know, either…
The Mueller report plays out over the last 48 hours
If you want to retell what’s in the Mueller report, all you need to do is interview the president of the United States.
So first came President Trump’s admission to ABC that he’d accept dirt from a foreign government again, underscoring the report’s Volume I about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and how the Trump campaign welcomed that help.
And now in the latest installment of ABC’s interview with Trump, the president said he was never going to fire Robert Mueller – the subject matter that’s in Volume II of the report on whether there was obstruction of justice.
But you have to read the entire exchange:
Trump: “No special counsel should have ever been appointed. You know why? ‘Cause there was no crime. They had no– [cross talk] excuse me, they had no evidence of crime.”
Stephanopoulos: “He lays out a lot of evidence, including the episode where your White House Counsel Don McGahn, you tell him, ‘Mueller has to go.’ You call him twice and say, ‘Mueller has to go. Call me when it’s done.’”
Trump: “Okay, now the story on that very simply: number one, I was never gonna fire Mueller. I never suggested firing Mueller.”
Stephanopoulos: “That’s not what he says.”
Trump: “I don’t care what he says. It doesn’t matter. That was to show everyone what a good counsel he was.”
Stephanopoulos: “Why would Don McGahn lie — why would he lie under oath — why would he lie under oath to Robert Mueller?”
Trump: “Because he wanted to make himself look like a good lawyer. Or, or he believed it because I would constantly tell anybody that would listen, including you, including the media, that Robert Mueller was conflicted. Robert Mueller had a total conflict of interest.”
Stephanopoulos: “He has to go.”
Trump: “I never — I didn’t say that.”
After reading that, is there any doubt that the best advice Trump ever got was to avoid a sitdown interview with Mueller?
Biden pledges not to accept foreign interference
Yesterday we asked how Democrats would respond to Trump’s admission that he’d be willing to use foreign interference again.
Play by the rules and possibly lose? Or play the same game your opponent is playing?
Well, Joe Biden released his answer in a new video, per NBC’s Mike Memoli.
“Folks, this is simple. American elections should be decided by the American people and not by Russian or any other foreign power,” Biden says.
“I won’t be part of any attempt to undermine our democracy or public confidence in our institutions.”
Tweet of the day
2020 Vision: The debate field is set
The Democratic National Committee on Thursday named the 20 participants who qualified for the first Dem debates on June 26-27. In alphabetical order:
Michael Bennet, Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julian Castro, Bill de Blasio, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Tim Ryan, Bernie Sanders, Eric Swalwell, Elizabeth Warren, Marianne Williamson, and Andrew Yang.
Two elected Democratic politicians didn’t make the cut: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass.
“If I had to choose between chasing 100,000 donors or getting healthcare for 100,000 Montanans — well, that’s the easiest decision I’ll ever have to make,” Bullock responded in a statement, referring to his late entry into the 2020 field due to expanding Medicaid in his state.
“While 20 candidates are on the debate stage in Miami, I will be talking directly to voters about my record of passing progressive priorities in a state Trump won, the importance of winning the places we lost, and how we are going to beat Donald Trump once and for all.”
On the campaign trail today
Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand and Andrew Yang stump in New Hampshire… Beto O’Rourke is in South Carolina… Kamala Harris campaigns in Nevada… Julian Castro visits Iowa… And Pete Buttigieg holds a grassroots event in Alexandria, Va.
Data Download: The number of the day is … 94
That’s the number of days between Sarah Sanders’ final formal press briefing (on March 11) and yesterday’s announcement that she will be leaving the White House.
The March 11 briefing was only the second such formal Q&A session of 2019.
The 94-day gap nearly doubles the previous longest stretch without a White House briefing during the Trump administration. The previous record was 42 days, between the January 28 and March 11 briefings.
The Lid: Say cheese
Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when special guest star Alex Seitz-Wald described why the 2020 candidates are spending so much time on … selfies?
ICYMI: News clips you shouldn’t miss
In an exit interview, Sarah Sanders told NBC News that she has no regrets about her tenure at the White House.
Can a candidate matter even WITHOUT a debate spot?
POLITICO notes how 2020 Democrats are taking trips to red states to talk about electability.
Progressive Dem Betsy Sweet is in the race to take on Susan Collins.
Trump agenda: Tough spot
The conflict in the Gulf puts Trump in a difficult position on Iran, the New York Times writes.
Nancy Pelosi weighed in on Trump’s comments about election interference.
Here’s how Mexico is trying to reinforce its southern border.
2020: Firing up the flux capacitor
NBC’s Jonathan Allen writes that Biden’s “Back to the Future” pitch is also his biggest vulnerability.
Anita Hill says she’d be open to voting for Joe Biden.
John Hickenlooper isn’t backing down on his attacks on Bernie Sanders and socialism.
In a FOX News town hall, Julian Castro took on the network’s focus on Hillary Clinton.
NBC’s Jordan Jackson reports on Kamala Harris’s newest grassroots backers in South Carolina.
Tulsi Gabbard is doubling down on her pitch against “neocon war hawks.”
House panel votes to hold AG Barr, Commerce Secretary Ross in contempt over census documents
WASHINGTON — The House Oversight and Reform Committee advanced a resolution Wednesday to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for withholding documents on the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
The vote, 24-15 largely along party lines, came only hours after President Donald Trump asserted executive privilege to block access to the information. The Department of Justice announced the move in a letter to the committee’s chairman, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., just as the panel was preparing to vote on the resolution Wednesday morning. Only one Republican, Justin Amash of Michigan, voted in support of the measure.
Trump told reporters at the White House in the afternoon that “it’s totally ridiculous” not to include the question in the census.
“Can you imagine you send out a census and you’re not allowed to say whether or not a person is an American citizen?” the president said, speaking alongside the visiting president of Poland. “In Poland, they say they’re either Polish or they’re not.”
“I think it’s totally ridiculous that we would have a census without asking,” Trump added. “But the Supreme Court is going to be ruling on it soon. I think when a census goes out, you should find out whether or not, and you have the right to ask whether or not, someone is a citizen of the United States.”
The House resolution allows Democrats to pursue both civil and criminal contempt charges against Barr and Ross for defying subpoenas issued by Cummings on April 2 to produce the documents. Now, Democratic leadership and House counsel must decide which avenue to pursue.
To take action in criminal contempt, the House will need to hold a full floor vote. For civil contempt, Democrats can seek authorization from a bipartisan group of House leaders, in which Democrats hold the majority, to file a lawsuit to enforce the committee’s subpoenas.
“What we have learned in this investigation is quite disturbing,” Cummings said in his opening remarks at the committee meeting, stating that the committee obtained evidence that Ross was “aggressively pressing his staff” to add the citizenship question to the 2020 census months before the DOJ made the request to include it, and that Ross did so at the urging of the White House.
Cummings said the administration has claimed that it has supplied 17,000 pages of documents on the issue to the committee.
“This is true, but the vast majority of these documents were already public; others were heavily redacted,” he said.
Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., a member of the committee, said Wednesday morning that lawmakers should not vote on a contempt resolution until the public gets a clear understanding of why Democratic lawmakers oppose adding the question.
“The American people need to know what’s going on here,” Hice said. “Democrats simply don’t want to have a citizenship question, and it is important for us to ask why. We know that that question cannot be used for immigration enforcement. It cannot be used for deportation. These types of things are in federal law. So the question is, why do the Democrats not want to know how many citizens are in this country?
But Cummings told reporters after the vote that Democrats on the committee were trying to ensure fairness.
“When we do not have an accurate count, it affects not only things like educational dollars going to various states and jurisdictions, it affects redistricting,” he said. “It affects … has tremendous effect on all kinds of aid going to rural areas and to cities and all over. It affects every single person. And the other thing is it lasts for 10 years. That’s a long time.”
In a statement released after the vote, Ross accused committee Democrats of “flagrant posturing” aimed at influencing the Supreme Court’s pending decision on adding the citizenship question to the census, adding that the Commerce Department had acted “in good faith” to provide thousands of pages of documents and hours of testimony to the panel.
“No matter how much the Department and I cooperate and provide information, the Committee will always twist the facts to suit their own ends,” Ross said. “This is a disappointing day for Congress and our country. America deserves better.”
Those who oppose adding the question to the census say it would likely suppress the response rate in immigrant communities, leading to an undercount. The administration, meanwhile, has argued that including the question would help it to enforce the Voting Rights Act.
The committee had planned to vote on the resolution Wednesday morning, but postponed action until the afternoon to allow members to read the Justice Department letter stating why the president had asserted executive privilege.
The day before, the department warned Cummings in a letter that it would recommend the president assert executive privilege if the House voted to hold the officials in contempt of Congress.
Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the committee, also sent a letter to Cummings on Tuesday charging that the chairman had rushed to hold the contempt vote and had violated committee rules in scheduling it. He argued that both Barr and Ross “have cooperated — and continue to cooperate — with your investigation.”
The Oversight Committee vote comes a day after the House approved a resolution to authorize the House Judiciary Committee and other panels to go to court to enforce their subpoenas of the Trump administration.
That measure, which was adopted 229-191 along party lines, allows the Judiciary Committee to sue Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn for refusing to comply with its subpoenas related to former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 election and possible obstruction of justice by Trump.
The Judiciary Committee voted in May to advance a measure to hold Barr in criminal contempt of Congress, but Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said Monday that he would hold off on that threat after reaching an agreement with the Justice Department to obtain some underlying evidence from the Mueller report related to possible obstruction of justice by Trump.
Cummings said the House vote Tuesday marked “a pivotal moment for Congress in our ability to conduct oversight as an independent branch of government.”
The White House, Cummings said, has “not turned over one single shred of paper in response to any of our requests” about such things as the response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico; executive branch security clearance concerns; efforts to transfer nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia; and hush payments that the president’s former longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, made to women who allege past affairs with Trump, which he has denied.
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