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Trevor Hughes, Lindsay Schnell - USA TODAY

PORTLAND, Ore. — Najee Gow paced the street Tuesday in front of the graffiti-covered federal courthouse, a megaphone at his lips. “Feds go home! Feds go home! Get out of our city!” the 22-year-old man shouted. “This is not a dictatorship! This is a democracy!” Gow was putting words to a wave of growing anger and resentment in Portland after President Donald Trump suddenly deployed more than 100 federal law enforcement agents last week to the liberal city he has repeatedly criticized. Critics said the president is testing out heavy-handed enforcement in Portland, a largely white city known as one of the most progressive in the nation, before moving on to more diverse cities. They also accused the president of creating more conflict amid ongoing national protests over racial injustice and police brutality against Black Americans. “My sense is they chose Portland because if they had rolled this out in, say, Minneapolis, it would mean to come in direct confrontation with many more Black activists," said Joe Lowndes, a professor of political science at the University of Oregon. "With Portland, it’s a whiter city and they can demonize Antifa or the idea of anarchist looters and kind of take race out of it in a direct way, and make it seem more sympathetic.’’

Tamara Keith

President Trump has a message for suburban voters. And it's not a subtle one. "They want to destroy our suburbs," Trump recently warned in a call with supporters. "People have worked all their lives to get into a community, and now they're going to watch it go to hell," he said from the South Lawn of the White House. Trump has been issuing increasingly dire and outlandish warnings about what Democrats will do to the suburbs. He warns suburbanites will face rising crime and falling home values if they elect Joe Biden. The message: be afraid, be very afraid. The newest ad from Trump's campaign is a very dramatic dramatization of an older white woman calling 9-1-1 when she sees an intruder. But no one is there to answer her call for help. As she is attacked, the words "You won't be safe in Joe Biden's America" flash on the screen. This is all based on the false claim that Biden wants to defund the police. Biden has specifically said he doesn't want to defund the police. His campaign says these are "smears" that aren't working.

Hansi Lo Wang

President Trump released a memorandum Tuesday that calls for an unprecedented change to the constitutionally mandated count of every person living in the country — the exclusion of unauthorized immigrants from the numbers used to divide up seats in Congress among the states. The memo instructs Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Commerce Department, to include in the legally required report of census results to the president "information permitting the President, to the extent practicable" to leave out the number of immigrants living in the U.S. without authorization from the apportionment count. But the move by the president, who does not have final authority over the census, is more likely to spur legal challenges and political spectacle in the last months before this year's presidential election than a transformation of the once-a-decade head count. Since the first U.S. census in 1790, both U.S. citizens and noncitizens — regardless of immigration status — have been included in the country's official population counts. The fifth sentence of the Constitution specifies that "persons" residing in the states should be counted every 10 years to determine each state's share of seats in the House of Representatives. The 14th Amendment goes further to require the counting of the "whole number of persons in each state."

CBS News

Portland, Oregon — This city remained a flashpoint in nationwide demonstrations for racial justice and against police brutality as the biggest crowd in weeks gathered Monday night, reports CBS Portland affiliate KOIN-TV. But federal authorities used tear gas for the seventh night in a row as well as flash bangs and other crowd-control munitions against protesters downtown. KOIN reporters witnessed protesters and federal officers face off near SW 3rd Avenue and Main Street and saw authorities use pepper balls and throw tear gas canisters and flash bangs. Portland police said early Tuesday on social media that federal law enforcement personnel in the area were using tear gas and that hundreds of protesters had scattered to surrounding streets, adding that some were "throwing projectiles" and were "armed with clubs hammers and other weapons."

By Geoff Earle, Deputy U.s. Political Editor For Dailymail.com

The White House cast aside protests from local government officials Tuesday about the deployment of armed federal officers to quell protests inside cities that say they don't want assistance as President Trump demands 'law and order.' The administration is planning to send 150 federal agents to combat violence in Chicago, but for now is not saying which agency they will come from or what their mission will be. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany provided a legal justification for sending Homeland Security officials to Portland, pointing to a statute that allows the feds to deputize officials to protect federal property, following a clash at a federal courthouse in Portland. But she did not state what legal authority Trump would exercise to dispatch 150 federal agents to Chicago – among a handful of cities experiencing violent crime where Trump said he would insert federal forces, despite angry pushback from Mayor Lori Lightfoot. 'It's egregious what's happening,' McEnany said, rattling off a number of incidents where people who joined protests have thrown objects at officers. 'President Trump is taking action in Portland, even though you have a Democrat mayor and Democrat governor unwilling to work with us in the situation. We are surging resources along with secretary [Chad] Wolf at DHS and augmenting the federal protective service to safeguard federal property,' she said.  

By Daniel Dale, CNN

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump's campaign has released another TV ad that dishonestly tries to raise fears about former Vice President Joe Biden's views on policing. The ad released Monday, the latest in a series of similarly fear-mongering ads from the Trump campaign, suggests that a Biden presidency would result in 911 calls from senior citizens going unanswered. That is just nonsense.

Facts First: Biden has not proposed anything that could result in 911 calls no longer being answered. He has repeatedly and explicitly opposed the idea of "defunding the police," and he has proposed a $300 million increase in federal funding for community policing. Biden has not specifically weighed in on a proposal for a 50% cut to Seattle's police budget, which the ad insinuates he supports. The ad relies on a single Biden comment to a progressive activist during a video chat earlier this month, in which Biden suggested he was "yes, absolutely" open to redirecting some police funding toward social services, mental health counseling and affordable housing. We'll lay out the context for that comment below. But even if you interpret Biden's "yes, absolutely" in a way that is charitable to the Trump campaign, nothing Biden has said comes close to justifying the Trump campaign's terrifying vision of a Biden presidency. Biden spokesman Andrew Bates said Trump is "desperate to run against a fictitious opponent instead of Joe Biden." Bates said Trump is a "chronic liar" and "the most lawless president in American history." He also noted, as Biden did at a fundraiser on Monday night, that Trump has himself proposed cuts to federal funding for community policing.

By Ewan Palmer

An anti-Trump political campaign group said Americans must be prepared to take action if the president refuses to accept the results of November's election. The grassroots Stand Up America group accused President Donald Trump of being an "existential threat to our democracy" after he refused to say that he would willingly accept defeat during an interview with Fox News on Sunday. "I'm not gonna just say yes. I'm not gonna say it, and I didn't last time either," Trump said, in reference to comments he made during a 2016 televised debate alongside Democratic candidate Hilary Clinton. The group says Trump's remarks are an "insidious" way for him to sow doubt about the results before a vote has even been cast. Several polls have suggested Joe Biden is currently the favorite to win the election in November.

The payroll tax funds Social Security and Medicare. A "number of Republicans oppose" have pushed back against a cut
Igor Derysh

President Donald Trump threatened to veto the Republican coronavirus relief proposal unless it includes a payroll tax cut, which would overwhelmingly benefit the rich and potentially cut funding for Social Security and Medicare. Trump confirmed reports about his push to include a payroll tax holiday in an interview with Fox News that first aired on Sunday. "I would consider not signing it if we don't have a payroll tax cut," Trump said, claiming that "a lot of Republicans like it." "It's been proven to be successful and it's a big saving for the people. It's a tremendous saving and an incentive for companies to hire their workers back and to keep their workers," Trump later said during a Monday appearance in the Oval Office. "The payroll tax to me is very important." Though a few Republicans, such as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, have expressed support for a payroll tax cut, a "number of Republicans oppose" the measure and have pushed back on its inclusion in the bill, according to The Washington Post.

Trump suggests he plans to exceed his legal authority to implement sweeping changes to health care and immigration
Roger Sollenberger

President Donald Trump suggested in a Fox News Sunday interview that he planned to act beyond his legal authority to implement sweeping changes to immigration and health care policies based on an interpretation of a recent Supreme Court ruling granting him "powers that nobody thought the president had." Axios reported that the legally precarious strategy, which cuts Congress out of the lawmaking process, relies on a theory of executive power floated in June by John Yoo, the George W. Bush administration lawyer who drafted the memo justifying the use of torture as an interrogation technique. The first of the controversial orders will cover immigration, per Axios. Trump told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace that he would also invoke the authority to create "a full and complete health care plan."

By Marshall Cohen

Washington (CNN) Voting experts and political strategists from across the political spectrum are increasingly alarmed about the potential for a disputed presidential election in November, one in which one candidate openly questions the legitimacy of the results or even refuses to concede. These experts are keenly aware of President Donald Trump's well-documented history of lying about voter fraud and claiming that elections were "rigged" when he doesn't like the outcome. They also see a Democratic base that is still burned from 2016, when its nominee was dragged down in part by Russian meddling operation, won the popular vote, and lost to Trump. Interviews with nearly 20 election experts, former lawmakers, political strategists, legal scholars and historians indicate there are widespread fears of a nightmare scenario in November, where Trump's norm-breaking behavior -- coupled with the unprecedented challenges of pandemic-era voting -- test the limits of American democracy and plunge the country into a constitutional crisis. "There's a significant scope for an unprecedented post-election crisis in this country," said Larry Diamond, an expert on democratic institutions at the conservative-leaning Hoover Institution.

Will Feuer

President Donald Trump declined Sunday to say he would accept the results of the 2020 election, adding that he will “have to see” and claiming without evidence that mail-in voting will “rig the election.”  Trump’s comments came during a wide-ranging interview with “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace in which he criticized so-called cancel culture and repeatedly downplayed the coronavirus, which has infected more than 3.7 million people in the U.S. and killed at least 140,131, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. During the interview, Wallace debuted the results of Fox News’ latest national poll, which showed Democratic candidate for president Joe Biden leading Trump by 8%. The poll showed Biden leading on specific issues as well, including a 1% lead over Trump on the economy. When presented with the results, Trump downplayed the findings as “fake polls.” “First of all, I’m not losing because those are fake polls,” he said. “They were fake in 2016 and now they’re even more fake.”

Analysis by Maeve Reston, CNN

(CNN) As the country mourned civil rights icon John Lewis, President Donald Trump spent the weekend conjuring scary images of "who knows" invading the suburbs, trying to appeal to his White supporters in his latest attempt to lead the nation backward instead of embracing the march to racial justice that Lewis championed. Trump's rhetoric -- so discordant with where many Americans are headed on issues of race -- was a reminder that despite mass demonstrations in cities across America and signs of change within big corporations to show that Black lives matter, there have been very few tangible signs of progress on civil rights at the federal level since the death of George Floyd, who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer on Memorial Day.

The kinds of policies that Lewis fought for during his 33 years in Congress — voting rights, desegregation in housing and efforts to curb the disproportionate use of police brutality against Black Americans — have run headlong into the intransigence of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the President's refusal to lead on issues of racial justice. As Americans remember Lewis, who repeatedly risked his life in the name of progress on racism and prejudice, they also face a choice — to stand by passively and allow this moment of cultural change to evaporate or to demand action from their leaders, who risk a rebuke at the polls in November.

By Bruce Haring

Talk about adding insult to injury. Author Mary Trump, out flogging her tell-all book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man, took to Twitter to brag about beating her uncle the President in TV ratings. On Friday, Mary Trump tweeted 5.23 million v. 5.11 million, comparing her ratings for appearing Thursday on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow show to the President’s Sean Hannity Town Hall interview in June. She added the hashtag ‘#seldomseen’ in reference to Trump’s declaration that she was “a seldom-seen niece.” Simon & Schuster, publisher of Mary Trump’s book, said it sold a company record of 950,000 copies in combined print, digital and audio editions as of its date of sale earlier this week.

By Bruce Haring

NASCAR’s Cup Series All-Star Race was not a good one for Bubba Wallace. Appearing at a qualifier held on Wednesday in Bristol, Tennessee, Wallace was booed, then crashed into a wall. It was the first time a significant number of fans were present at a NASCAR race since the Confederate flag was banned. Several thousand fans were on hand – and so was the flag. Jenna Fryer, the Associated Press auto racing reporter, tweeted that many Confederate flags were sighted in and around the Bristol Motor Speedway. “FWIW, in addition to Confederate flag flying over Bristol there was another hanging off a balcony of a condo across from the main entrance as well as others along Speedway Blvd. Spoke to fan @Matt2Harrison and he said he say many flags on shirts and other items in stands.” Fryer also reported that Wallace, NASCAR’s only top tier African American driver and prominently in the news when reports surfaced of a noose found in his garage at another track, was booed when he was introduced and had fans cheer when he crashed. “Bubba Wallace was also booed when he was introduced, and many cheered when he crashed. NASCAR still has a lot of work to do to back up its position. The group Justice 4 Diversity held signs along Speedway Blvd. after the race.”

Grace Panetta

President Donald Trump indicated in an interview with "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace that he may not sign another coronavirus stimulus bill if it doesn't include a payroll tax cut. Currently, the White House and top Republicans in Congress are weighing what a future stimulus package could look like as the federal $600 per week extra unemployment benefit that Congress passed for several states as part of the CARES Act in April is set to run out in six days on July 25. "The stimulus bill is running out at the end of this month. The Republicans say they want liability limits, which the Democrats don't like, you say that you want a payroll tax cut, which even some Republicans are cool to. Will you only sign a bill with those two provisions?" Wallace asked. "We're going to see, but we do need protections because businesses are going to get sued just because — you don't know where this virus comes from, they'll sit down at a restaurant, they'll sue the restaurant, the guy's out of business," Trump said, referring to a federal provision that would shield businesses like restaurants from being sued by people who claimed to contract COVID-19 at those establishments.

“The first few questions are easy, but I’ll bet you couldn’t even answer the last five questions,” Trump proclaimed. “I’ll bet you couldn’t, they get very hard.”
Justin Baragona

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace found himself entangled in a weird and bizarre debate with President Donald Trump over the president’s cognitive tests boasts, pointing out how easy the test is and that one of the questions merely asks the taker to identify a picture of an elephant. Speaking to Fox News host and close confidant Sean Hannity earlier this month, the president bragged that Walter Reed doctors were “very surprised” that he recently “aced” a cognitive test, calling on former Vice President Joe Biden to take the same exam. “They said, ‘that’s an unbelievable thing. Rarely does anybody do what you just did,’ Trump told Hannity on July 9. “But [Biden] should take that same test.”

In a tense and heated interview with Wallace that aired Sunday, Trump first complained about all the “fake polls” that have Biden dominating before taking some shots at the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee’s mental acuity—a favorite line of attack by Republicans and conservatives. “Biden can’t put two sentences together,” he exclaimed. “They wheel him out. He goes up, he repeats, they ask him questions. He reads a teleprompter and then he goes back into his basement.” Wallace, meanwhile, took that opportunity to directly ask Trump: “Is Joe Biden senile?” Trump insisted he didn’t “want to say that” but instead would rather say “he’s not competent to be president,” adding that Biden “doesn’t even know he’s alive” while repeating his claim that the ex-veep never leaves the basement.

White House opposes funding proposed by Senate Republicans
Amanda Holpuch in New York

Donald Trump is seeking to block billions of dollars in funding for coronavirus testing and contact tracing efforts as cases spike across the US, where around 70,000 people are testing positive each day. White House opposition to spending proposed by Senate Republicans has sparked frustrations in his own party, according to the Washington Post, the New York Times and other media outlets. Senate Republicans are preparing to unveil a new coronavirus relief bill when Congress returns from a two-week recess. The package, which must address the public health threat of Covid-19 and the resulting economic crisis, could be the last relief bill Congress passes before the November elections. More than 140,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the US and more than 3.7 million cases of the respiratory illness have been identified. Cases were dropping April, but have since increased sharply across the country. Trump has repeatedly blamed increased testing for the rise in cases, though that is not what results show. The World Health Organization advised that before reopening, rates of positivity in testing should remain at 5% or lower for at least 14 days. More than 5% of people are testing positive for coronavirus in 34 of 52 US states and territories, indicating the US is testing too few people to adequately respond to the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Robert Reich

The president’s assault on decency has created an emerging coalition, across boundaries of race, class and partisan politics. Donald Trump is on the verge of accomplishing what no American president has ever achieved – a truly multi-racial, multi-class, bipartisan political coalition so encompassing it could realign US politics for years to come. Unfortunately for Trump, that coalition has come into existence to prevent him from having another term in office. Start with race. Rather than fuel his base, Trump’s hostility toward people protesting the police killing of George Floyd and systemic racism has pulled millions of white Americans closer to black Americans. More than half of whites now say they agree with the ideas expressed by the Black Lives Matter movement, and more white people support than oppose protests against police brutality. To a remarkable degree, the protests themselves have been biracial. As John Lewis, the great civil rights hero who died on Friday, said last month near where Trump and William Barr, the attorney general, had set federal police in riot gear and wielding tear gas on peaceful protesters, “Mr President, the American people … have a right to protest. You cannot st

One scenario would cut benefits back from $600 per week to between $200 and $400 each week.
By Jeff Stein and Erica Werner

President Trump sought to draw a hard line on the coronavirus relief bill Sunday, saying it must include a payroll tax cut and liability protections for businesses, as lawmakers prepare to plunge into negotiations over unemployment benefits and other key provisions in coming days. “I would consider not signing it if we don’t have a payroll tax cut,” Trump said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” Democrats strongly oppose a payroll tax cut, and some Republicans have been cool to it, but Trump said “a lot of Republicans like it.” Trump also said “we do need some kind of immunity” in the bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has repeatedly insisted the legislation must include liability protections for businesses, health-care providers, schools and others. Democrats oppose this, too.

By Devan Cole, CNN

Washington (CNN) The Democratic mayor of Portland slammed the Trump administration on Sunday for its response to ongoing protests in the city, saying federal agents deployed there are denying protesters due process during arrests. "The tactics that the Trump administration are using on the streets of Portland are abhorrent," Mayor Ted Wheeler told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union." "People are being literally scooped off the street into unmarked vans, rental cars, apparently. They are being denied probable cause. And they are denied due process. They don't even know who's pulling them into the vans. The people aren't identifying themselves. And, as far as I can see, this is completely unconstitutional," Wheeler said. Demonstrators in Portland have been protesting racial inequality and police brutality for the past 50 nights, US Attorney Billy J. Williams said in a statement. Federal authorities have protected the Mark O. Hatfield US Courthouse and, at times, interaction between protesters and law enforcement has gotten violent. Last weekend, one protester was seriously injured after the man was shot in the head with impact munition. Recent videos from the scenes of the protests show Department of Homeland Security personnel arresting protesters and putting them in unmarked SUVs. In one such video that was shared on Twitter by Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, two masked, camouflaged individuals with generic "police" patches, detain a person dressed in a black outfit and place them in an unmarked van before driving away. Earlier Sunday, President Donald Trump, who has called for an aggressive federal response to protests around the country, weighed in on his administration's actions in the city in a tweet, writing: "We are trying to help Portland, not hurt it." The New York Times reported on Saturday that federal law enforcement agents who have been deployed to the city "were not specifically trained in riot control or mass demonstrations," according to an internal DHS memo the newspaper obtained.

“Puerto Ricans, Dominicans and Mexican Americans — we made that company," one former customer said. "It hurt me, coming from Goya."
By Raul A. Reyes

When Ricardo Alvarado went grocery shopping this week, he had a list of items to buy, but he steered clear of anything from Goya Foods. “I was using their beans, but I found a different brand," he said. "I switched olive oil, too, and I bought my own spices, not theirs." A performing artist based in New York City, Alvarado is boycotting Goya Foods. “As long as I’m helping my community, I will do my part. It’s important that we show unity and solidarity.” The CEO of Goya Foods, Robert Unanue, plunged the company into turmoil last week when he praised President Donald Trump at an event announcing the White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative. “We’re all truly blessed, at the same time, to have leader like President Trump who is a builder,” Unanue said. He compared the president to his grandfather, a Spanish immigrant who founded the company in 1936. News of Unanue’s words spread quickly, and hashtags like #Goyaway and #BoycottGoya trended on social media.

By Andrew Selsky and Gillian Flaccus The Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The mayor of Portland demanded Friday that President Donald Trump remove militarized federal agents he deployed to the city after some detained people on streets far from federal property they were sent to protect. “Keep your troops in your own buildings, or have them leave our city,” Mayor Ted Wheeler said at a news conference. Democratic Gov. Kate Brown said Trump is looking for a confrontation in the hopes of winning political points elsewhere. It also serves as a distraction from the coronavirus pandemic, which is causing spiking numbers of infections in Oregon and the nation. Brown’s spokesman, Charles Boyle, said Friday that arresting people without probable cause is “extraordinarily concerning and a violation of their civil liberties and constitutional rights.” Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said she would file a lawsuit in federal court against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Marshals Service, Customs and Border Protection and Federal Protection Service alleging they have violated the civil rights of Oregonians by detaining them without probable cause. She will also seek a temporary restraining order against them. The ACLU of Oregon said the federal agents appear to be violating people’s rights, which “should concern everyone in the United States.” “Usually when we see people in unmarked cars forcibly grab someone off the street we call it kidnapping,‘' said Jann Carson, interim executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon. ‘'The actions of the militarized federal officers are flat-out unconstitutional and will not go unanswered.”

By Amir Vera, Konstantin Toropin and Josh Campbell, CNN

(CNN) The US Attorney for the Oregon District on Friday requested an investigation into masked, camouflaged federal authorities without identification badges who are arresting protesters in Portland. The request is aimed specifically at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) personnel who have been captured on various videos arresting protesters and putting them in unmarked SUVs. Demonstrators in Portland have been protesting racial inequality and police brutality for the last 50 nights, US Attorney Billy J. Williams said in a statement. Federal authorities have protected the Mark O. Hatfield US Courthouse and, at times, interaction between protesters and law enforcement has gotten violent. Last weekend, one protester was seriously injured after the man was shot in the head with impact munition. Oregon's governor and Portland's mayor demanded the troops be withdrawn and a US senator joined them in condemning the arrests. "Authoritarian governments, not democratic republics, send unmarked authorities after protesters," tweeted US Sen. Jeff Merkley, a Democrat representing Oregon. Merkley also tweeted one video of such an arrest showing two masked, camouflaged individuals with generic "police" patches, detain a person dressed in a black outfit and place them in an unmarked van before driving away.

Savannah Behrmann USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – Fox News host Chris Wallace fact-checked President Donald Trump's inaccurate claim during an interview that former Vice President Joe Biden is in favor of defunding the police, leading to a testy reaction.

In a clip released between the "FOX News Sunday” anchor and Trump – the entire interview will air Sunday – the president blamed  "stupidly run" Democratic local governments for the increase in violence in some cities and implied the increase was the fault of the defund the police movement. 'You can't do that': Fox News host Wallace confronts DeVos on threat to redirect funds from schools. "It’s gotten totally out of control and it’s really because they want to defund the police, and Biden wants to defund the police," Trump said in the clip about the presumptive Democratic nominee. Wallace interjected, "Sir, he does not." "Look, he signed a charter with Bernie Sanders," Trump responded, referring to the unity platform released by Biden and the progressive Vermont senator that unveiled multiple progressive ideas and policy proposals. The proposed Democratic Party platform does include a series of police reforms including banning choke holds, ending racial profiling and allowing victims of abuse to pursue civil litigation. However, the platform does not support defunding the police, as Biden and his campaign have stated on multiple occasions. Wallace points this out, saying the plan "says nothing about defunding the police."

Joan E Greve in Washington and Martin Pengelly in New York

Donald Trump has clashed with a Fox News interviewer after the president was challenged about a false claim that Joe Biden wants to defund police. In a clip of Chris Wallace’s Fox News Sunday interview with Trump released on Friday, the president said his likely opponent in November’s presidential election supported the movement to defund police forces. But in the interview, held on the Oval Office patio, Wallace intervened to say Biden did not support defunding. Trump, hoping to prove his allegation, was then seen calling for a copy of a policy charter Biden agreed with Bernie Sanders and which was released this week. The document did not prove his claim. The interview, the first Sunday interview with Trump for more than a year, will be aired in full this weekend.

Seth Cohen

As Portland continues to be rocked by social protests, on Thursday the situation escalated as Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf visited the city and protestors accused the federal government of using Gestapo-like tactics. With Portland increasingly looking like a flashpoint among protestors and the federal government, could it foreshadow more violent conflict across America? The chances are increasing. Like much of the civic outrage across America, the protests in Portland were sparked following the killing of George Floyd by four Minneapolis police officers. But unlike the other cities where the social protests have become more tempered, the demonstrations in Portland show only a modest degree of slowing down. Many of the protests center around the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse in downtown Portland, with protestors regularly defacing the building and sparking confrontations with authorities. The nightly occurrences are also a frequent topic of conservative and right-wing media outlets.

By Chantal Da Silva

Political leaders in Oregon have accused President Donald Trump of interfering in Portland's handling of widespread protests and riots in the wake of George Floyd's death as a political stunt to rally his base ahead of the November election. Despite repeated calls from Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler for federal authorities to remove their officers from the city's streets, the Trump administration has remained adamant on maintaining a law enforcement presence in Portland. In an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday, Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf acknowledged that local and state officials wanted federal authorities to "pack up and go home." However, he said: "That's just not gonna happen on my watch." Instead, he said federal law enforcement, including officers and agents from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection agencies, would continue to patrol the streets of Portland.

Six weeks of protests sparked by George Floyd's killing have drawn the Trump administration's ire
Andrew Naughtie

Federal law enforcement officers sent to quell demonstrations in Portland, Oregon last night used tear gas on hundreds of protesters at the city’s federal courthouse. It comes amid an escalating row with the federal government over the need to impose “law and order” on the streets, with the city’s mayor at odds with the Department of Homeland Security. The demonstrations that began after the killing of George Floyd have continued in Portland for more than six weeks, with clashes between protesters and law enforcement sometimes erupting into violence and damage to property. Federal forces have now been sent in to shut the protests down – sometimes with violent consequences. Last Saturday, 26-year-old protester Donavan LaBella was shot in the face by federal officers using so-called “less lethal” munitions – which the local police are currently barred from deploying against non-violent protesters. The incident, captured on graphic video by bystanders, left Mr LaBella in hospital with a fractured skull. Meanwhile, according to local news investigations and videos distributed on social media, federal officers have for several days been picking protesters up then detaining them without explanation or charge. One clip widely shared on Twitter shows two officers in camouflage uniform and helmets walking silently up to a protester and walking him to a black SUV, apparently without explanation.

By Harper Neidig

The Manhattan district attorney's office on Thursday accused President Trump of trying to delay court proceedings over a subpoena for his tax returns after the Supreme Court ruled the president does not have absolute immunity from the prosecutor's investigation. "What the president’s lawyers are seeking here is delay," Carey Dunne, a lawyer with the district attorney's office, said during a court hearing. "I think that’s the entire strategy. Every day that goes by, the president wins the type of absolute temporary immunity he’s been seeking in this case, even though he’s lost on that claim before every court that’s heard it, including now the Supreme Court." The president's legal team, chastened by the Supreme Court's rejection of their claim that Trump is totally immune to the state grand jury investigation at issue in the case, has shifted their focus to the remaining legal challenges at their disposal, namely that the subpoena at issue is overly broad. "We believe that we can further allege — if the president chooses to do so — that this is not a properly tailored subpoena," said William Consovoy, one of Trump's attorneys. Consovoy argued that because the subpoenas are identical to ones issued by House committees investigating the president, they will likely have to be narrowed significantly and that the case will require a discovery process to allow for a more thorough challenge against the district attorney's office.

By Allyson Chiu

As Chris Christie faced reporters on Jan. 9, 2014, the then-New Jersey governor, known for his pugnacious demeanor, was unusually contrite. For nearly two hours, Christie tried to distance himself from the fallout of “Bridgegate,” the scandal that erupted over private emails and text messages revealing that a massive traffic jam had been orchestrated as part of a political revenge plot. “I am embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some of the people on my team,” the Republican governor said. Christie singled out one top aide: Bill Stepien. During the news conference, Christie announced that he was cutting ties with Stepien, citing concerns about a “lack of judgment” shown in comments the longtime GOP operative had made about the September 2013 lane closures on the George Washington Bridge and the plot’s intended target, the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, N.J. “I was disturbed by the tone and behavior and attitude of callous indifference that was displayed in the emails by my former campaign manager, Bill Stepien,” said Christie, who noted that he had taken immediate action to reduce Stepien’s influence in state politics. “And reading that, it made me lose my confidence in Bill’s judgment. And you cannot have someone at the top of your political operation who you do not have confidence in.” But Stepien’s political career was far from over. Even though his name was reportedly mentioned almost 700 times during the Bridgegate trial, he was never criminally charged in the scandal and has denied allegations from others involved that he was aware of the plot. Instead, Stepien, described by the Record as “a world-class political operative,” has steadily climbed the ranks in President Trump’s orbit — taking another leap Wednesday when Trump announced that he will head the president’s reelection effort, replacing former campaign manager Brad Parscale.

CBS This Morning

President Trump defended his response to the coronavirus and touted his own economic accomplishments in an exclusive interview with CBS News’ Catherine Herridge. Mr. Trump also said more White people are killed by police than Black Americans and defended the right to display Confederate flags.

Washington Post

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on July 16 said it is “perfectly safe” for children to return to school amid the coronavirus pandemic even as some public health experts warned against it. *** “Science should not stand in the way of this“ is another in a long list of dumb things coming from this White House. What century is this White House living in that sounds like something the flat earth people would say. ***

By Ellie Kaufman and Maegan Vazquez, CNN

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump announced regulatory changes to the National Environmental Policy Act on Wednesday, a change that will speed up approval of federal projects such as mines, highways, water infrastructure, and gas pipelines -- effectively weakening what's considered to be a landmark conservation law. Trump announced the implementation of the newly revised regulations in Georgia at the UPS Hapeville Airport Hub, which is set to benefit from the expedited review of a highway expansion project that will allow the hub's operations to be more efficient. Trump claimed that "mountains and mountains of red tape" slowed the approval and development of infrastructure projects, but added that "all of that ends today."
"Today's action completely modernizes the environmental review process under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. We are cutting the federal permitting timeline ... for a major project from up to 20 years or more ... down to two years or less," Trump said, later adding that at "the same time, we'll maintain America's gold standard environmental protections."

Facing eight federal lawsuits and opposition from hundreds of universities, the Trump administration on Tuesday rescinded a rule that would have required international students to transfer or leave the country if their schools held classes entirely online because of the pandemic. The decision was announced at the start of a hearing in a federal lawsuit in Boston brought by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs said federal immigration authorities agreed to pull the July 6 directive and “return to the status quo.” A lawyer representing the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said only that the judge’s characterization was correct. The announcement brings relief to thousands of foreign students who had been at risk of being deported from the country, along with hundreds of universities that were scrambling to reassess their plans for the fall in light of the policy. Under the policy, international students in the U.S. would have been forbidden from taking all their courses online this fall. New visas would not have been issued to students at schools planning to provide all classes online, which includes Harvard. Students already in the U.S. would have faced deportation if they didn’t transfer schools or leave the country voluntarily.

Published Tue, Jul 14 20205:38 PM EDTUpdated 6 Min Ago
Kevin Breuninger, Amanda Macias

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he signed legislation to impose sanctions on China in response to its interference with Hong Kong’s autonomy. Trump also said that he signed an executive order ending the preferential treatment that Hong Kong has long enjoyed. “Hong Kong will now be treated the same as mainland China,” Trump said during a lengthy speech in the White House Rose Garden that quickly drifted away from that legislation to touch on a variety of campaign topics. “No special privileges, no special economic treatment and no export of sensitive technologies. In addition to that, as you know, we are placing massive tariffs and have placed very large tariffs on China.” The Trump administration has been openly critical of Beijing’s sweeping national security law aimed at limiting Hong Kong’s autonomy and banning literature critical of the Chinese Communist Party. Earlier this month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described the new law as an “Orwellian move” and an assault “on the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong.”

By Katelyn Caralle, U.s. Political Reporter For Dailymail.com and Associated Press

A top member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force thwarted Donald Trump Tuesday morning when he asserted 'none of us lie' to the public about the disease. Admiral Brett Giroir's comments came after the president accused 'everyone,' not excluding members of the task force, of lying in order to affect the November election. Trump shared three tweets from former game show host Chuck Woolery who accused government medical experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among others, of spewing 'outrageous lies' about coronavirus. When asked on NBC News' Today Tuesday morning on whether the CDC and other doctors are lying, Giroir said it's his job as a public servant not to lie and to be transparent. 'We may occasionally make mistakes based on the information we have, but none of us lie,' he asserted to Today host Savannah Guthrie. 'We are completely transparent with the American people.' 'In my experience on the task force is the vice president and everyone there has been completely transparent,' Giroir continued. 'We let the American people know what we know. Again, as new information comes, that may need to be changed because we are learning every day.' Of Trump's tweets, Giroir also insisted that he would not speak too much on them because he is 'not a Twitter analyst.' 'To be quite honest, I don't spend time looking at any of that one Twitter because who knows what it means and how it's interpreted,' he said.

UK said US sanctions on Huawei threaten security of equipment, necessitating ban.
Jon Brodkin

The UK government today announced a ban on Huawei equipment in 5G wireless networks, along with a plan to urge home-Internet providers to stop buying Huawei gear. The UK government's announcement said that US sanctions imposed in May factored heavily into the decision, which was "taken today in a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) chaired by the Prime Minister [Boris Johnson]." "Following US sanctions against Huawei and updated technical advice from our cyber experts, the government has decided it is necessary to ban Huawei from our 5G networks," UK Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said in the announcement. A New York Times report called today's UK announcement "a victory for the Trump administration and a reversal of an earlier decision that underscores how technology has taken center stage in the deepening divide between Western powers and China." Under the new rules, the UK said that "buying new Huawei 5G equipment [is] banned after 31 December 2020" and that "Huawei will be completely removed from the UK's 5G networks by the end of 2027." Today's announcement expands on an earlier ban that applies to the "most sensitive 'core' parts of 5G network[s]," the UK said. While there isn't a corresponding ban on Huawei gear in home-broadband networks, the UK said it is "advising full fiber operators to transition away from purchasing new Huawei equipment" and recommended a transition of two years or less. The UK government said it is taking this more lenient approach for wireline networks because "the UK has managed Huawei's presence in the UK's fixed access networks since 2005 and we also need to avoid a situation where broadband operators are reliant on a single supplier for their equipment."

Dan Scavino, the White House deputy chief of staff for communications, posted a Ben Garrison cartoon to his Facebook page that criticized Dr. Anthony Fauci.

President Donald Trump’s social media adviser posted a cartoon critical of Dr. Anthony Fauci on Facebook over the weekend, sharing the work of an artist who was barred from the White House last year for anti-Semitic imagery. Dan Scavino, the Trump administration's deputy chief of staff for communications, posted a Ben Garrison cartoon to his Facebook page on July 12. The cartoon depicted the country’s top infectious disease expert as a faucet drowning Uncle Sam and the economy with demands to close schools, impose lockdowns and cancel the NFL season. “Sorry, Dr. Faucet! At least you know if I’m going to disagree with a colleague, such as yourself, it’s done publicly — and not cowardly, behind journalists with leaks. See you tomorrow!” Scavino wrote in the post’s caption. Scavino’s post garnered more than 12,000 reactions and 6,000 shares on Facebook. Garrison is a popular right-wing cartoonist who was invited by Trump to a July 2019 White House social media summit. Days later, the White House said Garrison was no longer attending after Garrison’s past work elicited outrage and was labeled as anti-Semitic. One Garrison cartoon from 2017 featured an ominous hand, labeled "Rothschilds," controlling prominent Jewish, progressive financier George Soros with puppet strings. In the cartoon, Soros himself had David Petraeus and H.R. McMaster attached to puppet strings.

By Eugene Kiely and Rem Rieder

In commuting Roger Stone’s prison sentence, President Donald Trump and the White House gave a misleading account of Stone’s conviction and the federal investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. In November, a jury found Stone guilty of obstructing a congressional investigation, five counts of making false statements to Congress and tampering with a witness. All of the counts were related to a House intelligence committee investigation that ran parallel with a separate investigation by the Department of Justice. A key line of inquiry in the House investigation was WikiLeaks’ public release of documents stolen by Russian intelligence officers that were damaging to the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and whether the Trump campaign had “advanced knowledge of or access to stolen information.” During the campaign, Stone — Trump’s informal adviser — said that he had been in contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. “A jury later determined [Stone] lied repeatedly to members of Congress,” special counsel Robert Mueller wrote in a July 11 opinion piece for the Washington Post, defending his office’s prosecution of Stone. “He lied about the identity of his intermediary to WikiLeaks. He lied about the existence of written communications with his intermediary. He lied by denying he had communicated with the Trump campaign about the timing of WikiLeaks’ releases. He in fact updated senior campaign officials repeatedly about WikiLeaks. And he tampered with a witness, imploring him to stonewall Congress.” Here we review a July 10 statement issued by the White House press secretary about Stone’s case and subsequent statements made by the president.

Lauren Aratani

Donald Trump has made 20,000 false or misleading claims while in office, according to the Washington Post, which identified a “tsunami of untruths” emanating from the Oval Office. The paper’s Fact Checker column said Trump hit the milestone on 9 July, a day on which he delivered 62 such claims. About half of them came in an interview with the Fox News host Sean Hannity, among them a claim to have “tremendous support” in the African American community and the charge that Barack Obama and Joe Biden spied on Trump’s campaign in 2016. The Post created its database during Trump’s first 100 days in office. Staff have since gone through every statement the president has made at press conferences and rallies, in TV appearances and on social media. In those first 100 days, the Post’s factcheckers counted 492 false or misleading claims, at a rate of about five a day. Since then, the factcheckers note: “The tsunami of untruths just keeps looming larger and larger.” “The notion that Trump would exceed 20,000 claims before he finished his term appeared ludicrous when the Fact Checker started this project,” wrote Glenn Kessler, editor and chief writer, and factcheckers Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly.

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

(CNN) President Donald Trump's decision to commute the sentence of longtime political confidant Roger Stone late Friday night drew the usual outrage from Democrats and silence from Republicans -- yet another norm busted by a man who seems to revel in doing things that no one who has held the job in the past would even consider. And then, people, well, sort of moved on. Trump and his team began an orchestrated -- and beyond-the-pale -- attack on Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease. The President played golf and self-consciously took to Twitter to defend his right to do so. New polls came out that showed Trump in trouble in three GOP-friendly states now battling spikes in the coronavirus. It's a now-familiar pattern with Trump and his administration. The President does or says something totally outrageous. Everyone freaks out for 24 hours. And then he does another outrageous thing, and the previous outrage is forgotten or cast to the side. Lather, rinse, repeat. Except that the Stone commutation shouldn't be so quickly forgotten or replaced by the latest outrage. Because it represents not just a misuse of presidential power but also will have long-term impacts on the ways in which future presidents consider their pardon and commutation powers. Consider what Stone was convicted of by a jury of his peers: seven charges including lying to Congress about his contacts with Trump campaign officials in regards the release of a series of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee's servers by the Russians and subsequently posted on the website WikiLeaks. This, from CNN's write-up of the initial indictment brought by special counsel Robert Mueller's office against Stone, lays out that allegation nicely:

Kevin Breuninger

In addition to commuting his 40-month prison term, President Donald Trump’s clemency order for his longtime ally Roger Stone commuted his two-year probation and the $20,000 fine that were also included in his sentence. The new details were revealed Monday when the Department of Justice made public Trump’s executive order for Stone. The order was released hours after the judge in Stone’s case asked whether Trump’s clemency only dealt with Stone’s prison term, or if it also applied to the 24 months of supervised release that was part of his sentence. Stone had been sentenced in February after being convicted last fall for lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering. Those charges were brought as part of then-special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The charges against Stone related to his efforts during that election to get information from WikiLeaks about emails stolen by Russian agents from the head of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, as well as from the Democratic National Committee. U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson earlier Monday had ordered the parties in Stone’s case to clarify the “scope” of Trump’s executive action.


US infectious disease chief Dr Anthony Fauci is being targeted by the Trump administration as tensions rise between the health expert and the president. The White House has been increasingly critical of Dr Fauci, and on Sunday, an official shared a list detailing past apparent erroneous comments. Dr Fauci's changing advice on masks and remarks on Covid-19's severity are among the points from the White House. The move to undercut him comes as the US continues to see surges in Covid-19. There are over 3.3 million cases confirmed and more than 135,000 deaths nationwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. Dr Fauci has contradicted President Donald Trump's comments on the pandemic a number of times, pushing back on the president's claims that the outbreak is improving and attributing hasty state re-openings to the recent surges. The White House memo leaked over the weekend had noted "several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr Fauci has been wrong on things". Though the White House said Dr Fauci and Mr Trump have a "good working relationship" on Monday, Trump adviser Peter Navarro told CBS News: "When you ask me if I listen to Dr Fauci's advice, my answer is only with caution." *** Of course Trump and the White House are trying to discredit Dr. Anthony Fauci because he is telling the truth that we are doing a good job on stopping the Trump virus and we have more work to do that gets in the way of Trump opening the economy which risk putting more American lives at risk. The White House forgot Trump said we only have 15 cases and it would go away or the virus would go away when summer came and other false statements Trump has made. ***

By Jeffrey Toobin

On March 21, 1973, President Richard Nixon and John Dean, the White House counsel, conferred in the Oval Office about ways to keep the Watergate scandal from consuming the Administration. The two men weighed the possibility of a pardon or commutation for E. Howard Hunt, one of the Watergate burglars. “Hunt’s now demanding clemency or he’s going to blow,” Dean said. “And, politically, it’d be impossible for, you know, you to do it.” Nixon agreed: “That’s right.” Dean continued, “I’m not sure that you’ll ever be able to deliver on clemency. It may be just too hot.” Neither Nixon nor Dean had especially refined senses of morality or legal ethics, but even they seemed to understand that a President could not use his pardon power to erase charges against someone who might offer testimony implicating Nixon himself in a crime.

To do so, they recognized, would be too unseemly, too transparent, too egregiously corrupt. And, in fact, Nixon never gave a pardon, or commuted a sentence, of anyone implicated in the Watergate scandal. But, on Friday night, Donald Trump commuted the prison sentence of Roger Stone, his associate and political mentor of more than three decades. Last year, Stone was convicted of obstruction of justice, lying to Congress, and witness tampering in a case brought by Robert Mueller, the special counsel. William Barr, the Attorney General, had already overridden the sentencing recommendation of the prosecutors who tried the case—a nearly unprecedented act—and Stone was ultimately sentenced to forty months in prison. But Barr’s unseemly interference in the case was somehow not enough for the President, so Trump made sure that Stone would serve no time at all. The only trace of shame in Trump’s announcement was that he delivered it on a Friday night—supposedly when the public is least attentive.

The attorneys general blasted what they called the government's "cruel, abrupt, and unlawful action to expel international students amidst the pandemic."
By Daniel Arkin

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration Monday, seeking to halt a new federal rule that strips international students of their visas if their coursework is entirely online when classes resume in the fall. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, takes aim at what the 18 attorneys general call the federal government's "cruel, abrupt, and unlawful action to expel international students amidst the pandemic that has wrought death and disruption across the United States." The attorneys general behind the suit are seeking an injunction that would block the order from going into effect. “The Trump administration didn't even attempt to explain the basis for this senseless rule, which forces schools to choose between keeping their international students enrolled and protecting the health and safety of their campuses," Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement announcing the suit. The lawsuit, which names the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement as defendants, is the latest legal challenge to the Trump administration's rule.

Kevin Breuninger

A federal judge ordered the parties in Roger Stone’s criminal case Monday to clarify the “scope” of President Donald Trump’s executive action commuting the prison sentence of his longtime ally. Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s request came in response to “questions raised by the U.S. Probation Office,” especially the question of whether Trump’s clemency applies to “the sentence of incarceration alone or also the period of supervised release,” she said in an order on Stone’s case docket. Jackson, a U.S. district court judge in Washington, D.C., also asked for a copy of Trump’s executive order. Trump on Friday evening commuted Stone’s 40-month prison term just days before the 67-year-old Republican operative was set to report to a federal correctional institution in Georgia. The White House’s announcement of the commutation proclaimed, “Roger Stone is now a free man!” – but it apparently left unclear the question of whether the 24-month term of probation from Stone’s sentence still applied.

Mueller published an op-ed in The Washington Post expressing displeasure with Donald Trump commuting Roger Stone
Tom Boggioni

Senate Judiciary Committee Charman Lindsey Graham (R-Sc) stunned political observers on Sunday by siding with Democrats to allow former special counsel Robert Mueller to testify before his committee about his investigation into the Donald Trump administration. Following a Mueller op-ed published Saturday in The Washington Post expressing displeasure with Donald Trump commuting Roger Stone's sentence, Graham tweeted, "Apparently Mr. Mueller is willing – and also capable – of defending the Mueller investigation through an oped in the Washington Post," before adding, "Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have previously requested Mr. Mueller appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify about his investigation. That request will be granted."

By Devan Cole, CNN

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump considered the idea of selling Puerto Rico in 2017 after the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria, the former acting Homeland Security secretary told The New York Times in an interview published Friday. "The President's initial ideas were more of as a businessman, you know," Elaine Duke, who was serving as DHS' acting secretary when the hurricane hit the island in September 2017, told the Times.
"'Can we outsource the electricity? Can we can we sell the island? You know, or divest of that asset?'" Trump reportedly said, according to Duke in the newspaper interview. "(She said the idea of selling Puerto Rico was never seriously considered or discussed after Mr. Trump raised it.)," the paper reported.

As the president casts himself as a bulwark against “angry mobs,” there are signs that he is alienating voters in bedroom communities who view him as a deeply flawed messenger on issues of race.
By Katie Glueck

CORNELIUS, N.C. — On a humid Wednesday morning in this leafy lakeside suburb of Charlotte, American flags fluttered from porches along Main Street, traffic was slow, and the occasional resident ambled out for a walk. There was only one visible sign of the anger and anxiety that have coursed through this community and so many others across the nation in recent weeks: “Racist,” read the faded black graffiti at the base of a Confederate memorial, the kind of statue President Trump has vowed to preserve amid a national discussion of racism in America. Down the street, as she loaded groceries into her car, Elizabeth Stewart vented her frustrations about Mr. Trump’s incendiary approach. “He’s trying to appeal to a base that’s gotten more and more narrow,” said Ms. Stewart of Davidson, N.C., a small-business owner who supported Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race and Hillary Clinton in 2016 and will support Joseph R. Biden Jr. this year. “It’s just extremely divisive.”

William Cummings USA TODAY

President Donald Trump said Sunday that he did not approve of a section of border wall in Texas that was privately constructed and partially funded by a group of his supporters in Texas, claiming "it was only done to make me look bad" in response to a report that it might be unstable due to erosion. "I disagreed with doing this very small (tiny) section of wall, in a tricky area, by a private group which raised money by ads. It was only done to make me look bad, and perhsps it now doesn’t even work. Should have been built like rest of Wall, 500 plus miles," the president tweeted. His tweet linked to an article from Pro Publica and The Texas Tribune that said experts fear the 3-mile stretch of 18-foot high steel fencing built on the banks of the Rio Grande is at risk of collapse. A group called "We Build the Wall" raised the money to privately build parts of the barrier in response to "politicians in both parties obstructing President Trump's plan to build a wall on our southern border." The effort began as a GoFundMe campaign launched by Brian Kolfage in December 2018 amid a government shutdown sparked by Congress' unwillingness to approve the funds Trump requested to build a new border wall, which had been a central part of his 2016 campaign. Kolfage later registered the group, which has raised more than $25 million, as a nonprofit organization.

By Kristen Holmes, CNN

(CNN) As coronavirus cases surge in the United States, the White House is taking aim at the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci. In a statement Saturday, a White House official told CNN that "several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things." The official went on to provide a lengthy list of examples, citing Fauci's comments early in the pandemic and linking to past interviews. These bullet points, which resembled opposition research on a political opponent, included Fauci downplaying the virus early on and a quote from March when Fauci said, "People should not be walking around with masks," among other comments. The move by the White House comes as President Donald Trump and Fauci are not speaking. The tension between the two men has grown publicly as the two have responded to one another through interviews and statements. In a recent series of newspaper and radio interviews, Fauci -- who has worked under six US presidents from both parties -- has at times openly disagreed with Trump.

The president’s lawyer directly contradicted his client on Fox News, revealing, “all of them have been audited, all of them have either been passed on or settled.”
Matt Wilstein

For years, Donald Trump has been claiming that he can’t release his tax returns because at least some of them are still under audit by the IRS. As recently as this past Thursday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany repeated that reasoning to reporters, saying, “The media’s been asking this question for four years, and for four years, the president has said the same thing, his taxes are under audit, and when they’re no longer under audit, he will release them.” On Sunday morning, the president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani blew up that excuse once and for all. After telling Fox News host Maria Bartiromo that he thought the Supreme Court ruling that the president must turn over his financial records to New York investigators was “terribly decided,” Giuliani said, “They have no reason to believe that there is anything wrong with his tax returns. All these tax returns have by and large—maybe not the last one—but all of them have been audited, all of them have either been passed on or settled.” That last statement directly contradicted both Trump and his spokesperson’s excuse for not just releasing the returns to the public voluntarily. “There should be some finality in tax returns,” he continued. “In other words, we get audited, we make a deal, we pay the government, you don’t come after me forever for that.”

Analysis by Harry Enten, CNN

(CNN) Poll of the week: A new Gallup poll puts President Donald Trump's approval rating at 38%. His disapproval rating stands at 57%.
The average poll similarly shows Trump's approval rating hovering around 40%, while his disapproval rating is above 55%. What's the point: Trump's approval rating isn't getting any better. In the polls, he is continuing to lose to former Vice President Joe Biden by double-digits. Trump could win a second term, but there is no clear path to doing so. If Trump does go on to lose in November, he doesn't just need to worry about losing to Biden. Trump needs to worry about the fact that the history books are probably going to put him down as a below average president, if not one of the worst. While I have my problems with historical rankings of presidents as an exercise (e.g. the graders tend to be far more liberal than the population at large), they are a good guide into understanding how history remembers presidents. The presidents viewed at the top of the lists (George Washington and Abraham Lincoln historically) or near the top (Ronald Reagan) tend to be thought of fondly. Meanwhile, those at or near the bottom of the list (such as James Buchanan and Andrew Johnson) are generally thought of as failures as president. The biggest factor separating those who rate highly and those who don't is whether they win a second term in office.

Analysis By Maeve Reston, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump on Saturday finally did the one thing that public health experts and even his own aides have begged him to do to save lives. He wore a mask in public during a visit to wounded service members at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Given his intransigence for so many months, it was a small but significant gesture at a time when coronavirus cases are surging in the US and the President has failed to grasp the depth of the crisis or offer any coherent strategy to control the spread of the virus. While he was willing to wear the mask to protect US service members, Trump made it clear this week that he viewed the hospital setting as a unique one -- clinging to his insistence that there is a "time and place" for masks amid a raging pandemic that has claimed the lives of at least 134,815 Americans. His concern about safety does not apparently extend to schools, which he's pressuring to reopen, potentially putting millions of Americans at risk. His delusional view of the virus -- mainly that it's "harmless" -- serves his political agenda of getting the economy moving and the country back to "normal" ahead of the fall election. But if he's going to win back any of the suburban moms the Republican Party lost so badly in the 2018 midterms, he may want to reconsider using America's children as chips in his political games.

Kevin Johnson USA TODAY

Former Russia special counsel Robert Mueller pushed back against President Donald Trump on Saturday, defending the prosecution of Roger Stone and the larger investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 election, saying that the flamboyant political operative was "prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes." "He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so," Mueller said in a column published Saturday in The Washington Post. Mueller's remarks, prompted by Trump's commutation of Stone's 40-month prison sentence Friday, are the first since he testified before a House committee nearly a year ago after his team brought charges against at least a half-dozen former Trump aides during his campaign and after he took office. Stone was the last person charged by the Mueller team during the nearly two-year Russia investigation. "Russia’s actions were a threat to America’s democracy," Mueller wrote. "It was critical that they be investigated and understood." Mueller said the FBI had evidence that the Russians had signaled to a Trump campaign adviser that they could assist the campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to the Democratic candidate.


President Donald Trump defended his decision to commute Roger Stone's prison sentence, a commutation that CNN legal analyst Elie Honig says could have a potential criminal angle. #CNN #News.  *** Did Trump commute Stones sentence because he was worried Stone would talk if he went to jail. ***

A senior Veterans Affairs official says she was forced out of her job for expressing her right to free speech.

By day, Allison Gill was a high-level employee at the Department of Veterans Affairs, working on health care for the military and veterans. By night — and on weekends — she was secretly recording a podcast that was attracting thousands of listeners, and on a very sensitive subject for the president for whom she worked: special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of the 2016 election and the Trump campaign’s dealings with Russia. Gill took pains to stay anonymous. And she kept a strict firewall between the podcast and her day job, mindful not to violate a decades-old law called the Hatch Act that prohibits federal employees from engaging in some forms of political activity. Now, 2½ years later, Gill, herself a veteran, says she was essentially forced out of her job following an internal VA investigation of the podcast —called "Mueller, She Wrote” — during which she was questioned about how she could record a podcast and perform live shows while claiming to have post-traumatic stress disorder. The episode raises thorny questions about where the government can draw the line on an employee’s free speech, even as it lends ballast to President Donald Trump’s claims that a “deep state” is working to undermine his administration from within. “It was totally retaliatory,” Gill’s lawyer, Cathy Harris, said of the podcast investigation. “It was just meant to harass her and get rid of her. They were acting like private detectives.”

By Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

(CNN) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Saturday slammed President Donald Trump's decision to commute the prison sentence of his long-time friend and political adviser Roger Stone as "an act of staggering corruption." "President Trump's decision to commute the sentence of top campaign advisor Roger Stone, who could directly implicate him in criminal misconduct, is an act of staggering corruption," Pelosi said in a statement. Pelosi said that Congress will take action to "prevent this type of brazen wrongdoing" and that legislation is needed to "ensure that no President can pardon or commute the sentence of an individual who is engaged in a cover-up campaign to shield that President from criminal prosecution." The President has broad constitutional power to pardon and grant clemency, and Friday night the White House announced that Trump commuted Stone's sentence days before he was set to report to a federal prison in Georgia.

Emma Newburger

Attorney General William Barr spoke with President Donald Trump about Roger Stone and recommended against granting him clemency, an administration official told NBC News. Other White House officials were also opposed to Trump’s decision due to fears of political blowback, including Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, according to a person familiar with the matter. Another person familiar with the matter told NBC that advisors told the president that granting Stone clemency “was a big mistake.” The official also said that the Department of Justice had nothing to do with the president’s decision to commute Stone’s sentence on seven felony crimes, which occurred only four days before the 67-year-old Republican operative was set to start his 40 months in federal prison. Barr had previously said that Stone’s prosecution was “righteous” and the sentence was fair, and defended his decision to oppose a stricter sentence for Stone.

COVID and Trump have brought America to its knees. The utter failure of our system has allowed him to scale new heights of corruption each week.
Jill Lawrence USA TODAY

This is truly the cul-de-sac presidency. Every avenue of potential accountability is a dead end. Donald Trump and his many enablers have made sure of it. Now comes the Roger Stone protection racket, the Trump commutation that means his friend Stone will serve no prison time for seven felony convictions that include lying and witness-tampering to protect — who else? — Trump, in the special counsel's Russia investigation. It is no less stunning for its inevitability, inspiring disgust across the political spectrum from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (“staggering corruption”)  to Utah Sen. Mitt Romney (“unprecedented, historic corruption”). This latest example of Trump TLC for a fellow swamp creature came a day after the Supreme Court affirmed presidents are not above the law while all but assuring that Trump himself will be on the ballot Nov. 3 without having to show anyone the tax returns and other financial records that could solve mysteries like why he is so solicitous of Russia, China and their leaders. For all intents and purposes, another cul-de-sac.

America brought low by Trump, COVID
It was also a day after I canceled, with a heavy heart, an August trip to California to see my sons. We were supposed to meet up with them in Salt Lake City in April, but we had to cancel that trip, too. We are all healthy and, assuming we don’t contract COVID-19, we will survive a separation that is heading toward a year or more. But it hurts.

Colin Dwyer

Democrats have had no shortage of descriptors for President Trump's decision to commute Roger Stone's prison sentence. Since Trump granted clemency to his longtime confidant Friday night, Democratic lawmakers have described it as "appalling," "despicable," an abuse of power and a "mockery of our democracy." Yet some harsh words Saturday came from a voice within his own party as well. "An American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president," Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, tweeted Saturday morning, describing the move as "unprecedented, historic corruption." The comments come less than a day after Stone received his reprieve from the White House. That call came down Friday night, when Trump abruptly relieved his close adviser of his 40-month prison sentence for lying to Congress, obstructing its investigation and witness tampering. A jury last fall found that Stone supplied lawmakers with false statements during their probe into the 2016 presidential election, in an effort to cover up his outreach to WikiLeaks. The group had obtained — and eventually released — thousands of hacked Democratic emails. In February, Stone received a lighter sentence than he could have gotten — but that did not satisfy the president, a longtime friend of the GOP political operative.

Spencer Kimball

President Donald Trump wore a mask during a public visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Saturday, after long resisting bipartisan prodding to lead by example and demonstrate to Americans the importance of wearing a face covering to prevent the transmission of coronavirus. Trump was visiting wounded service members and their families as well as health-care staff who have been caring for Covid-19 patients during the pandemic, the White House said. The president was accompanied by military leaders and followed by staff who were also wearing masks. Trump donned the mask as the country continued to experience record increases in infections. Overall, more than 3.2 million Americans have been infected by the coronavirus, while more than 134,000 have died. Before departing for Walter Reed, Trump told reporters on the White House South Lawn that he would “probably have a mask” while visiting the hospital. Walter Reed requires visitors to wear masks when maintaining a safe social distance isn’t possible. “I think when you’re in a hospital, especially in that particular setting where you’re talking to a lot of soldiers and people that in some cases just got off the operating table, I think it’s a great thing to wear a mask,” Trump said. “I’ve never been against masks but I do believe they have a time and a place.”

By Shayna Jacobs

NEW YORK — A federal judge in Manhattan has given lawyers for President Trump a Wednesday deadline to say whether he will further challenge a subpoena for his tax documents, part of an ongoing investigation by local prosecutors here into hush money payments made during the 2016 election season. The order by U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero follows Thursday's highly anticipated Supreme Court ruling in favor of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who had been seeking the president's tax records as part of a probe into the Trump Organization's role in the payments. In its ruling, the high court said Trump did not have "absolute immunity" from the state court-level criminal subpoena. Trump could, however, further contest the grand jury subpoena outside of the presidential immunity question. The subpoena was issued Aug. 29 and has been tied up in appeals as part of a lawsuit brought by Trump since shortly thereafter.

Trump’s latest abuse of power is so flagrant that Republicans should want to punish him for their own self-preservation. But they won’t.
By Jonathan Bernstein

By commuting the prison sentence of Roger Stone, President Donald Trump has made his contempt for the rule of law plain for all to see. Clemency for a crony convicted of interfering with an investigation of presidential malfeasance is a flagrant abuse of power. President Richard Nixon wasn’t willing to pardon the Watergate criminals who broke into Democratic Party offices in the run-up to the 1972 presidential campaign because he knew how bad it would look; the evidence that Nixon hinted at clemency for his convicted associates was part of the reason he was eventually forced to resign or face certain impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction and removal by the Senate. Stone, Trump’s friend and a longtime Republican political operative, was sentenced to more than three years in prison for lying to congressional investigators and witness tampering in matters related to inquiries about Russian interference in the 2016 campaign. The investigation by Robert Mueller, the special counsel who conducted the probe of Russia’s activities, concluded not only that Stone had behaved improperly, but that Trump’s public actions praising him were part of what amounted to obstruction of justice. 1  The decision Friday night to commute Stone’s sentence comes after other presidential actions taken after the impeachment acquittal by the Senate that include the firing of several inspectors general, retaliation against officials who testified truthfully to Congress, and of course Trump’s continuing refusal to submit to normal oversight by Congress. All were abuses of presidential power, exactly what the impeachment and removal power of Congress is designed for.

Former Department of Justice official to tell Congress that prosecutors faced improper political interference.

The federal office that led the prosecution of President Donald Trump's friend Roger Stone received "heavy pressure from the highest levels of the Department of Justice" to ease its sentencing recommendation, career prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky plans to tell Congress, according to his prepared remarks. Zelinsky, who withdrew from the Roger Stone case in protest, will testify on Wednesday before the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives Judiciary Committee about political pressures that he said the US Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia faced. He will add that Tim Shea, the acting US attorney at the time - who was appointed by Attorney General William Barr, ultimately caved to the pressure because he was "afraid of the President". Zelinsky's testimony never explicitly said who pressured Shea, but he said he was told that Shea "was receiving heavy pressure from the highest levels of the Department of Justice to cut Stone a break".

Kevin Breuninger

A prosecutor who helped win the conviction of President Donald Trump's friend Roger Stone told Congress on Wednesday that the "highest levels" of the Department of Justice pressured officials "to cut Stone a break." Aaron Zelinsky, one of four prosecutors who withdrew from the case after the department stepped in to lower Stone's recommended prison sentence, testified before the Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee in a hearing on politicization of the DOJ under Attorney General William Barr. The panel's 12 p.m. ET hearing came as Barr has faced heavy criticism for his handling of high-profile cases involving matters directly related to Trump. Critics have accused Barr of undermining the independence of the Justice Department by acting in ways that benefit Trump politically. Barr was not attending Wednesday's hearing. But Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec tweeted later Wednesday that the attorney general has accepted an invitation to appear before the House panel for a "general oversight hearing" on July 28.

By Marshall Cohen

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump commuted the prison sentence of his longtime friend and political adviser Roger Stone on Friday, days before Stone was required to begin his 40-month prison term for lying to Congress about the Trump campaign's ties to WikiLeaks. The extraordinary act of clemency was announced by White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. She released a lengthy statement that was littered with lies and false claims about the Russia investigation, special counsel Robert Mueller and the details of Stone's legal case. Stone was convicted in November of lying to Congress, obstructing its inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and threatening a witness who could have exposed his lies. The commutation erases Stone's prison sentence -- but the guilty verdicts remain on the books. Here's a breakdown of 12 baseless claims from the White House statement.

Savannah Behrmann USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle reacted Friday night to news that President Donald Trump commuted the sentence of his longtime confidant Roger Stone. Democrats accused Trump of abusing his power while some Republicans applauded the move. Stone is a Republican operative convicted of lying to Congress to protect the president's campaign from an investigation into Russian election interference. He was convicted of lying to investigators about efforts by Trump campaign aides to learn about WikiLeaks' plans to release emails that Russian operatives stole from Hillary Clinton's campaign. Special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation found Russia undertook a "sweeping" campaign to help Trump, but found no evidence he coordinated with the effort. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., tweeted that "Stone lied and intimidated witnesses to hide Trump’s exploitation of the Russian hack of his opponent’s campaign." "With Trump there are now two systems of justice in America: One for Trump's criminal friends and one for everyone else," the lead House impeachment manager continued.


President Donald Trump on Friday commuted the prison sentence of his longtime friend Roger Stone, who was convicted of crimes that included lying to Congress in part, prosecutors said, to protect the President. The announcement came just days before Stone was set to report to a federal prison in Georgia. Stone was convicted in November of seven charges -- including lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing a congressional committee proceeding -- as part of former special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. Among the things he misled Congress about were his communications with Trump campaign officials -- communications that prosecutors said Stone hid out of his desire to protect Trump.

Sergei Klebnikov Forbes Staff

President Donald Trump told reporters on Friday that he isn’t even considering a phase two trade deal with China, saying that the relationship between the two countries has been “severely damaged” by the coronavirus pandemic. With Sino-American relations continuing to deteriorate in recent months, Trump indicated that a phase two trade agreement between the two countries is now looking very unlikely. “I don’t think about it now,” Trump responded when asked if a phase two deal with China was still on the table. “The relationship with China has been severely damaged.” Trump’s comments come as the countries continue to clash on a wide range of issues: The president has blamed the Chinese government for failing to contain the coronavirus outbreak, while U.S. lawmakers have also increasingly pushed back on China increasing its grip over Hong Kong.

The administration is purging inspectors general from U.S. agencies. But these oversight officials have faced a slow strangling since Trump took office.
By Chris D’Angelo and Jimmy Tobias

Ethics investigations have hounded the Trump administration since the beginning, with several department heads forced to step down amid mounting scandals. Along the way, President Donald Trump and his Cabinet, which is stacked with dozens of former lobbyists, have worked to thwart and demoralize government watchdogs. What was previously a slow strangling has turned into a brazen attack this year: Trump has ousted or moved to replace five inspectors general in the last few months. In early April, Trump fired Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the U.S. intelligence community who notified Congress of the whistleblower complaint that ultimately led to Trump’s impeachment. In May, Trump fired Steve Linick, the State Department IG who was actively investigating allegations that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife inappropriately used government resources. That same month, Trump announced a nominee for permanent watchdog at the Department of Health and Human Services, weeks after acting IG Christi Grimm released a survey that found widespread shortages of masks, personal protective equipment and testing kits amid the coronavirus pandemic. Trump dismissed that report as “just wrong” and tweeted to attack Grimm: “Did she Report on the failed H1N1 Swine Flu debacle where 17,000 people died?”

Gen. Mark Milley said the Trump administration is "perhaps not" doing "as much as we could" to stop Russia from aiding U.S. foes in Afghanistan.
By Courtney Kube and Ken Dilanian

WASHINGTON — Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress on Thursday that the Trump administration was "perhaps not" doing "as much as we could or should" to deter Russia and other foreign powers from providing weapons and support to America's enemies in Afghanistan. Questioned at a House Armed Services hearing about the long history of Russia's support for the Taliban, Milley said Russia was among many U.S. adversaries that for years have been providing "training, money, weapons, propaganda ... and a lot of other things" to the Taliban and the Haqqani network, an Afghan guerrilla group. The military has responded on the ground, he said, but "the issue is higher than that." "The issue is at the strategic level," he said. "What should or could we be doing at the strategic level?" The key question, Milley said, was whether there are sanctions that should be imposed, diplomatic protests lodged, phone calls made or other pressure brought to bear. "I can tell you that some of that is done. Are we doing as much as we could or should? Perhaps not. Not only to the Russians, but to others. But a lot of it is being done. Some of it's quiet. Some of it's not so quiet."

By Kristen Holmes and Naomi Thomas, CNN

(CNN) The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will not revise its guidelines for reopening schools despite calls from President Donald Trump and the White House to do so, agency Director Dr. Robert Redfield said Thursday. Instead, additional reference documents will be provided, Redfield told ABC's "Good Morning America." As anxious parents and educators across the country hand wring over how to safely bring children back to the classroom, the discord between Trump and his top health advisers over appropriate precautions has added another layer of uncertainty. The President, against the advice of some of the nation's top health officials, has repeatedly called for schools to reopen as coronavirus cases surge across the country. On Wednesday, while Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, warned that the country has to maintain control over the pandemic to get children back to school in the fall, Trump slammed the CDC's existing guidelines. He tweeted they were "very tough" and "expensive," while in another tweet threatened to cut off school funding if they resisted opening, though the federal government's ability to do so is limited.

By Mairead McArdle

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that New York state prosecutors may access President Trump’s tax returns, but in a separate case, ruled to require further proceedings on congressional efforts to access the returns. In the former case, the Court voted 7–2 against Trump, ruling that a Manhattan district attorney may obtain access to the president’s tax returns as part of a criminal investigation that involves hush-money payments to two women who claim to have had affairs with Trump. Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, both appointed by Trump, voted with the majority. Trump’s legal team and the Justice Department argued that the president is immune from investigation while he is in office. Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. issued a subpoena to Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, for eight years worth of the president’s financial documents, including both his personal and corporate tax returns. The accounting firm has said it will comply with the order. In 2016, Trump attracted harsh criticism when he became the first president in decades who declined to publicly release his tax returns during the campaign season, saying he was under audit by the IRS.

Tucker Higgins

The Supreme Court on Thursday delivered split opinions in two cases over whether President Donald Trump can shield his tax records from investigators, handing a win to the Manhattan district attorney but rejecting parallel efforts by Democrats in the House of Representatives. Both cases were decided 7-2, with Chief Justice John Roberts authoring the court’s opinion and joined in the majority by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented in both cases. Both cases are subject to further review by lower courts. The justices rejected the president’s claims that he was immune from state criminal subpoenas in the New York case. In the congressional case, they wiped away rulings in favor of House Democrats, ordering lower courts to more carefully consider concerns about the separation of powers. The mixed rulings mean the American public is unlikely to learn about Trump’s financial records or tax information before November’s election.


Mary Trump, the president’s niece, will soon release a book that will detail her uncle’s mistreatment of his father during his Alzheimer’s decline.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

Normally, the jobs report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is released on the first Friday of the month. And the unemployment claims report is released Thursday every week. But this month, the monthly jobs report was also released today because of the 4th of July weekend. And now we have this delicious situation of both reports on the same day, with the Labor Department’s unemployment insurance data – people who are actually receiving unemployment benefits under state and federal programs – calling the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ survey-based report a liar. And we’ll go through them.

What the Labor Department reported today:
The total number of people who continued to receive unemployment compensation in the week ended June 27 under all state and federal unemployment insurance programs, including gig workers, surged by 937,810 people in the week, to 31.49 million (not seasonally adjusted), the highest and worst and most gut-wrenching ever: The number of people receiving state unemployment insurance (blue columns in the chart above) has essentially been flat for three weeks (it ticked up this week), as many people got their jobs back while many other people were newly laid off. But the number of people on federal unemployment programs, including gig workers (red columns), has been soaring.

Lobbyists like David Urban, whose connections start at the very top, are thriving as they help the president’s re-election effort while aiding corporate clients.
By Kenneth P. Vogel, Michael LaForgia and Hailey Fuchs

WASHINGTON — The chief executive of the arms maker Raytheon, under pressure to overcome a congressional hold on major sales in the fall of 2018, wanted to sit down with one of the few people who could solve the problem — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. But the State Department would not schedule the meeting. So Raytheon turned for help to David Urban, perhaps the best-connected lobbyist in President Trump’s Washington. Mr. Urban was a classmate at West Point of Mr. Pompeo and of Mark Esper, now the defense secretary, and was influential in recommending both men for administration posts. He has close ties to Mr. Trump, who credits him with having helped deliver a pivotal Election Day victory in Pennsylvania in 2016 and recently invited Mr. Urban to fly on Marine One with him to West Point. He has a long roster of blue-chip clients, including military contractors like Raytheon, whose chief executive got the meeting he wanted with Mr. Pompeo after Mr. Urban intervened on his behalf. It is not known precisely what Mr. Pompeo discussed with the Raytheon executive, but in a few months, the State Department had issued an emergency waiver that circumvented the congressional hold on the arms deals, allowing billions of dollars in Raytheon missiles and bombs to be sold to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The department did not deny that Mr. Urban arranged the meeting but said the emergency waiver — now the subject of congressional and inspector general investigations — was consistent with American national security objectives.

But the debate over that narrow issue obscures a larger consensus. U.S. intel agencies have long assessed that Russia backs our enemies in Afghanistan.
By Ken Dilanian, Courtney Kube and Carol E. Lee

WASHINGTON — A growing chorus of American officials have said in recent days that the intelligence suggesting Russians paid "bounties" to induce the Taliban to kill American service members in Afghanistan is less than conclusive. But the debate about that narrow and contested issue distracts from a larger, often-overlooked consensus, current and former military and intelligence officials say. U.S. intelligence agencies have assessed for years that Vladimir Putin's Russia is supporting America's enemies in Afghanistan with cash and weapons. And President Donald Trump has said nothing publicly about it, even as he has pursued warmer relations with Putin and Russia, including ordering his intelligence agencies to cooperate with Russia in the Middle East. "We should always remember, the Russians are not our friends," Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, told reporters this week. "And they are not our friends in Afghanistan. And they do not wish us well."

The annual report was due last week under federal ethics rules, but the White House says it needs more time. The president was already given a 45-day extension.
By Steve Eder and Ben Protess

President Trump’s annual financial disclosure report was due to be released more than a week ago. But the filing, the only official public document detailing his personal finances, was not published, and neither the White House nor federal ethics officials offered a public explanation. The White House addressed the issue on Wednesday night. An official said Mr. Trump had requested a deadline extension because the report was “complicated” and the president had “been focused on addressing the coronavirus crisis and other matters.” The report, required under federal ethics rules, provides a partial view of the president’s assets and debts and the performance of his family business. It was originally due in May, but Mr. Trump and all White House employees were given a 45-day extension until June 29 because of the pandemic. The White House official on Wednesday said Mr. Trump had been given “an additional 45 days, but the president intends to file as soon as possible.”

The more Trump and GOP leaders effectively abandon their roles as serious policymakers, the more breakdowns are impossible to avoid.
By Steve Benen, "Rachel Maddow" producer and author of "The Impostors: How Republicans Quit Governing and Seized American Politics"

As part of his needlessly divisive remarks on the Fourth of July, President Donald Trump briefly took note of the nation's struggle with the coronavirus crisis. "Our strategy," the president assured his audience, "is moving along well." Even by Trump standards, it was a curious boast. Now with 3 million confirmed cases in the United States, and over 130,000 American deaths from COVID-19, few would look at the public health landscape and conclude that the federal response is progressing "well." But there was also a problem with the assumption upon which the boast was based: The president believes there's a federal strategy? If there is, it's hiding exceptionally well. Months after the pandemic arrived, the Trump administration still does not have a national testing strategy. Or a federal program in place to fully furnish medical facilities with personal protective equipment. Or meaningful guidance to offer state and local officials on how, when and whether to reopen safely in the wake of mitigation efforts in the spring. The result is, to be sure, a public health crisis that appears to be intensifying with each passing day. But just as important, Americans should also recognize these conditions as part of a governing crisis.

What’s the President’s Daily Brief? Not ‘like a mini novel,’ as Fox News host says
Bill McCarthy

The President’s Daily Brief, or PDB, is the primary daily intelligence report prepared before dawn for the president and other designated administration officials. There is no set length or format for the PDB, which has varied from one administration to the next since it first came into practice under President Harry Truman. David Priess, a former CIA briefer and author of a book on the PDB, said the PDB is rarely longer than 25 pages. It is segmented into “articles” and often includes visuals. Reports that Russia offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan have shined a new light on the daily intelligence report prepared before dawn for the president — and President Donald Trump’s willingness to engage with it. The White House has said Trump was never orally briefed on the threat, but warnings that a Russian intelligence unit placed bounties on American forces appeared in the President’s Daily Brief, called the PDB, according to multiple news reports. The New York Times and Politico reported that the information was in a February PDB. The Associated Press said it appeared in 2019. Trump is not known to look through the PDB regularly or read it to completion, as several news organizations have reported since he took office in 2017. He relies instead on oral briefings that he receives from intelligence officials every few days.

Chris Kahn

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A majority of Americans believe that Russia paid the Taliban to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan last year amid negotiations to end the war, and more than half want to respond with new economic sanctions against Moscow, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday. The national opinion poll conducted on Monday and Tuesday shows that the American public remains deeply suspicious of Russia four years after it tried to tip the U.S. presidential election in Donald Trump’s favor, and most Americans are unhappy with how the president has handled relations with the country. The Reuters/Ipsos poll follows a series of reports, including several by Reuters, that Russia had been rewarding Taliban-affiliated militants, possibly by offering them bounties, to attack and kill U.S. troops in the region. Moscow denies the allegations.

Joe Sommerlad, Danielle Zoellner - Independent

Donald Trump has threatened to cut school funding for areas that refuse to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, adding he disagrees with the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “very tough” and “expensive” guidelines. In other news, key impeachment witness Alexander Vindman announced his retirement from the army by citing “intimidation” led by Mr Trump. ”The president of the United States attempted to force Lieutenant Colonel Vindman to choose: Between adhering to the law or pleasing a president,” Colonel Vindman’s lawyer said. Mr Trump has been labelled as a traumatised narcissist who was psychologically bullied by his late father in his niece Mary Trump new book Too Much and Never Enough, arguing that her uncle winning a second term would mean “the end of American democracy”.

By Jim Sciutto, Chief National Security Correspondent

(CNN) Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a key witness in President Donald Trump's impeachment inquiry, is retiring from the US Army after more than 21 years of military service because he determined that his future in the armed forces "will forever be limited" due to political retaliation by the President and his allies, his lawyer told CNN Wednesday. Vindman has endured a "campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation" spearheaded by the President following his testimony in the impeachment inquiry last year, according to his attorney, Amb. David Pressman. News of Vindman's retirement marks the culmination of a months-long saga dating back to his public testimony in November. Trump fired Vindman as the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council in February and also ousted his twin brother who also played a key role in impeachment proceedings while serving at the White House as an NSC lawyer. In recent weeks, the controversy has centered around allegations that the White House was attempting to block Vindman's upcoming military promotion to the rank of colonel. "The President of the United States attempted to force LTC Vindman to choose: Between adhering to the law or pleasing a President. Between honoring his oath or protecting his career. Between protecting his promotion or the promotion of his fellow soldiers," Pressman said in a statement to CNN. "These are choices that no one in the United States should confront, especially one who has dedicated his life to serving it," he added, noting that Vindman "did what the law compelled him to do; and for that he was bullied by the President and his proxies." Top Pentagon leaders, including Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, have insisted that Vindman is not being targeted for political reasons, but a source familiar with his decision said military officials have communicated to Vindman that the White House has sought to become involved in the promotion process.

By Kevin Liptak and Vivian Salama, CNN

(CNN) For months, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's hair kept growing. As the coronavirus pandemic kept barbershops closed to customers, his tidy trim grew into a wave that evolved eventually into a mop with bangs. For some, the mane came to embody the shared sacrifices that Trudeau -- quarantined at his home in Ottawa -- was asking fellow Canadians to endure to stop the spread of coronavirus. Things progressed differently 450 miles south in Washington. President Donald Trump's hair has appeared unchanged during the crisis as he makes no attempt to model the guidelines and recommendations his government is recommending to stay safe -- including wearing a mask, avoiding large crowds and limiting travel to essential business only. On Wednesday, the differences in the two approaches will be front and center as Trump marks the official beginning of the new North American trade agreement that is a signature achievement for all three participating governments: the United States, Mexico and Canada. While Mexico's President accepted Trump's invitation to participate in the ceremony, Trudeau did not. "We wish the United States and Mexico well at Wednesday's meeting," the prime minister's office said. "While there were recent discussions about the possible participation of Canada, the Prime Minister will be in Ottawa this week for scheduled Cabinet meetings and the long-planned sitting of Parliament." Last week, Trudeau himself said he was still in discussions about whether a trip to the United States "makes sense," saying while he was troubled by the threat of new US tariffs on steel and aluminum, "we're also concerned about the health situation and the coronavirus reality that is still hitting all three of our countries."

Christina Wilkie

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump ramped up his pressure campaign to get public schools to fully reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, tweeting Wednesday that he may withhold federal funding from schools that do not resume in-person classes this fall. The tweet was the latest step in an administration-wide effort to convince schools nationwide that the risks of not reopening for in-person classes outweigh those posed by the coronavirus pandemic, which has reached new record levels across the country in recent weeks. Shortly after the first tweet, Trump attacked his own administration’s health guidelines for reopening schools, calling them tough, expensive and impractical. The tweet represents an escalation of Trump’s battle with his own health experts over how to reopen the country. Earlier this week, Trump directly contradicted the nation’s premier infectious disease specialist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is also a key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. “The current state [of the virus spread] is really not good,” Fauci said Tuesday on Facebook Live. “We are still knee deep in the first wave” of COVID-19 infections, he added. When asked later in the day about Fauci’s assessment of the current state of the pandemic, Trump replied, “I disagree with him.”

Donald Trump and father Fred Trump, a ‘high-functioning sociopath’, according to Mary Trump.
Martin Pengelly in New York

Mary Trump’s book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man, contains stunning claims about her uncle, Donald Trump. Here are eight of the most extraordinary.

Trump allegedly paid someone to take his high school exams
Trump is proud of his attendance at Wharton Business School, at the prestigious University of Pennsylvania. But according to his niece, he got there by cheating – which he “embraces as a way of life”. Mary Trump writes: “Donald worried that his grade point average, which put him far from the top of the class, would scuttle his efforts to get accepted. To hedge his bets he enlisted Joe Shapiro, a smart kid with a reputation for being a good test taker, to take his SATs for him. That was much easier to pull off in the days before photo IDs and computerised records.” Trump also had his older brother, Mary Trump’s father Fred Trump Jr, put in a good word for him. As she writes, “all of Donald’s machinations may not even have been necessary. In those days, Penn was much less selective than it is now.”

Trump praised his own niece’s breasts
Mary Trump writes about Donald Trump’s treatment of women, including how – when she was briefly working as his ghostwriter – he provided “an aggrieved compendium of women he had expected to date but who, having refused him, were suddenly the worst, ugliest and fattest slobs he’d ever met”. She includes Madonna and the ice skater Katarina Witt as two of the women he named. The author also says that at Donald Trump’s Florida resort Mar-a-Lago in the 1990s her uncle saw her in a swimsuit and said: “Holy shit, Mary. You’re stacked.”

Tamara Keith

Presidents seeking a second term generally campaign on a unifying message, highlighting the work they've done and what they hope to accomplish for the American people in the years ahead. President Trump is choosing instead to reprise the most divisive and racialized themes of his 2016 campaign. But he's doing it at a very different time for the nation, in the midst of a pandemic, recession and racial reckoning. "You would think that he was a challenger running against an incumbent who had done a terrible job," said Cornell Belcher, a Democratic pollster. He points to Trump's speeches over the holiday weekend. At Mt. Rushmore Trump described a "merciless campaign to wipe our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children." The next night on the 4th of July at the White House, Trump took it a step further saying American heroes defeated Nazis, communism and chased terrorists to the end of the earth. Then, in the same thought, said "we are now in the process of defeating the radical left, the marxists, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters."

Many of the Lincoln Project's ads are designed to use the president's own psychological tendencies against him
Andrew Naughtie

As news reports emerge that the White House is mounting a renewed effort to smoke out internal leakers, a Republican anti-Trump campaign group has released a video telling the president that he cannot rely on anyone’s loyalty – and that even his family is “whispering” about him. Addressing the president in the first person, the ad asks “why do you think you’re losing, Donald?”, answering that he has “a loyalty problem”. Echoed with sinister whispering, the voiceover continues: “They’re in your campaign, your White House, in Congress, even your own family. “They whisper about you. They leak, spin, lie. They tell the media that they’re smart and you’re out of control – that you can’t focus, that you’re mentally and physically weak, that you hide in your bunker, scared and shaky, laugh when you can’t walk down a ramp or drink water …  “With so many leaks, you’d probably think it could be anyone. Donald – it’s everyone.”

The president’s niece, Mary L. Trump, is the first to break ranks with the family and release a tell-all memoir.
By Maggie Haberman and Alan Feuer

Mary L. Trump, President Trump’s niece, plans to publish a tell-all family memoir next week, describing how a decades long history of darkness, dysfunction and brutality turned her uncle into a reckless leader who, according to her publisher, Simon & Schuster, “now threatens the world’s health, economic security and social fabric.” The book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” depicts a multigenerational saga of greed, betrayal and internecine tension and seeks to explain how President Trump’s position in one of New York’s wealthiest and most infamous real-estate empires helped him acquire what Ms. Trump has referred to as “twisted behaviors” — attributes like seeing other people in “monetary terms” and practicing “cheating as a way of life.” Ms. Trump, who at 55 has long been estranged from President Trump, is the first member of the Trump clan to break ranks with her relatives by writing a book about their secrets. Since late June, her family — led by the president’s younger brother, Robert S. Trump — has been trying to stop the publication of the book, citing a confidentiality agreement that she signed nearly 20 years ago during a dispute over the will of the family patriarch, Fred Trump Sr., the president’s father. But a judge in New York has refused to enjoin Simon & Schuster from releasing the memoir and is expected to soon rule on whether Ms. Trump herself violated the confidentiality agreement. Here are some of the highlights from her manuscript:

By Zachary Cohen, Sara Murray, Kylie Atwood and Vivian Salama, CNN

(CNN) The Trump administration has notified Congress and the United Nations that the United States is formally withdrawing from the World Health Organization, multiple officials tell CNN, a move that comes amid a rising number of coronavirus cases throughout the Americas in the last week alone.
Sen. Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee tweeted the news Tuesday. "Congress received notification that POTUS officially withdrew the U.S. from the ⁦‪@WHO⁩in the midst of a pandemic. To call Trump's response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn't do it justice. This won't protect American lives or interests—it leaves Americans sick & America alone," he wrote. A State Department official also confirmed that "the United States' notice of withdrawal, effective July 6, 2021, has been submitted to the UN Secretary-General, who is the depository for the WHO." The letter addressed to the UN is very short, around three sentences, a source briefed on the correspondence told CNN, and it will trigger a one-year withdrawal timeline. However, this source also cautioned that they cannot confirm they saw the final version of the letter.


In Episode 23 of The New Abnormal, Rick and Molly talk to Mary Trump’s lawyer and Beast reporter Kate Briquelet shares the most shocking Ghislaine Maxwell accusations she’s heard.
The Daily Beast

Mary Trump’s legal battles against her uncle might seem like a fun little political soap opera, but it’s way more than that, Mary’s lawyer Ted Boutrous explains on the latest episode of The New Abnormal. The attempt to stop her tell-all book before publication—“I think it’s really an effort to intimidate people from speaking, to intimidate the press. But also it’s a political tool. It’s a fundraising tool. It seems to excite people who support President Trump,” he tells hosts Molly Jong-Fast and Rick Wilson. So, what exactly will the book tell us about Donald Trump? Boutrous couldn’t say too much yet, but what he did reveal looks, um, not-so-hot for the president: “The more people see what he was like before, and really understand the kind of person he is and was, the more people will be horrified that he’s the president.” Then! The Daily Beast’s Kate Briquelet—who has broken some of the biggest stories about Jeffrey Epstein’s cabal—joins the dynamic duo to talk about the arrest of Epstein ‘madam’ Ghislaine Maxwell. “There are power players in New York,” she explains “who are very nervous that Ghislaine is going to spill the secrets.”

By Jeremy Herb, Brian Stelter and Sara Murray, CNN

(CNN) Donald Trump's niece Mary Trump levels scathing criticism at the President in her forthcoming book, accusing him of being a "sociopath" and charging that Trump's "hubris and willful ignorance" dating back to his early days threatens the country. Mary Trump's book, "Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man," accuses Donald Trump's father of creating a toxic family dynamic that best explains how the President acts today. Mary Trump, whose father, Freddy Trump, died following struggles with alcoholism, writes that she could "no longer remain silent" following the past three years of Trump's presidency. "Donald, following the lead of my grandfather and with the complicity, silence and inaction of his siblings, destroyed my father. I can't let him destroy my country," Mary Trump wrote in the book, a copy of which was obtained by CNN. Mary Trump writes that some of the book is based on her own memory, and in parts she reconstructed some dialogue based on what she was told by some members of the family and others, as well as legal documents, bank statements, tax returns and other documents.

By Brian Stelter, CNN Business

New York (CNN Business) A tell-all book by President Trump's niece Mary, a licensed clinical psychologist, will now be published next week, two weeks earlier than expected, the publisher Simon & Schuster said Monday. The book portrays the president as a "damaged man" with "lethal flaws" who "threatens the world's health, economic security, and social fabric," the publisher described on its website. Mary Trump remains entangled in a legal battle over whether she has violated a confidential settlement agreement. But the court case will not affect the release of the book. "Due to high demand and extraordinary interest in this book, 'Too Much and Never Enough' by Mary L. Trump will now be published on July 14, 2020," Simon & Schuster said Monday.

By Brett Samuels

President Trump is expected to refile paperwork this week to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that offers protections for thousands of young immigrants, according to multiple people familiar with the planning. Trump was initially expected to move to once again rescind the Obama-era program last week, but it was pushed back, according to one source. The exact timing remains in flux, but Trump is now expected to file the paperwork this week. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows hinted in an interview with Fox News earlier Monday that the president was readying executive action on immigration issues, though he did not offer specifics.

By Brett Samuels

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany sparred with members of the press on Monday after repeatedly dodging questions about a tweet in which President Trump blamed NASCAR's decision to ban the Confederate flag for lower ratings and attacked one of the sport's most prominent Black drivers. McEnany defended the tweet, saying Trump was not "making a judgment one way or the other" on whether NASCAR was wrong to ban the Confederate flag from its events. But she declined on several occasions to address why the president called on Bubba Wallace to apologize after a rope fashioned into a noose found in his garage stall in Alabama was determined not to be part of a hate crime.

By Callum Keown

The holiday weekend has done nothing to slow the positive momentum for U.S. stocks. Strong U.S. jobs data buoyed investors on Thursday and the three major benchmark indexes made significant gains at the open on Monday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, 1.32% was 1.2%, or 310 points higher in early trading. But coronavirus cases continue to rise, with another daily new-cases record for the U.S. on Friday, while election uncertainty and the risks attached also linger on the horizon. Recent national polls show presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden pulling ahead of President Donald Trump, a Republican. Analysts and investors have viewed some of Biden’s policies as being potential negatives for stocks, while Trump argued last week that “the stock market will drop down to nothing” if he is not re-elected Nov. 3. In our call of the day, JPMorgan strategists say that, contrary to that view, a Biden win in November would be “neutral to slight positive” for equities. The Democrat’s major economic policies include lifting the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% — partially reversing the Republican corporate tax cut of 2017 — and increasing the federal minimum wage. The investment bank’s U.S. equity strategy team also says it expects the former vice president to ease tariffs on China and increase infrastructure spending.

The Trump administration began releasing details of which businesses received Paycheck Protection Program loans.
Jeanna SmialekJim TankersleyAlan Rappeport
By Jeanna Smialek, Jim Tankersley and Alan Rappeport

WASHINGTON — Data released Monday by the Trump administration showed that businesses in big states like California and Texas received the most in loans from the government’s small business relief program, with health care, professional services and construction among the sectors that have tapped the largest amount of funding. Of the $521 billion allocated through the Paycheck Protection Program, about $68.2 billion — roughly 13 percent — went to companies in California. Another $41.1 billion flowed to Texas businesses, based on data released Monday by the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration, which are administering the program. Nearly 5,000 companies received individual loans between $5 million and $10 million, according to the data. While the administration included ranges for the loan amounts, it did not include specific figures. The information released Monday included names and employment data for companies that received more than $150,000 in loans. It also provided zip codes, industries, and the number of “employees retained” at the companies, along with the lender that gave them the loan and the date it was approved.

A slew of organized Republican groups have sprung up to do all they can to defeat Trump in November. Will their effort work?
Daniel Strauss in Washington

Just like in 2016, a faction of the Republican party has emerged to try to defeat Donald Trump in the upcoming presidential election. But unlike the last presidential race, where the effort never truly took off, this time those rebel Republicans have formed better organized groups – and some are even openly backing Trump’s Democratic opponent, Joe Biden. In 2016, as Trump steamrolled his way through the Republican primary, some Republican lawmakers and operatives tried to mount an effort to stop him. Elected officials and veterans of previous Republican administrations organized letters, endorsed Hillary Clinton, and a few set up meager outside groups to defeat Trump. That’s happening again – but there are differences. The outside groups are more numerous and better organized, and most importantly, Trump has a governing record on which Republicans can use to decide whether to support him or not. “I think it’s qualitatively different,” said Republican operative Tim Miller, who co-founded one of the main anti-Trump organizations. “A lot of people who opposed [Trump] did the whole, ‘Oh, Hillary’s also bad, and Trump’s bad, and everybody can vote their conscience’ kind of thing.” Miller said that 2016’s effort was far more of a “pox on both your houses” phenomenon versus 2020’s “organized effort to defeat him”.

Presumptive Democratic nominee touts his education record, but president claims schools promote ‘far-left fascism’
Valerie Strauss

Joe Biden told members of the largest teachers' union in the country during a virtual event that their profession is “the most important” in the United States. On Friday, the same day Donald Trump said America's public schools teach students “to hate their own country”, Mr Biden addressed members of the National Education Association at its annual Representative Assembly and answered a few questions as he detailed his vision for education. “You are, and I'm not joking about this, you are the most important profession in the United States,” Mr Biden said. “You are the ones that give these kids wings. You give them confidence. You let them believe in themselves. You equip them. “And I promise you, you will never find in American history a president who is more teacher-centric and more supportive of teachers than me.” Mr Biden noted that his wife, Jill Biden, is a veteran educator - and a member of the National Education Association - and that his late first wife was a teacher as well. He has promised to name an educator as education secretary to replace Betsy DeVos, Mr Trump's controversial choice.

Nixon’s downfall was once a cautionary tale. Yet under Trump, Nixon only “may” have been guilty and historic Watergate rulings may have been misguided.

Cory Bennett is a deputy editor for POLITICO, helping oversee the publication’s national security, White House and international coverage. Watergate has long been told as a story of American exceptionalism. The system of checks and balances and public oversight worked. The Constitution triumphed over leaders who abused their power. The word "Watergate" might be shorthand for scandal, but it's also a story of hope: Through a combination of dogged criminal investigators, serious oversight by Congress and sustained public attention, the wheels of accountability ultimately turned even for the president of the United States. Donald Trump and his allies are telling a different story. In everything from casual statements and tweets to formal court filings, Trump himself — along with his staff and supporters — has been framing a version of events that feels not just unfamiliar to many Americans, but which people who lived through it likely never thought possible. In this story, President Richard Nixon is no longer necessarily the conductor of a sprawling attempt to cover up crimes, stamp out investigations and bully people. Instead, it's a question mark: “he may have been guilty,” Trump said. Nixon wasn’t forced out as he faced certain removal from office. According to Trump, “he left.” Trump has indicated Nixon’s biggest mistakes were that he “fired people” and “had tapes all over the place,” notably omitting why he wanted to fire people, or what behavior and cover-ups the tapes revealed. Then there’s the historic ruling that granted lawmakers in Congress access to a summary of the special prosecutor’s evidence on Nixon — a decision that propelled the congressional impeachment probe. In court, Trump’s attorneys argued the result would be “different” today.

'Can someone explain Trump that as a civilian, non-veteran, he should have his hand over his heart during the national anthem?'
By Namrata Tripathi

President Donald Trump was dragged on social media on Friday night, July 3, after he was pictured saluting with his right hand over his right eyebrow as the star-spangled banner played out. Many people pointed out that the president should have put his right hand over his chest during the national anthem like First Lady Melania was doing standing right beside him. The incident occurred as the president and the first lady traveled to South Dakota ahead of the Fourth of July celebrations. President Donald Trump was dragged on social media on Friday night, July 3, after he was pictured saluting with his right hand over his right eyebrow as the star-spangled banner played out. Many people pointed out that the president should have put his right hand over his chest during the national anthem like First Lady Melania was doing standing right beside him. The incident occurred as the president and the first lady traveled to South Dakota ahead of the Fourth of July celebrations.


Shockingly, there are some in Trump’s political orbit who aren’t convinced his strategy will move voters as much as he seems to think it will.
Asawin Suebsaeng White House Reporter With four months left to salvage his re-election campaign against presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, President Donald Trump has decided to pivot heavily to culture-war bluster and hard-right posturing. A major part of that pivot appears to be turning his anger on people who don’t like the same statues he does and comparing those enemies to Nazi “fascists.” Shockingly, there are some in Trump’s political orbit who aren’t convinced this tactic will move voters as much as the president seems to think it will. They see the “pivot” as Trump simply continuing to rile up a conservative base that will not, by itself, deliver him a second term. But for now, Trump isn’t listening, telling a crowd at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota on Friday night that “This left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution.” Two individuals close to the president told The Daily Beast last week that they believe devoting so much time and energy to defending lifeless statues—a kick that started with sticking up for ones honoring racist dead Confederates—will likely fail to help rejuvenate his sagging 2020 campaign and close the wide polling deficits that former Vice President Biden has opened up.

Analysis by Maeve Reston, CNN

(CNN) The gulf between reality and President Donald Trump's delusional vision of a waning coronavirus threat was on full display this weekend, as cases soared in key hotspots while he delivered speeches at Mount Rushmore and at the White House, with little physical distancing and few masks, directly contradicting the advice from his public health experts. Playing with fire at a time when experts say the spread of the virus appears to be spiraling out of control, Trump continued gaslighting Americans about the threat to their health during a Fourth of July speech from the South Lawn of the White House, where he minimized the dangers of Covid-19 with a baseless statement that 99% of coronavirus cases are "harmless," a claim his Food and Drug Administration chief could not back up Sunday morning. With many Americans flouting public health guidelines during the holiday weekend, Trump's conduct is creating an inflection point for the GOP at a time when his poll numbers have tumbled. With American lives on the line, the question now is whether members of the Republican Party will continue to stand by in silence as the President peddles fiction about a deadly virus, and if so, will they pay a price at the ballot box in November. While Republicans deserted Trump on the issue of facial coverings -- with many urging Americans to wear masks over the past week -- they have been mostly silent about Trump's effort to deceive the public about the risks the virus poses.

With clever ads and searing social media attacks, the group has drawn notice. But what that means for the election is up in the air.
By Allan Smith

Seeking to defend President Donald Trump from questions over whether he actually reads his daily intelligence briefing, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters last week "the president does read" and "is the most informed person on planet Earth when it comes to the threats we face." Within an hour, the Lincoln Project, a super PAC run by a host of so-called never-Trump Republicans, tweeted a six-second edited video of the moment out to its more than 1 million followers in its latest attempt to troll the president. "This is CNN breaking news," the video begins, playing a quick cut from the network, followed by McEnany saying, "The president does read." The anti-Trump group has become ubiquitous on social media in recent weeks as the president is bogged down by the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest. Its members include George Conway, husband of top White House official Kellyanne Conway, and prominent Republican operatives like John Weaver, Reed Galen, Steve Schmidt, Rick Wilson and Stuart Stevens, who have worked on the George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney and John Kasich presidential campaigns. Founded in December, the group's stated mission is to "defeat Trump and Trumpism" in 2020.

By Lynn Berry and Aamer Madhani / AP

(WASHINGTON) — On a day meant for unity and celebration, President Donald Trump vowed to “safeguard our values” from enemies within — leftists, looters, agitators, he said — in a Fourth of July speech packed with all the grievances and combativeness of his political rallies. Trump watched paratroopers float to the ground in a tribute to America, greeted his audience of front-line medical workers and others central in responding to the coronavirus pandemic, and opened up on those who “slander” him and disrespect the country’s past. “We are now in the process of defeating the radical left, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters, and the people who, in many instances, have absolutely no clue what they are doing,” he said. “We will never allow an angry mob to tear down our statues, erase our history, indoctrinate our children. “And we will defend, protect and preserve (the) American way of life, which began in 1492 when Columbus discovered America.” *** Will Trump protect us from Trump, NO. Will Trump protect us from Putin, HELL NO.

'Where we go one, we go all,' Mr Flynn and five others say in video, a reference to the QAnon theory
Griffin Connolly - Washington

Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn appeared to signal his support for the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory on the July 4 holiday by posting a video to his Twitter reciting an oath of duty that ends with a QAnon slogan. "Where we go one, we go all," the retired three-star US Army lieutenant general and five other people say in the video, a phrase that has been adopted by followers of the shadowy "Q" figure who leads the growing community of conspiracy theorists. The conspiracy theory, which arose in October 2017, maintains, without evidence, that a corrupt "deep state" of paedophiles, cannibals and otherwise malign individuals within the US government (and all over the world) control everything that happens in it — and that Donald Trump is in a shadow war to put an end to the evildoers' reign. The theory originated on the far-right message board 4chan after a person with the username "Q Clearance Patriot" began posting message threads about such plots. Q, as the user came to be known as, claimed to have "Q" level security clearance with the United States Department of Energy that gave them Top Secret-level information about nuclear weapons and resources.

The Debrief: An occasional series offering a reporter’s insights
By David Nakamura

In his inaugural address, President Trump sketched the picture of “American carnage” — a nation ransacked by marauders from abroad who breached U.S. borders in pursuit of jobs and crime, lured its companies offshore and bogged down its military in faraway conflicts. Nearly 3½ years later, in the president’s telling, the carnage is still underway but this time the enemy is closer to home — other Americans whose racial identity and cultural beliefs are toppling the nation’s heritage and founding ideals. Trump’s dark and divisive 42-minute speech at the foot of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota late Friday served as a clarion for his campaign reelection message at a time when the nation — already reeling with deep anxiety over the devastating public health and economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic — is also facing a cultural reckoning over the residue of its racially segregated past. As he has so often during his tenure, the president made clear that he will do little to try to heal or unify the country ahead of the November presidential election but rather aims to drive a deeper wedge into the country’s fractures. For Trump, that has meant defining a new foil. If his 2016 campaign to put “America first” was focused on building a wall to keep out immigrants and shedding alliances with nations he believed were exploiting the United States, the president is now aiming his rhetorical blasts at groups of liberal Americans who, he believes, constitute a direct threat to the standing of his conservative base.

Absent from Trump’s initial list are any Native American, Hispanic or Asian American people
Associated Press in Washington

Donald Trump has a vision for his second term, if he wins one: establishing a National Garden of American Heroes that will pay tribute to “the greatest Americans to ever live”. His idea, conveyed in a speech on Friday night at Mount Rushmore and expanded on in an executive order, comes as officials and institutions are reckoning with whether it is appropriate to continue to honor people, including past presidents, who benefited from slavery or espoused racist views. The group of 30-plus features founders and presidents, civil rights pioneers and aviation innovators, explorers and generals. Absent from Trump’s initial list are any Native American, Hispanic or Asian American people. The White House and interior department declined to comment on how the list was assembled. Donald Trump has a vision for his second term, if he wins one: establishing a National Garden of American Heroes that will pay tribute to “the greatest Americans to ever live”. His idea, conveyed in a speech on Friday night at Mount Rushmore and expanded on in an executive order, comes as officials and institutions are reckoning with whether it is appropriate to continue to honor people, including past presidents, who benefited from slavery or espoused racist views. The group of 30-plus features founders and presidents, civil rights pioneers and aviation innovators, explorers and generals. Absent from Trump’s initial list are any Native American, Hispanic or Asian American people. The White House and interior department declined to comment on how the list was assembled.

Daniel Strauss in Washington

A slew of organized Republican groups have sprung up to do all they can to defeat Trump in November. Will their effort work? Trump has enjoyed high approval ratings among his base – but a growing band of disgruntled Republicans is doing its best to force him out. Just like in 2016, a faction of the Republican party has emerged to try to defeat Donald Trump in the upcoming presidential election. But unlike the last presidential race, where the effort never truly took off, this time those rebel Republicans have formed better organized groups – and some are even openly backing Trump’s Democratic opponent, Joe Biden. In 2016, as Trump steamrolled his way through the Republican primary, some Republican lawmakers and operatives tried to mount an effort to stop him. Elected officials and veterans of previous Republican administrations organized letters, endorsed Hillary Clinton, and a few set up meager outside groups to defeat Trump. That’s happening again – but there are differences. The outside groups are more numerous and better organized, and most importantly, Trump has a governing record on which Republicans can use to decide whether to support him or not. “I think it’s qualitatively different,” said Republican operative Tim Miller, who co-founded one of the main anti-Trump organizations. “A lot of people who opposed [Trump] did the whole, ‘Oh, Hillary’s also bad, and Trump’s bad, and everybody can vote their conscience’ kind of thing.” Miller said that 2016’s effort was far more of a “pox on both your houses” phenomenon versus 2020’s “organized effort to defeat him”.

By Chris Isidore, CNN Business

New York (CNN Business) The US Treasury is giving a $700 million loan to YRC Worldwide, a troubled trucking company that warned in May it was in danger of going out of business. That's an enormous sum for a company whose stock had plunged 27% this year and was worth only $70 million as of Tuesday's close. And here's the kicker: The government sued YRC for ripping it off. Long-term competitive problems had taken the company's stock down 85% over the last five years. But shares of YRC (YRCW) shot up 60% in early trading on the news of the bailout. US taxpayers will end up owning 30% of the company's stock as part of the loan agreement. The loan is not part of the federal CARES Act meant to help small businesses. Instead, it is meant to provide help to businesses critical to national security. Treasury's statement said the loan was justified by the fact that the company provides a majority of the trucking services moving pallet-sized shipments of freight for the US military, a segment of the industry known as "less-than-truckload" or LTL. "Treasury's determination was based on a certification by the Secretary of Defense that YRC is critical to maintaining national security," said Treasury in its statement.

Reliable Sources

John Bolton's book alleges that President Trump talked tough about throwing journalists in jail to uncover their sources. "These people should be executed. They are scumbags," Trump said, according to Bolton's recollection. Guy Snodgrass, former chief speechwriter for James Mattis, author of "Holding the Line," says he also heard Trump speak that way. He recounts a "ten minute tirade" by the president about reporters and "traitors." Source: CNN

Analysis by Maeve Reston, CNN

(CNN) As the nation marked a somber Fourth of July with many Americans confined to their homes amid an alarming rise in coronavirus cases, President Donald Trump used his stage on the White House's South Lawn Saturday to put forward a mystifying -- and dangerously misleading claim -- that 99% of coronavirus cases in America are "totally harmless." The President's assertion without evidence about the virus was his latest attempt to minimize the threat of the coronavirus as it ravages the United States with cases rising across the country, and as an increasing number of top Republican officials from the nation's governors to members of Congress pleaded with Americans to redouble their efforts to curb the spread of the virus, warning of the dangerous consequences if current trends continue.
Looking to distract the nation from the frightening spike in Covid-19 cases and America's grim death toll as it surpassed 129,000 people, Trump has plunged deeper into a racially charged strategy meant to bolster his support among White Americans who feel threatened by the cultural change sweeping America after the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. To that end, he reprised many of the racially divisive lines from his speech at Mount Rushmore Friday night, where he claimed that a left-wing fascist mob is trying to "end America" by erasing the nation's history and indoctrinating its children. Apparently hoping to top Friday night's inflammatory language, he compared his crusade to defeat "the radical left" to the efforts by the United States to eradicate the Nazis.

Analysis by Luke McGee, CNN

London (CNN) For more than 70 years, the transatlantic alliance has served as the unshakable foundation of European stability and underpinned the values of the US-led Western order. In 2020, it appears that relationship is being rethought on both sides of the Atlantic. Earlier this week, the European Union declined to include US in its list of "safe countries," meaning that American travelers will be unwelcome inside the bloc for the foreseeable future, due to the eyewatering US coronavirus infection numbers. Controversially, the list includes China -- the country where the virus originated -- on the condition of reciprocal arrangements. EU officials insist that the decision was not political and based entirely on epidemiological evidence, in the hope this would pacify US President Donald Trump, a man who has attacked the bloc on several occasions. However, others privately concede that had Brussels wanted to make the pill more palatable for an American audience, they could have added a sugar coating. "In the past, I can see that we might have not included China in order to keep the US happy," says an EU diplomat not authorized to speak on record about how the decision was made.

By William Wan

Among the combative and unusual way President Trump chose to celebrate Independence Day, some historians were particularly puzzled Saturday by his announcement for a new monument called the “National Garden of American Heroes” populated by a grab bag of historical figures chosen by his administration. The garden, Trump explained in a Friday night speech at Mount Rushmore, was part of his response to the movement to remove Confederate statues and racially charged iconography across the country. “Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders, deface our most sacred memorials and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities,” Trump said. “This attack on our liberty, our magnificent liberty, must be stopped.” In response, Trump said he plans to build “a vast outdoor park that will feature the statues of the greatest Americans to ever live.” Among the statues to be erected in the garden — spelled out in an executive order — are evangelical leader Billy Graham, 19th century politician Henry Clay, frontiersman Davy Crockett, first lady Dolley Madison and conservative Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia. In response, Trump said he plans to build “a vast outdoor park that will feature the statues of the greatest Americans to ever live.” Among the statues to be erected in the garden — spelled out in an executive order — are evangelical leader Billy Graham, 19th century politician Henry Clay, frontiersman Davy Crockett, first lady Dolley Madison and conservative Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia.

His ominous remarks were a concession to his political standing: trailing in the polls, lacking a booming economy or a positive message to campaign on, and leaning on culture wars to buoy his loyalists.
By Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman

WASHINGTON — President Trump spent the Fourth of July weekend sowing national divide, ignoring his failings on the coronavirus and vowing to fight what he branded the “new far-left fascism.” In a speech at the White House on Saturday evening and an address in front of Mount Rushmore on Friday night, Mr. Trump promoted a version of the “American carnage” vision for the country that he laid out during his inaugural address — updated to include an ominous depiction of the recent protests over racial justice. He signaled even more clearly that he would exploit race and cultural flash points to stoke fear among his base of white supporters in an effort to win re-election. As he has done in the past, he resorted to exaggerated, apocalyptic language in broadly tarring the nationwide protests against entrenched racism and police brutality, saying that “angry mobs” sought to “unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities” and that those seeking to deface monuments want to “end America.” Though Mr. Trump avoided references on Friday to the symbols of the Confederacy that have been a target of many protests, referring instead to monuments of America’s “founders,” he has in the past defended statues honoring Confederate soldiers as “beautiful.” And he has resisted renaming military bases named after Confederate generals, even as military leaders signaled their support for such a move.

Pyongyang's statement comes after ex-US national security adviser signals new Kim-Trump summit before US polls.

North Korea has repeated that it has no immediate plans to resume nuclear negotiations with the United States unless Washington discards what it describes as "hostile" policies towards Pyongyang. Saturday's statement by North Korean First Vice-Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui came after US President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, John Bolton, told reporters on Thursday that Trump might seek another summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as an "October surprise" before the US presidential election. "Is it possible to hold dialogue or have any dealings with the US which persists in the hostile policy towards the DPRK in disregard of the agreements already made at the past summit?" Choe said, referring to North Korea by its formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The growing pattern comes as Trump drops in national polls.
By Terrance Smith and Will Steakin

Amid historic nationwide protests calling for racial justice, President Donald Trump retweeted a video last Sunday showing a supporter yelling "white power!" Then, more than three hours and thousands of views later, the tweet was deleted and the White House issued a statement claiming the president "did not hear" what the supporter could clearly be heard saying. As startling as it was, it was only the latest instance of the president using his vast social media presence to magnify racist messaging to a segment of his political base, ahead of the November election. One critic says it's part of a growing pattern on the part of Trump, his campaign and allies to push racially inflammatory language and then, after widespread outrage, claim ignorance. Leah Wright Rigueur, professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and author of "The Loneliness of the Black Republican," calls that pattern "convenient." "If it was actual ignorance, we wouldn't see this happening repeatedly and we also wouldn't see the same kind of targeted type of retweets, tweeting commentary, etc. So, it just seems like a very convenient shield as defense to use, when once again they find themselves in the position that they're often in," Rigueur told ABC News.

It’s become standard operating procedure for the White House: Redirect attention to the media when pressed what and when Trump knew about various threats.

The White House this past week was facing a familiar series of questions as it grappled with reports of a Russian bounty program targeting American troops in Afghanistan: What did the president know and when did he know it? The answer was also familiar: Blame the media. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany called a press briefing on Tuesday where she chastised the media for reporting on the story, before taking just a few questions and walking off. A cadre of national security officials — from the CIA to the Pentagon to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence — all issued statements, occasionally questioning the veracity of the reports while also focusing on leaks to the press. McEnany highlighted the surge in criminal leak referrals under President Donald Trump — averaging 104 per year, up from an average of 39 per year under President Barack Obama. “Because somebody decided to leak this intelligence while we were trying to get to the bottom of it, that may never be possible now, and that’s a shame,” national security adviser Robert O’Brien told reporters.

Thomas Colson and Adam Payne

Joe Biden's election as US president in November would restore UK-US relations, repair the diplomatic damage caused by the Trump administration, and boost the prospects of a transatlantic trade deal, according to European diplomats and trade experts. The transatlantic alliance between the US and its European allies has been under growing strain since Trump's election in 2016. The president's attacks on multilateral institutions such NATO, his attacks on Europe's rapprochement with Iran, and his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord have all tested the long-standing "special relationship" with the UK and other European allies. The damage has been reflected among the European public, with recent polling showing a collapse in perceptions of America on the other side of the Atlantic. However, there is growing optimism in European diplomatic circles that much of the damage could be undone were the president to lose in this year's election. One senior UK diplomat, who asked not to be named, told Business Insider that a Biden presidency would bring a welcome end to the "venal corruption" of the Trump era. "A lot of stuff will change if Biden wins," the diplomat said.

Analysis by Maeve Reston, CNN

(CNN) On a very different Fourth of July holiday, when many Americans are wrestling with the racist misdeeds of the country's heroes and confronting an unrelenting pandemic with surging cases, their commander-in-chief is attempting to drag America backward -- stirring fear of cultural change while flouting the most basic scientific evidence about disease transmission. In a jaw-dropping speech that amounted to a culture war bonfire, President Donald Trump used the backdrop of Mount Rushmore Friday night to frame protesters as a nefarious left-wing mob that intends to "end America." Those opponents, he argued, are engaged in a "merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children." On Saturday in the nation's capital, the Trump administration has planned July 4 celebrations that ignore Washington, DC, Muriel Bowser's concerns about public health guidelines, although at least there'll be some of the social distancing measures at the White House that were ignored in South Dakota, where the President largely acted as if the coronavirus didn't exist. Instead, when Trump spoke on Friday night of a "growing danger," he was talking about an entirely different threat than rising coronavirus cases. He referred to a threat to America's "heritage" -- rhetoric intended to rev up his base at a time when many Americans are attempting to relearn the nation's history with greater attention to the wrongs inflicted on Black and Native American people.

President tells supporters at July 4 celebration that racial justice protests threaten foundations of US society.

United States President Donald Trump railed on Friday against "angry mobs" that tried to tear down statues of Confederate leaders and other historical figures, warning thousands of supporters at Mount Rushmore that protesters were trying to erase the country's history. The speech and fireworks on the eve of the US Independence Day came against the backdrop of a pandemic that has killed more than 125,000 people across the country. The event drew 7,500 people, packed tightly into an amphitheatre. Many did not wear masks, defying the advice of public health officials who have urged people to avoid large gatherings to slow the spread of COVID-19. Trump, speaking underneath the famed landmark depicting four US presidents, warned that recent demonstrations over racial inequality threatened the foundations of the country's political system. "Make no mistake, this left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American revolution," Trump said. "Our children are taught in school to hate their own country," he added.

Analysis by Stephen Collinson with Caitlin Hu

(CNN) George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt ... Donald Trump? For President Trump, nothing could be more natural than to stand alongside such giants of American history. On Friday night, he will travel to Mount Rushmore for an early Independence Day party, reviving the environmentally worrisome tradition of July Fourth fireworks over their massive carved likenesses. Such frivolity might seem in poor taste amid a fast-worsening pandemic -- and unwise since social distancing won't be required at the event. But the holiday that celebrates independence from Britain is being used to bolster Trump's false narrative that the country is doing just fine. "We're headed back in a very strong fashion ... and I think we are going to be very good with the coronavirus," Trump told Fox Business on Wednesday, a day after his government's top infectious disease specialist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, had warned that the US could soon see 100,000 new cases per day. The Mount Rushmore state, South Dakota, has not been as badly hit by the virus as much of the rest of the heartland. But it only takes one infected person in what is expected to be a big crowd to seed new outbreaks. The President loves a big show and bigger crowds. On Saturday, he'll host his second "Salute to America" festival in Washington, complete with another massive fireworks display. Last year, his demand for flypasts and military hardware modeled on France's Bastille Day parade doubled the cost of the event to $13 million. Washington's Mayor Muriel Bowser has asked citizens to stay home and watch the show on TV -- but the temptation will be great for many. The city's subway system is already bracing for crammed trains.

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