WEDNESDAY, IN REVIEW …
— THE WHITE HOUSE said Wednesday’s trip to El Paso and Dayton was not a photo op, and they completely shut out media. They said the media blackout was for good reason — it would’ve disrupted people in the hospital who were trying to work, and heal. But they then claimed that people were going gaga for the president in the hospital, which would’ve been a great image for a leader who is often criticized for not being able to handle one of his most important roles: that of consoler in chief. The White House did release its own photos of the visit.
WAPO: “None of the eight patients still being treated at University Medical Center in El Paso agreed to meet with Trump when he visited the hospital, UMC spokesman Ryan Mielke said. Two victims who already had been discharged returned to the hospital with family members to meet with the president.” WaPo
— THE PRESIDENT said those who were criticizing him were “political people.” “[T]hese are people that are looking for political gain. I don’t think they’re getting it. And, as much as possible, I’ve tried to stay out of that.” Between El Paso and Dayton, he criticized JOE BIDEN on Twitter, saying his speech was “soo boring.” (Biden was asked about this by NBC’s resident Biden expert, MIKE MEMOLI, and Biden said Trump should get a life.)
SHORTLY AFTER, TRUMP criticized Dayton Mayor NAN WHALEY and Sen. SHERROD BROWN (D-Ohio), who were with the president for part of Wednesday, and had generally praised his visit. He then went on to criticize CNN and Fox News’ SHEP SMITH. He later turned to JOAQUIN CASTRO and his brother JULIÁN. And he ended his day with “fake news,” Democrats using “racism” as a tool against him and a final blast at Bloomberg Opinion executive editor — and Trump biographer — TIM O’BRIEN.
ALL OF THESE MISSIVES came in the midst of a trip where he was visiting two communities that were deeply affected by a series of mass shootings.
THE WHITE HOUSE and the president’s allies will invariably complain about the coverage of this trip. But no one asked the president to focus on his political foes. He did it himself. Gabby Orr on how Trump couldn’t stay out of the political fray
— WE ASKED THE WHITE HOUSE why the president was upset with Brown and Whaley, and they had no answer.
DAYTON DAILY NEWS HEADLINE: “Mayor Whaley ‘confused’ by Trump’s tweet of how she described his visit to Dayton”
FRONT PAGES … NYT A1: “PRESIDENT USES A DAY OF HEALING TO STOKE DISCORD” … WAPO: “On arrival, Trump stokes divisions”
SPARING THE ROD: TRUMP told reporters on Air Force One that he’s considering commuting former Illinois Gov. ROD BLAGOJEVICH’S sentence. “His wife I think is fantastic and I’m thinking about commuting his sentence very strongly. I think it’s enough, seven years,” Trump said, according to pooler Eli Stokols of the L.A. Times.
Side note: Trump also noted that Blago had been on “Celebrity Apprentice,” per Bloomberg’s Jen Jacobs, but didn’t mention that he fired him over Harry Potter. “I just want to ask this one question,” Trump said on the show. “Your Harry Potter facts were not accurate. Who did the research?” To which Blago responded at the time: “But it’s Slithering and it’s Hufflepuff and it’s Ravencloth …” The episode … The firing
— USEFUL REMINDER … WHY BLAGO WAS ACCUSED AND CONVICTED … CHICAGO TRIBUNE: “Blagojevich was convicted of attempting to use his office to personally benefit, offering the former U.S. Senate seat of then-President-elect Barack Obama for barter, but also for trying to use his official office to gain a prosperous job or gain campaign funds in exchange for his actions.
“Some counts involving the alleged sale of the Senate seat were subsequently removed but his sentence and corruption conviction stood. He also was convicted of attempting to shake down a children’s hospital and the horse racetrack industry for official actions in exchange for campaign donations.
“Government agents secretly recorded Blagojevich discussing the Senate seat appointment with his onetime deputy governor, Doug Scofield. ‘I’ve got this thing and it’s (expletive) golden,’ Blagojevich said in the secretly recorded conversation. ‘I’m not just giving it up for (expletive) nothing.’” Chicago Tribune
Good Thursday morning. THE WASHINGTON NATIONALS beat the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday, completing a three-game sweep. They have the red-hot New York Mets this weekend in Queens.
CHILMARK READING — “Barack Obama hits the links on the Vineyard”: “Barack Obama, the former president, and Michelle arrived on the island Sunday. The former president promptly hit the links, playing at Farm Neck Golf Club in a foursome that included Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry and former Celtic Ray Allen.” Boston Globe
THE LATEST ON GUN CONTROL …
— THE NRA HAS TRUMP’S EAR: WAPO’S JOSH DAWSEY and SEUNG MING KIM: “NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre spoke with Trump on Tuesday after the president expressed support for a background check bill and told him it would not be popular among Trump’s supporters, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely discuss internal talks.
“LaPierre also argued against the bill’s merits, the officials said. The NRA, which opposes the legislation sponsored by Sens. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) and Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), declined to comment.” WaPo
— BTW, WE ALSO ASKED THE WHITE HOUSE what meetings the president had scheduled on gun control, because he said he had one scheduled, yet we could not find anyone on Capitol Hill who was aware of it. The White House has not gotten back to us with an answer — still.
— AP: “Mayors push Senate to return to Washington for gun bill vote,” by Matthew Daly and Lisa Mascaro
NO SENATE FOR HIM? … BETO O’ROURKE told NBC’S RACHEL MADDOW that he will return to the 2020 campaign trail. “I will pursue the nomination of our party to serve our country as president of the United States.” He added: “But right now I’m going to focus on my community, on our family, on those families who are grieving right now and on those families who have somebody who’s not yet out of the woods.”
THE RAIDS … AP/MORTON, MISS.: “‘Let them go!’: Tears, shock over ICE raids at Mississippi food processing plants”: “U.S. immigration officials raided numerous Mississippi food processing plants Wednesday, arresting 680 mostly Latino workers in what marked the largest workplace sting in at least a decade.
“The raids, planned months ago, happened just hours before President Donald Trump was scheduled to visit El Paso, Texas, the majority-Latino city where a man linked to an online screed about a ‘Hispanic invasion’ was charged in a shooting that left 22 people dead in the border city.
“Workers filled three buses — two for men and one for women — at a Koch Foods Inc. plant in tiny Morton, 40 miles east of Jackson. They were taken to a military hangar to be processed for immigration violations. About 70 family, friends and residents waved goodbye and shouted, ‘Let them go! Let them go!’ Later, two more buses arrived.” AP
MARKETWATCH — “Global Stocks Rally After Wild Swings on Wall Street,” by WSJ’s Laura Almeida
TAPPING IT BACK — “Billionaire Stephen Ross gets backlash for Trump fundraiser,” by Maggie Severns: “News that the billionaire and Republican donor Stephen Ross would hold a Hamptons fundraiser for President Donald Trump sparked anger online at some of Ross’ most prominent businesses on Wednesday: luxury spinning studio SoulCycle and Equinox gym.
“Ross, who is worth an estimated $7.7 billion, founded the Related Companies, a real estate firm that invests in popular fitness and restaurant brands and owns the Miami Dolphins football team. Ross is a longtime GOP donor. But he has not been a major public supporter of Trump’s in the past, and his move to host the lunchtime fundraiser on Long Island for the president elicited backlash from people who pay for his high-end fitness memberships, as well as from one player for the Miami Dolphins.”
— ROSS’ RESPONSE: “In a statement provided to POLITICO, Ross said that he had ‘always been an active participant in the democratic process’ and that he preferred ‘to engage directly and support the things I deeply care about.’
“‘I have known Donald Trump for 40 years, and while we agree on some issues, we strongly disagree on many others and I have never been bashful about expressing my opinions,’ Ross said. ‘I have been, and will continue to be, an outspoken champion of racial equality, inclusion, diversity, public education and environmental sustainability, and I have and will continue to support leaders on both sides of the aisle to address these challenges.’”
FLASHBACK … ROSS to N.Y. MAGAZINE in February: “I don’t like Donald, OK, we can stop there. We’d be here all day.” N.Y. Mag (hat tip: Annie Karni)
QUITE CLEARLY, Ross didn’t think this fundraiser would get much attention. … FWIW: Kara Ross, Stephen’s wife, gained fame as a jeweler creating pieces for MICHELLE OBAMA. A 2011 story about Ross
CNN’S JAKE TAPPER: “White House rebuffed attempts by DHS to make combating domestic terrorism a higher priority”: “White House officials rebuffed efforts by their colleagues at the Department of Homeland Security for more than a year to make combating domestic terror threats, such as those from white supremacists, a greater priority as specifically spelled out in the National Counterterrorism Strategy, current and former senior administration officials as well as other sources close to the Trump administration tell CNN.” CNN
THE INVESTIGATIONS — “Pondering Impeachment, House Sues Don McGahn, Ex-White House Counsel, for Testimony,” by NYT’s Nicholas Fandos and Charlie Savage: “The House Judiciary Committee sued on Wednesday to force the former White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II to testify before Congress, asking a federal judge to strike down the Trump administration’s claim that top presidential aides are ‘absolutely immune’ from its subpoenas.
“In a filing in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, the Judiciary Committee identified Mr. McGahn as ‘the most important witness, other than the president, to the key events’ at the center of its investigation into possible obstruction of justice by President Trump — behavior detailed by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, that the committee said could warrant impeachment.
“‘The Judiciary Committee is now determining whether to recommend articles of impeachment against the president based on the obstructive conduct described by the special counsel,’ the filing said. ‘But it cannot fulfill this most solemn constitutional responsibility without hearing testimony from a crucial witness to these events: former White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II.’” NYT
COMMITTEE NEWS …
— DCCC CHAIRWOMAN CHERI BUSTOS pointed out on Twitter the other day that their online fundraising has already beat what they raised online in 2015. WHAT SHE DIDN’T SAY: Their unitemized fundraising is down 25% compared to this point in 2017. That’s a big deal. (With the caveat that all cycles are different, and in the beginning of 2017, they were starting to try to take the House back.)
— THE DCCC posted an online job description for the open executive director slot. The posting
TRUMP’S THURSDAY — The president will have lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at 12: 45 p.m. in the private dining room.
HMMM — “Billionaire Wexner Says Epstein Swindled Him Out of ‘Vast Sums,’” by Bloomberg’s Anders Melin, Katherine Burton and Sophie Alexander: “Jeffrey Epstein’s entry into the life of Leslie Wexner spurred a myriad of questions among some of the fashion titan’s closest confidantes and associates.
“What did Wexner, a billionaire who built a fashion empire from scratch, see in Epstein, a college dropout with no obvious background as a money manager or tax expert?
“In recent weeks, revelations about the wealth Epstein amassed during his decades-long relationship with Wexner and his repeated alleged abuse of underage girls during that period have complicated that picture. On Wednesday, the saga took another twist as Wexner wrote to members of the Wexner Foundation that his former money manager had ‘misappropriated vast sums of money from me and my family.’” Bloomberg … The full letter
FOGGY BOTTOM DEPARTURE LOUNGE … AP’S MATT LEE: “U.S. officials say top U.S. diplomat for Latin America resigns”: “The Trump administration’s top diplomat for Latin America has resigned amid internal disputes over immigration policy for the region, U.S. officials said Wednesday.
“Two officials and a congressional aide said Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Kimberly Breier stepped down earlier this week, although they offered differing reasons for her departure. They say Breier cited personal reasons for her decision, but the two officials suggested it was prompted by differences over a recent migration accord with Guatemala. The congressional aide said Breier’s departure was mainly driven by family responsibilities.” AP
FIRST WAYNE ROONEY, NOW THIS — “U.S. Soccer hires lobbyists to argue women’s national team isn’t underpaid,” by Theo Meyer: “U.S. Soccer, which has disputed there’s a pay gap, responded by bringing on two lobbying firms, FBB Federal Relations and Van Ness Feldman, to help convince lawmakers the women’s claims are inaccurate. …
“Molly Levinson, a spokeswoman for the players, said in a statement they were ‘stunned and disappointed’ U.S. Soccer ‘would spend sponsor dollars and revenue to advocate against laws that ensure that women are paid equally to men.’” POLITICO
VALLEY TALK — “White House drafting executive order to tackle Silicon Valley’s alleged anti-conservative bias,” by Margaret Harding McGill and Daniel Lippman: “The White House is circulating drafts of a proposed executive order that would address allegations of anti-conservative bias by social media companies, according to a White House official and two other people familiar with the matter — a month after President Donald Trump pledged to explore ‘all regulatory and legislative solutions’ on the issue.
“None of the three would describe the contents of the order, which one person cautioned has already taken many different forms and remains in flux. But its existence, and the deliberations surrounding it, are evidence that the administration is taking a serious look at wielding the federal government’s power against Silicon Valley.
“‘If the internet is going to be presented as this egalitarian platform and most of Twitter is liberal cesspools of venom, then at least the president wants some fairness in the system,’ the White House official said.” POLITICO
MEDIAWATCH — A DARK DAY FOR MAGAZINES … “Governing to Close”: “After 32 years, the magazine of record for state and local government will discontinue operations. …
“For the past several years, Governing and our parent company, e.Republic, have made continued investments in the magazine, in governing.com and in the numerous events we host throughout the country. Ultimately, however, Governing has proven to be unsustainable as a business in today’s media environment. We will cease publication of the monthly print magazine after September, and we will be ramping down our web presence and the rest of our operations over the next few months.” Governing
— “Pacific Standard magazine is shutting down after losing main financial backer,” by L.A. Times’ James F. Peltz and Sam Dean: “Pacific Standard, an online magazine that aimed to be a Western U.S.-based chronicler of global social and environmental justice and public policy, plans to shut down after a decade of publication … The publication’s last day will be Aug. 16 and the decision by the board of Pacific Standard’s backer, the nonprofit Social Justice Foundation, came without warning.” LAT
— “Judge green-lights libel suit against NPR over Seth Rich reports,” by Josh Gerstein
— BOOK NEWS: “Workman to Publish AOC Bio”: “The book, a representative of [publisher] Workman said, will ‘look and feel like an of-the-moment gift book with a bold cover, easy-to-read text, and tons of vibrant photos in a small package.’ The representative noted that the book, Workman’s first political biography, will bear more resemblance to such Workman titles as Boss Babes and Strong Is the New Pretty than a traditional political biography. The book, the publisher said, will ‘include photos, quotes, and illuminating text,’ serving as a ‘celebration of the youngest congresswoman in United States history, detailing not only her life but the movement she has energized.’” Publishers Weekly
— PAGE SIX NUGGET: “Coming in September, a gritty not pretty documentary on Roy Cohn.” N.Y. Post
Send tips to Eli Okun and Garrett Ross at [email protected].
FOR THOSE KEEPING TRACK — “Jim Mattis rejoining General Dynamics board of directors,” by Jacqueline Feldscher
TRANSITIONS — Mick Baccio is now chief information security officer for the Pete Buttigieg campaign. He was the branch chief of White House threat intelligence in the Obama administration. More via Tim Starks … Sara Broadwater will be communications director for Indiana Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch. She previously was communications director for Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas).
ENGAGED — Joshua Hone, a Quorum and Advoc8 alum who is now COO of enotice, an early-stage startup focused on the future of local news, proposed to Rachel King, an incoming foreign service officer who did a Fulbright program in Malaysia and has also served as a Pickering fellow. He proposed on the ferry in Istanbul. Pic … Another pic
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Mike Biundo, co-founder and partner of Right On Strategies and a Trump campaign alum in New Hampshire. A fun fact people in Washington might not know about him: “I am a big professional wrestling fan. Which frankly made it extra hard to turn down the senior adviser to the White House at the SBA under Linda McMahon.” Playbook Plus Q&A
BIRTHDAYS: U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman is 61 … Vinay Mehra, president and CFO of The Boston Globe … Catharine Cypher … POLITICO Europe’s Charlie Cooper … WaPo’s Jackson Diehl … Kylie Atwood, national security reporter for CNN, is 3-0 (h/t Ali Spiesman) … Virginia Heffernan … Claire Brinberg, senior producer and political editor at “ABC World News Tonight” … Sam Wilson … Tyler Bowders … Kate Damon … Emily Rogers … Kelly Jemison Needham is 31 … Michael Levin … Jonah Seiger … Italian PM Giuseppe Conte is 55 … Sara Maldonado … Ron Klain, EVP and general counsel at Revolution, is 58 (h/t wife Monica) … Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group … Will Caggiano (h/ts Jon Haber) … Marc Ambinder … Elizabeth Brakebill McAdam … John Lambert of Sen. Ron Johnson’s (R-Wis.) office … James Feinstein … POLITICO’s Daniela Falvo … Karen Jezierny, director of public affairs at Princeton (h/t Ben Chang) …
… Hayley Matz Meadvin, a director at Precision Strategies … former FEC Chairman Michael Toner, partner at Wiley Rein … Jo Duchesne of the Bipartisan Policy Center (h/t dad Steve) … Mike Dankler … Saint Vincent and the Grenadines PM Ralph Gonsalves … Solomon Islands PM Rick Houenipwela … Meg Cahill … William Cronin … Jonah Seiger … Jeff Chu … George Paul Tzamaras of the American Immigration Lawyers Association is 59 … Lance Frank, VP of comms at CBS News … former Michigan Gov. Jim Blanchard, now at DLA Piper, is 77 … Nuriya Janss … Luke Londo … Eric Brakey … Habib Durrani … Dan Betts … Sunny Feldman … Kristina Dei … Samantha Brady … Michael Burwick … Cameron Terry … David Bass, president and CEO of Raptor Strategies … Josh Sternberg … Mike Schwartz … Teach for America’s Joe Walsh … Karen Hancox … Dee Ertukel … Alison Diminuco … Jay Gertsema … Xerxes Bhappu (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)