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On the roster: Reality winners and losers - Grip it and rip it: Senate sets bold target on ObamaCare - Trump said to be souring on Sessions over Russia probe - Ossoff, Handel to square off in first debate tonight - Bear-oque
REALITY WINNERS AND LOSERS
The good news for the Trump administration is that it claims to have caught a leaker.
The bad news is that in catching the alleged leaker, the administration confirmed the leak… and it’s a doozy.
The parents of 25-year-old Reality Winner couldn’t have known that their daughter, a government contractor working for the National Security Agency in Atlanta, would become a historical figure in the administration of the first-ever reality show host to become president. But boy, did they choose right.
Winner is charged with leaking a May 5 intelligence report, the same report that landed in the pages of The Intercept about an hour before she was charged.
That the news outlet seems to have done so poor a job in concealing its apparent source’s identity and the swiftness of the bust will both have some chilling effect on other potential leakers.
But there is incentive here, too. If the culprit really is Winner, as authorities claim, she is a strident, ardent foe of the president and might have done the same, even knowing that she would face consequences. Certainly, she will be a heroine to many in the self-styled resistance.
Consider that even with all the rotten things we now know about the damaging leaks by Edward Snowden and others facilitated by Julian Assange, succored by the Kremlin, they still have American admirers.
But whether you think the leaker in this case to be a noble member of the anti-Trump underground or a “deep state” participant in a soft coup against the rightly elected president or something else entirely, let’s leave that aside for now.
Instead let’s focus on the purloined report.
The report recounted two attacks by Russian military intelligence in the run up to the 2016 election. One targeted a company that sells voter registration software and another targeted 122 local election officials.
The NSA seemed uncertain how successful the attack on local elections officials was and what data Russia operatives could have obtained or what mischief they might have done.
This matters for several reasons. First, this is the first indication we have had of attempted Russian interference with the election rather than the campaign. This is an important distinction. Leaking embarrassing information about one campaign might change the behavior of some voters. But that’s just seeking to shape the will of the electorate, not subvert it.
If there were other efforts made in this regard, especially if any were successful, it would raise the stakes enormously in the ongoing probe by special counsel Robert Mueller.
But we won’t know any of that for weeks, if not months, in all likelihood.
What we will see immediately, though, is the revival of the claim that the results of the election are invalid. Remember how some Democrats alleged that electoral impropriety in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania was responsible for the surprising results in those states. Only after recounts and state-level probes and the final certification of the results did Democrats relent.
The two most important concessions made in resolving the contested 2016 election were first President Trump’s eventual acceptance that Russia did, in fact, meddle but, even more importantly, the acceptance of the final returns by almost all Democrats as legitimate.
Democrats have had a hard enough time tamping down talks of impeachment and quieting the kvetching of 2016 loser Hillary Clinton when the results were considered legitimate. This release will immediately stoke new calls, impossible as they may be, to invalidate the results.
While this will be unhelpful to Democrats seeking to focus the minds of their party’s members on future elections rather than past ones, it throws yet another monkey wrench in White House efforts to get on track with a presidency interrupted from the start by this Russia business.
As lawmakers, appointees and potential appointees consider their relationship with the White House, even the friendliest supporters need to consider the possibility that the Mueller investigation will turn out poorly for the president, or at least for members of his team.
If the range of potential Russian malfeasance is broadened to include hacking the vote than just the campaign, there is an additional disincentive for standing too close to Trump.
And wouldn’t you just know it that the news arrives just before two days of blockbuster testimony on Capitol Hill. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any wilder, 2017 finds a way…
THE RULEBOOK: EVERYBODY KNOWS IT
“It requires no skill in the science of war to discern that uniformity in the organization and discipline of the militia would be attended with the most beneficial effects, whenever they were called into service for the public defense.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 29
TIME OUT: ‘THE WORLD PRAYED FOR ITS RESCUE’
On this, the 73rd anniversary of D-Day, much will rightly be said about the sacrifices made by 156,000 U.S. and ally troops in the invasion at Normandy. But nothing finer probably will ever be said than what then-President Ronald Reagan said on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the daring assault on Nazi-occupied France. Reagan’s famous speech, known now as “The Boys of Pointe du Hoc,” stirred the hearts of millions. But the president also brought those long-ago sacrifices into a modern context that resonates even today. Reagan Library: “We are bound today by what bound us 40 years ago, the same loyalties, traditions, and beliefs. We’re bound by reality. The strength of America’s allies is vital to the United States, and the American security guarantee is essential to the continued freedom of Europe’s democracies. We were with you then; we are with you now. Your hopes are our hopes, and your destiny is our destiny. Here, in this place where the West held together, let us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. Let our actions say to them the words for which Matthew Ridgway listened: ‘I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.’ Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their valor, and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.”
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Trump net job-approval rating: -17.8 points
Change from one week ago: -1.4 points
GRIP IT AND RIP IT: SENATE SETS BOLD TARGET ON OBAMACARE
Politico: “Senate Republicans’ uncertain efforts to repeal Obamacare are at a crossroads, with GOP leaders pressing members to make decisions on moving forward and pushing for a vote by the end of June, according to senators and aides. After spending a month deliberating over a response to the House’s passage of a bill to repeal the law, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is accelerating the party’s stagnant work as a jam-packed fall agenda confronts congressional leaders and President Donald Trump. Republican leaders want resolution to the tumultuous Obamacare repeal debate by the Fourth of July recess, Republican sources said, to ensure that the whole year isn’t consumed by health care and that the GOP leaves room to consider tax reform. It’s a gut-check situation for Republicans, who are about to be confronted with tough choices…”
Ideas on menu for lunch today - WSJ: “GOP leaders are planning to present to Senate Republicans options for the major policy decisions shaping their health-care bill during a closed-door lunch Tuesday, Senate GOP lawmakers and aides said Monday.”
Can White House still attract Dems on infrastructure? - WashEx: “As Obamacare repeal and tax reform stall on Capitol Hill, the White House has decided that maybe President Trump can launch a nationwide push to repair roads, bridges, ports and tracks this year after all. ‘Infrastructure, the president has said all along, he believes it will be a bipartisan exercise, and it's one that we will be looking to partner with them on,’ Marc Short, the White House director of legislative affairs, told reporters on Monday evening. Short said the White House did not yet know whether the infrastructure overhaul would take the form of a single bill or if it would be included in different pieces of legislation.”
TRUMP SAID TO BE SOURING ON SESSIONS OVER RUSSIA PROBE
NYT: “But more than four months into his presidency, Mr. Trump has grown sour on [Attorney General Jeff Sessions]…The discontent was on display on Monday in a series of stark early-morning postings on Twitter in which the president faulted his own Justice Department for its defense of his travel ban on visitors from certain predominantly Muslim countries. Mr. Trump accused Mr. Sessions’s department of devising a ‘politically correct’ version of the ban — as if the president had nothing to do with it. … He has intermittently fumed for months over Mr. Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from the investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s election, according to people close to Mr. Trump who insisted on anonymity to describe internal conversations. In Mr. Trump’s view, they said, it was that recusal that eventually led to the appointment of a special counsel who took over the investigation.”
WSJ takes Trump to task for blame game - In the second dose of tough medicine for President Trump the WSJ editorial page took him to task for his habit of blaming others, even for problems he creates himself. WSJ: “Some people with a propensity for self-destructive behavior can’t seem to help themselves, President Trump apparently among them. Over the weekend and into Monday he indulged in another cycle of Twitter outbursts and pointless personal feuding that may damage his agenda and the powers of the Presidency.”
London mayor and Trump keep feud alive - The Hill: “London Mayor Sadiq Khan is calling on the British government to cancel a state visit from President Trump after Trump criticized his response to this weekend’s terror attacks in London. ‘I don’t think we should roll out the red carpet to the president of the USA in the circumstances where his policies go against everything we stand for,’ Khan said in an interview with Britain’s Channel 4 News.”
White House ices Russia war room idea - Politico: “The White House’s Russia investigation ‘war room’ may have been killed before the battle. Just days before former FBI director James Comey’s Senate testimony about his firing, President Donald Trump decided that all inquiries related to the scandals engulfing his administration should be handled by his outside lawyer in New York instead of by a team based inside the White House, according to four advisors close to Trump. The so-called ‘war room,’ … was taking shape as of last week, with plans for two former campaign aides to take over rapid response on Russia questions, according to a person with knowledge of the conversations.”
Meet Mueller’s dream team - Politico: “Special counsel Robert Mueller is assembling a prosecution team with decades of experience going after everything from Watergate to the Mafia to Enron as he digs in for a lengthy probe into possible collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. His first appointments — tapping longtime law firm partner James Quarles and Andrew Weissmann, the head of the Justice Department’s criminal fraud unit — were the opening moves in a politically red-hot criminal case that has already upended the opening months of the Trump White House.”
OSSOFF, HANDEL TO SQUARE OFF IN FIRST DEBATE TONIGHT
AJC: “Georgia’s 6th District House seat may serve a compact portion of the north Atlanta suburbs, but national issues are likely to dominate the first head-to-head debate between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff Tuesday. The duo will meet in primetime on WSB-TV. It’s the first of two confirmed face-offs between Ossoff and Handel as early voting continues ahead of Election Day on June 20. A bad performance for either could prove to be a stumbling block in a three-county district where tens of millions are being spent to capture the attention of voters. More than $36 million has been spent on the race so far, according to a recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis, making the contest the most expensive in the history of the U.S. House.”
Getting ugly: Attacks intensify in Atlanta House special - AJC: “The ad features Sgt. Grant McGarry, who the campaign describes as a U.S. Army veteran who fought the Islamic State in the Middle East. It centers on Ossoff’s remarks, in an ad last week, that he ‘sent a team to the front line against ISIS to expose their atrocities against women and girls.’ … It’s the latest in a string of ads on the threat of ISIS, which took credit for the recent deadly terror attacks in London. House Republicans launched an ad last week warning that ISIS is ‘infiltrating America’ and criticized Democrats for an Obama-era pledge to bring 10,000 Syrian refugees to the U.S.”
It’s Election Day in New Jersey - The [Philly] Inquirer: “New Jersey voters get their first chance on Tuesday to decide whom they want to lead the state after Gov. [Chris Christie] completes his tumultuous tenure in January. The candidates hoping to succeed Christie, a Republican, spent the last day before the primary election campaigning across the state, making their final pitches to voters in diners and rallies from Bergen County to Atlantic City. Voters’ discontent with Christie — his approval rating has hovered around 20 percent for months — are expected to help make the Democratic nominee the favorite to win the general election. Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans, and in recent decades, two-term New Jersey governors have been succeeded by candidates of the opposing party.”
Trump takes credit for isolation of key U.S. ally Qatar - BBC
Bruce Riedel pokes holes in Saudi arms deal - Brookings
Poll: Low marks for climate treaty exit - WaPo/ABC News
Top U.S. diplomat in China resigns over Trump's Paris decision - Axios
Trump sons look to cash in on Americana appeal for downscale hotel chain - NYT
AUDIBLE: TWEET TWEET
“I’ve been in motorcades for a couple of years now… I’ve never seen so many people flip the bird at an American motorcade as I saw today.” – NYT reporter Gardiner Harris, quoted by Stuff, on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to New Zealand.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Last week you used SUPCO to refer to the Supreme Court rather than the usual SCOTUS. I must have missed the memo. Neither choice is all that great. SCOTUS sounds like an embarrassing medical condition, and SUPCO might be the trendy grocery that just opened across town. What gives?” – Eleanor Parker, San Francisco
[Ed. note: You got us, Ms. Parker! I prefer SupCo to SCOTUS. But then again, I don’t like any of the –OTUS constructions: FLOTUS, VPOTUS, etc. I have been using SupCo for a long time and, especially when I am writing in sentence case as opposed to the all-caps headline format, I think it is more intelligible. I like your grocery store idea, especially since I can see organic fava beans and radicchio being on the menu at SupCo.]
“It seems to me that you are becoming more and more a product of your surroundings. Perhaps a month long road trip across the flyover zone would be good for you. You would get some fresh air and see what the people that elected Trump are thinking. In my surroundings, I find no one who see all of the conflict that you report about day in and day out of any importance to them. People in the middle are concerned about Jobs, security, and a good life for their children. Trump is so far delivering on what he promised. He hasn’t had much help, but he has the support of the middle of the country.” – Eddie Mauck, Columbus, Miss.
[Ed. note: That sounds like a great idea, Mr. Mauck. If I come to Columbus, though, I might wait until after summer since you all tend to keep it pretty warm down there. As for how my surroundings affect me, I do try to bear in mind the concerns of ordinary Americans rather than the passions of people inside the Beltway. But there is a balancing test here. In a Republic, individuals give their proxy to elected leaders to travel away from home to form and direct the government. You may not care about what people inside the government are thinking or how the president’s behavior affects the process, but you do want results on the issues you described. I think it is important for Americans to understand the way the sausage gets made here so that when important moments arise, especially at election time, they know the context for their choices. I sometimes think I would rather that the Capitol was in Ohio County, West Virginia so I could live there instead. But of course, given enough time, having the seat of the government would likely ruin any place.]
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KCNC: “Video of a black bear inside a Vail [Colo.] condo poking around and playing a few notes on the owner’s piano is getting thousands of views online. Vail police officers took the report of what the owner originally thought was a burglary, but her surveillance cameras captured the intruder and it had four paws. It happened in an East Vail neighborhood on May 31. … While inside, the bear did minor damage to the apartment and took food from a freezer, according to officers. Following the report to police, the owner checked her internal camera system, which captured the event on video. The bear can be seen wandering around the apartment and at one point went to a piano, putting its paws on the keys playing a few loud and dissonant notes. Vail police said in a news release that ‘The chords captured on video were unbearable and the tune was equally grizzly.’”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Here there is one question, did the president obstruct justice? That's what everybody is waiting for. I don't think there's anything of great interest other than that.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.