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On the roster: Trump looks east for new foreign policy - Privacy groups dig in against Trump vote fraud probe - Backlash over CNN hiding name of Trump video maker - Senators feeling the heat on health votes - He got the bees though, didn’t he?
TRUMP LOOKS EAST FOR NEW FOREIGN POLICY
We are about to get our best look yet this week at the Trump doctrine for what U.S. foreign policy really is.
President Trump’s first trip abroad was considered a success by many on the grounds that it mostly went according to script. But it was one departure from the preordained lines that made the most news.
In his remarks to fellow NATO leaders, Trump not only offered a rebuke for their failure to spend enough on defense, but also in his decision not to include language reaffirming America’s commitment to the core precept of the treaty group – an attack on one is an attack on all.
These moves sent administration officials like Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson scrambling to try to reassure America’s traditional allies that though the new boss sounds different, essential U.S. commitments remain the same. Their claims may be tested this week.
As Michael Warren reports at the Weekly Standard, Trump’s decision to begin his European trip by calling on the nationalist leader of Poland and delivering a broad framing speech in Warsaw reflect a strong desire by the president to have this trip mark a departure from the past.
Poland’s Law and Justice Party represents perhaps the high-watermark for right-winged populist nationalism in Europe today following setbacks for similar groups in the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, France and Britain.
The Polish party embraces a proud posture as a culture warrior in the heavily Roman Catholic country. In Prime Minister Beata Szydlo Trump will find a kindred spirit as it relates to cultural identity, law and order, the dangers of large-scale immigration and, Szydlo’s German counterpart, Angela Merkel.
While much of Trump’s foreign policy can be seen as a repudiation of the most recent Republican to hold the presidency before him, the expected embrace of Eastern Europe is something George W. Bush certainly favored. When much of Western Europe wouldn’t back the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called those countries “old Europe” as opposed to the burgeoning, free-market nations that emerged from the wreckage of the Warsaw Pact.
Though the doctrines of the Bush Era are deplored by Trump and senior advisor Stephen Miller, who is said to be authoring the speech, the concept of a new frontier for foreign policy between the Baltic, Black and Adriatic seas is one idea that the new-look Republican Party continues to embrace.
One of the reasons Republicans have traditionally liked this approach is because it creates a bulwark against Russian aggression. Remember that the fond dream of Presidents Ronald Reagan and both of the Bushes was to see the former Soviet satellites fall into a happy orbit around Washington rather than Moscow.
Trump’s embrace of Polish nationalism may be something of a swat at the European Union, but it can be no welcome news to Vladimir Putin.
Merkel, who has emerged as the de facto leader of Western Europe, seems to like the idea of a chilly relationship with Trump. She’s betting that Germany’s economy – about seven times as that of Poland – and her reputation as an international dealmaker will allow Germany to flourish in a post-American global order.
There is some silliness on both sides. The global order in which Germany prospers is substantially guaranteed by the presence of the United States as a superpower. A post-American era would not be kind to our European allies. It is also equally foolish to believe that the United States can be economically prosperous or nearly as safe in a world without both NATO and the enormous volume of trade with Western Europe.
But foreign policy, at least in times of peace and prosperity as the world mostly is experiencing now, is about nudging the rudder of massive ships of state.
Barack Obama succeeded in remaking U.S. policy toward the Middle East with a more sympathetic stance toward Iran. It’s not unreasonable to think that because of the bad blood between Trump and his western European counterparts and the eagerness of Eastern Europe for protection and partnership that a similar reordering is possible here.
[Need to know - Fox News: “President Trump is scheduled to attend the Group of 20 (G-20) summit this week. Heads of state and government are expected to attend the event in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7 and July 8. Here's what you should know about the international forum….”]
Paths diverge on trade - USA Today: “Competing visions of world trade are set to collide at the Group of 20 summit of world leaders in Hamburg, Germany, this week. … The summit takes place with the global economy in fairly good shape; the International Monetary Fund sees growth rising from 3.1 percent last year to 3.5 percent this year and 3.6 percent in 2018. But trade among countries has not recovered to the levels from before the global financial crisis.”
Trump’s options for handling North Korea are few and risky - NYT: “But this latest test suggests that the United States may already be in range as well, and that, as one former top American intelligence official noted recently, would put enormous pressure on American missile defenses that few trust to work. On Tuesday, Mr. Trump’s secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson, called for ‘global action’ and for the United Nations Security Council to ‘enact stronger measures’ against the North’s government in Pyongyang.”
THE RULEBOOK: YUUUUUUUP
“This exceptionable principle may, as truly as emphatically, be styled the parent of anarchy: It has been seen that delinquencies in the members of the Union are its natural and necessary offspring; and that whenever they happen, the only constitutional remedy is force, and the immediate effect of the use of it, civil war.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 16
TIME OUT: ‘JUST ENOUGH PAIN TO LEARN COMPASSION’
You may have watched it already, but the commencement address from Chief Justice John Roberts at his son’s middle school graduation has become the most unusual kind of social media sensation: one of laud and honor. Roberts’ remarks run just a little less than 11 minutes and deal with the ordinary considerations of life for ninth graders and their parents. But Roberts said some remarkable things. In acknowledging the remarkable privilege of young men bound for the best preparatory schools in the country, the chief justice wished them the gift of adversity:
“From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope you will suffer betrayal, because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time, so that you don’t take friends for granted. I wish you bad luck again, from time to time, so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in your life, and understand that your success is not completely deserved, and the failure of others is not completely deserved, either. And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you will be ignored, so you will learn the importance of listening to others. And I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion.”
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Trump net job-approval rating: -13.2 points
Change from one week ago: -0.4 points
PRIVACY GROUPS DIG IN AGAINST TRUMP VOTE FRAUD PROBE
Kansas City Star: “A privacy group has filed a lawsuit to halt Kris Kobach’s controversial attempt to receive a bundle of voter information for a commission President Donald Trump says will root out voter fraud. In the complaint… the Electronic Privacy Information Center in federal court, the Washington, D.C.-based group asks the court for a temporary restraining order to halt the collection of personal voter data. … In a letter last week, Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, asked every state to provide Trump’s new voter commission with the full names of all registered voters along with their addresses, dates of birth, the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, voting history and other personal information. … Kobach, a Republican who recently launched a bid for governor, has defended his request on behalf of the commission by saying the federal government would maintain voter privacy in its handling of the data.”
Where they stand - ABC News: “Some states said they will share only information that is already publicly available. Seven states are refusing to comply with the request. Many states are still reviewing the request or have not yet received it. Here is where the states stand, according to the National Association of Secretaries of State…”
BACKLASH OVER CNN HIDING NAME OF TRUMP VIDEO MAKER
Fox News: “CNN was facing almost universal backlash on Wednesday after running an article on the Reddit user who made an anti-CNN, wrestling-themed GIF tweeted by President Trump over the weekend – and seeming to imply the network would reveal the person’s identity if he reneged on an apology. Andrew Kaczynski, the senior editor and founding member of the cable network's KFile investigative team, tweeted several defenses of the article, saying parts were ‘being misinterpreted.’ … While CNN decided against publishing the user's real name, the network appeared to attach a caveat to that decision. ‘CNN is not publishing ‘HanA**holeSolo’s’ name because he is a private citizen who has issued an extensive statement of apology, showed his remorse by saying he has taken down all his offending posts, and because he said he is not going to repeat this ugly behavior on social media again,’ the article stated. ‘…CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change.’”
Not a good look for either side - Ben Shapiro writes about the fake wrestling match between the president and the media. National Review: “So here we are: a media nobody trusts schoolmarming a president who’s simply the class clown. Nobody looks good in this particular fake wrestling match; the question is why anyone engages in it at all. After all, we know that the match isn’t real. Trump so adores the media attention that if CNN and the New York Times were to stop covering him, he’d quickly set himself on fire outside their offices. Likewise, if Trump were to stop tweeting, CNN would have to go back to covering missing Malaysian airliners. It’s a romance made in hell, but the ratings sure are stellar!”
SENATORS FEELING THE HEAT ON HEALTH VOTES
NYT: “In normal times, the Fourth of July parade is a fat pitch down the middle for the grinning politician. … Political disputes have never impinged on the festivities here, said Karen Lobban, 70, who has been involved with [Alderson, W. Va.’s] parade in one way or another for all of its 56 years. But, she added, ‘Things are different now.’ …Senator Shelley Moore Capito, was not here on Tuesday as she had been two years earlier. She released a YouTube message but had no public events for the day. The Republican senator next door in Ohio, Rob Portman, had none either. Nor did the two Republican senators in Iowa. The parades in Colorado proceeded without Senator Cory Gardner. … ‘Never before, in the 15 times that I’ve marched in this parade, have I had people so focused on a single issue,’ Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who rejected the latest version of the bill, said in an interview shortly after walking the parade route in Eastport, Me.”
Pressure on McConnell to deliver - The Hill: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is in the pressure cooker as Republicans seek to deliver on the healthcare reforms they’ve been promising voters for years. … Conservatives have at times challenged McConnell’s leadership over the years, but now those complaints are spreading to different corners of the conference. Last week, McConnell got into a heated exchange with moderate Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a close ally who has major concerns about Medicaid cuts in the legislation. Other members, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), question the wisdom of pushing through a bill that only one out of three Republicans approve of, according to one recent poll.”
Cruz amendment could make or break bid to save ObamaCare cuts bill - The Hill: “The fate of legislation repealing and replacing ObamaCare could hinge on an amendment from Sen. Ted Cruz. The Texas Republican is pushing for a provision that would allow insurers to sell plans that do not comply with ObamaCare insurance regulations, so long as they also sell plans that comply with those rules. Cruz says giving insurers a path around the regulations should allow them to offer some plans at a lower cost. It's unclear whether the amendment will be added to the Senate bill, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act, or even whether it will pass muster under budgetary rules. But the amendment could be the key to ensuring that the legislation passes both the House and the Senate.”
Bannon’s back and he’s the happiest person in the West Wing - Axios
Trump patron Robert Mercer may be eying Time publisher for a takeover - NY Post
Federal court blocks Trump EPA on air pollution - WaPo
AUDIBLE: CHEAP SEATS
“He should have paid the seven bucks.” – Henry Walker, a New Jersey building contractor who missed out on weekend fishing at his favorite spot because Republican Gov. Chris Christie ordered state beaches closed, explaining to the NYT that Christie could have saved himself the public embarrassment and political defeat in a budget showdown that resulted from aerial photographs of Christie and his family enjoying a shuttered state beach if the governor had just paid to visit one of the public beaches that remained open.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Your article on sequestration ought to be sent to every Republican legislator in Congress. It makes great sense and, if they have any sense at all, each Republican should try to understand the situation. Having voted Republican for over 60 years, it pains me no end that my party can't ever seem to understand what it is they have promised and what it is they need to do to get it done. It's very obvious that if they continue to go down the road the Democrats are leading them, they will effectively get nothing done and will again become the out of office party with a President having 2 years left before the Democrats return to the White House.” – Robert P. Arvin, Birmingham, Ala.
[Ed. note: What you say may be true, Mr. Arvin. But I would point out that it depends on whether voters like what Republicans pass. There is an old aphorism for troubled times: “Do something, even if it’s wrong.” I tend to think that is bad advice except for in the most desperate circumstances. Political panic often produces bad legislation. Democrats have lived to regret their panicky votes on ObamaCare in the first place – votes that were cast using the very same rationale you offer for Republicans. All that having been said, the repeal-then-replace strategy offers considerable merits. But Republicans better hope that what they would put together as a replacement before their self-imposed deadline would be seen as an improvement, not a further depredation.]
“I thoroughly enjoy your writings and appearances on Fox, especially when you are paired with Dana Perino. And I have a question. I am hearing a lot [on Friday] about splitting healthcare reform into two actions – first repeal of Obamacare, and then later, one or more bills to design and implement a replacement. That sounds great - and a number of Republican senators seem to like it too as reported today. So my question to them – and perhaps you can answer – is where are they going to get the 60 votes needed for the replacement-related bills? It would seem that if the Dems hold their ground, the Republicans would have to issue a series of extensions of Obamacare. Thanks so much for your attention to detail and language! As someone who writes for a living, I truly appreciate it.” – Diane Balcom, Pittsburgh
[Ed. note: Thank you so much for saying so, Ms. Balcom. I’m truly a lucky man to get to do this work and do it with such fine people, Dana chief among them. As for the strategic consequences of splitting the vote on repealing and replacing the law, it’s hard to say with much certainty because there’s nothing hard and fast on offer. It could be that the replacement function would also happen under budget reconciliation – and thereby with a 51-vote threshold next year. Or maybe some parts would be while other parts would require 60 votes, not an unreasonable consideration given that some consensus exists on remedying key problems with existing laws. Thanks for reading and taking the time to write!]
“Your inclusion of the Axios report [on Friday] concerning the possibility of President Trump's proposing a round of tariffs on steel and possibly other imports over the objections of more than ‘20 top officials’ did not mention whether Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was among them. If he was among the objectors and if the President goes forward with his inclination, that would constitute the third time that Mr. Tillerson had serious cause for concern -- the other two being undercutting of his ability to hire subordinates at the State Department by White House staffers and the President's willful omission of the expression of support for Article 5 that was written into his prepared remarks at the opening of the new NATO headquarters. That strikes me as more than ample reason for him to do something so old fashioned and responsible as hand in his resignation.” – Bob Foys, Chicago
[Ed. note: The stories you mention provide snapshots to a relationship we probably don’t fully understand, so it would be presumptuous for me to say that Tillerson ought to step down rather than to serve a president who, at the very least, gives him little latitude. I would also imagine that Tillerson’s level of satisfaction in service and outlook for the future will be substantially shaped by how the current overseas trip goes. There’s a lot at stake and the secretary of state may return home to find his position strengthened or weakened.]
“President (Hiram - yes, Hiram!) U. S. Grant determined and ‘sold’ to congress a most unique, and political party neutral, process to resolve within our constitution the strange, highly contested presidential election results of 1876. By doing so he steadied a tottering nation. Afterwards Rockwood Hoar wrote in praise of Grant, ‘he comes up to the mark so grandly on great occasions that I wish he were more careful of appearances in smaller matters.’ Do we know anyone else who might be well advised to listen to this thought?” – Tom Snyder, Frankfort, Illinois
[Ed. note: If Grant was a man of enough humility to change his own name to match a clerical error at the offices of West Point, he was also a man of enough humility to see his own errors. If you have read Grant’s memoirs, you know that despite his steely resolution in seeing through the war of secession, he was also a man aware of his own faults and limitations. Grant’s presidency is remembered mostly now for the scandals that marred it, the fruits of the 18th president placing too much trust in friends who betrayed him for their own self-interests. Grant saw his mistake, but only too late. His successes, though, which follow myriad failures, were the result of doggedness, yes, but self-awareness also. Great leaders know their strengths and their weaknesses. Honest self-appraisal is the key.]
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HE GOT THE BEES THOUGH, DIDN’T HE?
MLive.com: “A Grand Blanc-area garage was reduced to a pile of ashes [Monday] evening after a homeowner attempted to use fireworks to remove a bees' nest from the building, fire officials said. Fireworks shot into the sky from the burning garage on Monday, July 3, as crews from Grand Blanc, Burton and Mundy Township arrived at the scene on the 6000 block of Grove Avenue in Grand Blanc Township. ‘The homeowner was doing something with a smoke bomb trying to get a bees nest out of the garage,’ said Grand Blanc Fire Chief, Bob Burdette. No one was injured and the fire was contained to the garage and a neighboring fence, sparing the home on the property, officials at the scene said. The homeowner, Mike Tingley, said that while he was saddened by the damage to his garage, he was glad it wasn't worse.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“I've long advocated the most extreme step [vis à vis North Korea]: the one thing China is afraid of is a nuclear Japan. That is their nightmare. Japan is their historic enemy for centuries. Nukes in the hands of the Japanese would really scare them.” – 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.