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On the roster: GOP repeats ObamaCare mistakes on immigration - Grassley calls for probe of Comey’s email practices - Dems keep their edge in battle for House - Audible: It was a cherry tree, but we get your point - cc: @ComfortablySmug
GOP REPEATS OBAMACARE MISTAKES ON IMMIGRATION
One of the widest avenues that federal courts have paved for presidents over the years goes along the path of “prosecutorial discretion.”
The idea here is that since the government’s resources are inherently limited, the executive branch is free to choose which laws to enforce the most aggressively based on the needs of the moment.
We have usually seen this in terms of the laws that the government chooses not to enforce. When the Obama administration said it would not be prosecuting federal drug charges against participants in the newly legalized recreational pot trade in Colorado, it was at the president’s discretion. Same for that administration’s decision not to seek deportations against those who were brought to the United States illegally as minors.
It’s also the legal argument on which the current administration is not enforcing provisions of ObamaCare, which is, in fact, the very thing that House Republicans took then-President Obama to court over in 2014. The difference being that Obama was using selective enforcement to prop up the law, while President Trump is using the same power to undermine it.
Down this wide avenue of discretion is now marching a new column, this time, though, it is not about the laws that will not be enforced, but rather the ones that will. And the current administration is looking to push out the berms a little bit, too.
Under existing laws and court decisions aimed at preventing human trafficking, the administration argues that it has the authority to separate children from their parents when they arrive seeking asylum but fail to present themselves in designated locations as asylum seekers.
For immigration hardliners, this looks to be a very effective policy. There is little that could send a stronger message back to the Central American countries from which many migrants flee than the threat of losing their children. Prior to the current policy change, detainees were either kept together as a family through the asylum process or simply ricocheted back in to Mexico where they were free to either try again or go home.
But as a political proposition, a policy that results in terrified toddlers penned up while their parents await processing is a sure-fired loser. Add in what was obviously an ill-conceived and poorly executed plan for implementing the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, and you have dramatically compounded the error. The trouble for the GOP is that it does not seem to have a way out of this jam.
If we think back to the failed efforts to repeal, replace or even modify ObamaCare we get a good blueprint for the party’s current predicament.
Like ObamaCare, immigration enforcement is a cornerstone message for Republicans, one on which the GOP base has little tolerance for compromise. A new Quinnipiac University poll out today shows just how wide the gap is between the core Republican electorate and the rest of the country.
The survey found that 66 percent of all voters oppose the administration’s policy, but that among Republicans, more than half are on board. Similarly, only 39 percent of voters overall back the president’s plan for a wall on the southern border compared to 77 percent of Republicans.
Even on the question of those who are brought to the United States illegally as children, there is a considerable share of GOP holdouts. Seventy-nine percent of voters overall and 80 percent of independents favor allowing the so-called DREAMers to remain in the US and eventually apply for citizenship. But nearly 40 percent of Republicans are either opposed to the suggestion or not sure.
On immigration, you have an issue on which there is broad political consensus, and even on some narrow questions a consensus that includes a majority of Republicans. But there’s also a vocal minority that has demonstrated the ability to inflict political pain on those who defy its demands.
On Tuesday, Trump is headed to Capitol Hill where lawmakers will try to convince him to actually support a compromise plan on DREAMers and border security that the White House claims Trump supports. But as some of Trump’s allies in Congress are said to have demanded from the president, lawmakers know that it’s not real until Trump makes it Twitter official.
Congressional Republicans are rightfully leery given their experiences on ObamaCare, taxes and other policy initiatives. The president always reserves the right to change his mind when it appears that he will face political consequences over a vote. It’s not hard to see Republicans being talked into risky votes only to find that the president has fled the scene.
The administration’s plan is to falsely blame Democrats for the detention of children apart from their parents in a bid to force them to the negotiating table. This is essentially what Trump wanted to do on ObamaCare: Inflict maximum harm on beneficiaries and put the blame on Democrats to force a deal on his terms.
Republicans wouldn’t go for that on ObamaCare – though the administration has continued to pursue parts of that plan – and Congress is highly unlikely to play along with this gambit either.
You can say that given the waning power of the current House leadership team, no one should expect anything like unit cohesion on an issue this explosive.
The president’s supporters are free to say that it is the fault of the parents who have come to the United States illegally or the fault of past administrations that have failed to enforce existing laws. Those things may work to a limited degree with conservative audiences.
What’s not going to work at all is simultaneously claiming that Democrats want open borders but also passed a law requiring the terrified children of migrants to huddle inside detention centers. And the “rule of law” stuff won’t wash from an administration that has already made selective enforcement a substantial part of its policy strategy.
Pressure is growing on the White House, especially as this story overshadows other more helpful narratives for the president. His war against the Justice Department that is investigating his 2016 campaign got a shot in the arm from a scathing inspector general’s report and his Singapore summit seems mostly to have been met with optimism, albeit of a skeptical kind.
Like the clattering, slow-motion collapse of Republican health insurance legislation, this one looks like it will do sustained damage.
THE RULEBOOK: BUT OTHER THAN THAT, IT’S SUPER
“What are the characters which practice has stamped upon [the confederacy in Belgium, hailed as a model by the Anti-Federalists]? Imbecility in the government; discord among the provinces; foreign influence and indignities; a precarious existence in peace, and peculiar calamities from war.” – Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, Federalist No. 20
TIME OUT: NASHVILLE SKYLINE
WSJ: “NASHVILLE— Kathleen Ervin moved here 12 years ago… drawn to the relaxed atmosphere, green parks and relatively low cost of living. But in the past five years, her commute time from her 1950s ranch house in the Glendale neighborhood to her job about 12 miles away has tripled... ‘We hear all this talk about how Nashville doesn’t want to become Houston, Nashville doesn’t want to become Atlanta,’ said the 54-year-old account manager at a merchant processor. ‘Who is preventing that from happening?’ Anxiety about the rapid growth is widespread here, as a city known for country music also becomes known for its skyline full of cranes and traffic congestion … The Nashville region population grew 45% from 2000 to 2017, reaching about 1.9 million… Ms. Ervin represents both sides of the city’s extraordinary growth: a transplant who was attracted to a booming urban hub, and a resident increasingly concerned that unbridled development may threaten the Tennessee capital’s charm.”
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Trump job performance
Average approval: 43.2 percent
Average disapproval: 51 percent
Net Score: -7.8 points
Change from one week ago: up 4 points
[Average includes: Monmouth University: 45% approve - 46% disapprove; Gallup: 42% approve - 54% disapprove; Fox News: 45% approve - 51% disapprove; NBC/WSJ: 44% approve - 53% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 40% approve - 51% disapprove.]
Control of House
Republican average: 40 percent
Democratic average: 48 percent
Advantage: Democrats plus 8 points
Change from one week ago: Democratic advantage down 0.4 points
[Average includes: Monmouth University: 48% Dems - 41% GOP; Fox News: 48% Dems - 39% GOP; NBC/WSJ: 50% Dems - 40% GOP; Quinnipiac University: 47% Dems - 40% GOP; IBD: 47% Dems - 40% GOP.]
GRASSLEY CALLS FOR PROBE OF COMEY’S EMAIL PRACTICES
Fox News: “Investigators should probe whether former FBI Director James Comey discussed classified information using a personal email account, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said Monday at a hearing on the Justice Department watchdog's bombshell report on the handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe. FBI Director Christopher Wray and Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz were testifying before the panel. During the hearing, Horowitz revealed that the DOJ watchdog is already investigating Comey concerning his leaked memos documenting his interactions with President Trump, which critics charged may have contained classified information. ‘We've received a referral on that from the FBI ... and we will issue a report when the matter is complete,’ Horowitz said. Horowitz's report on the Clinton email probe, which went public Thursday, outlined apparent anti-Trump bias at various levels in both the FBI and DOJ. It also concluded that Comey had used a personal email account to ‘conduct unclassified FBI business,’ in a manner inconsistent with FBI policy. The IG report also revealed that anti-Trump FBI agent Peter Strzok similarly used his personal email account for government business.”
House GOP set for fight with FBI, DOJ over subpoenas - Politico: “The Justice Department and House Republicans appear to be careening toward their tensest confrontation yet in a long-running dispute over documents, with one GOP lawmaker warning that the House could seek to hold officials in contempt of Congress if the FBI and DOJ fail to comply with subpoenas for information. House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said Sunday that Speaker Paul Ryan led a meeting Friday with FBI and DOJ officials in which lawmakers ‘went item by item’ through outstanding subpoenas from the House intelligence and judiciary committees. ‘And Paul made it very clear. There’s going to be action on the floor of the House this week if the FBI and DOJ do not comply with our subpoena request,’ Gowdy said on ‘Fox News Sunday.’ … Asked by host Chris Wallace whether that could include holding officials in contempt of Congress, Gowdy said yes. ‘I don’t want the drama,’ Gowdy said. ‘I want the documents.’”
FBI agent who authored turgidly anti-Trump texts ready to testify - WaPo: “The FBI agent who was removed from the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign for sending anti-Trump texts intends to testify before the House Judiciary Committee and any other congressional committee that asks, his attorney said in a letter made public Sunday. Peter Strzok, who was singled out in a recent Justice Department inspector general report for the politically charged messages, would be willing to testify without immunity, and he would not invoke his Fifth Amendment rights in response to any question, his attorney, Aitan Goelman, said in an interview Sunday. Strzok has become a special target of President Trump, who has used the texts to question the Russia investigation. Goelman said Strzok ‘wants the chance to clear his name and tell his story.’”
Stone has ‘refreshed recollection’ of 2016 meeting with Russian - WSJ: “Special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into a meeting between longtime Donald Trump adviser Roger Stone and a Russian national during the height of the 2016 presidential campaign, according to Mr. Stone’s friend Michael Caputo, who is a witness in the probe. Mr. Stone didn’t disclose the meeting, which he says was prompted by an offer of information detrimental to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, in his testimony before congressional investigators in September. He is now alerting House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes (R., Calif.) about it. In a letter dated June 15 and addressed to Mr. Nunes that The Wall Street Journal reviewed, Mr. Stone’s attorney said the Republican strategist had a ‘recently refreshed recollection’ of the encounter after Mr. Caputo, a former Trump aide who helped arrange the May 2016 meeting, was questioned by Mr. Mueller’s office last month. In the letter, Mr. Stone’s attorney said the Russian man claimed ‘access to non-specific, damaging Clinton information which he wanted to sell.’”
Giuliani to Manafort, Cohen: Don’t snitch, maybe get a pardon - LAT: “As former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort spent a first weekend in jail pending trial on charges brought by the special counsel investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani on Sunday floated the possibility of presidential pardons for Manafort and others charged in the probe. Giuliani, in separate television interviews, suggested Trump could choose to pardon those he decides were ‘treated unfairly’ but said the president should wait to do so until the Russia investigation is complete. Trump on Friday called Manafort’s jailing ‘very unfair.’”
Ross appears to have profited by the exposure of one of his ethics breaches -Quartz: “In late October 2017, US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross was asked for comment about a damning story on his business ties to the Kremlin. Bad press was inevitable, and the company that tied him to Russia was sure to suffer a hit in its market value. The story would show that Ross owned stock in shipping company Navigator Holdings, which counted as a major client a Russian company part-owned by Putin’s ex-son-in-law and a close friend. But if that revelation from the Paradise Papers was giving him lemons, Ross found a way to make lemonade. Forbes reports that a few days after the New York Times reached him for comment, Ross opened up a short position against Navigator Holdings—essentially, a bet that its stock would go down.”
DEMS KEEP THEIR EDGE IN BATTLE FOR HOUSE
Monmouth University: “Democrats hold a 7 point lead over Republicans in the generic House ballot, which is basically the same as the 8 point lead they held in a Monmouth University Poll taken in late April. Opinion that the country is on the right track has increased by 7 points but is still in the minority. On the other hand, approval of the tax reform package passed by Congress at the end of last year has slipped by 6 points. In other poll findings, the public narrowly agrees with continuing the Mueller probe. If the election for U.S. House of Representatives was held today, 48% of registered voters say they would support or lean toward supporting the Democratic candidate in their district compared to 41% who would vote for the Republican. This is similar to the 49% to 41% edge Democrats held six weeks ago in Monmouth’s polling. The poll also finds that 34% of the public approve of the tax reform plan passed by Congress last December and 41% disapprove. Another 24% are not sure how they feel. These results have shifted in the past six weeks.”
SupCo ducks gerrymandering case - USA Today: “The Supreme Court sidestepped a potentially historic ruling Monday that would have stopped states from drawing election maps intended to help one political party dominate the other, but the issue could return as soon as next term. The justices found procedural faults with challenges brought by Democratic voters in Wisconsin and Republicans in Maryland. That could open the door for a third case from North Carolina to reach the court next term. In a case that’s been pending since early October, the justices said challengers to the design of 99 state Assembly districts in Wisconsin could not tackle the whole map at once but must target specific districts. Rather than dismissing the case, however, they agreed to give the challengers another chance to prove their case in lower courts. ‘We lack jurisdiction to decide this case, much less to draw speculative and advisory conclusions regarding others,’ Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court.”
Wisconsin shaping up as top battleground for the fall - Politico: “Now, two years after his stunning victory in [Wisconsin], shell-shocked Democrats are beginning to pick up the pieces, pouring money and resources into the state in a test run for a rematch with Trump in 2020. Interviews with nearly two dozen local party officials, candidates and operatives here describe an ongoing effort marked by unprecedented organizing and millions of dollars from out-of-state donors — a reflection of the party’s urgency in reshaping the 2020 landscape in the upper Midwest, a Democratic bulwark that Trump toppled in 2016. … Already, more than $7 million has been committed this year toward efforts to reclaim Wisconsin. In recent months, billionaire Democrat Tom Steyer’s NextGen America has designated $2.5 million to register and turn out young voters. Eric Holder’s National Democratic Redistricting Committee has spent $675,000 on the midterm elections so far. The Democratic Governors Association has reserved about $4 million in air time in preparation for a top-of-the-ticket brawl with Gov. Scott Walker in the fall.”
Ohio Dems hope race for Tiberi’s seat looks similar to Lamb’s in Pa. - The Columbus Dispatch: “Roughly 180 miles separate Ohio’s 12th Congressional District from Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District. Democrats are hopeful that, come August, the political distance between those districts won’t be far at all. Just as the western Pennsylvania district seemed the epicenter of the political universe in March when Democrat Conor Lamb beat Republican Rick Saccone to win a district that President Donald Trump earlier carried by 20 points. Democrats in central Ohio’s 12th District are hopeful that Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor might upset decades of political tradition by beating Republican state Sen. Troy Balderson in the Aug. 7 special election to replace Rep. Pat Tiberi. Trump won the Ohio district in 2016 by 11 points. At first glance, the similarities between the districts seem striking. Both are GOP-leaning areas in Midwestern manufacturing states, districts with strong rural populations yet close enough to major cities to have a good-sized chunk of suburban voters.”
Welcome to Trumpland, Fla. - Politico: “The Villages is America’s largest retirement community, a carefully planned, meticulously groomed dreamscape of gated subdivisions, wall-to-wall golf courses, adult-only pools and old-fashioned town squares. It’s advertised as ‘Florida’s Friendliest Hometown,’ and it’s supposed to evoke a bygone era of traditional values when Americans knew their neighbors, respected their elders and followed the rules. It has the highest concentration of military veterans of any metropolitan area without a military base. It has strict regulations enforcing the uniformity of homes (no second stories, no bright colors, no modern flourishes) as well as the people living in them (no families with children, except to visit). And it is Trump country, a reliably Republican, vocally patriotic, almost entirely white enclave that gave the president nearly 70 percent of the vote. Older voters are America’s most reliable voters, which is why baby-boomer boomtowns like The Villages represent the most significant threat to a potential Democratic wave in Florida in 2018—and the most significant source of Republican optimism for many years to come.”
Former top Dem to mount independent bid challenge to Cuomo - NYT: “Stephanie Miner, the former mayor of Syracuse and a former top official in the New York Democratic Party, is kicking off an independent run for governor, the latest surprise twist in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s bid for re-election. Ms. Miner, once an ally of Mr. Cuomo’s, became something of an outlier in Democratic circles when she emerged as a vocal and persistent critic of the governor and his policies, beginning five years ago and culminating now in a direct challenge as he seeks a third term. ‘I cannot be a silent witness to what I think is a corrupt political culture that is hurting real people every day,’ Ms. Miner said in an interview announcing her run. Her entry adds intrigue to a governor’s race already rife with it. Polls show Mr. Cuomo with comfortable leads over Cynthia Nixon, the actress and education activist, in the Democratic primary and Marcus J. Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive and the expected Republican nominee, in a general election matchup.”
House expects to finish opioid bills next week - WashEx
Senate ready to pass legislation to block Trump’s help for shady Chinese firm - The Hill
Trump orders establishment of ‘space force’ as 6th branch of military - Fox News
AUDIBLE: IT WAS A CHERRY TREE, BUT WE GET YOUR POINT
“We’ve gone from George Washington, ‘I can’t tell a lie by cutting down the apple tree,’ to they’ve become so replete that nobody even questions [Trump] anymore. And that’s, again, a dangerous spot to be in a reason-based republic.” – Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., in an interview with NBC News.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Thank you, Chris, for that great story of Calvin Coolidge and his son, especially this Father’s Day weekend. We all too often do not hear about the personal aspects of presidents, only their policies and what they do, whether it be right or wrong. One of the great books about presidents is ‘All the Best’ by George H.W. Bush. He shares the letters he wrote over his lifetime. Oh, to have been a recipient of one of those letters! Again, thanks for sharing.” – Loa Arno, Ridgefield, Wash.
[Ed. note: I know it was a little bit heavy for Fathers’ Day weekend, but I love that story so much. I think it speaks well of Coolidge in a couple of ways. First, it shows his dedication to duty since he soldiered on in the face of such unspeakable loss. Second, it shows the man behind the marble. If you’ve been a reader for any length of time you know how much I like Coolidge. This story is at the center of why. How I yearn for leaders like that!]
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Athens Banner-Herald: “A rabid bobcat recently attacked a Hart County grandmother in her yard, spurring a furious battle that ended with the cat’s strangulation death. ‘I thought, ‘Not today.’ There was no way I was going to die,’ DeDe Phillips said Thursday as she recalled the attack that occurred June 7 at her home off Liberty Church Road. … ‘I’m very lucky,’ the 46-year-old woman said. … Phillips grew up in the country, where her father-in-law was once a trapper of bobcats. As a result, she knew something about the animal’s behavior. … This bobcat did go for her upper body. ‘It caught me slightly on my face, but I got him before he could do much damage there,’ she said. ‘I took it straight to the ground and started inching my hands up to its throat. I knew that was the only way I was getting out of this.’ With both hands around the bobcat’s neck she began squeezing, but she never shouted for help because her 5-year-old granddaughter was in the house.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES
“Biologist and philosopher Lewis Thomas was once asked what one artifact we should send out into space as evidence of human achievement. ‘I would vote for Bach, all of Bach, streamed out into space, over and over again,’ he suggested. Then added ruefully, ‘We would be bragging, of course.’” – Charles Krauthammer in his book “Things That Matter.”
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.