Washington Brief: Hawaii Judge Exempts More Family Members From Travel Ban

Washington Brief

  • A federal judge in Hawaii loosened President Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban by removing a prohibition on grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles and cousins. The judge said the Trump administration’s approach to the ban contradicted a recent Supreme Court ruling regarding visitors from six Muslim-majority countries. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • After several GOP senators expressed misgivings about the latest iteration of the Senate’s health care bill, Trump tweeted that “Republican Senators must come through” and pass an Obamacare replacement bill. (Politico) House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) floated the idea of keeping his chamber in session if the Senate passes its measure before House lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn for their August recess. (Roll Call)
  • The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office published an analysis that says Trump’s spending plan would not balance the budget in 10 years. White House estimates said Trump’s budget would create a surplus. (USA Today)
  • When Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya met with Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower in June 2016 she was joined by a former Russian counterintelligence officer who is now an American lobbyist. (NBC News)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

No events scheduled



CBO rejects Trump’s claim that budget plan would eliminate deficit
Michael Collins, USA Today

The Congressional Budget Office cast doubt Thursday on the White House’s claim that President Trump’s proposed budget would balance in 10 years. In its analysis of the spending plan Trump unveiled in May, the non-partisan budget office said that the deficit would shrink under the Trump budget but would still total $720 billion in 2027.

Russian Lawyer Brought Ex-Soviet Counter Intelligence Officer to Trump Team Meeting
Ken Dilanian and Natasha Lebedeva, NBC News

The Russian lawyer who met with the Trump team after a promise of compromising material on Hillary Clinton was accompanied by a Russian-American lobbyist — a former Soviet counter intelligence officer who is suspected by some U.S. officials of having ongoing ties to Russian intelligence, NBC News has learned. NBC News is not naming the lobbyist, who denies any current ties to Russian spy agencies.

Peter W. Smith, GOP operative who sought Clinton’s emails from Russian hackers, committed suicide, records show
Katherine Skiba, Chicago Tribune

A Republican donor and operative from Chicago’s North Shore who said he had tried to obtain Hillary Clinton’s missing emails from Russian hackers killed himself in a Minnesota hotel room days after talking to The Wall Street Journal about his efforts, public records show. In mid-May, in a room at a Rochester hotel used almost exclusively by Mayo Clinic patients and relatives, Peter W. Smith, 81, left a carefully prepared file of documents, including a statement police called a suicide note in which he said he was in ill health and a life insurance policy was expiring.

Trump’s outside attorney to apologize to man he sent profane emails
Nolan D. McCaskill, Politico

President Donald Trump’s outside attorney Marc Kasowitz will apologize to a man he told in a profanity-laced email to watch his back, a spokesman said Thursday. “Mr. Kasowitz, who is tied up with client matters, said he intends to apologize to the writer of the email referenced in today’s ProPublica story,” spokesman Mike Sitrick said.

Bill Clinton And George W. Bush Bond In Conversation About Leadership
Vanessa Romo, NPR News

On Thursday, former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton shared a stage and their ideas on what makes a strong leader in today’s world. The intimate conversation was part of the graduation ceremony for the 2017 class of the Presidential Leadership Scholars Program held at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas.


Hawaii Judge Orders Loosening of Trump Travel Ban
Brent Kendall, The Wall Street Journal

A Hawaii judge late Thursday ordered a nationwide loosening of President Donald Trump’s temporary ban on U.S. entry for some travelers from six Muslim-majority countries, ruling the administration’s strict approach contradicted a recent Supreme Court ruling. The decision is a fresh legal blow for the president just two weeks after a Supreme Court ruling allowed the administration to implement its travel ban against refugees and foreign nationals from six countries who have no connection to the U.S.

Trump: ‘Republican Senators must come through’ on health care bill
Louis Nelson, Politico

President Donald Trump turned up the pressure Friday morning on Senate Republicans, urging them via Twitter to make good on a years-old campaign promise by passing legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare. GOP leadership in the Senate has introduced legislation that would undo former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law, but the repeal-and-replace measure has proven controversial even within the Republican caucus and it is unclear if the bill will be able to muster enough support to pass.

White House opioid commission to miss deadline for second time
Jacqueline Alemany, CBS News

President Trump’s commission to fight the opioid epidemic will miss a deadline to file an interim report on the crisis for a second time, according to a notice set to be released Friday. The Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis was created by executive order in March.

For Trump, Little Beats a Military Parade
Rebecca Ballhaus and William Horobin, The Wall Street Journal

For President Donald Trump, it doesn’t get much better than an elaborate military parade. The U.S. president, who considered holding a military parade to celebrate his inauguration in January but ultimately opted against it, appeared thrilled by France’s Bastille Day spectacle on Friday.

Trump’s legal team faces tensions — and a client who often takes his own counsel
Philip Rucker et al., The Washington Post

The challenge for President Trump’s attorneys has become, at its core, managing the unmanageable — their client. He won’t follow instructions. After one meeting in which they urged Trump to steer clear of a certain topic, he sent a tweet about that very theme before they arrived back at their office.

Trump Backed Off Putin Because ‘What Do You Do? End Up in a Fistfight?’
Maggie Haberman and Mark Landler, The New York Times

President Trump said on Wednesday that he had confronted President Vladimir V. Putin twice about whether Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election, and changed the subject after Mr. Putin flatly denied it because, “What do you do? End up in a fistfight?” Speaking to reporters on Air Force One as he flew to Paris to take part in Bastille Day celebrations, Mr. Trump offered his first extended account of a dramatic closed-door meeting he held with Mr. Putin last week in Hamburg, Germany.


Senate Republicans Unveil New Health Bill, but Divisions Remain
Robert Pear and Thomas Kaplan, The New York Times

Senate Republican leaders on Thursday unveiled a fresh proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, revising their bill to help hold down insurance costs for consumers while allowing insurers to sell new low-cost, stripped down policies. Those changes and others, including a decision to keep a pair of taxes on high-income people and to expand the use of tax-favored health savings accounts, were intended to bridge a vast gap between the Senate’s most conservative Republicans, who want less regulation of health insurance, and moderate Republicans concerned about people who would be left uninsured.

Without writing a check, Rick Scott clears GOP Senate race field
Adam C. Smith, Tampa Bay Times

Adam Putnam’s 2018 gubernatorial campaign has been in the works for years, and the Republican agriculture commissioner has amassed $11 million in his campaign accounts. But that’s not stopping formidable Republicans like House Speaker Richard Corcoran and state Sen. Jack Latvala from plotting primary challenges.


Ryan Teases August Recess Delay
Rema Rahman, Roll Call

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Thursday if the Senate delivers a health care bill before the summer is over, he’d be open to joining Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in keeping his chamber in during at least part of the August recess. The Wisconsin Republican said if the Senate produces a health care bill at the same time members prepare to fly home for a month, “we’re going to stay and finish health care.”

House Dems plot to force Republicans to cast Russia votes
Austin Wright, Politico

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other senior Democrats on Friday will announce a new, coordinated strategy to force Republicans to cast votes on issues related to President Donald Trump’s and his campaign aides’ alleged ties to Russia. Pelosi and senior Democrats on several key House committees will hold a news conference to announce the strategy, which is to introduce a series of so-called resolutions of inquiry, according to a Democratic leadership aide.

Two former staffers charged in cyberstalking of U.S. House member, husband
Spencer S. Hsu, The Washington Post

Two former staff members have been charged in the circulation of nude images and video of an elected representative to Congress and her husband, federal prosecutors and the U.S. Capitol Police announced Thursday in Washington. Juan R. McCullum, 35, of Washington, was indicted by a grand jury on two counts of cyberstalking, and a co-worker, Dorene Browne-Louis, 45, of Upper Marlboro, Md., was indicted on two counts of obstruction of justice, said U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Channing D. Phillips and Capitol Police Chief Matthew R. Verderosa in a statement.

Scalise upgraded to fair condition
Diamond Naga Siu, Politico 

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) was upgraded to a fair condition on Thursday, though he still requires careful monitoring, according to MedStar Washington Hospital. He was previously downgraded to a serious condition after entering the intensive care unit July 6 due to an infection.


Gov. Kay Ivey bans lobbyists from executive branch appointments
Mike Cason, AL.com

Gov. Kay Ivey today banned officials in the executive branch from appointing registered lobbyists to serve on state boards and commissions. In an executive order, Ivey said more than 100 registered lobbyists now serve on boards or commissions.

Gov. Jerry Brown says the existence of humanity rests on his climate change deal  
Liam Dillon and Melanie Mason, The Los Angeles Times

Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday cast his new plan to fight climate change as essential to the fate of American democracy — and humanity itself. “America is facing not just a climate crisis with the rest of the world, we are facing a political crisis,” Brown told lawmakers at the first public hearing on his proposal to reduce the state’s carbon emissions.

Gov. Eric Greitens’ nonprofit plans to run TV ads across Missouri
Jason Hancock, The Kansas City Star

Gov. Eric Greitens’ nonprofit group is preparing to launch TV ads across the state focused on taxes and the state budget. According to publicly available records, the nonprofit A New Missouri Inc. is spending nearly $450,000 on TV ads on broadcast channels and another $65,000 on the cable channels Fox News and Hallmark.


U.S. farm lobby turns up heat on Trump team as NAFTA talks near
Richard Cowan, Reuters

With talks to renegotiate the NAFTA trade pact just weeks away, U.S. farm groups and lawmakers from rural states are intensifying lobbying of President Donald Trump’s administration with one central message: leave farming out of it. Trump blames the North American Free Trade Agreement – the “worst trade deal ever” in his words – for millions of lost manufacturing jobs and promises to tilt it in America’s favor.

A Message from the Electronic Payments Coalition:

Do you know how the Durbin amendment is affecting you? For nearly six years, big-box stores have used this policy to pocket more than $42 billion instead of passing along savings to consumers as promised. Check out the Electronic Payments Coalition’s video to learn more.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

It Is Time for the U.S. Senate to Join the 21st Century
Zach Wamp, Morning Consult

Face it: Washington doesn’t work the way it ought to. Plenty of agencies are mired in bureaucratic red tape and hundreds of rules appear to exist only to hamper a responsive and transparent federal government.

Crony capitalism isn’t a right, so why does Senate healthcare bill give insurance companies the right to a bailout?
Rand Paul, Washington Examiner

I remember a lot of outrage about two things when I first ran for office: Obamacare and the bank bailouts. Unfortunately, the Senate healthcare bill combines the worst of those two — this time, we’re bailing out the big insurance companies.

A Scary New Senate Health Care Bill
The Editorial Board, The New York Times

Republican leaders in the Senate have accomplished what seemed impossible a few weeks ago: They have made their proposal to destroy the Affordable Care Act even worse. On Thursday, the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, produced revised legislation that could effectively make it impossible for many people with pre-existing medical conditions to afford the treatment they need.

ObamaCare Moment of Truth
The Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal

Republican leaders unveiled a revised health-care bill on Thursday, setting up a Senate watershed next week. Few votes will reveal more about the principles and character of this Congress.

Bungled collusion is still collusion
Charles Krauthammer, The Washington Post  

The Russia scandal has entered a new phase, and there’s no going back. For six months, the White House claimed that this scandal was nothing more than innuendo about Trump campaign collusion with Russia in meddling in the 2016 election.

Victory, Sacrifice and Questions of ‘Collusion’
Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal

Three important things happened this week. Two were insufficiently noted.

A Message from the Electronic Payments Coalition:

Debit interchange convenience fees – the small charges retailers pay for the flexibility of accepting cards – make card transactions possible, secure, and reliable. Yet, the Durbin amendment changed the way this once reasonable cost of business is calculated, without providing any benefits to customers, small businesses, community banks, or credit unions. Find out why the Durbin amendment must be repealed in a video from EPC.

Research Reports and Polling

POLITICO-Harvard poll: Voters don’t like Obamacare repeal, but other issues may sway midterms
Jason Millman, Politico

The bad news for Republicans: Their base doesn’t like their plan for repealing Obamacare, and they don’t think President Donald Trump’s planned tax overhaul will help them. The good news for Republicans: It might not matter when the 2018 midterms roll around.

U.S. House seats rarely flip to other party in special elections
Drew DeSilver, Pew Research Center 

Earlier this year, Democrats had hopes that a spate of special elections to the U.S. House of Representatives would flip at least a couple of Republican-held seats their way. But the GOP held onto all four of the seats that opened up when their former occupants took jobs in the Trump administration.