Washington Brief: Trump Considering ‘Some Pretty Severe Things’ for North Korea

Washington Brief

  • President Donald Trump said he is considering “some pretty severe things” in response to North Korea’s efforts to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile that could make the United States vulnerable to a nuclear attack. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • World leaders are meeting today in Hamburg, Germany, for the Group of 20 summit, where they’re expected to discuss issues such as trade, climate and migration. Trump is slated to meet Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Bloomberg News)
  • Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said his panel will hold a confirmation hearing on Wednesday for Christopher Wray, Trump’s nominee to lead the Federal Bureau of Investigation. (Politico)
  • The office of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), who was shot by a gunman at a Congressional Baseball Game practice on June 14, said the Louisiana Republican is back in the intensive care unit and in serious condition “due to new concerns for infection.” (CNN)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Federal Reserve Gov. Powell speaks at AEI 10 a.m.
Heritage Foundation event on the Supreme Court’s 2016-2017 term 11 a.m.
Hudson Institute event on Russian interference 11:45 a.m.
Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington event on terrorism financing 12 p.m.
Hillsdale College event on Trump and the media 6 p.m.
Federalist Society event on constitutional war powers 12 p.m.



The Flashpoints for World Leaders at the Hamburg G-20
Alan Crawford and Sam Dodge, Bloomberg News

The Group of 20 summit that starts in Hamburg on Thursday is the most anticipated—and potentially turbulent—meeting of global leaders in years. An unpredictable U.S. president with a protectionist bent, a Russian leader subject to international sanctions and a Chinese president looking to assert a greater global role are just a few of the factors that might stoke tensions.

China Sees Opening Left by Trump in Europe, and Quietly Steps In
Steven Erlanger, The New York Times

Much of the world’s attention at the Group of 20 economic summit on Friday and Saturday will be on President Trump’s first meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir V. Putin, with strenuous efforts to decipher the nature of the long-distance bromance between them. But the leader of the world’s other superpower, Xi Jinping of China, will also be in Hamburg, Germany, ready to slip quietly into the widening gap between Mr. Trump and longtime European allies and to position Beijing as the globe’s newest, biggest defender of a multilateral, rules-based system.

Dems’ new pitch to voters: A ‘Better Deal’
Elana Schor and Heather Caygle, Politico 

Democratic leaders are zeroing in on a new mantra for their long-promised economic agenda: a “Better Deal.” The rebranding attempt comes as Democrats acknowledge that simply running against President Donald Trump wasn’t a winning strategy in 2016 and probably won’t work in 2018 either.

Hobby Lobby fined $3 million for artifacts smuggled from Iraq
Derek Hawkins, The Washington Post

The arts-and-crafts retailer Hobby Lobby has agreed to pay a $3 million fine for illegally importing thousands of ancient clay artifacts smuggled into the United States from Iraq, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. In addition to the fine, Hobby Lobby will forfeit thousands of clay bullae, cuneiform tablets and cylinder seals that were falsely labeled and shipped to the company through the United Arab Emirates and Israel, according to a civil complaint and settlement agreement in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

The Network Against the Leader of the Free World
Michael M. Grynbaum, The New York Times

Jeffrey A. Zucker hasn’t been getting a lot of sleep lately. But he says that’s nothing new.


Trump Considers ‘Severe Things’ Over North Korea Threat
Peter Nicholas, The Wall Street Journal

President Donald Trump said Thursday he is considering “some pretty severe things” in response to North Korea’s continued efforts to develop nuclear weapons that can reach the U.S. At a joint news conference with his Polish counterpart, Andrzej Duda, Mr. Trump said that North Korean leaders were “behaving in a very, very dangerous manner and something will have to be done about it.”

Trump: ‘We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing activity in Ukraine and elsewhere’
The Associated Press 

President Donald Trump is calling on Russia to stop its destabilizing activities in Ukraine. He’s also calling on Moscow to end its support for “hostile regimes.” Trump specifically called out Syria and Iran.

Trump Aides’ Biggest Worry About Europe Trip: Meeting With Putin
Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Glenn Thrush, The New York Times 

President Trump arrived in Europe on Wednesday for three days of diplomacy that will culminate in a meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, which has the potential for global repercussions and political fallout back home. Even his top aides do not know precisely what Mr. Trump will decide to say or do when he and Mr. Putin meet face to face on Friday on the sidelines of the Group of 20 economic summit gathering in Hamburg, Germany.

The Remaking of Donald Trump
Joshua Green, Bloomberg Businessweek 

In the multicultural days of The Apprentice, he rose to a level of popularity with minorities that the GOP could only dream of. Then he torched it all to prepare for a hard-right run at the presidency.


Senate Judiciary Committee to hold confirmation hearing for Trump’s FBI pick next week
Austin Wright, Politico

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a confirmation hearing next Wednesday for Christopher Wray, President Donald Trump’s pick to be the next FBI director. Wray’s confirmation hearing is almost certain to revive a number of hot-button political issues, including the FBI’s investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow, Trump’s dismissal of James Comey and Comey’s controversial handling last year of the Hillary Clinton email probe.

Ted Cruz’s Plan to Save Republican Health-Care Bill Gains Traction
Stephanie Armour and Kristina Peterson, The Wall Street Journal

Senate Republican leaders, in a bid to salvage their health overhaul, are weighing the merits of a proposal by Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) to let insurers that sell plans that conform to the Affordable Care Act’s regulations also sell policies that don’t. The idea, also backed by Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah), would allow insurers to offer cheaper, less-comprehensive policies, likely to be bought by healthier people.

GOP Campaign Tracker Violates Bipartisan Truce (Again)
Nathan L. Gonzales, Roll Call

Trackers have become standard operating procedure in today’s campaigns, as young operatives follow and record candidates’ every move and whisper with the hope of catching a gaffe. But up to this point, there has been rare bipartisan agreement that the Senate hallways were off limits.

GOP Scrambles to Recruit Senate Candidates
Natalie Andrews, The Wall Street Journal

Republican leaders consider next year’s midterm elections a ripe opportunity to strengthen their party’s majority in the Senate, but GOP lawmakers are turning down challenges in states in which President Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton. Rep. Ann Wagner, a Republican who represents the Second Congressional District in Missouri, said Monday that she won’t challenge her state’s senior U.S. senator, Claire McCaskill, a Democrat who is running for re-election in 2018.


Rep. Steve Scalise back in intensive care unit
Madison Park, CNN

Rep. Steve Scalise has been readmitted to the intensive care unit “due to new concerns for infection,” a statement from his office said. His condition is listed as serious, according to the statement.

Dem challenging Paul Ryan raises $430K in campaign’s first 12 days
Max Greenwood, The Hill

Randy Bryce, a Democrat challenging House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) for his seat, raised more than $430,000 in the first 12 days of his campaign. That money, according to Bryce’s campaign, came from more than 16,000 donations, amounting to an average contribution of a little more than $25.

Rep. Markwayne Mullin flips stance, announces run for 4th term in Congress
Clayton Youngman, KTUL

Rep. Markwayne Mullin has announced that he will seek re-election for his seat in Oklahoma’s second congressional district, flipping on a campaign promise he made to only serve six years in Congress. Mullin announced the decision in a video posted to his Facebook page Tuesday.

Lawmakers Look to Boost Local Control Over Drone Regulation
Edward Graham, Morning Consult

Localities would get more power to regulate drones under recent House and Senate legislation. A bill introduced by Rep. Jason Lewis, the Drone Innovation Act, would grant local governments more control over protecting residents’ privacy and property rights when it comes to the use of unmanned aircraft systems below 200 feet.


Why almost every state is partially or fully rebuffing Trump’s election commission
Mark Berman and John Wagner, The Washington Post

Officials in nearly every state say they cannot or will not turn over all of the voter data President Trump’s voting commission is seeking, dealing what could be a serious blow to Trump’s attempts to bolster his claims that widespread fraud cost him the popular vote in November. The commission’s request for a massive amount of state-level data last week included asking for all publicly available information about voter rolls in the states, such as names of all registrants, addresses, dates of birth, partial Social Security numbers and other data.

Jerry Brown to Announce a Climate Summit Meeting in California
Lisa Friedman, The New York Times

Even before President Trump took office, Gov. Jerry Brown of California let it be known he was ready to do battle over climate change, vowing in December that California would launch its own satellite if Mr. Trump cut funding for federal space missions. On Thursday evening, Governor Brown will mount a new challenge to the administration on climate change.

States May Shackle AT&T, Comcast on Web Data After U.S. Retreat
Todd Shields, Bloomberg News

Soon after President Donald Trump took office with a pledge to cut regulations, Republicans in Congress killed an Obama-era rule restricting how broadband companies may use customer data such as web browsing histories. But the rule may be finding new life in the states.


Florida lobbyist turning Trump ties into mega-millions
Rachel Wilson, The Center for Public Integrity

Lobbyist Brian Ballard has for years been a power player in Florida, plying the corridors of the state capitol in Tallahassee on behalf of A-list clients such as Google, Uber, Honda — even the New York Yankees. Now, the 55-year-old University of Florida Hall of Fame member — a major Donald Trump fundraiser who also worked on the president’s transition — is out to prove he can translate his state-level lobbying chops into policy victories for a slew of new clients in Washington, D.C.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Accepting North Korean Realities
David C. Kang, The New York Times

North Korea is not a problem that can be solved. As much as the West may engage in wishful thinking about a revolution, the Kim family regime has survived far longer than almost anyone predicted. Even today, it shows no signs of collapsing, and the North Koreans show no signs of rebelling en masse.

Trump’s Putin Test
Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal

Donald Trump thinks of himself as a great judge of character and master deal-maker, and that could be a dangerous combination when the President meets with Vladimir Putin for the first time Friday during the G-20 meeting in Germany. The Russian strongman respects only strength, not charm, which is what Mr. Trump will have to show if he wants to help U.S. interests abroad and his own at home.

Trump’s voter data request poses an unnoticed danger — to national security
Michael Chertoff, The Washington Post

The Trump administration’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is asking states for voter-registration data from as far back as 2006. This would include names, dates of birth, voting histories, party registrations and the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers.

For GOP, Health Care Bill Looks Riskier by the Day
Stuart Rothenberg, Inside Elections

The new Republican National Committee web video “Where’s Their Plan?” purports to place the onus for the nation’s health care crisis on Democrats, but instead shows how far off base the RNC is in understanding how the issue is likely to play next year if the party can’t pass a popular replacement plan. The video, which runs about 80 seconds, starts off with TV clips of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) and five high-profile Democrats – former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, Sen. Joe Manchin, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Al Franken and former president Bill Clinton – acknowledging that Obamacare “has problems” and needs to be fixed.

Research Reports and Polling

Voters Critical of GOP’s Partisan Approach to Health Care Overhaul
Jon Reid, Morning Consult

Fewer than one in three voters approve of the partisan approach taken by congressional Republicans in their effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, according to a new Morning Consult/POLITICO poll. Thirty-two percent of registered voters said GOP lawmakers should work only with fellow Republicans on health care legislation, while 59 percent said Republicans should work with Democrats on a compromise measure.