Washington Brief: Trump’s Son Met With Russian Lawyer After Promise of Receiving Damaging Info on Clinton

Washington Brief

  • Donald Trump Jr. was promised damaging information about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton before meeting with a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin in June 2016. President Donald Trump’s eldest son initially said the meeting focused on Russian adoption policies. (The New York Times)
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he was “dumbfounded” by Trump’s suggestion that the United States and Russia could create a “Cyber Security unit” to guard against election hacking. GOP Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) also said it was a bad idea. (The Washington Post)
  • Trump returned from his first Group of 20 summit with little consensus on issues such as North Korea and trade. Leaders from the other 19 nations reaffirmed their support for the Paris climate agreement despite Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the accord. (Bloomberg News)
  • Senators return to Capitol Hill today, still divided over how to repeal and replace Obamacare. Trump said he could not imagine lawmakers “would dare to leave Washington” for their scheduled August recess without “fully” approving a health care bill. (The Wall Street Journal)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

No events scheduled
Sen. Markey, Reps. Tonko, Costello speak at Congressional Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency EXPO 9:30 a.m.
Former Senate Majority Leaders Daschle, Frist speak at BPC event on health care 10 a.m.
Sen. McCain, Tunisia chief of government speak at Heritage Foundation event 11 a.m.
Sen. Casey, former Sen. Lugar speak at CSIS event on global food security 8:30 a.m.
Confirmation hearing for FBI director nominee Christopher Wray 9:30 a.m.
Sens. Flake, Kaine speak at Wilson Center event on ISIS 9:30 a.m.
Fed’s Yellen testifies before House Financial Services Committee 10 a.m.
Alaska Gov. Walker speaks at National Press Club 10 a.m.
Heritage Foundation event on causes, costs and consequences of U.S. debt 12 p.m.
Rep. Cicilline speaks at Brookings Institution event on manufacturing 9 a.m.
House Ways and Means Committee hearing on tax reform 10 a.m.
Fed’s Yellen testifies before Senate Banking Committee 10 a.m.
No events scheduled



Three Large Wildfires Blazing in California
Rebecca Davis O’Brien, The Wall Street Journal

Three large California wildfires spread quickly over the weekend, burning tens of thousands of acres and forcing evacuations of campgrounds, roads, and hundreds of homes across the state. As of Sunday afternoon, the three fires—two north of Santa Barbara on the edge of Los Padres National Forest, and one north of Sacramento—were still blazing and defying efforts to contain them, state officials said.

Obama returns to political fray for a Democratic Party cause
Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post

Former president Barack Obama will formally reenter the political fray this week less than six months after leaving office, headlining a fundraiser for a group that could prove critical to the Democratic Party’s rebuilding efforts. Obama’s appearance Thursday before a few dozen people at a closed-door event in the District on behalf of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC) highlights the balance he is trying to strike as his party seeks to regain its footing at both the state and national levels.


Trump’s Son Met With Russian Lawyer After Being Promised Damaging Information on Clinton
Jo Becker et al., The New York Times

President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton before agreeing to meet with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign, according to three advisers to the White House briefed on the meeting and two others with knowledge of it. The meeting was also attended by his campaign chairman at the time, Paul J. Manafort, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Mr. Manafort and Mr. Kushner recently disclosed the meeting, though not its content, in confidential government documents described to The New York Times.

Trump’s First G-20 Ends With Few Prizes, Little Consensus on Goals
Toluse Olorunnipa and Nick Wadhams, Bloomberg News

Ahead of his first G-20 summit, Donald Trump took to Twitter to weigh in on his concerns. From bad trade deals (“the worst’’) to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions (“this nonsense’’) to steel dumping (“don’t like’’), Trump highlighted what he’d hit head-on in Hamburg.

Trump’s America First Policy Proves to Be an Immovable Object at G-20
Peter Nicholas, The Wall Street Journal

Through marathon meetings and dinners at the Group of 20 summit, various world leaders sought to coax America’s new president to accept core tenets of the internationalist order they embrace, including commitment to free trade and tough environmental regulation. He barely budged.

Trump Begins the Rightward Shift of America’s Courts
Paul Barrett and David Ingold, Bloomberg News

Although he’s been thwarted so far on his legislative agenda before Congress, most notably on health care, President Donald Trump has a big opportunity to reshape another branch of government outside his control: the federal judiciary. He has already moved swiftly to fill an unusual, inherited vacancy on the Supreme Court, and now his aides are working their way through a large number of openings on the lower federal courts.


Trump suggested a cybersecurity pact with Russia. Lawmakers say they were ‘dumbfounded.’
Cleve R. Wootson Jr., The Washington Post

On Sunday morning, President Trump spoke of his new alliance with Russian President Vladimir Putin to erect an “impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded.” This, the president tweeted at 7:31 a.m., came after Putin “vehemently denied” interfering with the 2016 U.S. election.

Following Recess, GOP Health-Care Push Gets Trickier
Stephanie Armour, The Wall Street Journal

Senate Republicans returning from a July 4 recess are so divided over a health-overhaul bill that they are also struggling to agree on what to do if they fail to pass their legislation. Some conservative lawmakers say an implosion of the Republican legislation would give them a chance to return to their goal of fully repealing the Affordable Care Act, putting off until later a decision about what system to put in its place.


Trump’s Massive Tax-Cut Plan Faces ‘Train Wreck’ of a Calendar
Sahil Kapur, Bloomberg News

Congress returns from its mid-summer break Monday for a crucial three-week stretch that will help determine whether President Donald Trump can deliver on his promise of a historic tax cut. Several obstacles await lawmakers, including an ongoing health-care fight, divisions among Republicans on the basic parameters of a tax bill, and a maelstrom of upcoming deadlines to keep the government running and avert a catastrophic default on U.S. debt.

After Scalise Shooting, a Twist: Lawmakers Want to Loosen Gun Laws
Emily Cohrane, The New York Times

After the nation’s worst mass shootings, in Newtown, Conn.; Aurora, Colo.; Orlando, Fla.; and Columbine High School in Colorado, gun control advocates rose to demand more rigorous laws: stricter background checks, limits on magazine capacities, bans on assault weapons and tougher controls on gun shows and online firearms markets — almost always to no avail. But in the weeks after the June 14 shooting of Republicans at a congressional baseball practice, the response has had a twist: Conservative lawmakers, some of whom were nearly the victims of gun violence, have pressed to loosen gun controls.

Gallego pushes for House vote on Russia’s election meddling
Austin Wright, Politico

President Donald Trump might not be willing to fully accept allegations that Russia interfered in last year’s presidential election, but Rep. Ruben Gallego is hoping that Congress is. The Arizona Democrat said in an interview Friday that he is seeking to force a House vote next week endorsing the January assessment by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia waged a covert campaign, using hacking and propaganda, to damage Hillary Clinton and sway the election toward Trump.

Maloney pushes Trump to back women’s history museum on the Mall
Annie Karni, Politico

During his campaign, President Donald Trump was publicly accused by 15 women of groping, kissing or assaulting them against their will. Now, New York Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney is on a mission to turn a president with a complicated legacy when it comes to women into a champion of their history.


California Democrats plunge into ‘civil war’
David Siders, Politico

Long-standing tensions between the Democratic Party’s moderate and liberal wings have ignited in California, where progressive activists are redirecting their anger over Donald Trump and congressional Republicans toward Democratic leaders at home. Stoked by a contested race for state Democratic Party chair and the failure of a single-payer health care bill, activists are staging protests at the capitol.

Say bye to ‘Absent Abbott’ as governor gets hands-on with special session politics
Mike Ward, Houston Chronicle 

He was called “Absent Abbott” for his hands-off approach in this year’s legislative session that ended in disarray a month ago. But as a July 18 special session approaches, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is taking a decidedly different approach.

Long After Protests, Students Shun the University of Missouri
Anemona Hartocollis, The New York Times

In the fall of 2015, a grassy quadrangle at the center of the University of Missouri became known nationwide as the command center of an escalating protest. Students complaining of official inaction in the face of racial bigotry joined forces with a graduate student on a hunger strike.


George Clooney takes aim at powerhouse D.C. lobbying firm over its ties to the Sudanese government
Caitlin Gibson, The Washington Post

Hollywood actor-activist George Clooney has taken aim at the prominent D.C. lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs in a searing new op-ed for Time, denouncing the firm for agreeing to represent the Sudanese government in its efforts to lift long-standing U.S. sanctions against the country. “The firm will be paid $40,000 a month by a government that’s on the U.S. state sponsors of terror list, with a head of state, Omar al-Bashir, wanted for genocide by the International Criminal Court,” wrote Clooney and co-author John Prendergast, a fellow activist and former Clinton administration official.

Rooftop Solar Dims Under Pressure From Utility Lobbyists
Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times 

Over the past six years, rooftop solar panel installations have seen explosive growth — as much as 900 percent by one estimate. That growth has come to a shuddering stop this year, with a projected decline in new installations of 2 percent, according to projections from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

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

After ‘Infrastructure Week,’ Legislative Spadework Must Begin
Pete Sepp, Morning Consult

Last month the White House kicked off a series of ambitious policy proposals designed to improve the nation’s infrastructure, without having to spend a trillion in precious tax dollars. Starting with a vital plan to create a nongovernmental user-funded entity for air traffic control, and concluding with reforms to onerous permitting, over the course of a week the administration sketched a blueprint that rightfully relies on private-sector ingenuity, rather than public largesse to strengthen our economic backbone.

To my colleagues in Congress: I have MS. Don’t make my insurance unaffordable.
Donna F. Edwards, The Washington Post

I struggled over whether to write, but following the House passage of the American Health Care Act, and now the work that’s going on in the Senate, I knew I must. In March 2015, when I decided to run for U.S. Senate in Maryland, I felt great.

Republicans Won’t Stop Fighting With Each Other
Albert R. Hunt, Bloomberg

The ruling Republicans are trying to defy Washington’s political gravity: pushing through massive health-care and tax overhauls crafted largely in secret, on a partisan basis, brushing aside congressional expertise and overcoming the policy ignorance of President Donald Trump with products of dubious quality, at best. They want to do it twice, starting with the Senate’s struggle to replace Obamacare this month.

Putin Is Not America’s Friend
Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal

We’ll find out in the coming weeks how Vladimir Putin sized up Donald Trump in their first mano a mano meeting on Friday, but one bad sign is the Trump team’s post-meeting resort to Obama -like rhetoric of cooperation and shared U.S.-Russia purposes. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson frequently lapses into this form of John Kerry-speak as he did trying to sell the new U.S.-Russia-brokered cease-fire in a corner of Syria.

Republicans Take a Hatchet to Health Care
Vikas Bajaj and Stuart R. Thompson, The New York Times

The latest Republican plan to overhaul the health care system would eliminate insurance coverage for millions of their own constituents, which should greatly concern senators who support the bill. An analysis by the Urban Institute shows how states will be affected by the Better Care Reconciliation Act, the Senate proposal that is still in negotiation after the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, canceled a vote in late June.

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

Rural and urban gun owners have different experiences, views on gun policy
Ruth Igielnik, Pew Research Center

Gun ownership spans all types of American communities, but it is particularly common in rural parts of the country. Among adults who live in rural areas, 46% say they own a gun, compared with 28% of adults who live in the suburbs and even fewer – 19% – in urban areas, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

US Uninsured Rate Rises to 11.7%
Zac Auter, Gallup

The percentage of U.S. adults without health insurance grew in the second quarter of 2017 to 11.7%, up from 11.3% in the first quarter. The uninsured rate, measured by Gallup and Sharecare since 2008, had reached a record low of 10.9% in the third and fourth quarters of 2016.