Obama returning to campaign trail to stump for Northam in Va. governor’s race

David Turner, a spokesman for Northam, said the former president agreed this week to hit the campaign trail for Northam, but said he wouldn’t “go into any further detail about the private conversations that Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam had with President Barack Obama.”

Former president Barack Obama is making his first campaign foray of 2017, agreeing to stump for Democrat Ralph Northam in his bid to be Virginia’s next governor.

156 Other Related Articles

LA Times -
Former head of Homeland Security testifies on Russian interference in 2016 election

Former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson defended the Obama administration’s delay in revealing Russian attempts to interfere with the 2016 election, saying Wednesday that officials were worried that they’d be blamed for a partisan attempt to influence the results.

“It is gravely concerning that election officials have only recently learned about the threat referenced in the leaked NSA report, especially given the fact that [Homeland Security] repeatedly told state election officials no credible threat existed in the fall of 2016,” Lawson said. But Johnson had complaints as well, saying state elections officials resisted his offer to designate voter databases as “critical infrastructure” — a move that would have allowed federal authorities to offer cybersecurity protections similar to those given to power grids, dams and financial networks.

New York Times -
Trump Turns an Iowa Rally Into a Venting Session

President Trump said on Wednesday that he was crafting legislation to bar new immigrants from receiving welfare for at least five years.

The rally, Mr. Trump’s first since the end of April, served as a venting session for a pent-up president who has stewed and brooded from inside the gilded cage of the White House over attacks from investigators, Democrats and the news media, his interview schedule drastically pared down and his aides imploring him to stay off Twitter.

The Guardian -
Donald Trump says he doesn't want a 'poor person' in cabinet roles

Donald Trump has said he doesn’t want “a poor person” to hold economic roles in his administration as he used an Iowa rally to defend his decision to appoint the wealthy to his cabinet.

He avoided any discussion of the scandals surrounding his presidency, other than one brief reference to the “witch hunt,” his term for the inquiries into his campaign’s ties to Russia.

CBS News -
Trump in Iowa: "History is written by the dreamers, not the doubters"

"History is written by the dreamers, not the doubters," Mr. Trump told his supporters at the rally, rebuffing criticisms that his administration isn't accomplishing its agenda quickly enough.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday afternoon that Mr. Trump will hold a fundraiser at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., just blocks away from the White House, on Tuesday.

New York Times -
Obama White House Knew of Russian Election Hacking, but Delayed Telling

The Obama administration feared that acknowledging Russian meddling in the 2016 election would reveal too much about intelligence gathering and be interpreted as “taking sides” in the race, the former secretary of homeland security said Wednesday. “One of the candidates, as you recall, was predicting that the election was going to be ‘rigged’ in some way,” said Jeh Johnson, the former secretary, referring to President Trump’s unsubstantiated accusation before Election Day.

After another bitter loss, can Democrats ever top Trump?

There have been four congressional special elections this year where Democrats and Republicans have gone head-to-head, and the Democrats have been "not first" in all of them.

Mr Trump and the Republicans had been on the ropes of late, with a seemingly never-ending stream of stories about White House palace intrigue and unpleasant revelations from the ongoing investigations into possible Russian ties to the Trump campaign.

New York Times -
Fact Check: Is Karen Handel Georgia’s First Female Representative?

Celebrating Karen Handel’s win in a special House election in Georgia, Mr. Trump complained that the significance of her victory was hardly noted.

The state’s first female representative, Florence Reville Gibbs, was voted into office in 1940, through a special election called after the death of her husband. She was followed by Helen Douglas Mankin in 1946, Iris Faircloth Blitch in 1955, Cynthia McKinney in 1993 and Denise Majette in 2003.

ABC News -
Ex-DHS secretary defends Obama handling of Russian meddling

Former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson today defended the Obama administration’s decision to delay publicly commenting on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

An intelligence report released in January concluded that "Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election" and acted "to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary [Hillary] Clinton and harm her electability and potential presidency."

CBS News -
Who is Karen Handel, Georgia's newest member of Congress?

Republican Karen Handel shattered Democrats' hopes Tuesday night to take Georgia's 6th Congressional District seat away from the GOP and turn the election into a referendum on the policies and the person of President Trump.

Handel, 55, is the first woman Georgia Republicans have ever sent to Congress, an overlooked fact in the midst of Tuesday night's events. The former Georgia secretary of state lost multiple bids for higher office before winning her seat in Congress in the most expensive House race in history.

NBC News -
Former DHS Chief Warns Russians Will Continue to Target U.S. Elections

Former Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson told Congress Wednesday that he has not seen evidence that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election directly altered ballots, but warned cyberattacks aimed at undermining U.S. elections will “get worse before they get better.” Johnson said officials should “assume" that "the Russians will be back, and possibly other state actors, and possibly other bad cyber actors". Johnson told the House Intelligence Committee it is “a fact” Russian President Vladimir Putin directed cyberattacks aimed at influencing the election.

CBS News -
Jeh Johnson says FBI delayed notification of DNC cyberattack

Johnson did admit that there was a delay between the time it took for the FBI to learn about the cyberattack at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the time it took for him to learn about the discovery as DHS secretary.

Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testified before the House Intelligence Committee Wednesday that to his knowledge, Russia did not alter vote tallies or ballots in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Washington Post -
Homeland Security official: Russian government actors tried to hack election systems in 21 states

People connected to the Russian government tried to hack election-related computer systems in 21 states, a Department of Homeland Security official testified Wednesday.

Bloomberg reported earlier this month that Russian hackers “hit” systems in 39 states, and The Intercept, citing a classified intelligence document, reported that Russian military intelligence “executed a cyberattack on at least one U.S. voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before last November’s presidential election.” In a separate hearing before the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday, former Department of Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson testified that Russia’s meddling was “unprecedented, the scale and the scope of what we saw them doing.”

CBS News -
DHS official: Election systems in 21 states were targeted in Russia cyber attacks

A Homeland Security (DHS) official told a Senate panel that election systems in 21 states were targeted in Russian cyber attacks in the 2016 presidential election.

Dr. Sam Liles, acting director of the Cyber Division of DHS, told the Senate Intelligence Committee that prior to the election, DHS had no indication that any adversaries, including the Russian government, were planning activities that would change the outcome of the election.

LA Times -
Today: In the Trump Era, Republicans 4, Democrats 0

In South Carolina, Republican Ralph Norman defeated Democrat Archie Parnell to give the GOP a 4-0 record against the Democrats in special elections during the Trump presidency.

Those backing Ossoff hoped a Democratic victory in Georgia’s traditionally Republican 6th district would signal that Democrats are poised to retake the House of Representatives in 2018. Ahead of election day, donors nationwide — many of them Californians — poured money into the campaign.

NBC News -
First Read's Morning Clips: All Eyes on the Senate Health Care Rollout

NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell: “Republican senators are expected to learn the contents of legislation to overhaul health care on Thursday as their party leadership continues to work toward a vote on it before they leave town for the July 4 recess. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday that he would release a "discussion draft" of legislation to both his Republican members and the public later this week, and he acknowledged for the first time that a vote would "likely" take place next week.”

CBS News -
Bipartisan complaints as GOP lawmakers take over health care bill

Senate Republican leaders say they will release a draft of their health care bill Thursday, as lawmakers from both parties complain about being cut out of the process.

Republican leaders are trying to come up with a bill that marks a clean break with Obamacare, but does not resemble the House GOP bill, which the president described as "mean." Three Democrats tried to make a point by live streaming a visit to the Congressional Budget Office, where they failed to get a copy of the GOP plan.. "Republicans are shutting us and the American public out of this process," Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said.

New York Times -
Democrats Seethe After Georgia Loss: ‘Our Brand Is Worse Than Trump’

Democrats seethed, second-guessed and sought to regroup on Wednesday after a disappointing special election defeat in Georgia, with the party’s campaign chief in the House of Representatives outlining alternative paths to taking power, and some lawmakers questioning anew the leadership and political strategy of Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic minority leader.

“Our brand is worse than Trump,” said Mr. Ryan, who urged Democrats to make forging a clear economic agenda an urgent priority. “We can’t just run against Trump.”

The Week -
Democrats' deflating Georgia defeat

After nearly half a year of intense politicking, two rounds of voting, and a flood of wildly overwrought analysis, the special election in Georgia's 6th congressional district is finally over.

Democrats spied an opportunity in all that ticket splitting to pick up the seat, and the party quickly consolidated behind Ossoff after he announced his candidacy in January. More money was dumped into this special election than any other House race in history, nearly doubling the total spent on the previous title holder.

The Week -
The GOP health-care bill: Now meaner, and with less heart

Yet now, barely a month after House passage, the Senate's GOP moderates have effectively folded, and the Senate plans to ram through a bill remarkably similar to the House's — just meaner and with less heart.

The House GOP would hold the growth of Medicaid's spending to the inflation rate of prices in the medical sector overall. But Medicaid's population is considerably poorer and sicker than the overall population of Americans who buy health care.

New York Times -
Dueling Realities for Democrats: Big Gains but Large Obstacles in 2018

The Democrats fared far better in this spring’s special congressional elections than even the most optimistic Democrat might have guessed a few months ago.

This year’s special elections, including Jon Ossoff’s loss to Karen Handel in Georgia, are a reminder that it will indeed be difficult for Democrats to win in Republican-leaning districts, just as it was for the Democrats in 2006 or for Republicans on Democratic-leaning turf in 2010.

The Week -
Are Republican voters finally turning on Trump?

That could mean criticizing him publicly and declining to support his policy initiatives, which would send a signal to GOP voters that you don't have to support Trump in order to consider yourself a Republican in good standing, accelerating a cycle that could spin Trump's approval ratings even lower.

Trump has been unpopular from the start, but now, five months into his presidency, something dangerous may be happening: He could be losing support from Republican voters.

CBS News -
GOP health bill: Senate preps for possible vote next week

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, aims to hold a vote on the health care bill before lawmakers leave Washington next week for their week-long July 4 recess.

The members of the working group include Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, Rob Portman, Tom Cotton, Pat Toomey, Orrin Hatch, Cory Gardner, John Barrasso, John Cornyn, Mike Enzi, Lamar Alexander, John Thune and Mike Lee.

LA Times -
Republican Karen Handel wins special election for hotly contested Georgia House seat

Democrats came up short Tuesday night in their costly bid to wrest control of a longtime GOP congressional seat in the suburbs north of Atlanta, losing a race the party had hoped would showcase deep Republican vulnerability in the Trump era.

While the close election result is sobering for the Republican Party in a conservative district it customarily wins by double digits, the victory helps the party avert – for now – potentially much more damaging fallout for the White House and Republicans in Congress.

ABC News -
Trump on Handel's win: 'Fantastic job, we are all very proud of you!'

President Donald Trump was quick to react to Karen Handel's win in Tuesday's special election in Georgia's 6th Congressional District, writing a series of tweets following The Associated Press' projection that she was slated to beat Democrat Jon Ossoff.

Trump tweeted, "Well, the Special Elections are over and those that want to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN are 5 and O! All the Fake News, all the money spent = 0". And on Monday, in a nod to the special elections in Georgia and South Carolina, Trump urged residents in those states to vote for the Republican candidate. "Big day tomorrow in Georgia and South Carolina," he wrote.

New York Times -
Karen Handel Wins Georgia Special Election, Fending Off Upstart Democrat

Karen Handel, a veteran Republican officeholder, overcame a deluge of liberal money to win a special House election in Georgia on Tuesday, bridging the divide in her own party between admirers of President Trump and those made uneasy by his turbulent new administration.

In the so-called jungle primary in Georgia — the initial special election on April 18 — Mr. Ossoff, one of 18 candidates on the ballot, captured just over 48 percent of the vote, an unusually strong showing for a Democrat, but short of the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff.

Wall Street Jurnal -
GOP’s Karen Handel Beats Democrat Jon Ossoff in Georgia

Republican Karen Handel, a former Georgia secretary of state, beat Democrat Jon Ossoff, a onetime congressional aide, in the most expensive House race in history and the most significant test of the two parties’ political strength since Mr. Trump’s election.

Chip Lake, a Republican consultant in Georgia unaffiliated with the Handel campaign, said the Republican win means the party “dodged a bullet.” But Republicans still should see the expensive race as “a wake-up call to our base and our party” because the election in a traditionally Republican district should not have been close.

The Guardian -
Georgia special election: Republican Karen Handel beats Jon Ossoff in runoff

In Georgia the resistance was stopped by the rain on Tuesday when Jon Ossoff, long the best hope of Democrats to win a special election in the Trump administration, suffered a narrow loss to Republican Karen Handel in the Sixth Congressional District.

The runoff came after a first round of voting in April where Ossoff won just over 48% of the vote and Handel finished second in a splintered Republican field with just under 20% of the vote.

CBS News -
Republican Karen Handel wins Georgia special election

Republican Karen Handel defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff in Tuesday's special election for Georgia's 6th Congressional District seat, dashing Democrats' hopes of taking a seat Republicans have held since Newt Gingrich won it in 1978.

Handel had 52.5 percent of the vote compared to Ossoff's 47.5 percent of the vote, with 81 percent of the district's 208 precincts in the Atlanta suburbs reporting. Heavy flooding in the area made getting to the polls a challenge for voters, although more than 100,000 Georgians voted early.

ABC News -
Republican Karen Handel defends district in Georgia special election, beating Jon Ossoff

Fending off a serious Democratic challenger in a race widely viewed as a barometer of public opinion on President Donald Trump's presidency, Republican Karen Handel won the special election Tuesday to succeed Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price in Georgia's sixth congressional district.

President Trump was quick to react to Handel's win, tweeting, "Things are looking great for Karen H!". And House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., said in a statement, "Congratulations to Karen Handel on a hard-earned and well-deserved victory.

ABC News -
The Latest: Republican Handel pledges to work on health care

Republican Karen Handel says finishing the party's health care bill and lowering taxes will be among her top priorities in Congress.

Trump barely won the district in November, giving Democrats an opening once Republican Tom Price resigned the seat to join the president's Cabinet as health secretary. The matchup between Ossoff and Handel has become a proxy for the national political atmosphere and a test of GOP strength early in Trump's presidency.

Global News -
Republican wins most expensive congressional election in U.S. history

– Republican Karen Handel has won a nationally watched congressional election in Georgia, avoiding an upset that would have rocked Washington ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

Her narrow victory Tuesday over Democrat Jon Ossoff in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District allows Republicans a sigh of relief after what’s being recognized as the most expensive House race in U.S history, with a price tag that may exceed $50 million.

New York Times -
G.O.P. Rift Over Medicaid and Opioids Imperils Senate Health Bill

A growing rift among Senate Republicans over federal spending on Medicaid and the opioid epidemic is imperiling legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act that Senate leaders are trying to put to a vote by the end of next week.

The emerging Senate bill, like the one approved narrowly by the House in early May, would end Medicaid as an open-ended entitlement program and replace it with capped payments to states, Republicans said.

New York Times -
China Falls Short on Curbing North Korea, Trump Says

President Trump said on Tuesday that China had not succeeded in getting North Korea to curb its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, an extraordinary admission of failure in his strategy for dealing with the rogue regime of Kim Jong-un.

At a summit meeting in April at his Palm Beach, Fla., estate, Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump tried to enlist Mr. Xi to ratchet up China’s pressure on North Korea — something China has historically avoided because of fears that it would precipitate a collapse in a country with which it shares a 880-mile border.

ABC News -
Georgia special election stokes raw emotions in final stretch

One of the most expensive and highly publicized congressional races in U.S. history is reaching its conclusion, after voters in Georgia's 6th Congressional District headed to the polls today to choose someone to fill Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price's vacant House seat.

After Ossoff finished strong in April's special election and fell just short of the 50 percent threshold needed to win the seat outright and avoid a runoff, Democrats saw a real opening and poured in money and resources to help him see the race through.

New York Times -
‘I’m Right Here!’ Sean Spicer Says While Toiling to Find Successor

After weeks of fitful efforts to sell a job that for decades people have plotted to get, no one has jumped at the chance to become President Trump’s new press secretary, leaving the president — at least for now — with his beleaguered frontman, Sean Spicer.

Mr. Spicer conceded what has been known for weeks: that the White House has solicited interest from a range of people, sometimes approaching them repeatedly even when they’ve said no.. “We’ve been meeting with potential people that may be of service to this administration,” said Mr. Spicer, who has done some of the outreach himself.

NBC News -
Ossoff, Handel virtual tie with half vote counted in Georgia

The most expensive congressional race is history is too close to call as supporters of Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel wait anxiously for returns in the special election in Georgia’s 6th congressional district.

With an estimated 50 percent of the vote counted, Ossoff and Handel were separated by less than 2,000 votes in their bid to replace Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who held the seat before joining President Donald Trump's Cabinet.

Global News -
Donald Trump’s White House puts the ‘brief’ in press briefings

Once more freewheeling exchanges, White House press briefings have been shrinking both in length and content as Trump’s senior aides clamp down on information and contend with the president’s own lack of message discipline and preference for speaking directly to his fan base.

WATCH: ‘This White House operate under a very different set of rules’: Adam Schiff. Those developments may have reinforced what was already on Trump’s mind: On May 12, he had tweeted, “Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future ‘press briefings’ and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???”. White House communications officials “obviously feel it has ceased to pay dividends” to follow their predecessors’ press strategy, said Eric Dezenhall, who worked on President Ronald Reagan’s communications team and leads a public relations firm in Washington. “They’ve decided to bypass the media completely and stop pretending there’s anything to gain.”

Washington Post -
Trump signals shifting approach to North Korea after death of U.S. student

The death of American college student Otto Warmbier in Cincinnati this week, days after his release from 17 months of detention in North Korea, has injected new political complications into Trump’s bid to persuade dictator Kim Jong Un to curb his regime’s behavior.

President Trump on Tuesday appeared to lose faith in China’s ability to pressure North Korea, and his spokesman said the White House is “moving further away” from direct engagement with Pyongyang, throwing into question the administration’s strategy to contain the rogue nation’s growing nuclear threat.

The Guardian -
Republicans say they will release draft of health bill amid pressure over secrecy

Senate Republican leaders said they would release draft language of their healthcare bill on Thursday amid mounting frustration among lawmakers in both parties over the way the party is assembling their bill – behind closed doors and without a single public hearing scheduled.

The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, confirmed that the draft bill would be made public on Thursday during a press conference with reporters on Tuesday.

New York Times -
Live Analysis: Georgia’s Special Election

Candidates and outside groups have spent roughly $55 million in a battle over a U.S. House seat vacated by Tom Price, the health and human services secretary.

We’ve reached the end of the most expensive, highest profile, most hyped special election for a single seat in the House of Representatives since … well, since any of us can remember. Democrats have put up a furious challenge in this red-leaning district, Georgia’s Sixth Congressional, which became vacant when President Trump picked its representative, Tom Price, for his cabinet.

New York Times -
Senators Wrestle With Updating Law Authorizing War on Terrorist Groups

Senators from both parties agreed on Tuesday that it was long past time for Congress to enact a new law authorizing the evolving war against Islamist terrorist groups, while also raising questions about the legal basis for the Trump administration’s escalating direct military confrontations with Syrian government forces.

The executive branch has stretched the law to encompass war against enemies with only tenuous links to the original Al Qaeda, which has proved controversial, and senators disagreed Tuesday about whether it covered the Islamic State, as the Obama administration first claimed.

NBC News -
Even before Trump, America's political parties were changing

The two parties are changing, and President Donald Trump's election may be as much a result of larger shifts between Republicans and Democrats as it is a cause of them.

In other words, the headline generating turbulence of the Trump presidency may simply be marking the beginning of a longer unsettled era in American politics as the two parties transform themselves in the coming months and years.

CBS News -
Costly negative ads fuel Georgia's special election

Tuesday's special election in Georgia's 6th Congressional District, the most expensive House race in U.S. history, became a race for the airwaves.

The politically charged, high-stakes race has fueled negative and controversial TV and radio ads, as well as digital ads. Both Ossoff and Handel condemned an outside group's attack ad that ran over the weekend, after a shooting at a congressional baseball practice near Washington, D.C., last weekend left House Majority Whip Steve Scalise critically injured.

Washington Post -
Senate GOP leaders will present health bill this week, even as divisions flare

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that the GOP leadership will produce a “discussion draft” of the health-care bill on Thursday.

The Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee considered amendments over 13 days before voting out a bill in July, and the Finance Committee approved its bill in October. In 2009, two key Senate committees held extensive hearings and votes on bills that eventually formed the basis of the ACA.

Fox News -
Otto Warmbier's death prompts US to weigh options vs. North Korea

A growing chorus of U.S. lawmakers are declaring the death of American college student Otto Warmbier just days after he was released from a North Korean prison "murder," and all eyes are on the White House as the Trump administration weighs possible responses. Warmbier, the University of Virginia student detained in North Korea for nearly a year and a half, died on Monday as a result of what his parents called "awful torturous mistreatment... at the hands of the North Koreans."

CBS News -
White House pushes to free U.S. prisoners in Iran after Otto Warmbier's death

In the wake of Otto Warmbier's return to the U.S. from North Korea detention and subsequent death, the White House is ramping up efforts to bring home two of the Namazi family members, Siamak and 81-year-old Baquer, in part due to concerns about their declining health.

As for those left behind in North Korea, Tillerson continues to try to bring home the three Americans: Kim Dong Chul, Tony Kim, and Kim Hak-Song.

NBC News -
Healthcare What Ifs: Ezekiel Emanuel reimagines Obamacare

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel helped craft the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, and beginning with a meeting at Trump Tower in December, Emanuel has met with President Trump three times to discuss Obamacare’s effects on healthcare delivery.

As Senate Republicans craft their healthcare bill, the legacy of what did and didn’t work in the Affordable Care Act casts a long shadow over healthcare policy discussions.

Fox News -
ObamaCare repeal bill on fast track in Senate; Ryan says tax reform next

Hours later, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Capitol Hill he expects to have a draft by Thursday of Senate Republicans’ health care bill and a decisive floor vote by next week.

McConnell spoke after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., accused Senate Republicans of crafting the bill “in the dark of night” and called for an open hearing before a final vote. McConnell denied the request for a hearing and defended his use of a parliamentary tactic known as “budget reconciliation” that allows him to pass the bill with no fewer than 50 of the chamber’s 52 GOP senators.

LA Times -
Senate GOP promises to unveil its Obamacare overhaul Thursday, with votes expected next week

After months of secret negotiations, Senate Republicans are set to unveil their Obamacare overhaul Thursday, in hopes of voting next week before a holiday recess, leaders announced Tuesday.

The Republican leader can spare only two GOP votes from his slim 52-seat majority for passage, presuming Vice President Mike Pence would cast the tie-breaking vote. Pence and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price both attended the Republican senators' lunch Tuesday in a show of support.

LA Times -
Senators to watch: These Republicans could make or break the effort to repeal Obamacare

Republican secrecy faces mounting criticism as GOP senators work behind closed doors to replace Obamacare. Trump's election has mobilized a resistance like no other, but will Democrats' answer to the tea party divide the ranks?

Once a highly sought-after vote when Democrats approved Obamacare, she ultimately joined all Republicans in opposing it.

Global News -
Death of Otto Warmbier highlights North Korea’s bizarre allure for travellers

The death of American citizen Otto Warmbier following his detainment and release from North Korea is shining a light on the reclusive country and its mysterious allure for Western travellers.

In a statement released by the Warmbier family, they blamed his death squarely on, “the awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans.”

Fox News -
After Otto Warmbier death, officials push to restrict tourism in North Korea

U.S. officials renewed efforts Tuesday to ban or restrict tourism in North Korea after the death of college student Otto Warmbier.

Schiff said Tuesday that traveling to North Korea is not only dangerous but helps fund “one of the most brutal and despotic regimes in the world.”

CBS News -
Trump calls death of Otto Warmbier a "total disgrace"

President Trump referred several times to the death of American student Otto Warmbier, who was detained in North Korea until last week, as a "disgrace." "It's a total disgrace what happened to Otto and it should never ever be allowed to happen," the president said Tuesday.

Although he didn't mention former President Obama by name, Mr. Trump seemed to be placing some of the blame on the Obama administration for Warmbier's death.

CBS News -
House Speaker Paul Ryan promises major tax reform in 2017

House Speaker Paul Ryan vowed to overhaul the tax code by the end of the year despite political divisions among Republicans and a crowded legislative agenda for Congress.

In a speech on tax reform Tuesday afternoon to the National Association of Manufacturers, the Speaker said Republicans, who control Congress and the White House, have a rare opportunity to rewrite the tax code. "After years of talking about problems, we're finally doing something about them," said Ryan.

CBS News -
Mitch McConnell: Senate GOP will have health care bill draft ready Thursday

Likely next week," the Kentucky Republican told reporters after Republicans discussed the process behind closed doors over lunch.

"I expect to have a discussion draft on Thursday, and we will go to the bill obviously once we get a CBO score -- likely next week," the Kentucky Republican told reporters after Republicans discussed the process behind closed doors over lunch. CBO stands for the Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan organization that scores legislation and estimates its budgetary and economic effects.

Wall Street Jurnal -
Paul Ryan vows once-in-a-generation makeover of tax code will get done this year

One of the top Republican cheerleaders for tax cuts kicked off his party’s effort Tuesday to overhaul a U.S. tax code that’s long been criticized by both parties as out of date and harmful to economic growth but which has been impervious to prior attempts at reform.

Rep. Paul Ryan, speaker of the House and his party’s 2012 vice presidential candidate, laid down a series of markers that should guide what he called a “once in a generation” chance to reshape the tax code.

LA Times -
Ryan launches push to pass sweeping tax overhaul this year, but Republicans are running out of time

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan launched a major push Tuesday to overhaul the tax code this year — including massive cuts — but Republicans in Congress and the White House are running out of time as they continue to battle over the details.

There still is no tax bill in the House or the Senate as disputes among Republicans remain unresolved, particularly whether to enact a controversial border tax. In a tacit acknowledgement of the hurdles, Ryan did not wade into those disputes in Tuesday’s speech as he laid out broad principles that echoed those of the White House.

Fox News -
No 'moral victory' available in Georgia showdown

On the roster: No ‘moral victory’ available in Georgia showdown - Montani semper liberi - House conservatives send Senate list of ‘must haves’ -  Mueller to brief senators on Russia probe - Yinz had to use the good batteries, didn’t ya?. NO ‘MORAL VICTORY’ AVAILABLE IN GEORGIA SHOWDOWN Today’s special election in the northern suburbs of Atlanta looks to be very close.

From the perspective of momentum for 2018, though, there are no “moral victories” available in Georgia today – just a win or a loss with real consequences.

Washington Post -
The Health 202: Here's what we know about the Senate health-care bill

The blurry outlines of an Obamacare overhaul are slowly coming into focus as Senate Republican leaders prod their members toward a health-care vote next week.

The Senate bill is likely to include a more generous version of insurance subsidies, tying them not just to age as in the House bill, but also to income.

Fox News -
Georgia race: Handel rips West Coast donors 'buying' seat; SC contest takes 2nd billing

Republican congressional candidate Karen Handel on Tuesday ripped Democratic opponent Jon Ossoff for the flood of outside donations that have pumped up his war chest and helped make Tuesday’s Georgia special election the most expensive House race in U.S. history.

Handel, who plays up her experience as a state and local elected official, continued to cast her bid as a battle against outside forces trying to “buy” the 6th Congressional District seat. “[Voters] are not interested in Hollywood and California coming in and buying this seat,” Handel said.

NBC News -
Republican senators could get details of their health care bill soon

Republican senators say they expect to learn the contents of legislation to overhaul health care before the end of this week as their party leadership continues to work toward a vote on it before they leave town for the July 4 recess.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said that all 52 Republican senators have been summoned to a meeting Wednesday where they will have a deeper discussion about the details of a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

LA Times -
California's starring role in Tuesday's nail-biter House race — in Georgia

Voting Tuesday in the bitterly fought Georgia election to fill a House seat vacated by Tom Price, President Trump’s secretary of Health and Human Services, is taking place more than 2,000 miles from California.

The best indication of which way the race is trending will come when the early vote is counted and those numbers are released soon after polls close Tuesday night at 7 p.m.

The Guardian -
American healthcare is at a crossroads. Where is the Democrats' bold vision?

Republicans can afford to only lose two votes and still pass a bill, and there are enough moderates from swing states to balk at any radical restructuring of American healthcare.

It’s one thing to say you will do whatever it takes to protect a flawed but functional healthcare system that was never overwhelmingly popular to begin with, that still left plenty of people who weren’t desperately poor or sick with expensive healthcare plans.

Georgia election: Trump faces knife-edge congressional vote

The US state of Georgia holds a congressional election on Tuesday, with the Democrats seeking to deliver their first major blow to Donald Trump's presidency.

Mr Ossoff narrowly failed to win the 50% needed to secure outright victory in the election for the Atlanta seat in April, forcing this run-off vote against Ms Handel. The Democrats are looking to capitalise on the president's low personal approval ratings to win Georgia's sixth district seat.

NBC News -
Latinos' view on Trump could be a factor in Georgia's U.S. House race

A Trump versus the Democrats showdown was taking place Tuesday in a Georgia congressional district and Latinos are playing a part.

Although there is no Latino in the Georgia 6th Congressional District race, Latino Victory Fund, which supports progressive candidates and those it determines support policies benefiting Latinos, put some resources into the race to help get out the Latino vote, said Jorge Silva, a spokesman for the Washington, D.C.-based fund.

New York Times -
Key Question for Supreme Court: Will It Let Gerrymanders Stand?

“If the court doesn’t endorse some version of what the three-judge panel decided” in Wisconsin, said Ellen D. Katz, a University of Michigan scholar of election law, “then it may be they’re never going to find a standard they’re comfortable applying.”

Now the Wisconsin case is headed to a Supreme Court that has repeatedly said that extreme partisan gerrymanders are unconstitutional, but has never found a way to decide which ones cross the line.

NBC News -
First Read's Morning Clips: Senate GOP Health Care Plan Is Coming

Tax policy would gain momentum if Republicans can pass a health law that repeals parts of former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act and cuts hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes that wouldn’t have to be addressed as part of a tax plan.

“There is no GOP bill yet for the public to see and even rank-and-file Republicans have yet to see any text of legislation. Leigh Ann Caldwell, Kasie Hunt and Garrett Haake have the latest on Republicans’ for a health care vote next week.

LA Times -
Even with a win in Georgia Tuesday, Democrats lose — they could have had two seats for the price of one

Democratic brothers and sisters: If you win in Georgia — taking just one slender House seat, instead of the two you might have had — remember Montana’s sacrifice.

In Montana, on May 25, in a special election to fill the state’s single House seat vacated by the newly appointed secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, state Democrats shaved 14.5 percentage points off Donald Trump’s showing in November, turning out for candidate Rob Quist.

NBC News -
Once Champions of Sunlight, GOP Pens Health Care Plan In the Dark

Trump issued this statement yesterday: “Otto’s fate deepens my Administration’s determination to prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people at the hands of regimes that do not respect the rule of law or basic human decency.”

Why? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell knows that if the Senate doesn't deal with health care, there's little chance of any other GOP priority ever seeing the light of day.

The Guardian -
Healthcare backlash hits Republicans hard on generic ballot, polls find

In surveys of five distinct demographic areas that give a cross-section of the American electorate, there has been a significant swing toward Democrats and away from Republicans on the 2018 generic ballot.

The most dramatic shift was among voters in the Carolinas cluster, who have shifted from favoring Republicans 49%-37% to a statistical tie (43%-43%) on the generic ballot. Democrats improved their performance over the past two months in four of the five regions polled.

CBS News -
Trump's tax overhaul waits as budget impasse lingers

That's because neither the budget, which is a nonbinding outline, nor follow-up legislation called a budget reconciliation bill can be filibustered in the Senate.

The ongoing health care bill is such a reconciliation measure, and GOP leaders want to use the same approach to advance Trump's tax agenda, which is next on the priority list. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, vows that Republicans will complete tax reform this year despite myriad obstacles.

The Guardian -
Georgia special election candidate says journalism has fueled 'lack of civility'

As voters go to the polls in a fiercely competitive special election in Georgia on which record money has been spent, the Republican candidate has blamed social media and journalism for fueling a lack of civility in American society.

Speaking to the Guardian before a lunchtime event in Marietta on Monday, Karen Handel said a “lack of civility in society” was fueled by social media and “the fact that journalism is not journalism anymore”.

Washington Post -
Trump’s agenda on the line in hard-fought Georgia House race

President Trump faces a high-stakes political test Tuesday in a special congressional election that has turned into a referendum on his leadership and could have significant consequences for his stalled agenda on Capitol Hill.

In particular, the official added, strategist Stephen K. Bannon and chief of staff Reince Priebus have been involved in discussions about the race and possible ramifications.

CBS News -
Few feel they have good understanding of GOP health care plan

Including most Republicans -- feel that Senate Republicans should discuss their health care plans publicly as they work on the bill.

As Republican leaders push forward to repeal and replace Obamacare, most Americans would prefer a public discussion take place in the Senate, feeling they don't have a good understanding of what the plans would do. From what they do know, or anticipate, by two to one, more believe the plans will hurt them rather than help them.

CBS News -
Poll: Both parties in Congress draw negative ratings

Republicans are only a little more positive about how their party in Congress is doing than Democrats are about their members.

The midterms are a long way off, but the Democratic Party has not persuaded Americans that things in the country would be any better if they were in control, instead of the Republicans who hold the majority now. Independents split on this idea, most Republicans (65 percent) not surprisingly think things would become worse, and even a third of Democrats don't think things would change.

Wall Street Jurnal -
Where Health-Care Legislation Stands

Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, who helped shepherd the party’s health-care overhaul bill through the House last month, sat down with Louise Radnofsky, The Wall Street Journal’s White House reporter, to offer his take on where the effort stands.

By the way, by making the reductions we’re doing, we reset the baseline, which if you want tax reform, passage of this is worth a trillion dollars in tax reform.

Reuters -
Record-breaking congressional election headed for photo finish

Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel have both focused on local concerns, but national political groups have spent heavily in the biggest proxy war between the two parties since Trump's upset victory in the 2016 presidential election.

"Certainly the Republicans are split on (Trump), but at this point the Republicans have mostly come together behind Karen," said Kay Kirkpatrick, a Republican state senator who represents the area.

The Week -
Why the Georgia special election went national

Yes, it's because there aren't hundreds of other races happening at the same time (though there's also a special election going on in South Carolina, which you've probably heard nothing about).

Despite the efforts of the nation's hard-working hot-take writers, the outcome of this election will not determine the fate of either the Republican or Democratic parties, either this year, next year, or in 2020.

The Week -
The Republican health-care plan is just bad plagiarism

ObamaCare will never be truly replaced because it is already the replacement Republicans want — they just can't admit it without getting an F.

In front of them is a plan devised by the Heritage Foundation in the '90s that is messy but not ipso facto unacceptable. Embracing single payer, the obvious and straightforward solution that long ago presented itself to our hockey-loving, beer-chugging, hunting and fishing neighbors to the north, is unacceptable to their fire-breathing geriatric constituents, who simultaneously loathe government and don't want to see anything happen to Medicare.

CBS News -
What you need to know about Georgia's special election

According to IssueOne, a pro-campaign finance reform group that looked at filings with the Federal Election Commission, $59.6 million has been invested in the race so far by all candidates and political groups, including money that was spent during the primary process of the election.

He does not live in the district, a fact seized upon by Republicans, including President Trump, who tweeted about it on the day before the election.

New York Times -
The 15 Best-Educated Districts in the U.S., and Why It Matters in the Georgia Race

The Democratic representatives from these districts are among the most reliably liberal members in the country, even though they represent some of the wealthiest districts.

Most important, a close race in Georgia’s Sixth suggests that control of the House is in play, regardless of which candidate comes out on top. Below, the best-educated districts in the country — the ones Georgia’s Sixth is closest to, at least by education.

Reuters -
Supreme Court to hear major case on political boundaries

The state argues recent election results favoring Republicans were "a reflection of Wisconsin's natural political geography," with Democrats concentrated in urban areas like Milwaukee and Madison.

The high court has been willing to invalidate state electoral maps on the grounds of racial discrimination, as it did on May 22 when it found that Republican legislators in North Carolina had drawn two electoral districts to diminish the statewide political clout of black voters.

Fox News -
Special prosecutor Mueller to meet Senate committee leaders

Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor who is overseeing the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, will meet with senior Senate Judiciary Committee members to make sure there is no conflict between his probe and the committee’s.

Reuters, citing congressional aides, reported that Mueller will meet with Sen. Charles Grassley, the committee’s Republican chairman, and its top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, on Wednesday.

Washington Post -
A Trump PAC fakes appeal from Obama to lure blacks to vote Republican in crucial Ga. race

In the eighth chapter of his memoir, “Dreams from My Father,” former president Barack Obama describes a barbershop haircut he got in Chicago in the 1980s, just days after he moved to the city for his new job as a community organizer.

Now, a pro-Trump super PAC is using that passage from the first black president’s book to lure black voters away from Democrats with a misleading attack ad targeting Georgia’s 6th Congressional District’s special election.

New York Times -
Senate Democrats Try to Gum Up Works Over Affordable Care Act Repeal

Democrats vowed on Monday to slow work in the Senate to a crawl to protest the secrecy surrounding the Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, as Republican leaders raced to prepare a bill for a vote as soon as next week.

Before Congress adopted the Affordable Care Act, Democrats held numerous public hearings and committee meetings where lawmakers could amend the legislation, and the Senate debated the measure on the floor for 25 days.

Wall Street Jurnal -
Senate GOP Plans Health-Care Vote Next Week

Senate GOP leaders have set a timeline to vote next week on legislation to repeal large chunks of the Affordable Care Act, even though they don’t yet appear to have secured enough support to pass it.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) is intent on keeping pressure on Senate Republicans to move quickly on the bill rolling back and replacing much of the 2010 health law, lawmakers and GOP aides said.

New York Times -
Gerrymandering Case Echoes in Inkblot-Like Districts Across the U.S.

The Supreme Court’s decision to hear a case on partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin is being closely watched in other states, including Pennsylvania, where a lawsuit is challenging the process that gave the state its so-called Goofy Kicking Donald Duck-shaped congressional district.

In the Wisconsin case, the Supreme Court said on Monday that it would consider whether partisan gerrymandering violates the Constitution.

Washington Post -
GOP congressman wants his colleagues to be able to carry guns everywhere, including in D.C.

Asked last week about Loudermilk’s call for lawmakers to carry guns, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said she could not take a position without reviewing the legislation.

“People are ten times more likely to own a gun in Virginia, and ten times more likely to be a victim of a gun crime in D.C.”. Asked last week whether he thinks members of Congress should carry guns, former House majority leader Eric Cantor, the target of multiple death threats while in office, said he had full confidence in his law enforcement team and would not have needed to be armed. “I think it’s up to the individual if they feel it’s necessary to have protection,” he said.

LA Times -
In secret Obamacare repeal bill, Senate Republicans plan even harsher cuts to Medicaid than House GOP

A proposal leaked from the Senate GOP’s closed-door drafting sessions on an Obamacare repeal bill may put that notion to rest: The Senate is contemplating a change in Medicaid that would cut it even more than the $830-billion proposed by the House.

In the all-out quest for ways to strip health coverage from millions of people in order to deliver a huge tax cut to the richest Americans, Senate Republicans have been regarded as more moderate than their House colleagues.

NBC News -
Early-voting clues in Georgia House battle

Over 140,000 ballots have already been cast in the Georgia congressional race Tuesday in which Democrat Jon Ossoff is looking to flip a decades-held Republican seat and defeat GOP opponent Karen Handel — and there are some slightly positive signs for the Democrat.

Democrats will look to see how much better they can do in the district when the national spotlight — as well as millions of dollars in fundraising — are attuned especially toward them.

CBS News -
Trump voters talk Russia probe and the progress president has made

Almost half a year into his presidency, voters who cast their ballots for President Trump are calling him "honest," "determined," "effective," "true," "productive," "authentic" and "a tough S.O.B.". Though the president's approval rating is stuck near a record low, many of his supporters are sticking by him.

All of them voted for Mr. Trump in November, and their opinions of the president today range from somewhat unfavorable to extremely favorable.

Reuters -
In Georgia, costliest U.S. House race hits ugly note as election looms

Total spending in the Georgia race for all candidates has topped $56 million, including tens of millions by outside groups, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a campaign finance watchdog in Washington, D.C., easily topping the previous record of $29.5 million set in a 2012 Florida race.

On Tuesday is a race in South Carolina, which Republicans are expected to win handily, for a replacement for Republican Mick Mulvaney, now Trump's budget director.

LA Times -
Unbelievable: Senate Republicans planning even deeper cuts to Medicaid than House GOP

A proposal leaked from the Senate GOP’s closed-door drafting sessions on an Obamacare repeal bill may put that notion to rest: The Senate is contemplating a change in Medicaid that would cut it even more than the $830-billion proposed by the House.

In the all-out quest for ways to strip health coverage from millions of people in order to deliver a huge tax cut to the richest Americans, Senate Republicans have been regarded as more moderate than their House colleagues.

Wall Street Jurnal -
What’s the worst Trump trade Betting on Trump policies

The largest exchange-traded fund to track the Mexican equity market—the iShares MSCI Mexico Capped ETF EWW, -0.50% —plummeted on Trump’s victory, posting its biggest one-day decline since 2008 as investors bet that Trump’s policies on trade and immigration would prove to be serious headwinds for the nation’s growth.

Thus far in 2017, however, as none of those policies have come to fruition, the ETF is up nearly 23%, more than twice the 9.4% rise of the S&P 500 SPX, +0.83%

The Guardian -
Republican health bill: Democrats pledge Senate standstill over secrecy

Democrats have vowed to bring Senate business to a halt this week, in protest against secrecy around a Republican attempt to repeal Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) that will affect access to coverage for millions of Americans.

Beginning on Monday night, Democrats will begin an effort to delay a vote on the Senate health bill by forcing the House-passed healthcare bill into committee, a senior Democratic aide said.

Fox News -
Georgia special election: Voters to settle most expensive congressional race in history

 With campaign spending expected to top $50 million, the race to fill the suburban Atlanta congressional district, vacated when Tom Price was named Health and Human Services Secretary, is the most expensive in U.S. history.

Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, a Republican, stumped for Handel over the weekend, while Democrat Jon Ossoff enlisted the support of Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia congressman and civil rights icon.

Fox News -
Calls to nix August recess gain steam as GOP agenda hits roadblocks

Struggling to make progress on campaign promises like tax and health care reform, rank-and-file congressional Republicans are stepping up calls for their leaders to cancel or at least shorten the upcoming August recess.

The GOP agenda is about to enter a summer slump amid internal disagreements and efforts by Democrats to sideline legislation. These efforts will enter a new phase Monday evening when Democrats plan to start slowing down Senate work even more by making speeches and refusing to let Republicans take procedural shortcuts.

US Supreme Court to rule on gerrymandering

The Supreme Court will soon determine if gerrymandering, where political parties re-draw voting districts in order to favour their party, is legal.

In May, the Supreme Court invalidated state electoral maps in North Carolina, after finding that Republicans legislators re-drew them to diminish the political clout of African-American voters. But the court has not ever ruled on electoral maps that have been re-drawn simply to give a political advantage to one party over another.

The Guardian -
Wisconsin gerrymandering case heads to US supreme court

The US supreme court on Monday agreed to decide whether electoral maps drawn deliberately to favor a particular political party are acceptable under the constitution, in a case that could have huge consequences for future US elections.

The state appealed to the supreme court, arguing that recent election results favoring Republicans were “a reflection of Wisconsin’s natural political geography”, with Democrats concentrated in urban areas including Milwaukee and Madison.

NBC News -
The Supreme Court will consider whether partisan gerrymandering violates the Constitution

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to consider whether drawing political boundaries in a state can be so hard on a minority political party that the resulting gerrymander violates the U.S. Constitution.

It was statistical measurement of how many votes in each party were wasted, either because they were so diluted in a district they could never achieve a majority or because they were so concentrated in a district that they were in excess of what was needed to get a majority.

NBC News -
Does the Georgia 6th Special Election Matter Numbers tell two stories

As the hype has grown around Tuesday's special election in Georgia’s 6th congressional district, the contest has become the electoral equivalent of a summer blockbuster for political nerds.

That means there’s been $11 million more spent just on TV advertisingin this special election than in a regular House election in a presidential year. To get a sense of how remarkable that is, consider that the most expensive House race in U.S. history was the election for Florida’s 18th district back in 2012, which rang in at $29.5 million total.

The Guardian -
Democrats need to win over young voters. Here's how they can do that

Low turnout among young people plagues Democrats, who have failed to mobilize young voters, particularly young “drop-off” voters – those who voted for Obama but were uninspired or unable to vote in 2016.

Addressing the needs of these drop-off voters and young non-voters, while reducing structural and political barriers to voting, are critical steps for the Democrats going forward, far more so than trying to win back Obama-to-Trump voters.

NBC News -
The Stakes in Georgia's Election Couldn't Be Higher

As a result, the stakes couldn’t be higher, even though a single special election doesn’t predict what will happen in a midterm cycle a year and a half from now.

No,’ said Randy Evans, a Republican National Committeeman from Georgia.” Oh, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution now says the price tag on the election has topped $50 million.

Washington Post -
The Daily 202: Congressional shooting clouds final days of Georgia special election

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with House GOP leadership that has spent $7 million in the special election, ran an ad earlier this month featuring a picture of comedian Kathy Griffin posing with a “severed head” of President Trump. “Liberal extremists have gone too far,” a narrator said in the spot.

Quarantined in her basement while the powder was tested – an aide said it turned out to be baking soda – Handel missed several events ahead of Tuesday’s neck-and-neck special election to replace HHS Secretary Tom Price.

CBS News -
Trump's tax overhaul at risk from pushback on import tax

A key part of House Republicans' plan to overhaul the way corporations pay taxes is on life support, leaving lawmakers scrambling to save one of President Donald Trump's biggest priorities and increasing the chances the GOP will simply pass a tax cut instead of overhauling the tax code.

"I think that's one of the big challenges that Republicans are struggling with right now.". Thirty-one years after the last tax overhaul, there is widespread agreement that the current system is too complicated and picks winners and losers, compelling companies to make decisions based on tax implications instead of sound business reasons.

Wall Street Jurnal -
McConnell wants to force health-care vote by July 4

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is dead serious about forcing a Senate vote on the Obamacare repeal-and-replace bill before the July 4 holiday, according to a report in Axios.

Some of Kushner’s allies have raised questions about the link between his current lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, and Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed to investigate the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

The Week -
Firing Mueller is a terrible idea. Trump might just do it anyway.

The morning after, Trump attacked Mueller's DOJ supervisor, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and disparaged Mueller's investigation as a witch hunt:. I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director!.

A few of Trump's toadies and allies in the conservative media have tried to argue that Mueller is some sort of "deep state" hatchet man, but Trump would need better justification for firing the special counsel than a Newt Gingrich conspiracy theory.

New York Times -
World Leaders Wary of Trump May Have an Ally: Congress

President Trump threatens to upend the post-World War II foreign policy order, but Congress is working to ensure that American foreign policy remains rooted in the trans-Atlantic alliance against traditional rivals like Russia.

Republicans have been careful not to frame their foreign policy moves as a counterweight to the president, who has doled out insults to foreign leaders on Twitter, bailed out of international trade and climate accords and turned on Qatar, an important American ally, as a sponsor of terrorism.

The Week -
Could the Georgia special election kill TrumpCare?

The background for the election is, of course, President Trump and the ongoing Republican attempt to blitz TrumpCare through the Senate — with no debate, no hearings, no markups, and not even a text of the draft bill released.

Only one thing is certain: Democrats must make Republicans pay for the very idea of TrumpCare, and use any political success thus gained to pass Medicare for all.

NBC News -
How a referendum on Trump became most expensive House race ever

The race, which pits Democrat Jon Ossoff against Republican Karen Handel, is easily the most expensive House race in American history, captivating both officials in Washington and grassroots activists across the country in the first pitched electoral battle of the Donald Trump presidency.

"This is an opportunity for Georgia to send a message to the rest of the county that we want some fresh leadership, that we're not satisfied with the direction Washington is going," Ossoff said.

LA Times -
These Democrats feel guilty for sitting out the 2016 elections, and they aren't waiting to register voters for the midterms

If Democrats want to flip the district, first they have to build up their numbers: 37.6% of voters here are Democrats, 34.8% are Republicans and 22% decline to state a party.

“In L.A., you kind of feel like you are in this helpless political bubble,” Zoe Ward, a 32-year-old student in UCLA’s film directing master’s program, said after scouring Palmdale for new voters on a recent Saturday. Many are political neophytes newly invigorated by opposition to President Trump and itching for something to do.

Washington Post -
Rural America lifted Trump to the presidency. Support is strong, but not monolithic.

Rural America has often backed Republicans in presidential elections, but rarely with the enthusiasm they showed for President Trump in 2016.

Still, the outsize support from voters in rural America remains a major story of the 2016 election and of Trump’s presidency. Residents of rural American counties turned out in numbers big enough to help provide the crucial victory margins in states like Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Iowa — states that either had been presidential battlegrounds in recent years or consistently in the Democrats’ column.

Wall Street Jurnal -
4 reasons why Donald Trump will be re-elected in 2020

Throughout the 2016 Republican primary, Donald Trump’s opponents and most mainstream media were certain he would self-destruct.

Trump will probably win re-election in 2020, and his party will likely retain one or both chambers of Congress at least through 2022. Here are four reasons to believe that the popular consensus is, once again, dead wrong.

Fox News -
Democrats plan to slow GOP effort to have ObamaCare vote by July 4

Democrats are upset that the GOP replacement bill is being drafted by 13 Republican senators and that leaders of the GOP-controlled Senate won’t allow Democrats to participate in the process.

The Senate must craft a bill that saves $113 billion to pass the measure by a simple majority, which gives them little room for such improvements.

Global News -
Donald Trump’s lawyer contradicts president’s claim he’s being investigated

Sekulow, the chief counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice since 1990, defended Trump’s use of social media, saying: “He’s able to communicate with 107 million people on his various social media platforms on a regular basis as he needs to, so he can directly reach a lot of people.”

Donald Trump’s personal lawyer hires a lawyer amid obstruction investigation. The panel sent a bipartisan letter this month to White House counsel Don McGahn seeking an answer by this Friday.

The Guardian -
Weather system revamp hopes to bring sunshine to US economy

Weather is big business in many other industries, too, and an ambitious plan is underway to revamp the country’s weather forecast system.

It’s the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017, the first major weather legislation that Congress has passed since the early 1990s. The legislation empowers the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to boost its ability to predict major weather-related events, such as hurricanes, droughts, floods and wildfires.

The Guardian -
Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow contradicts president on obstruction investigation

A member of Donald Trump’s legal team has denied the president’s own assertion that he is under investigation for obstruction of justice.

Trump, he said, was merely responding to an anonymously sourced Washington Post report that said special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into links between Trump aides and Russia had expanded to look at Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey. Sekulow added: “The president issued that tweet on social media because of the report in the Washington Post from five anonymous sources none of which, of course, anyone knows about, alleging that the president was under investigation in this purported expanded probe.

LA Times -
If Trump were really in league with Russia, that would be reassuring for America's civic sanity

In a sense, it would be more reassuring for the robustness of America’s civic health were investigators to expose Trump as the recipient of laundered Russian money, or of colluding with Russian officials, or as having been recruited by the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, as one of the wilder conspiracy theories claims.

Look at it from Trump’s perspective: The president is genuinely mystified at the hullabaloo surrounding the Russia story because, as far as he’s aware, there really is nothing to it.

New York Times -
High-Stakes Referendum on Trump Takes Shape in a Georgia Special Election

The two Trump cabinet secretaries, both Georgia Republicans, had unwittingly revealed the twin hurdles standing in Ms. Handel’s path heading into Tuesday’s election: Democratic enthusiasm is soaring across the country while the sort of pastel-and-Polo-clad Republicans who reside in this district are uneasy about what they see in Washington and have decidedly mixed views of President Trump.

Taking the stage in a half-filled airplane hangar to rally supporters of Republican candidate Karen Handel, Health Secretary Tom Price could not help but point to the record-shattering surge of liberal money that has flooded into the special House race here.

CBS News -
Top Trump lawyer argues president “is not under investigation”

Jay Sekulow, a member of President Trump's legal team, said Sunday that "the president is not and has not been under investigation." Sekulow's comments, in an interview with "Face the Nation," came after Mr. Trump slammed reports that FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller is reviewing whether or not Mr. Trump tried to obstruct justice amid ongoing investigations into any ties between his presidential campaign's or transition's associates and the Russian government.

CBS News -
Sen. Bernie Sanders sounds alarm on GOP health care bill

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said on CBS News' "Face the Nation" Sunday that as the House GOP-passed health care bill is debated behind closed doors in the Senate, Democrats should do "everything they can" to oppose the legislation in "any way" they can. "Throwing 23 million people off of health insurance is beyond belief.

Sanders called the current bill the "worst piece of legislation" against working class people that he can remember in his political life in the Congress, and that the reason Republicans don't want to bring debate out into the public is because it was a "disastrous bill." Meanwhile, Sanders said that while Americans are in a "very contentious and difficult political moment in our country's history," he has "very grave concerns about the Trump agenda."

CBS News -
Transcript: Sen. Bernie Sanders on "Face the Nation," June 18, 2017

Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) joined "Face the Nation" on Sunday to discuss the tragic shooting, as well as the upcoming health care battle in the Senate. What follows is a transcript of the interview, which aired June 18, 2017, on "Face the Nation."

In the wake of that and his conversation about what leads to the heated political atmosphere, Senator Sanders- Senator Rubio pointed out that when people try to stop free speech, stop people from talking, it creates pressure in the system that might cause people to act out.

Fox News -
Early voting ends in Georgia with record turnout

By the turnout so far, Georgia residents seem to notice its high-level interest, considering news reports that show nearly 40,000 new voters who did not vote in the first primary in April have already casted their ballots.

It is coming down to the wire and today's event with ... Price and Sonny Purdue showed that Republicans are really trying to rally the base around Karen Handel.”

NBC News -
A Guide: Understanding congressional confusion on health care

It's crunch time for health care in the Senate, where GOP leaders could bring up a bill soon that would partially repeal and replace Obamacare.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated the House bill would spend $1.1 trillion less on health care and reduce deficits by $119 billion over a decade. But the effects on the individual insurance market would be dramatic: 23 million fewer people would have insurance in 10 years versus current law, premiums would soar for older and low-income Americans, and many customers would face higher deductibles and out-of-pocket-costs.

The Week -
Dodd-Frank under fire

With Senate leaders not expecting to pass major bank reform legislation until early 2018, Dodd-Frank haters are likely in for a wait.

While the rest of the political world was glued earlier this month to former FBI Director James Comey's Senate testimony, the House of Representatives quietly passed a sweeping bill to undo financial regulations put in place by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. The so-called Financial Choice Act would exempt banks from most of Dodd-Frank's rules as long as they keep a big enough cash cushion to protect against potential economic shocks.

New York Times -
Writers on the Right and Left React to the Senate Health Care Bill and Trump’s Cuba Policy

According to Mr. Bouie, the reason Senate Republicans have not released the details of their health care bill is because they want to hide the fact that it’s “little more than a massive tax cut for the wealthiest Americans.” He argues that this “cowardly and factional governing” will harm the GOP in the 2018 elections and that many Americans will suffer.

Here, Mr. Klein warns that the Senate bill is likely to retain even more elements of the Affordable Care Act than the House version, leading to a “RINOcare” solution, or, as he explains, “repeal in name only.” He calls for the details of the bill to be released and debated, lest a “poorly-designed bill” come to misrepresent “free market solutions” and hasten the implementation of a single-payer system.

CBS News -
Over 100,000 have voted so far in Georgia's special election

Early voting totals indicated 140,000 people had voted by Saturday in Georgia's special House election, which is considered the most expensive House race in U.S. history.

Ossoff says removing that cost protection makes any coverage guarantee "useless," because policies would become unaffordable, particularly given the Republicans' proposal to roll back premium subsidies that are a primary feature of the 2010 law.

Washington Post -
Trump’s contradictory coalition roils elections in Virginia, Georgia

The Virginia and Georgia elections offer two angles from which to examine the impact of Trump’s presidency on the politics of both parties.

In Georgia, it is Trump’s capacity to unite otherwise fractious Democrats as he unnerves many of the well-educated Republican voters. As these contests unfold, Emily Ekins of the Cato Institute has provided a timely typology of Trump voters and, by implication, the Republican Party of 2017.

NBC News -
Candidates in Georgia special election brace for final weekend

To hear him tell it, Jon Ossoff — the Democrat vying to fill a House seat here in next Tuesday's special election — isn't even thinking about the seismic implications of what many consider the first major referendum on Donald Trump's presidency.

The final weekend was expected to be a hot and steamy sprint for both candidates, thanks both to Georgia's June temperatures and to the high stakes surrounding the contest.

Washington Post -
Trump’s shadow and stalled GOP agenda loom over close Georgia race

What grabbed Lindsay’s attention was the GOP’s stalled legislative agenda — in particular, the promised overhauls of the tax code and the nation’s health-care law.

The unfolding drama over Russian meddling in the 2016 election and President Trump’s handling of ensuing investigations has transfixed Washington — and bored Mather Lindsay. “Probably a little overdone,” Lindsay, a 46-year-old economist and father of three girls, said during lunch this week at the Salt Factory Pub.

Fox News -
All eyes on Trump, always

On the roster: All eyes on Trump, always - Trump to nix part of Obama’s Cuba pact - Handel, Ossoff go local in final stretch of race - Dems win annual game with special meaning - Uplifting tale ALL EYES ON TRUMP, ALWAYS. Two years ago today, Donald Trump rode the golden escalator down from the ranks of the political gadflies and into the realm of historical consequence.

Cohen has hired Washington, D.C., attorney Stephen M. Ryan…”. Trump revives attacks on Clinton - Politico: “President Donald Trump revived his campaign rhetoric against Hillary Clinton on Thursday, questioning why ‘Crooked H’ and the Democrats aren’t being investigated for their alleged ‘dealings with Russia’ as Trump faces deepening FBI and congressional probes.” Trump transition to preserve Russia-related materials - NYT: “Members of President Trump’s transition team were ordered on Thursday to preserve documents and other materials related to the investigation of Russian interference in the presidential election, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times.”

ABC News -
Pence calls hiring of outside counsel for Russia probe 'very routine'

Asked by the media Friday about the news of his hiring of his own counsel for matters related to the investigation, Pence replied: "It's very routine. Very routine."

A spokesman for Pence confirmed Cullen's hiring in an emailed statement, adding that the lawyer will assist Pence "in responding to inquiries by the special counsel." "The vice president is focused entirely on his duties and promoting the president’s agenda and looks forward to a swift conclusion of this matter," concluded the statement by Pence spokesman Jarrod Agen.

Trump confirms he is under investigation in Russia inquiry

President Donald Trump has appeared to acknowledge he is under investigation in the inquiry into alleged Russian meddling in the US election.

Mr Rosenstein took over the investigation into whether Russia tried to tip the US election in favour of Mr Trump after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself in March. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote a memo the White House used to justify the firing of the ex-FBI chief.

CBS News -
Pop-up library for Trump's tweets opens in New York City

A pop-up exhibit of the president's personal Twitter account opened on Friday in Manhattan at the Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library - a veritable live-action Twitter trolling by "The Daily Show" host Trevor Noah.

From Friday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., the pop-up library will memorialize Mr. Trump's tweets and grant free admission to the public. The library's website refers to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1939 decree to release presidential documents as its inspiration.

ABC News -
Deputy attorney general acknowledges he may need to recuse himself from Russia probe: sources

The senior Justice Department official with ultimate authority over the special counsel's probe of Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 election has privately acknowledged to colleagues that he may have to recuse himself from the matter, which he took charge of only after Attorney General Jeff Sessions' own recusal, sources tell ABC News.

Those private remarks from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein are significant because they reflect the widening nature of the federal probe, which now includes a preliminary inquiry into whether President Donald Trump attempted to obstruct justice when he allegedly tried to curtail the probe and then fired James Comey as FBI director.

ABC News -
Trump faces Russia dilemma as Senate overwhelmingly passes new sanctions

The Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill to slap new sanctions on Russia and prevent the White House from making any changes without Congressional review today despite the reservations expressed by the Trump administration.

The Trump administration reportedly wanted to lift sanctions on Russia when the president first came into office, according to former U.S. officials in government at the time.

The Guardian -
Late-night hosts on Trump and Russia: ‘Make Justice Obstructed Again'

On Thursday evening, late-night comics took turns to pull apart the Republicans’ approach to their healthcare bill, and Trump’s reaction to the Robert Mueller investigation into his potential obstruction of justice.

Republicans are so ashamed the bill they’re working on they’re actually putting it inside a porno magazine so no one will know what they’re reading.”

The Guardian -
Trump admits for first time 'I am being investigated' over James Comey's firing

The inquiry’s apparent expansion to target Trump reportedly focuses on whether the president attempted to obstruct the investigation – in particular, on Trump’s reported attempts to encourage former FBI director James Comey to end an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Witch Hunt,” tweeted the president as he both confirmed a blockbuster Washington Post story from Wednesday and contradicted himself yet again about his decision to fire James Comey in May.

CBS News -
Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein warns about anonymous sources

"Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous 'officials,' particularly when they do not identify the country – let alone the branch or agency of government – with which the alleged sources supposedly are affiliated," Rosenstein said in a brief statement released by the Justice Department. "Americans should be skeptical about anonymous allegations.

NBC News -
Trump confirms FBI probe, blames 'witch hunt' on 'man who told me to fire' Comey

President Donald Trump appeared to confirm in a tweet on Friday that he is under investigation for firing former FBI Director James Comey and blamed what he called a "Witch Hunt" on "the man who told me to fire" Comey — a possible reference to the deputy attorney general. "I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director!.

At a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing last week, Coats and Rogers refused to say whether Trump asked them to intervene in the investigation, which is also examining whether the Trump campaign team colluded with Russia during last year's presidential campaign.

CBS News -
Trump tweets that he's "being investigated for firing the FBI director"

President Trump confirmed Friday that he's being investigated for firing James Comey as FBI director, and appeared to attack Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who advised the president that the the FBI was unlikely to regain the trust of Americans and of Congress with Comey leading the agency.

About a week after Comey was fired last month, however, Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel at the Justice Department to oversee the federal investigation into Russia's efforts to meddle in the 2016 U.S. election.

Global News -
Donald Trump this week: a ‘witch hunt,’ Sessions in session and a shooting in Virginia

A U.S. congressman is shot in Virginia, Jeff Sessions testifies publicly, and Donald Trump blocks Stephen King on Twitter.

Donald Trump appears to confirm he’s being investigated for obstruction of justice. “Steve in his own way may have brought some unity to our long-divided country,” Trump added. And while the White House dealt with Trump’s stalled travel ban and the Senate continued to struggle to offer a replacement bill for Obamacare, it was the shooting of Republican congressman Steve Scalise at a charity baseball practice that took centre stage.

Global News -
Donald Trump appears to confirm he’s being investigated for obstruction of justice

U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter Friday and appeared to confirm he is under investigation for possible obstruction of justice.

“Crooked H destroyed phones w/ hammer, ‘bleached’ emails, & had husband meet w/AG days before she was cleared- & they talk about obstruction?” the president said in a follow up tweet.

The Guardian -
Russia investigation: Mike Pence hires personal legal counsel

Vice president Mike Pence has hired outside legal counsel to oversee his response to investigations into possible collusion between Russia and president Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

He served as special counsel to Virginia senator Paul Trible during the Iran-Contra investigation and was a member of former President George W. Bush’s legal team during the 2000 Florida recount, according to his official biography.

Global News -
Donald Trump says there’s no proof of his ‘collusion with the Russians,’ calls it ‘sad!’

U.S. President Donald Trump lashed out Friday over the investigation into his “collusion with the Russians” saying the lack of any proof of alleged connections is “sad!”. Trump took to Twitter Friday morning to lash out at the months-long investigation into Russia meddling.

“After 7 months of investigations & committee hearings about my ‘collusion with the Russians,’ nobody has been able to show any proof. Sad!” the president tweeted.

Wall Street Jurnal -
Senate likely to its miss Obamacare repeal deadline

Senate Republicans are getting close to missing their self-imposed deadline to hold a health-care vote by the end of the month, Politico writes.

The directive will allow exceptions for airlines and cruise lines and will aim not to disrupt business under way.

Washington Post -
Pence’s balancing act as Trump’s No. 2 shows signs of strain amid WH turmoil

Pence’s political balance-beam routine is showing signs of strain, according to a portrait of the vice president culled from interviews with 17 aides, advisers, friends, allies and Republican operatives.

Pence’s office argues that Trump never undermined Pence with his public comments suggesting he fired Comey over the Russia probe; the president, the Pence team said,was simply adding more context to his decision and that it is not the vice president’s place to explain Trump’s decision-making process.

The Week -
Trump is used to breaking the rules with impunity. That will be his undoing.

Ironically, Trump tends to claim that he's being treated unfairly — which is at its heart an appeal to a system of rules and standards that ought to be applied equally — precisely at those moments when he is being forced to live by the same rules as everyone else.

Being rich is more pleasant than not being rich for many reasons, one of which is that the more money you have, the less society's rules and obligations weigh on you.

The Week -
Special Counsel Mueller is now following the money. Trump should be terrified.

And, sure enough, a week after Trump and his legal team spiked footballs and celebrated that Trump wasn't a target of the Russia probe, The Washington Post reported that Trump is indeed being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for obstruction of justice.

The Trump associate who probably stands to lose the most from intense Justice Department scrutiny is former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The Week -
America has a corruption problem. And it's not just Trump.

To make a really strong campaign against corruption, Democrats must not only slam Trump's abysmal record, but also admit their record in this regard is less than stellar.

For some time now I've been mulling how one might concisely summarize President Trump's sprawling scandals around Russia and his various shady business practices. And that one word, I think, does the trick better than any other: corruption.

NBC News -
Pence hires private lawyer for Russia investigation

Vice President Mike Pence has hired a private lawyer to represent him in the special counsel's investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, the vice president's office confirmed Thursday.

Pence has retained Richard Cullen of the law firm McGuireWoods to "assist him in responding to inquiries by the special counsel," according to a statement from Pence's communications director, Jarrod Agen. "The Vice President is focused entirely on his duties and promoting the President agenda and looks forward to a swift conclusion of this matter," Agen said.

New York Times -
Mueller, Known for Being Above the Fray, Is Now in the Thick of It

Robert S. Mueller III managed in a dozen years as F.B.I. director to stay above the partisan fray, carefully cultivating a rare reputation for independence and fairness.

“It was well known among veterans of the Justice Department,” she said, “that Bob Mueller’s approach was ‘if you live by the press, you die by the press.’”

Fox News -
Jared Kushner being investigated by special counsel for business dealings, report says

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Jared Kushner’s finances and business dealings in relation to Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election, officials tell The Washington Post.

Kushner, the son-in-law and top adviser to President Donald Trump, is one of a number of Trump associates whose financial dealings are being investigated by the FBI and federal prosecutors, according to the report.

Washington Post -
Trump is officially under investigation. How did we get here?

In a sign of the investigation's new focus, Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team is interviewing a number of intelligence officials who we know had conversations with Trump about the Russia investigation.

On Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that the special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation is widening its probe to include a look at whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice.

Washington Post -
Trump lashes out at Russia probe; Pence hires a lawyer

A heightened sense of unease gripped the White House on Thursday, as President Trump lashed out at reports that he’s under scrutiny for obstructing justice, aides repeatedly deflected questions about the probe and Vice President Pence acknowledged hiring a private lawyer to handle fallout from investigations into Russian election meddling.

Pence’s decision to hire Richard Cullen, a Richmond-based lawyer who previously served as a U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia, came less than a month after Trump hired his own private lawyer.

Fox News -
Gregg Jarrett: Trump should demand Mueller quit as special counsel

The Washington Post is reporting that Robert Mueller is now investigating President Trump for obstruction of justice, examining not only the president’s alleged statement to James Comey in their February meeting, but also the firing of the FBI Director.

The special counsel statute specifically prohibits Mueller from serving if he has “a personal relationship with any person substantially involved in the investigation or prosecution.”

“Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets...” ― Napoléon Bonaparte