President Donald Trump can accept resignations, reverse his own policies and promise that trade wars are easy to win.
But he can’t pretend to be without ideology – not now, and not anymore.
Trump’s moves are signaling policy choices that will have real ramifications and that figure to draw significant blowback.
The president accepted Scott Pruitt’s resignation for reasons outside of his job performance – where he “has done an outstanding job” running the EPA, according to the president. Pruitt’s legacy includes a dizzying array of scandals, but also a massive, pro-business shift in the regulatory functions of the agency.
The president’s family-separation policies are about to get new scrutiny, via court-imposed deadlines. His long-promised imposition of tariffs on Chinese goods leaves it up to the world’s most populous country to respond.
And when the lobbying over his Supreme Court pick is done, Trump will have made a selection that – if the president gets what he expects – will change the status of laws impacting abortion, civil rights, healthcare and a long list that follows.
The noise around Trump this week is considerable, as always. But he will be judged on what he’s done far more than what he’s said about it what he’s doing.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
In the middle of the week, the Washington Post ran this headline: “It’s Independence Day, but Americans aren’t feeling so proud.”
The article cited recent polling wherein Americans, at new levels, expressed little pride in their country, a deepening mistrust of government and concern over Trump’s disrespect of public institutions.
Perhaps part of the reason is Washington’s apparent focus on dismantling things. There’s near constant talk of undoing a health care system, overturning regulations, rolling back protections for minorities and consumers, and breaking apart families.
Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty ImagesThousands of Americans celebrate and observe the Annual Fourth of July Fireworks on Independence Day on the National Mall in Washington on July 04, 2018.
With the fight over the next Supreme Court pick underway, the conversation again is centered on rolling back the clock on legal precedent — a woman’s right to have an abortion.
Of course, proponents of these moves use different words and phrases. Cutting red tape means adding growth opportunities for businesses, outgoing EPA administrator Scott Pruitt would say. A hardline on immigration means erecting tougher borders.
And these rollbacks have – in no way – been surprises. Republicans ran, of course, on overturning rules put in place under President Barack Obama.
Still, in this divided time, it’s hard to see the country rallying together or feeling proud together, without an effort to create something new across party lines.
The TIP with Eliana Larramendia
ABC News has confirmed former Clinton White House official Lanny Davis has joined the legal team for Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney and longtime fixer for President Donald Trump. Davis is best known for his work with Bill Clinton during his impeachment proceedings.
“Like most of America, I have been following the matter regarding Michael Cohen with great interest,” Davis told ABC News. “As an attorney, I have talked to Michael many times in the last two weeks. When I read his words published on July 2, I recognized their sincerity. Michael Cohen deserves to tell his side of the story — subject, of course, to the advice of counsel.”
Martin Divisek/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesU.S. attorney and former Clinton political strategist, speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview in Prague, Czech Republic, on May 22, 2018.
Cohen had been speaking to Davis prior to Thursday and has formally joined his team along with lead attorney Guy Petrillo, a former federal prosecutor in New York’s Southern District.
Cohen spoke last week with George Stephanopoulos – his first interview since an early morning raid was carried out earlier this year on his home, office, and hotel by federal agents. Cohen, who has not been charged with any crime, told Stephanopoulos: “My wife, my daughter and my son have my first loyalty and always will. I put family and country first.”
Cohen made clear that his decision about whether to cooperate will be based not on any previous loyalty to Trump – but on Petrillo’s legal advice.
Cohen updated his Twitter bio yesterday removing all references and photos tied to his longtime boss, Donald Trump.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I think Scott felt that he was a distraction.” — President Donald Trump told reporters on Air Force One about EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s resignation Thursday.
NEED TO READ
Shots fired: U.S.-China trade war begins. After months of threats from President Donald Trump, at 12:01 a.m. Friday a trade war between the world’s two largest economies began in earnest. (Benjamin Siu) Shots fired: U.S.-China trade war begins. After months of threats from President Donald Trump, at 12:01 a.m. Friday a trade war between the world’s two largest economies began in earnest. (Benjamin Siu) https://abcn.ws/2KUBCj3
Trump tweets that EPA chief Scott Pruitt has resigned. “I have accepted the resignation of Scott Pruitt as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this,” President Trump tweeted Thursday. (Stephanie Ebbs, John Santucci and Matthew Mosk) https://abcn.ws/2tXQVh4
Trump stumps in Montana: ‘It’s time to retire liberal Democrat Jon Tester.’ President Donald Trump fired up thousands of supporters at a campaign rally – taking on Sen. Jon Tester, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and the Me Too movement. (John Parkinson) https://abcn.ws/2zg151r
Trump narrows Supreme Court shortlist, aiming for Monday primetime announcement: Sources. According to the sources familiar with the process, Trump has wrapped up the interview process and current frontrunners include Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Raymond Kethledge, all of whom met with Trump Monday. Another official also said Judge Amul Thapar remains under consideration and left open the possibility the president could always expand the list. (Alexander Mallin, Katherine Faulders and John Santucci) https://abcn.ws/2IYmI63
US insists it’s not softening its demands as Pompeo heads to North Korea. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is flying to North Korea for his fourth round of meetings with nuclear negotiators, as the Trump administration insists it is not backing down from its demand for that nation’s “complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization.” (Conor Finnegan and Tara Palmeri) https://abcn.ws/2KRdJFC
Who is Andrew Wheeler, the ex-coal lobbyist who will become the acting administrator of the EPA? Wheeler, who joined the EPA as the agency’s number two in April, has been a subject of controversy connected to his past as a strong ally of the coal and energy industry. (Soo Rin Kim) https://abcn.ws/2zdHwHb
A timeline of Scott Pruitt’s bumpy time at the EPA. Scott Pruitt came under fire multiple times during his tenure over questionable finances, including both excessive spending and sweetheart deals that helped him spend less than expected. Here’s a review of his time in office. (Meghan Keneally and Stephanie Ebbs) https://abcn.ws/2KP2Cgm
What is the status of migrant family reunification? Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Thursday that the administration is working to meet a court-ordered deadline on ensuring that migrant children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border be reunited. (Serena Marshall and Geneva Sands) https://abcn.ws/2IVkRz9
Michael Cohen scrubs mentions of Trump from Twitter bio on Independence Day. Cohen changed his Twitter header photo, which previously showed the attorney standing behind a Trump campaign podium, to a picture of the American flag and deleted “Personal attorney to President Donald J. Trump” from his bio, replacing it with his LinkedIn page. (Deena Zaru) https://abcn.ws/2IWkmVe
Trump defends Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan amid OSU sexual abuse investigation. “I don’t believe them at all. I believe him. Jim Jordan is one of the most outstanding people I’ve met since I’ve been in Washington,” Trump said to reporters during a brief gaggle aboard Air Force One on Thursday. The lawmaker was accused this week of turning a blind eye to widespread sexual abuse while he was an assistant wrestling coach at The Ohio State University. (Mariam Khan) https://abcn.ws/2zdTWip
President Trump is racist, 49 percent of voters say in new Quinnipiac University poll. Forty-nine percent of Americans, including 11 percent of Republicans, believe President Trump is racist, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll. What’s more, the poll found, 22 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of voters think he “has emboldened people who hold racist beliefs to express those beliefs publicly.” (Lee Harris) https://abcn.ws/2IX9syE
Rep. Maxine Waters owed an apology from top Dems for not protecting her against ‘unwarranted’ Trump verbal attacks, nearly 200 black female leaders say. “We write to share our profound indignation and deep disappointment over your recent failure to protect Congresswoman Waters from unwarranted attacks from the Trump Administration and others in the GOP,” the group of nearly 200 women wrote in a letter sent Tuesday. “That failure was further compounded by your decision to unfairly deride her as being ‘uncivil’ and ‘un-American.'” (Mariam Khan) https://abcn.ws/2IVphGc
Democratic Sen. Jon Tester thanks Trump in full page ad ahead of rally. In anticipation of President Donald Trump’s rally Thursday in Great Falls, Montana, the state’s Democratic senator, Jon Tester, took out a full-page ad in 14 newspapers across the state. But instead of excoriating or attacking the president, Tester instead offered these words: “Welcome to Montana & Thank You President Trump.” (John Verhovek) https://abcn.ws/2KBZQPo
NC congressional candidate once questioned whether careers were ‘healthiest pursuit’ for women. In the 2013 sermon unveiled by American Bridge, a Democratic PAC that conducts opposition research, Mark Harris, who won the North Carolina 9th Congressional District’s GOP primary in May discusses “God’s plan for biblical womanhood” and argues that society “created a culture and created an environment that have made it extremely difficult for any woman … to live out and fulfill God’s design.” (Adam Kelsey and John Verhovek) https://abcn.ws/2tYJUfX
Bloggers in India and Indonesia, bankrolled by a mystery client, are writing articles intended to “whitewash” Trump’s Russian business ties, the Daily Beast reports. The search engine optimization campaign “appears designed to influence Google search results pertaining to Trump’s relationship with” Felix Sater, Tevfik Arif and the Bayrock Group. https://thebea.st/2lTih3g
The political climate in the U.S. is “creating a new landscape for business in which fierce debates” push companies to take stances on hot-button issues to win over customers, writes the Wall Street Journal in this deep dive. “That is increasingly pulling Walmart, the world’s largest retailer and largest private employer, into weighing in on issues such as immigration, the Confederate flag and gay rights …” https://on.wsj.com/2KNhYVW
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