Grading on a Trump curve
Almost two-thirds of voting-age Americans say Donald Trump has acted in ways unbefitting of the presidency, yet about one-fifth of those still look favorably overall on how he's doing the job.
That's one explanation for why Trump has reached his high-water mark for approval — 44 percent — in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll. His disapproval is still higher at 53 percent. Among registered voters, the split is narrower, with 47 percent saying they approve of Trump while 50 percent disapprove.
The ratings are still historically low for a president, and not a good sign as the 2020 elections grow closer.
But in matchups among registered voters against prospective Democratic opponents, only Joe Biden has a big lead of 10 points. Trump runs near-even or even with Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg.
Worrisome for Trump is the intensity of his foes compared with his supporters. The poll found of those who favored any of the Democrats, 73 percent call it extremely important to them that Trump does not win. Among those who would back Trump against any of the Democrats, only 52 percent call it extremely important to them that he wins a second term.
Trump: Border camps an upgrade
Disputing still more accounts of horrid conditions at border detention camps, Trump said migrants who came from "unbelievable poverty" are now "very happy" with the camps "because relatively speaking, they are in much better shape right now." He called reports of unsafe and unsanitary conditions "phony" and "exaggerated."
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, in an interview with ABC’s “This Week,” also defended efforts to maintain the facilities but said he has been warning lawmakers for months that border security agencies were ill-equipped to handle the surge at the border.
"My explanation is that it’s an extraordinarily challenging situation," McAleenan said. He disputed a joint report published Sunday by The New York Times and El Paso Times that quoted border agents at a Clint, Texas, facility, that described cases of chickenpox, scabies and shingles, inadequate medical care and a stench from children's dirty clothing so strong that it spread to border agents' own clothes.
For more, see Newsday's story by Laura Figueroa Hernandez.
Janison: Lessor evil?
Newsday's Dan Janison hears echoes of Trump's real estate mogulhood as the president waves off reports of squalid conditions at border detention facilities.
For instance, there was that time in the 1980s when he fought a legal battle looking to drive tenants from rent-controlled units in a building he sought to demolish in Manhattan. They complained he was making conditions unlivable to force them out.
New York landlords perennially complain that local laws frustrate their efforts to evict malefactors and deadbeats. In a similar vein, Trump as president now gripes that laws keep him from getting people removed from the United States.
Sorry comes lately
Joe Biden said for weeks he had no reason to apologize. Then he found a reason.
Speaking to a mostly black audience in South Carolina on Saturday, Biden took back his remarks from a few weeks ago about how he worked with segregationist senators in his early days in the U.S. Senate.
"Was I wrong a few weeks ago?” Biden asked. “Yes, I was. I regret it, and I’m sorry for any of the pain of misconception that caused anybody.”
A diplomanic assessment
Leaked memos to London from Britain's ambassador to the United States, Kim Darroch, describe Trump as "inept," "insecure" and "incompetent." Darroch said media reports of "vicious infighting and chaos" inside the White House are "mostly true" and said it was doubtful the administration would become “substantially more normal.”
Britain's Foreign Office ordered an inquiry into how the Daily Mail obtained the memo while officials went into damage-control mode. British foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “This was a personal view. It’s not the view of the British government. It’s not my view."
Asked his reaction, Trump said Darroch "has not served the UK well.”
Trump: Soccer to me?
Hours after the U.S. women's soccer team won the World Cup, Trump tweeted congratulations. There was no mention of his past sniping at outspoken star Megan Rapinoe, who said Saturday "not many, if any" members of the team would accept a White House invitation. "America is proud of you all!" said Trump.
But Trump was noncommittal Sunday on whether he would ask the team to visit. "We haven't really thought about it. We'll look at that," Trump told reporters.
In his June 26 tweet blasting Rapinoe, he said he would invite them "win or lose."
What else is happening:
- Newsday's Emily Ngo writes about the shift in the Democrats' 2020 field in the week since the first debates, with two female senators — Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren — on the rise at the expense of Biden and Bernie Sanders.
- The arrest of billionaire Jeffrey Epstein for alleged sex trafficking of minors is likely to renew questions about the role of Alex Acosta — formerly the U.S. attorney in South Florida and now Trump's labor secretary — in making a deal that let Epstein avoid federal charges in 2008, The New York Times reported.
- Commenting for the first time on the Trump Organization's past employment of undocumented workers, Trump said he didn't know "because I don't run it" but suggested everyone did it. "Probably every club in the United States has that because it seems to be, from what I understand, a way that people did business," Trump said Friday.
- Justin Amash, the anti-Trump Michigan congressman who quit the Republican Party last week, isn't ruling out a third-party or independent run for president in 2020. He appeared Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."
- In a shift from other recent campaign years, several current Democratic White House hopefuls are explicitly linking their views on policy to religious values, The Associated Press writes. That suggests belief in a chance to win over some religious voters who may be turned off by Trump’s abrasive rhetoric and questions about his character.
- Trump's census fiasco, in which a conservative chief judge decreed the administration was lying about a citizenship question, has the Justice Department changing laywyers but glossing over the cause of the setback.
- China accused the United States of "bullying" Iran with sanctions as the Tehran regime said it has surpassed a crucial limit on uranium enrichment.