An embassy row
The president is not amused.
A day after a published leak of secret diplomatic cables revealed British Ambassador Kim Darroch wrote home that Donald Trump's White House is “inept,” “dysfunctional” and “unpredictable," Trump tweeted about the envoy: "We will no longer deal with him." Trump also took a shot at outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May, one of his hosts during the state visit to Britain last month.
During that trip, Trump softened his past criticisms of May's ultimately failed effort to negotiate an agreement on Britain's departure from the European Union that could win approval from Parliament. He even said, “She’s probably a better negotiator than I am." On Monday, Trump recalibrated his attitude.
"I have been very critical about the way the U.K. and Prime Minister Theresa May handled Brexit," Trump tweeted. "What a mess she and her representatives have created. I told her how it should be done, but she decided to go another way." Besides, he said, "The good news for the wonderful United Kingdom is that they will soon have a new Prime Minister."
The Darroch emails — published in The Mail on Sunday newspaper — put a new strain on the historically strong U.S.-British alliance. A statement from May’s office Monday said the leaks “do not reflect the closeness of, and the esteem in which we hold, the relationship” or her views about Trump. But it also said envoys are expected to give candid assessments and that Darroch retains the prime minister’s “full support.”
Trump's tweet said Darroch "is not liked or well … thought of within the U.S." But The Washington Post reported senior Trump officials regularly party at the British Embassy, and a coterie — including Kellyanne Conway, Stephen Miller, Mick Mulvaney and Sarah Sanders and ally Chris Ruddy — have been guests for private dinners.
Trump reiterated that the "thoroughly enjoyed" the state visit in June but added "it was the Queen who I was most impressed with!"
Janison: Labor's burden
If the shock wave over billionaire Jeffrey Epstein's indictment on charges of sex trafficking of minors is being felt anywhere in the Trump administration, it's at the Department of Labor.
More than a decade ago, when he was U.S. attorney for Florida's southern district, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta negotiated a surprisingly lenient plea bargain arrangement for Epstein that spared him of federal charges while he copped to reduced state charges. His alleged co-conspirators were given immunity, and his victims were kept in the dark about the deal.
Acosta's future looks touch and go, writes Newsday's Dan Janison. Aside from the Epstein scandal, there is reported unhappiness over how Acosta runs the department. One recent move could invite new scrutiny: A policy adopted last week will make it harder to offer visas to protect undocumented sex-trafficking victims who point the finger at those who exploited them.
Didn't take a genius
As evidence of his intellect, Trump has often boasted about getting admitted as an undergraduate to the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania. He has said he went to “the hardest school to get into, the best school in the world” and called it “super genius stuff.”
But The Washington Post tracked down a former Penn admissions official who interviewed young Trump in 1966. James Nolan, now 81, said it was "not very difficult" back then to get in — more than half of applicants to Penn were accepted.
Nolan spoke to Trump after getting a call from his brother Fred Trump Jr., who was a close friend. Their dad, real estate developer Fred Trump Sr., also came for the interview.
Nolan said he believed Trump, who transferred from Fordham University, was good enough to be admitted, but he added: “I certainly was not struck by any sense that I’m sitting before a genius. Certainly not a super genius.” Trump has never revealed his academic records, and there's no evidence that backs up past claims that he was at the top of his graduating class.
Barr: It'll start making sense
Attorney General William Barr said Monday that he sees a legal path to adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census that could overcome the Supreme Court ruling that blocked it and found the administration's argument "contrived."
"We've been considering all the options," Barr said, adding the Trump administration will choose one in the "next day or two." According to The Associated Press, a senior official said Trump is expected to issue a presidential memorandum instructing the Commerce Department to include the question.
Last week, the Justice Department and Commerce Department said they wouldn't resist the ruling, only to have Trump vow to keep fighting. On Sunday, Barr replaced the team of lawyers that had been arguing the case for the administration. The Washington Post and The New York Times reported the shake-up suggested the first team had legal or ethical concerns and feared they would be asked to defend statements that “could well turn out to be untrue.”
A Barr comment to the AP suggested something less than full confidence about a do-over. He said he believes there is "an opportunity potentially to cure the lack of clarity that was the problem and we might as well take a shot at doing that."
Now he'd mute Mueller?
Barr said in the past that he had no problem with letting special counsel Robert Mueller testify before Congress. Now, maybe he does.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Barr accused Democrats of trying to create a “public spectacle” by subpoenaing Mueller, who is due to appear in both public and private sessions before the Judiciary and Intelligence committees on July 17.
Barr says the Justice Department would support Mueller, who was subpoenaed, if he decides he “doesn’t want to subject himself” to congressional testimony. There’s no indication that Mueller does not wish to appear.
With friends like Fox
Trump went off on so many tangents in an incoherent multi-tweet rant against Fox News that it was difficult to pinpoint what set him off to complain that the network he expects to adore him "forgot the people who got them there!"
He groused about seeing longtime Democratic operative Donna Brazile on Fox, but that's not new — she was hired in March. A crowd behind a Fox reporter in a French bar after the U.S. women's World Cup victory started chanting profanities against Trump, but that's a peril of live TV. He was upset that Fox cited a New York Times report about something, but he didn't say what, though it was probably one about migrant detention conditions. Instead, he went off on a ramble about the Times' balance sheets (as they have, more substantively, about his.)
What else is happening:
- Trump gave a speech Monday touting his administration’s environmental record, and cast himself as a champion of clean air and clean waterways. Environmentalists don't see it that way, reports Newsday's Laura Figueroa Hernandez.
- A New York federal grand jury is investigating whether Elliott Broidy, vice chair of Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee, used his position to drum up business deals with foreign leaders, The Associated Press reported. Broidy had to quit as deputy finance chair of the Republican National Committee after reports he agreed to pay $1.6 million to silence a former Playboy model with whom he had an affair.
- Pleased with how his July 4 "Salute to America" event went in Washington, Trump said that he says his administration has “made the decision to do it again next year and maybe we can say for the foreseeable future.”
- Elizabeth Warren's campaign said it raised $19.1 million in the second quarter of the year despite holding no fundraisers. That puts her behind Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden but ahead of her top rival from the progressive wing, Bernie Sanders.
- Kirsten Gillibrand's campaign tried to put a creative positive spin on the New York senator's nearly invisible standing in the polls. “Public polling shows that the majority of Democratic voters don't yet have an opinion of Sen. Gillibrand,” national press secretary Evan Lukaske told The Washington Post Magazine.
- Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), who had called on Biden to "pass the torch to a new generation," announced Monday he is quitting the 2020 race. Billionaire and impeachment advocate Tom Steyer is expected to announce Tuesday that he is getting in.
- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed a bill into law Monday that will allow congressional committees to access Trump’s New York State tax returns, potentially giving Democrats a way around the administration's refusal to make his federal returns available, reports Newsday's Yancey Roy with Figueroa.