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Trump plays it cute on litmus test for SCOTUS pick

President Donald Trump boards Air Force One before

President Donald Trump boards Air Force One before departing from Morristown (N.J.) Municipal Airport on Sunday following a weekend in Bedminster, N.J. Photo Credit: AFP / Getty Images / Saul Loeb

Unasked and answered

Will President Donald Trump come right out and ask prospective Supreme Court nominees if they would undo Roe v. Wade. the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion?

“Probably not,” he told Fox News host Maria Bartiromo. They were all saying, ‘Don’t do that . . . you shouldn’t do that.” Trump said. “I don’t think I’ll be so specific on the questions I’ll be asking.”

He doesn’t have to. The list Trump is working from was developed with advice from conservative legal groups opposed to Roe. As a candidate, he said, “I am pro-life and I will be appointing pro-life judges.”

Back then, and in the latest interview, Trump tipped the result he anticipated from a Supreme Court recast to his liking — that the legality of abortion “could very well end up with states at some point.” That was the situation before Roe v. Wade.

Trump also made it clear that he wanted a successor to retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy to shift the court’s balance to the right. “Justice Kennedy ended up being a little more neutral than a lot of people would have preferred,” he said.

See the story for Newsday by Laura Figueroa Hernandez and Scott Eidler.

Choice words

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, whose vote could be crucial for confirming Trump’s pick, said she would oppose any nominee “who demonstrated hostility to Roe v. Wade.”

“Such views, Collins said, would mean “that their judicial philosophy did not include a respect for established decisions, established law,” Collins said.

Republicans have a 51-49 Senate majority, but one of them — Sen. John McCain of Arizona — has been long absent while battling cancer. Defections by Collins and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who also supports abortion rights, could imperil a nominee if Trump doesn’t pry loose a few red-state Democrats.

ABC News reported that three White House officials who had been thinking about leaving soon may hang in longer to see the confirmation process through. They are counsel Don McGahn, legislative affairs director Marc Short and domestic policy director Andrew Bremberg.

Janison: Where’s the love?

For all the sweet talk he gets from Trump, Russia’s Vladimir Putin might want to know when they meet July 16 if there’s ever going to be action that follows.

The U.S. government under Trump has maintained and expanded sanctions. NATO seems intact despite earlier Trump jabs against it. The United States is selling weapons to Ukraine.

See Dan Janison’s column for Newsday.

Prank you very much

The White House is conducting an internal review over how a prank call from comedian “Stuttering John” Melendez got him put on the phone with Trump. Politico reports there’s not much mystery.

Melendez dialed the switchboard pretending to be an aide to Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.Y.) The office of legislative affairs checked with Menendez’s staff and learned the senator was not trying to call Trump. But senior adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner arranged for the callback.

Impersonating Menendez — though he sounded nothing like him — Melendez drew Trump into a discussion about his immigration policies and Supreme court pick.

Rocket Man’s hide and seek

Newly obtained evidence has led U.S. intelligence officials to conclude that North Korea does not intend to fully surrender its nuclear stockpile, The Washington Post reported.

Instead, Kim Jong Un’s regime is considering ways to conceal the number of weapons it has and its secret production facilities, the assessment found.

The finding undercuts Trump’s declaration after his June summit meeting with Kim that “there is no longer a nuclear threat” from North Korea.

Trump insisted in his Fox News interview that Kim is “very serious” about his intentions to denuclearize.

“I made a deal with him, I shook hands with him. I really believe he means it. Is it possible, have I been in deals, have you been in things where things didn’t work out?” “It’s possible,” he said.

Pushback and payback

Asked during the Fox interview to weigh in about protesters getting in the face of his administration’s officials, and what could be done to bring the country together. Trump’s response was for critics to dial it down — or else?

“There’s probably never been a base in the history of politics in this country like my base,” he said, adding, “I hope the other side realizes that they better just take it easy.”

What else is happening:

  • Canada slapped tariffs Sunday on $12.6 billion in U.S. goods to retaliate for the Trump’s new duties on steel and aluminum imports. Also squeezed by Ottawa: U.S. ketchup. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged his nation to stand firm in a speech from Canada’s tomato capital, Leamington, Ontario.
  • As an aside while ripping European Union trade policies during his Fox News interview, Trump said, “My parents were born in the European Union. Trump’s father was born in the Bronx in 1905. His mother was born in Scotland in 1912. The EU began in 1993.
  • Trump ordered a bill drafted that would allow him to ignore World Trade Organization rules and expand his authority to impose tariffs at will, but it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere, Axios reported.
  • Trump falsely claimed in a tweet Saturday that he “never pushed” House Republicans to vote for an immigration bill. Three days earlier, he did exactly that.
  • Former President Barack Obama, speaking at a Democratic fundraiser in California, said he doesn’t think Americans want a “dog-eat-dog world where everybody is angry all the time.” Not mentioning Trump by name, he said a message of hope can counter one that plays to fear.

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