HAVE YOU NOTICED that nobody in the Democratic field ever attacks Elizabeth Warren? Sure, a few of the more centrist candidates — Michael Bennet, Joe Biden, John Delaney, Amy Klobuchar — will sort of verbally subtweet her, but their criticisms of lefty policy ideas like “Medicare for All” are aimed just as often at Bernie Sanders as they are at Warren.
THIS PHENOMENON HAS ALLOWED WARREN to effectively use Sanders as a human shield. Or maybe she’s more like a cyclist, drafting off Bernie’s leg work until it’s time to blow past him for the finish. Her patient approach, along with her message discipline and lack of errors, has allowed her to rise steadily in the polls. Is Biden going to wake up one day to find her right on his six?
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST — “Seth Moulton to drop out of 2020 race,” by Daniel Strauss: “The three-term congressman plans to say in a speech later on Friday that he feels confident that he ‘raised issues that are vitally important to the American people and our future,’ and he will pledge to campaign vigorously for the eventual Democratic nominee.
“The announcement caps a short-lived campaign in which Moulton, a Marine veteran, opened up about dealing with post-traumatic stress from four tours in Iraq. His campaign focused on foreign policy, national security and mental health, as well as helping veterans.” POLITICO … Boston Globe headline, 16 hours ago: “Politics is all about timing, and it isn’t Seth Moulton’s time”
— WaPo’s @daveweigel: “It is genuinely amazing that Moulton, a high profile congressman with a bunch of credible plans, ended up polling lower than Wayne Messam, a Florida mayor who mostly posts running selfies on Instagram.”
THE LATEST TRADE WAR SALVO — “China announces fresh tariffs on $75 billion of U.S. products,” by South China Morning Post’s Amanda Lee and Owen Churchill: “China said it would raise tariffs on items originating in the US from 5 per cent to 10 per cent, and the new duties would be implemented in two batches – the first from September 1 and the second from December 15. The duties – announced and then suspended earlier this year – are in response to the US government’s 10 per cent tariff on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods.
“According to the State Council’s Customs Tariff Commission, the extra tariffs will apply to goods including include soybeans, beef, pork and crude oil. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said China’s reaction was ‘well anticipated’ but would only ‘strengthen the resolve of this president.’ … The commission also said that 25 per cent tariffs on American vehicles and car parts would take effect from December 15.” SCMP
MORNING TWEETSTORM SKIPPER — The president tweeted out his anger at China in a four-part volley at 10:59 a.m. He said he was ordering “all carriers, including Fed Ex, Amazon, UPS and the Post Office, to SEARCH FOR & REFUSE … all deliveries of Fentanyl from China (or anywhere else!),” and faulted Xi Jinping for not stopping fentanyl.
DONALD TRUMP ALSO DECLARED that U.S. companies “are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing … your companies HOME and making your products in the USA.”
— HEREBY ORDERED???
JAY POWELL SPEAKS: “‘Based on our assessment of the implications of these developments, we will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion,’ Powell said this morning at the central bank’s annual Jackson Hole, Wyo., retreat. ‘It will at times be appropriate for us to tilt policy one way or the other because of prominent risks.’
“Still, Powell gave no clear indication of whether the Fed plans to step up the pace of interest rate cuts amid growing concern about a possible economic slowdown, drawing an immediate rebuke from President Donald Trump.” (via POLITICO’s Katy O’Donnell)
— @realDonaldTrump FIRES BACK at 10:57 a.m.: “My only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powell or Chairman Xi?”
IN MEMORIAM — “David Koch, Billionaire Who Fueled Right-Wing Movement, Dies at 79,” by NYT’s Robert McFadden: “Charles G. Koch announced the death in a statement, which provided no other details but noted that David Koch had been treated for prostate cancer in the past.
“Hitching his star to the soaring ambitions of Charles, his older brother, David Koch (pronounced coke) became one of the world’s richest people, with assets of $42.2 billion in 2019 and a 42 percent stake in the global family enterprise, Koch Industries. He also became a nationally known philanthropist and the early public face of the Koch political ascendancy, as the Libertarian Party’s candidate for vice president in 1980.
“Three decades after David Koch’s public steps into politics, analysts say, the Koch brothers’ money-fueled brand of libertarianism helped give rise to the Tea Party movement and strengthened the far-right wing of a resurgent Republican Party.” NYT
Good Friday afternoon. Trump is wheels up for France at 11 p.m. Eastern. PROGRAMMING NOTE — Playbook PM and the Playbook Audio Briefing will be off next week. The morning edition of the newsletter will still publish.
G-7 PUNDIT PREP — GABBY ORR and NANCY COOK: “‘America First’ Trump suddenly needs the rest of the world”: “The president faces warnings of a U.S. economic downturn driven partly by his fractious trade negotiations with China. He blames other countries’ trade policies for mounting economic risks in the U.S., even as many of those countries teeter on the edge of recession. And Trump is expected to spend his time in southern France urging fellow leaders to follow his lead rather than changing course himself. …
“The problem is, Trump has rarely embraced global governance and many economists blame his ‘America First’ approach for propelling the widespread sense of economic uncertainty rippling across the globe. … Trump heads into this round of G7 meetings as the odd man out — breaking from longstanding norms for how advanced nations conduct economic policy.” POLITICO
NATASHA KORECKI and MAYA KING: “‘It is about f—ing time’: Women break into top ranks of 2020 campaigns”: “A transformation is underway in presidential politics. After decades of taking home less pay and fighting to have a say in major decisions, women are now a dominant force at the highest levels of Democratic presidential campaigns — and they’re getting paid equitably for their work, a POLITICO analysis shows.
“A review of federal election records and internal campaign data show the six women running for president have filled nearly 60 percent of their senior leadership with women. … The trend extends to the three top-polling male candidates. … [T]he hiring and pay trends they’re seeing this presidential cycle represent a sea change in an industry long dominated by men. … There is still one major hurdle within campaigns, however. When it comes to the role of campaign manager, women were nearly shut out in top-tier campaigns.” POLITICO
NEWS … BACKGROUND CHECKS NOT DEAD YET? — BURGESS EVERETT: “Chris Murphy: Trump isn’t giving up on background checks”: “Fresh off Thursday evening conversations with White House staffers and a recent call with the president himself, the Connecticut Democrat says it is still possible that Trump and Senate Republicans will act in the wake of several recent mass shootings. While Murphy deems the chances of movement less than 50 percent and recognizes some may deem him naive, he said it’s his ‘obligation’ to keep pushing.” POLITICO
THE NEW COLD WAR — “Putin orders ‘symmetric response’ to U.S. missile test,” by WaPo’s Will Englund in Moscow: “He castigated Washington for pulling out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty and then launching a new land-based cruise missile just 16 days later. These actions, he said, were both ‘links in a chain,’ and showed that the United States had a concerted plan to junk the treaty, signed in 1987. …
“He said that Russia will not engage in a costly arms race but he promised to ensure national security.” WaPo
— NYT’S OLEG MATSNEV in Moscow: “Paul N. Whelan, a retired United States Marine who has been jailed in Russia for eight months on espionage charges, said on Friday that prison guards had injured him. … The court ordered him held for another two months.” NYT
BEYOND THE BELTWAY — “Keystone XL Pipeline Plan Is Approved by Nebraska Supreme Court”: “The Nebraska Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday was not the final word on the pipeline. A federal lawsuit in Montana still seeks to block construction, and several landowners along the route have refused to sign easements. Protesters, including from Native American tribes in Nebraska and South Dakota, have promised to mobilize if construction begins. The ruling was significant nonetheless.” NYT
— JEREMY WHITE in San Francisco: “‘This is checkmate’: Newsom thrives on Trump’s ire over auto deal”: “For Newsom, who took office in January and regularly stokes a long-running feud with Trump, it’s been an opportunity to both trumpet California’s leadership on environmental issues and jab a finger in the president’s eye. … Newsom denied that he takes pleasure in the back-and-forth, saying he would rather work with the administration than battle it. But he allowed that the opportunity to showcase California’s climate leadership ‘enlivens me.’” POLITICO California
— AP’S BRADY MCCOMBS in Salt Lake City: “U.S. government issues final Utah monument plan”: “The U.S. government’s final management plan for lands in and around a Utah national monument that President Donald Trump downsized doesn’t include many new protections for the cliffs, canyons, waterfalls and arches found there, but it does include a few more safeguards than were in a proposal issued last year.
“The Bureau of Land Management’s plan for the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southwestern Utah codifies that the lands cut out of the monument will be open to mineral extraction such as oil, gas and coal as expected.” AP
THE STEPHEN MILLER EFFECT — “Only 2 Iraqi translators who worked with U.S. troops got U.S. visas last year,” by NBC’s Dan De Luce: “A backlog of tens of thousands of Iraqis — who worked as interpreters or in other jobs for the U.S. — have applied for admission to the United States but have yet to receive a final decision …
“It remains unclear why the number of visas issued to Iraqi interpreters has declined so dramatically but refugee advocates and lawmakers say it appears to be a case of collateral damage from the Trump administration’s overall crackdown on immigration and refugees. Under the administration’s more restrictive policies, applicants from Iraq and other mainly Muslim countries are subjected to ‘enhanced security vetting.’” NBC
ARTHUR ALLEN: “$16B veterans’ health project hits major snag”: “[T]he project faces significant delays and unanticipated headaches, according to three sources with detailed knowledge of what will be one of the largest technology contracts in federal history. Promoters of the flagship Trump administration project say it will create a model for better-coordinated care for the whole United States, setting up a digitized health care record for millions of current and future veterans from the time they join the military.
“It’s a massively complex bureaucratic and technical undertaking, however, and a host of glitches have surfaced since the VA contract was signed last year, raising doubts in Congress about whether it can achieve its lofty goals. Those problems are creating the first major hiccup for the project. Its promised March 2020 rollout at three VA medical centers … is almost certain to be partially or completely delayed until October.” POLITICO
THE GRAY LADY WHACKS DE BLAZ AGAIN — “Inslee Out. Moulton Out. De Blasio? Town Hall May Be Last Gasp,” by NYT’s Jeffery Mays: “[T]he mayor persists in the belief that he has a story worth telling — and that his stewardship in New York City should be viewed as a way to cast light on how the nation can recover from a Trump White House. On Sunday, Mr. de Blasio may get his last best chance to tell his story, when he appears on a one-hour town hall on CNN at 7 p.m. in New York.” NYT
THE POLICY PRIMARY — “How Pete Buttigieg would tackle the mental health and addiction crisis,” by Brianna Ehley: “The wide-ranging plan, which includes $100 billion in grants, calls for integrating treatment into primary care settings, increasing the number of available treatment beds, making it easier for patients to get access to medication for opioid addiction, investing in suicide prevention for veterans and addressing disparities in behavioral health care. …
“Beyond adding resources, the plan attempts to address the public health effects of isolation and loneliness. The plan would beef up the behavioral health workforce by increasing reimbursement rates and making health workers’ loan repayment programs more generous, specifically for those in rural, underserved areas. It also aims to increase access to opioid addiction treatment and inpatient care at psychiatric facilities.” POLITICO … Teen Vogue interview… The plan
REMEMBER THIS GUY? — “Feds say a veteran’s medical records were leaked; Ojeda says they were his,” by the Charleston Gazette-Mail’s Jake Zuckerman: “Richard Ojeda, a former Democratic state senator, says his medical records were stolen from a Veterans Affairs office in Huntington and used to derail his congressional campaign in 2018.
“On Thursday, Ojeda, who served in the U.S. Army for 24 years, filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to force the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to release its investigation. He says the records will identify a laundry list of area Republican officials who played a hand in spreading private information to torpedo his race.” Gazette-Mail … Flashback: Michael Kruse’s profile of Ojeda
MUCK READ … DAILY MAIL’S JOSE LAMBIET: “How Donald Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale went from family bankruptcy to splashing out millions on mansions, condos and luxury cars through his companies that get a hefty cut of the president’s $57M campaign contributions”
WHAT STEVE BANNON IS UP TO … “Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon, never one for subtlety, has produced a new film called ‘Claws of the Red Dragon’ attacking Huawei Technologies Co., the Chinese telecommunications giant Trump has forbidden U.S. companies from doing business with over concerns about its ties to the Chinese government.” Bloomberg
AFTERNOON READ — ERIC SCIGLIANO in Seattle for POLITICO MAGAZINE: “The Great Seattle Pot Heist: A rash of marijuana thefts has Seattle growers wondering: Is the government leading the thieves right to them?”
TV TONIGHT — Bob Costa will sit down with ABC’s Martha Raddatz, WaPo’s Dan Balz, NYT’s Jim Tankersley and POLITICO’s Anita Kumar at 8 p.m. on PBS’ “Washington Week.”
MEDIAWATCH — Andrew McCabe is joining CNN as a contributor. He was formerly acting FBI director, and was fired from the Justice Department in 2018 as part of the Russia investigations backlash.
TRANSITIONS — Genta Arnold will be a manager of corporate relations at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. She previously was manager of corporate and donor relations at the Fund for American Studies. … Stephen Ford has launched his own firm, West Exec Writing. He previously was director of speechwriting for VP Mike Pence.
WEDDING — Cristina Gonzalez, who’s joining POLITICO Europe as a lobbying reporter and podcast producer, and Paul Gaitzsch, a justice and home affairs counselor for Germany’s Permanent Representation to the EU, got married July 20 in a small town outside of Berlin. They met in 2016 through the American Council on Germany, and they just returned from a honeymoon in the Seychelles. Pic… Another pic
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