Mark Landler of the New York Times: Secretary of State John Kerry at least partially agrees with a letter signed by 51 U.S. diplomats critical of the Obama administration's handling of Syria. -- CW
Sara Murray of CNN: RNC Chair Reince "Priebus has spoken with GOP party chairmen in multiple states in recent days in part to get a better sense of how large the anti-Trump faction is among their convention delegations, according to two people familiar with the conversations. While Priebus has made clear in these conversations that he is not spearheading the latest push for a coup, his involvement sends a signal that the RNC is taking this effort to dump Trump seriously even as other movements have fizzled." -- CW
Comedian Hasan Minhaj calls out the do-nothing Congress to their face, notably their inaction on gun control, and they're not happy. He starts ridiculing the Congresscritters around 11 minutes in. --safari
David Herszenhorn of the New York Times: "With congressional leaders once again at a stalemate over how to respond to a mass shooting, the Senate's most moderate Republican, Susan Collins of Maine, is developing a compromise measure that would prevent some terrorism suspects from purchasing weapons, while sidestepping partisan flash points that have doomed similar legislation in the past and threaten to do so again next week. The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, has already scheduled votes for Monday on four proposals -- two sponsored by Republicans and two by Democrats -- but all four are expected to fail in a nearly identical replay of votes last December after the attack in San Bernardino, Calif." -- CW...
...Stanley McCrystal in a New York Times op-ed: "A BATTLEFIELD on our soil. That was my reaction on Sunday, like that of so many of my fellow Americans and fellow soldiers, as I began to learn about the horror that unfolded early that morning in Orlando, Fla., when a dangerous man opened fire in a nightclub with a high-powered, military-style rifle...In 2014, 33,599 Americans died from a gunshot wound. From 2001 to 2010, 119,246 Americans were murdered with guns, 18 times all American combat deaths in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That is a national crisis. And as a combat veteran and proud American, I believe we need a national response to the gun violence that threatens so many of our communities." --safari
Nathaniel Popper of the New York Times: "America is getting a new stock exchange from the most prominent critics of high-frequency trading. After months of delays and a brutal lobbying battle that divided Wall Street, the IEX Group won approval on Friday from the Securities and Exchange Commission to become the nation's 13th official stock exchange. IEX is run by the people at the center of the Michael Lewis book, 'Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt,' which profiles the early efforts of the IEX team to create a trading exchange that would be somewhat shielded from high-frequency traders. Other exchanges and trading firms had urged the S.E.C. to reject the IEX application to become an exchange." -- CW
Move over, Larry David. Eighth-Grader Jack Aiello delivers a graduation speech to remember. (You'll have to pause the video at the end):
Jeff Zeleny of CNN: "Hillary Clinton's campaign is taking the reins of the Democratic National Committee, installing a new top official on Thursday to oversee the party's day-to-day operations through the general election. Brandon Davis,... [of] the Service Employees International Union, will become the general election chief of staff for the Democratic Party.... Robby Mook, the Clinton campaign manager, arrived Thursday morning at Democratic headquarters on Capitol Hill to introduce Davis to the party's staff.... [DNC Chair Debbie] Wasserman Schultz ... will remain in her position as the party's chairwoman, at least through the convention next month in Philadelphia, [but] her role diminishes with the Clinton campaign's takeover of the committee." Thanks to Forrest M. for the link.
Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Donald J. Trump rarely, if ever, acknowledges he might be losing at anything.... So it was surprising when Mr. Trump ... said on Thursday night that he is not beating Hillary Clinton in the most recent presidential polls.... Despite his historically high negative ratings, Mr. Trump suggested he has plenty of time to turn things around." -- CW
Gail Collins seems a bit skeptical of Donald Trump's claims about the wonderful things he did to help 9/11 responders & victims.
Shane Goldmacher of Politico: "Billionaire businessman Donald Trump appears to have paid zero, or near-zero, in personal income taxes in at least two more years in the early 1990s, according to records from New Jersey's gambling authorities reviewed by Politico. Trump's avoidance of income taxes as described in the documents was not illegal but the result of significant losses his hotel and casino holdings sustained during an economic downtown. 'Welcome to the real estate business,' Trump said in an email, responding via his spokeswoman, when asked about not paying income taxes in the early 1990s.... The Washington Post has previously reported that Trump paid zero in income taxes for two years, in 1978 and 1979, when he turned over his tax returns to apply for a casino license in New Jersey." ....
... CW: Don't tell me a billionaire who pays "zero or near-zero taxes" for at least four years is a patriot. He's a moocher, way worse than those lazy bastards lying around in the "hammock of complacency & dependence" who so aggravate Paul Ryan.
Tom Hamburger, et al., of the Washington Post: "Trump's relationship with [Vladimir] Putin and his warm views toward Russia, which began in the 1980s when the country was still part of the Soviet Union, have emerged as one of the more curious aspects of his presidential campaign.... The overwhelming consensus among American political and national security leaders has held that Putin is a pariah who disregards human rights and has violated international norms in seeking to regain influence and territory in the former Soviet bloc.... Trump has conveyed a different view, informed in part through his business ambitions.... On the campaign trail, Trump has called for a new partnership with Moscow.... The relationship is setting off alarms in pro-Western capitals -- and in the U.S. foreign policy community." -- CW
Bianca Ocasio of Politico: "Donald Trump has spent the week stating his support for the LGBT community..., remarking that he is a better ally than Hillary Clinton, whom he has repeatedly attacked for accepting donations from governments hostile to LGBT rights on behalf of the Clinton Foundation.... But a photo posted to Twitter on Thursday night showed [Trump] with ... Robert Jeffress, a pastor from Dallas known for his anti-LGBT sentiment.... Trump retweeted the image on Friday. The ... pastor in February 2015 was quoted as saying the gay rights movement 'will pave the way for that future world dictator, the Antichrist, to persecute and martyr Christians without any repercussions whatsoever.'" CW: Hmm. Maybe the Antichrist is a'comin', after all, & Jeffries just posed for a picture with him.
Jonathan Chait: "Donald Trump appeared on the national political stage almost eight years ago. Only then he was called 'Sarah Palin.' ...The rise of Trump has given many Republicans...a different perspective on these very same questions. Trump's candidacy has given them the chance to debate the merits of an ignorant demagogue, rather than defend him reflexively." --safari
Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post: "Dozens of Republican convention delegates are hatching a new plan to block Donald Trump at this summer's party meetings, in what has become the most organized effort so far to stop the businessman from becoming the GOP nominee. The delegates are angered by Trump's recent comments on gun control, his racial attacks on a federal judge and his sinking poll numbers. They are convinced that Trump is an insufficiently conservative candidate and believe they will find enough like-minded Republicans within the next month to change party rules and allow delegates to vote for whomever they want, regardless of who won their state caucus or primary. -- Akhilleus (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)
How the Japanese envision a President Trump (lots of imagination, but pretty scary) --safari
Ken Vogel of Politico: "Charles Koch, facing questions about his commitment to political spending, late last month donated $3 million to a super PAC spending heavily to protect the Republican Senate majority, according to a Federal Election Commission report set to be filed in the coming days.... Koch's donation marks his first significant check of the 2016 election cycle. It's especially notable because he has increasingly expressed frustrations with the political process, and with ... Donald Trump, in particular." -- CW
Marco, Marco, Marco, Back, Back, Back? Tal Kopan of CNN: "Florida Rep. David Jolly on Friday announced he will pull out of the Republican primary to replace Sen. Marco Rubio. Jolly instead will for reelection to his seat in Congress, citing 'unfinished business' in an email to supporters Friday afternoon. He said he had been convinced to run for Senate by insiders who told him redistricting made his reelection to the House too difficult, but decided he wanted to continue doing the job he has. The move, though, comes as Rubio has in recent days signaled he might accede to pressure to run for reelection to his seat." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...
...Akhilleus: Unfinished business my ass. House Republicans haven't done anything in years. What's so important now?...
...Ed Kilgore: "It's becoming more and more likely that ... Marco Rubio will reverse his long-standing commitment to retire from the Senate -- you know, that chamber whose votes he so regularly missed while running for president -- this year...But Rubio's reelection is a much dicier propositionthan it would have probably been had he never run for president.... Maybe Rubio will make a comeback, but if he doesn't, one of the most promising political careers in recent history could run aground quickly." -safari
Beyond the Beltway
The Sunshine State. Arturo Garcia of RawStory: "Florida Assistant State Attorney Kenneth Lewis was suspended on Friday after insulting the city of Orlando on his Facebook page, WESH-TV reported. Lewis first posted the disparaging remarks on Sunday, hours after the mass shooting attack at the Pulse nightclub that left 49 people dead and 53 others injured. 'The entire city should be leveled. It is void of a single redeeming quality. It is a melting pot of 3rd world miscreants and ghetto thugs.'" --safari
Way Beyond the Beltway
Right Wing Extremism Around the World. BBC: "Police investigating the killing of MP Jo Cox have said they are prioritising inquiries into the suspect's possible links to right-wing extremism. Mrs Cox, 41, was shot and stabbed outside her constituency surgery in West Yorkshire on Thursday. A 52-year-old man has been arrested. The BBC understands Nazi regalia was recovered at suspect Tommy Mair's home. -- Akhilleus (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)
Dom Phillips of the Washington Post: "Just weeks before it stages the 2016 Olympic Games, the state government of Rio de Janeiro has declared a 'state of public calamity in financial administration' and warned that the situation is so dire it impedes the locale's ability to meet Games commitments. The Olympics start Aug. 5 with Brazil already facing an impeachment trial of suspended President Dilma Rousseff, a public health crisis over the Zika epidemic and a deepening recession." -- CW
Rebecca Ruiz of the New York Times: "Russia's track and field team has been barred from competing in this summer's Rio Games because of a far-reaching doping conspiracy, an extraordinary punishment without precedent in Olympics history. The global governing body for track and field, known as the I.A.A.F., announced the decision on Friday, ruling in a unanimous vote that Russia had not done enough to restore global confidence in the integrity of its athletes. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)
... Akhilleus: The Russian doping scandal goes all the way to the top, meaning the government has been involved and is running the program, likely with full knowledge of Vladimir Putin. No wonder Trump loves this guy.
AP: "An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced six people, including two Al-Jazeera employees, to death for allegedly passing documents related to national security to Qatar and the Doha-based TV network during the rule of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi." -- CW
Washington Post: "Belgian authorities conducted a sweeping round of anti-terrorism raids late Friday and early Saturday, arresting 12 people in an investigation that prosecutors said required 'immediate intervention.'" -- CW