THE CHOSUN ILBO (one of South Korea’s major newspapers): “Pompeo Brings ‘Rocket Man’ CD for Kim Jong-un”: “U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left for North Korea on Thursday for denuclearization talks and brought two gifts for leader Kim Jong-un. One is a letter from U.S. President Donald Trump and the other an Elton John CD with his song ‘Rocket Man.’ …
“One diplomatic source in Washington said, ‘The ‘Rocket Man’ CD was the subject of discussion during Trump’s lunch with Kim. Kim mentioned that Trump referred to him as ‘rocket man’ when tensions ran high last year’ after a series of nuclear tests and missile launches by the North. ‘Trump then asked Kim if he knew the song and Kim said no.’ Trump remembered the conversation and told Pompeo to take a CD with the song for Kim. He reportedly wrote a message on it and signed it.” http://bit.ly/2KyJ9od
Story Continued Below
CNN’S WILL RIPLEY (@willripleyCNN): “The pool reporter traveling w/ Secretary Pompeo asked a North Korean guide what Pyongyang expects from the meetings. His reply: ‘We’ll have to see, like your President says.’ Then he fired back with a question of his own, asking: ‘In this van, no fake news?’”
REPUBLICANS HAVE privately warned us they think that a trade war with China is enough to cost them their majority in the House. The everyday economic impact — higher prices, businesses laying off employees — would blunt any positive impact of tax reform. Well, the trade war is here. Combine that with rising gas prices four months before Election Day.
SCMP’S SIDNEY LENG: “China hits retaliation button, launching tariffs as trade war with U.S. starts”: “After three rounds of failed talks, a trade war between the world’s two largest economies is on. On Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said China had imposed countermeasures after America’s tariffs came into force. Lu Kang, a spokesman for the ministry, said China’s tit-for-tat measures ‘had taken effect immediately after the implementation of the US tariffs.’” https://politi.co/2NwkFKe
WSJ’S BOB DAVIS and LINGLING WEI in Beijing: “U.S., China Dig In for Long Trade War as Tariffs Take Effect: Both sides slap levies on $34 billion of each other’s exports; some say fight could stretch into next year”: “The new levies took effect after midnight Eastern Time on Friday in the U.S. In response, a commission of China’s State Council said it applied tariffs on 545 items ‘including agricultural products, vehicles and aquatic products,’ according to state-run Xinhua News Agency.
“President Xi Jinping has instructed various levels of government to get ready for a full-bore trade war, according to Chinese officials. … Brookings Institution China scholar David Dollar, who was the U.S. Treasury’s top official in Beijing during the Obama administration, figures the fight will stretch into next year, at least, because a strong economy will make it less likely that the U.S. will feel any immediate economic pressure from the trade fight.” https://on.wsj.com/2MQCtP2
TRUMP INC. – “As tariffs near, Trump’s business empire retains ties to China,” by WaPo’s Jonathan O’Connell and David A. Fahrenthold: “As the Trump administration initiates a possible trade war with China, the president’s businesses continue to benefit from partnerships involving the Chinese government, via state-backed companies and investors. Chinese government-backed firms are slated to work on parts of two large developments — in Dubai and Indonesia — that will include Trump-branded properties.
“The Trumps are the landlord to one of China’s top state-owned banks, which has occupied the 20th floor of Trump Tower in Manhattan since 2008. The bank’s lease is worth close to $2 million annually, according to industry estimates and a bank filing. And despite the Trump administration’s focus on American manufacturing, assembly-line workers in China still produce blouses, shoes and handbags for the clothing line created by Trump’s daughter Ivanka, a White House adviser.” https://wapo.st/2KT9o4M
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT … THE PRESIDENT’S RALLY … “Trump Assails Critics and Mocks #MeToo. What About Putin? ‘He’s Fine,’” by NYT’s Emily Cochrane in Great Falls, Mont.: “President Trump lobbed personal and derogatory attacks at two Democratic senators, mocked the #MeToo movement and vouched for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Thursday during a freewheeling, raucous rally ostensibly intended to solidify support for Montana’s Republican Senate candidate.
“Taunting Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, with a refusal to apologize for calling her ‘Pocahontas,’ Mr. Trump imagined a debate during which he would gently throw an ancestry testing kit at Ms. Warren to make her prove the Native American heritage she has controversially claimed.
“‘We are going to do it gently because we’re the #MeToo generation, so we have to be very careful,’ the president said to scattered laughter, adding that he would donate $1 million to charity if Ms. Warren followed through.” https://nyti.ms/2KTDLrN
****** A message from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: There are no winners in a global trade war. Here’s a breakdown of the states and industries hardest hit by retaliatory tariffs on American exports. www.TheWrongApproach.com. ******
FREEDOM CAUCUS LEADER UPDATE … “Fourth Ohio State wrestler says Rep. Jim Jordan knew about sexual abuse when he was coach,” by NBC News’ Corky Siemaszko: “A fourth former Ohio State University wrestler came forward Thursday to contradict Rep. Jim Jordan’s claim that he had no idea the wrestling team doctor was molesting athletes. The wrestler, Shawn Dailey, said he was groped half a dozen times by Dr. Richard Strauss in the mid-1990s, when Jordan was the assistant wrestling coach. Dailey said he was too embarrassed to report the abuse directly to Jordan at the time, but he said Jordan took part in conversations where Strauss’ abuse of many other team members came up.
“‘I participated with Jimmy (Jordan) and the other wrestlers in locker-room talk about Strauss. We all did,’ Dailey, 43, told NBC News. ‘It was very common knowledge in the locker room that if you went to Dr. Strauss for anything, you would have to pull your pants down.’” https://nbcnews.to/2u8TID9
— TRUMP defended Jordan, per Todd Gillman of the Dallas Morning News, yesterday’s pool reporter: “I don’t believe them at all. I believe him. Jim Jordan is one of the most outstanding people I’ve met since I’ve been in Washington. I believe him 100 percent. No question in my mind. I believe Jim Jordan 100 percent. He’s an outstanding man.”
Good Friday morning. QUITE THE COVER … N.Y. POST goes “Survivor” on today’s cover. https://nyp.st/2KNTT1j
COMING ATTRACTIONS – SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-S.C.) will be the keynote speaker for the Republican Party of Iowa’s 2018 Lincoln-Reagan Dinner on July 20.
PRUITT OUT …
— WAPO’S JOSH DAWSEY: “Pruitt survived months of controversy by preserving his relationship with Trump”: “Scott Pruitt survived months of misconduct allegations by preserving his relationship with one person at all costs: President Trump. In the end, according to two administration officials familiar with internal discussions, Trump forced Pruitt out Thursday without speaking to him — instead having his chief of staff call the [EPA] around midday to say it was time for Pruitt to go.
“That Trump finally parted ways with his EPA administrator was less the result of one particular damaging revelation than the culmination of weeks of negative publicity that was becoming a political burden on the president, according to four White House officials, who, like others interviewed for this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the president’s thinking. …
“By the end, Pruitt had few defenders in the West Wing. The White House counsel’s office saw him as a constant source of problems, officials said. Chief of staff John F. Kelly was seemingly obsessed with getting Pruitt ousted, according to EPA and White House officials. Pruitt no longer even returned calls from Cabinet Affairs, the White House department that oversees agencies, White House officials said. His own former aides delivered damaging testimony to Capitol Hill investigators in recent days, confirming media reports, and many in his own agency had turned against him.” https://wapo.st/2NvXNue … Pruitt’s resignation letter https://politi.co/2tWYEfe
— “How Scott Pruitt blew it: Trump had grown tired of the torrent of negative stories about him and had come to believe they were a distraction that wouldn’t go away,” by Alex Guillen and Andrew Restuccia: https://politi.co/2MTFjTd
— NYT’S CORAL DAVENPORT, LISA FRIEDMAN, ERIC LIPTON and STEVE EDER: “E.P.A. Aide Questioned Deleting Sensitive Meeting Details. Then She Was Fired”: “Before he resigned on Thursday, Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the [EPA], was facing new questions about whether aides deleted sensitive information about his meetings from his public schedule and potentially violated the law in doing so.
“Last summer one of his senior schedulers, Madeline G. Morris, was fired by Mr. Pruitt’s former deputy chief of staff, Kevin Chmielewski, who said he let her go because she was questioning the practice of retroactively deleting meetings from the calendar. Mr. Chmielewski has emerged as a harsh critic of Mr. Pruitt after a bitter falling out that led to his departure from the agency as well.
“Ms. Morris, who started work as Mr. Pruitt’s scheduler in June 2017, confirmed Wednesday that she was fired after she raised objections about the deletions, which she believed were illegal, although she said that Mr. Chmielewski did not tell her his reasons for firing her. One case involved the deletion of several of Mr. Pruitt’s meetings during a spring 2017 trip to Rome, including one with a controversial cardinal then under investigation for sexual assault.” https://nyti.ms/2IZx4CO
— “Environmentalists: Pruitt’s replacement ‘should scare anyone who breathes,’” by Eric Wolff: “Environmentalists say former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, the new acting EPA chief, is smarter and more plugged in to Washington than Scott Pruitt was.” https://politi.co/2NrtEfs
— NYT’S JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS (@juliehdavis): “Trump called EPA deputy Andrew Wheeler, who will take over for Pruitt, ‘very much an early Trump supporter. He was with us on the campaign.’ During primaries, Wheeler implored his FB friends not to back Trump, calling him a ‘bully’ who didn’t understand how government worked”.
THE WHITE HOUSE TODAY — The president has nothing on his public schedule. He and first lady Melania Trump will have dinner with VP Mike Pence and Karen Pence in Bedminster, New Jersey.
SCOTUS REPORT …
— CHRIS CADELAGO, ELIANA JOHNSON and JOSH GERSTEIN: “Kethledge gets 11th hour push as potential consensus pick for Supreme Court”: “As Donald Trump moves to finalize his Supreme Court pick, Judge Raymond Kethledge is getting a behind-the-scenes push portraying him as the consensus choice of conservatives.
“Former aides and supporters of Kethledge, a Michigan resident who moves outside Washington circles and is considered the least known of the leading contenders, are quietly circulating positive information about the judge’s personal life, political profile and reassuring record on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
“The tacit message: If Brett Kavanaugh is a well-connected D.C. insider and Amy Barrett is a grassroots favorite but lacks experience, Kethledge is a down-to-earth Michigander who checks all the boxes for conservatives.” https://politi.co/2lVmHGS … Former Kethledge clerk Kaitlin DiNapoli’s op-ed about him in The Federalist http://bit.ly/2u45O0u
— THE FRONT RUNNER … “Brett Kavanaugh, Supreme Court Front-Runner, Once Argued Broad Grounds for Impeachment,” by NYT’s Mark Landler and Matt Apuzzo: “Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, the front-runner to replace Justice Anthony M. Kennedy on the Supreme Court, once argued that President Bill Clinton could be impeached for lying to his staff and misleading the public, a broad definition of obstruction of justice that would be damaging if applied to President Trump in the Russia investigation.
“Judge Kavanaugh’s arguments — expressed in the report of the independent counsel, Kenneth W. Starr, which he co-wrote nearly 20 years ago — have been cited in recent days by Republicans with reservations about him and have raised concerns among some people close to Mr. Trump. But Judge Kavanaugh has reconsidered some of his views since then, and there is no evidence that they have derailed his candidacy.” https://nyti.ms/2KUdMQU
— THE OPPOSITION … ELANA SCHOR: “Schumer’s biggest challenge yet: Dem unity on SCOTUS”: “The last time Senate Democrats stuck together through an all-consuming fight, the issue was Obamacare repeal — and they started off remarkably united against it.
“Now Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is aiming to replicate that performance in the imminent battle over Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, but his troops face a high risk of division right out of the gate. Under particular pressure to side with the president are the three red-state Democrats who voted for Justice Neil Gorsuch last year and face difficult reelection campaigns: Sens. Joe Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp, and Joe Donnelly.
“Keeping them in the Democratic fold — in the face of withering pressure from a liberal base that expects nothing less — amounts to the biggest challenge of Schumer’s 18-month tenure as Democratic leader. The New Yorker has preferred to take a hands-off approach to his moderate members, rather than twisting arms on big votes. Yet it’s far from clear that will work this time.” https://politi.co/2lYRzGP
— BURGESS EVERETT in Marshfield, Missouri: “McCaskill braces for SCOTUS onslaught”: “If the pre-nomination clash between [Claire] McCaskill and [Josh] Hawley is any sign, the Supreme Court confirmation battle over Trump’s high court nominee will reverberate in Missouri more than any other Senate battleground this year. Unlike a trio of other red-state Democrats on the ballot — Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Joe Donnelly of Indiana — McCaskill opposed Neil Gorsuch last year.” https://politi.co/2MOXDNl
THEO MEYER: “K Street staffs up for a Democratic takeover”: “Corporate America couldn’t hire Republican lobbyists fast enough after President Donald Trump’s election gave the GOP unified control of Washington. Now there are signs that Democrats are back in demand. Companies and trade groups are trying to hire congressional staffers with ties to influential House Democrats four months ahead of the midterm elections, in which Democrats are expected to pick up seats and potentially retake control of the House.
“Lobbyists are helping their clients meet with the Democrats who would become committee chairs if the party does win back the chamber. And trade groups are talking to members about what to expect from a Democratic takeover.” https://politi.co/2KJP9d0
BORDER TALES — “HHS says hundreds more migrant kids may have been separated than earlier count,” by Dan Diamond: “HHS Secretary Alex Azar on Thursday acknowledged the Trump administration may have separated hundreds more migrant children from their parents than previously estimated as lawmakers from both parties called for greater scrutiny of the border policy.
“‘Somewhere less than 3,000 [children] is the maximum,’ Azar told reporters on a conference call, adding that about 100 children are under age 5. ‘We are erring on the side of inclusion until we can rule any connection out.’” https://politi.co/2Ns0UTS
— “AP NewsBreak: U.S. Army quietly discharging immigrant recruits,” by Martha Mendoza in San Antonio and Garance Burke in San Francisco: “Some immigrant U.S. Army reservists and recruits who enlisted in the military with a promised path to citizenship are being abruptly discharged, the Associated Press has learned.
“The AP was unable to quantify how many men and women who enlisted through the special recruitment program have been booted from the Army, but immigration attorneys say they know of more than 40 who have been discharged or whose status has become questionable, jeopardizing their futures.” http://bit.ly/2zeyXf8
THE INVESTIGATIONS …
— CNN’S MJ LEE: “Michael Cohen tells friends he doesn’t think Trump would pardon him”: “Michael Cohen has recently told friends that he is pessimistic that President Donald Trump will offer him a pardon — one more indication that Cohen does not believe his former boss will have his back.
“In a phone call with a friend several days before he was interviewed by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos last weekend, Cohen — who was Trump’s personal attorney for years and is currently under criminal investigation in New York — said he did not believe Trump would wipe his slate clean using the presidential pardon. Cohen has not been charged with any wrongdoing.
“‘I brought up the pardon, and he said, “I don’t think so. I just don’t think so,”’ Cohen’s friend told CNN. ‘He’s certain in his mind that he has been dismissed.’ According to the friend, Cohen also said: ‘I don’t know what to think any more.’” https://cnn.it/2ubjd75
— “Michael Cohen hires Clinton scandal veteran Lanny Davis,” by Darren Samuelsohn: https://politi.co/2KLEcrk
WHAT KEVIN MCCARTHY IS READING … NYT’S ADAM NAGOURNEY in SAN FRANCISCO: “How Control of Congress Could Swing on a Fight to Repeal California’s Gas Tax” https://nyti.ms/2tWkWxU
L.A. TIMES: “Mexico’s Lopez Obrador taps longtime loyalist as nominee for top diplomat and invites Trump to inauguration” https://lat.ms/2lZuIuF
TRUMP INC. — “Trump’s Mar-A-Lago Wants To Hire 40 More Foreign Workers,” by BuzzFeed’s Jeremy Singer-Vine, Jessica Garrison and Ken Bensinger: “Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Florida, that he calls the Winter White House, has asked the government for permission to hire 40 temporary foreign workers as waiters and waitresses, according to records posted by the Department of Labor on Thursday. …
“No one from the club or the Trump Organization immediately responded to requests for comment Thursday. A spokesperson from the White House referred inquiries to the Trump Organization and Department of Labor.” https://bzfd.it/2NrYBjD
****** A message from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: As of this week, approximately $75 billion worth of U.S. exports will be subject to retaliatory tariffs. Escalating tit-for-tat trade actions promise to raise costs on American businesses and consumers. See how your state will be impacted at www.TheWrongApproach.com. ******
MEDIAWATCH – “Charles Koch, champion of free speech? His grants to news media accelerate,” by WaPo’s Paul Farhi: “When The Washington Post hosted a public discussion about the future of the First Amendment last month, one of the sponsors of the event was a surprising name: the Charles Koch Foundation. …
“[T]he Post’s event was just a small part of the foundation’s broader move into free-speech advocacy and journalism-related projects over the past two years. The foundation gave $80,000 last year to the American Society of News Editors to maintain a legal hotline for news organizations.
“It funded a college-journalism training program organized by the Poynter Institute, a journalism-education organization. It also underwrote surveys by the Knight Foundation and the Gallup Organization about young people’s attitudes toward the First Amendment, and it backed Techdirt, the legal and tech-policy blog, in its fight against a defamation suit. Its biggest beneficiary may be the Newseum in Washington, which has received more than $500,000 for panel discussions, awards galas and other events promoting free expression.” https://wapo.st/2lWWXKv
REMEMBERING ED SCHULTZ – WDAY of Fargo: “Ed Schultz, the longtime broadcaster who churned up the Fargo-Moorhead area airwaves before moving into the national spotlight as a progressive firebrand, died of natural causes Thursday, July 5, at his home in Washington, D.C. Schultz, the host of ‘The News With Ed Schultz’ on RT America, was 64. … Schultz never shied away from controversy. If anything, he sought it out. … The former standout college quarterback at Minnesota State University Moorhead hit his stride as a conservative talk show host in the Fargo-Moorhead market, then shed his skin to become a Democrat. He later jumped to the national stage with MSNBC before becoming a lead anchor for Moscow-sponsored RT America.” http://bit.ly/2IW4O3P
SUNDAY SO FAR – “Fox News Sunday” (guest-host: Dana Perino): U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison. Panel: Brit Hume, Gillian Turner, Jason Chaffetz and Juan Williams
— CNN’s “State of the Union” (guest-host: Dana Bash): Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) … Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.). Panel: Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Linda Chavez, Ken Blackwell and Jeff Weaver
— CNN’s “Inside Politics” (host: John King): Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Karoun Demirjian, Jackie Kucinich and Sahil Kapur
— NBC’s “Meet the Press”: Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) … Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). Panel: Mark Murray, Susan Page, Danielle Pletka and Eugene Robinson
— ABC’s “This Week”: Leonard Leo. Panel: Patrick Gaspard, Chris Christie, Stephanie Cutter and Sara Fagen
— CBS’ “Face the Nation”: Kay Bailey Hutchison … Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) … Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.)
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: John Dickerson, co-anchor of “CBS This Morning” and contributing editor of The Atlantic, is 5-0. A trend he thinks deserves more attention: “The people and institutions devoted to generosity, self-sacrifice and progress outside the Perpetual Outrage Arena. Deb and Jim Fallows tell the story in their book ‘Our Towns,’ but you can read about it in any local newspaper (those that are left), in the stories of teachers, firefighters, police, bureaucrats, ministers and small business owners getting things done on the regular. Or, you can read about it overseas. In Nicaragua, for example, the selfless people of Covenant House [http://bit.ly/2ua11uo] are sheltering kids and families from the violence sweeping the country.” Q&A: https://politi.co/2KF3g4h
BIRTHDAYS: President George W. Bush is 72 … Apple’s Nick Ammann is 4-0 … Ron Fournier, president of PR and lobbying firm Truscott Rossman, is 55 … Josh Elliott is 47 … former first daughter Susan Ford Bales is 61 … Christyn Lansing of the DHS comms shop (h/t Lauren Claffey) … CNN national correspondent Athena Jones (h/t Ben Chang, filing from Sag Harbor) … Eleanor Clift … Jennifer Duffy, senior editor at The Cook Political Report … Richard Benedetto … Jill Zuckman … Kimberly Dozier, a Daily Beast contributor and CNN analyst … Chris Paulitz … Mark Tomb … Cloe Axelson … Virginia state Senator Jill Holtzman Vogel … Tyler Pager … Zachary Karabell is 51 … Cynthia Keyser (h/t Jon Haber) … Charlie Sherwood … ACLU’s Gabriela Meléndez Olivera … Cora Swanson, a digital strategist at Saguaro Strategies (h/t Andy Barr) … Storm Horncastle, public relations officer for the Royal Norwegian Embassy, is 3-0. She’s celebrating with friends at a black tie dinner hosted by Amb. Kåre Aas at his residence in Washington (h/t Mitchell Rivard) …
… Anita Kumar, WH correspondent at McClatchy Newspapers … FOIA was signed 52 years ago (http://bit.ly/2tZ2GE5) (h/t Jason Leopold) … WashPost’s Glenn Kessler … Henry Oliver … Judah Ginsberg is 76 … Sean Maroney … Caitlin Helfrich … Bryan Goettel … Stephen Carter, senior comms. manager at Microsoft … Cathy Zheutlin … Petra Collins … Thomas Mucha … Kaylan Lehotsky Schreffler … Hilary Bombard … former Amb. Danny Sepulveda, now VP for global GR at MediaMath … Patrick Hanley … Ryen Mills … Randall K. Benjamin II … Ken Opin … Michelle Riesterer … Jeff Gaumer (h/ts Teresa Vilmain) … The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is 83 (h/t AP)
****** A message from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Trade works. Tariffs don’t. See how hard your state will be hit by retaliatory tariffs on American exports at www.TheWrongApproach.com. ******
SUBSCRIBE to the Playbook family: POLITICO Playbook http://politi.co/2lQswbh … Playbook Power Briefing http://politi.co/2xuOiqh … New York Playbook http://politi.co/1ON8bqW … Florida Playbook http://politi.co/1OypFe9 … New Jersey Playbook http://politi.co/1HLKltF … Massachusetts Playbook http://politi.co/1Nhtq5v … Illinois Playbook http://politi.co/1N7u5sb … California Playbook http://politi.co/2bLvcPl … London Playbook http://politi.co/2xfDPuK … Brussels Playbook http://politi.co/1FZeLcw … All our political and policy tipsheets http://politi.co/1M75UbX