A SNEAK PEEK FOR PLAYBOOKERS … DAVE WASSERMAN of the Cook Political Report just released a 22,000-word analysis of the House to his subscribers. Here’s a peek, in which he predicts a 20- to 40-seat pickup for Democrats: “The most critical phase of the battle for the House isn’t October; it’s right now. Republicans’ only hope of defying a ‘Blue Wave’ and saving their 23-seat House majority is to personally disqualify Democratic nominees on a race-by-race basis with quality opposition research. But there’s a narrow window of time to do so before the airwaves get clogged, and Republicans will need to be selective.
“The playing field of competitive races has expanded, and not in a good way for the GOP: of the 66 races in our ‘Lean’ and ‘Toss Up’ columns, Republicans are defending 62 and Democrats just four. The battlefield includes all types of places: northeastern suburbs, Sun Belt exurbs, Trump zones in the Rust Belt and unexpected locales like Little Rock, Spokane and even the coalfields of southern West Virginia.
“Many Republicans wish they could simply run on a great economy, but complain President Trump’s constant distractions won’t let them. Instead, Republicans will have to convince voters that the Democratic alternatives are unacceptable. …
“Of the 25 Republicans sitting in districts Hillary Clinton carried, only five are currently well-positioned to survive a wave: Reps. David Valadao (CA-21), Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), John Katko (NY-24), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) and Will Hurd (TX-23). But eight others aren’t seeking reelection, and 12 others are in Toss Up or worse. Those 20 largely suburban, college-educated seats make up the bulk of the 23 seats Democrats need. …
“Democrats remain clear but not overwhelming House favorites. On the low end, it’s possible House control may not be decided until days after the election. It’s also possible a ‘Blue Wave’ could propel Democrats to historic gains, well past the 23 they need. Right now, Democrats appear poised to gain between 20 and 40 seats, with 25 to 35 the likeliest outcome.”
SCOOP: AP’S BILL BARROW in Chicago: “DNC, TV networks discuss presidential debates”: “The Democratic Party has begun conversations with television networks about a series of presidential primary debates in 2019, a top party official has told The Associated Press.
“The talks are ‘in the very early stages,’ according to the official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. The early start, well before the 2020 field is known, signals the importance that the [DNC] chairman, Tom Perez, is placing on decisions that will be scrutinized for any signs of favoritism among potentially two dozen or more candidates.” AP
Good Saturday morning. WHAT’S ON THE PRESIDENT’S MIND — @realDonaldTrump at 9:22 a.m.: “Our relationship with Mexico is getting closer by the hour. Some really good people within both the new and old government, and all working closely together….A big Trade Agreement with Mexico could be happening soon!”
— ON HILLARY’S EMAILS … at 9:14 a.m.: “‘The FBI looked at less than 1%’ of Crooked’s Emails!”
… at 9:11 a.m.: “‘The FBI only looked at 3000 of 675,000 Crooked Hillary Clinton Emails.’ They purposely didn’t look at the disasters. This news is just out. @FoxNews”.
… at 9:05 a.m.: “Big story out that the FBI ignored tens of thousands of Crooked Hillary Emails, many of which are REALLY BAD. Also gave false election info. I feel sure that we will soon be getting to the bottom of all of this corruption. At some point I may have to get involved!”
— MORE ON SESSIONS … at 8:46 a.m.: “.@LindseyGrahamSC ‘Every President deserves an Attorney General they have confidence in. I believe every President has a right to their Cabinet, these are not lifetime appointments. You serve at the pleasure of the President.’”
… at 8:36 a.m.: “Jeff Sessions said he wouldn’t allow politics to influence him only because he doesn’t understand what is happening underneath his command position. Highly conflicted Bob Mueller and his gang of 17 Angry Dems are having a field day as real corruption goes untouched. No Collusion!”
— AND MICHAEL COHEN … at 8:16 a.m.: “Michaels Cohen’s attorney clarified the record, saying his client does not know if President Trump knew about the Trump Tower meeting (out of which came nothing!). The answer is that I did NOT know about the meeting. Just another phony story by the Fake News Media!”
THE PRESIDENT has nothing on his public schedule today.
ABOUT LAST NIGHT — THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: “Trump talks politics, sidesteps new headlines, in Columbus speech,” by Randy Ludlow: “While tossing out some red meat in the form of takedowns of Ohio Democrats Richard Cordray and Sherrod Brown, President Donald Trump delivered — for him — a tame speech Friday evening to an Ohio Republican Party fundraising dinner at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. …
“But the president steered clear of making new headlines at the conclusion of a tumultuous week for his presidency. There was no talk of special counsel Robert Mueller and his ‘witch hunt,’ no mention of convicted former campaign manager Paul Manafort or the guilty pleas of former lawyer Michael Cohen, and no continued sparring with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“Trump did not even take a poke at his nemesis, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a persistent critic of the president and possible 2020 challenger who skipped the final GOP state dinner of his eight years as the state’s CEO.” TCD
WHAT A WEEK! — AP’S JILL COLVIN and CATHERINE LUCEY: “Trump’s bad week: A growing list of allies turn against him”: “On one of the worst days of his presidency, Donald Trump was chatting aboard Air Force One when the conversation took a detour into gallows humor. Trump was returning from a rally in West Virginia just hours after two former members of his inner circle were found or pleaded guilty, when one passenger quipped that a news story would surely soon be breaking about the president fuming onboard. Everyone laughed, including the president. Despite the momentary levity, though, Trump is increasingly frustrated and isolated as the investigations that have long dogged his White House plunge into the personal territory he once declared off-limits. …
“Within the West Wing, aides have grown increasingly numb to the drumbeat of bad news, though the revelation of Cohen’s plea and the immunity deals took some by surprise. … The White House official insisted that West Wing staffers continue to keep their heads down and do their jobs. On Thursday evening, the person said, dozens of staffers gathered on Chief of Staff John Kelly’s porch to celebrate the recent birthdays of a trio of staffers: Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, senior policy adviser Stephen Miller and chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow.
“While they snacked on homemade cakes and chatted, the staffers welcomed a surprise visit from the president, who delivered a speech and made jokes, acting like nothing was wrong and winning cheers from aides as he left.” AP
THE BIG QUESTION — WHEN WILL TRUMP SPEAK ABOUT MCCAIN? — WAPO’S ANNE GEARAN and JOSH DAWSEY: “Bad blood between McCain and Trump lingers, even as the Arizona Republican nears the end”
RUSSIA WATCH — “Kremlin Sources Go Quiet, Leaving C.I.A. in the Dark About Putin’s Plans for Midterms,” by NYT’s Julian E. Barnes and Matt Rosenberg: “In 2016, American intelligence agencies delivered urgent and explicit warnings about Russia’s intentions to try to tip the American presidential election — and a detailed assessment of the operation afterward — thanks in large part to informants close to President Vladimir V. Putin and in the Kremlin who provided crucial details.
“But two years later, the vital Kremlin informants have largely gone silent, leaving the C.I.A. and other spy agencies in the dark about precisely what Mr. Putin’s intentions are for November’s midterm elections, according to American officials familiar with the intelligence. The officials do not believe the sources have been compromised or killed.
“Instead, they have concluded they have gone to ground amid more aggressive counterintelligence by Moscow, including efforts to kill spies, like the poisoning in March in Britain of a former Russian intelligence officer that utilized a rare Russian-made nerve agent. Current and former officials also said the expulsion of American intelligence officers from Moscow has hurt collection efforts. And officials also raised the possibility that the outing of an F.B.I. informant under scrutiny by the House intelligence committee — an examination encouraged by President Trump — has had a chilling effect on intelligence collection.” NYT
NANCY COOK, “Aides expect Trump to go rogue on Manafort pardon”: “President Donald Trump’s lawyers and a cadre of informal White House advisers claim they’ve convinced him not to pardon Paul Manafort — but White House officials expect the president to do it anyway. The president’s characterization of his former campaign chairman as a victim and ‘brave man’ is being read by aides as a signal that Trump wants to use his unilateral authority to issue pardons to absolve Manafort, according to eight current and former administration officials and outside advisers. ‘Trump is setting it up. He’s referring to the investigation as a “witch hunt” and saying this never would have happened to an aide to Hillary Clinton,’ said one former campaign official.” POLITICO
— “Trump on Weisselberg: ‘He Did Whatever Was Necessary’: Perhaps the most important person in the Trump Organization has had the lowest profile. Until he agreed to cooperate with federal investigators,” by Michael Kruse. POLITICO Magazine
NEXT UP: “Mueller team shortens estimate for length of 2nd Manafort trial,” by Josh Gerstein: “Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is shaving its estimate for the length of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s upcoming trial, projecting that the prosecution case could be completed in as little as two weeks. ‘The government anticipates that its case-in-chief will last approximately ten to twelve trial days,’ prosecutors wrote in a filing Friday evening in U.S. District Court in Washington. Manafort is set to go on trial there beginning September 17 on charges of failing to register as a foreign agent, money laundering and obstruction of justice.” POLITICO
HOT DOC — “Ex-Trump World Tower doorman releases ‘catch-and-kill’ contract about alleged Trump affair,” by CNN’s Sonia Moghe: “A former Trump World Tower doorman who says he has knowledge of an alleged affair President Donald Trump had with an ex-housekeeper, which resulted in a child, is now able to talk about a contract he entered with American Media Inc. that had prohibited him from discussing the matter with anyone, according to his attorney. On Friday, Marc Held — the attorney for Dino Sajudin, the former doorman — said his client had been released from his contract with AMI, the parent company of the National Enquirer, ‘recently’ after back-and-forth discussions with AMI.
“CNN has exclusively obtained a copy of the ‘source agreement’ between Sajudin and AMI, which is owned by David Pecker. The contract appears to have been signed on Nov. 15, 2015, and states that AMI has exclusive rights to Sajudin’s story but does not mention the details of the story itself beyond saying, ‘Source shall provide AMI with information regarding Donald Trump’s illegitimate child…’” CNN … The contract
RACHAEL BADE, “‘How do you stay married to a guy who does that?’”: “House Republicans are whispering one word over and over again to describe embattled Rep. Duncan Hunter: Shameless. The California Republican, indicted this week for using $250,000 in campaign funds to enrich himself and his family, is blaming everyone but himself for his current legal predicament: … Hunter’s brazen attempt to throw his spouse under the bus in particular has more than half a dozen Hill Republican lawmakers and aides shaking their heads. … Asked about the matter, one of his friends in Congress simply replied, exasperated, ‘I can’t.’
“‘Ridiculous,’ said one California Republican Hill aide. ‘If you read the indictment, clearly it was both of them… Like, how do you stay married to a guy who does that?’ A senior House Republican predicted the two would be divorcing soon: ‘You can’t blame your wife and stay married to your wife.’ Another House Republican added: ‘He’s trying to save himself… and I don’t believe he didn’t know about it.’” POLITICO
OH MY … “Cathy McMorris Rodgers Open to Supporting Jim Jordan for Speaker,” by the Inlander’s Daniel Walters: “‘I have talked to Jim Jordan. I have talked with House Majority Leader [Kevin McCarthy],’ McMorris Rodgers says. ‘I am staying open. I have not made a commitment for who I will be supporting for leadership. I really believe that it’s premature for us to be jockeying for leadership positions when we need to focus on our races.’” The Inlander
CLICKER – “The nation’s cartoonists on the week in politics,” edited by Matt Wuerker — 11 funnies
2020 WATCH — “Houston makes big play for Democratic convention,” by David Siders in Chicago: “Houston plied Democratic Party officials with brisket and a macaroni bar. Miami Beach rented a boat. Milwaukee is shuttling in basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. As the [DNC] gathers in Chicago for its annual summer meeting, the three cities competing to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention are putting on the hard sell.
“None had as robust a presence as Houston, which appears to have nudged ahead in the early running, mostly because of the city’s large number of hotel rooms, according to several DNC members and officials close to the selection process. But Milwaukee has made a compelling political case for the Midwest, and no site holds a lock on the convention.” POLITICO
FOR YOUR RADAR — “Trump anxiety spreads through South Korea,” by Cory Bennett in Seoul: “South Koreans are growing more anxious about President Donald Trump’s commitment to the North Korean nuclear deal, fearing he could simply walk away, having already declared victory back home. …
“Among the concerns are frustration that Trump has failed to secure a formal end to the Korean War while negotiating on nuclear disarmament; worries that the president is simply seeking a ‘trophy’ for meeting with Kim and won’t be as engaged in the hard work to come; doubts about the ‘hubris’ of the White House’s all-or-nothing approach to negotiating with Pyongyang, as opposed to the incremental process favored by many South Koreans; and dismay over why Trump would launch a trade war with China at a time when he needs Beijing’s help in keeping pressure on North Korea.” POLITICO
VALLEY TALK — “Elon Musk Says Tesla Will Remain a Public Company,” by WSJ’s Tim Higgins: “Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Elon Musk said late Friday that he is giving up on taking the company private in the wake of shareholders’ objections, 17 days after he shocked the business world with a tweet announcing intentions to pursue the idea. In a post on the company’s website, Mr. Musk said he had informed Tesla’s board Thursday that ‘I believe the better path is for Tesla to remain public.’ Tesla directors around the same time Friday night released a statement saying ‘we fully support Elon as he continues to lead the company moving forward.’” WSJ … Elon’s post
— “Facebook Hires HP Exec Antonio Lucio as CMO to Lead Branding After Series of Controversies,” by Variety’s Todd Spangler: “Most recently, Lucio was HP’s chief marketing and communications officer and previously was Visa’s global CMO. At Facebook, he reports to chief product officer Chris Cox, with an official start date of Sept. 4. Lucio replaces Gary Briggs, who stepped down as the social giant’s chief marketing officer in January 2018, saying he would consult for companies and Democratic candidates.” Variety
GREAT WEEKEND READS, curated by Daniel Lippman:
— “Dear Mr. President,” by Jeanne Marie Laskas, author of “To Obama: With Love, Joy, Anger, and Hope,” in the Guardian: “During his presidency, Barack Obama read 10 letters from members of the public every day. He reveals what they meant to him.” Guardian … $28 on Amazon
— “The Untold Story of Notpetya, the Most Devastating Cyberattack in History,” by Andy Greenberg on the cover of September’s Wired: “Crippled ports. Paralyzed corporations. Frozen government agencies. How a single piece of code crashed the world.” Wired
— “What Happened at Camp Lejeune,” by Lori Lou Freshwater in Pacific Standard Magazine – per Longreads.com’s description: “Living next to North Carolina Naval Base Camp Lejeune, Lori Lou Freshwater grew up drinking and bathing in water contaminated at levels 240 to 3400 times the safety standard. Now a Superfund site and a candidate for ‘the worst water contamination case in U.S. history,’ the area’s carcinogens caused her mother to lose two sons, one born with an open spine, the other with no cranium, and to develop two kinds of leukemia. As a stopover base for military personnel, up to a million others could be affected.” Pacific Standard
— “Harley-Davidson Needs a New Generation of Riders,” by Claire Suddath on the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek: “If it wants to survive Trump’s tariffs and an aging customer base, the company has to embrace a cultural shift.” Bloomberg Businessweek
— “How a Transplanted Face Transformed Katie Stubblefield’s Life,” by Joanna Connors in NatGeo – per TheBrowser.com’s description: “Gruelling, enthralling tale of a young woman who blows off her own face with a rifle bullet in a failed suicide attempt, lives for three years with a protective graft of flesh where her face used to be, then receives a new face, transplanted in its entirety from a dead donor. … The U.S. Army paid for the operation, as research into the use of facial transplants for treating disfigured soldiers.” NatGeo
— “Virgin Galactic’s Rocket Man,” by Nick Schmidle in the New Yorker: “The ace pilot risking his life to fulfill Richard Branson’s billion-dollar quest to make commercial space travel a reality.” New Yorker
— “The Doomed Island That Loves Trump,” by Earl Swift in POLITICO Magazine: “[Virginia’s] Tangier Island, climate change-denying and threatened by rising waters, became a thing of media fascination in 2016. Here’s what it looked like on their side.” POLITICO Magazine
— “Dog Person,” by BuzzFeed’s Nishita Jha in New Delhi: “She swiped right because she liked his dog. But what happened that night became a viral #MeToo story.” BuzzFeed
— “Love and Loathing in Las Vegas,” by Trevor Aaronson in the Intercept: “Inside a sleazy FBI sting involving diet clinics, fitness models, money laundering, and a supposed plot to hire a hitman.” Intercept (h/t Longform.org)
— “The Secret Fight to Save Confederate Monuments,” by Shaun Assael in Glamour: “One year after the hate-filled Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, 110 Confederate icons have been removed from public places. More than 1,700 remain. And some of the most powerful people working to preserve them look more like your grandmother than skinheads marching in the streets.” Glamour
— “The Wild Road Trip That Launched the Populist Conservative Movement,” by Sasha Issenberg in Smithsonian: “How a fiery preacher and a maverick Army general took the nation by storm.” Smithsonian
— “Sy Hersh is Calling!” by James Rosen in The National Interest, reviewing “Reporter: A Memoir”: “Seymour Hersh, in his Buddy Holly eyeglasses, unmemorable suit and rumpled raincoat—a cross between Woody Allen and Columbo—was enough to set hardened bureaucratic lifers atremble.” The National Interest … $26.80 on Amazon
— “The Humanities Are in Crisis,” by Benjamin Schmidt in The Atlantic: “Students are abandoning humanities majors, turning to degrees they think yield far better job prospects. But they’re wrong.” Atlantic (h/t ALDaily.com)
SPOTTED — Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Kennedy Center last night for “Hamilton.”
BIRTHDAYS: Michael Cohen is 52 … Elsa Walsh … Dan Stein … Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is 76 … Steve Hilton, host of Fox News’ “The Next Revolution with Steve Hilton” (hat tip: Juleanna Glover) … Tom Squitieri is 65 … Daniel Barash … Sarah Peck, Sen. Kaine’s comms director … Zach Cikanek, managing director of public affairs at FP1 Strategies, celebrating on a cruise in Bermuda (h/t wife Jolyn Lorenzetti) … Leigh Claffey, director of comms at Growth Energy (h/t sister Lauren) … Sara Sendek, director of public affairs at DHS’ NPPD (h/t Blain Rethmeier) … Axios’ Neal Rothschild and Rob Groulx (h/ts Shannon Vavra) … Mike Burns, comms director for Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. … Lennon Duggan … Jeff Choudhry … Debbie Matz … Michael Wascom … Ella Goodman … Ryan Dalton, deputy director for the D.C. office of Gov. Cuomo (h/t wife Olivia) … Brian Wise … Chris Hooton, chief economist at the Internet Association, celebrating with a picnic in Regent’s Park in London (h/t wife Hadas Gold) … Politico’s Amanda Farnan … Jonathan Halling … NBC News’ Monica Alba … John Dickas is 4-0. He’s celebrating at 3 Stars Brewing in D.C. (h/ts Ben Chang and Carol Guthrie) …
… Jen Lifhits of The Weekly Standard (h/ts Tim Mak and Alice Lloyd) … Terry O’Neill … Howard Kass, SVP of CLEAR, is 5-0 (h/ts Jill Zuckman and Amber Marchand) … Ashley Inman (h/t David Beavers) … Edelman’s Antoinette Forbes … Megan Clasen … Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.) is 59 (h/t Danielle Most) … Rep. John Faso (R-N.Y.) is 66 … Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) is 58 … Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.) is 46 … former Rep. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.) is 73 … Dave Hoppe is 67 … Caroline Melo … William Flaherty … Anna Mulrine … Sarah Lee … James Allen … Sam Michelman … Clémentine Aymard Quinn … Christian Oliver … Ted Metzger, EP of CNN’s “At This Hour” with Kate Bolduan … Allison Davis O’Keefe … Beth Burke … Joe Walker … Margo Hennigan … Brian Majorsky … Harley Mayersohn … Robin Johnson is 6-0 … PwC’s Michael O’Brien … Theresa Pagliocca … Brian Sweeney … Kim Warkentin … Eric Stern … Olivia Craighead.
THE SHOWS, by @MattMackowiak, filing from Austin:
“Face the Nation”: Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) … Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) … Jonathan Turley. Panel: Dan Balz, Kristina Peterson, Shannon Pettypiece and Shawna Thomas
“Meet the Press”: New NBC News/WSJ poll … Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) … Bob Bauer and Solomon Wisenberg. Panel: David Brody, Hallie Jackson, Joshua Johnson and Susan Page
“This Week”: Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) … Alan Dershowitz … Roger Stone. Panel: former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Donna Brazile, Mitch Landrieu, Megan Murphy and Alice Stewart
“Fox News Sunday”: Alberto Gonzales … Corey Lewandowski. Panel: Marc Lotter, Gillian Turner, Marie Harf and Juan Williams
“Sunday Morning Futures”: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) … Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) … Mohamed El-Erian. Panel: Gregg Jarrett, Ed Rollins and Mary Kissel
“MediaBuzz”: Anthony Scaramucci … Sara Fischer … Emily Jashinsky … Richard Fowler … Charles Gasparino
“Inside Politics”: Panel: Sahil Kapur, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Josh Dawsey and Jackie Kucinich (substitute anchor: Dana Bash)
“State of the Union”: Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) … Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif). Panel: Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Marc Short, Amanda Carpenter and Karine Jean-Pierre
“Fareed Zakaria GPS”: Panel: Steven Brill, Deborah and James Fallows … Dambisa Moyo … physicist Carlo Rovelli
“Reliable Sources”: Panel: Carl Bernstein, Nicole Carroll and Frank Sesno … Margaret Sullivan and David Zurawik … Dan Rather
“Al Punto”: Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.) and Republican analyst Adolfo Franco … journalist Pedro Ferriz de Con … sex abuse survivor Juan Carlos Cruz … comedian Sofia Niño de Rivera … Univision Deportes anchors Alejandro Berry and Ana Caty Hernandez
“The Communicators”: author Mark Mills (“Work in the Age of Robots”) … “Newsmakers”: Neera Tanden, questioned by Jerry Seib and Darlene Superville … “Q&A”: Jeffrey Rosen
“Kasie DC”: cybersecurity expert and Stanford University’s Alex Stamos … Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) … Jake Sherman … Jon Ward … Katty Kay … Emily Jane Fox … Michael Steel … Kevin McLaughlin … congressional candidate Glenn Ivey (D-Md.) … former federal prosecutor Mimi Rocah … Pete Williams … Kelly O’Donnell … Ali Vitali … Vaughn Hillyard
The McLaughlin Group
Moderator Tom Rogan with Pat Buchanan, Eleanor Clift and guest panelists author and London Center for Policy Research’s Tony Shaffer and Amanda Terkel
“Mack on Politics” weekly politics podcast with Matt Mackowiak (download on iTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher or listen at MackOnPolitics.com): Attorney Gayle Trotter.