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Trump snubs John McCain during bill signing intended to honor him



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By Jonathan Allen

WASHINGTON — Congress wanted to honor the ailing Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. President Donald Trump did not.

In extended remarks during a visit to Fort Drum in upstate New York to sign the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 — this year’s version of an annual bill that sets defense policy — Trump chose not to mention the former prisoner of war and Senate Armed Services Committee chairman who is battling brain cancer. He even omitted McCain’s name when citing the title of the bill.

The two men have long been fierce critics of each other, with McCain calling Trump’s supporters “crazies” in 2015 and Trump retaliating by questioning whether McCain, who was subjected to torture in a Vietnamese prison camp, is really a “war hero” because “he was captured.”

The snub at Fort Drum, home to the combat aviation brigade of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division, did not escape the notice of McCain’s allies.

“For those asking did I expect Trump to be an a—— today. No more than I expected it to be Monday,” Mark Salter, McCain’s longtime aide, wrote on Twitter.

McCain’s condition — dire enough that a recent HBO documentary on him was titled “John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls” — has not stopped Trump from deriding the Arizona senator at political rallies. Though Trump does not use his name, he tells crowds that he would have been able to repeal Obamacare if not for a thumbs-down sign from one senator — McCain.

The senator’s own statement included Trump’s name in the headline and in a preamble written by staff. But the words attributed to McCain did not.

“I’m very proud that the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 has been signed into law,” he said.

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Trump leans on his greatest hits in campaign kickoff



WASHINGTON — Like an aging rock star, President Trump played all of his greatest hits at his re-election rally last night in Orlando, Florida.

And he offered little that was new.

Trump mentioned Hillary Clinton multiple times.

“If you want to know how the system is rigged, just compare how they came after us for three years with everything they have versus the free pass they gave to Hillary and her aides after they set up an illegal server.”

He talked about his crowd size and criticized the news media.

“You know, I said this is a very big arena for a Tuesday night. I said, you know if we have about three or four empty seats, the Fake News will say, headlines, he didn’t fill up the arena.”

And he had nicknames for his current political opponents.

“Well, tell Sleepy Joe that we found the magic wand. Sleepy guy!”

“More than 120 Democrats in Congress have also signed up to support Crazy Bernie Sanders’ crazy socialist takeover of health care.”

Don’t get us wrong: Old rock bands can still pack arenas — and make big bucks in the process.

But the problem with keeping all of the old fans happy by playing the greatest hits is that you don’t work on anything new.

That’s arguably Trump’s biggest vulnerability heading into 2020: Are there any new fans to win over after getting just 46 percent of the popular vote in 2016?

And it creates a dilemma for Democratic voters — fight Trump with your own aging rock star who’s leading in the polls with 500-plus days until the general election.

Or fight him with something that’s entirely new?

Don’t stop believin’…

UN investigator says Saudi crown prince could be liable for Khashoggi murder

“The United Nations extrajudicial executions investigator said there was ‘credible evidence’ that high-level Saudi officials, including powerful Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, could be liable for the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” NBC News writes.

“In an 101-page report into the journalist’s murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October, Agnes Callamard called on U.N. bodies or the U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to ‘demand’ a follow-up criminal investigation.”

2020 Vision: Biden says “rich people are just as patriotic as poor people”

At a Manhattan fundraiser with bold-faced Wall Street types last night, Joe Biden said he opposed demonizing rich Americans.

“By the way, you know, remember I got in trouble with some of the people on my team, on the Democratic side, because I said, ‘You know what I’ve found is rich people are just as patriotic as poor people,’” he said, per a pool report of the fundraiser.

More Biden: “Not a joke. I mean, we may not want to demonize anybody who has made money. The truth of the matter is, you all, you all know, you all know in your gut what has to be done.”

And: “We can disagree in the margins, but the truth of the matter is it’s all within our wheelhouse and nobody has to be punished. No one’s standard of living will change, nothing would fundamentally change.”

Over to you, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

On the campaign trail today

Jill Biden stumps for her husband in New Hampshire… And Marianne Williamson also is in the Granite State.

Data Download: The number of the day is … six

That’s the number of months that have passed since the Trump administration last had a confirmed secretary of defense — James Mattis.

On Tuesday, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan stepped down and withdrew from consideration for the Cabinet position.

Trump named Army Secretary Mark Esper to replace Shanahan as acting secretary.

“The announcement came within minutes of a report published in The Washington Post that outlined a series of alleged domestic violence incidents within Shanahan’s family,” per NBC News.

Remember when Trump said, “I alone can fix this”?

Well, he’s pretty much alone governing right now.

Tweet of the day

The Lid: Florida Man

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we took a look at why the president formally kicked off his re-election campaign in central Florida.

ICYMI: News clips you shouldn’t miss

Mitch McConnell says that reparations are not “a good idea.” And McConnell also suggested that the Democratic push for D.C. statehood is part of their “full-bore socialism on the march.”

Here’s the latest on the back-and-forth after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez compared migrant detention centers to “concentration camps.”

After withdrawing from the confirmation process for Defense Secretary, Patrick Shanahan is speaking out about incidents of domestic violence in his family that have recently come to light.

The New York Times has a long read on the whole Michael Cohen/Jerry Falwell/Trump endorsement storyline.

Trump agenda: Hope floats

Democrats are pinning new hopes on Hope Hicks’ congressional testimony.

The Washington Post reports on the internal debate within the administration over whether the U.S. is being too aggressive with Iran.

Trump suggested that he might move to remove Jerome Powell as chief of the Fed.

2020: Kamala’s HBCU push

POLITICO writes that Elizabeth Warren may be consolidating support among some Democratic centrists.

The Orlando Sentinel endorsed “not Trump” hours before the president’s re-election rally.

Joe Biden mentioned two segregationist senators when talking about “civility” in the United States Senate.

Kamala Harris is making a big push into HBCUs.

Is Sarah Sanders really going to run for governor of Arkansas?

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Tory leadership race tracker: How Boris Johnson and Rory Stewart fared after BBC debate



TORY leadership candidate Rory Stewart has suffered a massive drop in support following the BBC debate on Tuesday evening – whilst Boris Johnson is looking more popular than ever.

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Hope Hicks testifies before House committee behind closed doors



WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s former aide Hope Hicks arrived on Capitol Hill Wednesday morning to testify behind closed doors before the House Judiciary Committee.

Democrats planned to focus their questions on what they say are five crimes of obstruction of justice established by the Mueller Report against Trump, as well as campaign finance violations involved with alleged election-year hush money payments.

Her appearance marks the first time a former Trump aide has come in to answer questions before that panel as part of Democrats’ obstruction of justice investigation. A transcript of the interview will be released, though it may not appear for several days.

Other issues Democrats plan to question Hicks about include Trump’s conduct and attitude towards former national security adviser Michael Flynn, Trump’s reaction when former Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation and the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, among others.

In a letter sent to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., Tuesday evening, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone asserted that Hicks was not legally required to provide testimony regarding her time working in the White House.

“Ms. Hicks is absolutely immune from being compelled to testify before Congress with respect to matters occurring during her service as a senior adviser to the President,” he wrote.

Nadler dismissed those claims. “I reject that assertion” regarding blanket executive privilege, he said in a response released late Tuesday night, adding that after the panel poses questions to her, “we will address privilege and other objections on a question by question basis.”

Hicks’s testimony comes after the Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena last month for her appearance. She previously served as White House communications director and the White House director of strategic communications after a stint as a senior aide on Trump’s 2016 campaign.

The White House directed Hicks and another former White House aide earlier this month not to hand over any documents to the House Judiciary Committee related to their time at the White House.

Mike Memoli contributed.

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