But the plot surrounding his golden opportunity to remake the Supreme Court is playing out according to Trump’s directions, as his self-imposed Monday deadline for making a selection to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy approaches.
Generating a public list of potential justices already looks like a masterstroke. It has managed to assuage conservative concerns while quieting liberal arguments by giving the impression that his finalists have already been vetted.
For now, the battles are being waged primarily on the right.
Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s defense by Bush-era Republicans is almost certainly hurting him in Trump’s mind. Judge Amy Coney Barrett, meanwhile, has age, gender, and a previous appointment by Trump – followed by Senate confirmation – on her side.
Barrett has already drawn fire from the left, amid concerns by abortion-rights groups that she would be likely to overturn Roe v. Wade. But that’s still a fight for later – one the president seems inclined to calculate that he can afford.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
The timing was cheap.
The Department of Justice announced it was rescinding two dozen regulation and guideline documents, primarily focused on protecting minority groups, on the afternoon before a holiday, arguably admitting the optics were not good.
The decision to scrap policies centered around affirmative action – encouraging and outlining ways for universities to legally consider race in admission to promote diversity on campus – got the most coverage over The Fourth, but only scratched the surface of the changes.
Other documents dumped, included guidance for preventing employment discrimination, several safety rules and standards for juveniles in jails, a cheat-sheet to help new homebuyers avoid abuse and an explainer document titled: “Refugees and Asylees Have the Right to Work.”
AP, FILEAttorney General Jeff Sessions leaves his meeting with members of the Republican Study Committee at the Capitol, June 20, 2018.
“In the Trump administration, we are restoring the rule of law,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote in his statement. The administration also seems to be slowly, quietly, abandoning any presumed responsibility to help those often disenfranchised know their rights or feel defended.
The TIP with Tara Palmeri
As President Trump gets closer to settling on a nominee for Supreme Court justice, key senators and interest groups have been reaching out in a last-minute push for the candidate of their choice.
ABC News can confirm that Republican Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky and Tom Cotton of Arkansas both called the President Tuesday to express their concerns about front-runner DC Appellate Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh, according to a source close to the process.
Paul expressed concern over Kavanaugh’s position on the Fourth Amendment, specifically his opinion in favor of bulk metadata collection and his ruling that Obamacare is not unconstitutional. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas also called the White House about Kavanaugh.
Dennis Cook/AP, FILEBrett Kavanaugh appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 26, 2004.
And as ABC News has reported, anti-abortion rights groups and activists have been quietly lobbying against Kavanaugh and in favor of circuit judge Amy Coney Barrett.
But a source close to the process said that Kavanaugh is still under “serious consideration.”
The White House declined to comment on the record to ABC News about this reporting.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“One of the greatest privileges of my life has been marking Independence Day with America’s service members and diplomats selflessly serving overseas. As I spend this Fourth of July at home in Arizona, my thoughts are with these courageous men and women fighting terrorism and tyranny around the world. It is because of their sacrifice that our country remains a beacon of hope to all people held captive by oppression, violence and injustice.” —Arizona Sen. John McCain in a statement released Wednesday.
NEED TO READ
Trump has now met with 7 Supreme Court candidates, says he’ll ‘hit a home run’ with pick. The seventh person interviewed is believed to be Thomas Hardiman, circuit judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. (John Santucci and Tara Palmeri) https://abcn.ws/2tPjPzW
Millions in ads pour in ahead of SCOTUS nomination fight. Two groups, the conservative Judicial Crisis Network and the liberal Demand Justice, have both pledged over $1 million in their respective fights to either encourage support or encourage opposition to whoever emerges as Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his retirement from the bench last week after over 30 years of service. (John Verhovek) https://abcn.ws/2tTHQpk
Trump administration dials back Obama-era affirmative action guidance. The move withdraws guidance issued by the Obama administration that encouraged universities to consider race when evaluating applications, arguing that a “race-neutral” process could disadvantage potential students from minority groups. (Adia Robinson and Stephanie Ebbs) https://abcn.ws/2KO2Rsf
State Dept. dismisses doubts ahead of Pompeo trip to North Korea. Amid growing doubts about North Korea’s commitment to denuclearization, the State Department said Tuesday it’s monitoring the situation, but with Secretary Mike Pompeo heading to Pyongyang Thursday, “We’re in a good spot.” (Conor Finnegan) https://abcn.ws/2u4u2HX
Trump tweets Iranian hardliner’s unsubstantiated claim about Obama. President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday that the Obama administration granted 2,500 Iranians, including government officials, citizenship during the Iran nuclear deal negotiations, without any evidence it was true. The headline from Fox News, Sean Hannity, and others has been circulating for a couple of days now. But it is based on the unsubstantiated comments of one conservative Iranian cleric, trying to bash the more moderate President Hassan Rouhani and his administration. (Conor Finnegan) https://abcn.ws/2KuGHPu
Rep. Jim Jordan denies knowing about alleged sex abuse at Ohio State. Rep. Jim Jordan – the powerful Republican founder of the House Freedom Caucus, staunch Trump ally and dark horse candidate for speaker – is denying new claims that as an assistant wrestling coach at The Ohio State University in the late 1980s he failed to address alleged sexual abuse by a team physician. (John Parkinson and Devin Dwyer) https://abcn.ws/2u6WR6z
12-year-old sent to migrant shelter 900 miles from family: ‘He didn’t know what was happening.’ When Brayan Cáceres’ grandmother in Florida was finally able to talk to the boy after he had been detained with family at the border and sent to Maryland, nearly a thousand miles from his family, “He was crying. He didn’t understand what was happening,” Rosa Cáceres, the grandmother, said. Now when she talks by phone with the child, “He asks me when we are going to see each other, and I don’t know what to say. Sometimes I’m scared they will never give him back to me… With the authorities here, anything can happen.” (Gerry Wagschal) https://abcn.ws/2KM39D8
A ‘shocking increase’ in citizenship application backlog, new report finds amid immigration crisis and upcoming midterms. “There’s been a shocking increase in the backlog. Nearly three-quarters of a million legal permanent residents eligible for citizenship are awaiting processing of their naturalization applications,” Joshua Hoyt, executive director of the National Partnership for New Americans, a coalition of immigrant rights groups, told ABC News. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the government agency that oversees the naturalization process, rejected claims made by the report. (Meena Venkataramanan) https://abcn.ws/2u7fNC8
Pruitt allies sought EPA jobs for friends, family as companies suggested hires, emails show. Just months into the Trump administration, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s allies from Oklahoma contacted Pruitt and his chief of staff trying to get jobs for family friends and a chemical industry lobbyist – and Pruitt himself tried to recruit from the oil and gas industry, according to internal EPA emails. (Soo Rin Kim) https://abcn.ws/2lPed44
Where things stand for some key Trump orbit figures in Mueller’s universe. Mueller’s team has focused much of its attention on key figures in President Trump’s world. Here are a few of those figures, and a look at where they stand in their legal battles. (Allison Pecorin) https://abcn.ws/2KOVqRv
The Supreme Court’s biggest rulings of 2018. Before Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his upcoming retirement, the Court issued decisions on several significant cases that could have impacts on public unions, cell phone privacy and how courts consider First Amendment protections. Here are some of the biggest decisions from the Supreme Court’s 2018 term. (Stephanie Ebbs) https://abcn.ws/2KPZQHE
From the teacher walkout to the ballot box, a 26-year-old hopes to ride momentum to historic win. Jacobi Crowley — at the spry age of 26 — captured the Democratic nomination for Oklahoma state Senate District 32 on June 26. A win by Crowley in November would mark a major victory for both millennial and African-American candidates eyeing an entry into politics. (Kendall Karson) https://abcn.ws/2tWRo2S
U.S. Border Patrol agents boarded several Canadian fishing boats in disputed waters claimed by both Canada and the United States and asked fishermen onboard about possible illegal immigrants, the Toronto Star reports. A local fisherman said he’s never seen border patrol agents in those waters—only the U.S. Coast Guard. https://bit.ly/2KvwIJD
“In art—and in policy—the line between the personal and the political feels increasingly blurred,” writes the Los Angeles Times in this series of stories about music in today’s political climate. “Some artists are raising a fist while others are looking for empathy, but it’s all in the name of building a community.” https://lat.ms/2ILKX7q