Trump promises a role for Gingrich

Trump promises a role for Gingrich

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During V.P. tryout, Trump promises a role for Gingrich
Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump speak at a rally at the Sharonville Convention Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, last night.&nbsp;(Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)</p>

Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump speak at a rally at the Sharonville Convention Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, last night. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

THE BIG IDEA: No one wants to be Donald Trump’s vice president as badly as Newt Gingrich. No one on his short list has less to lose by taking it. And no one would relish the running mate’s traditional role as attack dog more.

The former Speaker of the House traveled with the presumptive GOP nominee to Cincinnati last night, just a few hours after two sitting senators – Bob Corker of Tennessee and Joni Ernst of Iowa – took themselves out of the running.

Gingrich is reportedly a finalist, along with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Trump, of course, is unpredictable. Just yesterday morning, he told Fox News that “about” 10 names are still under consideration, including two retired generals. Aides have said he will probably make the announcement next week.

Gingrich, as he’s shown through his four decades on the national stage, is also unpredictable. In some ways, that makes them natural bosom buddies. (They have also each been married three times.)

Gingrich positioned himself in the role of party elder during his tryout. The denizen of McLean said he “knew a little” about Washington. “But he framed himself as someone with populist instincts in spite of his years on Capitol Hill,” Robert Costa reports from the event. “It was similar to how Trump has framed his time as a big GOP donor: Yes, he was on the inside, but in his mind that only makes him better at calling out corruption at the highest levels.”

— Newt’s Speakership was defined by his clashes with the Clintons. Last night he said Hillary should have been prosecuted over her email practices. “Is there a single person here who believes that if you had done what Hillary Clinton had done that you would not be prosecuted?” Gingrich asked the crowd. Like John Edwards before him, Gingrich said it shows there are “two Americas” — the “corrupt Washington of the old order” and “the rest of us.”

— A tease or a taste? “I’m not saying anything, and I’m not telling even Newt anything, but I can tell you, in one form or another, Newt Gingrich is going to be involved with our government,” Trump said last night.

“I’ll tell you one thing folks,” he added later. “I’m not saying it’s Newt, but if it’s Newt, nobody’s going to be beating him in those debates, that’s for sure, right? Nobody is beating our Newt in the debates.”

— After Corker and Ernst withdrew (both had private sit-downs with Trump in recent days), the only members of Congress who are still being chattered about with any seriousness are Sens. Jeff Sessions (Ala.) and Tom Cotton (Ark.).

— Note that no Democrat has taken himself or herself out of the running to be Hillary Clinton’s #2…

— The Donald is on The Hill this morning, and once again many members will go out of their way to avoid him. A hilarious anecdote from John Bresnahan and Rachael Bade in Politico: “Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) told reporters he had ‘a longstanding appointment downtown.’ Another member said he had to be at the doctor’s office and couldn’t make it. A third said he had a ‘breakfast meeting.’ The member — who asked not to be named — then pulled out his schedule for Thursday morning. When he saw that there wasn’t any event on his schedule, the member took out a pen and wrote ‘Breakfast meeting’ on it. ‘See, I have one!’ he joked.”

Newt leaves after a closed-door meeting with The Donald in March. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)</p>

Newt leaves after a closed-door meeting with The Donald in March. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

— A quick aside: The veepstakes matters. A funny part of this quadrennial exercise is how is becomes fashionable in some corners of the media to complain about how much the rest of the media overhypes the selection process. There’s always trite commentary about how rarely a VP pick carries a state, etc., etc. However, this is the single most important decision a person makes as a presidential candidate. It is hard to overstate how much it says about someone’s judgment. More importantly, of course, the person being chosen could be a heartbeat from the presidency. Eight times in our history, the vice president has been forced to step up when a president died in office.

— “Gingrich, at 73, would be the oldest newly inaugurated vice president in history — running alongside the man who would be the oldest newly elected president in history,” Aaron Blake notes. “As of last month, when Trump turned 70, both men are now septuagenarians, something that is unprecedented in the history of American politics. In fact, we’ve only ever had one septuagenarian sworn into either office — Alben Barkley, who was elected alongside Harry Truman at the age of 71. And only six president-VP pairs have both been 60 or older. The Truman-Barkley White House is currently the oldest on-record at a combined 135 years upon inauguration. Trump and Gingrich would be a combined 143 — eight years older.”

— Newt is getting more online buzz than any of Trump’s other possible picks. Over the last seven days, there have been more than 3.6 million mentions of Trump across traditional and social media. Among the potential vice-presidential contenders, Newt Gingrich led the way with more than 41,384 mentions in stories and tweets that also mentioned the presumptive nominee. According to our analytics partners at Zignal Labs, Christie was second with 22,075, Ernst was third with 20,784 and Corker was third with 18,077.

— Conservative thought leaders are torn about the prospect of Gingrich on the ticket.Here are five key voices:

1. The Federalist’s Mollie Hemmingway says picking Gingrich would reassure holdouts on the right: “If Gingrich were named as a vice president who essentially operated as a chief of staff, many nervous Republicans who are looking on at Trump in horror might be convinced to support him enthusiastically.”

2. National Review’s Jonah Goldberg, who likes Gingrich but not Trump, imagines a partnership of two loose cannons in a funny column: “Gingrich suffers from an intellectual version of Trump’s political Tourette syndrome. The difference is that Gingrich can almost always offer a plausible — or seemingly plausible — defense for every crazy idea, from moon colonies and mirrors in space (to create 24 hours of electricity-free daylight) to claiming that a woman who drowned her kids proved that people needed to vote Republican. While I’m sure the presumptive GOP nominee would love to see a Trump Tower on the moon, I have a sneaking suspicion he will have a tougher time explaining his running mate’s rhetorical excesses than the other way around.”

3. GOP elder statesman Ed Rogers pitches Gingrich as the best person to help the GOP absorb a loss in November: “Trump won’t lose with dignity,” Rogers writes for the the PostPartisan blog. “All in all, this could be a real historical debacle, and I think Gingrich is the only person equipped to co-pilot the GOP to a crash landing that could help the party survive. A less able and more inexperienced politician would be shell-shocked, isolated and of limited value to the party if we are faced with a colossal defeat. Gingrich, on the other hand, has the performance skills and widespread credibility necessary to emerge the day after a brutal loss and rationally make the case for why the Republican Party isn’t dead and how we should proceed into the future.”

4. Daily Caller Deputy Editor Scott Greer thinks Gingrich would undercut the rationale of Trump’s candidacy: “Newt has been on the opposing side on the very issues — immigration, trade and foreign policy — that have driven Trump’s campaign. Picking [Gingrich] could seriously undermine Trump’s appeal to the working class and neuter the appeal that brought millions of Americans to vote for him in the first place.”

5. Hot Air’s Jazz Shaw worries Gingrich would become too big of a distraction from the top of the ticket: “For all of his admirable qualities and experience, Gingrich has a lot of baggage for Hillary’s team to dredge up. Regardless of the outcome, he had his own ethics investigation back in the day where a lot of questions were raised, questions which can once again be trotted out and thrown against the wall to see what sticks with the public. Some of this will be new information to younger voters who weren’t around for Newt’s heydays in the nineties. Also, his departure from his position as Speaker wasn’t without controversy.”

— Finally, a liberal perspective from The Huffington Post’s Christina Wilkie: Gingrich Is The Trump Of Politics … [He] leaves a trail of bankruptcies, lawsuits and unpaid debts.

Ted Cruz arrives in the Capitol yesterday.&nbsp;(Carlos Barria/Reuters)</p>

Ted Cruz arrives in the Capitol yesterday. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

— Ted Cruz shook up his Senate office yesterday and is expanding his political operation to lay the groundwork for his 2018 reelection campaign and then another presidential bid in 2020. The Texan replaced his chief of staff with a political consultant who has no experience on Capitol Hill (but who has spent lots of time in Iowa!). It is a signal that Cruz is not actually interested in becoming an effective legislator and prefers to continue playing the outside game. David Polyansky, who jumped onto Cruz’s campaign after his first pick (Scott Walker) lost, will replace Paul Teller, a Hill veteran, as chief. Teller will stay in the senator’s orbit as a senior adviser to a new political nonprofit group. (National Review has more.)

— Meanwhile, Cruz’s team denied rumors that they are in talks with the Trump operation to get a speaking slot in Cleveland. He will go to the convention and thank his supporters, but his team insists there are “no negotiations.” Trump said he will release the list of speakers today. (NBC News)

Welcome to the Daily 202, PowerPost’s morning newsletter.
With contributions from Breanne Deppisch (@breanne_dep) and Elise Viebeck (@eliseviebeck) Sign up to receive the newsletter.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/spain-4-injured-none-gored-in-1st-pamplona-bull-run/2016/07/07/f034fec0-440d-11e6-a76d-3550dba926ac_story.html">Four people were injured</a> in falls but no one was gored as more than a thousand thrill-seekers tested their agility and courage by racing alongside fighting bulls through the streets of Pamplona,&nbsp;Spain,&nbsp;in the first bull run of the annual festival.&nbsp;(AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)</p>

Four people were injured in falls but no one was gored as more than a thousand thrill-seekers tested their agility and courage by racing alongside fighting bulls through the streets of Pamplona, Spain, in the first bull run of the annual festival. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

— President Obama and Vladimir Putin agreed to increase military coordination in Syria during a phone call last night. The call, initiated by the Kremlin, came as Syrian troops said they would begin a 72-hour truce in the country’s long-running civil war to honor the end of Ramadan. (Karen DeYoung)

— At least three were killed in Bangladesh a few hours ago, when bomb-wielding attackers descended on a security checkpoint at a large Muslim prayer gathering.(Annie Gowen)

Alton Sterling&#39;s son cries as his mother&nbsp;speaks at a Louisiana press conference.&nbsp;(Bill Feig/The Advocate)</p>

Alton Sterling’s son cries as his mother speaks at a Louisiana press conference. (Bill Feig/The Advocate)

GET SMART FAST:

  1. The Justice Department launched an investigation into the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling, 37, a black man who was killed by Baton Rouge police officers outside a convenience store. The incident was caught on cellphone video. (Wesley Lowery, Travis M. Andrews and Michael E. Miller)
  2. Meanwhile, a 31-year-old black man was fatally shot by police officers in Minnesota after reportedly being pulled over for a broken taillight. His girlfriend, who recorded the aftermath of the attack on video, said he was reaching for his wallet when cops shot him four times. (CBS Minnesota)
  3. President Obama again revised troop plans in Afghanistan, announcing he will keep 8,400 troops in the country through the end of his term. (Missy Ryan)
  4. The U.S. has imposed sanctions on Kim Jong Un for the first time, blacklisting the North Korean leader for overseeing human rights abuses involving forced labor camps and torture of dissidents. (Carol Morello)
  5. House Republican leaders tabled plans to hold a vote on a gun control proposal this week after encountering resistance from the hardline Freedom Caucus. (Karoun Demirjian)
  6. U.S. regulators recalled more than a million “hoverboards,” after batteries in the motorized, self-balancing vehicles began catching on fire. The government has received 99 incident reports about the battery problem to date. (Andrea Peterson)
  7. Imprisoned Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning was rushed to the hospital after an apparent suicide attempt. The 28-year-old, sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking classified documents to Wikileaks, reportedly attempted to hang herself in her cell. (Dan Lamothe)
  8. The drowning death of a 21-year-old sailor during Navy SEAL training has been ruled a homicide, according to an autopsy. California medical examiners also determined that a SEAL instructor defied rules by dunking the boy into the swimming pool “at least twice.” (Dan Lamothe and Thomas Gibbons-Neff)
  9. Ex-Fox News host Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against network CEO Roger Ailes, alleging that he fired her in retaliation for rebuffing his sexual advances. (Paul Farhi)
  10. The Department of Health and Human Services is raising the limit on how much opioid addiction medication health-care providers can prescribe, more than doubling the number of buprenorphine prescriptions a doctor can oversee.(Juliet Eilperin)
  11. A bipartisan bill to combat heroin and prescription drug abuse may get derailed because of a dispute over funding levels. (Karoun Demirjian)
  12. Yemen’s civil war has led to an increase in child marriages, with girls as young as eight being married off to raise some money for their desperate families. (Sudarsan Raghavan)
  13. A Georgia mother accused of drinking, smoking marijuana and playing “naked Twister” at a party for her teenage daughter managed to avoid jail time. The 36-year-old woman – who had intercourse with both her daughter’s boyfriend and another 16-year-old friend during the evening – got 12 months of probation. (Lindsey Bever)
  14. A hard-driving Los Angeles lawyer has opened a “Museum of Broken Relationships,” featuring more than 100 exhibits that pay homage to severed relationships. Relics range from everyday objects – a spare key, for example – to the bizarre (a pair of silicone implants that a woman got at her boyfriend’s urging). (New York Times)
  15. An Independence Day boat outing turned tragic when a prominent disability rights advocate drowned in the Sacramento River. She was exiting a pontoon boat in her wheelchair when the boat moved, causing her to fall into the water. Her husband and bystanders tried in vain to save her. (Lindsey Bever)

Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy&nbsp;Karnig Ohannessian, center,&nbsp;arrives&nbsp;on the aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower in April.&nbsp;(Provided by U.S. Navy)</p>

Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy Karnig Ohannessian, center, arrives on the aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower in April. (Provided by U.S. Navy)

— Powerful men behaving badly, cont.: A senior Navy official is under criminal investigation and facing an internal Pentagon review after cellphone video emerged of him pointing a gun at a group of young men during an argument in the D.C. suburbs. Brandishing a handgun outside a home on a residential street in Fairfax County, deputy assistant secretary Karnig Ohannessian can be heard on video yelling: “I can shoot the [expletive] out of you guys right now!” One of the guys told WUSA9 that he was leaving a barbecue with two friends when they were approached by Ohannessian, who was complaining about noise. CBS News, which broke the story, posted the video here. (Our Justin Jouvenal and Dan Lamothe have more.)

Clinton arrives at the shuttered Trump Plaza casino on the boardwalk of Atlantic City yesterday.&nbsp;(Photo by Yana Paskova/For The Washington Post)</p>

Clinton arrives at the shuttered Trump Plaza casino on the boardwalk of Atlantic City yesterday. (Photo by Yana Paskova/For The Washington Post)

CLINTON EMAIL FALLOUT:

— The Justice Department confirmed last night that Hillary Clinton will not be charged for mishandling classified material and not following government record keeping rules. The announcement was an expected formality after FBI Director James Comey said “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring a criminal case against Clinton or her staffers. (Matt Zapotosky)

— Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers ramped up their attacks, saying they will take matters into their own hands as they seek to ensure the email controversy remains in the spotlight.

1. House Speaker Paul Ryan this morning will formally ask Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to deny the former Secretary of State access to classified information and other briefings because she was “so reckless.” Ryan first discussed the idea during an interview with Fox News’s Megyn Kelly, and this morning he’ll make the formal request in a letter. Read the letter here.

Ryan will also send a letter to Comey this morning requesting that he release all of the unclassified findings from the FBI investigation. Comey is testifying today before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Read that letter here.

2. Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley, likewise, demanded more details on the investigation from the FBI, saying in a letter that statements made by Comey “contained a number of inconsistencies.” (Zapotosky)

3. Five congressional committees will either hold hearings with high-profile law enforcement officials over the next week or have already asked the FBI for information about its Clinton investigation, per The Hill.

— By rushing to probe Comey with almost no preparation, House Republicans risk (AGAIN!) overplaying their hand on Clinton, Paul Kane writes in a smart column:“Over and over again, from Bill Clinton’s darkest hours as president to Hillary Clinton’s worst moments as secretary of state, House Republicans ended up helping the Clintons by turning them into victims of overzealous partisan investigations. Into that history steps Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and the other Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee who have called a snap hearing Thursday to receive [FBI] testimony. … With almost no preparation, Republicans seem to be betting that the FBI director will crumble under their questioning or end up looking like a partisan hack who tried to protect someone who might be the next president.”

Blast from the past: “The House Oversight Committee’s first entanglement with the Clintons came in the mid-1990s in a series of probes that produced mixed results. In one investigation, then-panel chairman Dan Burton shot a cantaloupe shaped like a human head, trying to determine whether Vince Foster had committed suicide.”

— The State Department defended its handling of classified material, challenging some of the assertions made by Comey. In a press conference, Foggy Bottom spokesman John Kirby said some classification markings were the result of “human error,” citing two instances where routine diplomatic “call sheets” were mistakenly classified by staffers. (New York Times)

— NYT A14: “Clinton’s Email Was Probably Hacked, Experts Say.(David E. Sanger)

— HRC steadfastly avoided saying anything about the email scandal and ignored shouted questions about it while campaigning in Atlantic City. (Abby Phillip and Anne Gearan)

Bernie Sanders&nbsp;speaks yesterday&nbsp;outside his D.C. campaign office.&nbsp;(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)</p>

Bernie Sanders speaks yesterday outside his D.C. campaign office. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

THE DEMOCRATIC DENOUEMENT:

— Bernie Sanders is in talks to deliver an endorsement of Hillary Clinton ahead of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Aides from both camps are hashing out details for a potential joint appearance. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell tweeted that it could happen as soon as Tuesday in New Hampshire.

— The student loan proposal Clinton unveiled yesterday adopted several key elements from Sanders’s platform. “Clinton’s plan stopped short of the free-college-for-all idea pushed by Sanders, but it came close — proposing to eliminate college tuition for students from many middle-class families who attend public colleges and universities, as part of a broader goal of making higher education debt-free for all Americans,” John Wagner, Anne Gearan and David Weigel report. “And her willingness to embrace it, even after she had laid out a more limited student debt agenda long ago and spent months criticizing Sanders’s plan as unworkable, was seen by his camp as a significant concession.” Sanders put out a statement praising the proposal.

— A DNC platform meeting in Orlando this weekend might influence the timing of an endorsement. Sanders is seeking concessions on Medicare and TPP. (CNN)

— Though the Clinton campaign has been exceedingly careful, Sanders faces increasing pressure from the party establishment to step aside. Politico reported that he was BOOED by House Democrats at a closed-door caucus meeting yesterday when he told them that winning elections isn’t always the goal of a campaign. “The goal isn’t to win elections, the goal is to transform America,” he said, using an ill-fitted stump speech line on a room of elected officials. On  CNN later, Bernie told Wolf Blitzer that the report was “a bit of an exaggeration.”

— The Narrative: “Sanders’ Influence FADING Ahead of Clinton Endorsement,” Josh Green writes in Bloomberg Businessweek. “History is full of examples of candidates who ran thrilling primary races, came up short, and then translated that excitement into tangible gains: a key cabinet post (Clinton), a future candidacy (Ronald Reagan, Gary Hart), or influence in the next administration through personnel appointments or policy commitments. Sanders could have ranked among them. But, for reasons rooted in his personality and aloof political style, it looks like he won’t. He’s trapped by an inability, baffling even to some of his supporters, to end his campaign on advantageous terms. … The same qualities that his supporters find so appealing—his independence from any party establishment and his open disdain for the political process—are also reasons why he has so few legislative accomplishments, even after decades in Congress.”

Trump, standing on a chair besides Gingrich,&nbsp;speaks to the crowd in the overflow room at the convention center&nbsp;in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)</p>

Trump, standing on a chair besides Gingrich, speaks to the crowd in the overflow room at the convention center in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

THE DAILY DONALD DRAMA:

— Trump now says his campaign should NOT have deleted the tweet containing a Star of David image, doubling down on his defense that the six-pointed shape was “just a star.” “They shouldn’t have taken it down,” Trump said last night in Cincinnati. “They should have left it up. I would have rather defended it — just leave it up.” He said the image was tweeted out by director of social media Daniel Scavino Jr., a former golf caddy whom Trump described as “a very fine person” who is “married to a Jewish woman,” Jenna Johnson reports.

“For more than five minutes, Trump defended the tweet, uttering the word ‘star’ at least two dozen times and keeping alive … a controversy that most leaders of the Republican Party had hoped would fade away [five days ago!]. Trump tried to narrow the controversy to the proper name of the six-point shape while ignoring that the image had previously appeared on a white supremacist website … and that it was positioned atop a sea of money, which is a common way to denigrate Jews.” He also criticized CNN for reporting on the tweet “from morning until night” instead of focusing on Clinton’s email investigation, and said media outlets reporting on the tweet are “racially profiling.” “Actually, they’re the ones with the bad tendencies,” Trump said of networks who are criticizing the tweet. “They’re the sick people. They’re bad people.”

Trump continued to defend the image into the night, tweeting a picture of a “Frozen” DVD jacket, which featured a red star on the cover.

Twitter responded in kind:

And Clinton’s camp weighed in:

— Trump announced a $51 million fundraising haul for the month of June. The mogul raised more than $26 million through online and mail solicitations, and another $25 million at RNC-held events, Matea Gold reports. Though the haul falls short of Clinton’s combined $68.5 million total, it is a massive improvement from last month – and allies hope the relatively hefty sum will put to rest anxieties over his fundraising prowess.

The news might win over some skeptical GOP holdouts, argues Chris Cillizza: “Every time the Trump train looks as if it has run out of track and is set to careen off the side of the mountain, he figures out a way to build just a little more track. And every time he lays down more track, a few more Republicans jump on board. Expect more than a few to hop aboard after Trump’s June fundraising.”

— Trump political director Jim Murphy privately told a group of congressional allies that the campaign is targeting 17 states in the general, retreating from the candidate’s promise to fight in blue states like California and New York. Murphy said the campaign is focusing on Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. (WSJ’s Beth Reinhard)

— Clinton is expanding her presence in Ohio. To bracket the GOP convention, she’s about to open offices in Cleveland, Toledo and Cincinnati. (Plain Dealer)

Eric Trump applauds his dad in Cincinnati last night. (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg)</p>

Eric Trump applauds his dad in Cincinnati last night. (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg)

— Eric Trump denounced The Post’s reporting about his father’s lack of charitable giving, doubling down on claims that Donald Trump has given “millions and millions and millions” of his own money to charity (while refusing to back them up with any evidence.) David Fahrenthold, who has been doggedly pursuing this story, got a phone call from Eric — who he has been trying to track down for days — yesterday morning. And the son of the GOP standard bearer unloaded on him in a forceful and profane way. “I’m just saying, Jesus Christ, why is this guy trying to f—ing kill us?” Eric said at one point. He also declined to provide details of contributions that his father allegedly made to his OWN charity, despite claims that he pledged “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to the Eric Trump Foundation. “We are going to maintain anonymity,” Eric wrote in an email message later in the day. “Hope you understand.”

  • Eric’s rationale for declining to provide any verifiable details about his dad’s giving: “My father likes to keep some anonymity. It’s who he is. It’s who he is as a person.”
  • He defended his charity’s $87,665 payment to one of Trump’s golf courses for a charity tournament, saying the venue made “zero” dollars from it. “Instead,” Eric said, “the payment was actually to cover the cost of outside vendors: to rent a stage, to rent extra golf carts and to hire extra golf caddies. It’s disgusting. It is so disgusting what’s happening. I’m saving dying children. We do tremendous good for people. And you’re sitting there tearing us apart.”

— The Post Fact Checker gives Four Pinnochios to Trump’s claim that Saddam Hussein was “so good” at killing terrorists. “Hussein was no opponent of terrorists, certainly in the eyes of the West,” writes Michelle Ye Hee Lee. “Perhaps Trump is referring to Hussein’s fight against internal religious extremist movements that he viewed as a threat to his regime — a part of his overall suppression of dissent. But Trump’s description — that Hussein ‘killed terrorists,’ and did it ‘so well’ or was ‘so good’ at it — is just not credible, especially given the overwhelming evidence of Hussein’s long-standing record of supporting (financially and operationally) international terrorist groups.”

Workers prepare a camera platform inside Quicken Loans Arena in preparation for the Republican National Convention. (AP Photo/Mark Gillispie)</p>

Workers prepare a camera platform inside Quicken Loans Arena in preparation for the Republican National Convention. (AP Photo/Mark Gillispie)

— The Wall Street Journal fronts a story this morning that makes a Stop Trump coup seem more realistic and feasible than conventional wisdom (and our reporting) suggests. “The anti-Trump camp needs the backing of 28, or one-quarter, of 112 Convention Rules Committee members to place the issue before the full convention,” Reid J. Epstein reports.In interviews, 20 members said they are willing to consider allowing delegates to be unbound, while 59 support Mr. Trump. … Internal surveys of the Rules Committee conducted by RNC member Randy Evans of Georgia … found at least 18 committee members open to voting to unbind.” Another notable number: “Evans’s count shows just about 890 delegates are personally loyal to the New Yorker. Another 680 oppose Mr. Trump. That leaves 900 delegates who are presumed to be ‘in play,’ he said. The stop-Trump forces would have to take nearly two-thirds of them to block his nomination.” (Trump’s campaign dismissed the figure as “wildly inaccurate.”)

— Scott Walker rebuffed calls from the Never Trump movement to “save” the GOP as an alternative candidate at the convention:

Marco Rubio said he will no longer attend the Republican convention, citing a need to campaign in Florida. “Florida has always been a competitive state and it will be this fall,” said Rubio spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas. “Since Marco got into the race late, he will be in Florida campaigning and meeting with voters instead of going to Ohio.” The announcement is just the latest reversal by the senator, who in May said he would attend the convention. (Sean Sullivan)

— Civil rights leaders and social justice activists will hold a high-profile Cleveland rally and march on the eve of the convention: Al Sharpton will emcee the event, organized by the L.A.-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Other speakers include Cornel West, “Orange is the New Black” actress Diane Guerrero, gospel duo Mary Mary and former Browns star Jim Brown. (The Plain Dealer)

— Snoop Dogg, meanwhile, plans to headline “Unity Party” for Democratic donors in Philadelphia: The rapper and longtime Clinton supporter will perform at Philadelphia’s Electric Factory on July 28. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

WAPO HIGHLIGHTS:

— “Can super PACs be put back in the box?,” by Matea Gold: “A powerhouse legal team representing a bipartisan group of congressional members and candidates is unleashing a new effort to overturn the case that birthed super PACs, part of a novel strategy to rein in the big money that has poured into campaigns since 2010. Their immediate target is not Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission … Instead, they are going after a lesser-known case decided by U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit just two months later: SpeechNow.org v. FEC. The thrust of their argument: The lower court erred in its interpretation of a line in the Citizens United decision, a mistake that unleashed a flood of money into elections that the Supreme Court never intended.”

A rebel fighter on the front line in Aleppo&nbsp;(Hosam Katan/Reuters)</p>

A rebel fighter on the front line in Aleppo (Hosam Katan/Reuters)

— “American warplanes were diverted from an offensive launched against the Islamic State last week by U.S.-backed rebels in Syria in order to bomb a more enticing target in Iraq, withdrawing air support at a critical moment and contributing to the failure of the rebel operation,” Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Liz Sly report. “Aircraft assigned to provide cover for the offensive … were ordered in the middle of the operation to leave the area and head instead to the outskirts of Fallujah, in neighboring Iraq … The failure of the operation was a significant blow to the Pentagon’s Syria strategy of building a Syrian Arab force capable of taking on the Islamic State. The diversion of air forces also calls into question whether the U.S. military and its coalition allies have committed enough resources to the war against the Islamic State, which is now being waged on multiple fronts across a large swath of territory in Syria and Iraq.”

President Obama, flanked by Defense Secretary Ash Carter&nbsp;and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, speaks&nbsp;on Afghanistan from the Roosevelt Room of the White House yesterday. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)</p>

President Obama, flanked by Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, speaks on Afghanistan from the Roosevelt Room of the White House yesterday. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

— “Behold the reluctant warrior,” Dana Milbank writes. “Five years and two weeks ago, President Obama addressed the nation about the end of the war in Afghanistan. There would be no more Americans in combat in Afghanistan in 2014, he said. … But on Wednesday, the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner announced that the war would go on — into the term of his successor and with an 8,400-troop force that will be more than 50 percent larger than he had set in his last announcement. … Certainly, there are far fewer U.S. troops in harm’s way than there were at the start of the Obama presidency, but to revisit his speeches over the years is to see his journey from hope to hard reality. For Obama, [his remarks were] another acknowledgment that, as he put it in 2014, ‘it’s harder to end wars than it is to begin them.’”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Watch real money being thrown onto the Senate floor in protest of a food-labeling bill:

After Alton Sterling’s death, tweets like this went viral:

From a BuzzFeed reporter:

Trump’s Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner, continued to defend him against charges of bigotry, saying the presumptive GOP nominee “does not at all subscribe to any racist or anti-Semitic thinking.” It’s never good when your family members have to say this…over and over again. Here’s a taste of the reaction:

From Clinton’s rally in Atlantic City:

Republicans wished George W. Bush a happy birthday (check out photos from his celebration here):

John Dingell got a toast in the Energy and Commerce Committee:

Finally, spotted in D.C.:

HOT ON THE LEFT

Massachusetts “State Senate Candidate Not Apologizing For Using Homophobic Slur To Defend Trump,” From CBS Boston:“‘Donald Trump. Putting self-righteous f****** in their place since 1993. How I love this fellow,’ 30-year-old Ted Busiek of Littleton tweeted over the weekend. Busiek, who says his candidacy was partly inspired by Trump, claims he was using a word that was more slang than slur. ‘Ask anybody under 40 and they’ll tell you in today’s parlance that word means somebody obnoxious and irritating,’ Busiek said. His opponent, incumbent Senator Jamie Eldridge, thinks Busiek should apologize and even withdraw from the race.”

HOT ON THE RIGHT

“’GunnyTime’ host R. Lee Ermey ‘blackballed’ from Hollywood for conservative views,” from Fox News: “R. Lee Ermey, or ‘Gunny’ as he prefers to be called, is best known for his role as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in ‘Full Metal Jacket.’ But … the Marine turned actor told FOX411 while his reality show is in its second season, he can’t seem to book any other gigs in Hollywood. ‘I’ve had a very fruitful career. I’ve done over 70 feature films,’ Gunny said, ‘and then [Hollywood] found out that I’m a conservative.’ Gunny, who is an NRA board member, explained that his association with the organization and his disapproval of President Obama cost him acting jobs.”

DAYBOOK:

On the campaign trail: Trump is in D.C. to meet with House and Senate Republicans.

At the White House: Obama travels to Poland for the NATO summit. Vice President Biden has no public events scheduled.

On Capitol Hill: Both chambers are in. Comey comes to the Hill.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“I will be with you, whatever.” – Tony Blair’s secret 2002 letter to George W. Bush on Iraq, released yesterday as part of the British government’s inquiry (Read the complete letter. Read the 150-page executive summary. Read Griff Witte’s story.)

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

— Triple digit temps and some possible storms are ahead, the Capital Weather Gangforecasts. (Blerg.) “The day starts out warm and gets steadily warmer with highs topping out in the low-to-mid 90s. Heat indices rise to about 100 or even a bit higher thanks to the high humidity. Clouds bubble up as the day progresses, and there should be just enough kick to set off a few thunderstorms later in the afternoon. Best chances are south and west of the city, especially toward the mountains.”

— The Nationals beat the Brewers 7-4.

— An underground Pepco transformer malfunctioned in Northwest D.C. last night, causing dramatic explosions as smoke and flames shot eight to 10 feet high. (Rosalind S. Helderman and Clarence Williams)

— There is growing concern about potential conflicts of interest for a newly-appointed Metro board member who also works as a transportation lawyer. (Robert McCartney)

— Helen E. Dragas, the former University of Virginia rector who gained notoriety for orchestrating the 2012 ouster of President Teresa A. Sullivan, has left the school’s governing board. Dragas’ “name will be forever linked to the leadership drama,” Nick Anderson writes, “in which she was pilloried for maneuvering behind the scenes to depose the popular president without public notice.”

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Bloomberg made a 2-minute video mash-up of male hosts on Fox News making comments about Gretchen Carlson’s physical appearance:

Gretchen Carlson on Fox & Friends

(The Huffington Post highlights key quotes from Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit).

Watch highlights from Tony Blair’s response to a scathing inquiry into his decision to take Britain into the Iraq war:

Blair on Iraq Inquiry: ‘I express more sorrow, regret and apology than you may ever know’

Trump is not a fan of mosquitos (click for video):

Watch Trump discuss the now-deleted Star of David tweet:

Trump responds to criticism about six-point star tweet

“Mr. Trump believes in putting your oxygen mask on first before helping others,” Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson said on CNN, defending her boss against Clinton’s attacks. Watch the interview:

Donald Trump believes in putting his own oxygen mask on before helping others

NBC News is doing a series of stories on the rise of Trump. Included in the story are several video mash-ups of Trump on TV over the decades. (Here’s the full package.)

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