With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve
THE BIG IDEA: Democrats won the annual Congressional Baseball Game for seven straight years, but they lost last year because their players were tired. They were tired because they pulled an all-nighter on the eve of the game to occupy the House floor. After an Afghan American, influenced by ISIS propaganda, killed 49 people and injured 58 others at an Orlando nightclub, they were demanding an up-or-down vote on a bill to block people who are on the federal terrorism watch list from being able to buy guns. Their protest failed. Nothing changed.
One year later, another horrifying tragedy has hit much closer to home. In an act of domestic terrorism, a gunman shot a Republican congressman, an aide, a lobbyist and two police officers during batting practice on the eve of the Congressional Baseball Game.
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise remains in critical condition this morning after being wounded, but in a resolute show of bipartisan unity, tonightâs baseball game at Nationals Park will go on. Everyone who knows the Louisiana lawmaker says thatâs exactly what heâd want.
— But the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same. It feels like the period of mourning gets shorter, and the finger pointing comes quicker, after each heinous rampage.
Marc Fisher says that the shootings on Simpson Field in Alexandria âtore at the nationâs civil soulâand perhaps even opened a pathway toward healing.â
âItâs my breaking point,â said Rep. Rodney Davis, an Illinois Republican and the catcher on the team. âThe way we talk to each other has to change. The political hate has to end.â
âBut if this was a breaking point, it was, sadly and darkly, one in a very long line,â Marc writes. âSo many shootings in recent years have also been declared the pivot, the last straw, the one beyond which none could be tolerated. Precious children in Newtown, Conn.; partying young people in Orlando; office workers in San Bernardino, Calif., and at the Washington Navy Yard; churchgoers in Charleston, S.C.; military service members at Fort Hood, Tex.; moviegoers in Aurora, Colo.; college kids at Virginia Tech. â¦ Despite the regularity of the incidents, the shock is new and real every time, because each time it happens, another group of people learns a fresh and frightening vulnerability.â
— âWe are united in our anguish,â Paul Ryan told the House yesterday. âAn attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.â The Speaker received four standing ovations from Democrats and Republicans alike.
Dana Milbank flags that Ryanâs words closely echoed those of his predecessor, John Boehner, six years ago when then-Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) was shot in the head: âAn attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve.â
âThen, members of Congress paid tribute to Giffords for eight hours on the House floor, and both sides pledged to temper their rhetoric as they waited for Giffords to return,â Dana recalls. âShe never returned to Congress, but the sniping did.”
— Giffords wrote an op-ed for The Post that just published: âCongress did nothing when I was shot. Lawmakers need courage now.â
— But even after the shooting of their close friend, there is no appetite at all in the House Republican Conference for tougher gun laws. In fact, many are citing what happened yesterday as a reason to roll back the restrictions that are currently on the books. Republicans earnestly believe that guns can never be completely kept out of the hands of criminals. They are willing to accept some personal risks to their own safety, of a lunatic getting a firearm, because they genuinely see Second Amendment rights as inviolable. Furthermore, the phrase may be a clichÃ©, but most conservatives sincerely believe that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), who was on the scene during yesterdayâs shooting, said Congress should explore allowing lawmakers to carry weapons to defend themselves. âIf this had happened in Georgia, he wouldnât have gotten too far,â Loudermilk told Mike DeBonis at the Capitol. âI had a staff member who was in his car maybe 20 yards behind the shooter, who was pinned in his car, who back in Georgia carries a 9-millimeter in his car. â¦ He had a clear shot at him. But weâre not allowed to carry any weapons here.â
Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) said heâs going to begin carrying his pistol when heâs out in public. âIf you look at the vulnerability, I assure you: I have a carry permit. I will be carrying when Iâm out and about,â he told the Buffalo ABC affiliate WKBW. âOn a rare occasion Iâd have my gun in a glove box or something, but itâs going to be in my pocket from this day forward.â
If Scalise skipped the final practice before the game, his security detail would not have been there to fire back at the assailant. Several congressmen may have died. âHad there not been a member of House leadership present, there would have been no police present, and it would have become the largest act of political terrorism in years, if not ever,â Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Va.) told the New York Times, pointing to legislation he has introduced to make it easier for people to carry a gun in Washington. His bill âwould allow the most law-abiding among us to defend themselves,â he said.
A House Natural Resources committee hearing, scheduled for 10 a.m. yesterday, was postponed because of the shooting. Members were set to consider a bill that would make it easier for gun owners to obtain silencers. The measure, strongly supported by Donald Trump Jr., amends the National Firearms Act of 1934 to remove any reference to silencers. It has been rolled into a larger âsportsmenâs packageâ and is expected to pass.
— Some key congressional Democrats, meanwhile, are hesitant to wade into the gun control debate too quickly. Politico reports that they fear the appearance of opportunism and realize that legislation will never pass any way.
Others believe it is irresponsible to stay silent. âThis is not what today is about, but there are too many guns on the street,” Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) said during a press conference at the scene. âDisgusting,â Virginia Republican Party Chairman John Whitbeck responded in a tweet.
— Meanwhile, Americans keep getting murdered. Around the time McAuliffe spoke, a UPS employee opened fire at a San Francisco package sorting center â killing three people and then shooting himself in the head. That attack came nine days after another deadly workplace shooting at an Orlando factory.
In the past 18 months, there have been 52 other incidents in the United States in which five people were wounded. As a crime fitting a very specific profile, The Fixâs Philip Bump notes, what happened in Alexandria is relatively common:
Consider this sobering statistic: âSince the start of this baseball season, approximately 3,120 people have been killed with guns in this country â more than four times as many people as the active Major League Baseball roster,” the Center for American Progressâs Chelsea Parsons notes in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times.
— But guns are as deeply ingrained in American culture as baseball, if not more so, and theyâre not going anywhere.
— History may not repeat itself, but it often rhymes.
The congressional baseball tradition dates to 1909, when Rep. John Tener (R-Pa.) organized the first game. The Irish immigrant had played for the Baltimore Orioles, the Chicago White Stockings and the Pittsburgh Burghers. (He later became governor of Pennsylvania and president of the National League.)
A debate over raising tariffs on goods entering the United States was deeply dividing the Republican conference back then. âI think Tener wanted to bring those two wings of the party together by forcing them to band together and make a baseball team,â Nathaniel Rakich, who has written extensively about the history of the game, told Amy Wang.
Overall, Republicans and Democrats have each won the annual game 39 times, and there was a 17-17 tie in 1983.
Just two years ago, when Barack Obama dropped by, Republicans playfully chanted âTPA,â as in Trade Promotion Authority. The GOP rank-and-file were backing up the Democratic president as he negotiated the Trans-Pacific Partnership over objections from his own party. No one at that June 2015 game foresaw Trump becoming president and Republicans embracing their protectionist roots.
Obama called Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who had been an ally in the trade fight and was in Alexandria yesterday morning, as soon as he learned of the attack. âHe just said, âI hope that this does bring more unity,â and he wanted me to pass on certainly his regards if he wasn’t able to get to Steve or others before me that he was praying for their good health,â Flake recalled to CBS News. âIt was a nice call.â
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
— Special counsel Robert Mueller has begun investigating whether President Trump obstructed justice in the Russia probe. Devlin Barrett, Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Sari Horwitz scoop: âThe move … to investigate Trumpâs conduct marks a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation, which until recently focused on Russian meddling during the presidential campaign and on whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Investigators have also been looking for any evidence of possible financial crimes among Trump associates … Five people briefed on the interview requests … said that Daniel Coats … Mike Rogers … and Rogersâs recently departed deputy, Richard Ledgett, agreed to be interviewed by Muellerâs investigators as early as this week.â
— Trump responded to The Post’s story this morning:
They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story. Nice
â Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2017
— Why Trump is scared: âMueller is recruiting perhaps the most high-powered and experienced team of investigators ever assembled by the Justice Department,” Garrett Graff, who wrote a book about the former FBI director, writes for Wired. “Itâs a team thatâs not just a paper office tiger but one with deep experience investigating crime around the world.â
— Paul Manafort continues to do international work despite the cloud of the Russia probes hanging over him. Trump’s former campaign chairman in recent weeks has either consulted or worked with a Chinese construction billionaire looking to expand his business overseas and a telecommunications firm interested in regulatory approval from governments in Asia and the Middle East, as well as an investment fund claiming links to the Chinese government,” Politicoâs Kenneth Vogel reports. “A lawyer involved in the discussions said Manafort indicated that he could convince the Trump administration to support any resulting deal, because heâs remained in contact with Trumpâs team, and that he played a role in helping to soften Trumpâs tough campaign rhetoric on China.â
— Coming attraction: Former DHS secretary Jeh Johnson will appear before the House Intelligence Committee next Wednesday.
— In related news, the Senate yesterday voted 97-to-2 to curtail Trumpâs power to unilaterally scale back sanctions on Russia. Karoun Demirjian and Anne Gearan report: âThe vote â¦ is a sharp rebuke to [Trumpâs] posture vis-Ã -vis Russia and his resistance to the intelligence communityâs assessment that the country was behind efforts to influence the election he won â¦ Trumpâs team pushed back against the legislation Wednesday, with Rex Tillerson warning lawmakers about passing anything that might ‘tie the administrationâs hands.'”
GET SMART FAST:ââ
- At least 12 people were killed and more than 70 injured in the massive fire that tore through a London apartment building. Witnesses saw residents jump from the 24-story complex, children who banged on closed windows from inside smoked-out bedrooms, and one woman who, in a fit of desperation, dropped her infant from a dozen stories up. Police expect the death toll to increase. (Griff Witte and Karla Adam)
- D.C. authorities will announce criminal charges today against members of Turkish President Erdoganâs security detail, accused of attacking protesters last month outside the ambassadorâs residence. Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham will hold a press conference later to say that arrest warrants have been issued for the suspects, who are all believed to be in Turkey. (Peter Hermann)
- Southern Baptist leaders are voting at their conference this week on a proposal that would condemn the alt-right movement. But a fierce debate over the potential resolution highlights many divisions that have emerged within the congregation in recent months — some of which are tied to Trump’s political rise. (Sarah Pulliam Bailey)
- Michigan’s director of health and human services and four other public officials were charged with involuntary manslaughter for their roles in the Flint water crisis, marking the first time state officials have been linked in any capacity to the deaths of residents. Michiganâs attorney general noted that the investigation, which stretched into its third year, also involves an outbreak of Legionnairesâ Disease. (Brady Dennis)
- The Pentagon is constructing drones to serve as “robotic wingmen” to fighter pilots. (Aaron Gregg)
- Intensified airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition have caused a âstaggeringâ loss of civilian life around the ISIS-controlled city of Raqqa, a U.N. investigative body said, deepening suffering in a city already under the yoke of the militant fighters. In addition to the deaths, officials said the intensification of airstrikes has caused more than 150,000 civilians to flee their homes and become internally displaced. (Louisa Loveluck)
- Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust announced that she would step down at the end of the next academic year. She is Harvard’s first female president. (Sarah Larimer)
- A Human Rights Watch report found that at least 17 construction workers have died while building Russia’s stadiums for the 2018 World Cup. (The New York Times)
- The district attorney in Contra Costa County, California, pleaded âno contestâ to a perjury charge and announced his resignation, hours after being accused of stealing tens of thousands in campaign funds and spending it on personal items, including jewelry. (LA Times)
- Deliberations in Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial stretched into a third day without a verdict. The jury has deliberated for over 20 hours and seems to be reviewing every detail of the case that was presented to them. (Manuel Roig-Franzia)
- Doctors in Philadelphia have separated conjoined 10-month-old twin girls who were connected at the head, successfully performing a marathon scalp-separating surgery that is one of the rarest operations in the world. (Lindsey Bever)
- As crowded boats of migrants attempt a perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea, rescuers have trekked closer and closer to the Libyan coast in order to provide aid. Itâs a well-intentioned strategy, but one that could be causing record numbers of migrants to drown: According to aid groups, this early intervention has caused human smugglers to become more brazen than ever â buying flimsy rafts filled with just enough gas to get passengers to the edge of Libyan waters. Oftentimes, smugglers then remove the raftâs engine and head back to Libya on another vessel — leaving the migrants abandoned, adrift, and praying for rescue. (New York Times)
- Fox News is dropping its âFair & Balancedâ slogan, moving to abandon one of its most iconic elements which network executives said had been âmockedâ and was âtoo closelyâ associated with the late Roger Ailes. (New York Magazineâs Gabriel Sherman)
- HuffPost laid off 39 journalists. Its parent company, AOL, is being acquired by Verizon. (The Hill)
- Executives at the conservative news site IJR, struggling with an exodus of talent, have asked remaining employees to sign noncompete agreements barring them from working at any competing business “anywhere in the world” for six months after they leave. An original version of the noncompete extended for two years post-employment — prompting outrage from new reporters, who are hired at an annual salary of just $35,000. (CNN)
- Police in Texas confiscated $1 million worth of meth-infused lollipops. What was supposed to be a routine burglary investigation took a turn when the officers came across 600 pounds of drugged candy molded into kid-friendly shapes like flowers and butterflies. (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
- The French are facing a croissant emergency. Bakers are facing a shortage of butter, the price of which has increased by 92% in a year. (The Guardian)
HORROR IN ALEXANDRIA:
— More than 20 Republican members of Congress were at their baseball teamâs practice at a park in Alexandria when the shooting began just after 7 a.m., along with 15 or so staffers and Rep. Joe Bartonâs adult-aged and 10-year-old son. Steve Scalise’s Capitol Police detail engaged in a gunfight with the shooter, who was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
— âThe lawmakers and their aides had nearly finished batting practice … when they heard a single crack through the sticky early-morning air,â John Woodrow Cox, Kelsey Snell, Mike DeBonis and Peter Jamison write in a detailed reconstruction of the terrifying scene. âFor a moment, the field went quiet as they wondered what the noise was. âHeâs got a gun!â someone shouted. Then came a torrent of bullets, and there, behind a chain-link fence near third base, was a man with a rifleâ¦One round hit Scalise â¦ dropping him to the ground. He screamed and then dragged himself to the grass outfield as a trail of blood streaked the dirt. The shooter methodically moved along the outside of the fence before opening another round of fire. Rep. Mo Brooks, who was standing at home base when the gunman opened fire, dove into the first-base dugout. There he found legislative aide Zack Barth, who had been struck in the leg before hobbling all the way across the field. âItâs not bad,â Barth assured him. âDude, youâve got a hole in your calf,â Brooks responded, before cinching a tourniquet above the wound. And as chunks of bark exploded off an oak tree, (Rep. Barry) Loudermilk realized that Matt Mika, a lobbyist, was sprawled across the ground with a bullet wound in his chest … Each time they moved to help him, more shooting erupted.â
— What lawmakers on the diamond thought during the shooting:
- â[I] couldnât tell what was what,â said Sen. Jeff Flake. âFor a while, there in the dugout â¦ I didnât know [what] was friendly fire or not. [The security detail] was using our dugout as kind of shelter to fire on the gunman. And I kept yelling: âAre you friendly? Are you friendly?â And he yelled back: âYes.ââ
- Rep. Mike Bishop said the gunman had a rifle that was âclearly meant for the job of taking people out, multiple casualties, and he had several rounds and magazines that he kept unloading and reloading.â Later, Alexandria police confirmed he had both a rifle and a handgun.
- âWe didnât know exactly where all the shots were firing from and whether or not it was only one shooter,â said Rep. Chuck Fleischmann. âI had to walk right past him when I walked past third base â¦ he just decided not to shoot me.â
THE STATUS OF THE VICTIMS:
Five people, including the gunman, were shot during the attack, and two others were injured.
— Scalise, 51, is the third-ranking Republican in House leadership. His office initially said he was âin good spiritsâ and had spoken to his wife, Jennifer, by phone before he went in for surgery. Later, MedStar Washington Hospital said in a statement sent at 9:15 p.m. last night that Scalise was shot once in the left hip and that the bullet fractured bones and struck internal organs: âHe has received multiple units of blood transfusion. His condition is critical, and he will require additional operations.”
— Legislative aide Zack Barth was shot in the leg. The Houston native is a staffer in the office of Rep. Roger Williams and formerly worked on the presidential campaign of Jeb Bush. âI got shot this morning at the baseball fields but I am in the hospital and okay,â he wrote in a Facebook status update. âThank you for the thoughts and prayers.â Later in the day, family members said he was released from the hospital and expected to make a full recovery. â[T]hank goodness for the Police who were at the scene,â said his father, Tim Barth, who immediately flew to D.C. to be with his son. âIt could have been so much worse.â
— Matt Mika, a Tysons Food lobbyist and former congressional staffer, remains in critical condition after undergoing surgery at George Washington University Hospital for multiple gunshot wounds, his family said.
— Crystal Griner, a Capitol Police special agent on Scalise’s detail, was shot in the ankle and is âin good condition.â
— Also injured in the attack were 32-year-old Capitol Police Special Agent David Bailey, who has worked for the department for nearly a decade, and Rep. Williams, who twisted his ankle while scrambling to the dugout after the gunfire broke out. Neither were shot, and each is expected to make a complete recovery.
— Theresa Vargas has some good history on the Capitol Police: âWhen Congress moved from Philadelphia to Washington in 1800, a single watchman named John Golding was tasked with protecting the Capitol Building â¦ Then in 1827, President John Quincy Adam requested that a Capitol Police force be created â¦ The result was a four-member police force consisting of a captain and three men whose jurisdiction did not extend beyond the streets bordering the Capitol Building. They worked 15-hour shifts when Congress was in session and 10-hour shifts when it wasnât â¦ The force currently employs than 2,100 officers and civilians and has an annual budget of about $375 million â¦ It has lost four members in the line of duty.â
WHO WAS THE SHOOTER?
— Law enforcement identified the gunman as 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson, an unemployed home inspector from an Illinois suburb of St. Louis who had been living in his van in Alexandria for the past few months. (Peter Hermann, Amber Phillips, Paul Kane and Rachel Weiner have more.)
— Bernie Sanders said he was “sickened” to learn that Hodgkinson had volunteered on his 2016 presidential campaign, although an aide said that he had no formal role and that no one could remember him.
- The shooterâs affinity for Sanders could raise uncomfortable questions for his supporters. The New York Timesâ Yamiche Alcindor reports: â[The shooting] may prove to be an unexpected test for a movement born out of Mr. Sandersâs left-wing, populist politics and a moment for liberals to figure out how to balance anger at Mr. Trump with inciting violence. âBoth sides need to look in the mirror,â said Nina Turner, a former Ohio state senator who campaigned for Mr. Sanders and is working on a new think tank started by the senatorâs wife. âWe have to decide what kind of language we are going to use in our political discourse.ââ
— Hodgkinsonâs social media included visceral anti-Trump and anti-Republican rhetoric. Ann E. Marimow, Patricia Sullivan, Shawn Boburg and Tom Jackman mine his posts: âHodgkinson left a trail of political rants against Republicans and the âsuper rich,â and he had adopted a photo of Sanders as his Facebook cover image â¦ Hodgkinson was quick to share his political views online and in letters to his local newspaper. A Facebook page believed to be his features pictures of Sanders and … a recent post that reads: âTrump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. Itâs Time to Destroy Trump & Co.ââ
- He made repeated, angry calls to the office of his Illinois representative, Mike Bost (R), but never issued any threats.
- He made at least one direct mention of Scalise on Facebook in March 2015, posting a cartoon that featured the Louisiana congressman: âHereâs a Republican that should Lose His Job, but they Gave Him a Raise.â
- He was a member of Facebook groups including “Terminate the Republican Party” and “The Road To Hell Is Paved With Republicans.”
Karen Handel, running for Congress in Georgiaâs hotly contested special election, is among the GOP figures that Hodgkinson singled out. A post to a Facebook account believed to belong to Hodgkinson called Handel an expletive and said she âwants people to work for slave wages,â according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
— An Alexandria lawyer says he repeatedly saw Hodgkinson at the YMCA next to the baseball field: “Stephen Brennwald said he realized after seeing Hodgkinsonâs photo on the news that he was the same man who had been hanging out for at least the past several weeks in the lobby of a YMCA adjacent to Simpson field. Brennwald said Hodgkinson would regularly show up first thing in the morning â about the same time the shooting took place â and look at his laptop or stare out the window.â
— Back in Illinois, local police had gone to Hodgkinson’s house in March after he fired 50 rounds âin the pine treesâ at the end of his street. He had a valid license for the weapon and stopped shooting at the request of the cops.
— But authorities had charged him with domestic battery and aggravated discharge of a firearm after a 2006 encounter with his daughter. Ann E. Marimow, Patricia Sullivan, Shawn Boburg and Tom Jackman report: âWitnesses said Hodgkinson forced his way into [a neighborâs] home looking for his teenage daughter and grabbed her by the hair when he found her upstairs â¦ His daughter escaped and got into the neighborâs car, but Hodgkinson opened the door of the car, pulled out a pocket knife and cut off the seat belt she was wearing â¦ Hodgkinson punched the neighbor who was in the driverâs seat of the car in the face, witnesses told police. Later, Joel Fernandez, the boyfriend of the woman who was punched, went to Hodgkinsonâs home to confront him. He said Hodgkinson âwalked outside with a shotgun and aimed it at Fernandez face,â a complaint states. Hodgkinson struck Fernandez on the side of his face with the wooden stock of the shotgun and fired off one round as Fernandez ran away.â It’s not clear why, but the charges were later dismissed.
— The president went to see Scalise and the other victims at the hospital last night. Abby Phillip reports: âThe unannounced visit to MedStar Washington Hospital Center came hours after Scalise emerged from surgery after he was injured during a shooting at a Congressional Baseball Game practice in Alexandria, Va. â¦ Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrived at the hospital at around 8:40 p.m. on Wednesday night, bringing with them bouquets of flowers for the shooting victims â¦ The first couple spent less than a half hour at the hospital meeting with Scalise’s wife and the medical team treating him before returning to the White House.â Trump tweeted this after his visit:
Just left hospital. Rep. Steve Scalise, one of the truly great people, is in very tough shape – but he is a real fighter. Pray for Steve!
â Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2017
A SCARY MOMENT:
— Violence against politicians is blessedly rare in this country, but itâs not unheard of. At least fourteen sitting members of Congress have been killed in U.S. history. Michael S. Rosenwald and Ian Shapira recall a few of the highest profile incidents: âIn 1859, California Sen. David Broderick was called a âmiserable wretchâ â and then shot to death â by the stateâs attorney general during an argument about slavery. Years later, the attorney general was also shot to death. â¦ In 1868, Arkansas Rep. James Hinds was traveling by horse to a speech supporting Ulysses S. Grant when he was assassinated by a Ku Klux Klan member. His killer vanished and was never seen again.â
— Lawmakers on both sides have been reporting a major uptick in threats recently. From Buzzfeed: âMultiple Democratic representatives said during a members-only security briefing that they had received calls after the shooting saying, âYou guys are next,â said California Rep. Nanette Diaz BarragÃ n â¦ Arizona Rep. David Schweikert, a Republican who is not on the baseball team, told reporters that his office had filed four threat assessments on Tuesday, the day before the shooting, based on people emailing and calling his office. He said one of those threats was âwishing my little girl is dead.ââ
THE POLITICAL CULTURE:
— Everyone agrees that the political culture has coarsened, and that there is less civility than there used to be. But the discussion quickly deteriorates when people on both sides blame the other. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) drove from the Capitol to Alexandria after the shooting to pray. He told reporters that it was impossible to separate the hyperpartisan climate in Washington â especially people protesting Trump â with Republican members of Congress being fired upon at a baseball practice. âThe divisions within the country, people that canât accept the results of the election that are determined to try to take this country down, take this organization down,â he said, per Amber. âThis city was filled up with demonstrations the day after the inauguration, where you couldnât drive down the streets. And weâve had demonstrations every week since then, sometimes different topics.â King added: âWe do need to focus on whatâs happening to the culture in this country.â
— âSome in conservative media gilded the lily,” David Weigel reports: “A headline at the Drudge Report read âGunman: âKill as many Republicans as possible.â That was a quote from Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) describing what he thought the gunmanâs motivation had been, not a quote from the gunman. The editor of the conservative Vessel News shared a video by former attorney general Loretta E. Lynch and asked whether the shooter had heeded her âcallâ for âblood on the streets.â In reality, Lynch was referring to civil rights protesters who âbledâ and âdied.ââ
— Speaking on Fox News Wednesday afternoon, Newt Gingrich decried what he called âan increasing hostility on the left.â âYouâve had a series of things that send signals that tell people itâs okay to hate Trump,â he said. âAnd now weâre supposed to rise above it?â
— But, but, but: Remember Pizzagate? âThe armed North Carolina man who commandeered a pizza restaurant in Northwest Washington apologized to his victims and residents in the nationâs capital in a letter to a federal judge seeking leniency at his June 22 sentencing,â Spencer S. Hsu reports. âWriting in his own hand, Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, said in a court filing that he was âtruly sorryâ â¦ Federal prosecutors countered in their own memo to the judge that it was âentirely the product of good luckâ that no one was shot when Welch entered Comet Ping Pong (last December) carrying a fully loaded AR-15 military-style rifle and revolver seeking to investigate a viral Internet rumor known as âPizzagate.â False stories propagated an unfounded conspiracy theory that linked Hillary Clinton to an alleged child-sex-trafficking ring run from the family restaurant.â
Welchâs public defender is asking for an 18-month prison sentence. The feds are calling for 4 Â½ years. âBeyond Pizzagate, the Internet is full of wild conspiracy theories where people urge members of the public .â.â. to take action,â the government said in its filing. âA significant sentence is required to deter other people from pursuing vigilante justice based only on their YouTube feed.â Prosecutors included the arrest warrant of a Shreveport, La., man, Yusif Jones, who pleaded guilty to telephoning a copycat threat to a nearby pizza shop on Dec. 7, saying: âIâm coming to finish what the other guy didnât.â
— âThe Trump administration is suspending two key rules from the Obama administration that were intended to protect students from predatory for-profit colleges, saying it will soon start the process to write its own regulations,” Valerie Strauss reports: âThe move made Wednesday by [Betsy DeVos] was a victory for Republican lawmakers and for-profit colleges that had lobbied against the rules. Critics denounced it, accusing the administration of essentially selling out students to help for-profit colleges stay in business.â
— Awkward: Trump will pay his first visit to the Supreme Court today for the official investiture ceremony of Neil Gorsuch, as the nationâs justices are inundated with near-daily filings attempting to revive Trumpâs travel ban. âThe court could decide by next week whether to allow Trumpâs executive order to go into effect,â Robert Barnes writes. âDifferences traditionally are put aside for a new justiceâs investiture â¦ [and] itâs unlikely the high-stakes legal maneuvering will be mentioned â¦ [Still], it is rare for the court and the president to get together when such an important executive branch priority is pending.”
— Contrary to his congressional testimony, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt appears to have used two government emails as attorney general of Oklahoma. Dino Grandoni reports: âA batch of emails recently acquired by a watchdog group, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), shows that Pruitt used two addresses out of the Oklahoma attorney generalâs office: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Documents the nonprofit watchdog received through an open-records request show Pruittâs name associated with both the âscott.pruittâ and âespâ handles, the latter being initials for the former Oklahoma attorney generalâs full name, Edward Scott Pruitt.â
— The day Comey testified last week, Trump gathered his top donors at the White House to bolster support for his agenda. Politicoâs Tara Palmeri and Kenneth Vogel report: âThe donors â including Ken Griffin, Doug DeVos, Tom Hicks, Jr., Rebekah Mercer, Todd Ricketts, Tom Saunders, Paul Singer and Dick Uihlein â gathered in the Roosevelt Room on June 8 for a briefing from Trumpâs legislative director Marc Short â¦ A senior administration official said that topics covered during the briefing included health care, tax reform, the confirmation of Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch, pending judicial nominations, the Paris climate accord and the Saudi arms sale â¦ The briefing was seen as notable in GOP finance circles partly because of the timing and also because Trumpâs team has not engaged in as much donor maintenance as have past presidential administrations.â
— As Senate Republicans continue to work towards a consensus on health care, a familiar pattern has emerged: Each senator is trying to get the best deal for his or her state. Paul Kane reports: âThe last six weeks of Senate consideration of the Republican effort to overturn the Affordable Care Act has been somewhat lost in the weeds of Medicare regulations, the size and scope of tax credits and proposals to phase out benefits over a couple years or much longer. That makes this process look a lot like what happens when, say, a big infrastructure bill is making its way through the Capitol, as lawmakers fight over regional funding formulas to try to maximize the benefits to their states â¦ The most critical divide sits between Republicans from states that accepted the federal funding to expand Medicaid coverage to millions more Americans, and those from states that declined that expansion.â
— The House bill remains deeply unpopular across a large swath of the country, including in red states. The New York Timesâ Christopher Warshaw and David Broockman report: âIn recent national polls, only about 29 percent of Americans support the [American Health Care Act]. It is the most unpopular piece of major legislation Congress has considered in decades â even more unloved than TARP (âthe bailoutâ), and much more unpopular than the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare â¦ Perhaps red-state senators, or even some senators in swing states, might think their states are friendlier to the bill than the nation as a whole. Our research indicates that is not the case â¦ Even in the most supportive state, deep-red Oklahoma, we estimate that only about 38 percent of voters appear to support the law versus 45 percent who oppose.â
— Meanwhile, Trump continues to mangle his facts on the ACA. Glenn Kessler fact-checks: “Premiums have not spiked to unimaginable levels, 2 million people have not dropped out and insurance companies departing the business have cited the administrationâs own policies for creating uncertainty in the marketplace.”
— A group of womenâs health-care groups sent a letter to Mitch McConnell criticizing the Senateâs attempts to repeal Obamacare and rejecting the repeal bill passed by the House last month. The letterâs authors write: âWe believe that [a repeal] would turn back the clock and reverse hard-won progress on gains in womenâs access to healthcare and coverage. We stand ready to work with Congress to advance legislation that would instead promote womenâs health and access to care and coverage â¦ When women have access to quality, evidence-based, affordable care throughout their lives, they enrich our workforce, achieve higher levels of education, reach their goals, and actively contribute to the success of their families and their communities.â
The letter was signed by the following health-care groups: American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Nurse-Midwives, American College of Physicians, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health, National Partnership for Women & Families and Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
OFF TO THE RACES:
— Following Tuesdayâs primary results, Virginia Democrats and Republicans alike raced to get their parties in line â with mixed results. Gregory S. Schneider, Laura Vozzella and Fenit Nirappil report: âLt. Gov. Ralph Northam emerged from his unexpectedly tough campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor in good shape for the fall election. But Republican Ed Gillespie, who seemed to coast through the primary, suddenly looks damaged. Northam starts with a unified Democratic Party and the promise of a helping hand from his rival for the nomination, former congressman Tom Perriello. Gillespie saw what should have been an easy victory almost slip away, and the man who nearly stole the crown â Prince William County supervisor Corey Stewart â has withheld his endorsement.â
— The Republicansâ lack of unity has affected forecasts for their chances in the November general election. The University of Virginiaâs Center for Politicsâ Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley write: âAs the general election period begins, weâre moving the race from Toss-up to Leans Democratic â¦ There are a number of factors working in favor of the Democrats, enough that Northam starts as the favorite, though not necessarily an overwhelming one. A major reason is that Virginia is trending Democratic â¦ Gillespie should be able to rely on reasonably strong GOP base support, but if Stewartâs backers donât show up in full force, Gillespie will be in trouble.â
— Further complicating matters on the Republican side: Stewartâs potential Senate run against incumbent Tim Kaine in 2018. Laura Vozzella reports: âWhen [Stewartâs] bid attracted support from white nationalists, many political observers predicted that his political career in one of Virginiaâs most racially diverse corners was over. But Stewart pulled out a closer-than-expected finish. [Now,] Stewart said he would take âa few weeks, a couple months maybeâ to decide whether to challenge to Kaine.â
— Aside from the gubernatorial race, the most closely watched Virginia election may be the state House race between a transgender journalist and an incumbent who proposed a bathroom bill. Antonio Olivo reports: â[Danica] Roem, 32, is a transgender ex-journalist with a passion for public policy details that rivals that of Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William), the scholarly conservative incumbent who has spent 25 years as a foil to the LGBT community â¦ A victory over the Â13-term incumbent would make [Roem] the first openly transgender elected official in Virginia, advocates say. But experts said the race, which is sure to attract national attention and a more-energized base on both sides, may also reveal that voters in the increasingly purple 13th District are not ready to be known for that historic distinction.â
A NEW WORLD ORDER:
— The National Security Agency linked the WannaCry computer worm, which affected more than 300,000 people across roughly 150 countries last month, to the North Korean government. Ellen Nakashima reports: âThe [NSAâs] assessment states that âcyber actorsâ suspected to be âsponsored byâ [North Koreaâs spy agency] were behind two versions of WannaCry, a worm that was built around an NSA hacking tool that had been obtained and posted online last year by an anonymous group calling itself the Shadow Brokers â¦ WannaCry was apparently an attempt to raise revenue for the regime, but analysts said the effort was flawed. Though the hackers raised $140,000 in bitcoin, a form of digital currency, so far they have not cashed it in, the analysts said. That is likely because an operational error has made the transactions easy to track, including by law enforcement.â
— Former NBA star Dennis Rodman, on a return trip to Pyongyang, gave a copy of Trumpâs âArt of the Dealâ to a top North Korean official and asked him to pass it along to Kim Jong Un as a gift, the AP reports.
— As Trump plans to roll back Obamaâs Cuba policy, lawmakers and interest groups have been trying to talk him out of it. Karen DeYoung and Nick Miroff report: âFarm state Republicans have appealed to Trump to help them expand Cuban markets rather than close them. A newly introduced Senate bill to lift remaining travel restrictions has attracted 54 co-sponsors, including 10 Republicans. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers have called for expanding relations with the island. Major travel and agricultural companies and associations have publicly warned that a reversal would cost American jobs. U.S. and international human rights organizations, while condemning ongoing Cuban government repression, say that tightening the screws will only bolster government hard-liners, putting even more pressure on the islandâs nascent civil society and private sector.â
— Lawmakers are expressing concern that the Pentagon, with its new authority to determine troop levels in Afghanistan, will unilaterally initiate a surge. Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Dan Lamothe report: âThere are currently about 8,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and around 5,000 forces from additional nations in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Seven years ago, U.S. forces alone numbered more than 100,000 and were spread across Afghanistan, fighting and patrolling from tiny outposts in some of the countryâs most remote provinces. While Mattis declined to give an estimate of how many more forces he might send to Afghanistan, he told lawmakers at Senate appropriations subcommittee hearing that he would deliver an Afghan strategy by mid-July. âIâve been given some carte blanche to â to draw up a strategy or a number thatâs out of step with the strategy,â Mattis said.â
— Kabulâs American University reopened in March after last yearâs terrorist attack, but it is facing new threats. Annie Gowen reports: âThe reality of life in the countryâs increasingly violent capital soon intruded [after the reopening]: One of the schoolâs adjunct professors and a graduate were killed May 31 when a truck bomb detonated in central Kabul, killing more than 150 people. In the political recrimination that followed, the Taliban issued a new threat targeting the safety of their Western hostages â including two professors taken at gunpoint outside the school last August. The university administration again called for their safe release. Teachers and students say they are determined to carry on despite the threats to the college.â
— âThese are the people who suffered when Kansasâs conservative experiment failed,â by Ana Swanson and Max Ehrenfreund: âThe combination of deep tax cuts and austere spending that was supposed to ignite economic growth and reduce dependency have hit hard in the southeastern corner of Kansas â¦ a collection of some of the poorest and sickest counties in the state that is sometimes branded the Appalachia of the Midwest â¦ [Republican Gov. Sam] Brownback had promised that the tax cuts would unleash an economic resurgence strong enough to keep the government funded and lift people out of poverty â a similar narrative to that of Washington Republicans, who are considering a comparable plan that pairs tax reductions with steep cuts to welfare programs. But five years after Brownback’s first tax cut, Kansas has become a warning sign about what happens when promised economic growth fails to materialize.â
— “Otto Warmbier is home from North Korea, but his community remains on edge,” by Susan Svrluga: âFriends and neighbors have tied blue and white ribbons to trees in his close-knit home town of Wyoming, Ohio â¦ They hoped for some kind of reassurance from the family that Warmbier would be all right â that he would be the same friendly, intellectually curious, athletic, studious Otto they have always known â¦ As those close to him waited for news about his health, people nationally and internationally wondered how his condition â and the lack of information about it for so long â would affect tense relations between the United States and North Korea.â
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Yesterdayâs shooting shook Washington to its core. Many lawmakers responded with messages of unity, hope and resilience:
Just met with Capitol Police officers Crystal Griner and David Bailey at the hospital. Thanked them for saving my life.
â Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) June 14, 2017
Praying for those injured at this morning’s practice. I’m especially thankful to the US Capitol Police who risked their lived to protect us.
â Mo Brooks (@RepMoBrooks) June 14, 2017
My heart is with my former colleagues, their families & staff, and the US Capitol Police- public servants and heroes today and every day.
â Gabrielle Giffords (@GabbyGiffords) June 14, 2017
I can’t overstate how shaken and emotional lawmakers are today. Every one I’ve interviewed has broken into tears discussing the shooting.
â Susan Davis (@DaviSusan) June 14, 2017
You rarely see lawmakers cry. I’ve talked to three Republicans in the past half hour who all broke down at one point in the interview
â Matt Laslo (@MattLaslo) June 14, 2017
One quote from a witness who lingered at the field to talk to reporters: “Baseball is America’s game. You don’t mess around with baseball.”
â Jim Tankersley (@jimtankersley) June 14, 2017
I’m told the congressional baseball game had already raised $600k for charities. have a feeling that will go way up
â Emily Heil (@emilyaheil) June 14, 2017
The baseball teams bring together a diverse mix of members from across the country:
Resist the temptation to blame anyone other than the shooter.
â Seth Mandel (@SethAMandel) June 14, 2017
“Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions” -George W Bush
â Tim Miller (@Timodc) June 14, 2017
Others offered less unifying comments:
He was linking to this:
Events like today are EXACTLY why we took issue with NY elites glorifying the assassination of our President
â Harlan Z. Hill (@Harlan) June 14, 2017
The spokeswoman for one of the main pro-Trump outside groups (and an alumn of Trump’s campaign):
Hope most folks realize we have a toxic political culture and that attempting to exploit today for political gain will only poison us more
â Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) June 14, 2017
Trump has broken a record in his unpopularity:
Days to hit a 60% disapproval rating:
H.W. Bush: Never
W. Bush: 1,756
â Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) June 13, 2017
Trumpâs family and friends celebrated his birthday yesterday:
A post shared by Tiffany Ariana Trump (@tiffanytrump) on Jun 14, 2017 at 8:12pm PDT
But some pointed out the poor timing of Trump’s birthday, given The Post’s story that he is now being investigated by the feds for obstruction of justice:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
— The New York Times, âGangsters, Grandmothers and Gold: Japanâs New Crime Wave,â by Jonathan Soble: âSometimes the perpetrators are gangsters. Sometimes they are rather less accustomed to the criminal life. In one case, the ringleader of a middle-aged, female crime ring was said to be a 66-year-old woman â¦ An old-fashioned crime is experiencing a resurgence in Japan: gold smuggling. [Authorities] say they are contending with a startling rise in the amount of gold being brought illegally into the country â¦ [allowing smugglers to dodge] import duties and taxes, in some cases worth millions of dollars. The smuggling has gained national attention because of a spate of high-profile episodes, including a brazen gold robbery by thieves dressed as police officers; the seizure of multimillion-dollar gold cargoes from fishing boats and private jets; and the foiling of the smuggling ring the police have said was organized by a 66-year-old housewife.â
— Megyn Kelly is unapologetic about her upcoming interview with Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. âWhat we do as journalists is we shine a light on those with power, those with influence, those who have become culturally relevant,â she told the New York Timesâs Jim Rutenberg in an interview. âOf course, itâs upsetting to know that doing that causes any upset to the Newtown families, many of whom I know well. But I have to do my job â¦ As journalists, we donât get to interview only the good guys â thatâs not journalism â¦ Itâs going to be very difficult for us to keep an eye on the more controversial figures of our time if we never talk to them â¦ I do not think people will emerge from having seen this piece thinking anything other than 26 people were brutally murdered in Newtown, Conn., and there is a group of people that refuses to acknowledge that.â
— Speaking of powerful women in media, Rachel Maddow discusses her skyrocketing popularity in the Trump era for a new Rolling Stone profile. Stat du jour: âIn mid-May, The Rachel Maddow Show was second only to the NBA playoffs as the most-watched program on cable, period.â
President Trump will give a speech on the future of the workforce in the morning and then go over to the Supreme Court with the first lady for Neil Gorsuchâs investiture ceremony. The White House says the president will NOT attend tonight’s Congressional Baseball Game. âSome members had suggested that Trump might appear â¦ But his attendance would pose major logistical challenges for the Secret Service,â Abby Phillip reports.
Vice President Pence will fly to Miami for a speech on Central American affairs at Florida International University, followed by meetings with leaders of Central American nations.
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
— Increased cloud coverage today will likely help make D.C. less stifling than it has been this week, the Capital Weather Gang forecasts: âA milder and drier start to the day should be noticeable to all. Variable clouds help keep the heat down during the day with highs only low-to-mid 80s. Lower humidity levels make it more comfortable and keep rain chances low.â
— The Nationals fell to the Atlanta Braves in a dismal 13-2 showing. Itâs their fifth loss in six games.
— A report from the D.C. Council accuses Mayor Muriel Bowserâs administration of favoring a top donor in a contracting dispute. Aaron C. Davis reports: âThe top appointed official in D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowserâs administration took an âextraordinaryâ step of trying to appease one of the mayorâs largest campaign donors by urging city attorneys to quickly settle unresolved contract disputes between the District and his company â¦ The action by D.C. City Administrator Rashad M. Young led to $4 million in taxpayer settlements with Fort Myer Construction, ending the cityâs previous opposition to such payouts.â
— A University of Virginia student and scion of a prominent Republican family has been charged with rape and forcible sodomy in an alleged attack that left a young woman bruised and bloodied. From T. Rees Shapiro: âDalton Baril, 20, of Richmond, turned himself in to authorities at the Albemarle County Regional Jail Wednesday morning and appeared in court through a teleconference for a bond hearing. â¦ The alleged victim, also a U-Va. student, sat still in the front of the court during the proceedings as prosecutor Areshini Pather detailed a harrowing assault that occurred on the night of Feb. 1. â¦ He is the grandson of the late governor John N. Dalton (R), a U-Va. law graduate. His mother, Mary Dalton Baril, is a U-Va. alumna and a partner in the law firm McGuire Woods. His father, Steve Baril, ran as a Republican for state attorney general in 2005, losing in the primary to Robert F. McDonnell.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
President Trump visited Rep. Steve Scalise at the hospital where he is recovering from the shooting:
Sen. Jeff Flake recalls the horrifying scene:
A history of the congressional baseball game:
Watch Ron Paul and other members play in the 1983 game:
Seth Meyers offered his best wishes to the victims:
And Jimmy Fallon shared some birthday cards to the president on his 71st birthday: