July 19, 2024

POLITICO's must-read briefing on what's driving the afternoon in Washington.
POLITICO's must-read briefing on what's driving the afternoon in Washington.
By signing up you agree to allow POLITICO to collect your user information and use it to better recommend content to you, send you email newsletters or updates from POLITICO, and share insights based on aggregated user information. You further agree to our privacy policy and terms of service. You can unsubscribe at any time and can contact us here. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
You will now start receiving email updates
You are already subscribed
Something went wrong
By signing up you agree to allow POLITICO to collect your user information and use it to better recommend content to you, send you email newsletters or updates from POLITICO, and share insights based on aggregated user information. You further agree to our privacy policy and terms of service. You can unsubscribe at any time and can contact us here. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Presented by
BULLETIN — Secret Service officials “confiscated the cellphones of 24 agents involved in the agency’s response to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol and handed them over to the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general,” NBC’s Julia Ainsley reports. “The agency handed over the phones ‘shortly after’ a July 19 letter was sent by Inspector General JOSEPH CUFFARI’s office around the time he launched a criminal probe into the Secret Service’s missing text messages from Jan. 6, the sources said. It is unclear what, if any, information the Office of Inspector General has been able to obtain from the cellphones.”
HEADS UP — “Trump May Avoid Defamation Suit by Rape Accuser,” by Bloomberg’s Erik Larson: “Former president DONALD TRUMP may be able to avoid the lawsuit filed against him by New York columnist E. JEAN CARROLL because he qualified as a government employee at the time he allegedly defamed her.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy speaks during a weekly news conference on Jan. 13. | Alex Wong/Getty Images
McCARTHY’S MANEUVERING —WaPo’s Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey, Isaac Arnsdorf and Marianna Sotomayor are up with a big look at KEVIN McCARTHY’s gambit this year to get the GOP in line behind him as he aims to claim the speaker’s gavel come 2023. “The political machine around McCarthy has spent millions of dollars this year in a sometimes secretive effort to systematically weed out GOP candidates who could either cause McCarthy trouble if he becomes House speaker or jeopardize GOP victories in districts where more moderate candidate might have a better chance at winning,” they write.
“The allies close to McCarthy have sometimes taken steps to conceal their efforts, as they did in the [North Carolina Rep. MADISON] CAWTHORN case, with money passing from top GOP donors through organizations that do not disclose their donors or have limited public records, federal disclosures show.”
Said one anonymous GOP operative: “McCarthy is a political animal, and he has a lot of political animals working for him. … He is not a guy to be trifled with. It’s like they say in the Marine Corps, ‘No better friend, no worse enemy.’ And they mean it, and they act on it.”
Of course, there’s one big figure looming over McCarthy’s machinations: Trump. “If Republicans win a small majority in the House, Trump could likely influence enough votes to determine the speakership, GOP strategists say. It’s a major reason McCarthy allies say he has remained close to Trump even when he has grown frustrated with him.”
AFTERNOON READ — Vanity Fair is the latest to give Florida Gov. RON DeSANTIS the glossy profile treatment: “Ron DeSantis: The Making And Remaking (And Remaking) of a MAGA Heir,” by Gabe Sherman
Good Tuesday afternoon.

A message from Amazon:
After high school, Jamie couldn’t afford college. While working in a fulfillment center, she enrolled in Amazon’s Career Choice program which paid for her to train as a first-aid instructor. “People ask me all the time how I got this job,” she said. “And I tell them Amazon got me the job!”
Amazon’s 750,000 hourly employees are eligible for Career Choice, which now fully funds college tuition.
THE CURIOUS CASE OF JAMES HALL — In Monday’s Playbook PM, we included a story from the Washington Free Beacon alleging that New Mexico Democrat GABE VASQUEZ once gave an interview to a El Paso-based KVIA-TV, in which he supposedly used a fake name — the chyron read “James Hall” as he appeared on screen — and criticized the police. But the Vasquez campaign told us he didn’t give a fake name, saying that the TV station attributed the name to him.
Well, after publication on Monday, we heard from KVIA-TV. Here’s what they had to say: “We would be that TV station, though he didn’t give us an interview as ‘James Hall.’ Nor did we attribute a random name to him when he presumably declined to give us his name,” the station’s general manager BRENDA DE ANDA-SWANN told Playbook. “The story, which aired in 2020, had a technical error and the graphic for ‘James Hall’ appeared ahead of time. … The first soundbite — Mr. Vasquez or not — shouldn’t have had a name attached to it as it was a ‘man on the street’ comment. It really was just a technical error during a live newscast.”
MOVE FAST AND BREAK THINGS — Meta said on Tuesday that it “took down a network of fake accounts from China that attempted to interfere in American politics ahead of this November’s midterm elections,” NBC’s Ken Dilanian reports.
What it looked like: “Meta said the Chinese operation set up fake accounts posing as Americans, attacking politicians from both parties and posting inflammatory material about divisive issues such as abortion and gun rights. The network was small — just 84 Facebook accounts — and did not have a chance to develop much of an audience, Meta said in a report released Tuesday.” Read the Meta report
IN PENNSYLVANIA — Pennsylvania Democrat JOHN FETTERMAN’s work as lieutenant governor to grant clemency to inmates has become a key line of attack for his opponent MEHMET OZ, with the Republican “training intense fire on the Democrat on social media, in email blasts and in $4.6 million in TV ads accusing him of ‘trying to get as many criminals out of prison as he can,’” NYT’s Trip Gabriel reports. “Mr. Fetterman, in an interview, accused Dr. Oz of fear-mongering and twisting the facts of the Hortons’ case and those of others he championed.” It’s the latest example of Republicans’ shift toward messaging on crime and public safety in races across the country.
ON WISCONSIN — In the Wisconsin Senate race, incumbent RON JOHNSON is “leaning into controversy” as he fends off a challenge from Democratic Lt. Gov. MANDELA BARNES, AP’s Scott Bauer writes from Madison. “Johnson has called for the end of guaranteed money for Medicare and Social Security, two popular programs that American politicians usually steer clear from. He’s trafficked in conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and dabbled in pseudoscience around the coronavirus.”
MISS INDEPENDENT —AP’s James MacPherson writes from Bismarck, N.D., about CARA MUND, a former Miss North Dakota and Miss America winner who is running as an independent hoping to unseat GOP Rep. KELLY ARMSTRONG. “In doing so, Mund is gambling that her primary issue — support for abortion rights — along with her self-proclaimed outsider status and her celebrity can win over enough voters to unseat an incumbent tightly tied to the dominant oil industry in the reddest of states.”
HOW IT’S PLAYING — After the 2020 election, California GOP Rep. MIKE GARCIA voted to overturn the results. “It was a perplexing move by the Santa Clarita Republican who had just won his swing district on a whisper-thin margin,” L.A. Times’ Melanie Mason writes. “Garcia was put on the defensive, while Democrats planned to make it a defining issue in this election. Then they didn’t. In the battle over Garcia’s district, as well as in the national political landscape, the Capitol siege on Jan. 6 has been a minor subplot.”
CASH DASH — Democrat JOSH SHAPIRO has opened up a staggering fundraising gap in the gubernatorial race over his opponent, Republican DOUG MASTRIANO. CNN’s Dan Merica reports that Shapiro today “will report his campaign raised $25.4 million from June 7 to September 19, ending the three-month period with over $10.9 million in the bank.” Meanwhile: “According to the Pennsylvania Department of State, Mastriano’s campaign has raised under $1.8 million from the start of 2021 to June of 2022. He has yet to file his June to September report, but the Republican entered June with just under $400,000 in the bank.”
JUST POSTED — “In 2019, Doug Mastriano said women who violated proposed abortion ban should be charged with murder,” by NBC’s Allan Smith: “In an interview with Pennsylvania radio station WITF, Mastriano was pressed about a bill he sponsored that would generally bar abortions when a fetal heartbeat could first be detected, usually around six weeks. Mastriano’s remarks in that interview were previously unreported. … ‘OK, let’s go back to the basic question there,’ Mastriano said. ‘Is that a human being? Is that a little boy or girl? If it is, it deserves equal protection under the law.’ Asked if he was saying yes, they should be charged with murder, Mastriano responded: ‘Yes, I am.’”
THE DEBATE DEBATE — The latest arena where debating is becoming a contentious issue ahead of the midterms is the New York gubernatorial race. Here’s how it went down: Republican Rep. LEE ZELDIN challenged Democratic Gov. KATHY HOCHUL to a handful of debates. Hochul wouldn’t commit to the slate, but finally agreed to do one in late October. But Zeldin spurned that offer, insisting they participate in multiple debates. “So, as matters stand, it remains unclear when, or even if, New Yorkers will get an opportunity to watch Ms. Hochul and Mr. Zeldin face off as they contend for the state’s highest office, in a race largely defined by competing visions around issues of public safety, affordability and reproductive rights,” NYT’s Luis Ferré-Sadurní reports.
With help from Steve Shepard
Kansas: The Republican Governors Association’s Kansas affiliate is up with a new response ad pushing back on Democratic Gov. LAURA KELLY’s assertion that she believes “men should not play women’s sports.”
Michigan: Put Michigan First, a group backed by the Democratic Governors Association, is out with a new ad seeking to tie GOP nominee TUDOR DIXON to former Education Secretary BETSY DeVOS, a longtime bankroller of conservative candidates and causes in the state.
Pennsylvania: Senate Leadership Fund’s crime blitz against Fetterman continues with the elected Republican sheriff in suburban Bucks County, north of Philly, telling viewers, “Protect your family: Don’t vote [for] Fetterman.”
New Hampshire: Sen. MAGGIE HASSANis up today with the platonic ideal of a Democratic rebuttal to GOP crime attacks. “Hassan’s done the opposite of defunding the police,” a county sheriff attests, citing her record as governor, “and it’s no different with Maggie in the Senate.”

DON’T MISS – MILKEN INSTITUTE ASIA SUMMIT: Go inside the 9th annual Milken Institute Asia Summit, taking place from September 28-30, with a special edition of POLITICO’s Global Insider newsletter, featuring exclusive coverage and insights from this important gathering. Stay up to speed with daily updates from the summit, which brings together more than 1,200 of the world’s most influential leaders from business, government, finance, technology, and academia. Don’t miss out, subscribe today.
WHAT’S LEFT FOR THE COMMITTEE — As we prepare for the next installment of the Jan. 6 committee’s public hearings on Wednesday, NYT’s Luke Broadwater and Katie Benner tick through the known unknowns that remain: “It has yet to settle on whether to enforce subpoenas issued to Republican members of Congress who have refused to cooperate with the inquiry, or what legislative recommendations to make. It must still grapple with when to turn its files over to the Justice Department, how to finish what it hopes will be a comprehensive written report and whether to make criminal referrals. It cannot even agree on whether Wednesday’s hearing will be its last.”
Even as the panel has gathered more evidence and heard more testimony since its last public hearing, “the committee has debated whether and how to highlight certain information related to the Jan. 6 attack. For instance, some members and staff have wanted to hold a hearing to highlight the panel’s extensive work investigating the law enforcement failures related to the assault, but others have argued that doing so would take attention off Mr. Trump.”
CNN’s Zachary Cohen, Holmes Lybrand and Jackson Grigsby obtained footage from the documentary film crew that was with ROGER STONE on the day before the 2020 election, in which Stone is heard saying, “F**k the voting, let’s get right to the violence.” The film footage is expected to be included in Wednesday’s hearing in some fashion.
BIDEN’S HUNGER PLAN — Ahead of an event on Wednesday to tout Biden’s commitment to ending hunger in America by 2030, the White House released details of the plan: The administration wants to expand “monthly benefits that help low-income Americans buy food,” AP’s Colleen Long writes. The administration is also “seeking to increase healthy eating and physical activity so that fewer people are afflicted with diabetes, obesity, hypertension and other diet-related diseases. It said it would work to expand Medicaid and Medicare access to obesity counseling and nutrition.” Read the White House plan
Bloomberg’s Mike Dorning has the download on what the president is up against in his gambit: “Hunger is spreading among Americans with steady but low-paying jobs, reversing President Joe Biden’s early success in cutting food scarcity by nearly a third and threatening to worsen as the country teeters on the brink of recession,” he writes. “The situation threatens to worsen as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates and the economy slows, with private forecasters now predicting a 50% chance of recession over the next 12 months.”

“Amazon training changed the course of my career”
While working in a fulfillment center, Jamie enrolled in Amazon’s Career Choice program and successfully trained to become a first-aid instructor with the American Red Cross. Amazon’s Career Choice funds high school completion, GEDs, ESL proficiency certifications, and college tuition. Learn more.
Sponsored by Amazon
Advertisement Image
HEADS UP — Dem senators and civil rights lawyers are working together on a bill that would “limit U.S. law enforcement agencies’ ability to buy cellphone tracking tools to follow people’s whereabouts, including back years in time, and sometimes without a search warrant,” AP’s Jason Dearen and Garance Burke report.
THE AGE-OLD QUESTION — Insider’s latest installment of its “Red, White and Gray” series takes a look at the federal judiciary: “Alzheimer’s disease, retirement ‘pacts,’ and serving until you’re 104 years old: Inside the federal judiciary’s reckoning with age,” by C. Ryan Barber and Camila DeChalus
THE LOAN LURCH — “Lawsuit aims to stop Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan,” by WaPo’s Danielle Douglas-Gabriel: “The Pacific Legal Foundation, the conservative public interest law firm in California that is backing the new lawsuit, asserts that the executive branch lacks the authority to create a new forgiveness policy and is usurping Congress’s power to make law.”
CLIMATE FILES — “Businesses Race for U.S. Climate Incentives,” by WSJ’s Phred Dvorak: “At one of the first big clean-energy conferences since the U.S. passed legislation full of incentives for renewable power and other climate measures, corporate executives crammed into standing-room-only meetings on green steel and hydrogen fuel.”
FOR YOUR RADAR — “U.S. Suit Over Alliance of American Airlines and JetBlue Goes to Trial,” by NYT’s Niraj Chokshi

SUBSCRIBE TO POWER SWITCH: The energy landscape is profoundly transforming. Power Switch is a daily newsletter that unlocks the most important stories driving the energy sector and the political forces shaping critical decisions about your energy future, from production to storage, distribution to consumption. Don’t miss out on Power Switch, your guide to the politics of energy transformation in America and around the world. SUBSCRIBE TODAY.
BENEATH THE SURFACE — “Brett Favre is the face of a scandal, but Mississippi’s issues go deeper,” by WaPo’s Rick Maese: “Mississippi’s widening welfare scandal involves tens of millions of dollars and has embroiled the state’s former governor, Hall of Fame quarterback BRETT FAVRE and professional wrestlers, among others. Organizations such as Operation Shoestring, and the at-risk populations that rely on those funds, continue to feel the sting.”
TRANSITIONS — Lisa Camooso Miller is now managing director with Cogent Strategies. She currently is a partner with Reset Public Affairs and is an RNC and Denny Hastert alum. … Aaron Wais is joining the Motion Picture Association as SVP and head of global litigation. He previously was a partner at Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp. … Heather Zichal will be global head of sustainability at JPMorgan Chase. She previously was CEO of the American Clean Power Association.
ENGAGED — Jason Alinsky, legislative political coordinator at the Progressive Turnout Project, and Lisa Geller, director of state affairs at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions (and sister of our colleague Eric Geller), got engaged on Saturday in Rehoboth Beach, Del. The couple met at an event that Lisa’s employer hosted in March 2017, which featured Jason’s then-boss, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), and they started dating the following year. Pics
BONUS BIRTHDAY: Michael Pierce of Horizon Government Affairs
Correction: Monday’s Playbook PM misstated the office Republican Mark Finchem is seeking in Arizona. He is the secretary of state nominee.

Sponsored Survey
WE VALUE YOUR OPINION: Please take a quick, three question survey and tell us what you think about one of our advertising partners.


About Author