Despite President Trump's epically dismal approval numbers, the Republican Party's infighting, and the Trump administration's multitude of missteps, Democrats still aren't a shoo-in for the 2018 midterm elections. Citing "data from a range of focus groups and internal polls in swing states," Politico on Wednesday delivered the bad news to Democrats that their attacks on Trump simply aren't working:
In focus groups, most participants say they're still impressed with Trump's business background and tend to give him credit for the improving economy. The window is closing, but they're still inclined to give him a chance to succeed.
More than that, no single Democratic attack on the president is sticking — not on his temperament, his lack of accomplishments, or the deals he's touted that have turned out to be less than advertised, like the president's claim that he would keep Carrier from shutting down its Indianapolis plant and moving production to Mexico.
Voters are also generally unimpressed by claims that Trump exaggerates or lies, and they don't see the ongoing Russia investigation adding up to much. [Politico]
Perhaps even more concerning for Democrats, their key messages about universal Medicare, free college tuition, and a higher minimum wage aren't resonating outside the base. Politico reported that people "tend to see those proposals as empty promises, at best."
Anson Kaye, a strategist at the media firm GMMB, warned that if Democrats don't wrap their heads around these facts fast and instead assume, based off of Trump's numbers, that the upcoming elections will be a landslide, they're "going to drive right into the ocean."
Algeria has abandoned thousands of migrants in the Sahara desert over the past year, forcing them to walk for miles on end until they reach neighboring Niger or Mali, The Associated Press reported Monday.
Migrants are reportedly being rounded up, put into trucks, dropped in the desert, and told to walk across the border, sometimes at gunpoint. The International Organization for Migration estimates that about 13,000 people have been forcibly expelled from Algeria this way since May 2017.
The number of migrants sent out of Algeria has spiked from 9,290 in 2016 to 14,446 over the past 10 months, reports AP. Officials are increasingly expelling migrants through the deadly Sahara, including pregnant women and children. Algerian police are leaving truckloads of people in scorching temperatures around 115 degrees Fahrenheit at points that are 18 miles from a water source, and migrants report that dozens in their groups succumbed to the inhospitable conditions.
"There were people who couldn't take it. They sat down and we left them. They were suffering too much," Aliou Kande, an 18-year-old from Senegal, told AP. Janet Kamara, a Liberian who was pregnant when she was stranded in the Sahara, said she spent several days walking before giving birth to a stillborn baby while in the desert. "Women were lying dead," she said. "Other people got missing in the desert because they didn't know the way." Read more at The Associated Press. Summer Meza
Milwaukee-based motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson announced Monday that it will move the production of its European Union-bound motorcycles to sites overseas as a direct result of President Trump's escalating trade war, the Financial Times reports. Harley-Davidson said that European Union tariffs, which were imposed in retaliation to Trump's tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, would increase the average cost of a motorcycle to the EU from the U.S. by around $2,200, Marketwatch reports.
"Harley-Davidson believes the tremendous cost increase, if passed onto its dealers and retail customers, would have an immediate and lasting detrimental impact to its business in the region, reducing customer access to Harley-Davidson products and negatively impacting the sustainability of its dealers' businesses," the company said, adding that it plans to "shift production of motorcycles for EU destinations from the U.S. to its international facilities to avoid the tariff burden."
The company's decision is a blow to Trump's goal of "America first" economic policies. The manufacturing jobs will reportedly be moved to plants in India, Brazil, and Thailand, Harley-Davidson said. Jeva Lange
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom led the box office with $150 million in ticket sales on its opening weekend, The Associated Press reported. 2015's Jurassic World debuted with a record-breaking $209 million, but Fallen Kingdom's better-than-expected haul was enough to show that the 25-year-old dinosaur franchise still has plenty of fans. The film's success also gave Hollywood its first back-to-back $100 million-plus openings in a non-holiday stretch following the $183 million debut of Pixar's Incredibles 2, which added another $81 million in its second week. The total box office take for the weekend reached $280 million, Hollywood's fourth best weekend ever. Harold Maass
President Trump was on his way to a Trump golf course in Virginia on Sunday when he tweeted that he wanted all undocumented immigrants deported immediately with no due process, "no judges or court cases," The New York Times reports, in the latest episode of Trump talking a hard line on immigration after reversing his administration's family-separation border policy through an executive order last week. In fact, Trump has been "complaining to aides about why he could not just create an overarching executive order to solve the problem," the Times reports, citing "two people familiar with the deliberations," adding:
Aides have had to explain to the president why a comprehensive immigration overhaul is beyond the reach of his executive powers. And privately, the president has groused that he should not have signed the order undoing separations. [The New York Times]
Deporting immigrants from inside the U.S. without due process, whatever their legal status, would be a "tyrannical" and "breathtaking assertion of unbounded power — power without any plausible limit," Harvard constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe tells the Times. "The due process requirements of the Fifth and 14th Amendments apply to all persons, including those in the U.S. unlawfully." But regarding the family separation directive, Trump isn't alone in the White House in opposing the executive order he signed.
"Typically, executive orders are the product of weeks of collaborative work," Politico reports, but Trump's family-separation rollback was "dashed together in a matter of hours," and he signed it over the objections of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, White House Counsel Don McGahn, and other staff members worried it won't withstand legal challenge and would lead to the predictably chaotic rollout. Peter Weber
Trump calls restaurant that booted Sarah Huckabee Sanders 'dirty.' Mar-a-Lago's kitchen had 13 health code violations.
President Trump responded Monday to the controversy over a Virginia restaurant kicking out his press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, by laying down his maxim for dining out: "If a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!"
The Red Hen Restaurant should focus more on cleaning its filthy canopies, doors and windows (badly needs a paint job) rather than refusing to serve a fine person like Sarah Huckabee Sanders. I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 25, 2018
Trump is famously a germophobe, with his favorite restaurant being McDonald's because "I like cleanliness, and I think you're better off going there than, maybe, someplace that you have no idea where the food's coming from. It's a certain standard." Of course, Trump's decision to bash the Red Hen over its aesthetic shortcomings is particularly ironic when health inspectors have dinged the restaurant at his Mar-a-Lago resort with more than a dozen health code violations.
"Inspectors found 13 violations at the fancy club's kitchen," the Miami Herald learned last spring, including three violations deemed "high priority" because "they could allow the presence of illness-causing bacteria on plates served in the dining room." Jeva Lange
China and the European Union have teamed up as a means of pushing back against the U.S. trade threat, with Beijing's top economic adviser, Vice Premier Liu He, warning that recent American policies could result in a global recession, Bloomberg and Reuters report. Both regions have been grappling with new U.S. tariffs, with the EU set to impose retaliatory tariffs on $3.3 billion of American goods this week in response to President Trump's restrictions on aluminum and steel imports, and China staring down $34 billion in tariffs to be instated early next month.
"Unilateralism is on the rise and trade tensions have appeared in major economies," Liu said at the press conference alongside European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen. "China and the EU firmly oppose trade unilateralism and protectionism and think these actions may bring recession and turbulence to the global economy."
While representatives of China and the EU are prepared to meet next month to exchange proposals for bilateral investment, Katainen notes that there are still disagreements that need to be sorted out, including the EU's concern about Beijing properly preventing overcapacity in the high-tech and steel and aluminum sectors. Jeva Lange
Stormy Daniels lawyer 'shocked,' unimpressed after federal prosecutors cancel meeting in Michael Cohen case
Late Sunday, federal prosecutors in Manhattan involved in the Michael Cohen case abruptly canceled a meeting scheduled for Monday with porn actress Stormy Daniels, according to her lawyer, Michael Avenatti. The meeting was to discuss possible grand jury testimony from Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, regarding the $130,000 Cohen paid her to stay quiet about the extramarital affair she said she had with President Trump in 2006. Avenatti said the prosecutors scrapped the meeting because it had been reported in the press. "I was shocked at that response," Avenatti said.
"We believe canceling the meeting because the press has now caught wind of it is ridiculous," Avenatti told Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos in an email. "We do not think it was any secret that at some point you were going to meet with my client." He added on Twitter that if the prosecutors "can't handle a few cameras outside their offices," how would "they ever bring any serious criminal charges against Cohen et al., let alone handle a trial, in such a high profile matter? ... We remain willing to cooperate but something isn't right." The office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York has been investigating Cohen's hush payments among other business transactions.
Avenatti and Daniels have turned over documents in response to a federal subpoena, The Associated Press reports, and Avenatti said Daniels has been cooperating with federal prosecutors for months. For what it's worth — and it may not be worth much at all — Tom Arnold says Cohen is also cooperating with federal prosecutors. You can watch MSNBC's Steve Kornacki run down Arnold's bizarre interviews, as well as the current status of the Cohen investigation, below. Peter Weber