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The 2024 campaign season is kicking into full gear, with the Iowa State Fair and unprecedented legal troubles for former President Trump setting the stage for a tense first Republican primary debate next week.
To qualify for the Aug. 23 debate in Milwaukee, the Republican National Committee set candidates requirements ranging from polling and donation minimums to signing a loyalty pledge, which states that the candidate will support the eventual nominee of the party’s primary and that the candidate will not participate in any debate the RNC has not sanctioned (CBS News). Trump’s refusal to sign the loyalty pledge is putting the organization in a bind, and the former president has yet to announce whether he will participate.
As The Hill’s Julia Manchester reports, RNC chair Ronna McDaniel must now navigate the thorny situation of appeasing Trump — both a ratings draw and the clear front-runner in the primary — while maintaining her control as head of the party.
“It’s a distinct possibility that the Republican nominee for president could simply decide to shun the RNC itself,” Brian Seitchik, a Republican strategist and Trump campaign alum, told The Hill. “When a candidate refuses to play by the rules, it obviously weakens the RNC’s position.”
McDaniel, meanwhile, has given no indication that the RNC will make any exceptions for the former president, telling CNN’s Chris Wallace in an interview last month that the pledge is a “Beat Biden Pledge.”
“And what we’re saying — and the debate committee has met for over two years people from Alaska to Illinois to Tennessee — is if you’re going to stand on the Republican National Committee debate stage you should be able to support the nominee and beat [President] Biden. Everybody has to sign the Beat Biden pledge. Everybody,” she added, when asked by Wallace if that applied to Trump as well. “It’s across the board. The rules aren’t changing. We’ve been very vocal with them.”
▪ USA Today: Who’s in the first Republican primary debate?
▪ Politico: Uncertainty over Trump looms as he qualifies for the second debate, which will be held in September in California — and has tougher qualification criteria.
Regardless of whether Trump ends up attending the debate, he still dominates the GOP primary field. A Morning Consult poll released Tuesday shows Trump with a sizable lead at 57 percent support among potential Republican primary voters. Trailing after him, with a 41-point gap, is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who garnered 16 percent support. Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy is in third place with 9 percent support.
In the early primary state of New Hampshire, Trump has 49 percent support, according to an Emerson College survey released Tuesday. In a surprise result, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) leapfrogged past DeSantis to take second place in the Granite State with 9 percent support, according to the poll. DeSantis’s support, on the other hand, fell to 8 percent from 17 percent in March. Christie’s 1-point lead over DeSantis falls within the poll’s plus-or-minus 3.4 percent margin of error (The Hill).
Nationally, Morning Consult’s polling shows Biden is outperforming both Trump and DeSantis among the general electorate. The recent focus on Hunter Biden’s legal trouble hasn’t impacted the president’s standing against either GOP candidate. Biden leads Trump by 2 points and DeSantis by 6 points in hypothetical head-to-head match-ups, nearing an all-time high against the Florida governor.
Roll Call: DeSantis says he sold all stocks; House disclosures show otherwise.
▪ CNN: Hunter Biden’s top lawyer asks to withdraw from his case.
▪ The Hill: Republican Air Force veteran Greg Hach announces he is challenging embattled Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) in the primary.
▪ Politico: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) is out but not down. She was booted from the Freedom Caucus, but it hasn’t hurt her standing back home.
LEADING THE DAY
➤ TRUMP WORLD
© Associated Press / John Bazemore | Fulton County, Ga., District Attorney Fani Willis on Monday announced the indictment of former President Trump and 18 others.
The gravitational pull around Trump after his fourth criminal indictment this year showed he’s still the Republican presidential primary frontrunner. His loyal supporters say they agree with his claim that he’s an innocent victim of dirty politics. And he continues his social media outbursts and caustic commentary, despite rumblings that even his fans are tired of it.
Trump’s campaign to return to the White House is now a public campaign for his own freedom (The Hill), which is to say, the kind of reality-TV drama Trump normally relishes.
Will he or won’t he show up for next week’s GOP debate in Milwaukee? Is Trump exhausting the confidence of GOP voters who backed him twice and fear he might lose to Biden again (The Associated Press)? If every other GOP presidential contender limps behind Trump by 30 or more points in polls, why did former Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan of Georgia, once a Trump ally, insist Monday that the former president is the “worst candidate ever”?
▪ The Hill’s Niall Stanage, The Memo: Georgia’s criminal charges against five accused co-conspirators, explained.
▪ The New York Times: Rudy Giuliani: From “America’s mayor” to criminal defendant.
Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, indicted on Monday in Georgia as an alleged Trump co-conspirator, on Tuesday requested that his case be moved from state to federal court because of his role as a top aide to the former president. If moved to federal court, Meadows will seek dismissal of the case, his lawyer said (The Hill).
▪ The New York Times: Delay has been one of Trump’s favorite tactics in court.
▪ Politico: In January and February, the Justice Department succeeded despite Twitter pushback in obtaining Trump direct messages, draft tweets and location data.
▪ The Hill and The New York Times: Trump announced a news conference Monday in Bedminster, N.J., to release a 100-page report he says will exonerate him and show “fraud” in Georgia’s 2020 election.
▪ The New York Times: Georgia is not the only state in which Trump contested the results in the election he lost. What happened in other states? Hint: He challenged his loss in six states. He prevailed in none of them.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
Russian forces fired missiles across Ukraine early Tuesday, killing and wounding civilians and damaging infrastructure. Missiles struck cities from the east to west Ukraine, including far behind front lines where Ukraine is fighting deeply entrenched Russian forces to regain occupied territory. The barrage came just hours before top Russian military officials and their counterparts from allied countries in Asia, the Middle East and Africa gathered outside Moscow for a security conference (The Associated Press). Meanwhile, less than 19 miles from Ukraine’s southeastern front line, rural farmers whose businesses have survived Russian rockets now fear another hammer blow to their livelihoods: rock-bottom prices for their harvest. The prices Ukrainian farmers receive from traders for their produce plunged to painful lows in July, when Moscow abandoned a United Nations-brokered grain deal that allowed agricultural exports to be safely shipped via the Black Sea (Reuters).
“It took more than 20 years to build this. It was destroyed in one day,” Valeriy Krut told Reuters of his business, where a missile attack last year destroyed 200 tons of grain and 14 vehicles. “This is the question: throw it all away or to maybe try to hold on? We won’t have any profit this year with such storages and crop prices.”
▪ The Associated Press: As the Black Sea becomes a battleground, one Ukrainian farmer doesn’t know how he’ll sell his grain.
▪ Reuters: Cargo ship leaves Ukrainian port despite Russian threat of attack.
▪ The New York Times: There is a crisis of wounded psyches, in addition to broken bodies, among Ukrainian soldiers.
▪ The Washington Post: Russian Central Bank hikes interest rate to 12 percent after ruble’s decline.
© Associated Press / Efrem Lukatsky | Ukraine, a major grain shipper, has been blocked by Russia from moving its product out of the country. At a private farm in the Kyiv region of Ukraine last week, a tractor collected straw.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Mali’s interim president, Assimi Goita, had a Tuesday telephone conversation over events unfolding in Niger, where a coup in July overthrew the democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum. The development is likely to raise concerns among Western leaders about Russia’s increasing influence in the West African region. The pair discussed a number of topics but “particular attention” was given to the situation in the Sahara-Sahel region, according to a Kremlin statement, and Putin emphasized that an “exclusively peaceful political and diplomatic means” was important in resolving the ongoing situation (CNN).
Niger’s junta said Tuesday that it was open to talks; while Western powers and democratic African governments have called for the coup leaders to reinstate Bazoum, the military leaders have refused and rejected attempts at negotiation. West African army chiefs will meet on Thursday and Friday in Ghana to prepare for a possible military intervention, which ECOWAS, the main regional bloc, has threatened to launch if diplomacy fails (Reuters).
▪ The Associated Press: Nigeriens call for mass recruitment of volunteers as the junta faces possible regional invasion.
▪ ABC News: Human rights activists in Niger say they have been unable to gain access to top political officials detained after mutinous soldiers ousted the democratically elected president nearly three weeks ago.
▪ The Washington Post: Celebration and anguish as the Taliban marks the second anniversary of its takeover in Afghanistan.
▪ Reuters: North Korea says American soldier Travis King wants refuge from mistreatment and racism in the U.S.
House Republican leaders are facing a tricky path to passing government funding bills with a slim majority once they return from their August recess, characterized by pressure from the party’s right flank to cut spending. As The Hill’s Emily Brooks and Mychael Schnell report, they are now signaling they will need to rely on a short-term stopgap funding bill when Congress returns to Washington in September. But even the move to buy more to work on appropriations is getting further complicated by new demands from conservatives about border policy and the Department of Justice, a White House request for supplemental aid for Ukraine, and right-wing skepticism about the length of a continuing resolution to fund the government at current levels after the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told GOP members on a Monday evening conference call that he expects a short-term continuing resolution, but does not want it to last so long that it jams up against Christmas or the holidays, according to two sources on the call.
Meanwhile, in response to the growing divide within the GOP over support for the war in Ukraine, a conservative group is launching a $2 million campaign urging congressional Republicans to continue backing the U.S. ally. Defending Democracy Together, led by GOP strategist Sarah Longwell and conservative political commentator Bill Kristol, is launching “Republicans for Ukraine” to get members to commit to continue funding aid ahead of what is likely to be a lengthy appropriations fight this fall (The Washington Post).
Longwell, who runs regular focus groups with Republican voters, told The Washington Post one of the most “alarming trends” she has seen over the past two years is a “real drop-off in support for Ukraine.”
San Francisco Chronicle: Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) bombshell new lawsuit alleges financial abuse over husband’s estate.
■ The congressional budget wars are coming back, by Alan S. Blinder, opinion contributor, The Wall Street Journal.
■ There won’t be time for four Trump trials before the 2024 election, by Gregory J. Wallance, opinion contributor, The Hill.
WHERE AND WHEN
The House will convene for a pro forma session at 10:30 a.m. on Friday. Lawmakers return to Washington Sept. 11.
The Senate is out until Sept. 5 and will hold a pro forma session on Friday at 1 p.m.
The president will use a 2:30 p.m. speech to mark the one-year anniversary of the enactment of the Democrat-supported Inflation Reduction Act.
Vice President Harris is in Los Angeles and has no public events.
The White House daily press briefing is scheduled at 1 p.m.
➤ ECONOMY & WORKERS
© Associated Press / Carlos Osorio | An assembly line worker at the General Motors Orion Assembly in Lake Orion, Mich., in June.
🚗 With one month before the United Auto Workers (UAW) contract expires on Sept. 14, Biden is asking the union and the Big Three automakers to work together and forge a fair agreement. Negotiations between UAW and the Big Three — Ford, General Motors and Stellantis — began in early July over pay increases, pensions and career security. Autoworkers are particularly concerned about how the shift to electric vehicles (EVs) could threaten their jobs and compensation. The Hill’s Veronica Roseborough breaks down five things to know about a possible strike.
▪ Reuters: UAW members are planning to vote next week to authorize possible strikes ahead of a Sept. 14 deadline, the union said on Tuesday.
▪ CNBC: Striking Hollywood writers on Friday are scheduled to hold the first talks with studios in three months.
A Fitch Ratings analyst warned that the U.S. banking industry has inched closer to another source of turbulence — the risk of sweeping rating downgrades on dozens of U.S. banks that could include the likes of JPMorgan Chase. When the ratings agency cut its assessment of the industry’s health in June, it went largely unnoticed because it didn’t trigger downgrades on banks, analyst Chris Wolfe told CNBC. But another one-notch downgrade of the industry’s score, to A+ from AA-, would force Fitch to reevaluate ratings on each of the more than 70 U.S. banks it covers, Wolfe said.
▪ The Washington Post: What recession? This summer’s economy is defying the odds.
▪ Los Angeles Times: Wall Street slumps with markets worldwide after weak economic data from China.
▪ The Washington Post: Five ways to save money as streaming gets more expensive.
© Associated Press / Stephen Lam, San Francisco Chronicle via AP | Volunteers on Sunday helped load supplies onto a boat destined for West Maui after the wildfires.
And finally … The situation in parts of Maui is grim. The deaths of at least 106 people, including children, weighs heavily on even the most experienced recovery experts and medical professionals (CNN). Only five of the dead have been identified. And then there are the wildfire survivors, who need comfort and help after losing everything.
Biden on Tuesday said he will travel to the island soon to view the devastation and speak with officials and the responders searching burned-out Lahaina.
In his first public comments on the disaster in days, the president said he wanted to be sure a Maui visit, accompanied by first lady Jill Biden, would not conflict with ongoing recovery efforts (CNN and Politico).
While returning from a Tuesday event in Wisconsin, Biden spoke with Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz (D) about the situation, the White House said. The president, according to lawmakers and other Hawaii officials, has been working the phones and coordinating with federal officials, including the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He was criticized by Republicans for vacationing through the weekend without publicly addressing the crisis on Maui.
The White House released information today about FEMA’s assistance on the island and how those impacted by the wildfires can register for federal help at www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362.
NBC News: On Tuesday, hundreds of people were still missing on the island a week after the disaster.
The devastation has been met with volunteer assistance from many other states and organizations. Two members of a special Pennsylvania search and rescue team left for Maui (PennLive). Veterans are leading rescue operations on the island (Hawaii Public Radio). Washington State sent more than 210 trained members of its search and rescue task force to help (KIRO7). California deployed members of the Office of Emergency Services and the state’s Urban Search and Rescue Task Force (KION546). The Pentagon plans to move its personnel and emergency supplies more rapidly around the island in response (The Hill).
More resources, including federal disaster assistance, are reaching Maui, Gov. Josh Green (D) said on Tuesday (The Hill). Access to Lahaina is severely restricted to keep the site secure for those searching the debris for victims’ remains.
“We are asking for some patience when going into the ground zero area because some of the sites are too much to share or see from just a human perspective, and also you don’t want to disrupt any of the recovery,” Green explained.
CNBC: Want to help victims of Hawaii’s disaster? Here’s how.
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