Lobbyist for Russian Oligarch Visited Assange 9 Times

“A longtime U.S. lobbyist for the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska visited Julian Assange nine times at the Ecuadorian embassy in London last year,” according to visitor logs seen by the Guardian.

“Adam Waldman, who has worked as a Washington lobbyist for the metals tycoon since 2009, had more meetings with Assange in 2017 than almost anyone else… It is not clear why Waldman went to the WikiLeaks founder or whether the meetings had any connection to the Russian billionaire, who is now subject to US sanctions. But the disclosure is likely to raise further questions about the extent and nature of Assange’s alleged ties to Russia.”

North Dakota Candidate Defends Cages for Migrant Kids

North Dakota U.S. Senate candidate Kevin Cramer (R-ND) “pushed back hard on the idea that keeping border-crossing children in chain-link cages was inhumane, defending the practice in two local radio shows on Wednesday,” TPM reports.

Said Cramer: “By the way, chain link fences are around playgrounds all over America, all over North Dakota. And chain link fences allow line-of-sight visual connectivity with children and families. You know, there’s nothing inhumane about a chain link fence. If it is, then every ballpark in America is inhumane.”

Trump Surrenders

The coverage of President Trump’s sudden reversal on his policy to separate migrant children from their parents at the border is universally brutal.

The Fix: “It’s at once an admission that the politics of the issue had gotten out of hand and that the administration’s arguments were completely dishonest. Virtually everything it said about the policy is tossed aside with this executive action. It’s the political equivalent of waving the white flag and the legal equivalent of confessing to making false statements. Rather than letting Congress rebuke it, the White House is rebuking itself and trying to save some face.”

Politico: “It was a remarkable shift from a president who is typically reluctant to bow to outside pressure. He often doubles down on his existing stance when confronted with criticism.”

McCain’s Campaign Manager Renounces the GOP

Steve Schmidt, who was campaign manager for John McCain’s presidential bid in 2008, announced he was quitting the Republican party.

Said Schmidt: “29 years and nine months ago I registered to vote and became a member of the Republican Party which was founded in 1854 to oppose slavery and stand for the dignity of human life. Today I renounce my membership in the Republican Party. It is fully the party of Trump.”

Voters More Focused on Control of Congress

A new Pew Research survey finds “voter engagement is high when compared with comparable points in previous midterm cycles” and “a record share of registered voters (68%) say the issue of which party controls Congress will be a factor in their vote in November.”

“A 60% majority say they consider their midterm vote as essentially a vote either for Donald Trump (26%) or against him (34%). These are among the highest shares saying their view of the president would be a factor in their vote in any midterm in more than three decades.”

“In early voting intentions, 48% of registered voters say they would favor the Democratic candidate in their district, or lean toward the Democrat, while 43% favor the Republican or lean Republican.”

Giuliani Delays Decision on Mueller Interview

Rudy Giuliani told the Washington Post that President Trump’s decision on whether to sit for an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller “could be delayed until mid- to late July as his legal team assesses the impact of a new report by the Justice Department’s inspector general,” the Washington Post reports.

Said Giuliani: “I’m advising him to stay put, to hold our horses a little.”

But last night on Fox News, Giuliani sounded doubtful it would ever happen: “Do I look crazy? So far, you know, I still have all my senses, and I’m a heck of a lawyer. And I get drummed out of the profession if I did. I mean, the reality is, you don’t put your client in a kangaroo court.”

Cohen Resigns from RNC Post

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s longtime confidant and former personal attorney, has resigned from his post as deputy finance chair of the Republican National Committee’s Finance Committee, sources close to the RNC told ABC News.

But Cohen notes the federal investigations into him weren’t the only reason for stepping down.

Said Cohen: “As the son of a Polish holocaust survivor, the images and sounds of this family separation policy is heart wrenching. While I strongly support measures that will secure our porous borders, children should never be used as bargaining chips.”

Manchin Holds Solid Lead In West Virginia

A new Monmouth poll in West Virginia finds Sen. Joe Manchin (D) holds a solid lead over challenger Patrick Morrisey (R), 48% to 39% among all voters.

“Another 4% support Don Blankenship, who is seeking to run as the Constitution Party candidate after losing his bid for the GOP nomination. West Virginia has a “sore loser” law that may prevent him from appearing on the general election ballot. When Blankenship’s supporters are reallocated to their second choice, Manchin maintains a 49% to 42% lead.”

“The race looks very similar using two different likely voter models. A historical midterm model gives Manchin a 49% to 40% lead over Morrisey with Blankenship in the race, and a 50% to 43% lead without. Using a model that includes a turnout surge in areas where Democrats tend to perform more strongly gives a Manchin a 50% to 39% lead when including Blankenship and 51% to 42% lead without the Constitution Party candidate.”

Bloomberg to Spend $80 Million on Midterms

“Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, has decided to throw his political clout and personal fortune behind the Democratic campaign to take control of the House of Representatives this year, directing aides to spend tens of millions of dollars in an effort to expel Republicans from power,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Bloomberg — a political independent who has championed left-of-center policies on gun control, immigration and the environment — has approved a plan to pour at least $80 million into the 2018 election, with the bulk of that money going to support Democratic congressional candidates, advisers to Mr. Bloomberg said.”

Trump Will End Migrant Family Separations

“Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is working with White House lawyers to draft an executive action that will end the Trump administration’s practice of separating migrant families at the border,” Politico reports.

“The action will direct the Department of Homeland Security to keep families together and will instruct the Department of Defense to help house the families because many of the detention centers are at capacity, the source said.”

“President Trump is expected to sign the action, the source added.”

Racial Fear Is Key to Trump’s Support Among Evangelicals

Janelle Wong: “My research indicates white evangelical conservatism correlates strongly with their perceptions anti-white discrimination, even after taking into account economic status, party, age and region. Fully 50 percent of white evangelical respondents to our 2016 survey reported feeling they face discrimination that’s comparable to, or even higher than, the discrimination they believe Muslim Americans face. Those who hold this perception are more likely to hold conservative attitudes on issues as wide-ranging as climate change, tax policy and health-care reform.”

“Here’s what is not behind these beliefs: economic anxiety. Like PRRI and political scientist Diana Mutz, I find economic anxiety isn’t a primary reason for supporting Trump. Rather, white evangelicals fear losing racial status. White evangelicals’ perceptions they’re the targets of discrimination – more so than other groups — influence far more than simply their votes for Trump.”

“Yes, 80 percent of white evangelicals supported Donald Trump in 2016. And the racial fears and anxieties that underlie their support for the president will probably remain the driver in their political views long after he leaves office.”

Trump Media Allies Struggle to Defend Separation Policy

“President Trump’s top allies in the media have struggled this week to formulate a coherent defense of his administration’s immigration crackdown, oscillating between talking points to provide the president cover for the widely-condemned zero-tolerance policy that has resulted in children being separated from their parents at the southern border,” CNN reports.

“Members of the pro-Trump media seemed to share the same goal: Fending off an onslaught of criticism directed at the White House by members of both political parties. But the ways in which each defender has gone about doing this differed, ranging from falling back on tropes and arguments often employed by white nationalists, to portraying immigrants as threats, to outright dismissing the controversy as part of a fictitious plot.”