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In today’s edition, the stakes for President Biden’s NATO press conference tomorrow, Semafor co-host͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌ 
 
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July 10, 2024
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Principals

Principals
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Today in D.C.

  1. Biden’s doubters in Congress
  2. Johnson-Zelenskyy meeting
  3. EU Defense Night
  4. Trump dings Harris
  5. US views of Israel’s Gaza campaign
  6. Foreign election meddling

PDB: Biden announces more air defense support for Ukraine

Biden, Starmer meet… Will Pelosi speak about Biden on Morning Joe? … WSJ: Zelenskyy’s balancing act

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1

Biden still hasn’t closed the deal with Democrats

Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters

After a day of tense meetings in Congress, Democrats remain divided and depressed over President Biden’s nomination. The default mood in the Senate seems to be passive-aggressive seething: No Democrat has called for Biden to drop out, but many continue to raise concerns about his campaign and refuse to set aside questions about his status. “Donald Trump is on track, I think, to win this election, and maybe win it by a landslide and take with it the Senate and the House,” Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., warned on CNN. A Biden spokesman responded by saying “this was always going to be a close race” and that they would engage with voters worried about Trump’s agenda.

In the House, Biden has more support, but hasn’t stopped the bleeding. Rep. Mikie Sherrill, a rising star in New Jersey seen as a potential future governor, became the seventh Democrat to call for him to step aside on Tuesday. Another member of the club, Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., told Semafor’s Kadia Goba he expected more to follow. “Let me say this: I believe they will because they tell me they will,” he said. The still-tense situation raises the stakes for Biden’s NATO press conference on Thursday, Semafor’s Benjy Sarlin writes, but really any public event is a tightrope act now.

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2

Johnson to host Zelenskyy

Kevin Mohatt/Reuters

Speaker Mike Johnson will meet with Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy today with a big question hovering over their heads: Would Congress approve another aid package for Ukraine next year? Johnson demurred when asked by Semafor earlier this week. “It’s impossible to say right now,” Johnson said Monday. “I do think that the appetite of the American people has worn pretty thin for big foreign aid packages. And so we’re certainly hopeful that scenario can be avoided.” Johnson was integral to Congress passing the $95 billion foreign aid package in April, but he faced backlash from some conservatives for doing so. Ruslan Stefanchuk, the chair of Ukraine’s parliament, told reporters prior to his meeting with Speaker Johnson on Tuesday that he would be making the case to his counterparts in Congress for more extensive sanctions on Russia to prevent sanctions evasion.

Kadia Goba and Mathias Hammer

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3

An EU diplomat’s warning on Ukraine

Johanna Geron/Reuters

The EU’s top diplomat said the future of Europe’s security will be determined in Ukraine as he chided the US for delaying aid to Ukraine earlier this year. “We know that if we allow Russia to turn Ukraine into a second Belarus, and put a puppet government in Kyiv, we will pay a much higher price later,” Josep Borrell said at the EU Defense Night, which was co-hosted by Semafor, on Tuesday evening, Mathias Hammer reports. Ukrainian Minister of Strategic Industries Oleksandr Kamyshin also insisted that Ukraine would boost defense production and become an “arsenal of democracy” no matter who wins the White House in November. The event was widely attended by diplomats and industry leaders, including the EU’s Ambassador to the US Jovita Neliupšienė, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, French Ambassador to the US Laurent Bili, and Oracle CEO Safra Catz.

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4

Trump steps up attacks against Harris

Marco Bello/Reuters

Donald Trump is stepping up his criticism of Kamala Harris as questions continue swirling about the future of Joe Biden’s candidacy. At a rally in Florida on Tuesday, the former president attacked Harris over her handling of migration issues and suggested President Biden picked her as an “insurance policy” — if he’d tapped “someone even half-way competent,” according to Trump, the president would have been pushed out years ago. While Trump and his aides remain skeptical that he’ll actually end up facing Harris, the shift is notable: It represents how the once far-fetched idea that she could eventually be at the top of the ticket has morphed into something slightly more real. (It’s also an opportunity for the campaign to keep digging at Biden as he faces the political fight of his life.)

Shelby Talcott

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5

US becomes a little less negative on Israel’s Gaza campaign

US opposition to Israel’s military campaign in Gaza is easing. A plurality of Americans — 48% — still disapprove of Israel’s operation in Gaza, but that’s down seven percentage points from March, according to new figures from Gallup out this morning. Forty-two percent approve of what Israel is doing. The shift is mostly driven by a 12-point increase in the percentage of Republican voters who approve of Israel’s campaign, but support increased by five points each among Democrats and independents, too. The survey was taken June 3-23, after Israeli troops moved into Rafah and also after the coverage of pro-Palestinian protests across US college campuses had largely dissipated.

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6

Russia targeting demographics ahead of US election

Sputnik/Vyacheslav Prokofyev/Pool via REUTERS

Russia is targeting specific demographics and candidates to influence the presidential election and down ballot races, an official with the Office of Director of National Intelligence told reporters, adding that Russia determines who to support or oppose largely based on their stance on Ukraine aid. “We have not observed a shift in Russia’s preferences from the past elections,” the official said, suggesting the US believes Russia prefers Donald Trump. Meanwhile, China is “holding fire” at least when it comes to the presidential race, the official said, because Beijing views “both major parties as being opposed to China and seeking to contain China.” The US intelligence community also publicly accused the Iranian government on Tuesday of trying to encourage the Gaza war protests in the US by posing as activists online and providing monetary support to those demonstrating.

Morgan Chalfant

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PDB

Beltway Newsletters

Punchbowl News: The House Freedom Caucus looks poised for a shakeup. Chairman Bob Good, who lost his primary, has indicated to members he will leave his leadership position, and Rep. Andy Ogles, R-Tenn., is eyeing a bid to replace Good.

Playbook: President Biden’s support is eroding in New York.

WaPo: Progressives are backing Biden as he faces doubts from others in the party about his reelection path because they view Biden as “the most progressive president in generations.”

Axios: Donald Trump deliberately trashed Project 2025 right before the RNC unveiled its updated platform. He “complained that Heritage was trying to build credibility and clout off his name.”

White House

  • President Biden said the US, Germany, the Netherlands, Romania, and Italy would provide Ukraine with five additional air defense systems. He also awarded outgoing NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
  • Biden saw a neurologist at the White House on Jan. 17 for a neurological exam, the results of which were later reported as part of his annual physical exam more than a month later, the administration said. The confirmation came after press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre earlier in the day inaccurately told reporters that the meeting was not related to the president’s care.
  • Biden will meet with union leaders at AFL-CIO Headquarters today, before turning attention to the NATO summit.
  • Biden accused Texas Gov. Greg Abbott of delaying federal aid to the state in the wake of Hurricane Beryl. — Houston Chronicle
  • A junior sailor has been punished after he tried to access Biden’s restricted medical records while searching through a government database in February, according to the US Navy.
  • Vice President Harris met with members of the Team USA men’s basketball team during a campaign swing through Las Vegas.
Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Congress

  • Speaker Mike Johnson and Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla, had a little “back-and-forth” Tuesday over the merits of a vote on holding Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt. Johnson reportedly expressed concerns over fining Garland $10,000 per day for not complying with a congressional subpoena while other Republicans urged Luna to wait until at least after next week’s Republican National Convention. Luna on X later in the day indicated she still planned to force a vote today.
  • Former Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, who served as the top Republican in the Senate Armed Services Committee and retired in 2023, has died at 89.

Outside the Beltway

  • New Jersey Democratic power broker George Norcross and five co-defendants pleaded not guilty to racketeering charges accusing them of using illegal threats, extortion, and political muscle to take over the redevelopment of the Camden waterfront.

Economy

  • Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told lawmakers that the job market has cooled considerably and is no longer “overheated,” adding that “more good data” would strengthen the case for an interest rate cut in the next few months, Semafor’s J.D. Capelouto writes.
  • The Federal Reserve is considering a rule change that could save the eight largest US banks combined billions of dollars in capital, a potential long-sought victory for the industry. — Reuters

Courts

  • Two Senate Democrats are asking Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for possible tax law violations. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Ron Wyden of Oregon made the request in a letter last week, pointing to public reporting over the past year which found Thomas failed to disclose multiple luxury trips and gifts from wealthy friends.
  • A US Marshal outside Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s Washington, DC home shot a suspected carjacker early Friday.
  • A federal watchdog appointed to monitor the internal operations of the United Auto Workers is investigating new allegations against President Shawn Fain, including demands that he made to benefit his fiance and her sister.
  • A group of angry creditors and former NYC mayor and Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani will face off in bankruptcy court today. The creditors have asked the judge to put Giuliani’s finances under the control of an independent trustee in order to lock down his assets and start to collect what they are owed.
  • Hunter Biden’s attorneys withdrew their bid for a new trial in his federal gun case.

Polls

  • Twenty-three percent of people across the globe said they felt lonely “a lot of the day yesterday,” according to new data released by Gallup this morning. The US comes in slightly below the overall number, with 20% saying so. The share of people feeling lonely is more pronounced among younger adults in the US than older ones.
  • The Cook Political Report shifted six states toward the GOP in its electoral college ratings.
  • Fifty-two percent of Wisconsin voters over 50 say they support Donald Trump, while 43% back President Biden, according to poll commissioned by the AARP taken after the candidates’ June 27 debate. Among Wisconsin voters of all ages, Trump’s lead narrowed to 5 percentage points. In a race between Trump, Biden, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Trump’s lead fell to 48% while Biden slipped to 41%. Kennedy finished with 7%. Kennedy is not on the ballot in Wisconsin yet.
  • A solid majority of Americans oppose a federal abortion ban as a rising number back access to abortions for any reason, according to a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

On the Trail

  • President Biden got a boost when the Democratic Mayors Association endorsed him for reelection last night, after he joined a call with its members. “President Biden showed tonight that he is fully committed to working with us to defeat Donald Trump once and for all,” the group’s board said in a statement.
  • Former Vice President Mike Pence called the Republican National Committee’s move to soften its stance on abortion in the party’s platform “a profound disappointment.”
  • Former GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley is releasing her 97 delegates and urging them to vote for Donald Trump at next week’s RNC convention. — Politico
  • J.D. Vance’s facial hair could be an impediment to him becoming Trump’s running mate. — The Bulwark

Technology

  • A senior official at the Commerce Department office implementing the sprawling chips program is shifting into a new role, as the administration looks to implement funding agreements that have already been reached with semiconductor manufacturers. Lynelle McKay, who up until now has been serving as the CHIPS Program Office’s senior relationship director, will take on the role of chief portfolio management officer, according to the announcement shared first with Semafor. In a sign of the program’s evolution, McKay will oversee the management of grant funds to chip companies expanding domestic operations, which include the likes of TSMC and Intel as well as smaller firms.
  • US officials said they disrupted an artificial intelligence-powered Russian disinformation system running nearly 1,000 accounts on the social media platform X.

National Security

The US, Australia, and six other allies warned Tuesday that a Chinese state-sponsored hacking group poses a threat to their networks, in an unusual coordinated move by Western governments to call out a global hacking organization they allege is directed by Beijing’s intelligence services.

Foreign Policy

Russia has issued an arrest warrant for Yulia Navalnaya, the exiled widow of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The Kremlin accused her of being involved in an “extremist organization.”

Environment

FEMA is finalizing a rule today that would implement a new federal flood risk management standard, which is meant to better flood-proof construction projects.

Media

  • Instagram took down several interviews Tuesday about the war between Hamas and Israel in Gaza that were posted by longrunning lefty independent media outlet Democracy Now, Semafor’s Max Tani writes. A spokesperson for Meta, Instagram’s parent company, later said the videos had been removed in error and were restored.
  • New York magazine correspondent Olivia Nuzzi will host a six-part interview series for Bloomberg Television that debuts on July 17.

Blindspot

Stories that are being largely ignored by either left-leaning or right-leaning outlets, curated with help from our partners at Ground News.

What the Left isn’t reading: ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos was caught on camera Tuesday saying to a passerby that he didn’t think President Biden can serve another four years. Through a spokesperson, Stephanopoulos told Puck News he shouldn’t have responded to the question.

What the Right isn’t reading: A judge in Wisconsin rejected an attempt to revive the recall effort against top Republican lawmaker Robin Vos after he refused to decertify Biden’s narrow election win in 2020.

Principals Team

Editors: Benjy Sarlin, Jordan Weissmann, Morgan Chalfant

Reporters: Kadia Goba, Joseph Zeballos-Roig, Shelby Talcott, David Weigel

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One Good Text

Cynthia Lummis is a Republican senator from Wyoming. She is joining Semafor’s Banking on the Future: The Next Era of Fintech event today. You can still register here to attend.

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