It’s a tale of two lawmakers today as a pair of those who voted to oust former President Trump from office are on the ballot in key primary matchups while the ex-commander in chief continues to find himself at the center of the investigatory world.
Today’s primary slate is headlined by contests featuring Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), the two most prominent GOP lawmakers who are standing for reelection this fall after voting to impeach and convict, respectively, Trump for his actions on Jan. 6, 2021. However, the two Republicans are likely facing very different fates.
Cheney, the foremost Trump opponent in the GOP, is widely expected to lose tonight to Harriet Hageman, whom the former president has thrown his weight behind in the primary. Polls have shown for months that Hageman holds a wide lead over the three-term lawmaker. That advantage has kept up, with a University of Wyoming poll showing that 57 percent of likely voters back Hageman compared to only 28 percent for the vice chairwoman of the Jan. 6 select committee.
In a sign of trouble for the former member of GOP leadership, she has resorted to reaching out to Democrats in the state for their vote over the past month in an effort to claw back support she has lost with Trump supporters and Republicans. Notably, Wyoming has an open primary, meaning that Democrats can cross over and vote in GOP contests, handing Cheney one of her only lifelines.
However, supporters of the lawmaker are looking past tonight’s results, win or (likely) lose. Instead, they believe this is simply the opening salvo in the effort to deny Trump another bid for the Oval Office.
“This race is the first battle in a much larger and longer war that Liz is going to win because the future of the country depends on it,” one Cheney ally told the Morning Report.
“Regardless of what the results in this election turn out to be, she is going to lead a broad coalition going forward of Americans across the political spectrum who will stand up for freedom and restore the foundational principles that Donald Trump continues to dangerously undermine,” the ally added.
Cheney has not taken off the table a potential 2024 challenge. After losing her spot in leadership last year, the Wyoming Republican vowed to do “everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office.”
Another decision facing Cheney in 2024 if she opts to run for commander-in-chief: Run as a Republican or as independent?
Of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump post-Jan. 6, only two have advanced past their primaries — Reps. Dan Newhouse (Wash.) and David Valadao (Calif.).
▪ Paul Kane, The Washington Post: Cheney’s political life is likely ending — and just beginning.
▪ The Hill: Trump eyes big prize in taking down Cheney.
▪ Mike Lillis, The Hill: Cheney approaches likely primary loss with defiance.
▪ The Associated Press: Cheney braces for loss as Trump tested in Wyoming and Alaska.
▪ The Hill: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) says Cheney’s potential primary defeat is a referendum on the Jan. 6 investigative panel on which she serves as vice chair.
The story in Alaska is much different, however. Despite Murkowski’s vote, she remains in the driver’s seat to not only emerge from today’s primary and is still in a strong position to win a fourth full term in office.
That is due in large part to the new electoral system the Last Frontier has implemented this year. Instead of a traditional GOP primary like the one Cheney faces, candidates from all parties are listed on the ballot, with the top four advancing to the general election regardless of party affiliation. The November contest will be decided by ranked-choice voting, another boon to Murkowski’s chances.
Murkowski and Kelly Tshibaka, the Trump-backed candidate, are both likely to advance to the general election. The Alaska Democratic Party has endorsed Pat Chesbro, a former teacher and school administrator. The incumbent Republican told The Associated Press that she expects to win just as she operates on Capitol Hill — by creating a winning coalition.
“That’s kind of my strong suit, that’s what I do,” said Murkowski, who is the lone GOP senator who voted to convict Trump to face the voters this year.
Even predating the impeachment vote, Trump made clear his disdain for the three-term senator after she opposed the nomination of then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. At a rally alongside Tshibaka and Sarah Palin in Anchorage last month, the former president derided Murkowski as “the worst.”
“I rate her No. 1 bad,” he added.
Murkowski is on the ballot alongside 17 other candidates for the four general election slots.
▪ Julia Manchester, The Hill: Five things to watch in Alaska, Wyoming primaries.
▪ The Associated Press: Cheney and Murkowski: Trump critics facing divergent futures.
▪ The Washington Post: Alaska vote tests Trump’s influence, Palin’s bid and a new election system.
▪ The New York Times: In Alaska, Palin’s political comeback stirs debate among voters.
▪ The Hill: Trump surprises some Republicans with endorsements.
LEADING THE DAY
The Justice Department on Monday asked a federal judge to keep the search warrant affidavit for Trump’s home sealed, arguing that it would jeopardize an ongoing probe and cause “significant and irreparable damage” to the investigation.
Federal prosecutors submitted the court filing to oppose any efforts to unseal the affidavit, which has become the next battle between the Justice Department and the former president. The fight to keep it sealed came only days after they agreed to release a copy of the warrant, as well as a receipt listing the materials that were seized during the search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
“The affidavit supporting the search warrant presents a very different set of considerations,” the filing reads. “There remain compelling reasons, including to protect the integrity of an ongoing law enforcement investigation that implicates national security, that support keeping the affidavit sealed.”
As The Hill’s Harper Neidig writes, prosecutors usually submit affidavits from law enforcement officials when seeking a judge’s green light for a warrant. The documents are meant to provide an overview of evidence collected during a probe that would support the probable cause needed to obtain a warrant under the Fourth Amendment.
▪ The New York Times: Justice Department opposes affidavit release, fearing it will “chill” inquiry.
▪ The Wall Street Journal: Attorney General Merrick Garland weighed Mar-a-Lago search for weeks.
▪ ABC News: Senate Intelligence Committee leaders request classified documents taken from Mar-a-Lago.
A federal judge on Monday ruled that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) must comply with a special grand jury subpoena from the Fulton County district attorney, who’s investigating Trump’s efforts to pressure Georgia officials into overturning the state’s 2020 election results.
The judge said District Attorney Fani Willis (D) satisfied the “extraordinary circumstances” standard and is justified in calling Graham to testify (The Hill).
▪ Politico: Justice Department subpoenas former Trump White House lawyer Eric Herschmann.
▪ ABC News: Rudy Giuliani now “target” of Georgia criminal probe into effort to overturn 2020 election.
▪ Niall Stanage: The Memo: Trump regains center stage, with ramifications for all.
▪ The New York Times: Trump executive nears plea deal with Manhattan prosecutors.
Some Republican leaders over the weekend publicly defended the FBI and law enforcement while urging conservatives to tone down incendiary rhetoric aimed at the Justice Department and the bureau as well as at least one judge in reaction to the government’s search and seizure of sensitive government documents possessed by Trump after a year of wrangling over their return to the National Archives (The Hill).
NPR: FBI, Homeland Security warned on Friday about threats to law enforcement after the Trump search.
The former president, aware of an uptick in public threats aimed at the FBI, told Fox News Digital on Monday that he “will do whatever” possible “to help the country” after the government took possession of dozens of boxes of documents and materials from his residence that included classified and top-secret information.
But in the same interview, Trump directed his wrath at the Justice Department and suggested that his supporters’ anger was justified. Trump said that Americans are “not going to stand for another scam,” took issue with what he said is an FBI that can “break into a president’s house” in a “sneak attack” and suggested without evidence that agents “could have planted anything they wanted” during the search.
Federal prosecutors on Monday charged Adam Bies of Pennsylvania with posting multiple violent threats against the FBI online in the days that followed the bureau’s search of Trump’s private club and residence. Using the far-right social media app Gab, Bies, 46, compared federal agents to KGB and Nazi officers and threatened to kill them, prosecutors said in a complaint (The New York Times).
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
President Biden ends his vacation today in South Carolina to return to his home in Delaware after an afternoon White House bill signing, yet before the month is out, the White House envisions that he and Cabinet secretaries will use the pre-Labor Day period to explain what they see as successful federal strides to help average families. And they want to credit Democratic candidates in key states along the way.
Reuters: The Transportation Department said today it is awarding $1.66 billion in grants to cities and states to buy 1,800 buses in a shift to cleaner, lower-emission travel. The money is part of last year’s bipartisan infrastructure law.
Biden will travel to a community outside Columbus, Ohio, for example, for an event in coming weeks to mark the construction of a new Intel Corp. plant, which gets a boost from the newly enacted CHIPS and Science Act and its incentives for U.S. manufacture of semiconductors (The Columbus Dispatch and Politico). Biden lost Ohio by 8 points in 2020 but keeps coming back (at least six times as president).
The marketing plan calls for department secretaries to travel to 23 states, including Colorado, New Mexico and California before the end of this month to describe provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act (which becomes law this afternoon). They will salute the CHIPS law and new Veterans Affairs benefits for military exposed to toxic chemicals, including burn pits, as well as other accomplishments since taking office in 2021, according to Politico and The Washington Post).
With lawmakers back in their states and districts for the August recess, the White House plans a celebratory event Sept. 6 focused on Democratic selling points at a time when families have returned from vacations, youngsters are getting back to classrooms and Americans have begun to pay attention to candidate contrasts ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm elections. The president’s advisers expect average gasoline prices will continue to drop, even if inflation overall remains high and hiring and the housing market begin to show signs of cooling.
Adam Entous, The New Yorker: The untold history of the Biden family.
Democrats and Republicans are basically head-to-head in the generic congressional ballot average, according to FiveThirtyEight’s Monday graphic, which reflects which party respondents say they would support in an election. Biden’s job approval continues to be low; almost 56 percent of respondents (either likely or registered voters, depending on surveys) say they disapprove of his performance, according to the RealClearPolitics average. Some Democratic candidates will not invite the president to campaign with them this fall, even in a midterm atmosphere in which contests are being nationalized with ads that cut both ways using the Biden and Trump brands.
■ How inflation can be both 0 percent and 8.5 percent at the same time, by Justin Fox, columnist, Bloomberg Opinion. https://bloom.bg/3bWK3cY
■ My escape from the Taliban, Bushra Seddique, editorial fellow, The Atlantic. https://bit.ly/3JZx9aD
WHERE AND WHEN
The House will meet at 1 p.m. for a pro forma session. It will reconvene on Sept. 13.
The Senate convenes at 8 a.m. for a pro forma session during its summer recess, which ends Sept. 6.
The president and first lady Jill Biden will leave Kiawah Island, S.C., where they vacationed, to return to the White House. At 3:30 p.m., Biden will sign the Inflation Reduction Act during an event in the State Dining Room. The Bidens will depart the White House this evening for their home in Delaware.
The vice president has no public events. She and second gentleman Doug Emhoff are in Kauai, Hawaii.
➤ POX & PANDEMIC
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its monkeypox guidance to include dogs among animals that can contract the virus after scientists in France documented the first case of a pet canine suspected of catching the pox from its owners. The CDC recommends that people with monkeypox avoid close contact with animals and that pets that have not been exposed to the virus be cared for by friends or family in another home until the owner or owners fully recover.
In countries where monkeypox is endemic, wild animals, including rodents and primates, can carry the virus. Captive primates in Europe have also contracted monkeypox from contact with imported, sick animals. Infection in domestic pets, such as dogs and cats, had not previously been reported (CBS News).
The Health and Human Services Department announced it began on Monday making available to states and jurisdictions up to another 442,000 doses of the Jynneos vaccine effective against monkeypox, in short supply in this country.
Great Britain on Monday became the first country to approve an updated COVID-19 vaccine by Moderna that targets the omicron variant as well as the original strain of the virus. The move is a step toward a booster campaign that could provide people with better protection against circulating variants. The jab targets BA.1, the original omicron strain, while Pfizer is starting a clinical trial this month in the U.S. for a vaccine aimed at BA.4 and BA.5 variants that have become dominant (The Hill).
🦠 Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday for a second time this year. Austin is experiencing mild symptoms and will quarantine for the next five days at home. He added that his last in-person contact with Biden was on July 29 (The Hill). … Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla also tested positive for COVID-19 (The Hill).
Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported as of this morning, according to Johns Hopkins University (trackers all vary slightly): 1,037,462. Current average U.S. COVID-19 daily deaths are 411, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Today, a huge explosion rocked a Russian ammunition depot on Ukraine’s occupied Crimean Peninsula, striking another embarrassing blow to Moscow’s forces a week after blasts at a Russian air base in the same region destroyed several fighter jets. An elite Ukrainian military unit operating behind enemy lines was responsible for the blast, according to a New York Times source in Ukraine. An adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed an explosion without taking credit for it.
At the same time, Russian forces unleashed a new barrage of missiles and artillery fire aimed at Ukrainian targets in towns and cities across the war’s front line, which stretches more than 600 miles, with significant damage reported in Kharkiv (The New York Times).
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the preeminent foe of President Vladimir Putin, said that prison officials placed him in solitary confinement for three days in response to his continued activism while locked up. Navalny’s social media accounts relayed the latest development on Monday, adding that those in solitary cannot have visitors or be delivered letters. He can have “a mug and a book” (The Associated Press).
And finally … 🕺Today is the 45th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death in 1977 at age 42. Once dubbed the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Presley this year was rediscovered by fans young and old, thanks to a biopic that did well at the box office (now streaming).
The Memphis Commercial Appeal last week published 55 photos related to Presley through the years, HERE.