THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT: THE UNITED KINGDOM’S government is in chaos. BORIS JOHNSON, the prime minister that President DONALD TRUMP has publicly backed, lost control of Parliament. Israeli PM BENJAMIN NETANYAHU — perhaps Trump’s strongest ally on the world stage — faces elections in less than two weeks. IRAN appears to be eager to work with a willing European Union to find ways to sell its oil around U.S. sanctions, and unwilling to talk to the United States — at this point.
THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION is trying to divert money from military projects to build a wall on the southern border, infuriating the legislative leaders whom he needs to notch a trade deal, and usurping the authority of a Congress that refused to give him the money to begin with. The president’s own party is befuddled where he stands on critical issues like gun control, saying publicly that if the president said what he supported, Congress might be able to act.
LET’S DIVE IN …
1) JOHNSON, THE PM whom TRUMP enthusiastically backed, was stymied Tuesday, losing control of Parliament, which sought to block his ability to remove the United Kingdom from the EU without a plan.
POLITICO EUROPE’S CHARLIE COOPER, ANNABELLE DICKSON and EMILIO CASALICCHIO in London: “Boris Johnson is still in power, but not in control. Facing his first House of Commons vote on the first day of the new parliamentary term, Johnson fell to a heavy defeat, as 21 of his own Conservative MPs joined forces with opposition parties to back the first stage of legislation that will delay Brexit — again — from its current date of October 31, if no deal with the EU is in sight.
“Like his predecessor Theresa May, Johnson faced a hostile parliament with a slim majority. Unlike her, he gambled the unity of his party in order to push Brexit through and paid a heavy price. While he remains in office, still determined, he says, to secure a better deal and take the U.K. out of the European Union by the end of October, his authority is shattered.
“Hardline tactics, including a threat to kick rebels out of the Tory party, barring them from standing for the Conservatives in the next election, failed to deliver the numbers for Johnson, as he lost by 328 to 301 votes in a late-night sitting in the House of Commons.
“Instead he now finds himself at the command of a minority government 22 MPs short of a majority, having effectively sacked some of his own most eminent MPs.” POLITICO Europe
LONDON PLAYBOOK HEADLINE: “THE MAYHEM CONTINUES: A bruised but victorious ‘Rebel Alliance’ of opposition and backbench MPs will today seize control of the Commons order paper to pass emergency laws preventing Britain leaving Europe without a deal. Last night’s historic 27-vote government defeat means Prime Minister Boris Johnson has lost his grip on the Brexit process, leaving him little choice but to push for a snap general election in the weeks ahead.
“Today’s Commons order paper confirms Johnson has put forward a motion under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act calling for an election in mid-October, in which he will seek a fresh mandate for his hardline approach. But with Jeremy Corbyn resolved to block the plan until the anti no-deal bill becomes law, the PM looks unlikely to win over enough MPs to secure an election tonight.”
RYAN HEATH on Boris Johnson: “The vote means the embattled British prime minister could become the shortest-serving tenant of No. 10 Downing Street since the office was created in 1721. Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, who famously defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, served 23 days as a caretaker prime minister in 1834.
“Traditionally, when … British prime ministers lose their ability to win votes in Parliament, they are ejected via a vote of no confidence — or they call for an early election to decide their fate. Johnson’s preference is for an election on Oct. 14, hoping that his Conservative Party will gain seats in the House of Commons and give him more backing for his preferred approach to Brexit.
“Calling an election would be a big risk, though. It would essentially amount to a second referendum on Brexit in all but name and serve as a first referendum on Johnson. The previous prime minister, Theresa May, called an early election in 2017, only to have it misfire, leaving her with a wafer-thin majority.” POLITICO
THE STEP BACK … TRUMP has thrown his political lot in with no other leaders like he has with JOHNSON and NETANYAHU. Both will face elections in the next month or so, and both have a decent chance of being booted out of office, or significantly weakened. The NYT’s David Halbfinger wrote this from Jerusalem this morning about Netanyahu: “The aura of indispensability has faded.”
2) AP/TEHRAN: “Iran ratchets up pressure ahead of weekend nuclear deadline”: “Iranian officials ratcheted up pressure Wednesday ahead of a weekend nuclear deadline for European nations to come up with a solution for Iran to sell its oil abroad in the aftermath of escalated U.S. sanctions.
“President Hassan Rouhani reiterated a threat that Tehran would take additional steps away from the 2015 nuclear accord on Friday and accelerate its nuclear activities if Europe fails to provide a solution, calling it Iran’s third, ‘most important step’ away from the deal.
“‘Iran’s third step is of an extraordinarily significant nature,’ Rouhani said, without detailing what that would entail, but saying a ‘decree will be announced today or tomorrow.’” AP
3) “CASH GRAB” … THE PENTAGON is readying to call members of Congress to tell them about money that the administration is moving from military projects in their districts and across the globe to build the wall on the southern border with Mexico — a wall the president could not convince Congress to fund on its own.
JENNIFER SCHOLTES, SARAH FERRIS and JACQUELINE FELDSCHER: “Trump administration raids military construction projects for border wall”: “The Trump administration is carrying out plans to raid $3.6 billion in military construction projects to build the border wall, further inflaming lawmakers who have accused President Donald Trump of illegally overriding Congress’ spending decisions.
“Defense Secretary Mark Esper informed congressional leaders on Tuesday of the cash grab from a total of 127 military projects. Roughly half the money will come from funds previously dedicated to upgrading military bases abroad and the other half in the United States.
“Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Esper told him some of the money will come from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in his home state of New York.
“‘It is a slap in the face to the members of the Armed Forces who serve our country that President Trump is willing to cannibalize already allocated military funding to boost his own ego and for a wall he promised Mexico would pay to build,’ Schumer said in a statement.” POLITICO
— WHAT SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI said about it, on a private call with Democratic lawmakers Tuesday night: “My view of it is that stealing money from military construction, at home and abroad, will undermine our national security, quality of life and morale of our troops, and that indeed makes America less safe. …
“The president is negating the Congress’ most fundamental principles — the Constitution’s most fundamental principle — the separation of powers. By assaulting the Constitution’s power, our power of the purse, and he’s undermining the oath of office he takes to protect and defend the Constitution and the American people. That’s what I told [Esper].”
4) AFTER YET ANOTHER SPATE OF SUMMER SHOOTINGS, all of Washington has been waiting on a president who can’t seem to take a consistent position on whether he wants to tighten gun laws or not. Count Senate Majority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL among the befuddled. He noted on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show Tuesday morning that he has no idea what the president would be willing to sign, and is waiting for his word, which he anticipates next week.
— FULL-PAGE WAPO EDITORIAL: “DO SOMETHING, MR. MCCONNELL”
THE BUZZ IN THE GOP LEADER’S SUITE … IF YOU LISTEN TO MCCONNELL, he’s willing to do something. But he needs assurances that he’s not putting his Senate Republican lawmakers through votes on legislation that Trump will not sign. McConnell has been practically begging Trump for a high sign.
Good Wednesday morning. THE WASHINGTON NATIONALS scored seven runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the New York Mets, 11-10. ESPN: “Through Monday’s games, home teams were 0-274 when trailing by six-plus runs entering the bottom of the ninth inning. The past five years, MLB teams were 4-1,321. Washington was 0-63 in the past decade.”
HOT ECONOMY UPDATE … NANCY COOK and BEN WHITE: “‘They are riding a rubber ducky into alligator-infested waters’”: “President Donald Trump is staring down a series of trigger points that will determine whether he enters the 2020 campaign backed by his most valuable asset — a healthy U.S. economy — or empty-handed and further on the defensive.
“The White House faces a time crunch on several major policy fronts this fall. The president will need to appease farmers and factory workers about his ongoing trade standoff with China, in which he shows no sign of backing down. His administration is trying to cajole the Democratic-controlled House to approve a renegotiated trade deal covering the U.S., Mexico and Canada. And the Trump team must find a way to calm Wall Street to prevent investors from denting one of his proudest achievements — a surge in the stock market since his election.” POLITICO
THE LATEST ON DORIAN … “Bahamians begin rescues as Dorian moves on toward U.S. coast,” by AP’s Ramon Espinosa, Danica Coto and Micahel Weissenstein in Freeport, Bahamas: “Bahamians rescued victims of Hurricane Dorian with jet skis and a bulldozer as the U.S. Coast Guard, Britain’s Royal Navy and a handful of aid groups tried to get food and medicine to survivors and take the most desperate people to safety.
“Airports were flooded and roads impassable after the most powerful storm to hit the Bahamas in recorded history parked over Abaco and Grand Bahama islands, pounding them with winds up to 185 mph and torrential rain before finally moving into open waters Tuesday on a course toward Florida. People on the U.S. coast made final preparations for a storm with winds at a still-dangerous 110 mph, making it a Category 2 storm.” AP
— “As Dorian approaches, flood fears grip the Southeast,” by WaPo’s Tim Craig and Stephanie Hunt in Jacksonville, Fla.
THE INVESTIGATIONS … “Schedule for McGahn legal fight adds to pressure on impeachment backers,” by Kyle Cheney: “House Democrats’ legal fight to force public testimony from a witness to possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump will last until at least Oct. 31, according to a schedule issued by a federal judge Tuesday.
“Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s timetable will put a significant squeeze on lawmakers considering articles of impeachment against Trump; the House’s 2019 schedule includes just 16 days in session after Halloween. Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) has indicated he believes his committee could decide whether to recommend articles of impeachment against Trump before the House departs for the year on Dec. 12.” POLITICO
WAPO: “Trump may score symbolic victory in long fight with Germany over NATO spending,” by Anne Gearan and Michael Birnbaum: “President Trump may soon win a largely symbolic victory in his effort to squeeze larger NATO contributions from Germany, under a compromise plan that would slightly increase what Germany pays toward administering the military alliance while lowering the U.S. bill, diplomats and other officials familiar with the proposal said Tuesday.
“At issue are the relatively small amounts alliance members contribute toward the administration of the alliance, which is separate from defense spending and a drop in the bucket of overall alliance outlays. But as Trump continues to complain about what he calls meager funding from Germany, the largest economy in Europe and the host country for major U.S. defense installations, even a tiny increase in German payments can be notched as his doing.
“The money goes toward paying for NATO employees, keeping the lights on in NATO offices around the world and funding the small number of military assets under NATO’s command. The 2019 total for what is known as NATO’s common funding is $2.6 billion. The collective defense spending of NATO’s 29 members, by comparison, is estimated at $1.04 trillion.” WaPo
2020 WATCH …
— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Ari Rabin-Havt and Arianna Jones are now deputy campaign managers for BERNIE SANDERS’ campaign. Rabin-Havt was previously chief of staff, and Jones was communications director. Mike Casca is joining the campaign as senior communications advisers — he was Sanders’ rapid response director in 2016 and worked for Bill de Blasio.
— “Elizabeth Warren Unveils $3 Trillion Climate Plan, Embracing Inslee’s Goals,” by NYT’s Coral Davenport and Lisa Friedman
— BIG READ … NYT MAGAZINE’S TAFFY BRODESSER-AKNER: “The Gospel According to Marianne Williamson”
TRUMP’S WEDNESDAY — The president will get a Hurricane Dorian briefing at 11:30 a.m. in the Oval Office. He will have lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at 12:45 p.m. in the private dining room. Trump will participate in an announcement on opioid response grants at 2:15 p.m. in the Roosevelt Room.
THE LATEST IN HONG KONG — “Hong Kong Leader Carrie Lam to Withdraw Extradition Bill That Sparked Protests,” by WSJ’s Natasha Khan and Neil Western in Hong Kong: “Chief Executive Carrie Lam is set to withdraw the widely unpopular China extradition bill that sparked a tumultuous summer of unrest in the city, people familiar with the matter said.
“The concession will meet one of five demands from the opposition movement and is likely aimed at weakening support for the protests from the wider population, though it isn’t clear how successful the move will be in reducing the tensions that have gripped the city for three months.
“Protests against the bill in June led Mrs. Lam to suspend the legislation—which would have allowed citizens to be sent for trial in mainland China’s opaque justice system—but her failure to formally scrap the proposal has fueled mass peaceful protests and more violent hard-core activists who have clashed with police.” WSJ
FOR YOUR RADAR — “Huawei document alleges U.S. campaign to infiltrate the company,” by Laurens Cerulus, Steven Overly and Eric Geller: “U.S. government agents approached a Huawei worker at the person’s home, pressured some employees when they applied for American visas and masqueraded as a former employee as part of a campaign to turn people at the Chinese telecom giant into informants, the company alleged in an internal document written amid its crushing legal battle with the Trump administration.
“In the document shared with POLITICO by Huawei and originating from the company’s legal department, Huawei outlines what it calls U.S. government attempts to recruit its employees, such as searching their phones and computers at ports of entry in hopes of extracting incriminating information about the company.
“POLITICO could not independently verify the information in the document, but Huawei publicly accused the U.S. on Tuesday of intimidating and threatening employees and attacking the company, without providing specific details. The FBI declined to comment on the Huawei allegations.” POLITICO
BEYOND THE BELTWAY — “North Carolina court rules partisan state legislative districts unconstitutional,” by WaPo’s Felicia Sonmez and Robert Barnes: “A North Carolina court ruled Tuesday that the state’s legislative districts are unconstitutional, in a unanimous decision that won praise from voting-rights advocates and opens a new front in the national battle over partisan gerrymanders.
“The three superior court judges in Wake County set a deadline of Sept. 17 by which North Carolina’s Republican-led General Assembly must submit redrawn state House and Senate district maps to be reviewed by a court-appointed referee. In their ruling, the judges stated that the plaintiffs had proved the effect of the ‘partisan’ maps drawn by the state legislature was that, ‘in all but the most unusual election scenarios, the Republican party will control a majority of both chambers of the General Assembly.’” WaPo
— “Democrats bet big on Obamacare to win Virginia statehouse,” by Rachana Pradhan: “Virginia Democrats are betting health care will help them take control of the state legislature in November, following their rout of Republicans two years ago that nearly eliminated the GOP’s hold on the Virginia statehouse.
“Democrats are already pouring tens of thousands of dollars into ads targeting the health care records of GOP incumbents in newly competitive races, hoping to capitalize on recently redrawn legislative districts seen as more favorable to Democrats. And new polling data says health care ranks high for potential voters.” POLITICO
MEDIAWATCH — “Judge tells White House to reinstate reporter’s pass,” by Josh Gerstein: “A judge has blocked the White House’s decision to revoke the press pass of Playboy correspondent Brian Karem over a Rose Garden showdown in July with former White House aide Sebastian Gorka.
“U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras issued a decision Tuesday evening granting a preliminary injunction restoring Karem’s so-called ‘hard pass’ on the grounds that the reporter had no clear notice of the rules governing press behavior at events like the presidential appearance that preceded the heated exchange.” POLITICO
— Viktoria Degtar is joining Time as chief revenue officer. She previously was EMEA head of sales and marketing at Bloomberg. … Radhika Prakash is joining Time as SVP of brand and content marketing. She previously was global head of content strategy and media at BlackRock. … Maya Draisin is joining Time as SVP of progress marketing. She previously was VP of marketing at Conde Nast.
— Allison Sandza is now senior producer for “Meet the Press.” She was previously at “MTP Daily.”
Send tips to Eli Okun and Garrett Ross at [email protected].
SPOTTED: Katie McGinty, who lost a race for governor in 2014, and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf having lunch at the Hamilton on Tuesday. McGinty was also Wolf’s chief of staff.
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — CAA’s Rachael Adler and husband Adam Zalisk welcomed Theodore Adler Zalisk on Friday. “Everyone is happy, healthy, totally in love with Teddy, and very very tired.”
TRANSITIONS — Joe Hines will be digital director at Stand Up America. He previously was a VP at BerlinRosen. … Matthew Campbell is now digital director for House Majority PAC. He previously was deputy digital director for the DCCC during the 2018 cycle. … Clare Bresnahan English will be CEO of the New Leaders Council. She previously was executive director of She Should Run.
ENGAGED — WME’s Mark McGrath proposed to Chloe Kivestu, a managing account supervisor at Ketchum, on Friday in York Beach, Maine. Pic
WEEKEND WEDDING — Cogan Schneier, social media editor at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and a POLITICO alum, and Mike Rooney, an account manager at Tableau, got married at Christ The King Parish in Mashpee, Mass., with a reception at the Popponesset Inn in New Seabury. The couple met in Washington in 2014. Pic … Another pic
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Sean O’Hollaren, SVP of government and public affairs at Nike. How he got his start in politics: “My career start was as an intern on the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. I was on the Communications Subcommittee following the AT&T breakup. The chairman was Barry Goldwater!” Playbook Plus Q&A
BIRTHDAYS: Playbook’s own Blake Hounshell, POLITICO editorial director for digital, is 41 (hat tip: Ben Chang) … Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas) is 52 … Anu Rangappa (h/ts Tim Burger and Teresa Vilmain) … Jared Weinstein, general partner at Thrive Capital … Uber’s Keith Hensley … Jocelyn Pickford … former acting CIA Director Mike Morell is 61 … Washington Examiner’s Susan Ferrechio … former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer is 64 … Maggie Moore, associate at the Sternhell Group … Kelu Chao, VOA program director … Matt Sonneborn, communications director for Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) … Patrick Collins … Will Taliaferro (h/ts Jon Haber) … POLITICO’s Dave Brown and Jeff Ahn … Dana Gartzke …
… Bernard Coleman III, global head of diversity and inclusion at Uber … Jared Allen, VP of communications at the National Automobile Dealers Association … Laura Schlapp, special assistant at the U.S. Air Force … Zach Leighton, COS at Zeta Global … Claire Bischoff … Jordan Fischer … Lynn Stinson … Devin McBrayer … Michael McAuliff … The Economist’s Alex Travelli … Estephania Gongora … Victoria Cram … Brock McCleary … Chad Horrell, director at DCI Group … Anamarie Rebori Simmons … Graham Weinschenk … Hagar Hajjar Chemali … Matt Modell … Ashley Harvard … Bernie Bennett … Tyler Jones … Bailey Cultice … Gabrielle Tarbert, manager of corporate communications at Abbvie … Tom McInerney (h/t Teresa Vilmain)
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