Washington Post

Russian boxer dies of injuries suffered in bout at Maryland casino

Gene Wang

Sports reporter covering local and national college football and basketball

Russian boxer Maxim Dadashev died of injuries suffered during a bout Friday night at MGM National Harbor casino in Oxon Hill, Md., his wife and officials from Top Rank promotions said Tuesday afternoon.

Dadashev, 28, had been hospitalized since late Friday night following surgery for massive head trauma from a loss to Subriel Matias in their 140-pound International Boxing Federation world title eliminator.

Dadashev’s wife, Elizaveta Apushkina, traveled from Russia over the weekend to be with her husband, according to the fighter’s manager, Egis Klimas, who was at the hospital after the fight with strength and conditioning coach Donatus Janusevicius. The couple has a 2-year-old son, Daniel.

“It is with great sadness that I confirm the passing of my husband, Maxim Dadashev,” Apushkina said in a statement released by hospital officials. “He was a very kind person who fought until the very end. Our son will continue to be raised to be a great man like his father.

“Lastly, I would like to thank everyone that cared for Maxim during his final days. I ask that everyone please respect our privacy during this very difficult time.”

Officials at Top Rank, which promoted Friday’s card, indicated the Maryland State Athletic Commission, which did not immediately return a request for comment, would almost certainly launch an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Dadashev’s death.

The athletic commission is responsible for oversight and regulation of combat sports in the state. It is standard operating procedure, according to Top Rank, for the athletic commission in any state to investigate serious injury or death following an officially sanctioned bout.

The ring death is at least the sixth documented case since 2016. Before Dadashev, the most recent report of a death from a boxing injury came in November 2018 when Italian Christian Daghio died two days after a brutal knockout loss to Don Parueang in Bangkok.

In February 2018, Scott Westgarth of the United Kingdom collapsed and died not long after beating Dec Spelman in Doncaster, England.

[For injured boxer Prichard Colón, a fight that never ends]

The Russian newspaper Sport-Express reported the Boxing Federation of Russia would also conduct an investigation into Dadashev’s death and would provide financial assistance to his family. Top Rank also indicated it would offer financial support.

“Maxim was a terrific young man,” Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said in a statement. “We are all saddened and affected by his untimely death.”

The Russian news agency Tass first reported Dadashev’s death, citing a source in the fighter’s camp.

Dadashev began showing symptoms of head trauma while walking back to his dressing room following the bout at the Theater at MGM National Harbor outside Washington. His trainer, Buddy McGirt, had stopped the fight minutes earlier following the 11th round, during which Dadashev absorbed multiple violent blows to the head.

Dadashev collapsed outside the ring, and emergency medical technicians immediately attended to him, eventually lifting him onto a stretcher. Dadashev then began vomiting and was transported by ambulance to the hospital for emergency surgery.

During a two-hour procedure early Saturday at Prince George’s Hospital Center, Dadashev had the top right portion of his skull removed to relieve swelling from a subdural hematoma.

Matias had been administering heavy punishment during the 10th and 11th rounds, landing repeated shots to the body with combinations. Dadashev labored to counter with much of anything over the latter part of the fight, instead covering up with Matias aggressively coming forward.

After the bell sounded at the conclusion of the 11th, Dadashev sat down on a stool in his corner surrounded by McGirt, Janusevicius and others on his training team.

Referee Kenny Chevalier approached Dadashev’s corner to check

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Analysis | The Daily 202: The budget deal shows how unserious the GOP is about deficits in the Trump era

privately last month that no politician has ever lost an election for spending more money. That mind-set – caring more about the next election than the next generation – helps explain why the Senate majority leader and the president endorsed a budget deal last night, which still needs to pass Congress, that will raise spending limits by $320 billion while suspending the federal debt ceiling until after both men’s 2020 reelection fights. It also illustrates how hollow so much of the rhetoric from McConnell, Trump and other Republicans was during Barack Obama’s presidency.

Discretionary spending is growing at a faster clip under Trump than Obama. The budget deficit and the national debt are growing at even more distressing rates, however, because the Republican tax cuts have reduced revenue even more starkly than the dire forecasts. The Trump administration estimates the deficit this fiscal year will top $1 trillion, up from $779 billion last year. It was $587 billion in 2016, Obama’s last full year in office. The national debt was $19 trillion when Trump took power and surpassed $22 trillion this month. Even with rock-bottom interest rates, the federal government will pay out more than $350 billion this year to service that debt.

If we’re running these kinds of deficits when the economy is supposedly booming, think about how bad they’ll become when a recession arrives and revenues inevitably shrivel. “This agreement is a total abdication of fiscal responsibility by Congress and the president,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. “It may end up being the worst budget agreement in our nation’s history, proposed at a time when our fiscal conditions are already precarious.”

— There is little, if any, evidence that Trump himself personally cares that the federal balance sheet is drowning in red ink. Undoubtedly, many people who work in the White House – led by acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney – want spending cuts. And these administration officials insist that Trump has told them he wants to make big cuts in 2021 if he wins a second term. But watch what the president does, not what his aides say. Trump also promised before he took office that he’d balance the budget and pay off the entire national debt by the end of a hypothetical second term.

Trump, who has referred to himself as “the king of debt,” drove multiple businesses into bankruptcy before becoming the first president in U.S. history with no prior governing or military experience. Earlier in his term, advisers presented him with a chart that projected a hockey stick spike in the national debt unless major changes are made. Trump shrugged. “Yeah, but I won’t be here,” he reportedly said.

Lately, the president has been recounting the advice he got from McConnell about spending money to West Wing aides. Two people with direct knowledge confirmed to my colleagues recently that the Kentucky Republican delivered that message during a private phone call last month.

— Republican leaders are quick to blame Democrats, noting that Speaker Nancy Pelosi negotiated the deal with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. They say they needed to agree to higher spending levels to get support in the House. That’s true to some degree, of course, but Republicans were also on their borrowing binge when they had unified control of government during the first two years of the Trump presidency. This will forever taint Paul Ryan’s legacy as speaker.

To be sure, the Trump administration has proposed steep spending cuts in each of his budget blueprints, and some of the deficit hawks on his staff tried to insist on cuts during this most recent round of negotiations. “Acting budget director Russell Vought sought last week to force Democrats to commit to $150 billion in budget changes in exchange for the new spending, but his demand was rejected. Instead, negotiators agreed to $77 billion in accounting changes that probably wouldn’t constrain any future spending,” Damian Paletta and Erica Werner report in their story on the deal. “But the deal locked in more spending for the military, something Trump has tried to make a hallmark of his first 30 months as president.”

But the only thing the president has really gone to the mat for on Capitol Hill – triggering the longest-ever government shutdown – was to get billions in additional spending to build his proposed border wall. When he couldn’t get the money that way, he diverted it from the military construction budget – the legality of which continues to be challenged in court.

— Leaders from both parties touted goodies they got as they tried to sell their members on the bill. “Democrats have always insisted on parity in increases between defense and non-defense, and we are pleased that our increase in non-defense budget authority exceeds the defense number by $10 billion over the next two years,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a joint statement. “It also means Democrats secured an increase of more than $100 billion in funding for domestic priorities since President Trump took office.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) made a contrary claim as he endorsed the deal. “Given that sequestration cut defense spending more than non-defense, we are pleased that the agreement provides $20 billion more for defense than non-defense over two years,” he said in a statement. “While this deal is not perfect, compromise is necessary in divided government.”

McConnell emphasized the new spending he got for Kentucky for military installations in his state, citing Fort Knox, Fort Campbell and the Blue Grass Army Depot. Missing from his statement was any mention of the debt or the deficit. “While the reality of divided government means this is not exactly the deal Republicans would have written on our own, it is what we need to keep building on that progress,” he said.

— This new deal, assuming it passes before Congress leaves town for the month-long August recess, will end the Budget Control Act, which Obama signed into law after House Republicans pushed the government to the brink of defaulting on its debt in 2011. “That law, once seen as the Republicans’ crowning achievement in the Obama era, set strict spending caps, enforced with automatic spending cuts,” the New York Times notes. “But since 2014, a succession of budget deals have waived those caps, and the new deal not only lifts them again but also allows the whole law to expire in 2021. And this time around, the approach of the debt limit hardly caused a ripple of consternation about the rising red ink.”

  • “I’ve seen no evidence that it’s even being discussed,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.). “That’s the hard part for me.”
  • “It’s pretty clear that both houses of Congress and both parties have become big spenders, and Congress is no longer concerned about the extent of the budget deficits or the debt they add,” said Club for Growth President David McIntosh, a former Republican congressman.

— A few members of the House Freedom Caucus strategized last night about ways to tank this deal, which they see as a betrayal of the tea party principles that they got elected on and warn will “sabotage the fiscal future of our nation.” Freshman Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.), who was formerly Sen. Ted Cruz’s chief of staff, is circulating a letter around Capitol Hill offices to collect signatures before sending it to the White House. “You should veto this bill because it is fiscally irresponsible,” the letter says, “indulging our national spending addiction.”

“Other likely backers include GOP Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Michael Cloud of Texas and Debbie Lesko of Arizona, who, like Roy, are members of the hardline House Freedom Caucus,” Politico reports. “Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FLa.), a top Trump ally on Capitol Hill, is also expected to sign on to the letter.”

Mark Sanford, the former South Carolina governor and congressman who lost reelection last year after Trump endorsed his primary challenger, suggested last week that the growing debt and government spending would be a centerpiece of the long-shot primary challenge that he’s mulling against Trump.  

— Other fiscal conservatives who don’t need to worry about running for reelection lamented the direction that the GOP has taken under his stewardship. “There are no small government conservatives left in Washington,” tweeted Joe Scarborough, who represented the Florida Panhandle in Congress as a Republican from 1995 to 2001 and now hosts a morning show on MSNBC. “If Newt Gingrich agreed to this deal, we would have run him out of DC on the same day. We balanced the budget four years in a row. These Big Government Republicans are bankrupting us.”

Conservative talk radio host Erick Erickson from Georgia noted that his party demands fiscal discipline only when Democrats are in the White House. “This is a bad deal that puts us many steps closer to bankruptcy,” he tweeted. “No leaders in Washington want to restore any fiscal sanity. Why is it always only a [Democrat] in the White House and [Republicans] in Congress that get us fiscal sanity, i.e. [Bill] Clinton balanced budget & sequestration under Obama?”

— Social media buzzed about the deal:

Nancy Pelosi was spotted negotiating while sitting on a delayed flight:

Speaker Pelosi was negotiating the fine print of this budget deal from her aisle seat of a delayed Delta flight from Detroit. She’s had the phone pressed to her ear for much of the last three hours. For those wondering, she’s in coach.

— Jeff Zeleny (@jeffzeleny) July 22, 2019

An editor for the Bulwark, a conservative publication, noted how Trump has changed his tune entirely on the debt ceiling:

There is always a tweet. Always.

— Charlie Sykes (@SykesCharlie) July 23, 2019

Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) criticized the deal by sharing a GIF of the Joker lighting a pile of money on fire from the 2008 Batman movie “The Dark Knight.” In the scene, the Joker says: “All you care about is money. This town deserves a better class of criminal. And I’m going to give it to them.”

Budget deal.

— Rep. Mark Walker (@RepMarkWalker) July 22, 2019

Cruz, who has already abandoned in the Trump era several of what he used to call his core principles, refused to talk about the deal when approached by CNN:

Asked Ted Cruz if he’s OK with extending the debt limit for two years (as outlined in budget deal), and he said: “Just call our press office.” He led the charge during Obama years to prevent debt ceiling hike

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) July 22, 2019

There was also criticism from the left:

Notice how whenever we pursue large spending increases tax cuts for corporations, contractors & the connected, it’s treated as business as usual.

But the moment we consider investing similar💰 in working class people (ex tuition-free college) they cry out it’s “unrealistic.”

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 22, 2019

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Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who is trying to kick millions off food stamps, arrives at the White House in May to watch Trump announce billions in bailouts for farmers in red states who are suffering because of the president’s trade wars. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

— The U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed new rules this morning to limit access to food stamps for households with savings and other assets, a measure that officials said would cut benefits to about 3 million people. Laura Reiley reports: “In a telephone call with reporters, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Acting Deputy Under Secretary Brandon Lipps said the proposed new rules for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) were aimed at ending automatic eligibility for those who were already receiving federal and state assistance. Forty-three states now grant automatic eligibility to low-income people already receiving other government benefits, without undergoing income or asset tests. Lipps said the proposal would result in an annual budgetary savings of $2.5 billion.”

Putting the numbers in perspective: “Current rules give states latitude to raise SNAP income eligibility limits so that low-income families with housing and child care costs that consume a sizable share of their income can continue to receive help affording adequate food. This option also allows states to adopt less restrictive asset tests so that families, seniors and people with a disability can have modest savings or own their own home without losing SNAP benefits. … To be eligible for SNAP, a household’s gross income must be below 130 percent of the federal poverty line. In 2019, that works out to $32,640 a year for a family of four. Democrats pointed out that the benefit amounts to $1.40 per person per meal.”

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the top Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, says Trump is making an end run around Congress, which blocked his earlier proposals to slash food stamps in the farm bill. “This rule would take food away from families, prevent children from getting school meals, and make it harder for states to administer food assistance,” she said.

Former vice president Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event in an electrical workers union hall in Las Vegas. (John Locher/AP)

— Another huge flip-flop: After spending half a century advocating for capital punishment, former vice president Joe Biden this morning proposed abolishing the death penalty at the federal level and offering incentives for states to follow suit. It’s one of several ideas in a new criminal justice plan that are at odds with the 1994 crime bill he quarterbacked. “Convicted criminals who would face execution under current law would instead be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole,” Sean Sullivan reports.“Biden’s plan also would decriminalize marijuana and expunge past cannabis-related convictions; end the disparity between sentences for powder and crack cocaine; and do away with all incarceration for drug use alone. … Biden’s proposal also calls for ending cash bail and terminating the federal government’s use of private prisons. … The plan would invest $1 billion annually in juvenile justice reform. It also would seek to give states incentives to stop incarcerating minors.”

— In a profile for the New York Times Sunday Magazine, Biden says that the general election will be a “referendum” on Trump and his fitness for office. Michael Steinberger reports: “I asked if he thought he would have beaten Trump in 2016. ‘I don’t know,’ he said. ‘Everybody says that. But look, I don’t know. You’ve got to be in the game. I thought Hillary would have made a good president.’ … Biden prefers to talk about next year’s face-off with Trump — ‘a battle for the soul of America’ — in place of the ongoing fight for the soul of the Democratic Party. … When I caught up with him in New Hampshire this month, he dismissed claims of a rift between hard-line progressives and less strident ones as an ‘artificial division.’ He also spoke admiringly of [Rep. Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez, describing her as ‘smart as the devil.'”

Boris Johnson speaks in London. (Simon Dawson/Bloomberg News)

— Boris Johnson is the next British prime minister. William Booth and Karla Adam report from London: “The bombastic, Latin-quoting, Oxford classicist with the mop of intentionally mussed yellow hair, who made his name as an over-the-top journalist in Brussels and then as London mayor and galvanized the successful Brexit campaign in 2016, will likely walk through the black enameled door of 10 Downing Street on Wednesday — fulfilling what his biographers describe as his relentless ‘blond ambition’ to follow his hero, Winston Churchill, into the top spot. … On Wednesday, Theresa May will deliver her last remarks at a question-and-answer session in the House of Commons and then she will travel to Buckingham Palace to resign. Johnson will follow her to the palace, where Queen Elizabeth II will name him prime minister and ask him to form a new government. Johnson will be 14th prime minister during the queen’s long reign. …

Writing in Monday’s Telegraph, Johnson said, ‘it is time this country recovered some its can-do spirit.’ He said that if the Americans could land men on the moon 50 years ago using hand-sewn bits of computer code, then 21st century Britain could imagine a way to provide for frictionless trade across the Northern Irish border, which has been one of the stumbling blocks of the Brexit deal.  ‘Things are really about to kick off again in a massive way because the irresistible force of Boris Johnson’s ego is about to meet the immovable force of the House of Commons,’ said Rob Ford, a politics professor at the University of Manchester.”

Black Hawk helicopters carry U.S. troops in Afghanistan. (Rahmat Gul/AP)


  1. The Army revealed that it is conducting a secret mission that requires Black Hawk helicopters to fly around the D.C. area. The classified operation was disclosed when the Pentagon asked Congress for approval to shift funds to provide more aircraft maintenance. (Bloomberg News)

  2. As homophobic and transphobic sentiments proliferate under Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, LGBT people are taking personal defense into their own hands. Many members of the LGBT community are joining self-defense courses because they don’t feel as safe as they did in the past. (Terrence McCoy)

  3. Thousands of California women and teenagers seeking free or discounted reproductive health services through a federal program could find themselves in clinics that focus on abstinence and natural family planning as methods of birth control. Operated by the California-based Obria Group, the centers encourage young clients to use online apps developed with funding from religious conservatives. Some of these centers participating in the federal family planning program, known as Title X, also offer “abortion pill reversal,” which experts say is not supported by scientific research. (Ariana Eunjung Cha)

  4. Centrist Democrats are worried that Medicare-for-all will imperil their chance to keep control of the House. The current debate over the health-care proposal that’s playing out in the 2020 field shows how tricky it is to find a balance between exciting voters and reassuring them. (Sean Sullivan and Emily Davies)

  5. Swimmer Katie Ledecky withdrew from two races at the FINA world championship, citing unspecified medical issues. The announcement that the Olympic gold medalist, who is now studying at Stanford, was pulling out of the race came 90 minutes before she was scheduled to hit the pool. (Rick Maese)
  6. Hong Kong police have faced protester anger for weeks. But some officers would rather be on the other side of the picket fence. Once respected as “Asia’s Finest,” members of the Hong Kong Police Force are thinking of quitting after being caught between the government’s pro-Beijing stance and the fury of the people they swore to protect. (Shibani Mahtani and Tiffany Liang) 

  7. The Vatican appointed a new bishop to lead a West Virginia diocese rocked by allegations of sexual harassment and financial abuse under its previous bishop. Bishop Mark Brennan will take over the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston 10 months after Bishop Michael Bransfield retired in the face of serious allegations of wrongdoing. (Chico Harlan) 

  8. A woman bled to death in Utah after her family was told that her open-heart surgery was a success. The 62-year-old patient, who was getting a metal heart device removed, was in “severe distress” after the surgery because surgeons failed to notice that the blood that was being pumped into her body was flowing directly into the operating table’s trash, according to a new lawsuit brought against St. Mark’s Hospital. (Timothy Bella)
  9. Peak fire season in California is near, and the Department of the Interior is short hundreds of firefighters. The agency has about 500 fewer firefighters available than expected. (LA Times)

  10. Chris Kraft, the aeronautical engineer widely considered the godfather of NASA’s Mission Control, died at 95. His death came just two days after the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. (Eryn Brown)

Vice President Pence speaks before the unveiling of Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 spacesuit at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. (Andrew Harnik/AP)


  1. Remember when Vice President Pence abruptly canceled a trip to New Hampshire earlier this month? He reportedly did so to avoid shaking hands with an alleged interstate drug dealer. Pence was set to visit an opioid addiction treatment center in New Hampshire, where Jeff Hatch — a man under investigation for moving more than $100,000 of fentanyl — worked. Hatch, a former player for the New York Giants, agreed last week to a plea deal that could put him behind bars for up to four years. (Politico)
  2. Judy Shelton, whom Trump intends to nominate for the Federal Reserve Board, is calling for a massive interest-rate cut at the Fed’s July meeting. While Wall Street traders are anticipating a 25-basis-point cut, Shelton is publicly pushing for a 50-basis-point cut. (Heather Long)  
  3. Kelly Craft, Trump’s nominee to be U.N. ambassador and the wife of a billionaire coal magnate, spent more than half of her days as ambassador to Canada outside of Canada. During her confirmation hearing, she attributed much of her absence to the demands of negotiating the new North American free-trade pact. But Senate investigators discovered Craft spent a significant amount of time in places around the United States where she has homes. (Politico)
  4. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and other members of her family, heirs to the Amway fortune, have seen their gross incomes rise massively in the wake of the Trump tax cuts, according to her latest financial disclosure report. (CNBC)
  5. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is prone to falling asleep during meetings. The 81-year-old secretary, who has for months endured whispers that he is on the outs, spends much of his time at the White House to try to curry Trump’s favor, leaving the department adrift. There’s also constant infighting among top officials and sudden departures of senior staffers without explanation. (Politico)
  6. Former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders showed up at a retreat of the Republican Governors Association, fueling rumors that she’s preparing to run for governor of Arkansas. (Politico)
  7. Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani said that the expanded investigation into sex offender Jeffrey Epstein could “implicate a lot of people.” “I can’t tell you who, but it’s not going to end up with just Jeffrey Epstein,” said the former New York mayor. “Maybe some were innocent — maybe some weren’t, but I think they’re going to investigate everybody.” (The Hill)

Central American migrants are detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents. (Henrika Martinez/AFP)


— Bypassing immigration judges, the Trump administration is significantly expanding its power to quickly deport undocumented immigrants who entered the country illegally within the past two years. Maria Sacchetti reports: “Officials are calling the new strategy, which will take effect immediately, a ‘necessary response’ to the influx of Central Americans and others at the southern border. It will allow immigration authorities to quickly remove immigrants from anywhere they encounter them across the United States, and they expect the approach will help alleviate the nation’s immigration-court backlog and free up space in Immigration and Customs Enforcement jails. … Immigrants apprehended in Iowa, Nebraska or other inland states would have to prove to immigration officials that they have been in the United States continuously for the past two years, or they could end up in an immigration jail facing quick deportation. And it could be relatively low-level immigration officers — not officers of a court — making the decisions.”

— An 18-year-old U.S. citizen has been in Border Patrol detention for three weeks in Dallas. His family fears he may be deported. The Dallas Morning News’s Obed Manuel reports: The teen, Francisco Erwin Galicia, was detained at a checkpoint while traveling with his 17-year-old brother, Marlon Galicia, who lacks legal status. Marlon signed a voluntary deportation form and was sent to Mexico, but Francisco, who was born in Texas, is still in detention with little access to a phone. “The ICE detainee locator system shows Francisco is being held at the South Texas Detention Facility in Pearsall and lists him as being born in Mexico. Sanjuana Galicia, Francisco’s mother, said she lived in Dallas from 1998-2001 and moved to South Texas after his birth. ‘I need my son back,’ she said. ‘I just want to prove to them that he is a citizen. He’s not a criminal or anything bad. He’s a good kid.’”

— A 17-year-old Guatemalan boy, Abner, described 11 days of hunger, confusion and thirst at a Border Patrol station in Yuma, Ariz. NBC News’s Julia Ainsley and Didi Martinez report: “He describes them as filled with hunger and thirst, extreme temperatures and fear of the guards manning the facility. They refused to give him food when he asked, mocked him if he asked what time it was, and, on one occasion, punched another boy in the stomach, Abner said. ‘With a punch they knocked the wind out of him … But I don’t know why,’ Abner said, describing what he said happened to the 16-year-old. Abner said he and his cellmates were only fed twice a day, leading him to become very hungry. … Abner said he lost track of whether it was day or night because the lights were always on in his cell and they were yelled at for going near the windows.”

— In Tennessee, ICE agents attempted to arrest a man after he entered his van with his son. But their neighbors formed a human chain to allow them to get home. The neighbors, over four hours, brought water and food to the man as he and his son sat in the van, but eventually they created a chain that allowed the father and son to get home without being stopped by the federal agents, who had an administrative warrant, which doesn’t allow them to forcibly remove someone from their home or vehicle. (WTVF)

— Montgomery County in Maryland just passed the region’s toughest ban against cooperation with ICE agents. Rebecca Tan reports: “Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich (D) on Monday signed the Promoting Community Trust Executive Order, prohibiting all executive-branch departments from, among other things, using local government resources to assist federal agents in civil immigration investigations. That means they cannot allow [ICE] officers into nonpublic spaces in government buildings or give them access to individuals in county government custody — unless they are in possession of a court order or criminal warrant.”

— Another side effect of Trump’s deportation threats: Immigrants are avoiding reproductive health care because they fear encountering immigration authorities. Vox’s Anna North reports: “Dr. Anjani Kolahi, a family medicine physician and fellow with the group Physicians for Reproductive Health, works with a federally qualified health center in Southern California that provides affordable care regardless of immigration status. But, she told Vox, ‘patients are not coming for care.’ She’s seen patients with cancer who only come to the doctor after experiencing significant weight loss. ‘They know that they’re very sick, but they’re so concerned about deportation that they will be scared to come into the hospital,’ Kolahi said. In an environment where people are afraid to go to the doctor even when they’re desperately ill, routine screenings for breast and cervical cancer can fall by the wayside.”

— A new report from the Center for American Progress — the left-wing think tank — warns that the Democratic Party is losing the immigration messaging war to Trump. The report suggests Democrats’ decision to cede the “rule of law” ground to Republicans “creates ‘the false dichotomy of America as either a nation of immigrants or a nation of laws’—making the party and its candidates appear soft on enforcement, and potentially weakening future attempts for humanitarian-focused immigration reform. In doing so, writes Tom Jawetz, vice preside

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Trump Fed nominee Judy Shelton calls for 50 basis point cut to interest rates in July

She says she would have voted for the big cut in June

intended nominee to fill an open seat on the Federal Reserve Board, is calling for a large interest-rate cut at the Fed’s July meeting.

When asked whether she would support reducing interest rates by half a percentage point in July, Shelton said she would and indicated she would have voted for that size of a cut in June had she been on the Fed board.

“I would have voted for a 50-basis-point cut at the June meeting,” she said in an email.

[Trump tells aides to look for big spending cuts in second term]

Wall Street traders anticipate a more modest 25-basis-point cut when the Fed meets to set interest-rate policy on July 30 and 31, but Shelton said there is justification for a deeper cut, citing weak economic conditions overseas.

“I do think global conditions and the clear monetary paths being signaled by other central banks are a factor in considering how much our own Federal Reserve might choose to lower on July 31,” Shelton said.

Shelton’s views echo Trump’s repeated calls for the Fed to lower interest rates. Trump argues the United States is at a competitive disadvantage because the Fed has interest rates at just shy of 2.5 percent, much higher than Europe’s zero rate and Japan’s negative rate.

[Trump’s pick for labor secretary has defended Wall Street, Walmart and SeaWorld]

“With almost no inflation, our Country is needlessly being forced to pay a MUCH higher interest rate than other countries only because of a very misguided Federal Reserve. In addition, Quantitative Tightening is continuing, making it harder for our Country to compete,” Trump tweeted Monday.

Trump has attempted to push the Fed in a different direction by engaging in unprecedented public bashing of the central bank and by moving to nominate candidates to the Fed board such as Shelton, a former adviser to Trump’s campaign who shares his belief that rates should come down.

Fed leaders, including Chair Jerome H. Powell, have indicated they think global head winds and Trump’s trade war have dented the economic outlook enough to warrant an “insurance” cut in interest rates to try to head off worse damage. But Fed leaders have been careful to point out that the U.S. economy is still solid, with strong hiring and consumer spending.

Central banks typically reduce interest rates when there are signs of trouble, not when the economy is in a good place. Several Fed leaders, including Eric Rosengren of the Boston Fed and Esther George of the Kansas City Fed, do not see any need to cut interest rates now, because of the economy’s health.

“I think as long as the economy’s doing well, if that continues, we don’t need accommodation,” Rosengren told CNBC last week.

Shelton, a conservative scholar with expertise in international economics, was highly critical of the Fed’s move to slash interest rates in the United States to near zero in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Some economists accuse her of flip-flopping on her views now that Trump is president, but she says her critics are misreading what she is advocating.

“Even a 50-basis-point reduction would still keep the Fed funds rate well above zero,” Shelton said. “The target range of 1.75 to 2 [percent] was maintained from June 2018 to September 2018 before two more increases were imposed.”

The Fed technically sets two interest rates when it meets — one is the widely watched benchmark rate, the rate banks use to lend one another money to ensure they have the required amount deposited at the Fed every night. The other rate is known as “interest on excess reserves,” the interest rate the Fed pays banks when they hold extra cash at the central bank.

Shelton said the Fed should stop paying interest in excess reserves, a practice she argues is “unhealthy” and results in the Fed paying banks “essentially . . . to do nothing” with the money instead of lending it out. She would like to see this eliminated in the next two years.

Fed leaders and many economists have defended the practice, arguing it is a much faster way to influence the economy and is utilized by central banks around the world.

Interest on excess reserves “is the critical rate,” Powell told Congress earlier this month

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Opinion | What comes after Trump may be even worse

Max Boot

Columnist covering national security

There has been an unspoken assumption among establishment Republicans that all they have to do is wait out Hurricane Trump and then return to “normal” conservatism. Former House speaker John Boehner said last year, “The Republican Party is kind of taking a nap somewhere,” implying it will wake up one day and see the light. But what if it’s not a nap but the Big Sleep? I doubt that Republican hordes chanting “Send her back” will ever again root for “compassionate conservatism.” I fear that President Trump may not be an aberration but a prelude to something even uglier under a demagogue who really is a “stable genius.” (Trump is neither.)

A who’s who of Trumpian intellectuals (an oxymoron?) gathered at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington last week to propound an ominous ideology: “national conservatism.” As Reason reported, the conferees want to ditch the old conservative aversion to having the government micromanage the economy. Many speakers argued for an industrial policy based on tariffs and tax credits to reverse what “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance described as “family decline, childhood trauma, opioid abuse, community decline, decline of the manufacturing sector.” In response, Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.) tweeted: “ ‘National conservatism’ is just collectivism rebranded for the right. It’s a form of socialism built upon fear of the new and different.” (Maybe it should be called “national socialism” instead? If only that term weren’t already taken.)

Bernie Sanders-esque hostility to free markets is actually the least problematic aspect of “national conservatism,” which, in practice, becomes but a rationalization for Trump’s racism and authoritarianism. The speakers had little to say about the president’s demand that congresspeople of color should “go back” to where they came from. One suspects that many secretly, or not so secretly, sympathized with Trump’s xenophobia. According to Vox and the New Yorker, University of Pennsylvania law professor Amy Wax told attendees that “our country will be better off with more whites and fewer nonwhites.”

One of the conference organizers, the Israeli think tanker Yarom Hazony, has written an entire book (“The Virtue of Nationalism”) to rehabilitate a doctrine that has been in bad odor since the 1940s. Like a Marxist true believer claiming that the Soviet Union did not represent “true” communism, Hazony writes that the Nazis weren’t actually nationalists but, rather, “imperialists.” This merely makes his book silly. What makes it sinister is that he embraces tribalism (“By a nation, I mean a number of tribes with a shared heritage”), disdains minority rights (he advocates “the overwhelming dominance of a single, cohesive nationality … whose cultural dominance is plain and unquestioned”) and rejects the “individual freedom” that lies at the heart of the American project. Trump accuses his political foes of being “anti-American”; the appellation more nearly fits his more fervent followers.

Another right-wing writer who explicitly rejects our founding ideals is Sohrab Ahmari of the New York Post. In May, he launched a nasty attack on David French, a social conservative who is critical of Trump. Ahmari, a zealous Catholic convert, rejects “autonomy-maximizing liberalism,” and even “civility and decency.” He advocates fighting “the culture war with the aim of defeating the enemy and enjoying the spoils in the form of a public square re-ordered to the common good and ultimately the Highest Good.” I’m not sure exactly what that means, but it sounds an awful lot like Spain in the days when Francisco Franco blended fascism and Catholicism to justify his dictatorship.

It’s not just a few Trumpian intellectuals who are eager to embrace theocracy. So are some Trumpian politicians. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) doesn’t just reject abortion rights; he rejects the entire conception of individual liberty that underlies the Supreme Court’s abortion decisions. In May, he gave a commencement address in which he mocked the notion that individuals should have “the right to choose your own meaning, define your own values, emancipate yourself from God by creating your own self.” The well-educated evangelical Christian (Stanford University, Yale Law) condemned this as the “Pelagian heresy” (after a fifth-century Christian who taught that people could attain goodness through individual effort). It is more accurately described as the founders’ vision for a country where all are free to pursue happiness in their own way. At the Ritz-Carlton, Hawley employed a term that has often been used as a euphemism for “Jews” by excoriating “the cosmopolitan elite” that he claims secretly controls America.

But the real star of the “national conservatism” conference, reports Jacob Heilbrunn in the New York Review of Books, was Fox host Tucker Carlson. An isolationist and nativist, he has called Iraqis “semiliterate primitive monkeys” and said immigrants make “our own country poor and dirtier and more divided.” At the Ritz-Carlton, which is a subsidiary of the largest hotel company in the world, Carlson’s theme was, “Big Business Hates Your Family.” (Maybe not Carlson’s family: His stepmother is an heir to the Swanson frozen-food fortune.)

There has already been talk of Carlson running for president, and, Heilbrunn wrote, “Carlson’s own coy disavowal on the podium was hardly a denial.” Tucker in ’24? Don’t laugh. Weep. The Fox host is more intelligent and disciplined than Trump. He could well be the new leader of authoritarianism in America. If that were to happen, we may look back nostalgically on our present craziness as the calm before the storm.

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Trump accuses four minority congresswomen of being ‘very Racist’ and ‘not very smart’

John Wagner

National reporter leading The Post’s breaking political news team

President Trump escalated his attacks Monday on a group of four minority congresswomen known as “the Squad,” calling them “very Racist” and “not very smart.”

Trump’s assessment came in a tweet as his motorcade traveled from the White House to the Supreme Court to pay his respects to the late Justice John Paul Stevens, who died last week at age 99 and was lying in repose.

It was the latest in a string of attacks directed at the four freshman lawmakers since a week ago Sunday, when Trump said in a tweet that they should “go back” to the “totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” Only one of the four, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), was born outside the United States, and she became a U.S. citizen in 2000.

Trump has often tried to turn the tables on his political opponents, accusing them of the very shortcomings for which they criticize him.

The “Squad” is a very Racist group of troublemakers who are young, inexperienced, and not very smart. They are pulling the once great Democrat Party far left, and were against humanitarian aid at the Border…And are now against ICE and Homeland Security. So bad for our Country!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2019

“The ‘Squad’ is a very Racist group of troublemakers who are young, inexperienced, and not very smart,” Trump wrote. “They are pulling the once great Democrat Party far left, and were against humanitarian aid at the Border . . . And are now against ICE and Homeland Security. So bad for our Country!”

Trump vows congresswomen ‘can’t get away with’ criticizing U.S.]

Trump went on the offensive against the four lawmakers again Monday during a meeting in the Oval Office with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“I think they’re very bad for our country. I really think they must hate our country,” Trump told reporters.

He denied that he had created any “racial tension” in the United States and pointed to lower unemployment figures for African Americans.

During a heated exchange on “Fox News Sunday,” Stephen Miller, a White House senior adviser, sought to defend Trump, saying that the term “racist” is being misused.

“I think the term ‘racist’ has become a label that is too often deployed by the left, Democrats, in this country simply to try to silence and punish and suppress people they disagree with, speech that they don’t want to hear,” Miller said.

Asked Monday about Trump’s tweet calling the four lawmakers “racist,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told reporters at the White House: “Well, they certainly are young and inexperienced. That doesn’t stop all of you from elevating them into the stratosphere and superstardom.”

Behind the scenes, Trump’s staff and his allies continued to promote talking points that elevated the lawmakers, while avoiding directly injecting race into the arguments.

At a weekly meeting of Senate Republican communications aides, a White House official, Brad Bishop, encouraged the GOP staffers to emphasize a fresh message focusing on the four Democrats, according to two people in attendance: that the liberal lawmakers need to start helping their constituents, rather than focusing on unpopular issues such as impeaching Trump or abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In a set of talking points distributed Monday, the president’s reelection campaign encouraged allies to talk up Trump’s willingness to defend the United States if questioned about his continued attacks on the “Squad.”

“The President loves America. He will stick up for this country, our flag, and the men and women who serve this

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Opinion | Geraldo Rivera comes to his senses on Trump

Erik Wemple

Media critic with a focus on the ups and downs and downs of the cable-news industry.

In April 2018, HBO comedian Bill Maher embarrassed Fox News’s Geraldo Rivera. The issue was Rivera’s pal of 40 years — President Trump. When Maher pressed Rivera on Trump’s plain-as-day excesses and lies and outrages, Rivera retreated to his elitist harbor: “I’ve known Trump for 40 years. … I can separate the man who has always been gracious to me, always been nice to my family — you know we were on ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ together every day for six weeks — I’ve known him, really ….”

Who cares, responded Maher. “He’s running the world, what does that matter that he was nice to you at Thanksgiving?” Later in the discussion, Maher drilled his guest on Trump’s lies. “He has never lied to me in 40 years,” said Rivera. Maher attempted to enlighten the Fox News personality — a person can be great to a celebrity and not as great to the rest of the world.

It’s a lesson that Rivera appears to be internalizing years after Trump launched his racist evisceration of national political norms. “Once you make nationhood and citizenship like that conditional on your political loyalties, you run a very dangerous path there,” Rivera last week told his colleagues on “Fox & Friends” regarding the story of the week: Trump’s “go back” instructions to four nonwhite Democratic congresswomen.

In an interview with the New York Times, he said more:

For some who defended Mr. Trump against charges of racism in the past, this was a turning point. “As much as I have denied it and averted my eyes from it, this latest incident made it impossible,” Geraldo Rivera, a roaming correspondent at large for Fox News and longtime friend, said in an interview.

“My friendship with the president has cost me friendships, it has cost me schisms in the family, my wife and I are constantly at odds about the president,” he added. “I do insist that he’s been treated unfairly. But the unmistakable words, the literal words he said, is an indication that the critics were much more right than I.”

Those words were delivered in a New York Times story dated July 20, 2019. They could have been delivered, however, in June 2015 (Mexican rapists), December 2015 (Muslim ban proposal), June 2016 (Judge Gonzalo Curiel), August 2017 (Charlottesville), and so on. Which is to say, Rivera’s defense is no defense at all.

That Trump’s clear-as-day racism is causing discomfort and dissonance at Fox News also emerged Sunday from “Fox News Sunday,” the must-watch show anchored by Chris Wallace. In dealing with the enduring topic of Trump’s attacks on Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Wallace asked Lisa Boothe, a Fox News contributor, to ignore the political analysis and deliver a moral judgment on the president’s “go back” imperative. Check out this transcript:

WALLACE: I want to talk to Lisa about this. There was a lot of talk this week about whether or not this was politically smart, which it seems to me misses the real point, and that is, was this wrong? Was it over the line to say “go back where you came from”?

LISA BOOTHE, CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I wouldn’t defend, necessarily, the tweet that he sent out but I would also point out there’s been a lot of comparisons made to the late Senator John McCain when he did shut down hecklers who called President Obama an — then-candidate Obama an Arab. But you have still Representative John Lewis then compare them to George Wallace and, you know, basically fostering an environment of hate when we saw 1963, white supremacist bombed a church.

WALLACE: Let’s try to stick to Donald Trump and what he did this week.

BOOTHE: The point is, Chris, is that’s the environment that we operate in where you’ve seen for a long time the left weaponize these words of racism or sexism against their political opponents.

We also saw that with Mitt Romney —


WALLACE: But you’re not answer[ing] my question, which is, was it wrong for the president to say send them back to the country they go — why don’t you go back to the country from which you came? Was that wrong?

BOOTHE: But I’m a political analyst, Chris, that’s not my job to say it was wrong or not.

WALLACE: So, you don’t have a view?

BOOTHE: Ask his — ask his White House and his campaign. It’s my job to analyze the optics and the politics of this. And to Jonathan’s point, I would say, I think President Trump has good instincts in looking at the electorate. He may not have looked at that “Axios” report that you guys reported on, the poll that shows that these four members of Congress, particularly Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Omar absolutely toxic with key groups of voters.

But he has political instincts, and we’d seen him set up and tee off 2020 as the left is anti-American, they are socialist, they are way too far extreme for America, and that’s the direction they want to go in. And if you want to elevate four people to make that point, these four women meet those descriptions.

Fox News doesn’t have an ombudsperson — and almost certainly never will. No problem, because Wallace has a knack for filling that void. The veteran newsman clearly recognized that much of the chatter on his own network related to the political prudence of attacking these women of color. Oh, this is Trump’s strategy! He’s making them the face of the Democratic Partysmart! How will Nancy Pelosi handle the situation?

Such an optical focus is a comfy refuge for Trump apologists, because it moves the discussion to Trump’s alleged political genius, the way he understands the country, the common people and the red, white and blue. But just behold the worry on Boothe’s face when she’s confronted with a simple question of right or wrong.

And the idea that her job is to merely address optics may come as a shock to the studio audience that attended the July 14 edition of “The Next Revolution,” a Sunday-night Fox News program hosted by Steve Hilton. The program invited two lawmakers — Democratic Rep. Harley Rouda (Calif.) and Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.) — to discuss immigration. Boothe used the opportunity to lecture Rouda and his party leadership about substance:

BOOTHE: But here’s the thing, we have a lot of people that are coming here saying that they have a credible fear, but they don’t and ultimately, their cases are rejected in immigration court because they’re actually coming here for economic reasons and not because they actually have a credible fear.

So those individuals who have been denied in court should of course be deported because they came here seeking asylum under false pretenses. But I think the bigger problem is, unfortunately, in your party, particularly your party leaders hav

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Analysis | Trump welcomes Pakistan’s troubled leader

Ishaan Tharoor

Reporter covering foreign affairs, geopolitics and history

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rabble-rousing, nationalist politicians. Not unlike Trump, Khan, a wildly popular former captain of the Pakistani cricket team, entered politics with a reputation as a licentious “playboy” but won an election in the guise of a patriotic savior. And, not unlike Trump, Khan rose to power by railing against his country’s corrupt political elites. He commands the support of an energized and fanatical base that believes he will make Pakistan great again. On Sunday, Khan appeared at a rally before thousands of cheering overseas Pakstanis at a packed Capital One Arena in Washington, vowing to tackle graft and redeem the nation.

But hopes aren’t so high for his audience with Trump, who — when he has bothered to pay attention to matters in South Asia — has taken a rather tough line on Pakistan. Since relations between both countries started to sour under the Obama administration, there’s been little goodwill in Congress or leading policy circles in Washington for Pakistan. American critics are exasperated with the Pakistani military establishment’s long courtship of a host of radical militant proxies and its seeming inability to fully sever those ties.

In a series of tweets last November, Trump announced cuts in aid to Pakistan, fuming over the vast amount already handed out by the United States, all while terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden lived in a clandestine sanctuary not far from Islamabad, the country’s capital.

Of course we should have captured Osama Bin Laden long before we did. I pointed him out in my book just BEFORE the attack on the World Trade Center. President Clinton famously missed his shot. We paid Pakistan Billions of Dollars & they never told us he was living there. Fools!..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2018

….We no longer pay Pakistan the $Billions because they would take our money and do nothing for us, Bin Laden being a prime example, Afghanistan being another. They were just one of many countries that take from the United States without giving anything in return. That’s ENDING!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2018

Khan fired back his own online salvo, attacking Trump for making Pakistan “a scapegoat” and ignoring the “failures” of nearly two decades of U.S. and NATO-backed military operations in neighboring Afghanistan. Pakistani analysts point to a lack of American appreciation for the thousands of ordinary Pakistanis killed by terrorism, U.S. drone strikes and a bloody counterinsurgency against militant groups within the country.

As a show of good faith, the Pakistanis last week arrested Hafez Saeed, a U.S.-designated terrorist and ringleader of the militant group behind a brazen 2008 terrorist attack in the Indian city of Mumbai. But while the move elicited a self-satisfied Trump tweet, it convinced no one. Saeed has lived openly and with relative impunity for years and has been arrested and released six times prior since 2001; few Indian or U.S. officials believe his detention this time signals any significant shift in policy.

For Trump, the main matter of importance will be Afghanistan. A U.S.-led process to broker peace with the Taliban — and ultimately allow Trump to wind down the U.S. military presence there — has lurched forward fitfully. The United States has needed Pakistani help in bringing the Taliban to the table and hope they can secure further assistance in the coming months. Khan’s delegation includes Pakistan’s army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, as well the head of the country’s notorious military intelligence agency, the ISI, which has a long, shadowy history of ties to militant groups beyond Pakistan’s borders.

“The deeper problem is that the U.S. has no real leverage in Afghanistan. Khan knows this, and so does the Taliban,” wrote Bloomberg columnist Eli Lake. “Trump has made it clear that he wants U.S. forces out of the country, the sooner the better. Even if the Pakistanis can coerce or persuade their Taliban allies to back off until the U.S. leaves, what will stop them from violating a peace agreement after the U.S. is gone?”

But away from Afghanistan, Trump has plenty of leverage. Khan comes to Washington cap in hand. The International Monetary Fund recently approved a $6 billion loan to cash-strapped Pakistan; its mandated austerity measures will be tough for Khan to swallow after campaigning loudly on a platform to create an Islamic welfare state with generous social spending. Pakistan is also chafing from its financial blacklisting by a major international agency last year and may seek recourse from the Trump administration.

“In 2018, an international financial watchdog placed Pakistan on its ‘gray list’ for deficiencies in its policing of money laundering and terrorism financing,” my colleagues explained. “The threat of being blacklisted now looms with a deadline to reform by October. The United States is one of 39 members of the intergovernmental body, known as the Financial Action Task Force.”

“The U.S. realizes that without Pakistan’s role, there will be no end to the war in Afghanistan. On the other hand, Pakistan also needs the U.S. for the revival of its struggling economy. They need the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and Asian Development Bank to improve their economy, and the U.S. has leverage in all of these institutions,” said Hasan Askari Rizvi, a Pakistani analyst based in Lahore, to my colleagues. “Both sides know they need each other.”

Given the complexities and intricacies of the moment, few expect a significant breakthrough from Trump’s meeting with Khan. “I think the best case scenario is a good photo op and a generous word or riff from Trump at a news conference or on Twitter about Pakistan’s help in securing a peace deal with t

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Hostile witness or Democrats’ hero? Mueller’s past turns before Congress offer important clues

Devlin Barrett

Reporter focusing on national security and law enforcement

Behind the square jaw, deadeye stare and Marine Corps growl, former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III does have a soft spot when it comes to answering tough questions in congressional hearings.

On Wednesday, when he delivers long-awaited testimony about his investigation into President Trump and Russian interference in the 2016 election, Democrats are hoping to coax from him the kind of dramatic moments that could galvanize public opinion against the president. Republicans, meanwhile, are eager to elicit testimony that shows the investigation was biased from its inception.

Those who know him best are skeptical he will meet either side’s expectations.

“For anybody hoping he’s going to provide new information or evidence against the president, I think many people will be very disappointed,” said John Pistole, who served as Mueller’s deputy for years when he was FBI director. “And then on the other side of the aisle, some may be disappointed to find out that he’s not a demagogue of the left.”

[Democrats hope Mueller gives credence to their claim of an unlawful Trump]

Mueller is set to appear before the House Judiciary Committee for three hours — a hearing that aims to focus on the question of whether the president obstructed justice. Mueller will also spend two hours before the House Intelligence Committee answering questions about Russia’s election interference.

gave a brief public statement in which he said he did not want to appear before Congress. “The report is my testimony,” Mueller insisted then. The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed him anyway.

Pistole said he expects Mueller to be “as unresponsive as possible, while telling the truth. I think his first approach will be, ‘Read the report and form your own conclusions.’ He’s no longer a government employee, and he can tell them to pound sand, not that he would use those words.”

[Mueller report lays out obstruction evidence against the president]

A central question for Mueller will be whether he, as a prosecutor, would have filed charges against Trump were he not the president. Under long-standing Justice Department policy, a sitting president cannot be indicted, and Mueller’s team interpreted that to mean they could not even consider whether Trump had committed a crime. To date, he has been steadfast in refusing to offer clarity on this point — arguably the most opaque and hotly debated portion of his 448-page report.

Mueller also probably will face questions about his interactions with Attorney General William P. Barr. Democrats have accused Barr of mischaracterizing Mueller’s findings in the weeks before the report’s public release — a political move, they say, that blunted its impact.

At one point, Mueller wrote to Barr complaining that the attorney general’s statements had created confusion among the public about the investigation’s results, but Barr has tried to play down the disagreement, calling Mueller’s letter “a bit snippy.”

[Mueller letter complained of Barr’s description of Trump investigation]

Mueller is a veteran of congressional testimony, but past hearings were marked by his polite reticence and lawmakers’ deference to his judgment. He often would try to say as little as possible. But some lawmakers realized that, when pressed, he would sometimes give in.

Exchanges during a 2007 House Judiciary Committee hearing are telling. At the time, lawmakers were demanding more detail about a confrontation years earlier inside the Bush administration between senior White House officials and then-Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey, who years later succeeded Mueller atop the FBI. The fight, over a controversial warrantless wiretapping program run by the National Security Agency, nearly led to the resignations of Comey and Mueller.

At the time, Mueller had served as FBI director for nearly six years. He had led the FBI through its investigation of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and transformed the law enforcement agency into one focused primarily on counterterrorism. Yet many of the lawmakers who had oversight of the FBI still mispronounced his name.

One lawmaker, Rep. Stephen I. Cohen (D-Tenn.), asked Mueller to explain a conversation he had had with former attorney general John Ashcroft about the wiretapping program, at a time when Justice Department officials were raising concerns about its legality.

As he had up until that point in the hearing, Mueller declined, saying, “I resist getting into the specifics of conversations I have because I do think the attorney general then, the attorney general now, and others are entitled to keep those conversations between themselves,” Mueller said.

Cohen persisted.

“I’m asking you to tell us what the conversation was,” the lawmaker said. “I don’t think there’s a privilege.”

Mueller relented.

“The discussion was that there had been a prior discussion about an NSA program and that the attorney general deferred to Mr. Comey as the person to make whatever decision was to be made,” he said. Mueller went on to describe the FBI’s concerns about how to proceed with a program that senior Justice Department officials considered legally problematic.

But when lawmakers sought a direct admission from Mueller that he had threatened to resign over the issue, the director retreated.

“I don’t believe it’s appropriate for me to get into conversations I’ve had

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Japan’s ruling coalition secures upper house majority

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe smiles as Abe speaks to the media at the headquarters of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party in Tokyo, Sunday, July 21, 2019. Prime Minister Abe’s ruling coalition appeared certain to hold onto a majority in Japan’s upper house of parliament following Sunday’s election, with exit polls indicating he could even close in on the super-majority needed to propose constitutional revisions.(Yohei Kanazashi/Kyodo News via AP) (Associated Press)

By Mari Yamaguchi and Kaori Hitomi | AP

TOKYO — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition secured a majority in Japan’s upper house of parliament in elections Sunday but will not reach the super-majority needed to propose constitutional revisions, according to vote counts by public television and other media.

NHK public television said shortly after midnight that Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and its junior partner Komeito had won 69 seats in the upper house, with nine seats remaining. If Abe gained support from members of another conservative party and independents, it would make only 76 seats, short of 85 he would have needed, NHK said.

Abe’s ruling bloc already has a two-thirds majority in the lower house, but without such control of the upper chamber, he has a slim chance of achieving his long-cherished goal of constitutional reform.

Nonetheless, Abe welcomed the results, saying winning a majority indicates a public mandate for his government.

“I believe the people chose political stability, urging us to pursue our policies and carry out diplomacy to protect Japan’s national interests,” Abe said in an interview with NHK.

Abe hopes to gain enough seats to boost his chances to revise Japan’s pacifist constitution — his long-cherished goal before his term ends in 2021.

But it’s a challenge because voters are more concerned about their jobs, economy and social security. Abe, who wants to bolster Japan’s defense capability, is now proposing adding the Self-Defense Force, or Japan’s military, to the war-renouncing Article 9 of the constitution. He said he is not considering running for another term.

Abe said resolving the decades-old issue of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea and signing a peace treaty with Russia would be his diplomatic priorities during the rest of his term.

Opposition parties have focused on concerns over household finances, such as the impact from an upcoming 10% sales tax increase and strains on the public pension system amid Japan’s aging population.

Abe has led his Liberal Democratic Party to five consecutive parliame

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The British navy tried but failed to deter Iran from seizing a British tanker, leaked audio shows

Liz Sly

Beirut bureau chief, covering Lebanon, Syria and the wider region

DUBAI — A British warship tried but failed to prevent Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from seizing a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz last week, intercepted radio communications show, fueling a wave of recriminations in London on Sunday over who was to blame for the incident last week.

In recordings obtained by the shipping consultancy Dryad Global and posted on its website Sunday, a member of the Revolutionary Guard is heard ordering the British-flagged Stena Impero tanker to divert course toward Iran.

“Alter your course,” the man says. “If you obey you will be safe.”

A British naval officer interrupts, telling the Stena Impero that it has the right to proceed through the waterway.

“Under international law your passage must not be impeded, obstructed or hampered,” he says.

The British officer then addresses the Iranian: “Please confirm that you are not intending to violate international law by unlawfully attempting to board the MV Stena.”

was intercepted on Friday.

In London, British Defense Minister Tobias Ellwood pushed the criticism aside. The priority now, Ellwood said, must be to “de-escalate tensions” with Tehran after Iranian forces.

“Our first and most important responsibility is to make sure that we get a solution to the issue to do with the current ship, make sure other British-flagged ships are safe to operate in these waters and then look at the wider picture,” he said on Sunday. 

Asked by Sky News whether Britain had taken its “eye off the ball” and failed to defend ships in crucial waterways, Ellwood replied: “No, not at all.”

Soon after the exchange was recorded, Iranian commandos wearing balaclavas brazenly descended from a helicopter by rope onto the deck of the tanker, as Iranian fastboats closed in by sea, video posted by Iranian media shows. No British warships were in sight.

On Sunday evening, Iran’s Press TV showed footage of the Stena Impero at the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, flying an Iranian flag. There was no sign of its 23-member crew, most of whom are Indian nationals. Iranian media quoted Iranian officials on Sunday as saying the crew is safe.

The tanker’s seizure illustrates the challenge confronting the international community as it attempts to secure the safety of shipping in the Persian Gulf and the narrow Hormuz Strait that controls access to it. The United States has also sent naval reinforcements to the area, and is trying to encourage other allies to join it in a coalition to protect commercial shipping.

Iran, meanwhile, appears to be relishing the world’s unease, releasing videos and photographs showing the Revolutionary Guard acting unimpeded in the open seas and flying its flag over a confiscated British vessel. Hours before the interception of the British tanker, Iranian media posted what they said was drone footage of the deck of the USS Boxer, one of the U.S. warships dispatched to secure the waterway.

A fifth of the world’s oil passes through the narrow, crowded strait. Many countries, including China, rely on the route for a far greater percentage of their energy needs.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif on Sunday warned Britain not to escalate the situation. In a posting on his Twitter account, he accused U.S. national security adviser John Bolton of seeking to drag Britain “into a quagmire.”

“Only prudence and foresight can thwart such ploys,” he tweeted.

[From Iran, defiance after tanker capture and a message: It could happen again]

The standoff comes as the British government and lawmakers are distracted with the finale of the leadership contest to succeed outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May, a race between Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and former foreign secretary Boris Johnson.

Johnson is expected to win and enter 10 Downing Street on Wednesday afternoon — with the crisis with Iran waiting on his desk.

In a column in the Observer newspaper, the retired Admiral Allan West, a former first sea lord and chief of Naval staff, wrote that the British government’s warning that British-flagged vessels avoid the passage through the Persian Gul

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