President Trump said “the Panama Canal is doing quite well” and now all we can do is pray for a trip to the Great Wall of China. A Republican data firm exposed the information of nearly 200 million voters — marking the absolute first time this century the GOP has threatened citizens’ franchise. And Jared Kushner spoke publicly for the first time since arriving in the White Holuse and not long thereafter ominous clouds formed over the White House. Please direct all your letters about causality to our editors. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, June 19th, 2017:
FLYNN WORKED WITH GROUP THAT SOLD SPYWARE TO REPRESSIVE GOVERNMENTS – Paul Blumenthal and Jessica Schulberg: “While serving as a top campaign aide to Donald Trump, former national security adviser Michael Flynn made tens of thousands of dollars on the side advising a company that sold surveillance technology that repressive governments used to monitor activists and journalists…. He earned nearly $1.5 million last year as a consultant, adviser, board member, or speaker for more than three dozen companies and individuals, according to financial disclosure forms released earlier this year. Two of those entities are directly linked to NSO Group, a secretive Israeli cyberweapons dealer founded by Omri Lavie and Shalev Hulio, who are rumored to have served in Unit 8200, the Israeli equivalent of the National Security Agency…. [D]uring the time Flynn was working for NSO’s Luxembourg affiliate, one of the company’s main products…was being used to surveil political dissidents, reporters, activists, and government officials.” [HuffPost]
SENATE DEMS TO GAMELY ATTEMPT TO STOP THE SECRET SENATE HEALTH CARE BILL – It probably won’t work. Jennifer Haberkorn: “Democrats will grind Senate business to a halt in a protest against Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare. Beginning Monday night, Democrats will start objecting to all unanimous consent requests in the Senate, according to a Democratic aide. They plan to control the floor of the chamber Monday night and try to force the House-passed health care bill to committee in a bid to further delay it.” [Politico]
SECRET HEALTH CARE BILL SPEEDING TOWARD SENATE FLOOR – Kegger at Paul Ryan’s house! Stephanie Armour and Kristina Peterson: “Senate GOP leaders are planning to vote next week on legislation to repeal large chunks of the Affordable Care Act, even though they don’t yet appear to have secured enough support to pass it. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) is intent on keeping pressure on Senate Republicans to move quickly on the bill rolling back and replacing much of the 2010 health law, lawmakers and GOP aides said.” [WSJ]
Here’s the big non-secret about the secret Senate health bill: No matter what final form it takes, it’s an enormous tax cut financed by slashing health care programs for poor and middle-income people. [HuffPost’s Jeffrey Young]
GA-6 FINALLY HERE: OUR LONG, LOCAL NIGHTMARE IS FINALLY OVER – Why it doesn’t matter, from MoJo’s Tim Murphy: “The Georgia election is an awkward roadmap for future House races precisely because it’s been such an expensive slugfest. Virtually nothing that happens next year will look anything like it, and the circumstances in which the race exploded into the national spotlight — and had that electoral spotlight nearly all to itself — are unique…. After November the conservative suburban districts Hillary Clinton carried (or nearly carried) were a riddle: Were they a product of Trump’s unique unpopularity, or did they represent real opportunities for Democrats down-ballot? Ossoff’s performance in the first round of balloting, where he finished just shy of the 50-percent threshold needed to win outright, already went a long way toward answering that question, and his incredible fundraising haul and vast national support will only encourage other Democrats, from California to Texas, to follow his path.” [Mother Jones]
Georgia GOP official super-stoked that Steve Scalise got shot.
Not good: “Otto Warmbier, the former University of Virginia student who returned home to the U.S. last week after spending more than a year imprisoned in North Korea, died on Monday afternoon, his family said. ‘Unfortunately, the awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible beyond the sad one we experienced today,’ his parents said in a statement.” [HuffPost’s Willa Frej]
MORE SAD NEWS FOR HUFFPOST – It’s been a rough couple of weeks so be nice if you see any of us around town. Sam is an incredible boss: His one-of-a-kind political instinct has benefited everyone on the HuffPost Politics team ― and he has helped make us a family. Best of luck to Cornell University’s favorite alumnus! Erik Wemple: “Days after HuffPost announced a round of layoffs, one of its longtime voices is making a leap of his own accord: Sam Stein, the site’s senior politics editor, is joining the Daily Beast in a similar capacity. He joins a 10-strong D.C. bureau at the Daily Beast, a site that has made a series of big-name hires in recent weeks, including luring former Guardian reporter Spencer Ackerman and former Gawker Media president Heather Dietrick…. Nearly a decade ago, Stein was among three staffers — Nico Pitney and Jason Linkins were the others — who launched the site’s Washington bureau in a one-office room at the Watergate.” [WaPo]
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ENRICHING YOURSELF OFF OF DEMOCRACY AIN’T EASY – Hey, remember the NGP VAN leak episode? That was annoying! Ryan Grenoble: “A Republican data analysis company called Deep Root Analytics left exposed an online database containing the personal information of almost all of America’s 200 million registered voters, the cyber security firm UpGuard has found. The data contained in the breach includes an unsettling amount of personal information, including voters’ first and last names, birth dates, home and mailing addresses, phone numbers, registered party, self-reported racial demographic and voter registration status. A Deep Root spokesman confirmed the breach in an email to HuffPost, saying, ‘We take full responsibility for this situation.’” [HuffPost]
Line of the week (and, yes, it’s Monday): “Greg Gianforte emulated Jesus by assaulting Ben Jacobs, who was trespassing and invading his privacy.” [Missoulian]
WILL SCOTUS SAVE FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS? Ehhh…. Adam Liptak: “The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it would consider whether partisan gerrymandering violates the Constitution. The case could reshape American politics. In the past, the court has struck down election maps as racial gerrymanders that disadvantaged minority voters. But it has never disallowed a map on the ground that it was drawn to give an unfair advantage to a political party.” [NYT]
TRUMP NOT INTERESTED IN SAVING THE WHALES – Dominique Mosbergen: “The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries division announced on Monday that it is tossing out a pending rule meant to protect marine mammals and sea turtles, including several endangered species, from swordfishing gill nets off the West Coast…. Proposed in 2015 by the Pacific Fishery Management Council, which includes representatives from the fishing industry, tribal representatives, federal and state officials and other conservation experts, the gill net rule sought to impose a cap on the number of marine mammals and turtles that could be killed or injured by the long, near-invisible gill nets used to catch swordfish. Some of the animals covered by the rule are endangered fin, humpback, and sperm whales, common bottlenose dolphins and endangered leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles.” [HuffPost]
Maybe there is a God: “The debate over whether NBC host Megyn Kelly should have given air time to far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones garnered a lot more attention than her interview with him, one analysis found. With just 3.5 million viewers, ‘Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly’ came in last place among the four major networks during the 7 p.m. time slot, according to Nielsen Media Research. Nielsen hasn’t released details of its insights, but several media outlets obtained early copies.” [HuffPost]
PERRY GOES FULL CLIMATE SKEPTIC – Texas’ former governor has a showdown at high noon with science. Chris D’Angelo: “Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Monday dismissed near-universally accepted science, denying that carbon dioxide emissions from human activity are driving global climate change. Asked by CNBC ‘Squawk Box’ host Joe Kernen whether he believes carbon dioxide ‘is the primary control knob for the temperature of the Earth and for climate,’ Perry said, ‘No.’ ‘Most likely the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment that we live in,’ Perry said. ‘I mean, the fact is, this shouldn’t be a debate about, “Is the climate changing, is man having an effect on it?” Yeah, we are. The question should be, you know, just how much, and what are the policy changes that we need to make to affect that?’” [HuffPost]
JARED KUSHNER SPEAKS – We were expecting a “Peanuts” teacher-style womp womp womp wooomp womp but instead got D&D dweeb. Igor Bobic: “Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, on Monday spoke about the need to modernize technology and data used by the federal government. Appearing at an event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, a massive, outdated facility that sits next to the White House, Kushner recounted the obsolete systems used by the Department of Veterans Affairs…. Unlike his father-in-law or his wife, Ivanka Trump, however, Kushner has kept a low profile. He rarely speaks in public, and he does not tweet. ‘We had never heard him speak before,’ MSNBC host Chris Jansing remarked on-air after Kushner spoke.” [HuffPost]
We’re now in our 21st week of speculating about whether Sean Spicer is going to get fired.
Why: “On Monday, President Donald Trump met with the president of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, at the White House. During their meeting, the two world leaders discussed important international topics such as, uh, the Panama Canal. ‘The Panama Canal is doing quite well,’ Trump said during a photo opportunity with Varela. ‘I think we did a good job building it, right?’” [HuffPost’s Elyse Wanshel]
BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR – Here’s a puppy nervous about the floor.
‘KIMMY SCHMIDT’ HAS MORE REDSKINS MATERIAL – This ruling will put liberals in the same sort of bind that the ACLU’s position on campaign finance does. Travis Waldron: “The NFL franchise in Washington, D.C., received a major boost in its fight to save its controversial ‘Redskins’ name Monday morning, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling in a separate legal dispute. At issue is the team’s federal trademark protections for the nickname, which Native American activists have described as a ‘dictionary-defined racial slur.’ The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board invalidated those trademark protections in 2014, ruling that the name was ‘disparaging to Native Americans’ and thus violated a clause in a federal trademark law. The Supreme Court, however, struck down that clause Monday, ruling that the law’s prohibition on providing federal trademarks for disparaging terms or logos violated the First Amendment’s free speech protections.” [HuffPost]
– A very earnest personal ad from 1865.
– NASA has discovered 10 more potentially earthlike planets.
– Active alarm clock has been stuck in family’s wall for 13 years.
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