Good Tuesday morning. It's Day 187. Situational awareness: "At the twilight of a storied career and battling a brain tumor, Sen. John McCain stands poised to deliver for his party and his president on the issue that's defined the GOP for the past seven years. It's ... heavy with drama and symbolism. The 80-year-old Arizona senator will return to Washington [today] to cast what could be the deciding vote ... to open debate on repeal-and-replace legislation.'" —AP's Erica Werner
President Trump, in one of his hallmark rituals, recently called a longtime political associate and asked out of the blue: "What would happen if I fired Sessions?"
Trump has been openly undermining Attorney General Jeff Sessions, yesterday tweeting that he's "beleaguered." Already this morning, POTUS tweeted that Sessions has "taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes."
Remember: This is his own Cabinet member! It's not normal.)
Reflecting the conversations going on inside Trumpworld, the political associate says he replied: "If you're going to fire people at Justice, don't you want to save that bullet for Mueller?"
There's speculation in both parties that replacing Sessions could be a prelude to firing the special counsel. Axios broke the news yesterday that Trump was considering bringing back Rudy Giuliani as attorney general. (Rudy swats away the idea, but that didn't stop Trump from floating it.)
The WashPost adds Sen. Ted Cruz as a possibility.
"Another scenario is that Trump could make a recess appointment, said Steve Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law. ... Trump could choose an attorney general during the August recess who would serve until the end of the next Senate session, which would run to Jan. 3, 2019. That person would have the same authority as someone who is confirmed by the Senate."
Another Post story builds on Jonathan Swan's reporting on Sunday: Incoming White House communications director "Anthony Scaramucci ... is exercising a broad mandate from the president and intends to follow through on threats to purge aides he believes are disloyal to Trump and leaking to the press."
Be smart: This chaotic White House is about to get even more unstable. Insiders expect big changes between now and September.
"Unrest bubbles among Trump's key foreign policy aides," by Reuters foreign affairs and national security editor John Walcott:
Jared Kushner, making a rare on-camera appearance, back at the White House after he released an 11-page statement and spoke to the Senate Intelligence Committee:
"My name is Jared Kushner. I'm senior adviser to President Donald J. Trump. ... Let me be very clear: I did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so. ...
"Donald Trump had a better message and ran a smarter campaign, and that is why he won. Suggesting otherwise ridicules those who voted for him. .. Thank you very much, and I look forward to taking questions from the House committee tomorrow. Thank you."
Republicans, even skeptics of Jared and his worldview, generally found his statement solid and convincing. But in a preview of the dissection that's coming from prosecutors and congressional investigators, critics on MSNBC said they found his comments unconvincing:
Be smart: Although Kushner made the most of a difficult day, it doesn't change the bigger picture for the White House.
Congressional Democrats have decided that bashing big business is their path back to power, with a new populist message that borrows heavily from both Donald Trump and Teddy Roosevelt, Axios' Dan Primack and David McCabe write:
See all the fact sheets on the House and Senate Democrats' "A Better Deal."
President Trump, speaking last evening to the National Scout Jamboree in Glen Jean, W.Va., began by saying: "Tonight, we put aside all of the policy fights in Washington, D.C. — you've been hearing about with the fake news and all of that. (Applause.) ... I said, who the hell wants to speak about politics when I'm in front of the Boy Scouts? Right? (Applause.)"
Then he went on to say, in remarks criticized online for being political in front of the young scouts:
"Tractor-Trailer Trafficking: The Business ... Smugglers offer crammed big rigs as 'VIP treatment' to US," by AP's Elliot Spagat in San Diego:
Axios' Sara Fischer: Flipboard is becoming one of the biggest drivers of traffic to news stories on mobile, according to media analytics firm Parse.ly, which found that Flipboard's traffic has been growing steadily, while digital magazine competitors like Pocket and Feedly have plateaued or gone into decline.
Joe Pompeo, now of Vanity Fair, writes on The Hive: "The first six months of the Trump administration have been one of the most glorious eras in the history of The New York Times. The paper, in addition to its rival The Washington Post, has been at the absolute center of the culture, a bastion of sanity, a daily reminder of why journalism is necessary and why dead-tree media is best equipped to supply it."
Variety cover story, about the deal by Baltimore-based Sinclair Broadcast Group, which includes "must-run" conservative commentary in local newscasts, to buy the giant Tribune Media:
"Robots, race cars and weather: Girl Scouts offer new badges," by AP's Leanne Italie: