Playbook PM: The pause that retrenches

Playbook PM: The pause that retrenches

SEALING THE DEBT CEILING — Speaker KEVIN McCARTHY has said Washington might need to reach a deal to raise the debt limit by this weekend to have enough time to pass it and avoid triggering a default. But this morning, those prospects looked a little more remote as negotiations broke down, at least temporarily.

Rep. GARRET GRAVES (R-La.), the lead GOP negotiator, emerged from a meeting this morning and told reporters that the talks were now on “pause,” blasting what he framed as White House intransigence. “Until people are willing to have reasonable conversations about how you can actually move forward and do the right thing,” he warned, “then we’re not going to sit here and talk to ourselves.” The latest details from Sarah Ferris

At the moment, there are no more meetings scheduled today, and it’s not clear what will happen over the weekend. “We’re at an impasse” over multiple issues, not just one, one person involved with the talks told Punchbowl’s Jake Sherman.

The White House is trying to project calm, telling reporters that despite “real differences,” they want to reach a “reasonable bipartisan solution,” and that a deal is “still possible as long as both sides recognize that they won’t get everything they want.”

Graves quickly got backup from McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader MITCH McCONNELL. The speaker indicated to reporters that spending levels were the sticking point, and that he was less optimistic than yesterday because the White House wasn’t moving. “We can’t be spending more money next year,” McCarthy said. “We have to spend less than we spent the year before. It’s pretty easy.” And McConnell tweeted, “It is past time for the White House to get serious.” (Notably, “White House” subbed in for “president” in a since-deleted earlier version of the tweet.)

Republicans also got an extra dose of pressure from DONALD TRUMP, who posted on Truth Social, “REPUBLICANS SHOULD NOT MAKE A DEAL ON THE DEBT CEILING UNLESS THEY GET EVERYTHING THEY WANT (Including the ‘kitchen sink’). THAT’S THE WAY THE DEMOCRATS HAVE ALWAYS DEALT WITH US. DO NOT FOLD!!!”

Of course, almost every D.C. negotiation looks like a failure up until the moment that it succeeds. WaPo’s Jeff Stein notes that the latest snag “allows everyone to try to tell their side they are fighting hard for a deal.” But time is running very short here before the U.S. could hit the “X date.”

CHOOSE YOUR FIGHTER — In a significant reversal from earlier this year, President JOE BIDEN told G-7 leaders that the U.S. will support a joint training program for Ukrainians to use F-16s and other modern fighter jets, Lara Seligman scooped. The monthslong training somewhere in Europe signifies a big step toward getting the fighter planes onto the battlefield in Ukraine, which will give Kyiv a significant boost against Russia in the air.

The U.S. has previously been hesitant to train Ukrainian pilots on the fighter jets, so the move is a notable elevation of American military support for Ukraine. But actually getting F-16s to Ukraine is another matter entirely, Lara notes, with “still no plan at present to supply Ukraine with American jets” and “no formal requests from allies to transfer their own F-16s to Ukraine, which is a complicated process that will likely take months if and when it happens.”

On the flip side, the Biden administration is warning that Russia’s Wagner Group is trying to source weapons from third countries like Mali and obscure their shipments to the battlefield, CNN’s Natasha Bertrand reports. Newly declassified U.S. intelligence shows Wagner falsifying records to try to get weapons, drones, radar, mines and more, though “[t]here are no signs yet that Wagner has successfully procured the equipment.” The U.S. also believes Wagner has tried to source shipments from Turkey.

Happy Friday afternoon. Thanks for reading Playbook PM. Drop me a line at [email protected].

2024 WATCH

GREAT SCOTT — Sen. TIM SCOTT (R-S.C.) officially filed his paperwork to run for president today. And he’s launching a major $5.5 million TV ad buy in Iowa and New Hampshire next week, Axios’ Sophia Cai reports. With his official presidential campaign announcement anticipated Monday, the deluge of ads — running through the summer — will help introduce him to early-state primary voters. There are also plans for digital ads worth seven figures nationwide.

NYT’s Jonathan Swan and Maggie Haberman preview Scott’s early chances in the race: He’s barely registering in the polls, and “[t]here is little evidence, so far, that Mr. Scott’s message strikes a chord with the populist base of the modern G.O.P.” Yet Scott is flush with cash, which will immediately elevate him into a tier of serious contenders.

NOTABLE QUOTABLE — Rep. DEAN PHILLIPS (D-Minn.), who’s supported No Labels before, is extremely wary of their effort to mount a third-party presidential ticket: “If No Labels runs a JOE MANCHIN against Donald Trump and Joe Biden, I think it will be a historic disaster,” he tells NYT’s Jonathan Weisman. “And I speak for just about every moderate Democrat and frankly most of my moderate Republican friends.” The West Virginia senator himself still sees a path to reelection, especially if Rep. ALEX MOONEY damages Gov. JIM JUSTICE in the GOP primary, and “[p]eople close to Mr. Manchin have their doubts he would join a No Labels ticket. … But he is keeping his options open.”

SAYING THE QUIET PART OUT LOUD — On “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?” today, Rep. JIM CLYBURN (D-S.C.) openly acknowledged that Democrats moved South Carolina first in the presidential primary order because Biden has done/would do better in primaries there than in Iowa or New Hampshire. “I don’t think you’re stacking the deck. I think you’re avoiding embarrassment,” Clyburn said. “And that is what he is attempting to avoid here. And I would expect anybody to do the same.”


GEORGIA TIMING — Fulton County, Ga., DA FANI WILLIS signaled in a new court filing that indictments from her investigation into 2020 election meddling may come in the first few weeks of August, NYT’s Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim scooped. She said her staff will work remotely during that period and asked for no trials to be scheduled on some days, which suggests that may be when indictments are unsealed.

PUTTING THE SCREWS TO WEISSELBERG — Manhattan DA ALVIN BRAGG’s office is again considering criminal charges, including perjury, against former Trump Organization CFO ALLEN WEISSELBERG in an effort to get him to testify against Trump, NYT’s William Rashbaum, Ben Protess and Jonah Bromwich report. Weisselberg just got out of Rikers for tax fraud, but the threat of a perjury prosecution stems from a 2020 interview he gave to New York AG TISH JAMES’ office. Bragg is also looking at insurance fraud charges. He may want Weisselberg’s help in the Trump hush money case or a probe into Trump’s financial statements, though there are no signs yet that Weisselberg plans to flip.


ROE YOUR BOAT — WaPo’s Josh Dawsey and Isaac Stanley-Becker have a startling deep dive into JEFF ROE’s Axiom Strategies, which has quickly become one of the GOP’s juggernaut political consulting firms. Axiom plans to rake in $250 million in net revenue and $36 million in profit this election cycle, and Roe has created or bought at least 17 other companies. He’s worked on thousands of Republican campaigns, from local to national, with plans for a big role in Florida Gov. RON DeSANTIS’ presidential bid. Some of Roe’s highest-profile candidates have lost, and “[s]ome past clients complain privately that Roe’s firm was underwhelming.” But he’s become a massive — and flashy — player in the party.

BATTLE FOR THE SENATE — “Baldwin, First Openly LGBTQ Senator, Seeks Reelection at a Perilous Time,” by The Messenger’s Dan Merica: “The Wisconsin senator is seeking reelection as Republicans turn questions about LGBTQ rights into a base motivator.”

THE TIME OF SAND — Iowa state Auditor ROB SAND is his party’s last remaining elected Democrat in statewide office — which has made him target No. 1 for nearly unfettered Republicans, especially as he’s seen as a gubernatorial contender, The Atlantic’s Elaine Godfrey writes in a new profile. Sand is “part PETE BUTTIGIEG, part youth pastor,” with a yen for hunting, church and bipartisanship, but in a quickly reddening state, his options are limited.


INSIDE INTEL — “D.C. police officer arrested, accused of leaking info to Proud Boys leader,” by WaPo’s Spencer Hsu and Peter Hermann: “SHANE LAMOND, a 24-year veteran of the D.C. police and then the department’s head of intelligence, was indicted on one count of obstruction of justice and three counts of making false statements … Prosecutors alleged in [ENRIQUE] TARRIO’s trial that the Proud Boys’ anger at police deepened when they received advance word that Tarrio would be arrested in Washington and that it contributed to their planning for violence in opposing federal authority, a key element of their convictions.”


STUCK WITH THE BILL — Biden’s decision to cancel the Papua New Guinea/Australia leg of his trip due to debt ceiling negotiations has left White House reporters and their outlets on the hook for possibly more than $25,000 in expenses for a non-existent trip, WaPo’s Paul Farhi reports. That reflects just how expensive — and out of reach for most organizations — traveling with the president has become. And the cancellation could make such trips even less likely in the future: It “will kill charters for years to come,” one reporter says.


LATEST FROM THE G-7 — Biden’s visit with other world leaders to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial today marked a silent reckoning with America’s nuclear legacy and the Japanese victims of the atomic bomb. But it was only symbolic, NYT’s Peter Baker notes: Despite a lengthy joint statement on nuclear disarmament, “there appeared to be no major new initiatives in the works to achieve that goal.” And there were limits even to the symbolism: “[T]he president offered no comments on what he saw, much less the apology some Japanese still wish the United States would provide.”

“To Counter China, G7 Countries Borrow Its Economic Playbook,” by NYT’s Jim Tankersley and Ana Swanson: “[A] centerpiece of their discussions will be how to rapidly accelerate what has become an internationally coordinated round of vast public investment. For these wealthy democracies, the goal is both to reduce their reliance on Chinese manufacturing and to help their own companies compete in a new energy economy.”

EMBARRASSING — Countries and financial experts around the world are watching the U.S. debt ceiling fight with befuddlement, concern and disbelief, hoping that Washington doesn’t tip into default and send the global economy reeling, WaPo’s Rachel Siegel and Jeff Stein report. The U.S. is projecting dysfunction to the rest of the world. And at the G-7, worried finance ministers have asked Treasury Secretary JANET YELLEN for private updates on negotiations.

CHAOS IN SUDAN — “Fleeing Sudan, U.S. Diplomats Shredded Passports and Stranded Locals,” by NYT’s Declan Walsh: “Officials destroyed Sudanese passports on security grounds as they evacuated the Khartoum embassy. Now the passport owners are trapped in a war zone.”


OUT AND ABOUT — Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) were honored last night with the Civility in Public Service Award by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Ithaca Initiative at the University of Delaware Biden School of Public Policy & Administration for their bipartisan leadership around the passage of the 2022 Respect for Marriage Act. SPOTTED at the award ceremony: Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.), Ted Kaufman, Valerie Biden Owens, Amy Ellen Schwartz, Timothy Shaffer and Sebastian Jannelli.

— SPOTTED at a party Wednesday night celebrating Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-Minn.) latest book, “The Joy of Politics: Surviving Cancer, a Campaign, a Pandemic, an Insurrection, and Life’s Other Unexpected Curveballs” ($30), at Mandy Grunwald’s Georgetown house: Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.), Anita Dunn, Neera Tanden, John Bressler, Norah O’Donnell, Jonathan Capehart, David Chalian, Maria Teresa Kumar, Guy Cecil, Carl Hulse, Amy Nathan, Melissa Moss, Ruth Marcus, Paul Kane, Robert Costa, E.J. Dionne, Hilary Rosen and Kasie Hunt.

MEDIA MOVE — G. Elliott Morris is now editorial director of data analytics for the news division at ABC News, a role overseeing FiveThirtyEight, per Deadline. He previously was senior data journalist and U.S. correspondent at The Economist.

TRANSITION — Lisa Parks will be SVP of regulatory and scientific affairs at the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. She previously was SVP of regulatory policy at Greenleaf Health.

BONUS BIRTHDAY: Alliance for Justice’s Rakim Brooks

Send Playbookers tips to [email protected] or text us at 202-556-3307. Playbook couldn’t happen without our editor Mike DeBonis, deputy editor Zack Stanton and producers Setota Hailemariam and Bethany Irvine.

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