The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: McGahn Fishin’

The president is reportedly going to tell his former White House counsel to skip his congressional hearing on Tuesday. Plus: Why adoption can be an unpopular option for unwanted pregnancies.

Former White House Counsel Don McGahn in the Great Hall at the Department of Justice on May 9, 2019. (Andrew Harnik / AP)

What We’re Following Today

It’s Monday, May 20.

‣ President Donald Trump is reportedly preparing to instruct his former White House counsel, Don McGahn, to defy a House subpoena and skip a hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

Here’s what else we’re watching:

Before and After (2016): In a lot of ways, former Vice President Joe Biden is running the same campaign he would have run in a pre-Trump era, writes Edward-Isaac Dovere: “Biden’s campaign is a bet: that in the four years since Trump launched his campaign, the country hasn’t changed, the Democratic Party hasn’t changed, and politics hasn’t changed.”

The Limits of Philanthropy: On Sunday, the tech billionaire Robert Smith surprised the recent graduates of Morehouse College, in Atlanta, by pledging to create a grant to eliminate all their student debt. The gift—estimated at roughly $40 million—is generous and significant, but it is not a salve for systemic problems, writes Adam Harris.

Battle of the Bans: Trump and his administration have been escalating punitive measures against China—most recently by cutting off the tech giant Huawei from its American suppliers. But it’s only the starting point in a generational battle between the two superpowers.

What Women Choose: Amid the outcries over abortion restrictions, like the kind recently passed in Georgia and Alabama, anti-abortion activists usually offer one response: Rather than terminating their pregnancies, women should put their unwanted babies up for adoption. But for some women, adoption is a remarkably unpopular option. Here’s why.

New Secession: Residents of the majority-white southeast corner of Baton Rouge want to break away from the majority-black parts of town and create their own city, complete with its own schools. If the organizers are successful, some locals fear that “not only our schools, but our community, [will become] segregated, and isolated.”


Senator Kamala Harris squeezes the cheeks of a young man after she had him shake her hand instead of doing a high-five while greeting supporters following her first organizing event in Los Angeles. (Mike Blake / Reuters)

Ideas From The Atlantic

Trump’s Immigration Proposal Is a Step in the Right Direction (Reihan Salam)
“If congressional Democrats took this proposal seriously, they could push the administration to follow through on the logic of this plan, adding provisions that would make it both more politically viable and more effective. And for congressional Republicans, the plan offers a chance to turn a divisive issue for their coalition into a unifying one.” → Read on.

What Congress Can Do When Trump Appointees Defy It (Kia Rahnama)
“To pressure such people, lawmakers have traditionally resorted to three different strategies: inherent contempt, criminal contempt, and civil contempt.” → Read on.

Does Trump Deserve Credit on China? (Kori Schake)
“Trump contends that his approach is working, tweeting that ‘they are, and will be, losing.’ Treasury Secretary Wilbur Ross not only thinks that the U.S. will win the trade war, but that it may result in social unrest that challenges Communist Party control in China. So we are back to regime change, but this time by threatening penury rather than luring with prosperity.” → Read on.

(Jeenah Moon / Reuters)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Self-Limiting Revolution (Andrew Ferguson)
“Only Ocasio-Cortez made it past the primaries. Batting .250 is middling in baseball and even less impressive in politics. The survival rate suggests that the movement may not be quite as robust as the candidates and the activists who enlisted them hope.” → Read on.

The Unchecked Corruption of Trump’s Cabinet (David A. Graham)
“Ongoing violations like this remain one of the most important, and overlooked, scandals of this administration. The continued, unapologetic presence of Carson and his ilk in the Cabinet can seem like a sideshow to other, bigger issues—not least the ramifications of the Mueller report. In fact, they are connected.” → Read on.

A Republican Congressman’s Case for Impeaching Trump (Conor Friedersdorf)
“On Saturday, Representative Justin Amash became the first Republican member of Congress to suggest that President Donald Trump should be impeached for his misdeeds, a stand that puts him at odds with the GOP and risks his future in the party.” → Read on.

What Pleases Trump Has the Force of Law (Garrett Epps)
“The ongoing battle between this administration and the House committees is not, at heart, a legal dispute at all; it is an assertion by a president that the law and the Constitution are simply irrelevant when they conflict with his will.” → Read on.

What Else We’re Reading

‣  After Impeachment Remarks, Rep. Justin Amash Gets Republican Challenger (Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press)
The Koch Network Is Reorganizing Under a New Name and With New Priorities (James Hohmann, The Washington Post)  (🔒 Paywall)
Eric Swalwell Is a Financial Mess (Brent Scher, The Washington Free Beacon)
There’s No Boom in Youngstown, but Blue-Collar Workers Are Sticking With Trump (Trip Gabriel, The New York Times) (🔒 Paywall)
Is Andrew Yang for Real? (Nancy Scola, Politico Magazine)

About us: This newsletter is a daily effort from The Atlantic’s politics writers: Elaine Godfrey, Madeleine Carlisle, and Olivia Paschal. It’s edited by Shan Wang.

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