The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Run-DNC

The ghosts of 2016 haunt the Democratic National Committee as it gears up for two nights of debates. Plus: Sarah Huckabee Sanders is out as White House press secretary.

Seth Wenig / AP

What We’re Following Today

It’s Thursday, June 13.

(Kevin Lamarque / Reuters / Chip Somodevilla / Getty / The Atlantic)

‣ President Trump announced in a tweet that Sarah Huckabee Sanders is leaving her job as White House press secretary to return to her home state of Arkansas, and encouraged Sanders to run for governor. Her three-and-a-half year tenure has been rocky, to say the least.

‣ The House Intelligence Committee issued subpoenas for Rick Gates and Michael Flynn.

‣ The Office of Special Counsel, a federal-oversight agency, said that senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act repeatedly and should be dismissed.

Here’s what else we’re watching:

(Handout / Reuters)

Tensions, Tankers, Soldier, Spy: Ships burned off the Gulf of Oman today, the latest in a series of escalating hostilities in the region. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed the most recent attacks on Iran, but tensions between the U.S. and Iran have started to suck in bystander countries who rely on these waterways to ferry, say, sailors or regular commuters. From there, it’s a black hole.

Get Ready to Rumble: As the Democratic National Committee prepares to announce the slate of 20 Democratic presidential candidates who ended up qualifying for the first primary debates, the ghosts of 2016 still haunt the committee’s every move. Last cycle, the DNC apologized to Bernie Sanders after leaked emails revealed that some committee leaders favored Hillary Clinton. This time, Chairman Tom Perez has a clear message for 2020 candidates: If you don’t like the fundraising and polling thresholds, too bad. Here’s Russell Berman’s look inside the DNC’s two-year struggle to fix the presidential debate.

No Lessons Learned: President Donald Trump told George Stephanopoulos, in an interview that aired last night, that if a foreign country offered him dirt on his 2020 opponent, he might take it. That shows how little he’s learned from 2016, writes Peter Nicholas. “His quest for an edge over a political opponent risks upending the rule of law.”

+ “Trump’s declaration, though, is neither especially surprising nor especially irrational,” argues David A. Graham. “Every indication is that the president’s electoral behavior will be worse in 2020, and there will be fewer constraints on him.”

Mayor Pete On Prosecution: The presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg told The Atlantic that he would back a future criminal investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice. But he didn’t go as far as his Democratic primary opponent Kamala Harris, who said, if elected, she would direct her attorney general to pursue charges against Trump. “You don’t have to go out of the DOJ. And the less it’s done out of the DOJ, the better, because the further away it is from the political body, the better,” Buttigieg said.

‘A Voter-Turnout Tsunami’: Experts on both sides of the political aisle predict a huge swell of voter turnout in the 2020 election—likely the highest levels in decades, if not the past century. But paradoxically, the surge still might not dislodge the electoral importance of white working-class Americans, writes Ronald Brownstein. If you read just one story about 2020 turnout, make it this one.


During her weekly news conference, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refers to a chart of legislation she says the Senate is refusing to take up. (Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)

Ideas From The Atlantic

Kellyanne Conway Broke the Law—And Is Going to Get Away With It (David A. Graham)
“There’s no question of Conway’s guilt here ... The report’s conclusion is clear, as is the recommended punishment. And yet the only person who can punish Conway is the president—the very man on whose electoral behalf she broke the law, and who has made clear, as recently as Thursday, his willingness to break the law in order to win elections.” → Read on.

Sanders’s Speech About Socialism Was Deeply Unserious (Yascha Mounk)
“After years of using the term about as imprecisely as many of his followers, I hoped that Sanders would finally set out why it holds such importance to him, what role the market would play in the socialist system he promises to build, and how he can protect his political project against the Soviet risk. I can’t say he met my expectations.” → Read on.

Welfare Money Is Paying for a Lot of Things Besides Welfare (Zach Parolin)
“What do a Christian overnight camp, abstinence-only sex education, and pro-marriage advertisements all have in common? They’ve all been funded with money that used to provide cash assistance to low-income families.” → Read on.

What Else We’re Reading

Why Does Ted Cruz Want to Team Up With AOC on Birth Control Access? (Christina Cauterucci, Slate)
Bernie’s Red Vermont (Matthew Zeitlin, The New Republic)
Punishing Kids With Years of Debt (Eli Hager, The Marshall Project)
Why the Trump Campaign Won’t Pay Police Bills (Dave Levinthal, The Center for Public Integrity)
The Scarcity Scam (George Will, National Review)

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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