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Another Trump W.H. bid won’t be normal. His press coverage shouldn’t be either

First Read is your briefing from “Meet the Press” and the NBC Political Unit on the day’s most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Donald Trump
Donald Trump arrives to give remarks during a Save America Rally at the Adams County Fairgrounds, in Mendon, Ill., on June 25, 2022.Michael B. Thomas / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — If it’s Thursday ... The Jan. 6 committee holds a prime-time hearing on Donald Trump’s 187 minutes of inaction during the attack on the U.S. Capitol. ... “If you were president, wouldn’t you just jump into action?” Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., tells NBC’s Ali Vitali in a hearing preview. ... President Biden speaks in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., on the bipartisan gun bill he signed into law… John Fetterman attends first in-person fundraiser since stroke in Pennsylvania Senate. ... And Maryland is set to count the outstanding mail-in ballots from Tuesday’s primaries.

But first: The renewed speculation about if/when former President Donald Trump could announce a 2024 presidential bid — taking place smack dab in the middle of the Jan. 6 hearings — raises an important question. 

How should the political media cover him if he runs? 

As someone who will say controversial things, who will hold marathon-long rallies, who will inevitably have new policy proposals to announce, and who will come up with demeaning nicknames for his opponents? 

Or as someone who was impeached twice, who made 30,000-plus false or misleading claims during his four years in office, and who really tried to overturn the results of a presidential election he lost — but was one or two guardrails away from doing so? 

We asked the question to some Republican (or former Republican) communications operatives who’ve been critical of the former president. 

Here’s Tim Miller, author of “Why We Did It” who was Jeb Bush’s 2016 communications director: “I do think turning every news story into a he said/she said over his insane social media posts is something we can keep in the past.”

More Miller: “Being clear and direct about what Trump tried to do when introducing stories — maybe not every story, but certainly election stories — is called for.” 

Here’s Doug Heye, who once served as the RNC’s communications director: “I think it goes back to the original responsibilities of the press — to tell the truth on what’s happening out there and to ask the tough questions.”

More from Heye: “Trump has earned the skepticism he’s gotten from the press. So questioning an announcement so early and pointing out why it doesn’t mean he’ll be a candidate on the ballot is legit.”

But here’s another recommendation from us: Let’s focus as much — if not more — on Trump’s past actions as president. 

After all, past behavior is maybe the best predictor of future behavior. 

And be sure to check out our most recent podcast discussing Trump and 2024. 

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … 16

That’s the number of senators in the bipartisan group working on bills to shore up laws against future attempts to overturn elections they did not win. 

One bill, in the words of NBC News’ Sahil Kapur, would “clarify the vice president’s role in counting Electoral College votes, raise the bar for members of Congress to object, and try to prevent fake slates of electors from interfering in the process.” The second bill protects election workers. 

Some senators in the group are only backing one bill, while others are backing both.

Other numbers to know:

60%: The share of Americans in a new AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll who said Congress should pass a law guaranteeing abortion access. 

3: How many emails Secret Service agents received about preserving their text messages and other records, including one a month after the Jan. 6 attack telling employees to specifically preserve records around that day. 

20: How many months after the 2020 election that former President Donald Trump called Wisconsin House Speaker Robin Vos asking him to overturn the state’s presidential election

37%: The share of Iowa Democrats who say they hope President Joe Biden runs for president in 2024, per the new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll.

2: How many witnesses federal prosecutors called during former Trump advisor Steve Bannon’s trial yesterday

33%: The two-week increase in average daily Covid cases, which is now at 128,355, per NBC’s data team.

41%: The two-week increase in average daily Covid deaths, now at 421.

Midterm roundup: John Fetterman’s return? 

The Pennsylvania Senate race has picked up, with both Republican Mehmet Oz and Democrat John Fetterman taking aim at each other, as Oz ramps up campaign events after winning a brutal May primary.

Fetterman has still been absent from the trail since suffering a stroke in May, but he’s set to appear at a private fundraiser tonight. Despite his absence, Fetterman might still have the upper hand in the race, per a new NBC News report, as he leads in recent polling and dominates fundraising.

Yesterday Fetterman spoke to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, his first interview since the stroke, and said he is ready for a rigorous campaign.  

“Physically, I have no limits — and mentally … the only issue is that my hearing is still a little bit not perfect. I might miss a word every now and then in a conversation, or I might slur two words. Even then, I think that’s infrequent,” Fetterman said. 

“So I feel like we are ready to run, and that’s the only issues I have,” Fetterman added. “That’s the absolute truth, 100%.”

Elsewhere on the campaign trail:

Colorado Senate: New campaign finance filings show that Senate Majority PAC, the super PAC aligned with Democratic leadership, gave $4.1 million to the group that tried to meddle to deny Republican Joe O’Dea the nomination, per Politico. And Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet’s first TV ad focuses on his efforts to combat corporate influence in D.C., and features Bennet saying “common sense … has been lost in Washington,” per Bloomberg Government.

Washington Senate: The EMILY’s List super PAC Women Vote! is going up on the airwaves and on digital this week to protect Democratic Sen. Patty Murray. 

Arizona Governor: NBC News’ Vaughn Hillyard explores former news anchor Kari Lake’s political evolution, culminating in her becoming Trump’s pick for governor.

Michigan Governor: Democrats criticized GOP gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon for saying she doesn’t believe that a hypothetical 14-year-old victim of rape and incest should have an abortion. 

Minnesota Governor: Minnesota Republican lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Matt Birk, a former center for the Minnesota Vikings who is Scott Jensen’s running mate, is facing criticism after saying American culture “loudly but also stealthily promotes abortion” by “telling women they should look a certain way, they should have careers,” per the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Maryland Governor: Republican Gov. Larry Hogan says he won’t vote for GOP gubernatorial nominee Dan Cox. 

Wyoming At-Large: A super PAC started by allies of Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., is launching a $160,000 ad buy to boost Kinzinger’s GOP colleague on the Jan. 6 committee, Rep. Liz Cheney, per AdImpact. 

Ad watch: Remember Betsy DeVos?

Businessman Kevin Rinke is going after conservative commentator Tudor Dixon in Michigan’s Republican primary for governor, launching a TV ad tying Dixon to anti-Trump figures in the GOP.

“We’ve seen it before — establishment Republicans like Tudor Dixon who say anything to win President Trump’s support, then betray him when it matters most,” a narrator says as images of Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, and former Trump Education Secretary Betsy DeVos flash on screen. 

The spot alludes to DeVos’ decision to resign after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, and reports that Cabinet officials discussed invoking the 25th Amendment as Trump refused to condemn the attack. The DeVos family has endorsedDixon in the race.

“Tudor Dixon is bankrolled by anti-Trump billionaires who tried to illegally remove Trump from office,” the narrator says. “You can’t trust RINOS who betrayed President Trump. You can’t trust Tudor Dixon.”

ICYMI: What ELSE is happening in the world

A New GAO report obtained by NBC News shows how easy it is to get the materials to make a dirty bomb. 

A federal appeals court is allowing Georgia’s abortion restrictions to go into effect immediately

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wants to bring the House-passed bill protecting same-sex marriage up for a vote