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Three big 2024 developments to watch this week

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.
Mike Pence meets other riders before for the start of Joni Ernst's Roast and Ride in Des Moines, Iowa
Mike Pence meets other riders before for the start of Joni Ernst's Roast and Ride in Des Moines, Iowa, on June 3, 2023. Scott Olson / Getty Images

If it’s MONDAY… Ukraine launches major attack in the east, Russia says… Grand jury expected to meet in case about Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents… Sen. Rounds, R-S.D., doesn’t commit to backing GOP presidential nominee unless it’s Tim Scott… Recapping Saturday’s GOP “Roast and Ride” in Iowa… And President Biden meets with Finland’s prime minister and then welcoming the Super Bowl-winning Kansas Chiefs to the White House.

But FIRST… Get ready for what promises to be a big week in the 2024 presidential race.

For starters, we’re getting three new official candidates in the growing GOP field — former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (on Tuesday), former Vice President Mike Pence (on Wednesday) and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (also on Wednesday).

Those entrants come after the Republican National Committee announced the qualifications for its first debate in August, with the requirement of at least 40,000 unique donors being arguably the biggest hurdle for candidates to make the stage.

Then there’s President Joe Biden, who returns to his “previously scheduled programming” after passage of the debt-ceiling deal, per NBC’s Mike Memoli.

Biden’s plan “is to pivot from a month that was consumed by the debt standoff in Washington back to talking directly with Americans about his economic agenda, particularly legislation he has signed to fund infrastructure projects and revive domestic manufacturing, as well as outline how he envisions building on those efforts, aides said,” Memoli writes.

On Friday, for instance, Biden travels to North Carolina to discuss the economy and workforce training.

Yet maybe most consequential of all, there’s the federal grand jury that’s expected to reconvene in the case examining former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents.

“Prosecutors working for special counsel Jack Smith have been presenting the grand jury with evidence and witness testimony for months, but activity appeared to have slowed in recent weeks based on observations at the courthouse and sources,” NBC’s Laura Jarrett, Carol E. Lee, Ryan J. Reilly, Ken Dilanian and Julia Ainsley report.

More: “It’s unclear whether prosecutors are prepared to seek an indictment at this point. The Justice Department would not comment on the status of the investigation.”

Trump’s indictment in that hush-money case in New York didn’t hurt the former president; in fact, Republicans rallied behind him, and his national lead in the GOP presidential race only got bigger.

But what happens if he gets indicted again in this federal case? How will his rivals react?

Data Download: The number of the day is … 40,000

That’s how many unique donors Republican presidential hopefuls will need to have (including 200 in at least 20 states and/or territories) as part of the Republican National Committee’s three-pronged criteria to qualify for its first presidential debate in August. 

Candidates will also need to pledge to support the GOP nominee and hit at least 1% in three qualifying national polls (or two national polls and one from one of the early “carve out” states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina). 

The donor mark could be tough for some of the party’s current and potential candidates, and the large sample sizes needed for polls to qualify could mean more reliance on online polling than live-caller polling conducted by major news organizations. 

And the pledge could be unwelcome news for some of the candidates whose explicit justification for their bid is an attempt to take the party back from former President Donald Trump. 

But early indications suggest it may not be a sticking point for everyone. Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson told NBC News’ Vaughn Hillyard over the weekend, “I will do what we need to do” to qualify for the debate, despite Hutchinson’s repeated denouncements of Trump and belief that the events surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol “disqualifies him for the future.” 

Other numbers to know

$122 billion: How much money school districts received as part of the 2021 economic stimulus package Democrats passed in response to the Covid pandemic. But new reporting from the New York Time suggests “there are ample signs that the money has not been spent in a way that has substantially helped all of the nation’s students lagging behind.” 

344: The number of unaccompanied migrant children who were released under the Biden administration to non-family sponsors with three or more unaccompanied kids. NBC News’ Laura Strickler and Julia Ainsley report that the finding has some advocates worried some of those children could be exploited for child labor.  

Nearly 1.6 million: The number of people waiting for an asylum hearing in America. 

At least 19: The number of states with bans on gender-affirming care for minors, now that Texas’ ban has become law

3: The number of years in prison a member of the Oath Keepers has been sentenced to on conspiracy charges in connection with the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

$325: How much Oregon Senate Democrats voted to fine Republican colleagues each day their ongoing walkout blocks the chamber from reaching a quorum needed to deal with legislation.

20%: By how much the Wall Street Journal reports regulators could compel big banks to raise their capital requirements, as the government tries to shore up the banking system.

Headline of the day:


Eyes on 2024: GOP hopefuls (minus Trump) roast and ride in Iowa

Many GOP presidential hopefuls — except for former President Donald Trump — gathered in Iowa over the weekend for GOP Sen. Joni Ernst’s annual “Roast and Ride” fundraiser. 

NBC News’ Vaughn Hillyard and Olympia Sonnier reported from the event that none of the GOP challengers mentioned the former president by name, instead making their own cases to voters. 

Asked about Trump’s absence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told NBC News, “I’m just happy to be here. I love the people here.” (Part of DeSantis’ pitch in Iowa involves reaching out to evangelical voters, a significant group of GOP primary voters in the state, per the Miami Herald.)

Former Vice President Mike Pence also attended the event, even though he is not officially in the race — yet. Pence teased his upcoming campaign announcement, telling NBC News that it’s “entirely possible” he’ll be back in the Hawkeye State. 

And while the GOP hopefuls did not mention Trump on stage in Iowa, some did criticize the former president’s decision to congratulate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for being elected to the World Health Organization’s executive board.  

“Kim Jong Un is a thug and a tyrant, and he has tested ballistic missiles against our allies,” former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley told NBC News at the Iowa event. “He’s threatened us. There’s nothing to congratulate him about. I mean, he’s been terrible to his people. He’s been terrible to America, and we need to stop being nice to countries that hate America.”

DeSantis said he was “surprised” to see Trump congratulating the North Korean leader, and called Kim Jong Un “a murderous dictator.”

In other campaign news…

Biden’s challenges: President Joe Biden’s age continues to concern voters, and the New York Times has a deep dive into how his age is (and isn’t) affecting his job as president. Biden’s campaign is also ramping up, planning fundraisers for the end of this month ahead of the second quarter fundraising deadline, Politico reports. And the Associated Press unpacks how the Biden campaign is looking to win over Hispanic voters

DeSantis’ cash: New numbers from the DeSantis campaign suggest that its $8.2 million fundraising haul in the campaign’s first 24 hours was likely fueled by bigger donors rather than small donations, the New York Times reports. 

Hearing from Haley: Haley participated in a CNN town hall on Sunday night in Iowa, where she discussed a wide range of issues — including foreign policy, abortion and DeSantis’ clashes with Disney. 

RFK, Jr.’s pitch: The Washington Post has a deep dive into Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s presidential campaign pitch, describing the vocal vaccine opponent as Biden’s “most surprising and successful competitor.” 

Ramaswamy on Ukraine: Biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy told ABC News that the war in Ukraine is not a “top foreign policy priority,” saying that “the job of the U.S. president is to look after American interests.” He added, “I think that by fighting further in Russia, by further arming Ukraine, we are driving Russia into China’s hands.”

And another one: The Washington Post also explores New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez’s second brush with a federal investigation, as he looks to win re-election seven years after a jury deadlocked in his corruption trial. 

Another Delaware first? Democratic Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, the first woman and Black person to represent Delaware in Congress, is readying a Senate bid to replace the retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Carper, NBC News’ Ali Vitali and Rose Horowitch report 

Time for choosing: The Washington Post spoke to Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin about his cancer recovery and how he’s considering running for Maryland’s open Senate seat. And Raskin told CNN on Sunday he believes he will “have an answer” before July 4. 

Georgia on his mind: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution penned a retrospective on the tenure of the state GOP’s outgoing chairman, David Shafer, and his “tumultuous four-year tenure that has largely been defined by the former president.”

Turnout woes: Some Democrats are worried about lower turnout in the Democratic stronghold of Philadelphia, following lackluster turnout in last year’s midterms and a recent mayoral primary, per the Washington Post. 

ICYMI: What ELSE is happening in the world:

D.C.-area residents heard a loud boom on Sunday, which turned out to be from fighter jets that scrambled to check out a private plane flying off course over the area, which eventually crashed. 

A federal judge ruled that a Tennessee ban on drag show performances was unconstitutional