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This has been the president of the United States over the last two weeks

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: Trump speaks in the Hall of Columns as he arrives on Capitol Hill
President Trump speaks arrives on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.Alex Brandon / AP

WASHINGTON — Here’s a thought experiment: What if the leader of a foreign country had taken these actions or made the following statements:

  • Defended his administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their families;
  • Falsely blamed the opposition party for the policy;
  • Tweeted that undocumented immigrants “pour into and infest our Country”;
  • Charged that the German people are turning against their leadership, and falsely stated that crime in Germany is up (when it’s down);
  • Urged voters to defeat a legislator from his own party for not being loyal enough to him;
  • Taunted that legislator after he was defeated (“I just want to congratulate him on running a great race!”);
  • Praised the dictator of North Korea (“He’s smart, loves his people, he loves his country”);
  • Attacked the prime minister of Canada, calling him “very dishonest and weak”;
  • Refused to sign the joint communique from the G-7 summit;
  • Blamed the country’s former president for losing Crimea to Russia;
  • Said his supporters “are the smartest, strongest, most hard working and most loyal that we have seen in our countries [sic] history”;
  • Called the news media “the enemy of the people”;
  • And continued his attacks on the federal investigation into his campaign team?

And that’s all in just the last two weeks.

Forget ideology or party — what would you think of that foreign leader? What about his government? Is it promoting freedom and essential values? Is it leading the world or has it become a pariah? And does it have moral authority?

Of course, the leader we’re talking about above isn’t a foreign leader. It’s the president of the United States.

Trump mocks Mark Sanford, calls him a 'nasty guy'

And Republican lawmakers should consider the thought experiment above. Who are they standing with — as they did yesterday? It has become harder and harder to have it both ways: to applaud the president, but say they disagree with him on the separation policy, on his tariffs and on his attacks on fellow GOP lawmakers like Mark Sanford.

The Washington Post: “Rep. Mark Sanford was at the airport in Charleston, S.C., for four hours of ‘airplane hell’ when President Trump veered from his speech on immigration to the South Carolina Republican. ‘I want to congratulate him on running a great race!’ Trump said sarcastically, to awkward silence from more than 200 of his Republican colleagues.

Hearing silence from the room, Trump then piled on and said, ‘What, nobody gets it,’ and added that Sanford is a ‘nasty guy.’ There were boos — a rarity for Trump in a room where he is largely loved.”

“‘I would say the comment goes to the core of why I have at times agreed with policies of the administration but at the same time found the president’s personal style so caustic and counterproductive,’ Sanford said in an interview with The Washington Post. ‘The tragedy of the Trump presidency is that he thinks it’s about him. The president has taken those earnest beliefs by so many people across the country and has unfortunately fallen prey to thinking it’s about him.’”

Members of Trump’s party have to figure out how much more they can take and defend. It’s no longer about party. Can you really keep saying “But Hillary Clinton” or “But Gorsuch”? Is anyone going to say, “But America…”?

AP: Young migrants held in ‘tender age’ shelters

“Trump administration officials have been sending babies and other young children forcibly separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border to at least three “tender age” shelters in South Texas,” the AP writes. “Lawyers and medical providers who have visited the Rio Grande Valley shelters described play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis. The government also plans to open a fourth shelter to house hundreds of young migrant children in Houston, where city leaders denounced the move Tuesday.”

Trump’s 2020 campaign manager calls for Trump to fire Jeff Sessions. Here’s why that’s a big deal

Yesterday, Trump’s campaign manager for 2020 — Brad Parscale — tweeted the following:

Time to fire Sessions

End the Mueller investigation

You can’t obstruct something that was phony against you

The IG report gives @realDonaldTrump the truth to end it all.

But here’s a reminder: Parscale is one of the key players in the 2016 Trump campaign who HAS NOT been interviewed by Mueller’s team. So he’s part of a club that includes Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Jr. and Michael Cohen. All of them met with Congress, but not Mueller — hinting that they could all be targets.

Trump heads to Duluth, Minn.

President Trump travels to Duluth, Minn., where he participates in a roundtable discussion on “protecting American workers” at 6:05 pm ET, and then where he holds a “Make America Great Again” rally at 7:30 pm ET.

This will be the president’s first campaign-style rally since his administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their families turned into a nationwide story.

A Bush is running in another GOP primary. And the race is getting ugly

NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald on next week’s GOP gubernatorial primary in Colorado: “Bush has become a four-letter word in this contest. In Colorado, where the GOP will select its gubernatorial nominee Tuesday, a Bush cousin is finding that his ties to the family that once defined Republican politics have tripped him up in a party increasingly defined by a new family — the Trump family.”

“The frontrunner, state Treasurer Walker Stapleton, shares more than a name with George Herbert Walker and George Walker Bush, who headlined a fundraiser for the candidate in February. Stapleton is a cousin of both former presidents, got married at the family's compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, and his campaign and super PAC have accepted close to $30,000 from a dozen different Bushes, including Jeb and his wife, Columba.”

“Former state legislator Victor Mitchell, who polls place in second behind Stapleton, has hammered the Bush connection on the campaign trail and in TV, radio and digital ads. ‘Walker Stapleton claims he's a Trump guy. But Stapleton's a Bush cousin, taking big bucks from the Trump-hating Bush family network,’ says the narrator of one Mitchell radio ad. A web ad goes further, depicting two tennis-playing country club stereotypes scheming about their plans to elect Stapleton. ‘Don't vote for a Bush insider,’ the ad concludes as the players, wearing all white outfits, laugh maniacally.”

Looking at the ad spending the top gubernatorial contests

Yesterday, we took a look at the ad spending (TV, radio) in the top Senate contests. And today, NBC’s Emma Barnett examines the ad spending in some of the key gubernatorial races:


Dem: $8.8 million ($3.8 million by Polis for CO Governor)

GOP: $3.4 million ($1.8 million by Mitchell for CO Governor)


Dem: $14.3 million ($6.6 million by Levine for FL Governor)

GOP: $13.8 million ($6.4 million by Putnam for FL Governor)

Illinois (after March primary)

Dem: $2.6 million ($2.4 million by Pritzker for IL Governor)

GOP: $1.5 million ($1.5 million by Rauner for IL Governor)

Illinois (before primary)

Dem: $42.6 million ($33.5 million for Pritzker)

GOP: $23 million ($16.7 million for Rauner)


Dem: $4.8 million ($3.4 million by Hubbell for IA Governor)

GOP: $639,000 ($536,000 by Reynolds for IA Governor)


Dem: $3.9 million ($3.2 million by Thanedar for MI Governor)

GOP: $4.6 million ($1.0 million by Fund for Michigan’s Tomorrows)


Dem: $9.8 million ($4.2 million by Sisolak for NV Governor)

GOP: $1.6 million ($758,000 by Freedom Partners Action Fund)

New Mexico

Dem: $1.4 million ($540,000 by Lujan Grisham for NM Governor)

GOP: $130,000 ($122,000 by Pearce for NM Governor)


Dem: $1.8 million ($1.6 million by Cordray for OH Governor)

GOP: $11.1 million ($6.5 million by DeWine for OH Governor )


Dem: $0

GOP: $1.8 million ($1.4 million by Walker for WI Governor)