Is pushing for a citizenship census question almost as valuable for Trump as getting one?

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: President Donald Trump Delivers Remarks On Advancing American Kidney Health
President Donald Trump arrives at an event in Washington on July 10, 2019.Alex Wong / Getty Images

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
SUBSCRIBE
By Chuck Todd, Mark Murray and Ben Kamisar

WASHINGTON — Two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration cannot include a citizenship question on its 2020 census, President Trump is expected to announce executive action on adding the question back in.

Here’s what the court said in its 5-4 majority opinion:

“The court's majority said the government has the right to ask a citizenship question, but that it needs to properly justify changing the long-standing practice of the Census Bureau. The Trump administration's justification was "contrived," [Chief Justice John] Roberts wrote, and did not appear to be the genuine reason for the change, possibly implying that the real reason was political.”

Indeed, last Friday, Trump pretty much admitted the citizenship question was political in nature.

“Well, you need it for many reasons. No. 1, you need it for Congress. You need for Congress, for districting. You need it for appropriations, where are the funds going? How many people are there? Are they citizens, are they not citizens? You need it for many reasons.”

And remember, it was back in May when the New York Times reported on those hard drives from a deceased GOP expert on gerrymandering, which revealed that a citizenship question on the census would benefit Republicans.

Our question: How would this executive action give proper justification for adding the question — given Trump’s own statement from Friday?

And what gives the president authority to take executive action on this matter, given the Supreme Court’s earlier decision?

Remember, the census is under Article I of the Constitution (the legislative branch); the president’s authority is Article II (executive branch).

But by continuing to fight for this citizenship question, no matter the rationale, does Trump achieve his intended purpose here — a chilling effect on the communities responding to the census?

AOC vs the Democratic establishment

Well, the gloves are off.

Here’s what Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“When these comments first started, I kind of thought that she was keeping the progressive flank at more of an arm’s distance in order to protect more moderate members, which I understood,” she told the Washington Post. “But the persistent singling out ... it got to a point where it was just outright disrespectful ... the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color.”

And here was AOC talking about Joe Biden’s age to The New Yorker:

AOC: I think that, when it comes to age, I think age gets used as a proxy for capacity. And so I think there are some folks that are of a certain age where you can kind of question their capacity.

New Yorker: Who are you talking about?

AOC: I think Donald Trump is a perfect example. [Laughs.] I don’t think he’s all there.

New Yorker: Joe Biden?

AOC: I think Joe Biden, his performance on the stage kind of raised some questions with respect to that. But I don’t want to say, just because someone is seventy-nine, they can’t or shouldn’t run for President. I don’t want to use those proxies, a number as a proxy for capacity. I think you have to assess a person’s capacity on a case-by-case basis.

Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.

ICE raids to begin on Sunday

Two senior DHS officials tell NBC’s Julia Ainsley that the ICE raids that were postponed three weeks ago are now scheduled to begin on Sunday.

They will target roughly 2,000 families in major cities across the United States, the same 10 cities named under the previous plans, including Chicago, LA, Miami, New York.

2020 Vision: Biden talks foreign policy, Pete unveils plan to help African Americans

At 1:00 pm ET in New York City, Joe Biden delivers a speech on foreign policy in which he outlines his three pillars, NBC’s Mike Memoli, Marianna Sotomayor and Andrea Mitchell report.

Those three pillars, per a senior Biden adviser:

  1. “To repair and reinvigorate our own democracy, even as we strengthen the coalition of democracies operating around the world.”
  2. “To equip our people to succeed in global economy with what he calls a foreign policy for the middle class.”
  3. “To put the United States back at head of table in mobilizing global action on global threats, especially threats that are unique to our century.”

Meanwhile, NBC’s Josh Lederman writes that Pete Buttigieg is releasing an 18-page plan today to improve conditions and opportunity for black Americans – on everything from the health care, education and criminal justice systems to entrepreneurship and access to credit.

On the campaign trail today

Julian Castro, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren participate in a LULAC town hall in Milwaukee … Warren holds a separate town hall after the event in the city … Joe Biden delivers his foreign-policy address in New York at 1:00 pm ET … Kirsten Gillibrand goes on her “Broken Promises Tour,” hitting Pittsburgh, Pa., Youngstown, Ohio and Cleveland … John Hickenlooper is in Chicago … And Jay Inslee discusses clean-energy jobs in New York.

Dispatches from NBC’s embeds

Kamala Harris held her first fundraiser that was open to the press. The event held in Brooklyn drew about a thousand attendees. NBC’s Deepa Shivaram reports, “I spoke with more than a dozen folks waiting in line – about half were there because they were very enthusiastic about Kamala Harris and have already decided on their vote, or they are still narrowing down their choices and Kamala is in the top two or three.”

And with some color from Steve Bullock’s meet-and-greet in Iowa yesterday, Priscilla Thompson reports: “He has these rooms cracking up like no candidate I’ve seen thus far. He regularly tells a joke about people being, ‘Iowa nice,’ when they say they’re considering him, but that he doesn’t want to be number 37 on their list if he wants a real shot at their vote. One voter today mentioned he was asking all the candidates a particular question to which, Bullock chimed in, ‘Awww I’m not your first.’”

Data Download: The number of the day is … 17

Seventeen.

That's the number of Democratic presidential candidates who want Labor Secretary Alex Acosta to resign because of new scrutiny on the non-prosecution deal he helped cut for Jeffrey Epstein.

Candidates are lining up to take shots at Acosta, accusing him of having "actively worked to cover up and protect a serial sexual predator," criticizing him for "protecting predators," or panning the "sweetheart deal."

(The remaining candidates aren't defending Acosta—they just haven't weighed in publicly.)

Acosta has faced a mountain of criticism over the issue in recent days, so it's not a surprise that White House hopefuls are joining the fray to criticize one of Trump's cabinet members.

But taken together, all of the outrage amplifies Trump's decision to keep him on board, all while giving the president an easy out if he decides (or a warring faction within his administration) decides to axe him.

Tweet of the day

ICYMI: News clips you shouldn’t miss

Coming soon: another debt ceiling debate.

House Democrats are escalating their investigation into the administration's handling of migrants at the southern border with new letters to private detention centers.

President Trump's controversial social-media summit kicks off Thursday.

Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser wants the president to help reimburse the city's Emergency Planning and Security Fund for the recent July 4 celebration.

Trump agenda: The cost of Acosta

Labor Sec. Alex Acosta defended himself Wednesday from new scrutiny of a non-prosecution agreement with Jeffrey Epstein.

The Air Force general who's been nominated to serve as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has been accused of sexual assault.

A State Department analyst quit after being blocked from citing evidence on climate change during congressional testimony, the Wall Street Journal reports.

A federal appeals court dismissed an emoluments clause case against President Trump over his Washington hotel.

2020: Why the Dem governors aren’t gaining traction

Politico looks at why governors are failing to gain traction in the 2020 race in the age of Trump.

Top House Republican leaders say they need to do better in order to add more Republican women to their ranks after a female candidate lost a primary runoff in North Carolina this week.