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Trump's signature campaign promise keeps hitting a wall

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.
Trump tours U.S.-Mexico border wall prototypes
President Donald Trump tours U.S.-Mexico border wall prototypes on March 13, 2018, in San Diego.Evan Vucci / AP file

WASHINGTON — Over the last three months, President Trump’s push for a border wall has been a self-inflicted debacle for him and his party.

Think about it: a 35-day government shutdown, an emergency declaration that’s opposed by 60 percent of the country, 12 Republican senators joining Democrats to support a resolution terminating that emergency declaration, and now Trump threatening the first veto of his presidency.

What’s more, the debate over the emergency declaration forced a vulnerable GOP senator up for re-election in 2020 like Thom Tillis, R-N.C., to oppose the emergency declaration – and then vote for it.

NBC’s Peter Alexander reports that President Trump has now received the bill reversing the emergency declaration, and he has 10 days to veto it, which he’s promised to do.

Given that Congress is unlikely to override Trump’s veto, the fate of the emergency declaration to build a border wall is now in the courts’ hands.

Remember when Trump walked away from the deal for Congress to give him $20 billion-plus for the wall — in exchange for protection for DACA recipients?

Tragedy in New Zealand

The biggest news in the world today are the mass shootings in New Zealand, where at least 49 worshippers at two mosques were killed, with dozens of others injured.

"This is one of New Zealand's darkest days," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, per NBC News. "Clearly, what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence."

"These are people who I would describe as having extremist views, that have absolutely no place in New Zealand and in fact have no place in the world," she added.

More: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that he was advised that one of those in custody is an Australian national, and he condemned the attack "by an extremist right-wing violent terrorist."

Trump tweeted this morning, “My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. 49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!”

Where Beto stands (and doesn’t stand) on the issues

On his first day as a presidential candidate, Beto O’Rourke took clear stances on some issues and was vague on others, NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald writes.

On health care: Said his goal was “guaranteeing high-quality health care for every American.” Specifically mentioned the DeLauro-Schakowsky bill that would make Medicare accessible to all, but would also allow Americans to keep their private insurance.

On the Green New Deal: Said he supported the spirit of getting the United States to achieve net-zero emissions, and that he hasn’t seen “anything better” than the Green New Deal in trying to do this.

Reparations for slavery: Said the United States needs to reckon with systematic racism and have a possible conversation about reparations. But he didn’t endorse the effort.

On restructuring the Supreme Court: Said he was open to the idea, per Seitz-Wald. "What if there were five justices selected by Democrats, five Justices selected by Republicans, and those 10 then picked five more justices independent of those who chose the first 10? I think that's an idea that we should explore."

2020 Vision: Harris calls for moratorium on death penalty

In an interview yesterday with NPR, Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris yesterday called for a federal moratorium on the death penalty.

NPR: No one would be executed if you were president of the United States, for any crime.

HARRIS: Correct, correct.

On the campaign trail

Today: Beto O’Rourke remains in Iowa, while John Delaney also is in the Hawkeye State… Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren are all in New Hampshire… Bernie Sanders continues campaigning in South Carolina… And on the GOP side, Bill Weld stumps in the Granite State.

Saturday: Booker, Delaney, Klobuchar and O’Rourke are all in Iowa.. Jay Inslee and Seth Moulton hit New Hampshire… And Sanders campaigns in Nevada.

Sunday: Booker, Delaney and Klobuchar stump in the Hawkeye State… And Elizabeth Warren goes to Memphis, Tenn.

Tweet of the Day

Data Download: And the number of the day is … 7 percent

Seven percent.

That’s the share of the electorate compromised of “true” independents who don’t lean toward either party, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.

Out of the four-in-10 Americans who describe themselves as political independents, a huge majority (81 percent) say they generally lean toward either the Republican or Democratic Parties.

True independents aren’t just a small part of the electorate overall — they’re also fairly disengaged from the political process.

Just a third of non-leaning independents voted in the 2018 election, and only about 60 percent overall are even registered to vote.

The Lid: Independence Day

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we looked at that seven percent of the electorate who say they’re independents but don’t lean toward either party.

ICYMI: This week’s overlooked stories

Beto! More prison time for Manafort! Senate rebukes Trump! The college admissions scandal! Those were the stories that dominated the week.

But don’t forget these other stories that would have big deals in any other era:

  1. Senate voted to end U.S. support of war in Yemen.
  2. Senate Republicans confirmed Trump’s pick to replace Kavanaugh on the DC Circuit.
  3. FBI scrutinized North Carolina political operative in May, but took no action to stop the alleged election fraud, the Washington Post said.

And other news stories from today you shouldn’t miss…

The Wall Street Journal has a big front-page story on Beto O’Rourke’s past ties to business-friendly Republicans (and their political donations.)

A former Fox News employee plans to testify before Congress about allegations that executives tried to quash her reporting on the Stormy Daniels story during the 2016 election.

The Washington Post notes that Trump has talked about the emergency declaration fight almost entirely in terms of its personal effect on him.

More news that’s out there…

Trump agenda: Defeat

Here’s POLITICO on Trump’s embarrassing defeat on the border emergency bill.

Wilbur Ross took tough questions on his Census citizenship question plans yesterday.

Concerns are growing over the U.S. plan to close all immigration offices overseas.

The House has unanimously voted to support the public release of the Mueller report.

Roger Stone’s trial has been set for November.

2020: Shutting it down

A nonprofit think tank founded by Bernie Sanders’ wife and son is shutting down after criticism.

Where exactly does Beto O’Rourke fit in the crowded Democratic primary field?

Some observers aren’t thrilled with now O’Rourke’s wife has been portrayed in his early campaign pitch.

The New York Times looks at a growing trend of Trump-style grievance politics.

Despite his outward confidence, Trump is taking Biden’s potential candidacy very seriously, POLITICO writes.