Swing vote senators summoned to WH to talk Supreme Court

CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports.

Posted: Jul 1, 2018 2:09 PM
Updated: Jul 1, 2018 2:42 PM

President Donald Trump was in the East Room of the White House on Friday to trumpet the six-month anniversary of his tax cuts, the singular legislative achievement of his presidency so far.

But as his teleprompter instructed him to rattle off statistics about the tax law, Trump determined it was the time and place for a bigger celebration.

"Our country is doing so well, possibly as well as it's ever done," the President declared. "I don't think it's ever done like this."

As a statement about the country, Trump's remark is debatable. Thousands of immigrant children remain separated from their parents after crossing the southern border illegally. Another mass shooting took the lives of five journalists in Maryland. Traditional US alliances appear to be fracturing.

RELATED: Trump considering two women for Supreme Court; will announce pick July 9

But as an assessment of his own political position, Trump's optimism this week seems warranted.

After a half-hour huddle with Trump at the White House on Wednesday, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, handing the President a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reshape the ideological bent of the Supreme Court. Trump is interviewing at least a couple of candidates this weekend at his golf resort in New Jersey.

"I'm very honored that he chose to do it during my term in office, because he felt confident in me to make the right choice and carry on his great legacy," the President said during a campaign rally Wednesday night in Fargo, North Dakota. "That's why he did it."

Privately, Trump has marveled at his luck in facing two Supreme Court vacancies during his first 15 months in office, according to people who have spoken with him. He's declared the opportunity a legacy-making moment and hopes to instill his selection process with the type of drama -- akin to a reality show -- that he's favored during previous deliberations.

Kennedy's retirement was the second favorable result in as many days from the high court. A day earlier, a majority of the justices had upheld a version of Trump's controversial travel ban, deeming it an acceptable use of his executive authority.

"Wow!" Trump tweeted about the ruling from his third-floor residence. Aides described the President as "vindicated," even though he'd once bemoaned the measure upheld by the court as a "watered down, politically correct version."

On Tuesday evening, Trump's slate of favored Republican candidates emerged victorious in state primary races. He even found triumph in Democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's upset primary win in New York over longtime Rep. Joe Crowley, declaring the Democratic kingmaker a "slovenly man" who "got his ass kicked."

On Thursday, the details of Trump's long-awaited summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin were finalized, months after Trump began pushing aides to organize it. The location -- Helsinki, Finland -- brings to mind images of George H.W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev or Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin sitting for their own summits, a model Trump has told planners he wants to emulate.

"You never know about meetings," he said on Wednesday in the Oval Office as his Portuguese counterpart, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, looked on.

Even an ever-shifting cast of West Wing aides appears to be aligning in Trump's favor. Chief of staff John Kelly may be nearing the end of his time in the post, multiple people familiar with the situation say. The President acknowledged Friday that he didn't know how long the retired Marine Corps general, whose system of order Trump has come to resent, will remain in the job.

"That I don't know," he shrugged. "I can't tell you that."

Hope Hicks, Trump's beloved former communications director, who left three months ago, may be eyeing a return, the President hinted.

"I've been hearing little things like that," he nodded. "I think everybody misses it."

And Bill Shine, the former Fox News president who was ousted over his handling of sexual harassment claims, finally consented to Trump's request that he join the staff.

"The President wants someone who's built the most successful cable network in history to help him oversee press and comms," the President's senior counselor Kellyanne Conway said on Friday.

For Trump, it's a "golden age," he told reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday as he escaped a heat wave in Washington for his first trip of the summer to Bedminster, his suburban New Jersey golf club.

"I think we're doing great. We're getting what we need," he said. "We have a lot of great things happening."

For Democrats, Trump's victory lap is more akin to a hit-and-run. The prospect of another Supreme Court vacancy being filled by one of the President's conservative picks has led to fears that the 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion-rights ruling could be overturned. Trump's political opponents, with little chance of blocking a justice nominee, hope instead to galvanize voters with the issue in November's midterm elections.

Trump's emboldened approach to foreign policy has led to equal anxiety in European capitals, where leaders are girding with steely resolve for his July visit. Unbound by a desire to maintain cordial relations with his counterparts, the President will arrive for a NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, facing leaders who are preparing for the worst.

"Sometimes our worst enemies are our so-called friends or allies, right?" Trump said during the rally in Fargo.

Already, his tit-for-tat trade battle with Europe has claimed an American casualty. Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson announced it would move production of Europe-bound motorcycles overseas to avoid new tariffs. The President took umbrage during an appearance nearby on Thursday.

"Harley-Davidson, please build those beautiful motorcycles in the USA, please," he said at the opening of a Foxconn technology plant in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin. "Don't get cute with us. Don't get cute."

Trump has sounded more optimistic about the encounter with Putin, which has been on his to-do list since he congratulated the Russian leader -- against his aides' recommendations -- on his election win in March. While Trump insisted to reporters on Friday that he would raise the election meddling issue during the Helsinki summit, he repeated Putin's denials of Russia's involvement earlier in the week.

"Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!" he wrote on Twitter, going on to wonder why the FBI wasn't investigating Hillary Clinton.

Indeed, if there's one matter darkening Trump's skies, it's the Russia investigation. On Thursday, as Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein -- who oversees the special counsel probe -- was sparring with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, the President was watching from the White House, taking note of which Republican lawmakers were hammering Rosenstein the hardest, according to an official.

Stories about the ongoing Russia matter have long been Trump's obsession, and provided the genesis of his first "fake news" tirade shortly after he was elected President. Trump's animus against the media has long since evolved beyond the Russia story into other subjects, and he's harshened his rhetoric to accuse reporters of being the "enemy of the people."

That tough language was decried anew by journalists and their advocates after a gunman opened fire inside the newsroom of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland. The shooting suspect reportedly has a long personal grudge against the paper and there haven't been any indications that he was influenced by Trump's words. But the assault on journalists was a reminder of the precarious position reporters hold in an era of verbal attacks from the White House.

As he began his weekend aboard Air Force One on Friday, Trump affirmed that targeting reporters with violence was unacceptable. But he would not commit to toning down his words.

"It's just not the right time to be talking about it," he said. "Obviously the press has treated me very badly. But in the meantime I'm President. So you know, I guess they didn't treat me badly enough."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 312521

Reported Deaths: 5498
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion42641849
Lake27152455
Allen18010298
Elkhart17177221
St. Joseph16799229
Hamilton13011167
Vanderburgh9751120
Tippecanoe858727
Porter827986
Johnson6389165
Hendricks6098157
Vigo608384
Monroe536750
Clark515077
Madison5060122
Delaware4905103
LaPorte465595
Kosciusko462339
Howard344277
Warrick325672
Bartholomew316863
Floyd316277
Wayne307770
Cass299931
Marshall299144
Grant272550
Noble255046
Hancock253852
Henry247537
Boone244554
Dubois237931
Dearborn219030
Jackson215534
Morgan210843
Knox187819
Gibson186925
Shelby182155
Clinton180321
DeKalb177831
Lawrence177648
Adams168222
Miami162614
Wabash162521
Daviess156443
Fayette149234
Steuben147113
Jasper144412
Harrison142924
LaGrange142630
Montgomery142127
Whitley137114
Ripley132115
Huntington127410
Decatur126143
Putnam124627
Randolph124519
Wells124429
White123222
Clay122523
Posey122116
Jefferson118816
Scott109020
Greene102653
Jay99013
Sullivan96416
Starke92021
Jennings85314
Fulton84518
Spencer8378
Perry82521
Fountain7798
Washington7527
Franklin69927
Carroll68613
Orange67328
Vermillion6243
Owen6087
Tipton57627
Parke5706
Newton56312
Rush5438
Blackford53412
Pike50919
Pulaski39515
Martin3585
Brown3424
Benton3402
Crawford2941
Union2702
Switzerland2575
Warren2382
Ohio2317
Unassigned0266

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 382743

Reported Deaths: 6274
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin51161671
Cuyahoga37222743
Hamilton30493372
Montgomery20518236
Butler15199148
Lucas14566417
Summit13933327
Stark9193206
Warren841976
Mahoning7530300
Lake710067
Lorain6690106
Clermont593651
Delaware572537
Licking564577
Trumbull5584147
Fairfield554464
Greene538066
Clark5218101
Allen494989
Marion476759
Medina471657
Wood4598107
Miami437568
Pickaway404048
Portage358972
Columbiana357698
Tuscarawas342667
Richland328539
Wayne327394
Mercer296047
Muskingum252510
Hancock245940
Ross244559
Auglaize236435
Darke232560
Erie230268
Putnam229449
Ashtabula228354
Geauga211851
Scioto200616
Union19668
Shelby194017
Lawrence193039
Athens19134
Seneca182919
Belmont170229
Madison163119
Sandusky157729
Preble156521
Huron155519
Defiance144823
Holmes140439
Logan133517
Knox131718
Fulton128726
Jefferson128613
Crawford126817
Washington125227
Ottawa124530
Clinton109115
Williams10799
Ashland107825
Highland103718
Brown10135
Henry101323
Hardin99719
Champaign9825
Van Wert97318
Jackson96212
Fayette92717
Morrow9202
Guernsey89314
Coshocton85215
Perry82912
Adams80313
Pike7661
Gallia76513
Wyandot73217
Paulding66511
Hocking64516
Noble62224
Carroll48810
Meigs39612
Monroe32321
Morgan2685
Vinton2246
Harrison2193
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 42°
Angola
Overcast
45° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 40°
Huntington
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 44°
Decatur
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 43°
Van Wert
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 43°
Mostly Cloudy Black Friday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events