The Hill’s Morning Report — Trump navigates challenges from all sides

Some of President Trump’s most controversial policies are undergoing extreme stress-testing this week by Congress, the courts and longtime allies, setting up a crucial stretch that will shape the contours of debate heading into the 2018 midterm elections.

The president’s bedrock issues are at stake this week:

> Today is the court-ordered deadline for the administration to reunite the thousands of children who were separated from their parents at the border because of Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy. The administration will not be done reuniting the estimated 2,551 families that were impacted, although a federal judge has praised their progress. Still, the “zero tolerance” policy will remain a political disaster for the administration until all of the children are reunited with their parents. Next up, potentially as early as Friday, a judge will consider when the administration can begin deporting the reunited families.

The San Diego Union-Tribune: What’s next for family reunifications.

The Associated Press: Clock ticks toward reuniting families separated at the border.

> Senate Republicans are furious with Trump over his tariffs. The president badly needs a win here to stem the tide of criticism after the administration announced $12 billion in subsidies to farmers to buffer against losses suffered from Trump’s escalating trade war. The president may have gotten what he needed on Wednesday, announcing at a Rose Garden ceremony with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker that the two had reached a deal to resolve the trade dispute. The stock market spiked on the news. The details of the deal are still murky, but it might cool some of the heat Trump has taken from his own party in recent days.

The Wall Street Journal: U.S., European Union (EU) agree to resolve tariffs on steel, aluminum.

> Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended the administration’s posture toward Russia at a tense grilling in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday. This controversy — sparked by Trump’s refusal to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin over election interference — shows no sign of abating, as lawmakers consider new sanctions and question the president’s motives for seeking an alliance with the Eastern power. An urgency among Republicans to address Russia is taking up all the time and energy on Capitol Hill with just more than three months to go before the midterm elections.

The lobbying group CGCN had this to say in a memo sent to clients on Wednesday:

“President Trump has fully bucked the traditional concept of building a political coalition to support his policy agenda. His base strategy is evident in the items he’s advanced to this point in his presidency. His base has rewarded him with a near-record high approval rating in return, even as beltway commentators constantly question his strategy and his unconventional approach. Policymakers, advocates, and Washington insiders must come to terms with Trump’s mindset if they want to have any hope of successfully convincing the president to shift course.” – CGCN

The backdrop to these brutal policy fights is the crush of investigations, from special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe to Trump’s suddenly public feud with his former attorney, Michael Cohen.

Cohen, who is being investigated by the FBI, once said he’d take a bullet for Trump. Now, his attorney is releasing embarrassing audio of Trump and Cohen discussing a potential payment to kill a story about a former Playboy model who claims to have had an affair with Trump. The FBI has that recording and 11 others that are said to involve the president in some way.

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