NEWS: HILL LEADERS to the W.H. next WED. — FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: The plan for debt limit, gov’t funding and Harvey relief — ANNIE KARNI on the thinning West Wing – B’DAY: Warren Buffett

Good Wednesday morning. CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP is going to the White House next Wednesday at 11 a.m. for a meeting with President Donald Trump. We hear this will be the Big Four: Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer.

REPUBLICANS say this will be a critical touch-the-gloves moment as they enter a brutal month. DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP AIDE: “The Republicans are in charge, from the White House to the Hill so the onus of governing is squarely on them. We expect to hear their proposal for getting done all that we have to get done in September.” IN OTHER WORDS: Ball is in your court, guys.

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NEW — THE THROW-IT-ALL-TOGETHER STRATEGY: One of the new leading theories among Senate and House Republicans in Washington is that Congress will combine a three-month stopgap spending bill to keep the government open, the first installment of hurricane relief for Texas and Louisiana and an increase of the federal debt limit. The idea is this package would create an undefeatable constituency across the Capitol. Here are a few things to understand:

— FEMA HAS ENOUGH MONEY right now for its immediate response to Harvey. We were told by multiple sources involved in the talks the agency has roughly $1.3 billion in its coffers. But Congress will need to act on disaster funding in September to give them more.

— THE STATE OF TEXAS AND THE WHITE HOUSE have to work quickly to estimate how much more money they’ll need. This will impact the contours of the debate. The damage in Texas is so extensive and unknown that no one knows how much money the government will have to shell out. THE LIKELIHOOD: Congress will need to insert disaster relief money into a stopgap bill in September — the CR, or continuing resolution — and then appropriate more money as part of an omnibus spending bill in December. That omni would keep government open until Oct. 2018.

— SMART MONEY IS ON — NO SHUTDOWN IN SEPT., BUT POSSIBLE IN DECEMBER. The thinking is this will put off the shutdown debate until the last month of the year. Capitol Hill will be far more interested in figuring out how to get America’s fourth-largest city out from underwater than in building a border wall, multiple sources told us. It’s unclear whether President Donald Trump will force the issue.

— ON THE DEBT LIMIT … BULLET COULD BE DODGED. This package, if crafted carefully, could be just the mix of good and bad that it would get widespread bipartisan support in both chambers. Who could vote against helping the second-largest state in America rebound from a disaster? Key Republicans involved with planning told us they would be willing to lift the debt limit past the 2018 elections.

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REMEMBER: THE FAA’s authority needs to also be renewed in September.

A WORD OF CAUTION — It makes sense that GOP leaders want to find a way to take care of all of the “must-pass” legislation in one package and tie it up neatly in a bow. Lawmakers haven’t come back yet. Expect at least one or two hiccups along the way. Typically whatever leadership starts with isn’t the package that ends up passing, particularly in the House.

BULLETIN at 4:59 a.m.: “CAMERON, La. (AP) – National Hurricane Center: Tropical Storm Harvey makes 2nd landfall just west of Cameron, Louisiana.”

HOUSTON CHRONICLE A1 — “EPIC FLOODING SHOWS NO MERCY” http://bit.ly/2vryWlN

THE LATEST ON HARVEY — HOUSTON CHRONICLE, story updated at 3:45 a.m. — “Harvey begins to push out of Houston as curfew set and new shelter opens,” by Brooke A. Lewis, Brian Rogers, Margaret Kadifa, Susan Carroll, and Andrew Kragie: “Hordes of new shelters began to open up across the city as more residents were ordered to evacuate from their flooded homes. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett confirmed Tuesday evening that NRG Center [where the Texans play] will provide the next major shelter for area residents affected by Hurricane Harvey. …

“Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner issued a curfew Tuesday in effect from midnight to 5 a.m. During a press conference late Tuesday, the mayor said it was necessary for public safety. He originally said the curfew would begin at 10 p.m., but an hour later he changed it to midnight, tweeting that moving it later would allow volunteers and others to continue doing their work.” http://bit.ly/2wi6QbD

–NYT’s JACK HEALY, RICHARD PEREZ-PENA and ALAN BLINDER: “Local officials in Texas said at least 30 deaths were believed to have been caused by the storm through Tuesday, up from eight a day earlier. … Parts of the Houston area broke the record for rainfall from a single storm anywhere in the continental United States, with a top reading on Tuesday afternoon, since the storm began, of 51.88 inches in Cedar Bayou, east of Houston, the National Weather Service reported. The previous record was 48 inches in Medina, Tex., from Tropical Storm Amelia in 1978, and with the rain still falling along the Gulf Coast, Harvey could top the 52 inches recorded in Kauai, Hawaii in 1950 from Hurricane Hiki.” http://nyti.ms/2x4d13K

–“Photos: Trump visits hurricane-ravaged Texas” — 19 pix http://politi.co/2x38cHM

— “Harvey triggers spike in hazardous chemical releases,” by Ben Lefebvre: “Hobbled oil refineries and damaged fuel facilities along the Gulf Coast of Texas from Tropical storm Harvey have released more than two million pounds of dangerous chemicals into the air this week, adding new health threats to Houston’s already considerable woes. The big spike in releases, which include carcinogenic benzene and nitrogen oxide, will add an environmental and long-term health risk to the region that’s struggling with the massive flooding that Harvey has brought to the country’s energy capital, according to environmental watchdogs. The jump in emissions has been noticed on the ground in Houston, where residents have taken to Twitter to report a stronger-than-normal chemical smell in some areas.” http://politi.co/2xLcd0W

— “Houston’s ‘Wild West’ growth,” by WaPo’s Shawn Boburg and Beth Reinhard: “Houston calls itself ‘the city with no limits’ to convey the promise of boundless opportunity. But it also is the largest U.S. city to have no zoning laws, part of a hands-off approach to urban planning that may have contributed to catastrophic flooding from Hurricane Harvey and left thousands of residents in harm’s way. Growth that is virtually unchecked, including in flood-prone areas, has diminished the land’s already-limited natural ability to absorb water, according to environmentalists and experts in land use and natural disasters. And the city’s drainage system — a network of reservoirs, bayous and, as a last resort, roads that hold and drain water — was not designed to handle the massive storms that are increasingly common.” http://wapo.st/2iHTJvD

NEXT UP: “Western Louisiana in crosshairs as Harvey moves back to land,” by AP’s Jeff Amy and Michael Kunzelman in Lake Charles, Louisiana: “Western Louisiana residents braced for more wind and water Wednesday as Tropical Storm Harvey headed their way after dumping record rainfall on Texas. National Weather Service meteorologists expect the deadly storm to make another landfall early Wednesday in southwestern Louisiana, after it lingered over Texas for days before meandering back into the Gulf of Mexico.

“Forecasters say another 5 to 10 inches of rain could fall in western Louisiana. ‘We are starting to get down to the end of the tunnel of all this rain,’ Meteorologist Roger Erickson said. Erickson warns that some coastal rivers won’t be able to drain effectively because Harvey’s winds are pushing in storm surge, aggravating flooding in areas already drenched by more than 20 inches of rain. Gusts up to 50 mph are predicted for coastal areas and up to 40 mph in Lake Charles and along the Interstate 10 corridor.” http://bit.ly/2vIjayo

GLENN THRUSH in the NYT, “Harvey Gives Trump a Chance to Reclaim Power to Unify”: “Hurricane Harvey was the rarest of disasters to strike during the Trump presidency — a maelstrom not of Mr. Trump’s making, and one that offers him an opportunity to recapture some of the unifying power of his office he has squandered in recent weeks. … [H]urricanes in the post-Katrina era are also political events, benchmarks by which a president’s abilities are measured. Mr. Trump is behaving like a man whose future depends on getting this right.

“The president, who prefers to skim rather than delve, has seldom been more engaged in the details of any issue as he is with Harvey, according to several people involved in disaster response. Mr. Trump, one aide said, was fascinated by the long-term effect of water damage on structures in the Gulf Coast, peppering FEMA and National Security Council briefers with detailed questions about the flooding in Houston and Galveston. As the extent of the projected devastation became apparent over the weekend during a meeting at Camp David, he shook his head in disbelief and compared the situation to problems he experienced when managing his family’s apartment buildings in New York. ‘Water damage is the worst,’ he told one staff member, ‘tough, tough, tough.’” http://nyti.ms/2x2qHwn

JOSH DAWSEY in Corpus Christi: “It was a presidential trip to a deluged state where the president didn’t meet a single storm victim, see an inch of rain or get near a flooded street. But the daylong visit, during which President Donald Trump spent far more time in the air than on the ground, gave the optics-obsessed president some of the visuals he wanted, as he checked in on the government apparatus working on relief efforts and was buoyed by a roaring crowd of locals.

“And it showed that the president, who often obsesses about crowd size and fame while speaking in hyperbolic superlatives, would not drop those traits even amid hurricane cleanup. He praised his [FEMA] administrator, Brock Long, for becoming ‘famous’ during his frequent TV appearances, talked repeatedly about the historic nature of the storm and marveled at adoring Texas residents who greeted him.” http://politi.co/2vE6n0u

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HEELGATE — “Melania’s stiletto sideshow: As the first lady departed to see storm fallout in Texas, Twitter erupted with critiques of her shoe choice,” by Annie Karni: “The emblematic first image of the first lady heading off to visit a hurricane in heels — a moment that the president has seized on as an opportunity to project strength and show off decisive leadership — instead became another symbol of a White House that can often seem out of touch. … On board Air Force One to Corpus Christi, as the picture of the delicate heels ricocheted across the Internet, Melania Trump changed into a pair of bright, white sneakers, which looked fresh out of the box. She wasn’t the only female member of the Trump delegation wearing questionably appropriate footwear — two other women were spotted on Air Force One wearing pumps and suede heels.” http://politi.co/2goqCN3

— WAPO’S ROBIN GIVHAN: “There was no pretense about Melania Trump’s heels. But sometimes, a little pretense helps”: “Trump’s fashionable ensemble was defined by its contradictions. She was wearing a working man’s jacket but it was juxtaposed with sexy limousine shoes. The trousers and the top were basic black — utilitarian. The oversize aviator sunglasses were Hollywood. It’s an image that would have been at home in any fashion magazine, which is so often the case with the first lady. She knows fashion. She knows her angles. …

“It was also an image that suggested that Trump is the kind of woman who refuses to pretend that her feet will, at any point, ever be immersed in cold, muddy, bacteria-infested Texas water. She is the kind of woman who may listen empathetically to your pain, but she knows that you know that she is not going to experience it. So why pretend?

“Well, sometimes pretense is everything. It’s the reason for the first lady to go to Texas at all: to symbolize care and concern and camaraderie. To remind people that the government isn’t merely doing its job, that the government is engaged with each and every individual. Washington hears its citizens. That’s what the optics are all about. Sitting around a conference table and talking into a speaker phone are not good optics. A politician has to get on the ground in work boots and a windbreaker. Rolled-up sleeves. Galoshes. Baseball caps.” http://wapo.st/2whj3x6

SNEAK PEEK — NICK CONFESSORE’S NEW NYT MAGAZINE COVER STORY – “How to Get Rich in Trump’s Washington: His presidency has changed the rules of influence in the nation’s capital — and spawned a new breed of lobbyist on K Street” (print headline: “I Can Teach YOU How to Influence the President: The Art of Lobbying in Trump’s Washington” with a pic of Corey Lewandowski): “Like virtually every other candidate for president, Trump campaigned against this thicket of money and influence, positioning himself as an outsider who would ‘drain the swamp.’ This pledge would soon prove more rhetorical than real, but it contained a grain of truth. Trump arrived in Washington with a relatively short baggage train of Beltway relationships and obligations. He didn’t read policy briefs; he barely had policies.

“His inner circle was a hodgepodge of Breitbart alumni, nominally Democratic financiers, Trump Organization employees on loan, the odd reality-show star and Republicans who would have been unemployable in almost any other administration. The smart money in Washington — K Street and K Street’s clients, the big corporations and trade associations — didn’t quite know what to expect. But mostly, they didn’t know whom to call.” With cameos by Robert Stryk, Brad Gerstman, Brian Ballard, Bruce Mehlman, Stuart Jolly, and Barry Bennett http://nyti.ms/2gpGQFxThe cover http://politi.co/2xw2Oe3

FOR YOUR RADAR — “NKorea leader urges more missile launches targeting Pacific,”by AP’s Foster Klug and Kim Tong-Hyung in Seoul, South Korea: “North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for more weapons launches targeting the Pacific Ocean to advance his country’s ability to contain Guam, state media said Wednesday, a day after Pyongyang for the first time flew a ballistic missile designed to carry a nuclear payload over Japan. Tuesday’s aggressive missile launch — likely the longest ever from North Korea — over a close U.S. ally sends a clear message of defiance as Washington and Seoul conduct annual military drills. The Korean Central News Agency said the launch was a ‘muscle-flexing’ countermeasure to the Ulchi Freedom Guardian joint exercises that conclude Thursday. Pyongyang views the drills as invasion rehearsals and often conducts weapons tests and escalates its rhetoric when they are held.” http://bit.ly/2wnxZbH

— REUTERS: “The Trump administration plans to name a former White House official, Victor Cha, as the next U.S. ambassador to South Korea, according to an administration official. Cha served as deputy head of the U.S. delegation in multilateral talks with North Korea over its nuclear programme during the administration of President George W. Bush.” http://reut.rs/2wIoLcD

IMPORTANT STORY — ANNIE KARNI — “Trump’s shrinking West Wing”: “When President Donald Trump asked Hope Hicks to step into the role of communications director, his longtime aide hesitated before taking on a management position overseeing more than 40 staffers who work in White House media relations.

“It was Hicks who insisted on ‘interim’ being part of her new job title before accepting the post, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. But since her appointment on Aug. 16 – when Ivanka Trump went on Twitter to congratulate her ‘talented friend & colleague Hope Hicks on being named WH Communications Director,’ leaving out any mention of the ‘interim’ part – no active search has been launched to find a more permanent successor to the short-lived Anthony Scaramucci era. After a summer of distracting staff churn, the communications director job is just one of a number of top-level West Wing positions that has ultimately been filled by an existing staffer – or not filled at all – after an official has quit or been let go.

“Interviews with six White House staffers and people close to the president attribute Trump’s shrinking West Wing to three factors: chief of staff John Kelly’s careful review process, which has led to the paring down of an organization that many inside have complained was top-heavy; the chilling factor of five open-ended Russia investigations hanging over the White House, making it hard to attract new talent; and the president’s own dark mood this summer, which has left him increasingly isolated and in the mood to hunker down, not hire up.” http://politi.co/2vrydB5

NEW POLITICO/MORNING CONSULT POLL — “Poll: Voters split on Afghanistan troop increase, oppose shutdown for border wall,” by Steven Shepard: “Voters are divided on President Donald Trump’s plans to send more American troops to Afghanistan, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll. Forty-five percent of voters support increasing U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, the poll shows — only slightly greater than the 41 percent who oppose the plan. The other 14 percent have no opinion.

“While support for Trump’s plan marginally outpaces opposition, the 20 percent of voters strongly opposed to a troop increase are slightly greater than the 17 percent who strongly support it. Backing for a troop increase is greater among Republicans than Democrats or independents. Sixty-eight percent of self-identified GOP voters support increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan, but only 30 percent of Democratic voters and 35 percent of independents agree.” http://politi.co/2gor7GI

WHAT TRUMP’S POLITICAL TEAM IS READING — “Pittsburgh focus group tanks Trump,” by Isaac Dovere: “‘Outrageous,’ ‘disastrous,’ ‘abject disappointment,’ ‘unique,’ ‘off the scale,’ ‘contemptible,’ ‘crazy’: Donald Trump seems to have lost Pittsburgh, at least based on a focus group, sponsored by Emory University, held in the city Tuesday night. The group, a mix of people who’d voted for Trump and Hillary Clinton (plus one Jill Stein voter), came down hard on the president and Vice President Mike Pence—three people called him a ‘puppet,’ and several used variations of ‘waiting in the wings,’ though he was also called ‘quiet’ and ‘reasonable.’

“To a lesser degree, the voters also complained about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Asked to grade Congress, participants gave a collection of Cs, Ds and Fs, with most complaining that nothing is getting done. Not many knew much about special counsel Robert Mueller, who’s leading the Russia investigation, but several singled out Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, as a problem due to his inexperience.” http://politi.co/2vJ5Zgl

HAPPENING TODAY — “Trump to seize populist mantle for pitching messy tax overhaul,” by Ben White and Tara Palmeri: “President Donald Trump will launch a major push for a sweeping tax overhaul with a speech Wednesday in Missouri aimed at convincing his base — and the rest of the nation — that he has a fresh vision for ‘unrigging’ the American economy and isn’t just repackaging the trickle-down economics of past Republican presidents.

“It could be a tough sell for the president as he fights with saturation coverage of Hurricane Harvey and as Democrats prepare to frame Trump’s approach as a giveaway to corporate fat cats and the nation’s richest taxpayers. Wednesday’s speech in Springfield is being built around the sale of tax reform as a populist policy, according to five senior administration officials. The tax speech is being drafted by senior White House aide Stephen Miller, a leader of the nationalist wing of the administration. In Trumpian style, he’ll try out new phrases for selling the policy like ‘Jump-start America’ and ‘Win again.’” http://politi.co/2wQST5K

— ATTENDING TODAY’S EVENT: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, NEC Director Gary Cohn, SBA Administrator Linda McMahon, Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, Gov. Eric Greitens, Lt. Gov. Mike Parson, Republican Reps. Ann Wagner, Blaine Luetkemeyer, Vicky Hartzler, Sam Graves, Billy Long and Jason Smith.

— REPUBLICANS WE SPOKE TO YESTERDAY are happy Trump is going on the road, but worried that one off-topic comment will undermine anything positive he does.

— KEVIN ROBILLARD in Branson, Missouri: “Why Claire McCaskill Is Holding Her Fire: President Trump has already taken shots at the vulnerable Democratic senator but she’s determined not to anger the rural voters who put him in office”: http://politi.co/2wh2xxa

THE JUICE …

NOT BAD — OBAMA LOOKING FOR MVY SPOT — BOSTON GLOBE’S MARK SHANAHAN: “Chicago will always be President Obama’s hometown — that’s where the Obama Presidential Center is being built — but it looks like he may be spending a lot more time on Martha’s Vineyard in the future. Word around the island is that the Obamas, who’ve rented a place on the Vineyard for the past several summers, are looking to buy … The 44th president and his wife, Michelle, are believed to be focused ‘up island,’ looking at homes or buildable lots in the rural communities of Aquinnah, Chilmark, and West Tisbury. …

“No one’s talking, least of all realtors, but we’re told that one property that may be getting a long look is a magnificent waterfront outpost in Aquinnah owned by Caroline Kennedy and her husband, Edwin Schlossberg. A few years ago, the couple, who inherited from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis the 377-acre Red Gate Farm overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, subdivided the property and put two parcels on the market.” http://bit.ly/2wQdaZg

“Bill and Hillary Clinton’s Hamptons Summer Rental Sells,” by WSJ’s Katy McLaughlin: “A Hamptons mansion that served as a summer vacation rental for Bill and Hillary Clinton has sold for $29 million. The Clintons stayed in the home for part of August in both 2011 and 2012, said Apolonia Baptiste, assistant to seller Elie Hirschfeld; she declined to say what the Clintons paid. Current listing agent Rebekah Baker of Sotheby’s International Realty in the Hamptons said that in recent years the property has rented for between $350,000 and $500,000 for the summer, or for about $150,000 a month. … The roughly 10,000-square-foot shingled house has 8 bedrooms, all of which have en suite bathrooms, a formal dining room and six fireplaces.” http://on.wsj.com/2wHpavC

— “Sean Spicer finally gets to meet Pope Francis,” by America Magazine’s Michael J. O’Loughlin: “A group of legislators and politicians from around the world gathered in Italy this week for a meeting of the International Catholic Legislators Network, where they were received by Pope Francis at the Vatican. Among those gathered was Sean Spicer, the former White House press secretary who was … left off the list of U.S. officials who accompanied the president to the Vatican. … A photo posted to the Vatican Radio Facebook page shows Mr. Spicer using his cell phone to snap a photo of Pope Francis, who in an address to the group urged cooperation and bridge-building. Several other images posted to the Vatican’s photo service page show Mr. Spicer greeting the pope personally.” With a pic of Sean and the Pope http://bit.ly/2vCLWBd

COMING ATTRACTIONS — “Trump at war with himself over ‘Dreamers,’” by Andrew Restucci and Eliana Johnson: “The president has waffled between his campaign pledge to kill the policy known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, and his sympathy for the nearly 800,000 people whose lives could be upended if it’s repealed, aides say.

“As an unofficial Sept. 5 deadline looms, there are growing signs that Trump will decide to phase out the program. But administration officials say he remains conflicted, trying to find a middle ground that balances his instinct to be tough on immigration and his personal feelings. Trump’s final decision could drastically change the lives of the country’s ‘Dreamers.’ Participants in the program — which permits some people who were brought to the United States as children to live and work in the country temporarily — worry they could lose their jobs or be subject to possible deportation if the program is suddenly ended.” http://politi.co/2xxvLGz

— MANY REPUBLICANS WE TALK TO say they believe there’s a border wall/DACA deal to be made in the coming months.

POLITICO SCOOP — “Virginia received DHS warning before Charlottesville rally,”by Josh Meyer: “The Department of Homeland Security issued a confidential warning to law enforcement authorities three days before the deadly Aug. 12 Charlottesville protest rally, saying that an escalating series of clashes had created a powder keg that would likely make the event ‘among the most violent to date’ between white supremacists and anarchists. The ‘law enforcement sensitive’ assessment, obtained by POLITICO and reported for the first time, raises questions about whether Charlottesville city and Virginia state authorities dropped the ball before, and during, a public event that was widely expected to draw huge crowds of armed, emotional and antagonistic participants from around the country.” http://politi.co/2gofe3R

BEYOND THE BELTWAY — “Report: ‘Anti-protester’ bills gain traction in state legislatures,” by USA Today’s Heidi M. Przybyla: “Republican legislators in 20 U.S. statehouses have proposed — and six legislatures approved — new restrictions on the right to assemble and protest so far this year, according to a new report by the Democrat-aligned State Innovation Exchange. … Among the states approving what SiX calls ‘anti-protester’ legislation were Arkansas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Georgia and South Dakota. Arkansas, for instance, has passed a new ‘anti-loitering’ bill that makes it an offense if a person ‘lingers, remains or prowls in a public place or the premises of another without apparent reason and under circumstances that warrant alarm or concern for the safety of persons or property in the vicinity.’” https://usat.ly/2gnM5FL

THE RUSSIA PROBE — “Special counsel subpoenas Manafort’s former attorney and spokesman,” by CNN’s Evan Perez: “The subpoenas seeking documents and testimony were sent to Melissa Laurenza, an attorney with the Akin Gump law firm who until recently represented Manafort, and to Jason Maloni, who is Manafort’s spokesman … It’s unclear what specific information the Mueller investigators believe Laurenza and Maloni may have. But issuing subpoenas to a lawyer of someone under investigation is unusual, in part because it raises potential attorney-client privilege issues that prosecutors tend to try to avoid. Maloni, as a public relations representative, doesn’t have the same attorney-client privilege protections.” http://cnn.it/2vHDQGx

— “Donald Trump Jr. set to testify before Senate Judiciary panel,” by Ali Watkins and Josh Dawsey: “The Senate Judiciary Committee has reached an agreement and set a date for Donald Trump Jr. to testify behind closed doors to the panel, the committee confirmed on Tuesday. The committee would not divulge the exact date, but another source familiar with the matter said the testimony would likely occur in the ‘next few weeks’ Trump Jr. is expected to be grilled about his meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer during his father’s presidential campaign in which he was promised compromising information on Hillary Clinton. … Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the panel leaders, said in July that they still intend to hold a public hearing with Trump Jr. after speaking with him privately, and would subpoena him to appear in open session if necessary.” http://politi.co/2vpLfiK

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IN THE BATTLEFIELD — “Mattis allows transgender troops to serve as Pentagon studies Trump’s ban,” by Bob Hillman: “Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Tuesday transgender troops will continue serving in the military while the Pentagon studies the issue. Mattis said he’ll establish a ‘panel of experts serving within the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security’ to provide advice and recommendations on the implementation of President Donald Trump’s order to bar transgender individuals from serving in the military.

“In the interim, Mattis said, ‘current policy with respect to currently serving members will remain in place’ with interim guidance from him, including ‘any necessary interim adjustments to procedures to ensure the continued combat readiness of the force until our final policy on this subject is issued.’” http://politi.co/2vqGPIp

VALLEY TALK – “Uber Faces Investigation of Possible Foreign-Bribery Law Violations,” by WSJ’s Douglas MacMillan and Aruna Viswanatha: “The Justice Department has taken preliminary steps to investigate whether managers at Uber Technologies Inc. violated a U.S. law against foreign bribery, according to people familiar with the matter. The agency has begun to review allegations that Uber may have violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bans the use of bribes to foreign officials to get or keep business … Based on what it finds, the Justice Department may or may not decide to open a full-fledged FCPA investigation into Uber. It is unclear whether U.S. authorities are focused on one country or examining activities in multiple countries where the company operates.” http://on.wsj.com/2xLj1LQ

MEDIAWATCH — “In the Trenches of Trump’s Leak War: How the administration has changed the game between investigative reporters and their government sources,” by Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo: “On July 6, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs issued a scathing report detailing what the Committee characterized as a seething epidemic of classified information making its way into the press. Titled, ‘State Secrets: How an Avalanche of Media Leaks Is Harming National Security,’ the 23-page document cites ‘at least 125 stories’ between Inauguration day and May 25 ‘with leaked information potentially damaging to national security.’ … Consternation about the report was particularly high in The Washington Post’s newsroom, not only because 33 of its journalists’ stories were in the crosshairs, but also because ‘State Secrets’ was being promoted on Twitter by one of their own.

“Jerry Markon was a longtime Post reporter who covered the Department of Homeland Security until February, when he left the paper to work for the Committee on Homeland Security as senior policy adviser to its chairman, Senator Ron Johnson. When the report landed, along with six retweets from Markon touting its findings, jaws hit the floor. At least one of Markon’s former colleagues, according to people with knowledge of the matter, e-mailed him to ask if he’d written the report himself. Adam Goldman, who worked with Markon at the Post and even shared some bylines with him, was blunt in his assessment. ‘Many former colleagues at the Post were disappointed,’ Goldman told me. ‘It was a betrayal.’ (I reached out to Markon through the Committee’s press office but he was not made available.) A Johnson aide emphasized that Johnson’s ‘concern is about the leakers and the national-security threats their leaks pose, not individual journalists.’” http://bit.ly/2iHDWgi

SPOTTED: Steve Hadley, Pam Stevens, Ben Chang, and Mark Pfeifle (Bush 43 NSC) at Equinox yesterday. Kellyanne Conway was also there, dining at a different table.

WEEKEND WEDDING — ROLL TIDE — Andres Peña, a U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce alum now in government relations for San Antonio firm Kaufman & Killen, and Dorothy Griffith, a Gula Graham and Aflac government relations alum now in communications at Whataburger, got married Saturday in Fernandina Beach, Florida, with festivities at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort. The couple met as undergrads at Alabama. Pic http://politi.co/2xKY0kr SPOTTED: Ian Sams and CadeAnn Smith, John Hammontree, Marc Rodriguez, Carl Holshouser and Andy Smith, Paul Jimenez and Regina Peña.

WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Tony Lombardo, executive editor for Military Times, and Jessica Coomes, deputy news director for Bloomberg BNA, recently welcomed Leo Thomas Lombardo. Leo came in at 8 pound 4 ounces and join his two sisters. Pic http://politi.co/2w4VKVI

TRANSITIONS — Ben Sparks has started as director of political affairs at Red Rock Strategies. He most recently was director for political and public affairs at digital ad firm Arena. … Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati has hired Beth George in the San Francisco office for the firm’s privacy and data protection practice. She previously served as deputy general counsel at the Defense Department in the Obama administration. … Geoffrey Baum has started as director of media relations at the Milken Institute. He is a former C-SPAN Washington Journal executive producer and Sunnylands communications director.

BIRTHWEEK (was yesterday): WSJ DC bureau chief Paul Beckett. He celebrated his 50thwith champagne with colleagues in the office. (hat tip: Brody Mullins)

BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: LA Times’ Christi Parsons, who’s currently writing a “book about de-segregation of the Tuscaloosa, Alabama public schools in the 1980s.” How she’s celebrating: “This is Big Fifty, so I’m celebrating all year! Every day I do something special with someone dear.” Read her Playbook Plus Q&A: http://politi.co/2goCtL0

BIRTHDAYS: Warren Buffett … CNN’s John King … Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) … Jordan Kauflin … Ginny Hunt, principal for strategy and civic innovation at Google … Kerri Collins … Caitlin Girouard, comms. director for Sen. Klobuchar … Patrick Kerley, managing director at Burson-Marsteller … Corley Kenna, director of global comms and PR at Patagonia (h/ts Ben Chang) … WaPo’s Martine Powers (h/t Lauren Dezenski) … Politico’s analytics and search guru Mitch Schuler … Politico’s Jennifer Dreyer and Catherine Pritchard … Elizabeth Harball, reporter for Alaska’s Energy Desk … Gary Ginsberg, EVP of Time Warner and founding editor of “George” together with JFK, Jr. (h/t Jewish Insider) … Kimmy Railey, reporter at National Journal’s Hotline (h/t Zach Montellaro, filing from Chicago) … Margy Levinson of BerlinRosen Public Affairs … Fox News’ Eldad Yaron … Bradley Silverman … Alex Cathcart of Federal Capital Partners …

… Murray Weiss of CBS News’ “48 Hours” … John Donner of Glendale, CA (h/t son Jason Donner, ace Fox News producer roaming Capitol Hill) … Ariana Berengaut … Eric Pooley, SVP of strategy and comms at the Environmental Defense Fund … Susan Holappa … George Riccardo … Christine Marlowe … Karl Russo … Minna Elias … Bush SBA alum Cheryl Mills … Sara Cooper … Christine Mangi … Heidi Aldrich … Rob Dettbarn … Jody Day … Greg Spring, spending his BIG day dancing the night away in Minneapolis … Ruthie Posekany … Justin Paschal … Jadyn Gilbert (h/ts Teresa Vilmain) … Charlie Pope … Terry Bish … Sean Finnegan … Andrey Che … Cristine Russell … Pam Gibson … comedian Lewis Black … Cameron Diaz … Lisa Ling … Andy Roddick (h/ts AP)

****** A message from the American Bankers Association: America’s banks play a critical role in generating economic growth while delivering safety and convenience for customers. The two million women and men who work for America’s banks safeguard $12.9 trillion in deposits and originate $2.4 trillion in home loans. They provide $331 billion in loans to small businesses and $175 billion in loans to farmers and ranchers. Banks’ fraud protection measures stop at least $11 billion in attempted fraud each year. And thousands of banker volunteers deliver financial literacy lessons annually to millions of young Americans to help them become financially successful adults. Find out more at http://ift.tt/2mLVFR3, #AmericasBanks ******

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