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NotedDC — Biden’s Saudi trip sparks backlash at home

President Biden will walk a diplomatic tightrope during his trip to Saudi Arabia, with the president facing pressure to publicly hold the nation accountable for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

What’s haunting Biden is his previous promise during his presidential campaign to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” state, or international outcast, over the 2018 killing of the U.S. resident and Washington Post contributor in a Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

“The world had every reason to think he meant it,” Fred Ryan, publisher of The Post, wrote in a rare column Monday about Biden’s promise.

Biden will meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman later this week. Ryan said a “staged handshake” between the two would “belong in an album of American shame” and urged Biden to meet “face-to-face” with political dissidents.

Dennis Ross, a former ambassador to the Middle East, said the sticky situation Biden finds himself in is not an anomaly among previous presidents he’s advised, including former Presidents Obama, Clinton and H.W. Bush.

“During the heat of political campaigns, candidates say all sorts of things,” Ross told NotedDC. “It’s something else what you do in practice when you’re suddenly faced with dilemmas.” 

Biden justified his trip as necessary to create a more “stable and secure” region and to find allies against Russia and China. But the domestic pressure to lower gas prices underscores the purpose of the trip, as Saudi Arabia holds the keys to the oil market.

Diane Foley, the mother of ISIS-captured and later slain American journalist James Foley, agreed Biden has a tricky line to toe: to create an open and constructive dialogue while upholding democratic values and moral standards.

“It’s important to hold our enemies close,” she told us. “But Biden has to be very wary and shrewd of these leaders because I don’t think they can be trusted at all.”

Welcome to NotedDC: Your guide to politics, policy & people of consequence in D.C.

In today’s issue: Senate Democrats post major fundraising hauls and the Jan. 6 committee looks at a new area of its probe.

Plus: Which candidates are drawing young voters’ attention and a free way to see the Hubble “telescope” in person in the District.

💰 Senate Dems posting big cash numbers

Democratic Senate candidates are drawing in big numbers ahead of the next campaign finance deadline, as the party seeks to keep control of the upper chamber.

Rep. Val Demings (D) brought in $12.2 million in the latest fundraising period as she battles incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio (R) in Florida.

  • This brings Demings’s total fundraising efforts to date to more than $41 million. According to her campaign, its average donation was $30 this quarter.
  • Rubio still leads Demings in most polls and Florida has seen some of its voters — including Hispanics — shift Republican, but Demings has created a national name for herself.

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) has raked in $11 million in the latest fundraising period as he tries to flip a Senate seat in the Keystone State.

  • It’s the largest sum any Pennsylvania candidate has ever raised in one fundraising quarter. The haul is $8 million more than Fetterman raised in the first quarter before suffering a stroke in May and being largely absent from the campaign trail.
  • Fetterman held a 6-point lead over GOP Senate nominee Mehmet Oz in June, according to an AARP poll.

Read more from our colleague Julia Manchester on the massive haul.

DEMOCRATS’ ‘DOOMSDAY SCENARIO’

Despite record-breaking fundraising numbers, Democrats are increasingly worried that their chances of keeping the House and Senate are growing slimmer. 

Unexpected problems in the Senate, including Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) coming down with a case of COVID-19, are not helping Democrats’ agenda ahead of a two-week August recess.

But Schumer is still working remotely, as he’s in serious talks with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to revive a slimmed-down version of the “Build Back Better” bill.

Manchin is still expected to be Democrats’ biggest hurdle ahead of November:

  • Republicans and special interests are already putting pressure on Manchin to reject any deal on a broad budget package that would focus on tax reform and energy, our colleague Alex Bolton reports.

Some good news for Dems: The Senate confirmed Steve Dettelbach on Tuesday to become the first permanent head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) since 2015, giving Biden another achievement to tout on gun safety.

🇺🇸 Young Dems buck their standard bearer

Young voters are particularly cool to the possibility of President Biden making another White House run in 2024, a warning sign as he weighs another bid.

Biden’s prospects in his party are seemingly bleak heading into the midterms, as he faces low approval ratings, constant questions about his older age and high inflation.

But new polls reveal another challenge: Winning over Gen Z and Millennial voters.

  • Ninety-four percent of voters between the ages of 18-29 want someone else to be the nominee, according to a New York Times/Siena College survey. A plurality, 41 percent, pointed to his job performance; 14 percent cited his age.
  • A majority of voters between the ages of 18-34, 56 percent, said they do not believe Biden should run again, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll published Tuesday. 

What’s underscoring this: Our colleagues Amie Parnes and Morgan Chalfant write that Democrats want Biden to “replicate their rage” over abortion rights and gun safety, two issues that rank as high-priority issues for younger voters.

Meanwhile, on the GOP side:

Former President Trump is still the most popular figure against other possible GOP candidates in 2024, but Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz have notable support among younger voters in a poll published this week.

  • Forty-one percent of voters between the ages of 18-29 said they would vote for Trump, while 25 percent would support DeSantis and another 25 percent would support Cruz, according to a New York Times/Siena College survey.
  • Trump holds a 24-point lead over DeSantis in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup, while other alternatives are all polling in the single digits.

FIRST IN THE HILL: Biden draws pushback over floated judicial pick

Two progressive groups are running ads putting pressure on the White House over its consideration of nominating an anti-abortion judge to the federal bench, our colleague Brett Samuels first reported.

Between the lines: Progressives have been angry after it was reported that Biden apparently struck a deal with Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) to nominate anti-abortion attorney Chad Meredith to a federal judgeship in Kentucky to facilitate future nominees, as first reported by the Louisville Courier-Journal.

However: Biden named a round of federal judicial nominees Tuesday, and Meredith wasn’t on the list. The White House hasn’t offered comment on the saga amid criticism from progressives that it isn’t doing enough to protect abortion access following the Supreme Court’s decision striking down Roe v. Wade.

🔥 Takeaways from latest Jan. 6 hearing

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot held its seventh hearing Tuesday. Here are five takeaways from the latest hearing:

1. Trump aides wanted to seize voting machines

During a Dec. 18, 2020 meeting, White House officials said outside advisers to the president yelled at aides who opposed a plan to seize voting machines to overturn the election. The next day Trump tweeted about a “wild” Jan. 6 protest over the election.

2. Oath Keepers see fault 

Members of the far-right Oath Keepers group have spoken out after taking part in the Capitol attack.

“I was swept up too,” Jason Van Tatenhove, a former Oath Keepers spokesman, told the Jan. 6 House panel.

  • Why he broke from the group: Van Tatenhove said he overheard a public conversation between members talking about the Holocaust not being real.
  • “I’ve gotta walk away at this point… I just no longer continue,” he said of his thinking at the time. 

Another Oath Keepers member, Stephen Ayres, an Ohio resident who has pleaded guilty to his involvement in Jan. 6., said he followed Trump on Twitter and saw his tweet about a “wild” rally as a clarion call.

  • “I felt like I needed to be down here,” he told the committee. “The president got everyone riled up.”
  • Ayres said he believed Trump would join them: “He said so in his speech.”
  • He also said Trump’s tweet that told protestors to go home was what sparked the retreat from the Capitol. “Everybody started talking about it,” Ayres said.

3. Bannon said ‘all hell’ would break loose

Trump spoke on the phone with former White House adviser and political strategist Steve Bannon at least twice on the day before the Capitol attack. 

  • Bannon spoke to Trump on Jan. 5 for 11 minutes, according to White House call logs. He then went on a right-wing talk show and predicted the next day would be eventful.
  • “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow,” Bannon said in video the committee aired. “It’s all converging and now we’re on, as they say, the point of attack.” 

4. Parscale blames Trump 

Former Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale thought that Trump’s rhetoric in his Ellipse speech incited the Capitol riot, according to text messages presented at the hearing.

  • “A sitting president asking for a civil war,” Parscale wrote in a separate message. “This week I feel guilty for helping him win.”
  • He also blamed the insurrection for the death of rioter Ashli Babbitt: “Yeah. But a woman is dead,” he wrote. “You do realize this was going to happen.” 

5. Unsent Trump draft tweet urged a march to Capitol

The Jan. 6 panel shared a tweet that was drafted in Trump’s voice but never actually sent. The panel said it obtained the tweet from the National Archives.

“I will be making a Bid Speech at 10AM on January 6th at the Ellipse (South of the White House).Please arrive early, massive crowds expected. March to the Capitol after. Stop the Steal!!” the tweet read.

🔭 Go see the Hubble telescope in person

If you’re catching a train at Union Station this week, stop by the Main Hall to see an exhibit celebrating the James Webb Space Telescope, which promises to deliver new discoveries about the universe.

  • While the real telescope is parked some 930,000 miles from Earth, the exhibit will include two kiosks to generate a virtual reality version showcasing a life-sized telescope.

Have some news, juicy gossip, insight or other insider info? Send us tips: Elizabeth Crisp and Kelsey Carolan. And encourage friends to sign up here: digital-stage.thehill.com/noted.

We’ll see you tomorrow!

READ THE FULL VERSION HERE

Tags biden foreign policy human rights Jamal Khashoggi Jamal Khashoggi Jan. 6 Capitol riot Joe Biden John Fetterman saudi arabia US-Saudi relations Val Demings

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File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

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In this photo released by the Governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev telegram channel, a rescuer gestures as he helps people during an evacuation after storm and flooding in Sevastopol, Crimea, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. A storm in the Black Sea took down power grids and left almost half a million people without power after it flooded roads, ripped up trees and damaged buildings in Crimea, Russian state news agency Tass said. (Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev's telegram channel via AP)
In this photo released by the Governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev telegram channel, a rescuer gestures as he helps people during an evacuation after storm and flooding in Sevastopol, Crimea, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. A storm in the Black Sea took down power grids and left almost half a million people without power after it flooded roads, ripped up trees and damaged buildings in Crimea, Russian state news agency Tass said. (Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev's telegram channel via AP)

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