This Week’s Biggest Stories in American Politics


From President Trump’s mixed diplomatic messages in Europe to more indictments in the special counsel investigation, here are some of the biggest stories of the week. (And some links if you want to read further.)

President Trump named Brett M. Kavanaugh his nominee for the Supreme Court.

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President Trump with Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, his nominee for the Supreme Court, in the White House residence on Monday.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

In a Monday prime-time special, President Trump named Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to fill Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s seat on the Supreme Court. A conservative stalwart of the Washington establishment, Mr. Kavanaugh’s nomination is the culmination of a three-decade push for a reliable conservative majority on the United States’ highest court.

It’s unclear when a confirmation hearing will be held for Mr. Kavanaugh, although Republican leaders are pushing for approval before the Supreme Court’s next term starts in October. The White House has unleashed a public-relations campaign to encourage the Senate to confirm Mr. Kavanaugh, and even Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, has asked federal prosecutors to step in and help review the judge’s government documents.

Depending on the race, the nomination is becoming a factor for some voters and candidates in the midterm campaigns. Senate Democrats, despite facing a long-shot battle to block the nomination, have unleashed broad attacks on Mr. Kavanaugh’s record — even as their red-state colleagues, tangled in tough re-election campaigns, contemplate breaking with the party to support the judge and woo voters.

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In Europe, Mr. Trump continued to upend diplomatic norms.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany met briefly with President Trump.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

Mr. Trump embarked on a weeklong Europe trip that took him through a series of meetings at the annual North Atlantic Treaty Organization gathering and a short stop in Britain to meet with Prime Minister Theresa May, Queen Elizabeth II and other leaders. But in Trumpian fashion, the president blew through the diplomatic norms of engaging with American allies.

In talks in Brussels with the leaders of the 29-country Atlantic alliance, Mr. Trump escalated his criticism of American allies in Europe, demanding that NATO countries double their military spending targets and saying that Germany was “captive to Russia” because of its energy imports. The president ultimately left reaffirming his support for the alliance, but offering vague threats of a potential American withdrawal.

In Britain, Mr. Trump antagonized his host, Mrs. May, by criticizing her handling of the Brexit talks and by praising one of her most prominent rivals in an interview with a British newspaper. He tried to repair the damage on Friday with lavish praise for Mrs. May after attempts to deny what he had said and to blame the news media were unsuccessful.

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Twelve Russian intelligence officers were indicted in connection with the hacking of the Clinton presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein announced indictments against 12 Russian military officers who are accused of conspiring to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.Published OnCreditImage by T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

The indictment is part of the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and comes only days before Mr. Trump is scheduled to meet with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Helsinki, Finland. Democrats said the president should cancel the meeting because of the indictments.

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On Thursday, Peter Strzok, an embattled F.B.I. agent removed from Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation for texts showing apparent political bias, faced off with Republican lawmakers in an aggressive defense of the integrity of his work, the F.B.I. and the special counsel’s investigation. The hearing, which lasted hours, often deteriorated into shouting matches and personal attacks.

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The administration’s trade dispute with China continues to escalate.

The trade war with China intensified as the Trump administration outlined tariffs on $200 billion worth of products. China has already retaliated against the first round of tariffs with its own levies on American goods, including soybeans.CreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Trump administration again threatened China over trade on Tuesday, saying it would impose tariffs on roughly $200 billion worth of Chinese fish, petroleum, chemicals, handbags, textiles and other products if Beijing did not change its tactics.

This latest round would pull American consumers into the budding trade war between the two countries because it would push up prices at many retailers in the United States. (Here’s how much the tariffs will cost American families so far.)

The tensions show no sign of dying down: On Thursday, Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, told lawmakers that talks with Beijing had “broken down,” while Chinese officials accused the United States of “acting erratically.”

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Some migrant parents have been reunited with their children. Others, however, remain apart.

Mirce Alva Lopez, 31, with her son Adan, 3, at a bus station in Phoenix. The two were reunited on Tuesday after four months apart.CreditVictor J. Blue for The New York Times

The first wave of reunions between migrant families separated at the border began on Tuesday, as federal officials faced a legal deadline to return children to their parents. Earlier in the week, the Trump administration had failed to persuade a federal court to allow long-term detention of migrant families.

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On Thursday, the administration said it had reunited all of the eligible children under 5 that it had in custody with their migrant parents. But some parents, already deported or accused of crimes, have not yet been reunited with their children.

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