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Inside Politics forecast: Trump's Russia test

'Inside Politics' forecast: Bonjour POTUS
'Inside Politics' forecast: Bonjour POTUS


    'Inside Politics' forecast: Bonjour POTUS


'Inside Politics' forecast: Bonjour POTUS 03:57

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump's Bastille Day plans, the impact of his G20 trip on the Russia sanctions debate, a quiet time in the Russia investigations, and branding challenges for both parties. It's all in this week's Inside Politics forecast.

Whither the sanctions debate?

Trump tweeted early Sunday that existing sanctions against Russia will stay in place unless and until Moscow changes its policies on Ukraine and Syria.
But what about a sanctions push by members of Congress? Will members press ahead or back down after the President's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin?
    Karoun Demirjian of The Washington Post shared reporting on a key question as Congress returns from its Fourth of July break.
    "After this meeting, with everything that's come out of it, will Congress actually step in front of the President to block him on what he can and can't do, vis-a-vis sanctions policy with Russia going forward?" Demirjian said Sunday on CNN's "Inside Politics."

    Does a "pause" in the investigations create a White House opening?

    The top three White House legislative priorities are all in limbo: health care, tax reform, and infrastructure.
    Administration aides complain frequently that one reason is all of the media and congressional attention being dedicated to the congressional and special counsel investigations into Russia election interference.
    But while the work of the investigations is intensifying, Michael Shear of The New York Times said Sunday on "Inside Politics" that "there are no big public hearings on the schedule for the days and weeks ahead -- perhaps creating an opportunity for the White House."
    "We're entering a period on the Russian investigations which may be a little bit publicly fallow," Shear said. "There's no big public hearings coming up, which gives the President a little bit of an opportunity to maybe focus on the rest of his agenda. We've got health care and other things that he would like to accomplish. The big question is, can he keep from tweeting about it, and thus bringing tension back to a subject that he really doesn't want to talk about?"

    A quick turnaround -- back to Europe for the President

    The President is heading back to Europe this week, to join Bastille Day celebrations in France.
    It will put a fresh spotlight on the interesting new relationship unfolding between Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron.
    Macron is a fierce Trump critic on climate change and is organizing a climate summit in France later this year.
    Yet he made a personal pitch for Trump to come to Paris for Bastille Day.
    In accepting, Trump made his own calculations, CNN's Jeff Zeleny explained.
    "This is a President who is not all that fond of leaving his bubble at the White House," Zeleny said. "But he does want to make the point that he wants to be a player on the world stage. But what kind of player is sort of uncertain. But very unusual he's going back. But I think it is something that he wants to develop, a relationship with President Macron."

    Democrats try a new brand -- will it work?

    Democrats are not only debating their leadership, but also their branding heading into the 2018 midterms.
    There is a clamoring in the party for a consistent economic message, but Mary Katharine Ham of The Federalist turned the spotlight on a new slogan being tested as those policy conversations continue.
    "The DCCC is trying out a new slogan that they got roasted for online: 'I mean, have you seen the other guys?' Which I think, actually, it's not a bad beat on where politics is right now. The problem for them is that, surprisingly, again, the Democratic Party polls behind Trump in favorability and in 'do you understand people with my problems?,' in the in-touch, out-of-touch metric."

    'If no Obamacare repeal, then what?' is a giant GOP question

    At the outset of 2017, it appeared to be a no-brainer: Republicans, with the White House now, would pass a plan designed to keep their seven-year-old promise to repeal Obamacare.
    But, as we have all seen, it's complicated -- and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is openly frustrated that his 52 Republican members have been unable to reach a compromise.
    The Senate bill as it now stands is wildly unpopular, and Trump is on record calling the House-passed plan "mean."
    So if the Senate can't agree soon, one could see the appeal of walking away.
    But many Republican campaign strategists remind us that midterm elections are about base intensity -- and they worry a failure to keep such a central GOP promise could catastrophically deflate GOP enthusiasm.
    Would it be better or worse if Republicans step in to pass some smaller "fixes" designed to address problems with Obamacare -- as McConnell has suggested might be necessary -- including dwindling insurance industry participation in rural state exchange programs?
    Absent the votes for a big repeal and replace bill, stepping in with "fixes" might be the responsible thing to do.
    But there are already signs of internal GOP revolt just at the mention of Obamacare "fixes," and plugged-in strategists predict there would be fierce blowback among House conservatives.
    A choice between failure or fixes, as one veteran GOP campaign hand put it, is like asking someone to choose between "a hurricane and a tornado."