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Help wanted: Trump looks for his fifth Homeland Security chief in three years

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Here are the stories our panel of top political reporters have on their radar, in this week’s “Inside Politics” forecast.

1. More upheaval at Homeland Security

President Donald Trump is looking to fill the top Department of Homeland Security spot for the fifth time after the resignation last week of acting DHS chief Kevin McAleenan.

“He had actually been able to curb border crossings and implement some of the administration’s harshest policies, but he never really developed a trust with the President,” Washington Post White House reporter Josh Dawsey said.

“Immigration is the core issue of his presidency,” Dawsey said. “So he has to find the fifth person in three years to lead the agency that’s really key to his reelection.”

2. Democrats move closer to obtaining Trump’s taxes

Democrats are closer than ever to getting their hands on a copy of Trump’s tax returns.

The DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Friday that Congress has every right to subpoena Trump’s accounting firm for the returns as part of its oversight authority.

“The courts are starting to come to House Democrats’ rescue,” Washington Post congressional reporter Rachael Bade said. “The problem for them is that the President of course is going to appeal this decision — all of the decisions are going to end up in the Supreme Court, so it might not matter for now because they’re going to keep dragging this out.”

Bade said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has suggested legislation that would require courts to move faster — though it would have to pass the Republican-controlled Senate to become law.

3. A runoff in Louisiana

Bad news for Democrats in Saturday’s Louisiana gubernatorial election.

Incumbent Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards failed to secure 50% of the vote against two Republicans who split the GOP vote — which means now he’s got a tougher one-on-one race with Republican Eddie Rispone.

“That makes his prospects much more difficult,” Associated Press Washington Bureau Chief Julie Pace said, adding that it’s a bad omen for the few Democratic elected officials left in the South.

“Edwards is the perfect profile for a Democrat in the deep South,” Pace said. “Another Democrat to watch in a similar circumstance is Alabama’s Doug Jones, he’s up for reelection next year. And Democrats need to hang on to that seat if they have any prospects of getting the Senate back. They have really, really tough prospects in the South.”

4. Warren on health care

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren says “I’m with Bernie” on Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ so-called Medicare for All plan — but unlike Sanders, she has refused to say outright that the plan will mean higher taxes on pretty much everyone, even if they’re effectively canceled out by lower health care costs.

But can the 2020 Democratic presidential contender get away with that line again at Tuesday’s debate?

“I’m going to be looking out for how she responds to questions about Medicare for all,” Wall Street Journal national political reporter Tarini Parti said. “This is an issue her primary opponents have really been questioning her on, how she’s going to pay for it.”

Parti said a source familiar with Warren’s thinking told her they don’t know yet what Medicare for All would cost, and so don’t know yet what kind of revenue is needed to pay for it.

“So that’s why they say she isn’t responding to whether it’s going to lead to an increase in taxes or not,” Parti said. “Different plans have different costs associated with them, so they’re still trying to figure that part out.”

5. What’s Gabbard’s game?

And from CNN senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson:

While Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has said she is “seriously considering” boycotting Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate over what she says is a rigged process, our guess is that the Democratic presidential candidate will very likely be there in Ohio.

And if her July debate appearance is any guide, a few people on that stage should worry. Gabbard has proven to be a wild card in the Democratic primary, where she is polling at about 2%.

She got the best of California Sen. Kamala Harris in a previous debate, and Tuesday is a chance for a rematch. And for Gabbard it’s also a chance to go after any number of other candidates — like South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar — as they vie to move up in the polls.

While those candidates look to make gains by going after candidates in the center of the stage, they might also want to be ready for what could come from the far ends of it, where some of the sharpest attacks have often been launched by candidates with little to lose.

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