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NATO, Scott Pruitt, Supreme Court: Your Tuesday Evening Briefing

NATO, Scott Pruitt, Supreme Court: Your Tuesday Evening Briefing

By Joumana Khatib and Hiroko Masuike

(Want to get this briefing by email? Here’s the sign-up.)

Good evening. Here’s the latest.

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CreditTom Brenner/The New York Times

1. President Trump has delivered a blunt message to NATO allies: Spend more, or else.

We gathered details of Mr. Trump’s letters to the leaders of countries including Germany, Canada, Norway and Belgium, chastising them for not increasing defense financing.

It was the latest sign of acrimony between the U.S. and its traditional allies ahead of a NATO summit meeting next week. That meeting may well be overshadowed by another immediately following: Mr. Trump’s formal solo with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president.

We also have details of Mr. Trump’s phone call with the Mexican president-elect, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. The conversation, about immigration and trade, seems to have gone well.

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CreditHannibal Hanschke/Reuters

2. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s retreat on migration on Monday was a spectacular sacrifice.

The German leader, who had staked her legacy on welcoming hundreds of thousands of migrants into the country, has now agreed to tighten the border with Austria and build camps to screen asylum seekers.

It’s hard to overstate the stakes at play, our Interpreter columnists write, including the possible end of open European borders — or even European unity itself.

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CreditWilliam Widmer for The New York Times

3. “It drives me crazy when we don’t practice what Jesus preaches because of the mix of religion and national politics.”

That was a Presbyterian pastor in tiny Mount Pleasant, Iowa, above, upset at the silence from one religious quarter after an ICE raid in May that left the town divided.

Many Protestants, Lutherans and Catholics rushed to help the 32 Latino men detained and their families. Evangelicals? Largely silent. “My heart breaks for that,” the pastor, the Rev. Trey Hegar, said.

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CreditJoshua Lott for The New York Times

4. The future of affirmative action is at a crossroads.

The Trump administration is urging universities to ignore race in admissions decisions. The move reverses an Obama-era push to increase diversity in higher education.

The move does not have force of law, but Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said prosecutors will investigate or sue schools over what they see as discriminatory policies — essentially, any use of race as a measurement of diversity in education.

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CreditErin Schaff for The New York Times

5. President Trump has interviewed four candidates to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court.

We were told they were all federal appeals court judges: Brett M. Kavanaugh of the District of Columbia Circuit; Amy Coney Barrett of the Seventh Circuit, in Chicago; and Raymond M. Kethledge and Amul R. Thapar of the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati.

A person close to Mr. Trump said his favorites were Judge Kavanaugh, a Washington fixture, and Judge Barrett, who was a law professor until her recent appointment to the court. Their stark differences open a window onto a rift within the conservative legal movement.

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CreditTom Brenner/The New York Times

6. A former E.P.A. policy chief told a congressional committee that Scott Pruitt, the agency’s administrator, asked her to help his wife find a job.

The claim is the latest in a string accusing Mr. Pruitt, above, of relying on government staff members to carry out personal duties.

Other reports say that he asked aides to find a business opportunity for his wife from the fast-food franchise Chick-fil-A, and that she received $ 2,000 from Concordia, a Manhattan-based nonprofit that had asked Mr. Pruitt to speak at an event last year.

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CreditFazry Ismail/EPA, via Shutterstock

7. Malaysia’s former prime minister was arrested early Tuesday amid a corruption inquiry and is expected to be charged in the coming hours.

Najib Razak, above, has been accused of diverting $ 731 million from a state investment fund, 1MDB, that he supervised to his personal bank accounts. He was ousted two months ago, as voters’ anger helped propel an opposition government to victory.

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CreditMaxim Zmeyev/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

8. At the World Cup:

England beat Colombia in a tense penalty shootout. And after a 1-0 win over Switzerland, Sweden will advance to the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time in over 20 years.

This year’s most prized World Cup souvenir is raising a few questions.

New digital Fan IDs are required to get into stadiums, and they also give fans perks like visa-free entry to Russia. But there may be a dark side: Attendees turned over sensitive personal information like dates of birth, passport information and phone numbers to get the badges, and the Russian government tracks fans’ comings and goings.

The badges and the information the government collected have raised privacy concerns, particularly in a country known for surveilling its citizens.

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CreditPeter Arkle

9. In our Travel section, the actor and comedian Michael Ian Black defends a time-honored, if currently uncool, vacation.

“Everything about the weeklong Caribbean cruise is meant to buff life’s unpleasant edges into sea glass,” he writes. “If it sounds like I am making fun, I am not. I love it.”

The thrill of togetherness, the joys of onboard civility: “Out there in the balmy breezes,” he writes, “…coolness falls away, as unnecessary and cumbersome as a poolside leather jacket.”

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CreditCourtesy of Macy’s

10. Finally, for New York’s Fourth of July, Macy’s is planning the biggest, most spectacular firework display in its 42-year run: 75,000 shells.

The man who orchestrates it all ran through the pyrotechnic delights he’s pulled from across the world.

We’ll be off celebrating tomorrow. Have a wonderful holiday, and see you Thursday.

Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.

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