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The Morning Briefing: 'Air Claire' McCaskill, Sarah Huckabee Sanders Out? And Much, Much More

Good Thursday Morning!

Especially good if you're flying "Air Claire."

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is in hot water once again after using a private plane to fly to campaign stops on an RV tour. The Washington Free Beacon's Brent Scher broke the story Tuesday, citing plane records that demonstrate McCaskill taking to the skies during a "Veterans for Claire" tour. The campaign kept a live blog of its three-day RV trip, but neglected to mention the senator's flights.

In comments to POLITICO, McCaskill attacked the Free Beacon's report as "not accurate," but she confirmed the substance of the complaint: she had indeed used her private plane during the RV tour.

"I added some stops with the use of the plane, but I was on the RV so much that the broken drawer drove me crazy," McCaskill admitted, adding that "I even lost an iPad around a corner on the RV."

She disputed the notion that the use of the plane allowed her to "pretend" that she was using an RV rather than the multi-million-dollar plane, reportedly purchased by her husband's company in 2013.

"I spent two-plus days on the RV," McCaskill said, and the plane "picked me up at the end of one day, after I spent all day on the RV" before being used to add "some stops." The RV wasn't used during that added portion of the tour, she said.

The senator's Republican challenger, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, told POLITICO McCaskill had "completely lost touch with reality." While she has "no inkling" of life in her state, Hawley said he "loves our way of life" in Missouri"and isn't complaining about it," a reference to the broken drawer complaint.

"It must be good to be rich and liberal," Hawley tweeted, sharing the Free Beacon report.

“Claire McCaskill is desperate to put on a folksy act when she’s back in Missouri, but she’s too much of an elitist to even stick to a three-day RV tour without hopping on her private plane," National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Bob Salera told POLITICO.

President Donald Trump weighed in on Wednesday afternoon, declaring, "Senator Claire McCaskill of the GREAT State of Missouri flew around in a luxurious private jet during her RV tour of the state. RV’s are not for her. People are really upset, so phony! Josh Hawley should win big, and has my full endorsement."

McCaskill responded, “Paying on my own dime to visit more Missouri veterans is not something I’m going to apologize for.”

Talk about a flip-flop! On Tuesday, Sen. McCaskill blasted the story as false. Yesterday, she admitted it was true, but defended her actions, saying she did it for the veterans...

Worse, McCaskill spun lies that were easy to disprove. The campaign said the private plane took the senator to a stop in St. Joseph that was added with too little time for her to drive the RV there, but NTK Network found an email announcing the St. Joseph stop, five days in advance.

By the way, this isn't the first time McCaskill's air travel has become a campaign issue. She sold a private plane in 2011 after admitting she failed to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in property taxes on the aircraft. She also reimbursed the Treasury Department for more than $88,000 after news broke that she had chartered dozens of flights using her Senate office budget.

National Review and Laura Ingraham take aim at Scott Pruitt.

On Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt had enlisted an aide and Republican donors to find his wife a job.

Fox News host Laura Ingraham called for Pruitt's ouster following this report. "PRUITT BAD JUDGMENT HURTING POTUS, GOTTA GO," she tweeted in Trump's style.

National Review also called for Pruitt's ouster on Wednesday. "We are now at a point where a good week for Pruitt sees only one report of behavior that is bizarre or venal," the editors wrote.

National Review listed a number of Pruitt scandals, including the EPA head enlisting aides to secure a job for his wife and to get him a discounted mattress from a Trump hotel, giving his top aides significant pay bumps, and mixing up his story on whether he knew about those raises.

“This is no way for any public official to treat taxpayers. It also makes it practically impossible for Pruitt to make the case for the Trump administration’s environmental policies — a case that we continue to believe deserves to be made,” the editors declared.

National Review and Ingraham joined The Weekly Standard in calling for Pruitt's ouster, which the Standard — run by Never Trumper Bill Kristol — did last month.

And in the category of fake news...

CBS News reported predicted Wednesday that White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah were planning to leave Trump's employment at the end of 2018.

CBS reported that Sanders "has told friends that she plans to leave the administration at the end of the year," citing "sources inside the White House and close to the administration." As for Shah, CBS said he was planning to leave, but he hadn't settled a date.

Both Sanders and Shah immediately shot down the report. A source told The Washington Times that Shah told those around him the report is "fake news."

"Does CBS News know something I don't about my plans and my future?" Sanders tweeted. "I was at my daughter's year-end Kindergarten event and they ran a story about my 'plans to leave the WH' without even talking to me. I love my job and am honored to work for POTUS."

Photo of the day.

June 14 is Flag Day (even if President Woodrow Wilson, one of America's worst presidents, proclaimed it in 1916). Here is General George Washington's flag from the Revolutionary War.

Collections manager Michelle Moskal, right, and curator Mark Turdo hang the Commander-in-Chief's Standard, Wednesday, June 13, 2018, at an exhibition gallery in the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia. The faded and fragile blue silk flag marked General George Washington's presence on the battlefield during the Revolutionary War. The museum is bringing the flag out of its archives for public viewing on Thursday, June 14, Flag Day, until Sunday. Its appearance at the museum is the flag's first public display in Philadelphia since the war. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)

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