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Morning news brief

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The Republican Party has published its platform, the principles it will run on for this fall's campaign.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

At the urging of former President Trump, the document is very short, compared with the documents that both parties have put out in past elections. It is revealing for what it says and what it leaves out.

FADEL: NPR's Stephen Fowler has been reading, and he joins me now. Hi, Stephen.

STEPHEN FOWLER, BYLINE: Hey there.

FADEL: So what's your impression?

FOWLER: On the surface, Leila, yeah, it's brief. In 2016, Republicans had more than 66 pages of dense texts that sketched out numerous policy goals if they took power. Now just 16 pages that sounds a lot like a rally speech and reads more like a post on Trump's Truth Social website. There's short bullet points about plans to make America great again, plus 20 promises, typed in all caps, vowing to do things like seal the border and stop the migrant invasion.

FADEL: OK, so a lot of slogans. And that term migrant invasion to describe people crossing the border jumps out at me. It's language that was also thrown around a lot during the Trump administration and then echoed in the racist screed of the shooter in El Paso back in 2019, who carried out that deadly attack on Latinos in a Walmart. So other than these slogans, do we learn much?

FOWLER: You can if you also combine that with what Trump did his first four years in office before, and what he said on the campaign trail this year. I mean, there's the pledge to enact the largest ever deportation operation in American history that's central to his stump speeches. He said that would require help from local police and the National Guard. There's also the suggestion to bring back a travel ban from Muslim-majority countries he pushed during his first year in office.

FADEL: Right.

FOWLER: A vow to bring back extreme vetting of immigrants and their backgrounds as they seek to come into the country, and an aggressive plan to use the military to secure the U.S.-Mexico border.

FADEL: OK, a theme there. What else?

FOWLER: Well, there's a call for same-day voting, even though the GOP is pushing its voters to, quote, "swamp the vote" and cast ballots early this year. Calls to make America the dominant energy producer in the world come as the U.S. is already the world's leading oil producer, while also including shoutouts to artificial intelligence and cryptocurrency, two things that are heavy energy consumers. And Trump's economic proposals, Leila, include more tax cuts and new tariffs on foreign goods that some experts say could lead to more inflation.

FADEL: So I didn't hear you mention abortion, though, which is a big issue this election. Trump has been evasive at times on what he would sign into law. Anything on that?

FOWLER: Here's where we see both the political impact of the platform as well as its limitations. After 35 mentions of the word abortion in 2016's platform, the current platform only has one.

FADEL: Wow.

FOWLER: Because of Trump, the official stance now is that states can decide what level of restrictions to enact. I mean, Republicans have been consistently on the losing side of this issue at the ballot box ever since that Dobbs Supreme Court decision. While Republicans do not commit here to a national abortion ban, this platform is not binding in any way. And it doesn't change the views of many of his allies and advocacy groups who still want that type of restriction and will likely still push for it if Trump wins, especially given language in the platform about the 14th Amendment's guarantee to life that leaves the door open for more.

FADEL: And what's been the reaction to the policy paper?

FOWLER: Well, even though some anti-abortion groups are upset at the softening of the language there, there's still Republican unity behind Trump heading into the convention next week. Democrats are tying it to the larger Project 2025 proposed by Trump allies that go even further with its proposals to reshape the government. And everyone seems to agree a second term Trump could get more of this done thanks to more allies in Congress and the courts.

FADEL: That's NPR's Stephen Fowler in Atlanta. Thank you, Stephen.

FOWLER: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

FADEL: NATO allies are gathering for a summit in Washington on the 75th anniversary of the alliance's founding in the city where it all began.

INSKEEP: The alliance faces some of its biggest challenges as it looks ahead to political uncertainty in a number of countries, including the United States.

FADEL: Teri Schultz has covered NATO for many years and joins me now. Hi, Teri.

TERI SCHULTZ: Good morning, Leila.

FADEL: Good morning. So just yesterday, Russia launched one of its most brutal attacks on Ukraine to date, destroying the largest children's hospital in the country. Will this impact decisions being made at the summit?

SCHULTZ: Well, Leila, NATO has actually come to expect that Russian President Vladimir Putin will do something to draw attention to himself ahead of big events like the summit. But I think in this case, this horrible hospital attack will actually...

FADEL: Yeah.

SCHULTZ: ...Reinforce support for Ukraine and its long-standing plea for more air defense to block these Russian missiles and save civilian lives. So we're likely to see announcements on that at this meeting.

FADEL: Yeah, I was really shocked to see that hospital destroyed. I was there at the beginning of the war talking to kids being treated. We know Ukraine will not be offered membership at the summit, but what is teed up in terms of other kinds of support?

SCHULTZ: That's right, no membership. But there are a few items they'll get in this summit declaration. Leaders are expected to approve, for example, handing over to NATO the coordination of training Ukrainian soldiers and the logistics of getting weapons delivered to Ukraine. Those are things the U.S. has largely headed up till now out of a base out in Germany. And the idea is that it would be NATO-ized or institutionalized.

The final declaration will also pledge to keep NATO-wide military contributions to Ukraine at the level of 40 billion euros collectively for at least the next year. Now, Leila, these are things Secretary General Stoltenberg proposed in part specifically because he was worried about what might happen if Donald Trump is elected and follows through on those promises to cut off U.S. participation in NATO and cut off aid to Ukraine.

FADEL: Would this declaration really compel a potential Trump administration to support it?

SCHULTZ: That's a question I also have.

FADEL: Yeah.

SCHULTZ: Because the declaration isn't binding, and NATO doesn't have any enforcement mechanisms. So if Trump wins another term, I don't see how you hold him to these pledges. He's even indicated, of course, that he doesn't even feel bound by NATO's most sacred principle of collective security - the all for one, one for all pledge which, by the way, as we recall, has only been ever used to help the U.S. after 9/11.

FADEL: And Trump has also tied U.S. solidarity to how much NATO allies - other NATO allies spend on defense, believing that the U.S. is carrying everyone else.

SCHULTZ: He definitely does, and that's been very unsettling to the alliance. And it got only more so in this campaign cycle when, as you probably remember, Trump said Russia should just do whatever the hell it wants to NATO allies under-spending on defense. And that's, of course, according to this NATO goal of 2% of GDP. Now 23 of the 32 allies are spending that 2%. But it's still true that there are too many military capabilities that NATO without the U.S. wouldn't have. And so allies urgently need to fill those gaps in any case.

FADEL: So it sounds like the allies were trying to Trump-proof NATO. Did they succeed?

SCHULTZ: It's too early to know, of course, but I'm surprised by one thing. They're not going to set a new higher target for defense spending. They all know that 2% of GDP is too low now, and more ambition might be seen positively by Trump, but they're not going to do it. There's, of course, a lot of concern about how admiringly Trump seems to view Vladimir Putin. But I think people are quietly optimistic that he wouldn't actually cut off all U.S. involvement in NATO. And I think, Leila, their best Trump-proofing plan is having chosen former Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to take over as the next secretary general October 1. Trump knows him. He's even described him as a friend. And Rutte obviously knew a Trump reelection was a possibility, so he must feel up to it.

FADEL: That's Teri Schultz reporting from Brussels. Thanks, Teri.

SCHULTZ: Thanks, Leila.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: Next, we have news of a new approach to organ donation.

FADEL: It's a technique to retrieve livers, kidneys or hearts for those in need. The overall process is well-established. People put right on their driver's licenses that they're willing to be organ donors. Their organs may save a life through a transplant. What's new here is the technique for retrieving those organs.

INSKEEP: NPR health correspondent Rob Stein got an exclusive chance to watch this happen. And I'll warn you right now that some people may feel uncomfortable with this story. Hi there, Rob.

ROB STEIN, BYLINE: Hey there, Steve.

INSKEEP: What is the new technique?

STEIN: It's called NRP, which stands for normothermic regional perfusion.

INSKEEP: OK.

STEIN: And it involves hooking up a special external pump to the organ donor to restart circulation, and sometimes the heartbeat, right after the donor has been declared dead.

INSKEEP: Wow.

STEIN: The idea is to keep the livers, kidneys and heart from getting damaged. Dr. Marty Sellers is a surgeon with Tennessee Donor Services in Nashville, who let me shadow him on two recent attempts to perform the NRP procedure.

MARTY SELLERS: It's hard to overstate the importance of it. It's revolutionized the number of organs that we are able to get for transplant, and it's also improved the function that they have when they get transplanted. We are saving lives. That would've been science fiction just a few years ago.

STEIN: But, you know, Steve, this new way of getting organs is hugely controversial.

INSKEEP: I can imagine, but what is the issue here?

STEIN: Critics say restarting circulation and sometimes the heartbeat is essentially reversing the very conditions upon which the donor has just been declared dead, and that's permanent cessation of circulation. And, you know, Steve, the surgeon also cuts off blood flow to the brain to make sure any brain activity doesn't resume, and that's controversial, too. Alexander Capron is a lawyer and bioethicist at the University of Southern California I talked to about this.

ALEXANDER CAPRON: I believe the procedure raises very major ethical and legal issues. And, yes, I find it disturbing.

INSKEEP: So what was it like when you witnessed this process that must feel to some people like taking the dead and briefly making them undead?

STEIN: It was incredibly intense, Steve, I have to say, you know, the first time I hopped on a jet in Nashville with Dr. Sellers and his team to try to retrieve a liver and two kidneys from a donor in Chattanooga. And after spending a long day and very tense night in the operating room, the procedure was canceled in the wee hours of the morning because the donor continued to breathe on her own, even after life support was withdrawn.

(SOUNDBITE OF MACHINE BEEPING)

STEIN: So I flew back to Tennessee about a week later to see another attempt, this time in eastern Tennessee. Again, it was quite dramatic. There were a lot of complications again, but this time I watched for hours as Sellers was finally able to retrieve two kidneys from that donor using a modified version of NRP.

SELLERS: Kidneys are out at 14:26

STEIN: It was pretty powerful and eye-opening watching all this unfold in the operating room. Here's Dr. Sellers again.

SELLERS: I don't want to oversimplify it, but it's life or death. And while people are discussing the pros and cons of it, people are dying.

STEIN: During that second procedure, a surgeon from another state joined Sellers to learn how he could start doing NRP, too. So, you know, Steve, it's clear this debate won't end anytime soon.

INSKEEP: Rob, thanks for creeping me out. I really appreciate it.

STEIN: Sure. Anytime, Steve.

INSKEEP: That's NPR health correspondent Rob Stein. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.