The Daily 202: Trump has failed to offer moral leadership after Charlottesville. These 10 people are filling the void.

With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: It’s not enumerated in Article Two of the Constitution, but consoler in chief has always been one of the most important responsibilities of the American president. Playing this part has only become more important in the television age, and Donald Trump — who became president partially because of his mastery of the reality TV medium — has utterly failed to offer moral leadership during the biggest test yet of his seven-month presidency.

Think about Barack Obama’s 2015 eulogy when a white supremacist massacred African American churchgoers in Charleston, his 2011 speech after Gabby Giffords was shot in Tucson or his tearful comments after kids were gunned down at a Connecticut elementary school in 2012.

Bill Clinton encouraged Americans to “overcome evil with good” after 168 people were killed at the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995. “Let us teach our children that the God of comfort is also the God of righteousness: Those who trouble their own house will inherit the wind,” he said. “Justice will prevail.”

After millions of schoolkids saw the Challenger explode in 1986, Ronald Reagan spoke straight to camera from the Oval Office. “I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It’s all part of the process of exploration and discovery,” he said. “The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave.”

Think back to the way Lyndon Johnson and then, a decade later, Gerald Ford worked to rehabilitate the country in the days after they inherited the most powerful job on Earth. As John F. Kennedy said in Germany a few months before he was assassinated, “Dante once said that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality.”

— George W. Bush really set the standard after Sept. 11, 2001. He projected steely calm on the night of the attacks, addressing the nation from the White House when his security team wanted him to stay away from Washington. He spoke out poignantly against targeting Muslims in anger. But his best moment came when he visited the World Trade Center site on Sept. 14. Workers at Ground Zero were yelling that they couldn’t hear him. Holding a bullhorn, Bush replied: “I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people … who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!” Recalling that moment still gives us chills 16 years later.

Three days after Charlottesville, Trump also flew to New York and made an off-the-cuff statement about a national tragedy. But instead of rallying the country behind a common goal, this president infected the wound. He offered a window into the depths of his soul, and his false moral equivalency is now generating fresh scrutiny of his checkered record on race.

Asked if he puts neo-Nazis on the same “moral plane” as liberal counterprotesters, Trump replied: “I’m not putting anybody on a moral plane. What I’m saying is this. You had a group on one side and you had a group on the other, and they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and it was horrible.”

As Trump continues to dig in his heels and becomes increasingly isolated, Bush yesterday released a joint statement with his father, George H.W. Bush, from Kennebunkport. “America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred in all forms,” they said. “As we pray for Charlottesville, we are reminded of the fundamental truths recorded by that city’s most prominent citizen in the Declaration of Independence: we are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights. We know these truths to be everlasting because we have seen the decency and greatness of our country.”

Rich Lowry, the editor of the conservative magazine National Review, writes in a new column: “Over the past few days, Trump hasn’t spoken as the leader of the country, or even leader of one party, but as a leader of an inflamed faction. In general, Trump’s news conference was a tour de force of whataboutism, one of the most important rhetorical tools of the pro-Trump internet. The ‘alt-right’ marched on Charlottesville? Well, what about the ‘alt-left’? Robert E. Lee’s statue is coming down. Well, what about George Washington? … [They] were used, as whataboutism so often is, as cover for Trump’s failings and to obscure rather than sharpen distinctions. Charlottesville highlights how the problem with Trump is not the crudity of his expression. This, at times, can be part of his charm and makes him a distinctively powerful communicator. It’s the crudity of thought and feeling.

Journalist Howard Fineman sees something even more sinister. “Having risen to power by dividing the country, his party leadership and even, at times, his own campaign team, [Trump’s] aim now is to divide or discredit any institution, tradition or group in his way,” Fineman argues on HuffPost. “Trump seems perfectly willing to destroy the country to maintain his own power. … The goal, as always with Trump, is to win amid the chaos he sows, to be the last man standing in rubble. And ‘winning’ is rapidly being reduced to the raw, basic terms he prefers: brute survival. With a record-setting low approval rating, world crises everywhere and a special counsel on his tail, the main victory he can hope for is staying in office. It’s not only an emotional imperative for Trump, it’s a deliberate ― and thus far successful ― strategy.”

— Trump’s continuing unwillingness and inability to console the country has created a huge void. Nature abhors a vacuum, and the American people yearn for someone who can powerfully restate our core principles in the face of the wickedness and hatred we saw last weekend. With Trump’s failure to lead, others are stepping up to say what Trump will not — to clarify that what we saw in Charlottesville is not who we are.

Besides the Bushes, here are nine other people or entities who have shown this week that you don’t need to be president to offer moral leadership for the country:

Susan Bro:

The mother of Heather Heyer gave an extraordinarily touching eulogy about her slain daughter during a memorial service in Charlottesville yesterday.

“They tried to kill my child to shut her up, but guess what, you just magnified her,” said Bro, sparking a standing ovation that lasted nearly a minute and a half.

More than that, it was a call to action for the 32-year-old’s life to not be lost in vain. “I have aged 10 years in the last week,” Bro said. After struggling up the stairs to the podium, she urged everyone watching to fight against intolerance “as Heather would do.”

“I’d rather have my child, but by golly if I got to give her up, we’re going to make it count,” she said.

“Moments later, as the service ended, Bro implored a protester in the audience to stop her critical comments about President Trump by asking the woman to be respectful of her daughter. The woman, who called Heyer a hero, complied, and there were no other outbursts,” Ellie Silverman, Arelis R. Hernández and Steve Hendrix report from Charlottesville. “In her remarks at the service, Bro described a determined, argumentative and passionate woman who made an impact on her community despite never going to college. She implored those who wished to honor Heyer to pay attention to social events in the way that her daughter had taught her and others to do. Citing a Facebook post of Heyer’s, Bro said: ‘If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.’”

David Shulkin:

The Veterans Affairs secretary, a holdover from the Obama administration, said yesterday that he is “outraged” by what he saw from neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville. “Shulkin, who is Jewish, spoke to reporters and said that although he serves Trump, he does not speak for him,” Dan Lamothe reports.

“I do feel like as an American and as a member of the Cabinet, that I can speak for my own personal opinions on this, and I am outraged by the behavior that I have seen with the Nazis and the white supremacists,” Shulkin said. “I am outraged on the use of violence — to be able to put one’s ideals, and force them upon others.”

Shulkin said it is “a dishonor to our country’s veterans for the Nazis and the white supremacists to go unchallenged, and that we all have to speak up about this as Americans.” He then quoted the famous poem by Protestant pastor Martin Niemöller that begins, “First they came for the Socialists.”

“I strongly believe that, and I believe that history teaches us that if we don’t do that, we’re going to get ourselves down a road that isn’t consistent with what America stands for,” Shulkin said. He added that “staying silent on these issues is not acceptable,” and that he will continue to speak up for things that he believes are important.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff:

The commanders of each service branch of the military, who normally steer clear of anything that has even a whiff of politics, have each spoken out strongly against racism this week.

The chief of Naval Operations:

The Commandant of the Marine Corps:

The Army chief of staff:

The Air Force chief of staff:

The chief of the National Guard Bureau:

Rabbi Emeritus Haskel Lookstein:

The rabbi who oversaw Ivanka Trump’s conversion to Judaism sent a letter last night to his congregation condemning Trump’s statements about Charlottesville.

Writing along with two other rabbis, he said: “We are appalled by this resurgence of bigotry and anti-Semitism, and the renewed vigor of the neo-Nazis, KKK, and alt-right. … While we avoid politics, we are deeply troubled by the moral equivalency and equivocation President Trump has offered in his response to this act of violence.”

“Lookstein was close enough to the Trump family that last year he was invited to speak to the Republican National Convention,” Yashar Ali writes for New York Magazine. “He initially planned to give an invocation but later dropped out after outcry from the Modern Orthodox community and other groups.”

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.):

The Senate’s lone African American Republican said history has shown the nation typically sees the president as a part of the nation’s moral high ground. From the Charleston Post and Courier’s write-up of an interview with him yesterday: “Because of that, voters typically give deference to the objectives of the administration, he said. But he added that Trump’s answers equalizing the roles of the supremacist groups and the protesters have left the president weakened on the moral leadership front. ‘There is no doubt the last couple of days complicates this administration’s moral authority,’ Scott said …

“Scott said the issue is simple: ‘We do not support in any way, shape or form any group that thinks they are superior, or any folks who are looking to divide this nation into smaller groups.’ … Scott further pointed out that Trump’s rhetoric has not been clear enough on the denouncement of hate groups. That includes trying to equate protesters ‘with the extreme elements who are responsible for the death of an American citizen.’ By drawing a ‘moral equivalency’ between the white supremacists and counter-protesters, Scott said, ‘I think you are either missing four centuries of history in this nation or you are trying to make something what it’s not.’”

“When the administration speaks in a way that seems to cause confusion in ways I vehemently disagree, I’m going to speak out against the words of the administration,” Scott added.

John Brennan:

The former CIA director wrote a letter to Wolf Blitzer, which he allowed to be published, after the CNN anchor noted on his show after Trump’s news conference that he had lost all four grandparents to the evils of Nazism.

“I just want to extend my sympathies not only for their deaths but also to you and your family — and countless others — for the pain inflicted today by the despicable words of Donald Trump,” Brennan wrote. “Mr. Trump’s words, and the beliefs they reflect, are a national disgrace, and all Americans of conscience need to repudiate his ugly and dangerous comments. If allowed to continue along this senseless path, Mr. Trump will do lasting harm to American society and to our standing in the world. By his words and his actions, Mr. Trump is putting our national security and our collective futures at grave risk.”

António Guterres:

The secretary general of the United Nations issued a veiled but unmistakable criticism of Trump during a news conference yesterday, saying that racism is “poisoning our societies” and imploring all leaders to reject intolerance. “The U.N. chief was asked about Trump’s remarks in response to the racially charged violence in Charlottesville … and while Guterres said he does not comment on individual leaders, his criticism of Trump was nonetheless plain,” Anne Gearan reports.

“Racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or Islamophobia are … poisoning our societies,” Guterres said. “And it is absolutely essential for us all to stand up against them everywhere and every time. … To condemn all forms of irrationality that undermine those values is essential, at the present moment, be it in the United States or everywhere else in the world. Unfortunately, these demons are appearing a little bit everywhere.”

Kenneth C. Frazier:

It took courage for Merck’s chief executive to resign from Trump’s manufacturing council on Monday. In so doing, he gave cover for others to follow. In a statement, one of the few African American CEOs in the Fortune 500 said he had to step down as “a matter of personal conscience.”

“America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal,” he said. “I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism. … Our country’s strength stems from its diversity and the contributions made by men and women of different faiths, races, sexual orientations and political beliefs.”

Other chief executives who have spoken out against Trump have seen their stocks fall when Trump inevitably retaliated, so it was a risky move. Indeed, with an hour after Frazier’s statement was first issued, Trump attacked Merck on Twitter for its “RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!” He followed up that night with another criticism of the company.

Constance:

Van Jones interviewed an activist named Constance in Nashville yesterday as part of his “We Rise Against Hate” tour. She was injured in Charlottesville on Saturday and is afraid to give her last name for fear of retaliation.

“The hate that I saw on Saturday is something that I’ve never ever seen before, or that I have felt before,” Constance said. “One of [the Nazis] told me ‘I really wish I could lynch you’ and blew me a kiss.”

Recounting what it was like to be hit by the car when it plowed into the crowd, she said: “I’ll never forget the sounds … First I heard the car hitting people. Bam, bam, bam, bam, and then I heard the screaming. I don’t remember getting struck, but I remember landing on the ground. And I remember hearing people saying get up, get up, he’s putting it in reverse.”

Jones told her, “You would be forgiven for saying ‘I’ve done my part for justice and I’m going to let someone else go and carry this fight forward.’ Is that your view?”

“Absolutely not,” she replied. “I love this country too much.”

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

— Hundreds gathered at the University of Virginia on Wednesday night for a candlelight vigil — peacefully singing and marching through campus. Arelis R. Hernández and Clarence Williams report: “They sang ‘God Bless America’ and ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ before invoking in unison the civil-rights-era anthem ‘We Shall Overcome.’ [And] as they stood on the steps of the Rotunda, students there led the chorus as the crowd on the central grounds followed singing ‘Don’t Let Hatred Blow It Out,’ an altered verse to the old gospel tune ‘This Little Light of Mine.’ The gathering was a ‘community effort’ … to bring a different face to Charlottesville, said [student] Rebecca Soistmann … 

“Charlottesville resident Ben Brinkop said he found out about the vigil through an email that cautioned him not to place it on social media. There wasn’t a specific agenda or theme to the event, he said. ‘I thought it was just about coming out and not being afraid,’ [he] said. ‘It didn’t seem there was an overarching message, but it felt really good to reclaim this.’”

“Someone recited Maya Angelou’s poem ‘I Will Rise,’ and the crowd held a moment of silence for the three lives lost on Saturday. ‘The energy here is beautiful,’” said one faculty member. (CNN)

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. Mike Pence cut short his Latin America trip on Wednesday, returning to Washington one day early for a strategy meeting with Trump and the national security team at Camp David. The vice president has also canceled two scheduled political appearances in Virginia this weekend, his aides confirmed, “to make himself available” to work on national security matters as needed. (Philip Rucker
  2. Indian and Chinese soldiers yelled and hurled stones at one another in Kashmir, Indian officials said, a move that could escalate tensions in the Himalayas even as the two nations remain engaged in a border standoff elsewhere. (AP)
  3. Three prominent young activists in Hong Kong were sentenced to prison on Thursday for their role in 2014 pro-democracy protests — a move some fear could be a signal of Beijing’s creeping influence on courts in Hong Kong. The trio had been sentenced to community service for their role in the Umbrella Movement until a Beijing-backed local court pushed for harsher punishments. (Emily Rauhala)
  4. A Swiss hotel sparked outrage this week after it posted a sign asking “Jewish guests” to shower before using the swimming pool. (James McAuley)
  5. Three schools in Australia were broken into by neo-Nazis this weekend, who peppered the schools with posters calling to legalize the killing of Jewish people and “Keep Australia white.” Others encouraged young people to join their “local Nazi group” and “reject Jewish poison.” (Amanda Erickson)
  6. Meanwhile, an Australian senator wore a full body burqa to the Senate on Thursday. Pauline Hanson of the anti-immigrant One Nation party, who has said the country is in danger of “being swamped by Muslims” would like to see the garment banned. (New York Times)
  7. The New York Times editorial page editor testified in court yesterday in a defamation lawsuit brought by Sarah Palin against the publication. James Bennet said he didn’t review the NYT’s previous reporting when he rewrote an editorial stating that a political action committee linked to Palin distributed a map with gun crosshairs centered on members of Congress, linking the former veep candidate to the 2011 shooting of then-Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) The Times issued a correction saying no such connection was established between the shooting and the map. (Politico)
  8. Cleveland has outpaced Las Vegas for the distinction of the city with the most “underwater” homes, meaning those homes that are worth less than their current mortgages. (Bloomberg)
  9. A baby dolphin died in Spain after “hundreds” of beachgoers swarmed the animal to touch and take pictures of it, earning harsh condemnation from animal rights groups. The mob of curious people covered the dolphin’s blowhole as they touched and posed with the animal. (Amy B Wang)
  10. See that group of trendy people lined up outside a new restaurant or show? They could be getting paid to be there, thanks to a new app called Surkus that helps businesses generate buzz. The “actors,” if you will, are hand-picked by a casting agent and even given a “reputation score” based on their levels of engagement. (Peter Holley)

ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN:

— Steve Bannon called up the liberal American Prospect’s Robert Kuttner this week to offer his unplugged views on China, North Korea and his enemies in the West Wing. He had no prior relationship with Kuttner, but he’s told colleagues in the West Wing that he believed their chat was off-the-record. Kuttner says he didn’t say that it was off the record and notes that Bannon, the former head of Breitbar News, is “probably the most media-savvy person in America.” The interview really is worth reading in full, but here are the parts generating the most buzz:

  • The money quote on white nationalists and his role in giving them a platform on Breitbart: “Ethno-nationalism—it’s losers. It’s a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, uh, help crush it more …These guys are a collection of clowns.”
  • On pulling U.S. troops out of South Korea: “Bannon said he might consider a deal in which China got North Korea to freeze its nuclear buildup with verifiable inspections and the United States removed its troops from the peninsula, but such a deal seemed remote. Given that China is not likely to do much more on North Korea, and that the logic of mutually assured destruction was its own source of restraint, Bannon saw no reason not to proceed with tough trade sanctions against China.”
  • Undercutting Trump’s threats of military action against North Korea: “There’s no military solution [to North Korea’s nuclear threats], forget it,” Bannon said. “Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.”
  • On his “rivals” at the State and Defense Departments: “They’re wetting themselves,” Bannon said. He then proceeded to detail “how he would oust some of his opponents” at the departments. “I’m changing out people at East Asian Defense; I’m getting hawks in,” he said. “I’m getting Susan Thornton [acting head of East Asian and Pacific Affairs] out at State.”
  • On whether that’s a fight he can win internally: “That’s a fight I fight every day here,” he said. “We’re still fighting. There’s Treasury and [National Economic Council chair] Gary Cohn and Goldman Sachs lobbying.”

“Either the reports of the threats to Bannon’s job are grossly exaggerated and leaked by his rivals, or he has decided not to change his routine and to go down fighting,” Kuttner writes. “Given Trump’s impulsivity, neither Bannon nor Trump really has any idea from day to day whether Bannon is staying or going. He has survived earlier threats. So what the hell, damn the torpedoes.”

— Trump’s personal lawyer, John Dowd, forwarded an email that echoed secessionist Civil War rhetoric on Wednesday — declaring, among other things, that the Black Lives Matter group has been “totally infiltrated by terrorist groups.” The New York Times’s Michael S. Schmidt and Matt Apuzzo report: “The email forwarded by [Dowd], who is leading the president’s legal team, painted the Confederate general Robert E. Lee in glowing terms and equated the South’s rebellion to that of the American Revolution against England. Its subject line — ‘The Information that Validates President Trump on Charlottesville’ — was a reference to comments Mr. Trump made earlier this week in the aftermath of protests in the Virginia college town. ‘You cannot be against General Lee and be for General Washington,’ the email reads, ‘there literally is no difference between the two men.’ [This, of course, is an insanely dumb statement. One led an army against the United States!]

“The email’s author, Jerome Almon, runs several websites alleging government conspiracies and arguing that the F.B.I. has been infiltrated by Islamic terrorists. He once unsuccessfully sued the State Department for $900 million over claims of discrimination. Mr. Almon’s email said that Black Lives Matter … is being directed by terrorists, [and] blamed the group for deadly violence against police last year in Texas and Louisiana.”

Dowd forwarded the email to more than two dozen recipients, including a senior DHS official, the WSJ’s editorial page, and journalists at Fox News and the Washington Times. One of the recipients provided a copy to the New York Times. “You’re sticking your nose in my personal email?” Dowd told the Times in a phone interview. “People send me things. I forward them.” He then hung up.

— Ben Carson, Trump’s HUD secretary and the only African American member of his Cabinet, downplayed the violence in Charlottesville — calling criticism of Trump’s remarks “little squabbles” being “blown out of proportion.” Lisa Rein reports: “On Monday, touring communities in Louisiana ravaged byfloods a year ago, Carson said about Trump: ‘When he talks about the fact that hatred and bigotry and these things are unacceptable,’ Carson said of Trump, ‘he’s talking about everybody. … You’d think he was saying that hatred and bigotry are unacceptable except by neo-Nazis. We really have got to begin to think more logically and stop trying to stir up controversy.'” He accused the media of “overreacting” to Trump’s comments, adding: “We the people have got to be smarter than this.”

MORE WEST WING INTRIGUE:

— Trump’s comments on the violence in Charlottesville this week have left John Kelly “deeply frustrated and dismayed” – and underscore the difficult challenges the new chief of staff will face as he attempts to instill a sense of order in the White House. Ashley Parker and Robert Costa report: “During Kelly’s short tenure, Trump has startled the world with his bellicose rhetoric on North Korea and attacked [Mitch McConnell], furthering imperiling his already stalled legislative agenda. Nonetheless, Kelly has so far largely improved staff morale, and implemented a rigor and order that has left West Wing aides feeling both more optimistic and less mistrustful of one another … Longtime Trump campaign associates have found themselves out of the loop and unable to build a rapport with Kelly. In the week before Trump departed for an August [vacation], the entire West Wing team began showing up at the 8 a.m. senior staff meetings. Even [Ivanka] — who rarely if ever appeared at staff meetings led by Reince Priebus … began regularly attending.

“Nonetheless, Trump has shown signs of chafing … one person close to the president described him as a ‘caged animal’ under Kelly, saying he is always going to respond negatively to attempts to corral him or keep him on a script. … Another Republican operative and unofficial White House adviser [said Kelly’s tenure has] demonstrated an essential truth about the Trump White House: The president will act as he so pleases, even in spite of — and sometimes to spite — the efforts of his aides.”

— “[Trump’s] decision to double down on his argument that ‘both sides’ were to blame for the violent clashes at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, was driven in part by his own anger — and his disdain for being told what to do,” Politico’s Nancy Cook and Josh Dawsey report: “For Trump, anger serves as a way to manage staff, express his displeasure or simply as an outlet that soothes him. Often, aides and advisers say, he’ll get mad at a specific staffer or broader situation, unload from the Oval Office and then three hours later act as if nothing ever occurred even if others still feel rattled by it. Negative television coverage and lawyers earn particular ire from him. White House officials and informal advisers say the triggers for his temper are if he thinks someone is lying to him, if he’s caught by surprise, if someone criticizes him, or if someone stops him from trying to do something or seeks to control him.”

“In some ways, Trump would rather have people calling him racist than say he backed down the minute he was wrong,” said one adviser to the White House. “This may turn into the biggest mess of his presidency because he is stubborn and doesn’t realize how bad this is getting.’”

— Hope Hicks, Trump’s trusted confidante and adviser, has taken on an expanded communications role at the White House – working as interim communications director while staffers continue to search for a permanent replacement. Ashley Parker reports: “Hicks, 28, currently serves as Trump’s director of strategic communications, and is one of the president’s most loyal and trusted aides. She started as Trump’s press secretary during the 2015 campaign and sits right outside the Oval Office. She also has close ties to [Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner] … In many ways, Hick’s elevated role is just a continuation of a job she has already largely been doing … Hicks has previously been mentioned for the role of communications director, and has long unofficially served in that role for the president himself.”

TRUMP IS INCREASINGLY ISOLATED, AS THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY DITCHES HIM:

— The president was forced to shut down his major business advisory councils yesterday after his remarks on Charlottesville prompted a mass exodus of corporate leaders. Damian Paletta and Jena McGregor report: “Trump announced the disbanding of the two councils — the Strategy & Policy Forum and the Manufacturing Council [in a tweet] … But those groups had already decided to dissolve on their own earlier in the day … The dissolution of the councils was a remarkable moment for Trump, who has made his corporate experience and ability to leverage America’s business potential as one of his chief credentials.”

— Tick-tock: “On Wednesday morning, a dozen of the country’s most influential C.E.O.s joined a conference call, and, after some debate, a consensus emerged: The policy forum would be disbanded,” the New York Times’s David Gelles, Landon Thomas Jr., Andrew Ross Sorkin and Kate Kelly report. “As the call began, more than a dozen of the nation’s top business leaders dialed in from around the country … Two in the group — Jim McNerney, the former chief executive of Boeing and Jack Welch, the former leader of General Electric — proposed issuing a statement condemning the president, but keeping the group together. But most others, including [Laurence D.] Fink of BlackRock and [Indra] Nooyi of Pepsi, leaned toward disbanding. (JP Morgan’s Jamie) Dimon was also furious and wanted off the council, but felt conflicted because of his role as chairman of the Business Roundtable… [Virginia M.] Rometty of IBM, who had faced criticism from employees for her role in the group, advocated that the executives ‘condemn and disband.’ That phrase soon drew broad backing. By the time the call was over, the group had agreed to disband. Before they could make a statement announcing their decision, however, Mr. Trump spoke. He had caught wind of their planned defection and wanted to have the last word … [and] claimed on Twitter that he was disbanding the advisory groups.”

— Apple said that it has begun disabling the Apple Pay option from websites selling white nationalist and Nazi apparel. Buzzfeed reports: “Uber, Facebook, Twitter, MailChimp, and WordPress have all taken varying levels of action against white supremacists on their platforms in the wake of Charlottesville. Airbnb banned people tied to white supremacist groups who attempted to use its site to book lodging for the rally last week. [And] on Monday, both GoDaddy and Google removed the registration capabilities of The Daily Stormer, a white supremacist blog, in response to its posts about the events in Charlottesville.”

— The narrative: “Silicon Valley significantly escalated its war on white supremacy this week, choking off the ability of hate groups to raise money online, removing them from Internet search engines, and preventing some sites from registering at all,” Tracy Jan and Elizabeth Dwoskin report. “But the actions are also heightening concerns over how tech companies are becoming the arbiters of free speech in America. And in response, right-wing technologists are building parallel digital services that cater to their own movement. Gab.ai, a social network for promoting free speech, was founded shortly after the presidential election by Silicon Valley engineers alienated by the region’s liberalism. Other conservatives have founded Infogalactic, a Wikipedia for the alt-right, as well as crowdfunding tools Hatreon and WeSearchr. The latter was used to raise money for James Damore, a white engineer who was fired after criticizing Google’s diversity policy. ‘If there needs to be two versions of the Internet so be it,’ Gab.ai tweeted Wednesday morning. The company’s spokesman, Utsav Sanduja, later warned of a ‘revolt’ in Silicon Valley against the way tech companies are trying control the national debate.”

AMERICA IS DIVIDED AND ON EDGE:

— “City officials across the country are nervously trying to figure out how to avoid becoming the next Charlottesville as alt-right leaders and white nationalist groups vow to stage more rallies in coming days,” Janell Ross, Mark Berman and Joel Achenbach report. “A group claiming it is advocating free speech has planned a rally for Saturday on the historic Boston Common, with a group advocating racial justice planning its own gathering in opposition. Boston officials said they have laid down strict conditions, including no sticks, weapons or backpacks. …. A rally scheduled for Aug. 26 in San Francisco has prompted [Nancy Pelosi] and several California lawmakers to urge the National Park Service to rescind the permit to gather on federal park land there.”

— Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said last night that he is disappointed about Trump’s decision to hold a campaign-style rally in his city next week, and he called on the president to postpone. Also prompting concern is a Fox News interview this week in which Trump said he is “strongly considering” pardoning former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio. “If he is coming to Phoenix to announce a pardon for [Arpaio], then it will be clear that his true intent is to enflame emotions and further divide our nation,” Stanton said in a statement.

— The University of Florida has denied the request of a white nationalist group to hold an event on its campus. The rally is slated to be attended by white nationalist Richard Spencer and has been referenced on social media: “The Next Battlefield is in Florida.” University of Florida President W. Kent Fuchs said in a statement Wednesday that while the school remains “dedicated to free speech and the spirit of public discourse … the First Amendment does not require a public institution to risk imminent violence to students and others.” (Sarah Larimer

— A Georgia park association has denied a permit request to the Ku Klux Klan to hold a cross-burning ceremony on top of Stone Mountain, which was where the group began their 1915 “revival” with a flaming cross on the evening of Thanksgiving. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

— Jeff Sessions said Wednesday that the Charlottesville car attack killing Heyer may be prosecuted as a hate crime, saying that federal authorities who are “intensely” probing the case could ultimately decide to prosecute the driver in a number of different ways. Mark Berman reports: “Sessions cautioned that no federal charges were imminent as officials are still conducting an investigation into the deadly attack that killed one woman Saturday and injured 19 others. ‘It doesn’t have to be done immediately,’ he told NBC News in an interview. ‘We will be working with the state to see how they will proceed with their charges. We could bring charges whenever the investigation justifies them. But I don’t think we should just feel like we’ve got to do it in a matter of hours or days.’”

— Fox News host Eboni K. Williams is receiving death threats after she criticized Trump on air this week. Variety’s Erin Nyren reports: “The [‘Fox News Specialist’ co-host] addressed Trump on Monday in her ‘Eboni’s Docket’ segment, which she writes herself, berating him for failing to specify white nationalist groups in his condemnation of the [Charlottesville violence]. She [said] her personal website … was inundated with over 150 emails, only three of which were anything other than ‘seething, scathing’ takedowns. ‘I should meet my maker soon, I shouldn’t be allowed to walk the streets of New York,’ she cited as some examples of the type of comments she received. ‘They heard that I live in Harlem — Harlem needs to watch out.’ Her book publisher became so concerned that he asked her to request additional security from Fox News, which she did — Williams is now escorted to and from the building when she arrives to work.”

— Politico Magazine, “How Militias Became the Private Police for White Supremacists,” by Casey Michel: “In the Trump era, armed antigovernment groups have found common cause with Nazis, KKK and other white nationalists.”

— “The ‘alt-right’ is just another word for white supremacy, study finds,” by Christopher Ingraham: “Although members of the ‘alt-right’ insist they’re not racist, from a practical standpoint it’s been tricky, if not impossible, to find any daylight between the views they espouse and plain old white supremacy. Now, a new study that asked 447 “alt-right” adherents to rank how “evolved” various groups are has sharply underscored just how indistinguishable those groups are. The most [striking result] came via the responses to questions asking survey-takers to rate how ‘evolved’ various groups were, using a series of silhouettes ranging from apes to modern humans as markers … On average, ‘alt-right’ adherents rated whites (92 points), men (88 points) and Europeans (87 points) the highest of all. They rated women lower, at 83 points. They rated Jews slightly below the figure of a spear-wielding Neanderthal figure, at 73 points. Mexicans came in at 67 points, while blacks came in at 65. Arabs, Nigerians, and feminists all came in at sub-60 points, close to the half-simian human ancestor in the middle of the chart. Muslims were the group ranked dead last, with 55 points.”

TRUMP’S AGENDA:

— The administration formally terminated an Obama-era program that granted Central American minors temporary legal residence in the United States, shutting the door on 2,714 people who had won conditional approval to enter the country,” David Nakamura reports: “[Obama’s] administration established the ‘CAM parole’ program in 2014 to respond to a massive spike in the number of unaccompanied minors and families entering the country illegally from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Under the terms, minors who failed to win refugee status could enter on a two-year, renewable parole if they had a parent already legally present in the country … DHS’s [announcement] means that the agency will begin the process of notifying families that the minors who had been approved for entry would have to reapply through other immigration channels that could be more difficult.  In addition, 1,465 minors already in the [U.S.] under the CAM program will not be allowed to renew their status.”

— “[Jeff Sessions] lambasted Chicago and its political leaders Wednesday, tying local policies on undocumented immigrants to soaring crime rates and threatening to withhold federal police grants if the city does not change,” Sari Horwitz and Mark Berman report: “In a speech in Miami, Sessions said that in Chicago ‘respect for the rule of law has broken down,’ and he linked the increase in crime there last year to the city’s ‘so-called sanctuary policies.’ ‘Every year, too many Americans’ lives are victimized as a result of sanctuary city policies, whether it be theft, robbery, drugs, assault, battery and even murder,’ Sessions said. ‘We want to do everything we can to help … But we cannot continue giving federal taxpayer money to cities that actively undermine the safety and efficacy of federal law enforcement … So if voters in Chicago are concerned about losing federal grant money, call your mayor.’”

— The Trump administration began talks to “reform” NAFTA on Wednesday, Ana Swanson reports. “On Wednesday, U.S. trade negotiators confronted the challenge of translating Trump’s campaign trail pledges into technical policy as they met Canadian and Mexican representatives for the first of several rounds of negotiation scheduled to take place before the end of the year. At stake is the legitimacy of [Trump], who … campaigned on a pledge to renegotiate it. But also on the line are trillions of dollars of trade that flow through the North American economy.”

“In an opening statement, [Trump’s chief trade negotiator] Robert E. Lighthizer … emphasized that Trump would not be content with minor updates. ‘We feel that NAFTA has fundamentally failed many, many Americans and needs major improvement,’ [he said].” But trade experts have suggested that the U.S. may face more challenges in the NAFTA talks than Trump’s statements have implied.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Trump’s longtime personal attorney tweeted this:

Here’s how tough it’s been to find *any* Republican willing to go on air to defend Trump…

Cory Booker pledged to introduce a bill removing Confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol: 

Bill de Blasio also promised a review:

Jake Tapper shared this:

How one humor writer explained Trump’s tweet about “disbanding” his business councils…

From a Post satire columnist:

From a Wall Street Journal reporter in Berlin:

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“Obama’s administration requested a Bikeshare station at the White House. Trump’s team just had it removed,” from Perry Stein: “The District’s Department of Transportation confirmed Wednesday that it removed the nine-slot Bikeshare station this week at the Trump administration’s request. Unlike every other Bikeshare station in the region, this one was not accessible to the public and could only be used by commuters who had access to White House grounds. The Obama administration requested the station in 2010. It’s unclear why the White House wanted it removed …”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“Urine Art Show Aims 200 Gallon Stream Of Dissent At Donald Trump in SoHo,” from Patch: “An exhibit going on show in SoHo next month is designed to aim a stream of dissent at President Donald Trump’s administration – and it consists of 200 gallons of the creator’s own urine. Transgender artist Cassils’ installation comments on Trump’s February decision to rescind protections for transgender students. The gallery described the piece as a ‘minimalist structure’ filled with all of the liquid that the artist has passed since Trump revoked the Obama administration’s instructions to schools to allow students to use the bathroom of their choice.”

DAYBOOK:

Trump is in Bedminster, N.J. This afternoon, he will have lunch with the governor of Florida, Rick Scott, before meeting with the administrator of the Small Business Administration.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

At Heather Heyer’s funeral, longtime friend Justin Marks, 30, said he watched a live-stream with her on Friday night of the hundreds of torch-wielding marchers. “She was just saying how crazy it was that this was happening in our town,” Marks said. “She didn’t think what they were chanting was peaceful.” But she didn’t hate those people, he added. “Heather didn’t have to stand up for anybody’s rights. She was a straight white woman. She didn’t have to show up that day,” Marks said. “I hope that speaks to people in the same position.” (Ellie Silverman, Arelis R. Hernández and Steve Hendrix)

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

— Humid and cloudy with some storms ahead, per today’s Capital Weather Gang forecast: “Partly cloudy this morning with mostly cloudy conditions this afternoon. Temperatures advance into the middle to upper 80s for highs. Moderate to high humidity causes heat indices to register well up into the 90s.  Scattered afternoon and evening thunderstorms could deliver some heavy downpours at times.”

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Stephen Colbert calls Trump the first “racist grandpa” president:

Jimmy Kimmel shows us a preview of Trump Tower, the movie:

He also interviews Kellyanne Conway:

See Seth Myers’s take on the moment:

Conan O’Brien gives us celebrity surveys with President Trump and Stephen K. Bannon:

Share

The Daily 202: False moral equivalency is not a bug of Trumpism. It’s a feature.

THE BIG IDEA: President Trump has a troubling tendency to blame “both sides.”

Showing that the remarks he delivered from a White House teleprompter on Monday were hollow and insincere, Trump yesterday revived his initial claim that “both sides” are to blame for the horrific violence at a white supremacist rally over the weekend in Charlottesville.

Going rogue during an event at Trump Tower that was supposed to be about infrastructure, the president said there are “two sides to a story.” He then attacked counterprotesters for acting “very, very violently” as they came “with clubs in their hand” at the neo-Nazis and KKK members who were protesting the planned removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. “You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent, and nobody wants to say that,” Trump said. “Do they have any semblance of guilt? Do they have any problem? I think they do!”

The president then complained that not everyone who came to the “Unite the Right” rally was a neo-Nazi or white nationalist. “And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly,” a testy Trump said during a combative back-and-forth with reporters. (Read the full transcript here.)

These comments suggest very strongly that the president of the United States sees moral equivalence between Nazis and those who oppose Nazis. Objectively, of course, there is NO moral equivalence between Nazis and those who oppose Nazis.

But this is part of a pattern.

In a pre-Super Bowl interview on Fox, Bill O’Reilly pressed Trump on why he respected Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Putin’s a killer,” O’Reilly said, noting that he murders his political enemies and leads a repressive authoritarian regime. Trump replied without hesitation, “We got a lot of killers. What? You think our country’s so innocent?”

“Take a look at what we’ve done, too,” the president continued. “We’ve made a lot of mistakes. … So, lot of killers around, believe me.”

Trump made similarly bizarre statements about the moral equivalence between the democratic United States and autocratic Russia as a candidate.

As William F. Buckley, the founding editor of National Review, once put it: “To say that the CIA and the KGB engage in similar practices is the equivalent of saying that the man who pushes an old lady into the path of a hurtling bus is not to be distinguished from the man who pushes an old lady out of the path of a hurtling bus: on the grounds that, after all, in both cases someone is pushing old ladies around.”

Yet that’s essentially the logic Trump used yesterday.

Don’t forget: Trump compared the U.S. intelligence community to the Nazi regime earlier this year.

And the president’s first White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, used another variant of false moral equivalency when he made the insane claim that, unlike Bashar al-Assad, Adolph Hitler “didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons” during World War II. He apologized the next day. “Frankly, I mistakenly made an inappropriate and insensitive reference to the Holocaust, for which there is no comparison,” Spicer said.

— Trump has often defended his own immoral behavior on the grounds that other men also behave badly, as if that somehow exonerates him. Recall how defiant he was last October after The Post published a video of him boasting in extremely lewd and predatory terms to “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush about being able to get away with groping women and propositioning other men’s wives because he is a celebrity.

“Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course – not even close,” Trump said in his initial statement. “This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago.”

In a subsequent statement, he pivoted to argue that what he did was not as bad as what the Clintons had done in the past: “I’ve said some foolish things, but there’s a big difference between the words and actions of other people. Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary (Clinton) has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims.”

The GOP nominee for president then brought women who had accused the former president of sexual misconduct as his guests to the debate in St. Louis that weekend. It was part of a broader effort to make the case, for all intents and purposes, that a lot of men are boorish pigs. Muddying the waters, as irrelevant as it might have been to questions about Trump’s personal character, allowed his campaign to survive.

That scorched-earth strategy is consistent with Trump’s response to Charlottesville.

— One of the many ironies in all this is that conservatives have spent decades accusing liberals of believing in the kind of both-sides-ism that Trump now routinely espouses.

In one of his most famous speeches, Ronald Reagan told the National Association of Evangelicals in 1983: “I urge you to beware the temptation of … blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire.”

Jeane Kirkpatrick’s essay on “The Myth of Moral Equivalence” is a classic of this genre. Reagan’s former ambassador to the United Nations pilloried those who argued that NATO was no better than the Warsaw Pact.

It has never gotten sufficient attention, but the year Kirkpatrick published her piece, Trump was paying to run full-page ads in The Washington Post attacking Reagan and his administration for lacking “backbone” in the realm of foreign policy. Talk about being on the wrong side of history…

The right’s disdain for both sides-ism continued through the Obama era. In 2011, Paul Ryan told the The Weekly Standard: “If you ask me what the biggest problem in America is, I’m not going to tell you debt, deficits, statistics, economics—I’ll tell you it’s moral relativism.”

— “The president’s rhetorical ricochet … seemed almost perfectly designed to highlight some basic truths about Donald Trump,” observes Marc Fisher, who co-authored The Post’s “Trump Revealed” biography last year. “He does not like to be told what to say. He will always find a way to pull the conversation back to himself. And he is preternaturally inclined to dance with the ones who brought him… Trump said Tuesday that Saturday’s confrontation ‘was a horrible day.’ And he made clear again that ‘the driver of the car’ that plowed into pedestrians in Charlottesville ‘is a disgrace to himself, his family and this country.’ But then the president turned to one of his favorite rhetorical tools, using casual language to strip away any definite blame, any clear moral stand, and instead send the message that nothing is certain, that everything is negotiable, that ethics are always situational. ‘You can call it terrorism,’ he said. ‘You can call it murder. You can call it whatever you want.’”

We’ve become sort of numb to Trump’s rhetoric since he rode down the escalator at Trump Tower 26 months ago and declared that Mexican immigrants are rapists, but we cannot lose perspective of just how shocking it is that an American president said what he did yesterday. This is one of the most surreal moments of Trump’s surreal presidency.

HOW IT’S PLAYING:

— A top-ranking official in Angela Merkel’s government slammed Trump’s comments in a press release that went out this morning. From Reuters: “German Justice Minister Heiko Maas on Wednesday condemned (Trump’s) latest comments … ‘It is unbearable how Trump is now glossing over the violence of the right-wing hordes from Charlottesville,’ Maas said … reflecting concern across the German political spectrum about the Trump presidency.”

— The mainstream media’s coverage is brutal:

  • Washington Post A1:Trump appeared far more passionate in defending many of the rally participants than he had in his more muted denunciation of the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis a day earlier at the White House.”
  • The Post’s Editorial Board: “The nation can only weep. … That car in Charlottesville did not kill or wound just the 20 bodies it struck. It damaged the nation. Mr. Trump not only failed to help the country heal; he made the wound wider and deeper.”
  • Philip Bump: “Trump puts a fine point on it: He sides with the alt-right in Charlottesville.”
  • David Weigel: “If some Republican candidate for state representative gave that press conference, the party would take him off the ballot.”

  • Dana Milbank: “Trump just hit a new low. … It was downright ugly. … The nationalist-turned-presidential-adviser Stephen K. Bannon used to say that the publishing outfit he led, Breitbart, was a ‘platform for the alt-right,’ a euphemism for white nationalists and related far-right extremists. But now there is a new platform for the alt-right in America: the White House. It looks more and more like the White Nationalist House. … Trump, who this week retweeted an ‘alt-right’ conspiracy theorist and ally of white supremacists, continues to employ in his White House not just Bannon and Stephen Miller, two darlings of the alt-right, but also Sebastian Gorka, who uses the platform to defend the embattled white man.”

  • New York Times A1: “[Trump] buoyed the white nationalist movement on Tuesday as no president has done in generations … Never has he gone as far in defending their actions as he did during a wild, street-corner shouting match of a news conference in the gilded lobby of Trump Tower, angrily asserting that so-called alt-left activists were just as responsible for the bloody confrontation as marchers brandishing swastikas, Confederate battle flags, anti-Semitic banners and ‘Trump/Pence’ signs.”

  • USA Today: “Former KKK leader David Duke praises Trump for his ‘courage.’”
  • Associated Press: “Racial politics haunt GOP in the Trump era.”
  • Wall Street Journal: “With New Remarks on Charlottesville, Trump Leaves Himself Isolated.”
  • Los Angeles Times: “Trump provokes new furor by giving foes of white supremacists equal blame.”

  • The Daily Beast: “For a White House that has careened from crisis point to crisis point, Trump’s performance on Tuesday was a uniquely chaotic crescendo. He had gathered the press to talk about infrastructure regulations only to find himself defending a portion of the white supremacists who had marched with tiki-torches on Friday while shouting anti-Semitic epithets. Trump often can serve as his own worst enemy. One White House official conceded … that Tuesday’s presser was a continuation of a pattern that the president follows, in which he will ‘extend the shelf life’ of a controversy because he somehow cannot help himself from talking about it. … ‘It was the president’s decision to do this,’ another White House official (said) of Trump’s free-wheeling at the press conference. Asked for a mini-review of Trump’s press conference performance, the official would only respond, ‘clean-up on aisle Trump.’”
  • CNBC’s John Harwood:The president does not share the instinctive moral revulsion most Americans feel toward white supremacists and neo-Nazis. And he feels contempt for those — like the executives — who are motivated to express that revulsion at his expense. … Trump has displayed this character trait repeatedly. It combines indifference to conventional notions of morality or propriety with disbelief that others would be motivated by them. He dismissed suggestions that it was inappropriate for his son and campaign manager to have met with Russians offering dirt on Hillary Clinton. … ‘Most people would have taken the meeting,’ he said. He called it ‘extremely unfair’ that Jeff Sessions recused himself from [the Russia investigation] after the attorney general concluded that the law required him to do so. ‘In a president, character is everything,’ Republican commentator Peggy Noonan has written. ‘You can’t buy courage and decency. You can’t rent a strong moral sense. A president must bring those things with him.’ Trump has brought other values, as today’s news conference again made clear.”
  • CNN’s Chris Cillizza“Trump’s comments … not only revealed, again, his remarkable blindness to the racial history and realities of this country, but also showed his willingness to stake out morally indefensible positions as the result of personal pique. … What Trump is doing is dangerous — for our politics and for our moral fiber. To condone white supremacists by insisting there are two sides to every coin is to take us back decades in our understanding of each other. … To do so purposely to score political points or stick it in the eye of your supposed media enemies is, frankly, despicable.”
  • The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza: “Firing Steve Bannon Won’t Change Donald Trump. … If Trump finally pushes Bannon out of the White House, the nationalist policy project will be all but dead. … Trump himself has always been more animated by the xenophobia of Bannonism than by its populist economic views. A Trump White House without Bannon will be no more radical in its coddling of far-right groups—today, Trump showed again that he needs no encouragement—but it will be more captured by the traditional small-government agenda of the G.O.P. that Bannon hoped to destroy.”

— Television news hosts reacted viscerally in real time at the end of Trump’s 23-minute presser:

  • Chuck Todd on MSNBC: “What I just saw gave me the wrong kind of chills. Honestly, I’m a bit shaken by what I just heard.”
  • Kat Timpf on Fox News: “I’m still in the phase where I’m wondering if it was actually real life. I have too much eye makeup on to start crying right now.
  • Her co-anchor Guy Benson in the 5 p.m. hour added that Trump “lost me” when he said some “very fine people” participated in the white supremacist rally: “They were chanting things like, ‘Jews will not replace us.’ There’s nothing good about that.”
  • Jake Tapper on CNN: “Wow, that was something else.”

— Responsible conservative thought leaders were aghast: 

  • Post columnist Charles Krauthammer declared on Fox last night: “What Trump did today was a moral disgrace.
  • National Review’s David French argues that Trump gave the alt-right its “greatest media moment ever”: “To understand the significance of Trump’s words, you have to understand a bit about the alt-right. While its members certainly march with Nazis and make common cause with neo-Confederates, it views itself as something different. They’re the ‘intellectual’ adherents to white identity politics. They believe their movement is substantially different and more serious than the Klansmen of days past. When Trump carves them away from the Nazis and distinguishes them from the neo-Confederates, he’s doing exactly what they want. He’s making them respectable. He’s making them different. But ‘very fine people’ don’t march with tiki torches chanting ‘blood and soil’ or ‘Jews will not replace us.’”
  • Commentary Magazine Editor John Podhoretz tweeted: “There were not ‘very fine people on both sides’ in Charlottesville. No one on the Nazi side was fine. Every one of them is a monster.

— Multiple right-wing news sites deleted articles from January that encouraged readers to drive into protesters: “Originally published by The Daily Caller and later syndicated or aggregated by several other websites, including Fox Nation, an offshoot of Fox News’ website, it carried an unsubtle headline: ‘Here’s A Reel Of Cars Plowing Through Protesters Trying To Block The Road.’ Embedded in the article was a minute-and-a-half long video showing one vehicle after another driving through demonstrations,” CNN reports. “The footage was set to a cover of Ludacris’ ‘Move B****.’ … The article … drew renewed attention on Tuesday following this weekend’s deadly incident in Charlottesville. As the outrage grew on Twitter, Fox News took action, deleting the version Fox Nation had published.”

— Did Trump get his George Washington and Thomas Jefferson line from Fox News? “The night before the president’s press conference, Fox’s Martha MacCallum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich discussed the same thing,” BuzzFeed notes

— Doubling down: The White House press office last night distributed these suggested talking points to friendly surrogates:The President was entirely correct — both sides of the violence in Charlottesville acted inappropriately, and bear some responsibility. … We should not overlook the facts just because the media finds them inconvenient: From cop killing and violence at political rallies, to shooting at Congressmen at a practice baseball game, extremists on the left have engaged in terrible acts of violence.” (The Atlantic’s Molly Ball posted the full document.)

— Late-night hosts didn’t just have a field day. They felt obligated to also take a more somber approach to Trump’s comments.

Dispensing with his usual monologue jokes, Jimmy Kimmel offered a serious, 12-minute plea to Trump’s voters on ABC last night: “Every day there’s something nuts. But you’ve been trying to ignore it because you don’t want to admit to these smug, annoying liberals that they were right. That’s the last thing you want to do. But the truth is deep down inside you know you made a mistake. You know you picked the wrong guy. And it isn’t getting better. It’s getting worse. … Well, now he does need to go. So it’s time for especially you who voted for him to tell him to go. Please. Think about it.” (Emily Yahr)

— Stephen Colbert on CBS mocked Trump’s claim that the reason he waited two days to properly respond to the violence was because he needed all the facts first. “I wait for the facts, okay?” Colbert said in his Trump voice. “Just ask the millions of illegal voters who refused to look for Obama’s birth certificate during my record breaking inauguration, okay? It’s all on the Obama wiretaps.”

 — “President Trump this afternoon gave a press conference that can only be described as clinically insane,” Seth Meyers said on NBC. Later in the show, Meyers recognized some of the unsung heroes from Charlottesville – including an African American Virginia state trooper who tried to keep the peace. (Watch here.)

— Top Republicans quickly distanced themselves from the president’s comments:

  • Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.): “We must be clear. White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity.”
  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla), who battled Trump in the 2016 primaries, went on a tweetstorm: “The organizers of events which inspired & led to #charlottesvilleterroristattack are 100% to blame for a number of reasons. They are adherents of an evil ideology which argues certain people are inferior because of race, ethnicity or nation of origin. … These groups today use SAME symbols & same arguments of #Nazi & #KKK, groups responsible for some of worst crimes against humanity ever. Mr. President, you can’t allow #WhiteSupremacists to share only part of blame. They support idea which cost nation & world so much pain. The #WhiteSupremacy groups will see being assigned only 50% of blame as a win. We cannot allow this old evil to be resurrected.”
  • Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee: “I don’t understand what’s so hard about this. White supremacists and Neo-Nazis are evil and shouldn’t be defended.”
  • Rep. Will Hurd (R-Tex.): “Apologize. Racism, bigotry, anti-Semitism, of any form is unacceptable. And the leader of the free world should be unambiguous about that.”
  • Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio): “Let’s get real. There is no moral equivalency to Nazi sympathizers. There can be no room in America — or the Republican party — for racism, anti-Semitism, hate or white nationalism. Period.”
  • Mitt Romney: “No, not the same. One side is racist, bigoted, Nazi. The other opposes racism and bigotry. Morally different universes.”

— But, but, but: Actions will speak louder than words. And GOP congressional leaders are not rushing to hold hearings on the resurgence of white supremacy. So far, they are ignoring the pleas of Democrats. Politico’s Kyle Cheney and Rachael Bade report: “[T]he House Judiciary Committee, which oversees the Department of Justice’s handling of domestic terrorism, has no immediate plans to schedule one, aides say. The House Homeland Security Committee is lumping the issue into an annual ‘global threats’ hearing scheduled sometime in September. … Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has no plans to call for one focused on the events in Charlottesville. GOP leaders, meanwhile, aren’t leaning on their allies to hold public sessions or launch inquiries. … GOP sources suggested it might be too early to tell whether Congress should get involved. And some question what tangible action Congress could take to help the situation, aside from calling public attention to the issue through hearings.”

— Many elected Democrats cited the news conference to argue that Trump is no longer a legitimate president and/or should be removed from office:

  • Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii): “As a Jew, as an American, as a human, words cannot express my disgust and disappointment. This is not my president.”
  • Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.): “My Republican friends, I implore you to work with us within our capacity as elected officials to remove this man as our commander-in-chief. For the sake of the soul of our country, we must come together to restore our national dignity that has been robbed by [Trump’s] presence in the White House.”
  • Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.): “FYI, after today, White House staff have effectively been folded into the white supremacy propaganda operation. Your choice — stay or go.”
  • Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.): “No more dog whistle, now a megaphone used by the President to message approval for violent hate groups.”

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

— Appointed Sen. Luther Strange will now face conservative judge Roy Moore in a September runoff to determine the Republican Senate nominee in Alabama, after no candidate secured more than 50 percent of the vote yesterday. David Weigel reports: “Democrats, who have not won a Senate race in Alabama since 1992, nominated former U.S. attorney Doug Jones over a field of fringe candidates. On the Republican side, Moore, with nearly 40 percent of the vote, was in first place with more than 90 percent of votes counted. Strange — who was appointed in February to temporarily fill the seat (vacated by Jeff Sessions) — was second with 32 percent, and [Rep. Mo] Brooks was third with 20 percent. … Strange now faces the challenge of needing to continue to court Trump’s supporters during a six-week runoff campaign even as the national appetite for aligning with the president has diminished. … Alabama Republicans, who during the Obama years drove Democrats to near-extinction, were operating as if the winner of their primary and runoff would glide toward victory.”

“Mr. Moore predicted a wave of ‘the most negative campaign ads in the history of Alabama,’ and he leveled sharp attacks against Republican leaders,” the New York Times’s Jonathan Martin and Alan Binder report. “Tuesday’s results, he said, showed that ‘the attempt by the silk-stockinged Washington elitists to control the vote of the people of Alabama has failed.’ … [Strange] offered a preview of his message for the runoff by repeatedly highlighting Mr. Trump’s support and borrowing his slogan. ‘What it all boils down to is: Who’s best suited to stand with the people of this country, with our president, and make sure we make America great again?’ … The runoff will effectively hinge on what Alabama Republicans are more uneasy with: Mr. Strange, an appointed senator many believe has been foisted upon them by state and national party insiders, or Mr. Moore, a highly controversial jurist who was once taken off the bench after he refused to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the Supreme Court building.”

— Trump appeared to hedge his bets on the Strange endorsement in a tweet this morning:

— In Utah, Provo Mayor John Curtis won the GOP nomination to fill Jason Chaffetz’s House seat. Mike DeBonis reports: “Curtis is now well positioned in Utah’s conservative 3rd congressional District ahead of the Nov. 7 general election, where he will face a Democrat and several third-party candidates. … Although the race generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in spending and unusually heated political attacks in a state known for its relatively subdued politics, it has flown under the national political radar — largely because President Trump has not been a major factor in the contest. Unlike other House races decided this year, Democrats are not seriously contesting the heavily GOP district, and unlike in Tuesday’s Senate primary in Alabama, the Republican candidates’ postures toward Trump have not been a crucial factor.”

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. Fentanyl-related overdose deaths increased by nearly 600 percent over just two years. The man-made narcotic is particularly causing a problem in urban centers. (Nicole Lewis, Emma Ockerman, Joel Achenbach and Wesley Lowery)

  2. A federal judge rejected a request from the author of the infamous Trump dossier to avoid testifying. Russian businessman Aleksej Gubarev is suing Buzzfeed for libel after the online news outlet published an unabridged version of the dossier. Gubarev wants to depose its author, Christopher Steele, as part of the case. (Politico)

  3. Oregon has approved a sweeping expansion of access to abortion and birth control. A new law requires insurers to provide both without a co-pay and allows noncitizens to receive reproductive health services with state funding. (Sandhya Somashekhar)

  4. The Texas House adjourned its special session without taking up a controversial “bathroom bill.” Moderate Republicans killed the measure, which would have required transgender citizens to use facilities corresponding to their sex at birth. (Reuters)

  5. Federal judges ruled that two Texas congressional districts are unconstitutionally drawn. A three-judge panel said that the House districts, one of which was deemed “an impermissible racial gerrymander,” had to be redrawn by the state Legislature or a federal court. (Texas Tribune)

  6. South African officials said they will seek charges against Zimbabwe’s first lady Grace Mugabe, after she allegedly assaulted a 20-year-old model using an extension cord. (Max Bearak)

  7. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) was arrested outside the White House as he participated in a rally to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the DACA program. (The Hill)

  8. Ninety-one previously unknown volcanoes were discovered underneath west Antarctica. They aren’t likely to melt the continent’s ice sheet by themselves, but ice that is already melting could set off an eruption and begin a very dangerous cycle. (Avi Selk)

MORE DEFECTIONS:

— AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka announced after Trump’s news conference that both he and Thea Lee, the deputy chief of staff, are leaving the president’s manufacturing council. “We cannot sit on a council for a president who tolerates bigotry and domestic terrorism,” Trumka said in a statement. “President Trump’s remarks today repudiate his forced remarks yesterday about the KKK and neo-Nazis. We must resign on behalf of America’s working people, who reject all notions of legitimacy of these bigoted groups.” He was joined by Scott Paul, the president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, who explained in a tweet: “I’m resigning from the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative because it’s the right thing for me to do.”

— Walmart chief executive Douglas McMillon criticized Trump in a letter to the retailer’s 1.5 million employees, saying that he “missed a critical opportunity to help bring our country together by unequivocally rejecting the appalling actions of white supremacists.” But he plans to remain on the council. (Abha Bhattarai)

— “Some companies on the council … do substantial business with the government, adding another complex dynamic to their calculations. But the consensus among business leaders was that the risks of crossing Mr. Trump had diminished in recent months,” the New York Times notes. “The risk calculus has changed dramatically,” said Scott Galloway, a professor at New York University’s business school. “Yes, you may risk a tweet from Trump. But his tweets are increasingly flaccid.”

THE RAPIDLY SHIFTING DEBATE OVER CONFEDERATE STATUES:

— Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland recommended the removal of a State House statue of Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney, who defended slavery in the 1857 Dred Scott decision. Ovetta Wiggins reports: “‘While we cannot hide from our history — nor should we — the time has come to make clear the difference between properly acknowledging our past and glorifying the darkest chapters of our history,’ Hogan said in a statement. ‘I believe removing the Justice Roger B. Taney statue from the State House grounds is the right thing to do.’ The decision, which comes after the deadly rally of white nationalists in Charlottesville over the weekend, is a reversal for Hogan. Last year, the governor said he had ‘no interest’ in removing Taney’s statue, and he described calls for the removal of statues and other Confederate monuments as ‘political correctness run amok.’

— The city of Baltimore removed its Confederate statues in the wee hours of this morning. The New York Times’s Russell Goldman reports: “Beginning soon after midnight on Wednesday, a crew, which included a large crane and a contingent of police officers, began making rounds of the city’s parks and public squares, tearing the monuments from their pedestals and carting them out of town. Small crowds gathered at each of the monuments and the mood was ‘celebratory,’ said Baynard Woods, the editor at large of The Baltimore City Paper, who documented the removals on Twitter. … The statues were taken down by order of Mayor Catherine Pugh, after the City Council voted on Monday for their removal.”

— A woman was arrested in connection with the toppling of a Confederate statue in Durham, N.C. The sheriff said Tuesday that his department has video from the protests and plans to use footage to find other suspects. (CNN)

— North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) wrote a Medium post on this subject: “Some people cling to the belief that the Civil War was fought over states’ rights. But history is not on their side. We cannot continue to glorify a war against the United States of America fought in the defense of slavery. These monuments should come down.”

— Noth Carolina is one of four states that has passed laws in recent years to make it harder for local jurisdictions to get rid of Confederate statues. The others are Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee. (Axios’s Haley Britzky)

— Not all of the Confederate memorials are located in former Confederate states. “About 8 percent of the memorials to the Confederacy that were indexed by the [Southern Poverty Law Center] are in states that fought for the Union in the Civil War,” Philip Bump reports, “though most of those memorials are in states that were on the border with the Confederacy — and that allowed slave ownership.”

— And some of the most famous Confederate statues sit smack dab in the U.S. Capitol — and there are no plans to remove them. Politico’s Elana Schor reports: “[Robert E.] Lee is among the 10 Confederates whose statues remain in the Capitol, lionizing a slaveholding era and sparking calls this week from some House Democrats to rid the building of their likenesses. The Capitol’s Confederate statues are part of the National Statuary Hall Collection, created more than 150 years ago as a means to represent two citizens of each state under the dome. Even as multiple other cities follow Charlottesville in pursuing removal of their Confederate monuments, however, only a handful of Democrats have so far called for the statues’ replacement[.] … [Paul] Ryan spokesman Doug Andres affirmed Tuesday that House GOP leaders would leave it up to individual states to decide whether to replace Confederate statues: ‘These are decisions for those states to make,’ he said.”

THE FALLOUT IN CHARLOTTESVILLE:

— Two women injured during the chaos surrounding the rally in Charlottesville have filed a $3 million lawsuit against individuals they say were the organizers and name more than two-dozen right-wing and neo-Nazi groups, accusing them of inciting violence. From Arelis R. Hernández: “Sisters Tadrint and Micah Washington were headed home in their car Aug. 12 when they turned down an open Charlottesville side street where counterprotesters were marching. Within minutes, a Dodge Challenger slammed into the crowd and rammed into the rear of their car, causing a chain-reaction crash that killed one and injured 19 others. … The Washington sisters were not participating in the protests and had been visiting a friend when they got caught in a maze of detours. Lawyers for the Washingtons — Tadrint, 27, who recently finished EMT training, and Micah, 20, who works in the hospitality industry — say at the point their car was hit, they had nowhere to move as bodies flipped over them and onto their vehicle’s windshield. Their car was splattered with blood, and emergency personnel tried to revive Heyer, a 32-year-old counterprotester from Charlottesville, a few inches away.”

— The helicopter involved in the crash that killed two Virginia State Police officers this weekend as they surveilled the white supremacist rally had crashed once before in 2010, after it lost power during a training flight. It is unclear whether the incidents are related, but officials said the earlier crash will be considered as part of their broader investigation. (Lori Aratani)

— The University of Virginia’s president defended the response to last weekend’s white nationalist marchers. Susan Svrluga reports: “U-Va. President Teresa Sullivan wrote to the campus community that law enforcement learned Friday afternoon that a protest was planned at the Rotunda, and officers were staged along the route that the white nationalist group said it would walk. But the group took another route and turned onto the Lawn, Sullivan wrote. She wrote that law enforcement stepped in within minutes of the violence and ordered people to disperse.”

— A student newspaper editor who had originally argued that the city of Charlottesville should allow the alt-right to march admits in a new column, “I was wrong.” “It was naïve of me to not take their threats seriously,” incoming sophomore Brendan Novak added in an interview with The Post. “You could see it coming…it wasn’t hard to predict.” (Samantha Schmidt)

Vanity Fair’s Sarah Ellison writes on how Charlottesville became “ground zero for white supremacy”: “Charlottesville may always look pretty on the outside, but as someone who attended U.Va., and recently reported on the school, it’s actually a sadly predictable location for the biggest and bloodiest white supremacist rally the nation has seen in decades. Charlottesville is perhaps one of the most liberal towns in the South. It is also one of the whitest.”

— Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called on the Trump administration to form a task force on the threat posed by white supremacist groups and urged Jeff Sessions to go to Charlottesville and “personally handle domestic terrorism investigations.” (Charleston Post and Courier)

— “Weeks before a violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville … the Trump administration revoked a grant to Life After Hate, a group that works to de-radicalize neo-Nazis,” the Huffington Post reports. “The Department of Homeland Security had awarded the group $400,000 as part of its Countering Violent Extremism program in January, just days before Barack Obama left office. It was the only group selected for a grant that focused exclusively on fighting white supremacy. But the grant money was not immediately disbursed. Trump aides, including Katharine Gorka, a controversial national security analyst known for her anti-Muslim rhetoric, were already working toward eliminating Life After Hate’s grant and to direct all funding toward fighting what the president has described as ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’ … DHS also revoked funding from the Muslim Public Affairs Council, an American Muslim advocacy organization that was told in January it would receive a $393,800 grant to create community resource centers throughout the country.”

A DIVIDED AMERICA:

— What exactly is “the alt-left,” which Trump said deserves some of the blame for what went down in Charlottesville? Alex Horton explains: “The term alt-left or violent left has been used by some on the right to describe anti-Trump protesters and Black Lives Matter activists. But it has been used most often for ‘anti-fascist’ groups, also known as antifa, that have mobilized to confront right-wing gatherings, sometimes escalating to violence. … Antifa activists vandalized property and committed acts of violence on Inauguration Day in Washington and during protests at the University of California at Berkeley over a planned speech by then-Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos. Their actions have been relatively isolated, focused on disrupting white nationalist rallies. However, ‘Leftist violence’ has become a part of how right-wing media discusses Trump’s opponents[.] … Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association has shifted its mission and language to appear as a line of defense against what it calls ‘the violent left,’ spinning images of anarchists bringing peaceful democracy down.”

— Free speech protests that were planned at Google locations across the United States were postponed last night due to supposed threats from “left-wing terrorists.” Elizabeth Dwoskin reports: “‘The Peaceful March on Google has been postponed due to credible Alt Left terrorist threats for the safety of our citizen participants,’ organizers wrote on a blog post on the protest’s website. … The rally’s organizer, Jack Posobiec, is an alt-right activist and self-described ‘reality journalist’ who used conspiracy theories to galvanize Trump supporters during the presidential campaign, including the infamous ‘Pizzagate’ rumors of child trafficking. … In his blog post announcing the postponement, Posbiec blamed the mainstream media, and in particular CNN, for making ‘malicious and false statements that our peaceful march was being organized by Nazy sympathizers.’ He said that someone had threatened to use a vehicle to drive into the march. … But Posobiec was also facing pressure to postpone the march from other members of far-right movements, who said that it was ill-timed.”

— “Less than 24 hours after Texas A&M University officials canceled his plans to hold a rally on a university plaza, white nationalist Preston Wiginton indicated Tuesday that he is planning to sue and remains determined to hold some kind of event on or near the College Station campus,” the Texas Tribune’s Matthew Watkins reports. “Wiginton said he is considering leading a march on a public street through the university instead of his originally scheduled ‘White Lives Matter’ rally. A&M officials said they axed the planned Sept. 11 event out of safety concerns. But Wiginton said he didn’t buy that reasoning. ‘Their real fear is the fear of words,’ he said. … When Wiginton announced his original plans, he did so with a press release headlined ‘CHARLOTTESVILLE TODAY TEXAS A&M TOMORROW.’ A&M officials cited that headline in their decision to cancel the event, suggesting it invoked the possibility of violence.”

— An assistant principal lost his job after writing a children’s book with Pepe the frog as the protagonist. The plot includes the alt-right symbol Pepe facing off against a bearded alligator by the name of “Alkah.” (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)

THE CBO STRIKES AGAIN:

— According to a report issued yesterday by the Congressional Budget Office, if Trump ends cost-sharing payments to health insurers, premiums will increase by 20 percent, and the federal government will lose an additional $194 billion over 10 years. The New York Times’s Robert Pear and Thomas Kaplan report: “The nonpartisan budget office has now quantified the cost of [Trump’s threats to end the payments] and potentially handed Democrats a weapon to force Congress and the administration to keep the money flowing. ‘Try to wriggle out of his responsibilities as he might, the C.B.O. report makes clear that if President Trump refuses to make these payments, he will be responsible for American families paying more for less care,’ the Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, said. ‘He’s the president and the ball is in his court — American families await his action.’”

— Even amid Trump’s threats, the Obamacare exchanges are proving resilient, with 14 previously “bare” Nevada counties picking up an insurer yesterday. The Hill’s Jessie Hellmann reports: “SilverSummit Healthplan has agreed to fill Nevada’s 14 ‘bare’ counties that were slated to have no insurers on the ObamaCare exchanges next year.  SilverSummit, a subsidiary of Centene, announced the decision at a press conference with Gov. Brian Sandoval (R). Those 14 rural counties became in danger of having no insurers in 2018 after Anthem announced it wouldn’t sell ObamaCare plans next year in Nevada.  Unless something changes, SilverSummit and Health Plan of Nevada will be the only two companies selling ObamaCare plans in the state next year.”

— Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, faced angry town halls yesterday over his vote to repeal Obamacare. Politico’s Rachana Pradhan: “While Gardner’s constituents in this purple state applauded him for his swift and strong condemnation of white supremacist groups this weekend, he was interrupted by boos and jeers of ‘shame’ and was called a ‘liar’ as he defended his support for health care legislation that would have significantly scaled back Obamacare and Medicaid. … Gardner also held town halls in Colorado Springs and Lakewood, where he shot down repeated calls to support a single-payer universal health care system favored by progressives. Meanwhile, he also faced criticism from Republicans who urged him to fulfill the party’s promise to repeal and replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act.”

TRUMP’S DOMESTIC AGENDA:

— “The Justice Department under [Sessions] has effectively blocked the Drug Enforcement Administration from taking action on more than two dozen requests to grow marijuana to use in research, one of a number of areas in which the anti-drug agency is at odds with the Trump administration,” Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett report. “A year ago, the DEA began accepting applications to grow more marijuana for research, and as of this month, had 25 proposals to consider. But DEA officials said they need the Justice Department’s sign-off to move forward. So far, the department has not been willing to provide it. A year ago, the DEA began accepting applications to grow more marijuana for research, and as of this month, had 25 proposals to consider. But DEA officials said they need the Justice Department’s sign-off to move forward. So far, the department has not been willing to provide it. As a result, said one senior DEA official, ‘the Justice Department has effectively shut down this program to increase research registrations.’”

— The president signed an executive order yesterday that aims to streamline the approval process for infrastructure projects by sidestepping certain environmental requirements. Darryl Fears and Steven Mufson report: “Trump said that the approval process for projects was ‘badly broken’ and that the nation’s infrastructure was a ‘massive self-inflicted wound on our country.’ Trump said that ‘no longer’ would there be ‘one job-killing delay after another’ for new projects. … The White House confirmed that the order issued Tuesday would revoke an earlier executive order by [Obama]. … Obama’s Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, established in 2015, sought to mitigate the risk of flood damage charged to taxpayers when property owners file costly claims. Climate scientists warn that sea levels will rise substantially in the coming decades, and they say that long-term infrastructure projects will probably face more frequent and serious flood risks.”

— NAFTA renegotiations kick off today. The Wall Street Journal’s Paul Vieira, William Mauldin and Anthony Harrup report: “Under Nafta, the U.S., Mexico and Canada have resolved tariff conflicts by submitting them to expert panels that can sustain or overturn tariffs. The system has helped guide the trilateral relationship for 23 years. Now the U.S. wants to do away with those dispute-resolution panels, while Canada is digging in on its insistence that they are a crucial tool for Canadian firms to use to fight tariffs imposed by its powerful southern neighbor. Mexican senators have also called for retaining the mechanism. Though the system for resolving tariff disputes is only one of many issues that U.S. officials are expected to put on the table in the talks that begin Wednesday in Washington, it is a particularly divisive one.”

— “Trump tried to save their jobs. These workers are quitting anyway,” by Danielle Paquette: “Kipp Glenn grew tired of standing for eight-hour shifts … [and] his knees ached from 25 years on the concrete factory floor. So even after [Trump] made his job at Carrier a symbol of American prosperity and vowed to save it, the Indiana native took a buyout. ‘What we want to call ‘blue-collar jobs’ are on the way out,’ he said. At a time when the Trump administration argues that creating manufacturing jobs is a critical national goal … many factory workers are making a surprising decision: They’re quitting. Government data shows workers in the sector are giving up their jobs at the fastest pace in a decade. That’s a powerful sign, economists say, that workers think they can find work elsewhere. Leaving steady work, of course, carries risks. … And there is no guarantee that these workers, who often possess just a high school diploma, will not encounter new challenges in an economy that favors those with more education.  Still, analysts say, the increase of people departing reflects a healthy adjustment in an industry that is likely to shrink as technology advances.”

THE NEW WORLD ORDER:

— Vice President Pence praised Argentina and further rebuked Venezuela during an appearance in Buenos Aires yesterday. Philip Rucker reports: “Delivering the centerpiece speech of his week-long visit to South and Central America, Pence on Tuesday declared ‘the dawn of a new era in the New World.’ He carried a message of unity here to Buenos Aires and promoted economic and security ties between the Trump administration and Argentine President Mauricio Macri’s government. … Pence singled out one exception: Venezuela, the South American country where President Nicolás Maduro has precipitated an economic collapse and drawn international scorn by cracking down on dissent and asserting his autocratic rule. ‘Venezuela is sliding into dictatorship, and as President Donald Trump has said, the United States will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles,’ Pence said.”

— China is encouraging the U.S. and North Korea to “hit the brakes” on their escalating tensions. The AP’s Christopher Bodeen reports: “Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a phone conversation with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that the two countries should work together to contain tensions and permit no one to ‘stir up an incident on their doorstep,’ according to a statement posted on the Chinese foreign ministry’s website. … On Wednesday, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, continued a visit to China following talks the day before with his Chinese counterpart that touched on North Korea. No details of the talks have been released. Dunford on Tuesday told Fang Fenghui, chief of the People’s Liberation Army’s joint staff department, that the sides had ‘many difficult issues’ between them but were willing to deal with them through dialogue.”

— “Can the United States play North Korea against China?” by Josh Rogin: “For decades, the United States has been trying to get China to use its influence and power to isolate North Korea. Now, experts are asking, why doesn’t the United States try working with North Korea to isolate China? That could be a game changer not just for the North Korea crisis but for the entire region. … The time might be right to approach Kim with a better deal for his regime and his people by offering him a grand bargain that would take North Korea away from China and bring it into the camp of the United States and its allies. It’s a difficult gambit, for sure. But even if the United States can’t peel North Korea fully away from its chief sponsor state, opening that avenue of diplomacy might still be useful toward breaking the stalemate between Washington and Pyongyang.”

— On North Korea, Japan’s Shinzo Abe has been Trump’s most consistent ally. The Wall Street Journal’s Peter Landers reports: “Shinzo Abe is the type of leader to repeat talking points in measured words, while Mr. Trump is known for issuing aggressive statements unpredictably. On substance, however, they are in the same place, a reflection both of Japan’s dependence on U.S. military might in the event of a conflict and of Mr. Abe’s personal frustration with Pyongyang, which mirrors Mr. Trump’s. … The Japanese leader’s refusal to let any daylight come between him and Mr. Trump contrasts with other leaders who have hinted at unease with Mr. Trump’s language, including his threat last week to bring ‘fire and fury’ on North Korea. … But like Mr. Trump, Mr. Abe blames North Korean intransigence for the impasse.”

— “Rex Tillerson highlighted abuses committed by the Islamic State group and Iran as he released a new survey Tuesday of religious rights and freedoms around the world,” Anne Gearan and Carol Morello report. “Tillerson called out some important partners, such as Bahrain, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey in brief remarks introducing the annual report[.] …  He devoted the most attention to the Islamic State, however, accusing the group of targeted, religiously motivated atrocities against Christians and minority sects. The Obama administration had accused the Islamic State of genocide, and Tillerson endorsed that position Tuesday. … Criticizing Iran, Tillerson pointed to persecution of religious minorities and said that country had carried out executions last year under ‘vague apostasy laws.’”

— While meeting with sailors aboard the USS Kentucky last week, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis gave an off-color assessment about those who don’t serve. Dan Lamothe reports: “‘You’ll miss [being in the Navy] like the dickens, and you’ll be changed for the better for the rest of your life,’ said Mattis, who retired as a four-star Marine general in 2013. … ‘That means you’re living. That means you’re not some p— sitting on the sidelines, you know what I mean, kind of sitting there saying, ‘Well, I should have done something with my life.’ … It took a couple days, but the Defense Department has now released the unedited transcript, and it generated both positive and negative attention Tuesday on social media. … Dana White, a spokesman for Mattis, described the exchange with the sailors as an example of the secretary’s ‘unique way of connecting with his audience.’”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

— Trump retweeted – then deleted – an image of a train running over a CNN reporter yesterday morning. It was widely seen as inappropriate in the wake of the Charlottesville rally, where a man barreled his car at speed into a crowd of counterprotesters. (David Nakamura and Aaron C. Davis have more on the reaction.)

— Here are a few of the many tweets from elected Republicans in response to Trump’s remarks that there were “some very fine people” at the Charlottesville rally:

A congressman from Michigan:

North Carolina’s senator, who will face a tough 2020 reelection fight:

Arizona’s senior senator, battling brain cancer:

Arizona’s junior senator:

Kansas’s senator:

A Northern Virginia congresswoman facing a tough reelection fight next year:

A retiring Florida congresswoman:

The GOP nominee for governor of Virginia and a former RNC chair:

Newly hired RNC spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany had the temerity to defend Trump’s comments‏:  

Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage praised Trump’s point that George Washington owned slaves:

That drew this rejoinder from a historian:

From the commandant of the Marine Corps: 

Democrats were blistering. From Obama’s former “ethics czar”:

Obama’s former deputy chief of staff: 

The former spokesman for the Obama Justice Department:

A senior adviser to Obama:

Democratic senators harshly rebuked Trump:

From House Democrats:

From a Brookings fellow:

From the editor of Wired Magazine:

Trump said he didn’t put out a strong statement on Saturday because he always waits to learn all the facts before he comments on something. He doesn’t have a history of doing that:

Hollywood celebrities piled on:

Even basketball star LeBron James weighed in:

The Onion’s take:

Roy Moore, who received the most votes in Alabama’s Republican primary last night, claimed that Sharia law ran the Midwest:

— Barack Obama’s tweet quoting Nelson Mandela in the wake of Saturday’s violence has become the most-liked tweet ever, with more than 2.7 million people clicking the favorite button. (Kristine Phillips

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

— The Atlantic, “From Trump Aide to Single Mom,” by McKay Coppins: “[T]he fallout from their affair didn’t take an equal toll on their lives and careers. After returning home to and reconciling with his wife, [Jason] Miller joined the consulting firm Teneo, signed a contract with CNN as an on-air contributor, and has reportedly continued to advise the White House in an informal capacity. (A.J.) Delgado did not join the White House staff, or land a plum appointment in a cabinet agency, and she stopped getting booked as a Trump surrogate on television. Instead, she moved in with her mother in Miami, and looked for work there…

“[I]f there’s one person whose absence most roils Delgado, it’s her baby’s father. According to Delgado, she and Miller haven’t spoken since December, and he has yet to provide any child support. In fact, she said, he only resurfaced through an attorney—after months of silence—a few weeks before their son was due. … She was particularly hurt when Miller demanded a paternity test shortly after William was born. She thought the test was unnecessary, but agreed anyway, asking only that they wait until after the baby received his two-month vaccination shots. She wanted to mitigate the risk of the newborn getting sick from his exposure to the lab tech performing the test. But, she said, Miller’s lawyer insisted that it couldn’t wait.”

— Associated Press, “N.H. neighbors say Corey Lewandowski threatened them in land dispute“: “Neighbors of President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski say he harassed them in a land dispute and threatened to use his ‘political clout’ to make their lives ‘a nightmare.’ Glenn and Irene Schwartz countersued Lewandowski this month after he filed a $5 million lawsuit in July over access to a pond-front property in Windham, New Hampshire.”

— BuzzFeed, “How A Hoax Made To Look Like A Guardian Article Made Its Way To Russian Media,” by Craig Silverman and Jane Lytvynenko: “A completely fake article, made to look as if it were published by The Guardian and containing explosive comments attributed to the former head of British intelligence, was likely created to serve as propaganda material for Russian media …. The fake Guardian story carried the headline: ‘Former MI6 Chief Admits Defeat to Putin on the Russia Fragmentation Strategic Plan.’ It began circulating on Twitter and Facebook on Sunday thanks to a handful of accounts based in Russia. The story contained lengthy quotes attributed to former MI6 head John Scarlett, and was riddled with grammatical errors easily spotted by an English speaker. Scarlett’s fake quotes were also a red flag because they amounted to an admission that the Rose Revolution in Georgia was a result of a CIA and MI6 plan. [Additional reporting] also found that the hoax story is connected to a series of other fabricated articles made to look like they had come from media outlets such as Haaretz, The Atlantic, and Al Jazeera. The fake stories used the same malicious domain technique to trick people, and all were translated from English into Russian for the same Russian news blog.”

— The New York Times, “In Ukraine, a Malware Expert Who Could Blow the Whistle on Russian Hacking,” by Andrew E. Kramer and Andrew Higgins: “That a hacking operation that Washington is convinced was orchestrated by Moscow would obtain malware from a source in Ukraine — perhaps the Kremlin’s most bitter enemy — sheds considerable light on the Russian security services’ modus operandi in what Western intelligence agencies say is their clandestine cyberwar against the United States and Europe. It does not suggest a compact team of government employees who write all their own code and carry out attacks during office hours in Moscow or St. Petersburg, but rather a far looser enterprise that draws on talent and hacking tools wherever they can be found.”

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“Former Google engineer: ‘I do not support the alt-right,’” from CNN: “James Damore was fired from Google last week over his controversial 3,300 word essay on diversity. His memo put him in the good graces of the alt-right — but he’s now distancing himself from the movement. ‘I do not support the alt-right,’ he told CNN Tech. ‘Just because someone supports me doesn’t mean I support them.’ Many alt-right personalities have expressed their support of Damore and his document, which criticized Google for its ‘politically correct monoculture’ and critiqued its efforts to increase staff diversity. … Even as Damore clarified his personal political views, he argued adamantly that Silicon Valley is closed off to people it considers conservative.”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“Democrats Fret as Clinton Book Rollout Looms,” from Bloomberg News: “Clinton has promised to ‘let my guard down’ in the book, ‘What Happened,’ explaining her shocking loss to Trump in November. She has already offered up several explanations, blaming Russian interference, former FBI director James Comey, and misogyny, while also acknowledging tactical errors by her campaign. Many Washington Democrats, though unwilling to criticize her in public, wish she’d ‘move on,’ as Senator Al Franken has put it. They fear that her complaints help Trump make his case that the controversies surrounding him flow from the Democrats’ bitterness about their 2016 loss.”

DAYBOOK:

Trump will travel to Bedminster, N.J., where he will sign the Veterans Educational Assistance Act.

Pence is in Santiago, Chile. He has a meeting, a joint news conference and luncheon with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet followed by a meet-and-greet with families at the U.S. Embassy. He will end his day with a speech on promoting economic growth throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Paul Ryan will hold a televised town hall next week. The House Speaker is expected “to outline House Republicans priorities for the fall.” (Wisconsin State Journal)

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“I stand by my man – both of them.” — Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao brushed aside a question about Trump’s attacks on of her husband, Mitch McConnell

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

— It will be sunny, hot and humid in the District today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “After patchy areas of fog burn off this morning, we’re in for a much brighter day compared to the last few. A sun-filled sky in mid-August usually comes at a price, and we’ll certainly pay it as highs reach the upper 80s to near 90. With humidity remaining high, it could feel as warm as the mid-90s at times, so stay hydrated if you spend time outside.”

— The Nationals beat the Angels 3-1. (Jorge Castillo)

— A Maryland man pleaded guilty to accepting $9,000 from foreign entities to fund a terrorist attack in the United States. Lynh Bui reports: “Mohamed Yousef Elshinawy, 32, of Edgewood, pledged his allegiance to [the Islamic State] and received cash from foreign companies run by people looking to develop weaponized drones, according to federal court records outlining the government’s allegations. Elshinawy, a U.S. national of Egyptian descent, had kept in touch with a childhood friend who was a self-described member of the Islamic State, court records stated. Through social media conversations in 2015, he asked his friend to tell the group’s leadership that he was one of their soldiers and committed to ‘violent jihad,’ the records state.”

— The Lincoln Memorial was vandalized with red spray paint. Justin Wm. Moyer reports: “At about 4:30 a.m., graffiti was found on a column at the memorial, the National Park Service said in a statement. The graffiti was difficult to read, but appeared to say ‘[expletive] law,’ the statement said. … The graffiti at the Lincoln Memorial was to be removed with ‘a mild, gel-type architectural paint stripper that is safe for use on historic stone,’ the Park Service said.”

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Stephen Colbert updated Steve Bannon’s resume in case he gets fired:

Charlie Rose discussed Charlottesville with historian Jon Meacham and Al Sharpton:

A woman confronted a man in North Carolina over why he was flying a Nazi flag:

Watch how uncomfortable John Kelly was as Trump spoke:

Town hall attendees shouted “Shame!” at Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.):

The Post fact-checks Trump’s claim that unemployment is at a record low:

A 6-month-old baby allegedly teargassed and beaten by Kenyan police has died:

Thirteen zoo animals rescued from Aleppo arrived in Jordan:

Finally, a Belgian town feasted on a giant omelet made of 10,000 eggs:

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The Daily 202: Trump acts like the president of the Red States of America

With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: Donald Trump often behaves as if he’s first and foremost the president of the states and the people who voted for him.

That’s at odds with the American tradition, and it’s problematic as a governing philosophy — especially in a moment of crisis. Trump’s initially tone-deaf response to Charlottesville underscores why.

Animated by grievance and congenitally disinclined to extend olive branches, Trump lashes out at his “enemies” — his 2020 reelection campaign even used that word in a commercial released on Sunday — while remaining reticent to explicitly call out his fans — no matter how odious, extreme or violent.

Channeling his inner-Richard Nixon, who kept an enemies list of his own, candidate Trump often claimed to speak for “a silent majority.” After failing to win the popular vote, President Trump has instead governed on behalf of an increasingly vocal but diminishing minority.

The president has held campaign-style rallies in places like West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. Indeed, almost all his political travel has been to places he carried last November. He keeps stacks of 2016 electoral maps to hand out to people visiting the Oval Office so he can point out the sea of red. He speaks often about his “base,” preferring to preach to the choir rather than evangelize for his policies. “The Trump base is far bigger & stronger than ever before,” Trump wrote on Twitter last week.

— Apparently the president sees “the Trump base” as distinct from the GOP base: “Trump’s job approval rating in Gallup Daily tracking is at 34% for the three-day period from Friday through Sunday — by one point the lowest of his administration so far,” Frank Newport wrote yesterday. “Republicans’ latest weekly approval rating of 79% was the lowest from his own partisans so far, dropping from the previous week’s 82%. Democrats gave Trump a 7% job approval rating last week, while the reading for independents was at 29%. This is the first time independents’ weekly approval rating for Trump has dropped below 30%.” In the latest Gallup polling, 46 percent of whites approve of Trump’s job performance. That’s the same share Barack Obama had at this point in 2009. But while only 15 percent of nonwhites support Trump, 73 percent backed Obama.

— Trump appeared reluctant to make his brief remarks yesterday, in which he explicitly condemned the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists. He tacked them on to a hastily arranged speech after praising his own stewardship of the economy, two days after he did not specifically condemn the “Unite the Right” rally and only after an outpouring of criticism from Republican leaders for that omission. Reading from a teleprompter, Trump said that the displays of hatred and bigotry in Charlottesville have “no place in America.” (Read a transcript of the president’s comments here.)

— The president was still more tepid than members of his own Cabinet. “Though Trump has regularly employed the phrase ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ to describe other attacks in the United States and the Middle East, he chose not to echo Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s conclusion that the violence in Charlottesville met the Justice Department’s definition of ‘domestic terrorism,’” David Nakamura and Sari Horwitz note.

— Conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin describes Trump’s performance as “classic narcissistic behavior”: “The sole determination of whether Trump likes someone (Saudi royalty, thuggish leaders, etc.) is whether they praise him. It’s always and only about him. He has been far more antagonistic toward Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his own attorney general … than he has been toward white nationalists because the former were disloyal in his mind, the only unforgivable sin in the Trump White House. …

“The white nationalists in Charlottesville did not hide their intentions. They were there to revel in the Trump presidency, which explicitly told them it was time to ‘take their country back,’” Rubin notes. “Former KKK grand wizard David Duke left no confusion as to his followers’ admiration for the president: ‘This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take our country back. We’re going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back, and that’s what we’ve got to do.’”

— Meanwhile, alt-right leader Richard Spencer dismissed Trump’s statement as “nonsense,” telling reporters at a news conference yesterday that “[only] a dumb person would take those lines seriously.” Spencer also said he did not consider the president’s words to be a condemnation of the white nationalist movement. “I don’t think he condemned it, no,” said Spencer, whose group advocates for a form of American apartheid, per Business Insider. “Did he say ‘white nationalist?’ ‘Racist’ means an irrational hatred of people. … I don’t think he meant any of us.” Asked whether he considers Trump an ally, Spencer replied that while he didn’t think of Trump as “alt-right,” he considers the president to be “the first true authentic nationalist in my lifetime.”

— In this context, Trump’s announcement that he is mulling a pardon for Joe Arpaio can be viewed as a strategic sop to mollify some of the most xenophobic elements of his nativist base. The president told Fox News in an interview published yesterday that he is “seriously considering” a full pardon to the former Arizona sheriff, who was convicted last month of criminal contempt for ignoring a federal judge’s order that he stop racially profiling Hispanics.

“I might do it right away, maybe early this week. I am seriously thinking about it,” the president told Gregg Jarrett. He called Arpaio a “great American patriot” who has “done a lot in the fight against illegal immigration”: “Is there anyone in local law enforcement who has done more to crack down on illegal immigration than Sheriff Joe? … He doesn’t deserve to be treated this way.”

Arpaio, who remains a “birther” and has insisted he has proof that Obama was not born in Hawaii, lost reelection last year. He was an early Trump endorser — going to Iowa for the announcement — and linked himself closely with the GOP nominee — speaking in prime time during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Radley Balko, the author of the book “Rise of the Warrior Cop,” argues that Trump is giving racists “a reassuring wink” by floating the Arpaio pardon. “I very seriously doubt Arpaio would ever get jail time. Federal judges aren’t known for sending octogenarian ex-cops to prison. But his name and reputation ought to be stained. If any cop deserves that, it’s Arpaio,” he writes on The Watch.

“In 2011, the Justice Department concluded that Arpaio’s deputies had engaged in the worst pattern of racial profiling that the DOJ had ever investigated,” Balko recounts. “That report found that Arpaio’s deputies routinely put Spanish-speaking prisoners in solitary confinement as punishment for their inability to speak English. … 1 in 5 traffic stops during Arpaio’s immigration sweep’s involved Fourth Amendment violations. … Latinos were four to nine times more likely to be pulled over than non-Latinos. … Accusations that Arpaio’s deputies continued to harass Latinos were affirmed by another federal judge in 2013. Arpaio then launched an investigation of that judge. That report also found that Arpaio was spending so much time harassing Latinos that his department was neglecting violent crime.

“On multiple occasions, federal judges have found that Arpaio’s jails are unconstitutionally inhumane, most notably when it comes to diet, health care and mental health. The vast, vast majority of the people in Arpaio’s jails are being held on suspected immigration violations. … Arpaio in fact once boasted that his jails were akin to a ‘concentration camp.’”

“He faces up to six months in prison at his sentencing, which is scheduled for Oct. 5,” Matt Zapotosky reports. “Jack Wilenchik, Arpaio’s attorney, said after Arpaio was convicted that the former sheriff would appeal to get a jury trial. … A Justice Department spokeswoman said she was not aware of the president’s remarks but would wait until action was taken before commenting.”

“I would accept the pardon,” Arpaio told Fox News, “because I am 100 percent not guilty.”

— Bottom line: If Trump pardoned Arpaio, it would add another data point to the cementing narrative that the president lacks respect for the rule of law.

— In stark contrast to his caution after Charlottesville, it took Trump just 54 minutes to attack the chief executive of Merck by name on Monday morning after he resigned from the president’s manufacturing council. Kenneth C. Frazier, one of the few African American chief executives in the Fortune 500, touted the virtues of diversity in a statement. “I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism,” he said. “America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal.”

POTUS continued to use his social media bully pulpit to go after him last night:

— Trump’s fixation on his populist right flank, rather than the center, has made it easier for other corporate chieftains to distance themselves.

Kevin Plank, chief executive of Under Armour, joined Merck’s Frazier last night in announcing that he, too, is stepping down from Trump’s manufacturing council. “I love our country and our company and will continue to focus my efforts on inspiring every person that they can do anything through the power of sport which promotes unity, diversity and inclusion,” he wrote on Twitter.

A few hours later, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich announced in a blog post that he will also resign from the council — “to call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues.”

Yesterday’s defections will further intensify pressure on executives at companies that continue to collaborate with the administration — including General Electric, Dell and Dow — to follow their lead.

— Meanwhile, even after his speech yesterday, Trump still has not reacted publicly to a bomb that was detonated at a Minnesota mosque Aug. 5. Sebastian Gorka, a far-right nationalist on Trump’s National Security Council, defended his silence last week. “There’s a great rule: all initial reports are false,” Gorka said on MSNBC from the White House briefing room. “You have to check them. You have to find out who the perpetrators are. … We’ve had a series of crimes committed — alleged hate crimes — by right-wing individuals in the last six months that turned out to actually have been propagated by the left. So let’s wait and see.” (The governor of Minnesota had already declared the mosque attack as “an act of terrorism” when Gorka said this.)

The president, of course, showed no such caution after attacks this spring in Paris and London. And don’t forget when he falsely described a casino robbery in Manila as a terrorist attack. Or his attacks on Mexican immigrants.

— Finally, Trump’s botched response to Charlottesville should be viewed as another consequence of electing the first president in American history with no prior governing experience. “Say what you will about politicians as a group, but it is striking how all of them, from Bernie Sanders to Ted Cruz, knew the right thing to say in response to Charlottesville,” writes Daniel W. Drezner, a professor of international politics at Tufts University. “Running for office repeatedly tends to hone one’s rhetorical instincts. At a minimum, most professional politicians learn the do’s and don’ts of political rhetoric. Trump’s political education has different roots. He has learned the art of political rhetoric from three sources: reality television, Twitter and ‘the shows.’ His miscues this past week can be traced to the pathologies inherent in each of these arenas.”

— “One of the difficult but primary duties of the modern presidency is to speak for the nation in times of tragedy,” Michael Gerson, a speechwriter for George W. Bush, wrote in a column this weekend. “It falls to the president to express something of the nation’s soul — grief for the lost, sympathy for the suffering, moral clarity in the midst of confusion, confidence in the unknowable purposes of God. Not every president does this equally well. But none have been incapable. Until Donald Trump.

“The president is confident that his lazy musings are equal to history. They are not,” Gerson continues. “Trump could offer no context for this latest conflict. No inspiring ideals from the author of the Declaration of Independence, who called Charlottesville home. No healing words from the president who was killed by a white supremacist. By his flat, foolish utterance, Trump proved once again that he has no place in the company of these leaders.”

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

THERE IS A BEAR IN THE WOODS:

— A low-level foreign policy adviser to Trump “repeatedly” attempted to set up a meeting with Russian officials during the presidential campaign — passing along multiple requests for Trump to meet with Russian leadership, including Vladimir Putin. Tom Hamburger, Carol D. Leonnig and Rosalind S. Helderman scoop: “The adviser, George Papadopoulos, offered to set up ‘a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss US-Russia ties under [Trump],’ telling them his Russian contacts welcomed the opportunity …

“The proposal sent a ripple of concern through campaign headquarters in Trump Tower. Campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis wrote that he thought NATO allies should be consulted … Another [Trump adviser] cited legal concerns … But Papadopoulos, a campaign volunteer with scant foreign policy experience, persisted. Between March and September, the self-described energy consultant sent at least a half-dozen requests for Trump, as he turned from primary candidate to party nominee, or for members of his team to meet with Russian officials. Among those to express concern about the effort was [Paul Manafort], who rejected in May 2016 a proposal from Papadopoulos for Trump to do so.

“Less than a decade out of college, Papadopoulos appeared to hold little sway within the campaign, and it is unclear whether he was acting as an intermediary for the Russian government … [But] to experts in Russian intelligence gathering, the Papadopoulos chain offers further evidence that Russians were looking for entry points and playing upon connections with lower-level aides to penetrate the 2016 campaign …”

WILL NORTH KOREA BLINK?

— Kim Jong Un appeared to slightly ease his rhetoric against the United States on Tuesday, with state media reporting he will “watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees” following a week of bluster. Anna Fifield and Dan Lamothe report: “But, as is often the case with North Korea, the message was mixed: Kim was inspecting the missile unit tasked with preparing to strike near Guam, and photos released by state media showed a large satellite image of Andersen Air Force base on Guam on the screen beside the leader. ‘The U.S. should stop at once arrogant provocations against the DPRK and unilateral demands and not provoke it any longer,’ the North Korean leader [said]. … If ‘the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions on the Korean Peninsula and in its vicinity,’ Kim continued, North Korea would ‘make an important decision as it already declared,’ he said. Kim was visiting [the] elite missile unit that — according to state media — is finalizing preparations to launch ballistic missiles into the Pacific Ocean near [Guam]. A decision was due this week, a week during which the Kim regime is celebrating [with huge propaganda displays].”

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, elected in May on a pledge to adopt a more conciliatory approach to North Korea, urged the United States to give diplomacy a chance: “Peace will not come to the Korean Peninsula by force. Although peace and negotiation are painful and slow, we must pursue this path,” said Moon, adding that he is “confident that the U.S. will respond calmly and responsibly to the current situation.” He met yesterday in Seoul with Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Moon went a step further in a speech delivered in the last few hours, declaring that allied military action could only be taken with the consent of the South Korean government. The Wall Street Journal calls it “an implicit signal that Mr. Moon wouldn’t tolerate any unilateral action by the U.S. to strike North Korea.”

— Iran’s president, meanwhile, threatened to revitalize the country’s nuclear program. The AP’s Nasser Karimi reports: “Hassan Rouhani’s remarks to lawmakers follow the Iranian parliament’s move earlier this week to increase spending on the country’s ballistic missile program and the foreign operations of its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard. The bill — and Rouhani’s comments — are seen as a direct response to the new U.S. legislation earlier this month that imposed mandatory penalties on people involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them. … If Washington continues with ‘threats and sanctions’ against Iran, Rouhani said in parliament on Tuesday, Tehran could easily restart the nuclear program. ‘In an hour and a day, Iran could return to a more advanced (nuclear) level than at the beginning of the negotiations’ that preceded the 2015 deal, Rouhani said.

PALACE INTRIGUE:

During a recent dinner at the White House, Rupert Murdoch — who controls the Wall Street Journal and Fox News — told Trump that chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon needs to go. Mr. Trump offered little pushback … and vented his frustrations about Mr. Bannon,” the New York Times’s Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush report. Son-in-law Jared Kushner and chief of staff John Kelly were also at the meal. “Mr. Murdoch is close to Mr. Kushner, who has been in open warfare with Mr. Bannon since the spring. But Mr. Trump has expressed similar sentiments in the past, then backed off. Just a week earlier, as Mr. Trump ruminated on whether to dismiss [Reince Priebus], he was pushed by Mr. Kushner and others to dismiss Mr. Bannon as well. Mr. Trump signaled to allies that he was pretty much there … So far, Mr. Trump has not been able to follow through — a product of his dislike of confrontation, the bonds of a foxhole friendship forged during the 2016 presidential campaign and concerns about what mischief Mr. Bannon might do once he leaves the [West Wing] … From the start, Mr. Bannon, 63, has told people in his orbit that he never expected to last in his current position longer than eight months to a year, and hoped to ram through as much of his agenda as he could while he stood in the president’s favor. More recently he has told friends that he … constantly asks himself whether he could better pursue his to-do list … on the outside. … But the choice might not be his.”

CBS News’s Major Garrett reports that Trump could dismiss Bannon as soon as the end of this week.

— Ousted White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci appeared on Stephen Colbert’s show. Bethonie Butler reports: “Colbert said he had one ‘gotcha’ question for Scaramucci. ‘Nazis: good or bad?’ he asked. ‘Super bad,’ Scaramucci said.” Scaramucci also addressed his feud with Reince Priebus, saying, “The weird thing about my relationship with Reince is we were actually pretty good friends when I was a political donor writing checks to the RNC, but once I became part of the administration … it was a little more adversarial.”

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. Hundreds of people were confirmed dead in Sierra Leone after a torrent of fast-moving floods and mudslides swept through neighborhoods, burying dozens of unsuspecting residents alive. At least 312 people have been confirmed dead so far, and authorities expect the death toll to soar as the body count continues. (Max Bearak)
  2. The FBI arrested an Oklahoma man on charges that he tried to detonate what he thought was a 1,000-pound bomb in front of a bank, acting out of a hatred for the U.S. government and an admiration for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. (Devlin Barrett)
  3. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that some transgender members of the military may still be able to serve. Despite the president’s remarks to the contrary, Mattis reported that the Pentagon is still looking at the issue. (Dan Lamothe)
  4. The federal government has requested over a million IP addresses from Internet users who visited a website coordinating Inauguration Day protests. DreamHost, which houses the site in question, DisruptJ20.org, is fighting the request. (Ellen Nakashima)
  5. A Denver jury ruled in favor of Taylor Swift, awarding the pop star a symbolic $1 in damages after she accused radio DJ David Mueller of groping her before a concert in 2013. He had sued her for lost income. (Emily Yahr)
  6. Hillary Clinton’s spiritual adviser admitted to having plagiarized portions of his messages to the presidential candidate. Rev. Bill Shillady has compiled his prayers to Clinton in a new book released today, and one from the day after the election incorporates the exact words of Indiana pastor Matt Deuel. (Julie Zauzmer)
  7. Laura Ingraham is reportedly in line to get her own show at Fox. The potential Ingraham program could become a ratings rival of Rachel Maddow’s 9 p.m. show. (CNN)
  8. The Women’s March is reconvening. The Women’s Convention will be held in Detroit in October to address next year’s midterms. (USA Today)
  9. Medical experts are reconsidering the persistent advice from doctors to always finish your antibiotics, even if you’re feeling better. Some researchers worry that the advice is worsening antibiotic resistance. (Wall Street Journal)
  10. Roughly 1 in 9 Americans hold a job that could be affected by self-driving cars. But while some, such as taxi drivers, could be pushed out of their jobs, those who work in sectors like real estate or plumbing could be aided by the advanced technology. (Wall Street Journal)
  11. A D.C. firefighter was beaten by a crowd for allegedly responding to an emergency call for an injured child while intoxicated. The firefighter suffered a broken jaw and is now the subject of an internal review. (Peter Hermann and Ellie Silverman)
  12. A Chinese teenager died less than 48 hours after checking into an Internet-addiction treatment center. 18-year-old Li Ao’s body was covered in scars and bruises, causing Chinese authorities to shut down the center and launch an investigation. (Amy B Wang)
  13. New York City transit employees are expressing distress and disgust after coming into repeated contact with human corpses — hastily stored throughout the station; sometimes even in the same place where they eat lunch. The bodies belong to people who have been struck and killed by MTA trains, officials said — but the effort to quickly remove them from public view has left some station employees traumatized. (New York Daily News)

CHARLOTTESVILLE FALLOUT:

— Years before James Alex Fields was accused of driving his car into a crowd of counterprotesters in Charlottesville “at a high rate of speed,” his disabled mother had twice called 911 to report violent behavior and threats from her son. Jack Gillum, Michael E. Miller, Arelis R. Hernández and Steve Hendrix report: “[In 2010, Samantha Bloom] — who uses a wheelchair — locked herself in a bathroom, called 911 and said her son had struck her head and put his hands over her mouth when she told him to stop playing a video game … On another occasion, records show, he brandished a 12-inch knife. Once, he spit in her face. ‘Mom is scared he is going to become violent here,’ a dispatcher wrote in a log of the November 2011 call in which [Bloom] requested police help in getting her son to a hospital for assessment. The portrait of a violent teen emerged as Fields was denied bail Monday during his first court appearance in connection with the Charlottesville attack.”

Fields is charged with second-degree murder, hit and run, and three counts of malicious wounding: “Prosecutors did not detail the evidence against Fields, who appeared via a . At his [court appearance], Fields said he could not afford an attorney and was appointed one by the court. Fields, who served a four-month stint in the Army in 2015, worked for about two years as a security guard in Ohio, earning $10.50 an hour and taking home about $650 every two weeks … But the judge informed Fields that he could not be defended by the Charlottesville public defender’s office because a relative of someone who works for the office was involved in Saturday’s incident. [The] judge did not specify whether that meant the protests or the crash.” His next court date has been set for Aug. 25, date to consider scheduling of a preliminary hearing.

A TURNING POINT IN THE DEBATE OVER CONFEDERATE MEMORIALS:

— Unintended consequences: James Fields may do for the debate over Confederate statues what Dylann Roof did to the debate over the Confederate flag with his June 2015 massacre at an African American church in Charleston. It has become more politically untenable for ambitious elected officials to defend the memorials because they don’t want to get lumped in with the extremists who descended on Charlottesville to keep the Robert E. Lee statue.

— Protesters in Durham, N.C., last night toppled a Confederate statue that stood in front of a county administrative building. Alex Horton reports: “With a strap tied around the neck of the statue, protesters spat, kicked and gestured at the mangled figure after its base was ripped from the granite block. The statue, which depicts a uniformed and armed Confederate soldier, stood atop an engraved pedestal that read, ‘In memory of ‘the boys who wore the gray.’ … ‘The racism and deadly violence in Charlottesville is unacceptable but there is a better way to remove these monuments,’ Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said via Twitter on Monday evening. … Groups at the rally included members of the Triangle People’s Assembly, Workers World Party, Industrial Workers of the World, Democratic Socialists of America and the anti-fascist movement[.]”

— Maryland gubernatorial candidates Ben Jealous, the former president of the NAACP, is calling for the removal of a controversial statue from the State House. Josh Hicks and Ovetta Wiggins report: “[Jealous] called on (Republican Gov. Larry) Hogan to scrap the statue of former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, who wrote an 1857 majority opinion that upheld slavery and said blacks born in the country were not U.S. citizens. Jealous criticized Hogan for once describing efforts to eliminate such memorials as ‘political correctness run amok,’ and he vowed to work for ‘complete removal’ of Confederate monuments in Maryland if he wins the governorship. He delivered his remarks in Baltimore, where Mayor Catherine E. Pugh (D) earlier that day announced plans to remove four Confederate statues in that city.

— A Confederate heritage organization has already requested permission to hold a rally next month at Richmond’s Robert E. Lee statue. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

The Gainesville Sun’s Andrew Caplan tweeted a video of the Florida city removing its “Old Joe” Confederate statue yesterday.

— “Removing Confederate monuments is complicated in Tennessee, where lawmakers enacted a law last year that made any push to remove historical markers harder,” the AP’s Bruce Schreiner and Erik Schelzig report from Nashville. “That didn’t stop dozens of protesters from gathering in the Tennessee Capitol on Monday to renew calls to remove a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate cavalry general and an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan.”

— Thought leader: Chris Long of the Philadelphia Eagles, who is originally from Charlottesville, defended his hometown’s decision to remove the Confederate statues: “Look, Charlottesville is taking the right steps to accommodate the sensitivities of people who might feel offended by statues and parks named after Confederate generals. I think that is very reasonable. I don’t know what it’s like to walk past a statue like that, as a minority. We’re doing the right thing.” (The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Marcus Hayes)

— For a second consecutive evening, a crowd gathered in front of the White House to protest the Charlottesville marchers. Perry Stein reports: “Protesters trickled in after work on Monday, carrying signs that read ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘Make Racists Afraid Again.’ The young organizers invited anyone to ‘vent or rant,’ particularly encouraging people of color and those with disabilities to speak. People discussed their experiences with racism and discrimination, as well as how they want to counter it.”

— Trump returned to Trump Tower last night for the first time since his inauguration, and he received a contentious welcome from New Yorkers. Kayla Epstein reports: “Protesters gathered in the shadow of Trump Tower on Monday evening, filling the sidewalk for several blocks and forming a gauntlet of signs and chants that ran several blocks down Fifth Avenue. Various organizers and a popular Facebook event had called for people to gather at Trump Tower starting at 5:30 p.m., and law enforcement was ready. Protesters were kept to the sidewalks with metal barricades, and the numbers gradually swelled as the evening progressed. For hours, protesters chanted ‘New York hates you!’ and ‘Shame, shame, shame!’… In the end, Trump declined to give New Yorkers a show. Though several blacked-out sport utility vehicles and police on motorcycles drove down Fifth Avenue, drawing jeers from the crowd, the president was nowhere in sight. According to the White House pool report, Trump’s motorcade avoided Fifth Avenue and the protesters, whisking the president into his residence without being seen by the crowd.”

A TEST OF CHARACTER:

— “While Jewish leaders in the United States expressed shock at the events in Charlottesville and criticized President Trump’s response to the violence as halfhearted, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a close ally of Trump’s, remained notably silent,” Isaac Stanley-Becker and James McAuley report. “Meanwhile, Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, warned in a statement, “The anti-Jewish ideology of the Nazis was a precursor to the eventual murderous policy and extermination of six million Jews.”

— The Web registration service GoDaddy’s decision to delist the neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer could have far-reaching implications on how the tech industry treats similar groups. Elizabeth Dwoskin and Tracy Jan report: “Although Silicon Valley companies have long resisted calls to police the content they host, in the current political climate they are under more pressure than ever to take a stand — and appear to be bowing at least to some of it. … The Daily Stormer then transferred its registration to Google, prompting an immediate outcry and a swift response from the Silicon Valley giant, which cut off the white supremacy site, citing policy violations. … Liberal activists and even some conservatives praised GoDaddy’s decision in the wake of Saturday’s attack, saying the move represented a shift by tech corporations to take more responsibility. … Other experts said the move to regulate speech puts Silicon Valley in an even deeper bind that is far from resolved. Technology companies are becoming the reluctant gatekeepers and facilitators of political expression for much of the world.”

FINGER POINTING:

— Organizers of Saturday’s rally are now blaming Charlottesville authorities for the violence that played out. Politico Magazine’s Ben Schreckinger writes: “Before this weekend’s events, the alt-right had been a bastion of pro-police sentiment — especially when it came to police shootings of unarmed black victims and clashes with the Black Lives Matter movement. Now, the alt-right’s leaders are grappling with the realities of being identifiable members of an unpopular minority group in public. ‘I have never felt like the government or police were against me,’ said white nationalist leader Richard Spencer[.] … [Rally organizer Jason] Kessler claimed the city’s police failed to follow through on plans for protecting the rally that they had discussed with him. He also said that during planning for the rally, one police captain divulged to him that authorities were communicating about the event using their personal emails to avoid Freedom of Information Act requests.”

— The Charlottesville police chief took issue with Kessler’s account. Arelis R. Hernández reports: “[Police Chief Al S. Thomas Jr.] said organizers of the Unite the Right rally did not follow what the chief said had been an agreed-upon plan that involved controlling the demonstrators’ access to Emancipation Park through a rear entrance. When rally attendees started coming in from all sides Saturday morning, the chief said, his officers had to alter their plans and transition into protective gear from the street uniforms they were wearing. Protesters and counterprotesters converged in some pitched battles in the streets before Charlottesville police, backed by Virginia State Police, quelled the fighting. … Thomas dismissed reports that officers were discouraged from making arrests. ‘That is simply not true,’ he said. … Thomas said more than 250 calls for service came in, including from people injured when a driver rammed into a crowd of antiracism protesters[.]”

Joe Heim compiled a detailed timeline of the violence in Charlottesville, beginning the night before the rally: “A little after 8 p.m., Richard Spencer … texted a reporter. ‘I’d be near campus tonight, if I were you,’ he wrote. ‘After 9 p.m. Nameless field.’ The rumor was true. The torchlight parade was on. It would prove to be the catalyst for a horrific 24 hours in this usually quiet college town that would come to be seen by the nation and world as a day of racial rage, hate, violence and death.”

A COMMUNITY TRIES TO HEAL:

— The University of Virginia is scheduled to begin classes next week, but students are concerned about their return to campus after Saturday’s events. Susan Svrluga, T. Rees Shapiro and Sarah Larimer report: “[S]ome students are scared to go back. Some, like Wes Gobar, president of the Black Student Alliance, are determined to reclaim the campus as a place welcoming to all. … U-Va. has a complicated history with race. … Its founder, Thomas Jefferson, envisioned U-Va. as a school of the Enlightenment, believing the nascent American democracy would fail without an educated citizenry. But Jefferson owned slaves. … Two years ago, after a black student was bloodied by police, students demanded change. The university addressed many of their concerns, Gobar said. But ugly incidents continued last year, such as a racial slur found written on a door.”

A WINDOW INTO RESURGENT RACISM:

— Bigger picture: “Why are people still racist? What science says about America’s race problem,” by William Wan and Sarah Kaplan: “Many Americans responded to this weekend’s violence in Charlottesville with disbelieving horror. How could this happen in America, in 2017? “This is not who we are,” said Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine (D). And yet, this is who we are. Amid our modern clashes, researchers in psychology, sociology and neurology have been studying the roots of racism. … ‘In some ways, it’s super simple. People learn to be whatever their society and culture teaches them. We often assume that it takes parents actively teaching their kids, for them to be racist. The truth is that unless parents actively teach kids not to be racists, they will be,’ said Jennifer Richeson, a Yale University social psychologist.”

— The national attention that Charlottesville attracted appears to have energized white supremacist groups. The New York Times’s Alan Feuer reports: “Some were making arrangements to appear at future marches. Some were planning to run for public office. Others, taking a cue from the Charlottesville event — a protest, nominally, of the removal of a Confederate-era statue — were organizing efforts to preserve white heritage symbols in their home regions. … The far right, which has returned to prominence in the past year or so, has always been an amalgam of factions and causes, some with pro-Confederate or neo-Nazi leanings, some opposed to political correctness or feminism. But the Charlottesville event, the largest of its kind in recent years, exposed the pre-existing fault lines in the movement.”

— A Twitter campaign to name attendees of the Unite the Right rally has already forced two universities to come out with condemnations of white supremacy. Avi Selk reports: “[T]he Twitter user @YesYoureRacist asked for help identifying ‘Nazis marching in Charlottesville.’ The anonymous user linked to copious photos and videos of the rally — swastikas and crowds of shouting white men. Within minutes, names began to pour in, and consequences began to unfurl in home towns across the country. The first target was a man spotted in a crowd of tiki-torch-wielding marchers, whom Twitter users identified as Cole White, a cook at a hot dog restaurant in Berkeley, Calif. By Saturday evening, the restaurant had posted signs in its windows and sent a statement to The Washington Post — the cook was no longer employed.”

— But, but, but: There have been instances of Twitter users misidentifying rally attendees. The New York Times’s Daniel Victor reports: “A man at the rally had been photographed wearing an ‘Arkansas Engineering’ shirt, and the amateur investigators found a photo of [Kyle] Quinn that looked somewhat similar. They were both bearded and had similar builds. By internet frenzy standards, that was proof enough. … Countless people [Mr. Quinn] had never met demanded he lose his job, accused him of racism and posted his home address on social networks. … For someone whose only sin was a passing resemblance to someone else … Mr. Quinn bore the direct consequences of the reckless spread of misinformation in breaking news, a common ritual in modern news events.”

WHY WERE THE WARNINGS OF LAW ENFORCEMENT IGNORED?

— “House Democrats are calling on their GOP colleagues to hold congressional hearings on the rise of white supremacy and domestic terrorism,” Politico’s Rachael Bade reports: “Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee are asking panel Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) to examine racist fringe groups, including those that organized Saturday’s violent protest … Homeland Democrats have already called for such hearings twice this year to no avail. … Democrats are starting to grow impatient with their GOP counterparts after Saturday. One Democratic source on the Homeland panel said Republicans for some time have been receiving law enforcement notices saying white supremacist extremism pose serious threats of lethal violence.”

Foreign Policy’s Jana Winter first reported on one of these notices: “The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security in May warned that white supremacist groups had already carried out more attacks than any other domestic extremist group over the past 16 years and were likely to carry out more attacks over the next year[.] … The report, dated May 10, says the FBI and DHS believe that members of the white supremacist movement ‘likely will continue to pose a threat of lethal violence over the next year.’ … The FBI … has already concluded that white supremacists, including neo-Nazi supporters and members of the Ku Klux Klan, are in fact responsible for the lion’s share of violent attacks among domestic extremist groups. White supremacists ‘were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016 … more than any other domestic extremist movement,’ reads the joint intelligence bulletin.”

THE REPUBLICAN CIVIL WAR:

— As Trump received widespread criticism for his initial response to the Charlottesville violence, the three top GOP contenders in today’s Alabama Senate primary went after Trump’s critics instead. David Weigel reports: “In interviews over the race’s final hours ahead of Tuesday’s vote, Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) said Trump’s controversial Saturday reaction to the white nationalist rally had been sufficient. … There was no evidence that the events out of Charlottesville would affect the primary, with polls showing Strange and Brooks fighting Roy Moore, a former state Supreme Court justice, for two runoff berths. … In a Monday night speech to gun owners in Birmingham, Moore criticized the protests of Confederate monuments that followed the attack, and asked whether protesters would one day take down statues of George Washington because he owned slaves. … In interviews at several low-key Republican events, primary voters said they were horrified by what happened in Charlottesville but differed on what else Trump could have said.”

— Although all three Republican candidates have embraced the president, Trump has tweeted his endorsement of Strange multiple times and recorded a robo-call for him that went out yesterday. (Politico’s Daniel Strauss)

— The president even promoted a Strange TV hit this morning:

— If Strange can’t make it to the runoff, it could have implications for the effectiveness of a Trump endorsement. Politico’s Strauss and Seung Min Kim report: “Strange is struggling even with the support of the president and the GOP establishment. Assuming he makes it to the runoff, though, the strength of his second-place finish will set expectations for how winnable the election is — or not. If Strange barely makes it into the runoff — or comes in third — it will call into question the influence of Trump’s support in a reliably Republican state. If Strange exceeds the low 20-percent support he’s gotten in recent polls, he’ll still face a tough battle against Moore but won’t have to field a wave of questions about his ultimate viability or the power of Trump’s endorsement.”

— Trump’s endorsement of Strange, the establishment candidate, struck many Republicans as odd and many die-hard Trump supporters as hypocritical. The Atlantic’s Molly Ball writes: “Strange himself was surprised—he nearly drove off the road when Trump called him from the White House on Tuesday afternoon, he said. … The usual slavishly pro-Trump conservative media were enraged. Mark Levin, the conservative radio host, called Trump’s tweet ‘a stab in the back to every conservative in this country[.]’ … In Alabama, the feud is playing out as a test of conservative voters’ loyalties in the Trump era—one of the first referendums on Trump’s ability to command his own partisans, and by extension to shape the GOP that he leads. But it’s a test complicated by the mixed messages Trump himself has sent to his supporters.”

— In another sign of how hard it is for Republican incumbents to distance themselves from Trump, Nevada Sen. Dean Heller — who is up for reelection next year — said yesterday for the first time that he voted for the president last November. The Nevada Independent’s Riley Snyder reports: “The acknowledgment follows nearly a year and a half of criticism and cautious public statements made by Heller about Trump throughout the 2016 election. Most notably, he told reporters in October 2016 that he was 99 percent certain he would oppose the Republican nominee for president. Heller also donated campaign donations from Trump to charity in 2015, and said during the campaign he was ‘vehemently opposed’ to Trump, whom he described as a man that ‘denigrates human beings.’ But unlike several of his Senate colleagues, Heller never fully closed the door on supporting Trump, and had kept his presidential vote a secret until now.”

— The Indiana Senate primary fight between GOP Reps. Todd Rokita and Luke Messer is already getting ugly. Politico’s Maggie Severns and Kevin Robillard report: “Their campaign didn’t officially get underway until last week, but Messer, 48, has already accused Rokita of attacking his wife and ‘spreading lies’ about his record. Rokita, 47, has questioned his rival’s mental health, calling Messer ‘unhinged’ and a ‘ticking time bomb.’ With 10 Democratic senators from states that President Donald Trump carried up for reelection in 2018, the scale of opportunity for Republican gains has already spawned several no-holds-barred primaries. But few states are as ripe for a Republican challenge as Indiana — where Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly is unusually vulnerable, running in a state Trump carried by 19 points — and no primary has gotten so nasty, so quickly.”

— Today’s special election in Utah to fill Jason Chaffetz’s House seat has attracted hundreds of thousands of dollars in fundraising, but it’s received little national attention. Mike DeBonis reports: “That’s largely because the seat is of limited utility as a bellwether for President Trump. Unlike other House races decided this year, Democrats are not seriously contesting the heavily GOP district, and unlike in Tuesday’s Senate primary in Alabama, the Republican candidates’ postures toward Trump have not been a crucial factor. Instead, Tuesday’s GOP primary in Utah is set to be decided along more familiar lines of ideology and sensibility in a state whose Republican voters have long had an uneasy relationship with Trump. … The front-runner for the Republican nomination, according to published polls, is Provo Mayor John Curtis, who has built a pro-business record during 6½ years in office[.]”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Some viewers questioned the sincerity of the president’s remarks. From the former director of the Office of Government Ethics:

From a House Democrat:

From the former secretary of state:

From the MSNBC host:

It reminded some of this Trump tweet from 2015:

But Trump claimed that he had not been properly credited for his Monday statement:

Trump’s son also defended his statement:

From a writer for the New Yorker:

From the Atlantic editor and former George W. Bush speechwriter:

Trump also retweeted this from an alt-right conspiracy theorist:

Reality check:

Perspective from a Politico reporter:

Dr. Seuss’s World War II-era cartoons were recirculated:

On Trump’s approval rating hitting a new low:

Metaphor alert, via the Boston Globe’s Annie Linskey:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

— New York Times, “How a Conservative TV Giant Is Ridding Itself of Regulation,” by Cecilia Kang, Eric Lipton and Sydney Ember: “The invitation from David D. Smith, the chairman of Sinclair, went to Ajit V. Pai, a commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission who was about to be named the broadcast industry’s chief regulator. Mr. Smith wanted Mr. Pai to ease up on efforts under President Barack Obama to crack down on media consolidation, which were threatening Sinclair’s ambitions to grow even bigger. Mr. Smith did not have to wait long. Within days of their meeting, Mr. Pai was named chairman of the F.C.C. And during his first 10 days on the job, he relaxed a restriction on television stations’ sharing of advertising revenue and other resources[.] … Since becoming chairman in January, Mr. Pai has undertaken a deregulatory blitz, enacting or proposing a wish list of fundamental policy changes advocated by Mr. Smith and his company.”

— Politico Magazine, “Cecile Richards to Democrats: Stand Firm on Abortion,” by Edward-Isaac Dovere: “Democrats like [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Rep. Ben Ray Luján] argue that to win back the conservative areas they’ve lost, the party will need to be flexible and let candidates break with liberal orthodoxy—including on hot-button national issues like abortion—in order to win. To Richards, that isn’t just wrong on principle, it’s dense on politics.”

HOT ON THE LEFT

“Former Va. attorney general Cuccinelli catches flak for telling Symone Sanders to ‘shut up’ on CNN,” from Laura Vozzella: “Ken Cuccinelli II on Monday found himself trending on Twitter, and not in a good way, after telling CNN political commentator Symone Sanders to ‘shut up’ on TV. The remark came during a heated discussion about President Trump’s response to … Charlottesville. Sanders was critical of Trump … Cuccinelli, a Republican though hardly a Trump cheerleader, took issue with efforts to ‘smear’ the administration.”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT

“‘Kid Rock’ May Be Ineligible for Michigan Ballot” from Roll Call: “Robert Ritchie may end up challenging Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow in Michigan next year, but his stage name, Kid Rock, may not be allowed to appear on the ballot. Kid Rock is a household name to Americans under the age of 50, and voters might be attracted to vote for him, as a middle finger to the political establishment. … If Ritchie were to submit enough valid signatures to make the ballot and indicate that he wanted to be listed as ‘Kid Rock,’ the Michigan Bureau of Elections staff would have to research the question of whether that name would be allowed. At an initial glance, Ritchie’s stage name isn’t an obviously acceptable one under the state’s criteria.”

Sanders spoke out on Twitter about the incident:

DAYBOOK:

Trump, waking up at Trump Tower for the first time since he became president, has an infrastructure discussion today, followed by the signing of an executive order on “establishing discipline and accountability” in the approval process for infrastructure projects.

Pence is in Buenos Aires. He will meet with Argentina’s president and vice president, as well as participate in a joint news conference, before meeting U.S. Embassy staffers.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“The scenes at the right-wing extremist march were absolutely repulsive — naked racism, anti-Semitism and hate in their most evil form were on display,” a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Steffen Seibert, told reporters before Trump’s afternoon remarks from the White House. He added that such images and chants are “disgusting” and “diametrically opposed to the political goals of the chancellor and the entire German government.” (AFP)

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

— It will be an ugly day in the District. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Cloudy with scattered showers and maybe a thunderstorm. Highs move up a bit more than Monday into the middle-80s range, but if showers are more widespread around midday, we may struggle again to get much above 80 or the low 80s. We stay moderately humid as well.”

— A man with a tattoo that included a swastika was escorted out of the Rumsey Aquatic Center near Eastern Market by D.C. police after other pool attendees complained about his presence, and he became belligerent. (Peter Hermann)

— Teachers in D.C. Public Schools would receive salary increases of 9 percent over three years under a proposal unveiled Monday to end a labor impasse that has lasted since their last contract expired in 2012. (Donna St. George, Peter Jamison and Emma Brown)

— The Wizards released their 2017-2018 schedule yesterday. (Aaron Torres)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Seth Meyers unequivocally referred to the Charlottesville violence as “yet another terror attack on American soil”:

Jimmy Fallon cited his “responsibility to stand up against intolerance and extremism as a human being”:

ABC’s Shonda Rhimes is moving her talents to Netflix:

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The Daily 202: Evidence of climate change abounds amid extreme weather in the Pacific Northwest

THE BIG IDEA:

SEATTLE—This city known for its rain just went a record-breaking 55 days without any.

The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport had not measured any precipitation since June 18 until the wee hours of Sunday morning, when it drizzled. Barely. Some sprinkles also allowed Portland to break its own 57-day dry streak.

Climate change is leading to more extreme weather, and no other region has experienced that so much over the last year as the Pacific Northwest. Seattle got 44.9 inches of rain between Oct. 1 and April 30, the wettest such period ever. That means, even with the record dry streak, 2017 remains above normal for rainfall.

America faces many grave challenges. The horrifying events in Charlottesville this weekend highlighted several, including racism and the enduring stain of America’s original sin. (Much more on that below.) Climate change is another.

For long stretches last week, I had no cell service as I hiked around some of the most beautiful places in the world on vacation – from Mount Hood to Mount St. Helens. That meant that I missed real-time updates on President Trump’s brinksmanship with North Korea and his suggestion that “a military option” is on the table to deal with Venezuela. But while Trump was threatening to unleash “fire and fury” against Pyongyang, I was adjusting my planned route to avoid real fires in central Oregon.

Burn bans are in effect, and signs warn of extreme fire danger. Local TV stations are extensively covering the poor air quality. And there are widespread concerns that wildfires around the region might lead to smoky skies during next week’s solar eclipse.

— Fires happen every summer, but they’ve been getting worse in these parts. “Wildfires in the western half of the United States, including Oregon, have been burning hotter, faster and twice as large over the last 30 years and a good heap of the blame belongs to climate change brought on by humans,” The Oregonian reported last October, citing a study by the University of Idaho and Columbia University. The researchers found that “rising temperatures due to climate change have increased fire activity and burned an additional 16,000 square miles, an area larger than the state of Maryland, that otherwise would have gone unscorched.”

“Since 1984, about 4 percent of the land in Oregon has burned per decade. The changing climate is likely to more than double the area in the Northwest burned by forest fires during an average year by the end of the 21st century,” the Environmental Protection Agency said in a report published last summer. “Higher temperatures and a lack of water can also make trees more susceptible to pests and disease, and trees damaged or killed burn more readily than living trees. For example, climate change is likely to increase the area of pine forests in the Northwest infested with mountain pine beetles in the next few decades. Pine beetles and wildfires are each likely to decrease timber harvests. … The combination of more fires and drier conditions may expand deserts and otherwise change the landscape … Many plants and animals living in arid lands are already near the limits of what they can tolerate. Warmer temperatures and a drier climate would generally extend the geographic range of the Great Basin desert.”

— The Pacific Northwest has also been experiencing record heat this month. “Salem, Oregon, topped its previous record streak of 90-degree-plus highs of 10 days set in 1967 and 1938 by reaching 13 days in a row. Oregon’s capital city averages just 17 such days in a year, but has already recorded 23 this year,” notes Jonathan Erdman, a senior meteorologist for the Weather Channel. “Spokane, Washington, has broken its record 90-degree-plus high streak of 14 days that stood since 1894, when Grover Cleveland was president. … The first nine days of August were the hottest such period on record in Seattle, Portland … Eugene, Oregon, and Yakima, Washington, according to data compiled by the Southeast Regional Climate Center.”

Ironically, it would have been a few degrees hotter over the past few weeks if not for all the smoke from the forest fires, including some big ones in British Columbia. The haze reflects sunlight back into the atmosphere.

— This is all happening as the Trump administration moves to pull out of the Paris climate agreement and rolls back Obama-era environmental rules. “A climate report based on work conducted by scientists in 13 federal agencies is under active review at the White House, and its conclusions about the far-reaching damage already occurring from global warming are at odds with the Trump administration’s views,” Steven Mufson reported last week. “The report, known as the Climate Science Special Report, finds it is ‘extremely likely’ that more than half of the rise in temperatures over the past four decades has been caused by human activity — in contrast to Trump Cabinet members’ views that the magnitude of that contribution is uncertain. The draft report, which has undergone extensive review, estimates that human impact was responsible for an increase in global temperatures of 1.1 to 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit from 1951 to 2010.” (Read the draft here.)

In Washington State, Oregon and Idaho specifically, the government report says that the average annual temperature has already gone up 1.51 degrees since 1901-1960 and is projected to rise another 4.67 degrees by mid-century and 8.51 degrees by the end of the century if carbon pollution continues unabated. “Extreme rainfall has increased 3 percent since the first half of the 20th century and is projected to go up 19 percent by the end of the century if carbon pollution continues unabated,” the AP reported last week in its story on the draft. “If carbon emissions are somewhat reduced it would be 10 percent.”

— Almost every day, there are alarming new data points about the effects of climate change. Often these stories get short shrift because of whatever Trump tweeted that morning. Here are three examples that have appeared in The Post since just the start of this month:

— Tim Craig has an important story from Montana on the front page of this morning’s paper about conservative ranchers trying to get federal help after the state’s largest wildfire in nearly three decades: “Hundreds of miles of meadows and scrub grass that feed tens of thousands of beef cattle are gone, replaced by the charred soil and smoldering prairie dog burrows … But after the massive multimillion-dollar firefight, another battle has emerged in the wide open spaces where there is often distrust of the government: What should the federal role be in helping Montana’s livestock industry respond to, and recover from, the blaze. … After a lightning storm sparked the blaze July 19, FEMA’s initial denial of the state’s general request for disaster assistance while the fire was raging angered local officials … Montana’s congressional delegation pressured FEMA to reverse its decision, and the agency says it agreed to compensate the state through its Fire Management Assistance Program four days later. …

“Local officials across the United States worry that it is becoming more difficult to secure help from FEMA for all sorts of natural disasters. Since January, members of Congress and state officials have protested initial FEMA denials following a tornado outbreak in Louisiana, flooding in North Carolina, and snowstorms in Pennsylvania and Oregon. … The Trump administration has been hinting that it might limit federal spending on disaster relief and preparation, and FEMA is considering whether to draft regulations to shift more responsibility for rebuilding to the states.”

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

— “Gunmen riding motorcycles roared up to a Turkish restaurant in the capital of the African nation of Burkina Faso and opened fire, eventually killing 18 people in a standoff with security forces that lasted into the early hours of the morning Monday,” Paul Schemm reports.

— Trump will briefly return to Washington from New Jersey today. “The president plans to sign an executive memorandum Monday afternoon, directing his top trade negotiator to determine whether to investigate China for harming intellectual property, innovation and technology,” Ana Swanson and Simon Denyer report. “The measure would seek to address what the U.S. business community has described as flagrant trade violations by China, which employs a variety of rules and practices to wall its market off from foreign competition and pressure U.S. companies to part with valuable product designs and trade secrets — or to steal them outright. … [T]rade and national security experts widely noted that the announcement appeared to have been delayed until after China joined the United States in voting for sanctions against North Korea at a United Nations Security Council session on Aug. 5.” After signing the order, he will meet with the National Economic Council and Chief of Staff John F. Kelly before flying to New York this evening to stay at Trump Tower.

— China announced a ban on North Korean iron, lead and coal imports as it moves to implement new U.N. sanctions. Simon Denyer reports: “The ban will take effect from Tuesday, the Ministry of Commerce announced. But at the same time, Beijing warned the Trump administration not to split the international coalition over North Korea by provoking a trade war between China and the United States.” The warning came in light of Trump’s planned memorandum today: “In China, these proposed measures were seen as an attempt to put pressure on Beijing to act more strongly against North Korea, and at the same time an attempt to shift the blame for the world’s failure to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs onto China alone. ‘It is obviously improper to use one thing as a tool to imposing pressure on another thing,’ Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular news conference Monday. ‘There will be no winner from a trade war, it will be lose-lose.’”

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. Violence erupted in Kenya this weekend following the apparent reelection of President Uhuru Kenyatta, with at least 24 people — including a 6-year-old – killed in a spate of protests after results were announced. Officials said the loss of life can be attributed to police using live ammunition. Seventeen deaths were confirmed in the capital of Nairobi alone. (Rael Ombuor and Kevin Sieff)
  2. Chanting “Death to America,” Iran’s parliament voted unanimously to increase spending on the country’s ballistic missile program and the foreign operations of its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard Corps, part of a sanctions bill mirroring a new U.S. law targeting the country. (Associated Press)
  3. State officials in India have suspended the director of a hospital where more than 30 children died in a 48-hour period due to lack of oxygen. The hospital’s critical supply was reportedly cut off because of an unpaid bill. (Annie Gowen)
  4. Facing allegations of corruption, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is going after the news media in a way that mirrors Trump. Thousands of protesters gathered outside the house of Israel’s attorney general Saturday night, demanding that he indict the premier. In a speech in front of thousands at a rally in Tel Aviv last week, Bibi railed against “fake news” and accused the country’s liberal left of launching a witch hunt against him. (Loveday Morris)
  5. The Obama administration was warned as early as 2014 that the Russians would attempt to intervene in foreign elections. A 2014 NSC report outlined Russian expansion of its disinformation resources. (Politico)

  6. The Supreme Court will hear a case about a baker who refused to serve a gay couple this fall. Colorado courts have ruled against Jack Phillips, but conservatives hope that the addition of Neil Gorsuch could render a different result at the nation’s highest court. (Robert Barnes)
  7. A Missouri school district apologized for removing two openly gay high schoolers’ yearbook quotes. The Kearney School District had feared that their comments about their sexual orientation could “potentially offend” other students. (Derek Hawkins)
  8. A Danish submarine owner is being investigated for murder after a journalist who was accompanying him onboard for a story disappeared. While the journalist remains missing, the defendant has denied wrongdoing and the recovered submarine was found empty. (New York Times)
  9. Beginning Aug. 21, Big Ben will go silent for four years. The iconic clocktower, believed to be the most photographed building in the U.K., requires extensive renovation. (Reuters)

HORROR IN CHARLOTTESVILLE:

— “Alleged driver of car that plowed into Charlottesville crowd was a Nazi sympathizer, former teacher says,” by T. Rees Shapiro, Alice Crites, Laura Vozzella and John Woodrow Cox: “The alleged driver, James Alex Fields Jr., a 20-year-old who traveled to Virginia from Ohio, had espoused extremist ideals at least since high school, according to Derek Weimer, a history teacher.

“Weimer said he taught Fields during his junior and senior years at Randall K. Cooper High School in Kentucky. For a class called ‘America’s Modern Wars,’ Fields wrote a deeply researched paper about the Nazi military during World War II, Weimer recalled. ‘It was obvious that he had this fascination with Nazism and a big idolatry of Adolf Hitler,’ the teacher said. ‘He had white supremacist views. He really believed in that stuff.’ Fields’s research project into the Nazi military was well written, Weimer said, but it appeared to be a ‘big lovefest for the German military and the Waffen-SS.’ As a teacher, he said, he highlighted historical facts and used academic reasoning in an attempt to steer Fields away from his infatuation with the Nazis. ‘This was something that was growing in him,’ Weimer said. ‘I admit I failed. I tried my best. But this is definitely a teachable moment and something we need to be vigilant about, because this stuff is tearing up our country.’

“By the weekend’s finish, Fields had become the face of one of the ugliest days in recent U.S. history. After marching through the University of Virginia’s campus carrying torches and spewing hate Friday night, hundreds of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members gathered Saturday in downtown Charlottesville to protest the planned removal of a statue memorializing Robert E. Lee. … A sedan and a minivan rolled to a stop in a road packed with activists. Suddenly, a 2010 Dodge Challenger smashed into the back of the sedan, shoving tons of metal into the crowd and launching bodies through the air. The Dodge then rapidly went into reverse, hitting more people. Fields, now the subject of a federal civil rights investigation, was arrested shortly after and charged with one count of second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and another count related to the hit-and-run, police said. He is being held without bail and is scheduled for an arraignment Monday.”

“Fields joined the Army in late in the summer of 2015 but was on active duty for less than four months … It was unclear why he served so briefly. …

“His father was killed by a drunk driver five months before the boy’s birth, according to an uncle … [Fields was] raised by a single mother, Samantha Bloom, who is a paraplegic. … Saturday’s horror was just the latest for her family. Aside from losing Fields’s father in a crash, Bloom’s parents died in a murder-suicide — 33 years ago this month — according to a pair of 1984 newspaper articles. After an argument, Marvin Bloom, a self-employed contractor, killed his ex-wife, Judy, with a 12-gauge shotgun, then put the gun to his head. He was 42, and she was 37. Their daughter, Samantha, was 16.”

— Bloom, Fields’s mother, told the Toledo Blade that her son had texted her Friday to say he had dropped his cat off at her apartment so he could attend the Virginia rally, which he described as an “alt-right” gathering: “’I told him to be careful,’ Ms. Bloom said. ‘[And] if they’re going to rally to make sure he’s doing it peacefully.’ It didn’t appear that happened, she said tearfully.” Bloom said in an other interview that her son had told her about the rally last week, but said she was not aware of its extremist nature: “I thought it had something to do with Trump,” she told the Associated Press. “Trump’s not a white supremacist,” she added. “He had an African-American friend so,” she added, before her voice trailed off.

THE VICTIMS:

— Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old killed in Saturday’s attack, was known by friends and family for her passionate beliefs and advocacy for others. “Over the years, Heyer would ask people why they came to their beliefs,” Ellie Silverman and Michael Laris report. “Heyer’s friends told her mother, [Susan Bro], that she was at it again during the demonstrations Saturday, going up to people with opposing views and asking them ‘Why do you believe this?’ or ‘Why do you think this way?’ …

“For Bro, Saturday’s terror came home in a phone call. Justin Marks, a longtime friend of Heyer, was sobbing and screaming on the line. Bro didn’t understand what was happening. Then, finally, Marks said he understood that the hospital was trying to reach next of kin and needed a number. Bro said she remembered telling her son, ‘Your sister is either dead or she’s unconscious because …’ She paused to cry while recounting her ride to the hospital Saturday. … ‘she would know my number.’ … Bro was in such shock that she couldn’t remember Heather’s middle name when a hospital staffer first asked her. It’s Danielle.”

“Marks said he and Heyer had previously agreed not to attend the protests, because they thought it would be too dangerous. Everyone was on edge about it, he said. But the night before, Heyer texted Marks, 30, saying that she felt compelled to go, and who was Marks to say she shouldn’t? ‘She talked about these things constantly. It weighed on her,’ he said. 

“Even as a quiet young girl, Heyer stood up for people who were picked on while riding the schools bus, (childhood friend) Felicia Correa said.  Correa said she recently was swamped with medical bills after complications related to her multiple sclerosis, so she went to a Charlottesville law firm. When Heyer, who was working as a paralegal there, walked out to meet her, she was ecstatic to see the friend she had known growing up in Greene County, Va. Heyer jumped in and guided Correa, who was uninsured and is a mother of six, through the daunting financial process. She was a ‘young white woman who died standing up not just for people of color in general, but also the people of color that I love, that I worry about,’ said Correa, who is biracial, black and Hispanic.”

Heyer leaves behind a dog. The chocolate chihuahua’s name is Violet, “because purple is Heather’s favorite color,” said her mother. She loved mac and cheese, cigarettes, scented candles, and products for her curly hair. 

— Two Virginia state troopers also died Saturday when their surveillance helicopter crashed on the outskirts of Charlottesville. Rachel Weiner reports: “H. Jay Cullen, 48, was a veteran pilot who spent several years shepherding the governor around Virginia. Berke Bates, who would have turned 41 on Sunday, was just beginning to realize a lifelong dream of becoming a helicopter pilot. ‘I was close to both of those state troopers,’ [Virginia Gov. Terry] McAuliffe (D) said at a memorial service in Charlottesville on Sunday morning. ‘Jay Cullen had been flying me around for three-and-a-half years. Berke was part of my executive protection unit. He was part of my family. The man lived with me 24-7.’ … The Bell 407 helicopter that Cullen piloted crashed about 5 p.m. Saturday in a wooded area on Old Farm Road in Albemarle County. … The National Transportation Safety Board also is investigating the helicopter incident.”

— Others are still being treated: “On Saturday evening, five people were in critical condition and 14 others were being treated for lesser injuries received when the car struck the crowd,” per our lead story. “By Sunday, 10 were in good condition and nine had been discharged from the University of Virginia Medical Center. At least a dozen other people were treated after they were injured in street brawls.”

CHARLOTTESVILLE COPES:

— “Charlottesville woke up early Sunday morning groggy and wondering, praying even, that the pitched battles in the streets, the full decibel race-based hate, the people crushed under cars and the helicopter that fell from the sky were all just mad scenes from an end-times nightmare,Joe Heim reports. “But the truth was darker. The city had a body count. The rally that almost no one in Charlottesville wanted and many here protested ended in death and sorrow and, for the time being at least, a fruitless search to make sense of it all for those who call it home. … Overnight, Charlottesville had become known for something for which it never wanted to be known. America struggles with race everywhere, but here the full fury of its most committed racial antagonists had been displayed. It no longer hid in the shadows or barked from anonymous Twitter handles. It marched with torches at night and with shields, clubs and guns in broad daylight. It shouted out [the n-word] and ‘Faggots!’ and ‘Kikes!’ and it raised its arms straight out in Nazi salutes … How, they wondered, did their quiet and beautiful little city on the lap of the Blue Ridge Mountains become the focal point of so much anger and misery?”

— “‘Look at the campaign he ran’: Charlottesville mayor is becoming one of Trump’s strongest critics,” by Kristine Phillips: “A white nationalist site calls him ‘anti-white.’ An article it published in May outlines some highlights of Michael Signer’s term as the mayor of Charlottesville: his endorsement of a $10,000 donation to pay for legal costs to help immigrants and refugees, and his decision to declare his city a ‘capital of the resistance’ just days after President Trump was sworn into office. For those reasons and others — including Signer’s Jewish heritage — the writer declared: ‘This is what the enemy looks like.’ … For Signer, Trump’s repeated failure to ‘condone, denounce, silence, put to bed’ the white supremacist voices that invoked his name during the campaign and after he won the White House is why Charlottesville was besieged with violence.”

THE VIOLENCE WILL CHANGE THE DEBATE ABOUT CONFEDERATE STATUES:

— The statue that set off the white nationalist protest remains standing — for now. The New York Times’s Jacey Fortin reports: “At the center of the chaos is a statue memorializing Robert E. Lee. It depicts the Confederacy’s top general, larger than life, astride a horse, both green with oxidation. The white nationalists were in Charlottesville to protest the city’s plan to remove that statue, and counterdemonstrators were there to oppose them. … [I]n February, the City Council voted to remove the statue from the park. Opponents of the move sued in March, arguing that the city did not have the authority to do so under state law. That court case is continuing, and the statue has remained in place. It was the focal point for a gathering held in May by the white nationalist Richard Spencer, who was among the demonstrators in Charlottesville this weekend. In June, the City Council gave Lee Park a new name — Emancipation Park.”

— Lexington, Ky., Mayor Jim Gray announced Saturday that two statues of Confederate veterans in front of a local courthouse would be relocated to a park commemorating veterans. “As a mayor, you always must be prepared,” Gray told The Post. “So we’ll be prepared for the pushback and for the challenge. But this is the right thing to do.” (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)

THE PRESIDENT’S RESPONSE:

— The White House on Sunday sought to stem the fallout from Trump’s response to the violence — issuing a second statement after the president failed to condemn white supremacists for inciting the “hate-fueled melee.” John Wagner, Jenna Johnson, Robert Costa and Sari Horwitz report: “The President said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry, and hatred,” the White House said Sunday. “Of course that includes white supremacists, KKK Neo-Nazi and all extremist groups.” Vice President Pence was far more forceful in his condemnation of the violence last yesterday in Colombia: “We have no tolerance for hate and violence from white supremacists, neo Nazis or the KKK. These dangerous fringe groups have no place in American public life and in the American debate, and we condemn them in the strongest possible terms.” The Justice Department, meanwhile, faced continuing questions Sunday about why it took Attorney General Jeff Sessions as long as it did Saturday to announce a hate-crime investigation and why the FBI has not labeled a deadly car-ramming incident Saturday as an act of “domestic terrorism.” Sessions is scheduled to appear on three network morning shows today to talk about his department’s response. Notably, the White House’s statement yesterday was not signed by Trump.

— Criticism of the president’s response dominated the Sunday shows, with Republicans and Democrats alike imploring him to explicitly distance himself from white nationalist groups that have embraced his presidency:

  • On “Fox News Sunday,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said white supremacist groups “seem to think they have a friend in [Trump] in the White House” and called for the president to correct the record. “I don’t know why they believe that, but they don’t see me as a friend in the Senate, and I would urge the president to dissuade these groups that he’s their friend,” he said.
  • On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) implored Trump to “call evil by its name”: “I think the president needs to step up today and [call it] … for what it is,” said the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “It’s evil, it’s white nationalism, it’s bigotry and it’s unacceptable. And if he doesn’t do that, we can continue to answer the question of why. But I believe he has a chance to do that today.”
  • On ABC’s “This Week,” ousted White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci said Trump should have been “much harsher” in his statement. “I wouldn’t have recommended that statement. I think he needed to be much harsher as it related to the white supremacists and the nature of that,” Scaramucci said. He also called for his aides to be more direct in their advice to Trump and “move away from that sort of Bannon-Bart nonsense,” referring to chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon and Breitbart News, which he ran until last year. “It’s not serving the president’s interests. He’s got to move more to the mainstream. He’s got to be more into where the moderates are and the independents are … that love the president.” (Kristine Phillips and John Wagner)

— Former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum said it is “Time for Republicans to Leap From the Boat” in a piece for The Atlantic: “Trump now stands not between the parties, or above the parties, but beyond the parties — in some strange political twilight zone where neo-Nazis are seen as a constituency not to be insulted. … The conventional wisdom is that dissension is a party killer; safer to stay united around even a low-polling president than to act against him. But what if it is the president who is fomenting the dissension, because his ego requires that every failure be blamed on somebody else? … What if he is branding his entirely flag-waving party with the flags not of the United States but of Russia, the Southern Confederacy, and now amazingly even Nazi Germany?”

— Bad optics: Against the backdrop of Charlottesville, Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign committee unveiled a new commercial on Sunday that accuses “the president’s enemies” of trying to undermine his success in office. John Wagner reports: “The 30-second spot, produced six months into Trump’s term, targets Democrats and the news media, and touts what the campaign says are successes that the president has managed to achieve, including a low unemployment rate and record stock-market closes. ‘Democrats obstructing. The media attacking our president. Career politicians standing in the way of success. But [Trump’s] plan is working,’ the narrator says. [The ad] includes a montage of [Democratic politicians] and television hosts, including Joe Scarborough, Rachel Maddow and Brian Williams of MSNBC, and Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon of CNN, among others. ‘The president’s enemies don’t want him to succeed,’ the ad says, ‘but Americans are saying, ‘Let president Trump do his job.’”

THE VIEW FROM THE FEVER SWAMPS:

— As establishment Republicans criticized Trump’s equivocal remarks, white nationalists cheered them. Amy B Wang reports: “On the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website, updates about Saturday’s events unfolded quickly[.] … ‘WE HAVE AN ARMY!’ the website posted to a live blog shortly after 11 a.m., along with photos of people carrying Confederate flags and neo-Nazi paraphernalia. ‘THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF A WAR!’ … Less than a half-hour after Trump’s live remarks, the Daily Stormer had declared the president’s words as a signal of tacit support for their side: ‘Trump comments were good. He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us.’ … The neo-Nazi live blog also noted that Trump had refused to respond when a reporter asked about white nationalists who supported him. ‘No condemnation at all,’ the Daily Stormer wrote. ‘When asked to condemn, [Trump] just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him.’”

— The Web hosting company GoDaddy announced that it would not longer allow the Daily Stormer to use its services. The neo-Nazi site was given 24 hours to move its website domain. (Katie Mettler)

— The violence in Charlottesville was condemned by all major Virginia politicians of both parties — with one notable exception. “Corey A. Stewart, who is running for U.S. Senate (against Tim Kaine) and nearly won the Republican nomination for governor of Virginia on a pledge to preserve the state’s Confederate monuments, said white nationalists had been unfairly singled out for their role in the weekend chaos in Charlottesville that left three dead and dozens injured,” Laura Vozzella and Fenit Nirappil report.

— Fear of the “antifa,” or the “violent left,” preceded the violent events in Charlottesville, Dave Weigel explains: “On Saturday afternoon, shortly before her camera captured a car plowing through left-wing activists in Charlottesville … Faith Goldy warned that the left was spinning out of control. ‘Hundreds and hundreds of antifa, weird BLM, idiots dressed like clowns,’ said Goldy, a reporter for the Canadian alt-right news site The Rebel. ‘This is okay, as long as you’re not the alt-right. The alt-right wasn’t allowed to demonstrate any show of force.’ Goldy’s report … was representative of a theme that had risen from far-right media to the mainstream since [Trump’s] inauguration. The growth of ‘antifa,’ a loose and often ad hoc network of left-wing ‘antifascist’ groups, has been covered as a rising danger to law and order, a justification for alt-right organizations to organize armed rallies — and for ordinary Americans to arm themselves, too.”

— “Syria’s Assad has become an icon of the far right in America,” from Liz Sly and Rick Noack in Beirut: “Assad’s politics — and those of his father before him — have historically been associated more with the left than the right. … In recent months, however, Assad has become an icon also for the far right, whose leaders and spokesman have heaped praise on the ferocity with which he has prosecuted the war, his role in fighting the Islamic State and his perceived stance against Muslims and Jews. That Assad’s harsh methods have resulted in tens of thousands of civilian casualties seems only to have enhanced his stature.”

— An American tourist in Germany was reportedly beaten by a stranger after he attempted to perform the Nazi salute outside a cafe. Authorities said they are investigating both the U.S. national for his gesture — in Germany, the Nazi salute is prohibited by law — and are searching for the man who attacked him. (Amy B Wang and Rick Noack)

AFTER A WEEK OF BLUSTER, TRUMP OFFICIALS PROJECT CALM ON NORTH KOREA:

— The Pentagon continues to push for a diplomatic resolution with North Korea even as it prepares for military steps against Kim. The Wall Street Journal’s Gordon Lubold reports: “‘As a military leader, I have to make sure that the president does have viable military options in the event that the diplomatic and economic pressurization campaign fails,’ Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford said in his first public remarks since the crisis escalated with North Korea’s launch of a second intercontinental ballistic missile late last month. … Gen. Dunford began a scheduled swing through the region Sunday, with a stop to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, along with newly appointed defense officials and commanders. Gen. Dunford leaves Monday for Beijing and will also visit Tokyo this week.”

— Cabinet members Jim Mattis and Rex Tillerson penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed entitled, “We’re Holding Pyongyang to Account”: “The object of our peaceful pressure campaign is the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The U.S. has no interest in regime change or accelerated reunification of Korea. We do not seek an excuse to garrison U.S. troops north of the Demilitarized Zone. We have no desire to inflict harm on the long-suffering North Korean people, who are distinct from the hostile regime in Pyongyang. Our diplomatic approach is shared by many nations supporting our goals, including China, which has dominant economic leverage over Pyongyang. … China has a strong incentive to pursue the same goals as the U.S.”

— Top Trump administration officials on Sunday sought to downplay the idea that the United States and North Korea are on the verge of a nuclear war, seeking to tamp down fears after a week of incendiary rhetoric between the two leaders. Carol Morello reports: “The officials projected calm, a message directed as much to North Korea as to Americans, in a concerted effort to be more cautious in the language they use about the nuclear-armed nation and not further escalate an ­already perilous situation.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo said an attack from North Korea is “not something that is imminent”: “What I’m talking about is, I’ve heard folks talking about being on the cusp of a nuclear war,” he said on “Fox News Sunday,” “[But] no intelligence that would indicate that we’re in that place today.”

National security adviser H.R. McMaster said Trump’s bellicose remarks towards Kim Jong Un were an attempt to remove any “ambiguity” about what Pyongyang could expect if it continues to threaten the United States. “I think we’re not closer to war than a week ago,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” “But we are closer to war than we were a decade ago.” Asked to respond to Trump’s remarks last week that the U.S. military was “locked and loaded” for an attack on North Korea, McMaster pivoted to diplomacy: The U.S. military is “locked and loaded every day,” he said, “But the purpose of capable, ready forces is to preserve peace and prevent war.” The assessments from Pompeo and McMaster the one made by Rex Tillerson, who told reporters last week that there was “no imminent threat” from North Korea and that Americans “should sleep soundly.”

Many experts, meanwhile, continued to blame Trump for fanning the flames. “I think it eliminates maneuver space for him, because it looks like brinkmanship to me,” said Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on “Meet the Press.” “And it looks like clearly he’s, at least verbally, focused very specifically on the military options with the rhetoric that’s out there. It’s almost a fire and brimstone, ‘Don’t make another move or else.’”

— “[T]he magnitude of the challenges that Mr. Trump faces has grown dramatically, but his tone has not,” write the New York Times’s Glenn Thrush and Peter Baker. “And it remains to be seen if the don’t-mess-with-me attitude that cowed Republican primary rivals like Jeb Bush will have a similar effect on a regime that has managed to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the United States while making progress toward miniaturizing a nuclear warhead that would fit on top. In this case, Mr. Trump has told people around him that he thinks Kim Jong-un, the unpredictable North Korean leader, will ultimately be prodded to cut a deal, and that the bluntness of his language is intended to create a crisis that drives him to negotiate before North Korea perfects a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the American mainland.”

PENCE IN COLOMBIA:

— The vice president opened his week-long trip to South and Central America Sunday with a stern message for Venezuela’s autocratic government to end “the tragedy of tyranny.” Philip Rucker reports: “Pence vowed to increase economic and diplomatic pressure on Venezuela and work with Colombia and other regional democracies to isolate the government of President Nicolás Maduro. He also sought to reassure the region after President Trump warned last week of a ‘possible military option’ in Venezuela, a comment that stoked anti-American sentiment by reviving dark memories of U.S. interventionism on the continent. ‘Venezuela is sliding into dictatorship, and as President Trump has said, the United States will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles,’ Pence said.”

Pence downplayed the possibility of U.S. military intervention in Venezuela as the president of Colombia openly criticized the suggestion: “[A]s he stood next to Pence, [Colombian President Juan Manuel] Santos denounced Trump’s threat of military action, and told the visiting vice president that such a possibility ‘shouldn’t even be considered’ and would be ‘unacceptable.’ … Pence’s six-day visit to Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Panama is expected to be dominated by the turmoil in Venezuela, although he also is planning to highlight trade and security partnerships throughout the hemisphere. … Pence said he and Santos discussed during a private meeting additional economic sanctions and other measures to increase pressure on Venezuela. … Although the Venezuelan crisis is top of mind, Pence plans to highlight other issues as well. For instance, Pence pressured Santos to curb the flow of drugs into the United States[.]”

— “One of Venezuela’s most powerful leaders may have put out an order to kill Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a fervent critic of the South American country’s government,” the Miami Herald’s Patricia Mazzei reports. “Though federal authorities couldn’t be sure at the time if the uncorroborated threat was real, they took it seriously enough that Rubio has been guarded by a security detail for several weeks in both Washington and Miami. Believed to be behind the order: Diosdado Cabello, the influential former military chief and lawmaker from the ruling socialist party who has publicly feuded with Rubio. … The death threat was outlined in a memo to several law enforcement agencies disseminated last month by the Department of Homeland Security. … The memo revealed an ‘order to have Senator Rubio assassinated,’ though it also warned that ‘no specific information regarding an assassination plot against Senator Rubio has been garnered thus far[.]’”

THE TRUMP AGENDA:

— The administration is clearing the way for further deregulation of America’s financial institutions. The Wall Street Journal’s Ryan Tracy and Dave Michaels report: “Several agencies are reviewing the Volcker rule, a part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act that limits banks’ trading. Some regulators also recently dropped a plan to restrict bonuses on Wall Street that had been opposed by banks and brokerage firms. And the Labor Department on Wednesday disclosed an 18-month delay in the so-called fiduciary rule that requires brokers to act in retirement savers’ best interests rather than their own. The moves show that while President Donald Trump is struggling to advance his legislative agenda in Congress, his administration has begun laying the groundwork to change some of the myriad rules that Wall Street has sought for years to overturn or water down.”

— Even as Trump officials project an air of confidence about getting legislation passed, they are predicting a “brutal” September. Politico’s Josh Dawsey reports: “Aides hope to have a better blueprint for how the president wants to proceed on a series of thorny issues — the nation’s debt ceiling, the 2018 federal budget, tax reform, infrastructure spending and perhaps another stab at repealing Obamacare — after a series of meetings in New York this week. Their goal is to partially temper Trump’s expectations, hammer out some compromises and get a competing band of aides on the same page. … Trump, who is impatient, wants it all done immediately, said people close to the president — and he has ratcheted up pressure on aides in recent weeks, even though he doesn’t always engage with the substance of issues. What makes the month harder is that many of the fights are in Congress, where the president and his team have little control.”

— “Congressional Republicans need to think again if they’re hoping tax reform will offer them an easy victory after their bungled Obamacare repeal effort,” Politico’s Rachael Bade and Bernie Becker report. “Rewriting the tax code will be just as difficult as health care — maybe even more so. While every Republican loves a tax cut, the GOP is divided over how — or even whether — to pay for them. The fault lines are as much about lawmakers’ parochial concerns as they are about party identity, further complicating the task of cobbling together a majority. That’s not to mention the procedural hurdles that could stall the tax debate, or the crowded congressional calendar that could push reform to the back burner.”

— “In South Texas, Threat of Border Wall Unites Naturalists and Politicians,” by the New York Times’s Michael Hardy: “[Marianna Wright, the executive director of the privately owned National Butterfly Center] said she also learned, for the first time, that a section of the proposed wall on the border with Mexico — and a pair of parallel roads on either side of it — would run through the butterfly center. The wall’s placement would cut off two-thirds of the center’s property, leaving a 70-acre no man’s land between the wall and the Rio Grande. … The specter of a border wall has loomed over the Rio Grande Valley since 2006, when President George W. Bush signed the Secure Fence Act authorizing 700 miles of fencing along certain stretches of the southern border. But the election of [Trump], who made completing the wall a centerpiece of his campaign, has spurred renewed concern about the economic and environmental consequences of such a wall.”

— “Two senior Trump advisers — one inside the White House and another who recently departed — signaled Sunday that the knives are out for Steve Bannon,” CNN’s Dan Merica, Jim Acosta and Kaitlan Collins report. “The comments come as a source inside the White House tells CNN that White House chief of staff John Kelly has soured on Bannon[.] … Bannon is seen as pursuing his own agenda, which does not mesh with the power structure Kelly is putting in place[.] … National security adviser H.R. McMaster was asked three times by NBC’s Chuck Todd on Sunday whether he can work with Bannon in the White House. McMaster dodged the question each time[.] … The more blunt comments came from recently ousted White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, who told ABC that Trump needs to ‘move away’ from Bannon and Breitbart. … One source said rumors of Bannon’s demise have been exaggerated in the past, but that there are serious conversations happening now about whether there is a place for him in the administration going forward.”

HEALTH-CARE HANGOVER:

— House conservatives are attempting to force Paul Ryan to hold a vote on a clean repeal of Obamacare. Kelsey Snell reports: “Conservatives say they believe a repeal measure can pass without a replacement, despite warnings from Ryan and other leaders that the votes aren’t there. The long-shot effort gained momentum last week with support from influential outside groups. … The strategy they are using requires that a majority of the 434 members of the House sign a petition calling on Ryan to bring the bill to the floor. No Democrats are expected to sign the document, meaning that conservatives would have to win support from all but 22 of the 240 House Republicans. … If successful, the petition would allow conservatives to bring their bill to the House floor for a vote without intervention from leadership. The legislation they have proposed would gut the majority of the ACA[.]”

— Even as Trump continues to call for the repeal of Obamacare, his Department of Health and Human Services is helping to shore up the exchanges. Politico’s Rachana Pradhan reports: “Alaska will get $323 million over the next five years to coax its lone Obamacare insurer to remain in the market and hold down premiums. At least four other states, including some that have vociferously opposed the Affordable Care Act, are seeking similar deals. The efforts come as the GOP push to repeal and replace the law is in disarray and state officials in both red and blue states seek ways to shore up their shaky markets. They have the blessing of the Trump administration’s Department of Health and Human Services — even as the president himself is threatening to cut off key subsidies as early as this week. … The White House said Thursday it applauds the stabilization efforts[.]”

— The deadline for insurers to set 2018 rates has been extended by almost three weeks. The New York Times’s Robert Pear reports: “The extension was announced in a memorandum that insurers received on Friday from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services[.] … It was the clearest evidence to date that the politics of health care in Washington could disrupt planning for 2018. Insurers are struggling to decide whether to participate in the marketplace next year and, if so, how much to charge. In addition to the usual price increases to keep up with medical inflation, many insurers are demanding higher rates because of the possibility that President Trump might take away the subsidies known as cost-sharing reduction payments. … In its latest bulletin, the Trump administration said that many state insurance commissioners had allowed insurers to increase rates for 2018 to account for the ‘uncompensated liability’ that they might face for the cost-sharing reductions.”

THE GOP CIVIL WAR:

— Despite Trump’s endorsement of incumbent Sen. Luther Strange, the heated Alabama primary continues to pit the establishment GOP against the Trump base. Robert Costa reports: “Strange, despite the Trump bump, is unlikely to win the nomination outright Tuesday. A bruising one-month runoff campaign looms for the top two finishers, and Trump’s die-hard supporters in the state are divided. For Republicans, the Alabama contest is a snapshot of the party’s churning base at this moment in the Trump presidency. In a deep-red state, the dominant squabbles are not over ideological purity — that GOP test of old — but over loyalty to Trump and over who has the most visceral connection with his core voters. … Strange’s Republican challengers include former state Supreme Court justice Roy Moore, who has a passionate following among religious voters, and Rep. Mo Brooks, a prominent conservative in the U.S. House. … Moore has jumped ahead in the latest polls with about 30 percent support, with Strange close behind and Brooks just trailing him.”

Politico’s Seung Min Kim has a profile on Roy Moore this morning: “Moore’s national notoriety stems primarily from his stormy tenure on the Alabama Supreme Court. He was removed as chief justice in 2003 for opposing the removal of a Ten Commandments statue from the state Capitol. But Moore was nevertheless reelected to the court, and then suspended for declining to enforce the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriages. After losing an appeal, he resigned in April. Moore embraces the controversies as a badge of honor. … He’s also prone to teeing off rhetorically. In a recent interview with the Guardian, Moore mused that Vladimir Putin is ‘maybe … more akin to me than I know’ when told about the Russian president’s opposition to gay marriage. And at a candidate forum here in the Birmingham suburbs, Moore went after transgender troops in the military, telling the crowd of local party faithful: ‘If we’re going to file for hormone treatments and medical surgeries, that’s not making your military stronger. You’ve got to have a disciplined military.’”

— “Can Jeff Flake survive the role of chief Republican antagonist to Trump?” by Ed O’Keefe in Prescott, Ariz.: “Over two months, Sen. Jeff Flake has dodged bullets on a baseball field, buried his elderly father and watched one of his political mentors, Sen. John McCain, battle terminal brain cancer. And that was all before he published a book that doubles down on his criticisms of President Trump.”

Kelli Ward believes she has a chance to defeat Flake in next year’s GOP primary: “An osteopathic physician and former state lawmaker, Ward tried and failed to defeat McCain in a primary (last year) … In an interview, Ward said that Flake’s national television interviews to promote the book are helping her. ‘Every time he’s on, I’m gaining money and manpower.’ While she won nearly 40 percent of the primary electorate in 2016, Ward says her support will grow this year because of Flake’s decision to lash out at Trump.”

Democrats, meanwhile, might have caught a break in their bid to unseat Flake: “On Friday, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, who represents a Phoenix-area district, said in a statement that she is ‘seriously considering’ entering the race, and several Democrats now think she is all but certain to run. Despite coming up short in statewide races since 2010, Democratic leaders think that Sinema’s moderate voting record and $3 million campaign war chest can help them capitalize on the growing anti-Trump and anti-Washington sentiment among voters.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Trump took to Twitter this morning to preview his trip back to D.C., repeat his endorsement of Luther Strange and criticize Democrats:

Twitter was dominated all weekend by conversation about Charlottesville —

From four Republican senators:

The Speaker of the House:

Trump’s former campaign rivals expressed condolences for the lives lost and condemned the violence:

Barack Obama offered a rare message on social media to subtly denounce the white nationalists:

The former vice president called out Trump’s criticism of “violence, on many sides”:

“It’s not hard to spot the wrong side here,” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) wrote on Facebook:

A leader of the alternative right thought that Trump’s comments could be interpreted as a rebuke of the anti-fascist protesters:

Journalists also questioned Trump’s framing of the violence. From an MSNBC host:

From a New York Times White House reporter:

From the “Morning Joe” host:

From the Atlantic’s editor in chief:

From a writer for the New Yorker:

From a presidential bigrapher:

From a former top adviser to Obama:

This photo from Charlottesville was widely shared:

CNN’s legal analyst suggested renaming Lee Park after the protester who was killed:

A 91-year-old former congressman and veteran volunteered his services:

And even Tiki, whose torches were used by the white nationalist demonstrators, issued a statement denouncing their actions:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

— Politico, “Inside the Elizabeth Warren merchandising empire,” by Lauren Dezenski: “Prayer candles. Action figures. Temporary tattoos. Coloring books. Elizabeth Warren isn’t just a progressive icon, she’s a merchandising industry unto herself. The Massachusetts senator and presidential prospect is at the center of a sprawling business built around her appeal to liberals across the country[.] … It’s impossible to know the true size of the Warren merchandising-industrial complex. The bulk of it exists beyond the Democratic senator’s control on sites like online marketplace Etsy. And her campaign, which hosts its own online store, declined to disclose the exact amount of money it raises from merchandise sales. But it’s safe to say no other senator has anything like it.”

— The New Yorker, “Julian Assange, a Man Without a Country,” by Raffi Khatchadourian: “Assange is not an easy man to get on the phone, let alone to see in person. He is protected by a group of loyal staffers and a shroud of organizational secrecy. One friend compared him to the central figure in Philip K. Dick’s ‘The Man in the High Castle’—a recluse trying to reset the course of history. In many ways, the Embassy has become a surreal redoubt: a place of extreme seclusion in the center of a bustling world capital; a protective stronghold that few can enter, even though it is the target of millions of dollars’ worth of covert surveillance.”

­– The Atlantic, “A Trump Aide Draws Jeers at a Convention of Black Journalists,” by Vann R. Newkirk II: “The proceedings immediately plunged into the bizarre. [BET’s Ed] Gordon largely ignored the other panelists for a one-on-one theatrical debate with [Omarosa] Manigault-Newman, who attempted to evade the topic of the panel in order to discuss murders of her father and other family members (carried out by private citizens) that shaped her childhood. ‘Let me tell my story,’ she chided Gordon after his attempt to ask questions about police brutality.”

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“A day after Charlottesville white supremacist rally, county GOP chair blames ‘leftists,’ ‘Soros’ for violence,” from NM Political Report: “After a white supremacist rally in Virginia … a Republican Party county chairman lashed out at ‘leftists’ and George Soros. A now-deleted statement on the Facebook page of the Doña Ana Republican Party attributed to chairman Roman Jimenez blamed ‘leftist protesters’ for violence and said ‘they’re getting exactly what they asked for.’ ‘These violent, leftist protesters are the brainless robots that are created by evil Soros money,’ [the statement said]. ‘The white ones have been taught to hate their color, the women are taught to hate men, black and minorities want to kill whites and police.'”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“In CNN Interview, Bill Maher Criticizes Network’s Firing Of Jeffrey Lord,” from the Daily Caller: “Political correctness is getting ‘worse every year,’ and CNN’s recent firing of pro-Trump analyst Jeffrey Lord is a prime example of that trend, comedian Bill Maher said in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN. ‘It’s getting worse. I don’t know how long I’m going to last. Really, I mean, it’s worse every year. The things that they go after people for now,’ Maher told Fareed Zakaria. The HBO host was discussing the role that political correctness has played in paving the way for a Trump presidency. … Notably, the interview was taped before Saturday’s white nationalist protest in Charlottesville, Va.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“What about the leftist mob. Just as violent if not more so[.]” — A senior White House official defending Trump’s “many sides” comment about the Charlottesville violence, according to Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

— It will be cloudy for most of the day in D.C., with showers possible. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Clouds are many through much or all of the day, although it may be sunnier for a while this morning. Some showers should break out and move through during the afternoon into evening, but they probably won’t amount to a whole lot. High temperatures range from near 80 to the mid-80s.”

— The Nationals split a doubleheader against the Giants, losing the first game 4-2 and winning the second 6-2. The team also reported that Bryce Harper’s knee, which he had badly twisted, was merely bruised. (Chelsea Janes)

  • “By finding out nothing broke Bryce Harper, the Nationals catch an enormous break,” by Thomas Boswell: “When a player is hurt while hustling in a basically meaningless game played in drizzle after a three-hour rain delay, maybe he deserves to catch a break. Bryce Harper, the Washington Nationals, Major League Baseball and baseball fans everywhere sure did.”

— Both Democrats and Republicans in Maryland are enthusiastically testing new strategies to boost turnout for next year’s state elections. Josh Hicks reports: “Armed with lists of independents and party affiliates who sat out recent midterm elections, party volunteers and candidates are canvassing neighborhoods virtually every weekend to convince voters that the upcoming races matter, focusing largely on battleground districts but also reaching into each other’s strongholds. Democrats, who outnumber Republicans by 2 to 1 in Maryland, want to oust Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and shore up their veto-proof majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly[.] … [Republicans] want to reelect Hogan and break the Democratic supermajority by flipping at least five Senate seats held by Democrats.”

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

John Oliver recapped a week of escalating tensions between Trump and Kim Jong Un:

The Post’s Glenn Kessler explains why the U.S. nuclear deal with North Korea failed:

Catholic churchgoers in Guam prayed for peace between the United States and North Korea:

This 1947 ad from the U.S. War Department implored Americans, “Don’t be a sucker” by letting hatred overrun the country:

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The Daily 202: Congress will have 12 working days to prevent a debt default and keep the government open.

With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA today is by Kelsey Snell. James will be back on Monday.

August is supposed to be a time when Washington recharges, relaxes and refreshes. But just beyond that happy hour cocktail or beach blanket is a looming fiscal battle over funding the government and raising the debt limit.

Exciting, right? When Congress returns in September the House will have just 12 legislative days to raise the federal borrowing limit to avoid default — and the same amount of time to approve a spending deal to avert a government shutdown. Those things alone would make for a hefty lift under even the best political circumstances. But the high-stakes deadlines comes as GOP lawmakers are still bruised and angry over the dramatic failure of their most recent push to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Some congressional Republicans openly admit there is a strong possibility the GOP will quickly abandon a broader spending bill in favor of a short-term funding measure to keep the government open, perhaps through the end of the year. One of the likely solutions would continue current spending levels through the middle of December to give lawmakers more time to negotiate a broader deal.

Such a decision would be a practical solution to the hard reality that Republicans are deeply split over spending priorities — and likely don’t have enough votes to pass any kind of major spending bill on their own.

Republican leaders know there are about a dozen conservatives who simply won’t vote for most spending bills. Those same 12 or more far-right members also don’t want to vote to increase the debt limit without corresponding spending cuts. That means Republicans will probably have to turn to Democrats to both raise the borrowing limit and keep the government funded.

Leaders expect that Democrats would be happy to extend current spending levels and increase the debt limit. The problem is with Republicans, for whom accepting another stopgap spending measure would be a dramatic reversal. GOP leaders have pledged to cut spending and restore order to the budget process.

Still, even some hard-line conservatives seemed resigned to the reality of a short-term spending bill, no matter how distasteful to them. House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) told reporters before recess that September is going to be a difficult month and he doesn’t expect there will be enough time to complete the regular process of passing funding bills.

“All the fiscal issues and deadlines are going to make it extremely difficult to get everything done in a piece-by-piece basis,” Meadows said in July. “We’re almost anticipating a bigger bill with a whole bunch of things put together that would maybe bring a whole lot of Democrats on board and pass with less than a majority of the majority.”

Meadows wasn’t happy about that idea, but he also didn’t challenge the notion that conservatives may be fighting a lonely and losing battle over spending cuts next month. Approving a short-term bill could be the quickest solution for GOP leaders — but it carries with it both risks and rewards for Republicans still reeling from their failure on health care.

Here are three reasons Republicans might want to force the bigger spending fight:

  1. They can delay the pain of a public debate over cutting funding for popular programs. Even deeply passionate fiscal hawks got queasy when President Trump proposed cutting funding for programs like arts education, student loans and Meals on Wheels.
  2. They won’t have to grapple with the fight over Trump’s border wall. Some key Senate Republicans have openly rejected the idea of spending money on the wall without spending cuts to offset it. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), John McCain (Ariz) and Bob Corker (Tenn.) all told CNN back in February they weren’t on board with the wall plan.
  3. They can focus on a tax overhaul. Republican leaders announced last month they plan to start hearings on a tax bill in September with the hope of holding a House vote in October and a Senate one in November. That timeline is ambitious, but GOP lawmakers see a tax code rewrite as an opportunity to eke out a sizable victory — even if it means that they have to settle for a simple tax cut rather than a sweeping overhaul like some had imagined.

A tax overhaul is a signature pledge for House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), and he is eager to move on to that project. So eager in fact that his Twitter feed has included near-daily reminders of his promise:

Here are three reasons a short-term spending measure might be a nightmare for the GOP:

  1. Trump wants his border wall funded. The White House was willing to accept the last spending bill without wall funding based on the assumption that GOP leaders would provide it in the next round of spending bills. Politico reported earlier this week that the White House is already floating a plan to increase domestic spending in exchange for money to begin construction of a “double fence.”
  2. North Korea is creating even more pressure for military spending. Most defense hawks hate short-term spending bills because it’s impossible for the military to plan and prepare. Earlier this year, McCain was among those who pledged not to support another stopgap bill, saying that doing so “destroys the ability of the military to defend this nation.”
  3. Nothing’s going to change between now and December. Republicans will also still be wary of the wall. A bloc of House conservatives will still be unwilling to vote for any kind of spending bill, and barring an unforeseen surprise, the 52 Senate Republicans will still need at least eight Democrats to keep the government funded.

The upshot: We could all be getting another shutdown fight under the Capitol Christmas tree this year.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

— Congressional investigators now want to question Trump’s longtime personal secretary Rhona Graff over the meeting between Trump associates and a Russian lawyer. ABC News’s Benjamin Siegel reports: “Graff, a senior vice president at the Trump Organization who has worked at Trump Tower for nearly 30 years, has acted as a gatekeeper to Trump. She remains a point of contact for the sprawling universe of Trump associates, politicians, reporters and others seeking Trump’s time and attention, even now that he’s in the White House. Graff’s position in Trump’s orbit recently gained attention after Donald Trump Jr. released a June 2016 email exchange with British publicist Rob Goldstone leading up to the meeting with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower. …”

“‘I can also send this info to your father via Rhona,’ Goldstone wrote Donald Jr. in the email, ‘but it is ultra sensitive so wanted to send to you first.’ Graff was not on the email chain and it’s unclear if Goldstone ever made direct contact with her. ‘Since her name is in the email, people will want her to answer questions,’ said Rep. Peter King, R-New York, a member of the House Intelligence Committee who knows Graff. ‘If you go into Trump Tower, you’re going to mention her name.’”

— China warned in a state-owned newspaper that they would not come to North Korea’s aid if they pre-emptively struck the United States, Simon Denyer reports: “[B]ut it would intervene if Washington strikes first. The Global Times newspaper is not an official mouthpiece of the Communist Party, but in this case its editorial probably does reflect government policy and can be considered ‘semiofficial,’ experts said. China has repeatedly warned both Washington and Pyongyang not to do anything that raises tensions or causes instability on the Korean Peninsula, and strongly reiterated that suggestion Friday. … The Global Times said both sides were engaging in a ‘reckless game’ that runs the risk of descending into a real war.”

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. CNN on Thursday severed ties with pro-Trump commentator Jeffrey Lord, after he tweeted the Nazi salute “Sieg Heil!” at a prominent liberal activist. A spokesperson for the network confirmed his ousting saying in a statement that his remarks were “indefensible.” (CNN)
  2. 2016 was the warmest year on record. The report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is the most comprehensive research on climate change released by the Trump administration, but it doesn’t address the link between climate change and human activity. (Politico

  3. The governor of Louisiana has declared a state of emergency in New Orleans. A power outage threatened the city’s drainage pumps, which could cause serious problems if an above-average level of rain falls. (Tim Craig)

  4. The sentencing for the co-defendant of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) in a separate fraud case was postponed. Salomon Melgen was convicted in April. Melgen’s and Menendez’s corruption trial does not begin until next month. (Politico)

  5. Venture capital firm Benchmark Capital is suing former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. The firm accuses Kalanick of fraud, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. If Benchmark’s suit is successful, Kalanick could lose his seat on Uber’s board of directors. (Axios)

  6. U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley lost two of her top staffers this week. Her chief of staff, Steven Groves, and communications director Jonathan Wachtel both resigned Wednesday, a decision which Haley attributed to “family concerns.” “They will always be a part of the team & dear friends,” she said in a tweet. (Bloomberg News)

  7. Authorities in Iran have arrested six people for performing Zumba, a Colombian fitness routine, as well as other types of “Western” dance. Their arrest comes just several years after a group of young people were sentenced to a year in prison after they made a video dancing to Pharrell Williams’s “Happy.” (Amanda Erickson)

  8. Scientists have successfully created the first mutated ants. It’s an achievement more difficult than it might seem, according to researchers — and it’s also believed to be the first successful genetic alteration of any social insects. (Ben Guarino)
  9. Britain has introduced new and improved bank notes. They’re harder to forge, more difficult to destroy — escaping unscathed from both a full washing machine cycle and a dunk in curry — but they’re also vehemently opposed by vegetarians everywhere. Turns out, the new material uses trace amount of animal meat. (New York Times
  10. Trump’s D.C. hotel turned a $2 million in profit in its first four month, surpassing expectations. Trump International charges more for its rooms than almost any other hotel in Washington. (Jonathan O’Connell)

TRUMP, UNCHAINED:

The president sparred with reporters twice while on his “working” vacation at his golf resort in Bedminister, N.J., yesterday. The result was a wide-ranging, eye-popping performance that spanned the gamut from the Kremlin’s ousting of U.S. officials to whether he ever pondered firing special counsel Robert Mueller. “It was like he was a dam that had suddenly burst free and he was able to unload a lot that was on his mind,” presidential historian Douglas Brinkley told Philip Rucker in must-read Debrief on the 27 minutes of presidential comments. “This is what [Chief of Staff] General Kelly will learn very quickly, which is when you put this guy in a cage and think you’re controlling him, things like this happen,” said one Trump confidant, who requested anonymity to speak candidly.

Here are the highlights of the president’s remarks:

— ON VLADIMIR PUTIN: Trump said Thursday that he was “very thankful” to Putin for expelling hundreds of U.S. diplomats in Russia, because it “helps him cut” the U.S. payroll. “I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down our payroll, and as far as I’m concerned I’m very thankful … because now we have a smaller payroll,” Trump [said] … “There’s no real reason for them to go back. I greatly appreciate the fact that we’ve been able to cut our payroll of the United States. We’re going to save a lot of money.”

CONTEXT: “Trump’s answer was a tad tongue-in-cheek, but he gave no clear indication that he was joking or trying to be facetious in offering his gratitude to Putin,” Rucker reports. It is also the first time Trump has publicly addressed Putin’s decision last month to slash 775 diplomatic staffers from Russian diplomatic compounds — a move that came in retaliation to expanded U.S. sanctions against Moscow.

Trump’s comments Thursday infuriated State Department employees, where many say they have felt “ignored and badly treated” by the Trump administration, Politico’s Nahal Toosi and Madeline Conway report. “Some noted that locally hired staff members affected the most are crucial to American diplomats’ work overseas. A senior U.S. diplomat serving overseas called Trump’s remarks ‘outrageous’ and said it could lead more State Department staffers to head for the exits. … ‘This is so incredibly demoralizing and disrespectful to people serving their country in harm’s way,’ the diplomat said. ‘I kid you not, I have heard from three different people in the last five minutes,’ one State Department official [said] shortly after Trump’s comments. ‘Everyone seems pretty amazed. This statement is naive and shortsighted. It sends a terrible signal to local employees everywhere.’”

The former U.S. ambassador to Russia: 

From Nicholas Burns, the former undersecretary of state for political affairs under George W. Bush:

The Daily Beast’s national security reporter also pointed this out…

ON THE PRE-DAWN RAID OF PAUL MANAFORT’S HOUSE: “You know, they do that very seldom, so I was surprised to see it. I was very, very surprised to see it …I thought it was a very, very strong signal, or whatever,” Trump said, speaking out for the first time about the raid since it was made public earlier this week. Manafort, he said, is “like a lot of other people, probably makes consultant fees from all over the place, who knows, I don’t know. … But I thought it was pretty tough stuff to wake him up. Perhaps his family was there. I think that’s pretty tough stuff.”  Asked whether he had spoken to Jeff Sessions or the FBI about the raid, Trump said: “I have not. But to do that early in the morning, whether or not it was appropriate, you’d have to ask them.”

ON HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH JEFF SESSIONS: “It is what it is. It’s fine,” Trump said, after publicly and repeatedly berating his attorney general for recusing himself in the Russia probe. He praised Sessions’ crackdown on illegal immigration, saying his attorney general is “working hard on the border.” “I’m very proud of what we’ve done at the border,” he said.

CONTEXT: “At the time the president was making his comments about the raid, Manafort was changing his legal team,” John Wagner and Tom Hamburger write. “Going forward, Manafort will no longer be represented by Reginald Brown of WilmerHale, a former White House counsel known for his good relationships on Capitol Hill. He will now rely on lawyers at Miller Chevalier[.] … The new team will be led in part by Kevin Downing, a former Justice Department litigator known for his work on international tax matters. The move may signal that Manafort expects to defend himself in a possible tax inquiry — and that cooperation with congressional investigators will no longer be the high priority that it was when he retained WilmerHale.”

— ON NORTH KOREA: Trump stepped up his rhetoric in the ongoing war of words between him and Pyonyang. Philip Rucker and Karen DeYoung report: “Trump told reporters that his Tuesday statement warning of ‘fire and fury’ may not have been ‘tough enough,’ but even as he stepped up his brinksmanship with [Kim Jong Un], the president sought to reassure anxious people around the world that he has the situation under control. ‘Frankly, the people who were questioning that statement — was it too tough? Maybe it wasn’t tough enough,’ Trump said. ‘They’ve been doing this to our country for a long time, for many years, and it’s about time that somebody stuck up for the people of this country and for the people of other countries. So, if anything, maybe that statement wasn’t tough enough.’”

Trump also called North Korea’s threat to Guam “a whole new ballgame.” Kim Jong Un was “not getting away with it,” he said, adding, “He’s not going to be saying those things, and he’s certainly not going to be doing those things.” “He does something in Guam, it will be an event the likes of which nobody’s seen before, what will happen in North Korea,” he said. “It’s not a dare. It’s a statement.” Kim, Trump said, was “not going to go around threatening Guam and he’s not going to threaten the United States and he’s not going to threaten Japan and he’s not going to threaten South Korea.”

CONTEXT: On BBC News Thursday, White House aide Sebastian Gorka was asked about the apparent divergence between Trump and his senior Cabinet advisers: “You should listen to the president,” Gorka said, adding that it was “simply nonsensical” that [Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson would deal with “military matters.” “We are not giving in to nuclear blackmail any longer,” Gorka said. 

“At the State Department on Thursday, spokeswoman Heather Nauert responded sharply to Gorka’s comments on Tillerson:” Asked whether Tillerson’s push for diplomacy was being heeded elsewhere in the administration, Nauert said: “He’s a Cabinet secretary. He’s fourth in line to the presidency. He carries a big stick.”

— Markets suffered again. The Wall Street Journal’s Justin Yang and Kenan Machado report: “The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 205 points Thursday, its biggest decline since May 17, after [Trump] rejected criticism that his threats to release ‘fire and fury’ had been too inflammatory and said his statement ‘maybe wasn’t tough enough.’”

— “North Korea met President Trump’s ‘fire and fury’ warnings with an unusually specific threat of its own Thursday,” Anna Fifield writes from Seoul: “[But] whether the North is willing to carry out the launch [at the U.S. territory of Guam] — and risk escalating the showdown with Washington — was uncertain. But the near-miss scenario, analysts say, reflects an important insight into the mind and motives of [Kim Jong Un]. He is prepared to push back against the United States and its allies to a point, many believe, but never enough to risk a war that would threaten his rule as the third-generation strongman in a family dynasty that took hold after World War II.” 

Who is Kim Jong Un? — “In China, the man threatening to fire missiles at the United States is often derided as a chubby brat,” the New York Times’s Choe Sang-Hun reports. “In the United States, a senator recently referred to him as ‘this crazy fat kid.’ But the target of all that scorn, Kim Jong-un … has long been underestimated. His ultimate motives, like many details of his life, are uncertain. Only a few people outside North Korea have been allowed to meet him, among them [Dennis Rodman and] a Japanese sushi chef … What little is known of Mr. Kim’s record suggests ruthlessness — and some ideological flexibility … ‘Smart, pragmatic, decisive,’ Andrei Lankov, a North Korea [in Seoul], said of Mr. Kim. ‘But also capricious, moody and ready to kill easily.’”

— Meanwhile, the escalating crisis with North Korea has also underscored Trump’s failure to fill key posts in the region. CNN’s Ryan Struyk reports: “A major Defense Department slot — the Assistant Secretary for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs… Meanwhile, a key State Department position called the Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs is also without a nomination. The heads of the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance and the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation also remain un-nominated under Trump. And the Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs, essential to bridging the gap between the State and Defense Departments, has not been nominated under Trump despite being confirmed under both Bush and Obama by June. … And the crucial ambassadorship to South Korea also remains vacant[.] … It’s currently filled by Marc Knapper, the previous No. 2 of the embassy.”

WHAT THE EXPERTS ARE SAYING:

— There’s pretty much nothing between Trump and launching nuclear weapons, Dan Lamothe reports: “A December 2016 assessment by the Congressional Research Service stated that the president ‘does not need the concurrence of either his military advisors or the U.S. Congress to order the launch of nuclear weapons.’ Additionally, the assessment said, ‘neither the military nor Congress can overrule these orders.’ The reason is simple: The system is set up for the United States to launch an attack within minutes, so that if the United States is under a nuclear attack, it can respond almost instantly[.] … Under the existing War Powers Act of 1973, the president also is not required to seek congressional approval for any military action until 60 days after the start of a war.”

— “Inside Washington’s ‘what if?’ industry, people at think tanks, universities, consultancies and defense businesses have spent four decades playing out scenarios that the Trump administration now faces anew,” Marc Fisher and David Nakamura report. But the nightmare scenarios are simple enough: In a launch from North Korea, a nuclear-tipped missile could reach San Francisco in half an hour. A nuclear attack on [Seoul] could start and finish in three minutes.

“[But] a conventional war, heavy casualties would likely result as North Korean troops poured into the South, using tunnels the North is reported to have built under the [DMZ]. [Additionally] North Korea is believed to have a stockpile of several thousand tons of chemical weapons …”

The New York Times’ Rick Gladstone presents one important question – if the U.S. attacks North Korea first, would it be considered self-defense? “Michael N. Schmitt, a professor at the United States Naval War College and an affiliate at the Harvard Law School … said three basic requirements must be met: The other country must have the ability to attack; the other country’s behavior must show that an attack is imminent; and there are no other ways to forestall it. While North Korea may have an ability to attack the United States, there is widespread skepticism that an attack is imminent. And many officials, including some of Mr. Trump’s senior aides, have said other options have not been exhausted. ‘I think that the answer to the question is fairly unequivocally ‘no,’’ said Kevin Jon Heller, a law professor at the University of London. ‘There’s no right of self-defense against a non-imminent threat.’”

— “[Another] major consideration would be whether and when to evacuate American and other allied civilians, which is no small feat as Seoul [is a] city of about 10 million,” New York Times’s Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt report. “‘With all this talk, what I worry about is a serious miscalculation,’ said James D. Thurman, [the former top U.S.] commander in South Korea …  He estimated that at least a quarter-million Americans would have to be moved. If the United States was prepared to go beyond a limited strike, it could conduct a surprise attack on North Korea’s missile garrison and weapon storage areas … American officials, however, do not have high confidence that the military could find and destroy North Korea’s entire arsenal of long-range missiles and nuclear warheads … “

“‘I can’t underscore enough how unappealing all the military options are,’ said Christine Wormuth, the Pentagon’s top policy official at the end of the Obama administration. ‘This wouldn’t end well. The U.S. would win, but it would be ugly.’”

Back to Trump’s remarks yesterday….

ON MITCH MCCONNELL: “I’m very disappointed in Mitch. … Honestly, repeal and replace of Obamacare should have taken place. And it should have been on my desk virtually the first week that I was there or the first day that I was there. I’ve been hearing about it for seven years.”

CONTEXT: Trump has been lobbing a series of attacks at the wily Senate majority leader ever since McConnell at home in Kentucky said the president’s “excessive expectations” on health care had not been helpful.

“Trump declined to say whether McConnell should resign but said they should ask the question again if the Senate leader doesn’t deliver on the president’s leading priorities,” John Wagner, Ed O’Keefe and Paul Kane report. “Trump associates said the attacks, which began Wednesday night and resumed Thursday, were intended to shore up Trump’s outside-the-Beltway populist credentials and would resonate with core supporters frustrated by a lack of progress in Washington. But the tweets were quickly met with public and private defenses of McConnell — and rebukes of Trump.”

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) tweeted this after Trump’s morning swipe at McConnell:

Even some Republicans close to the president suggested that the attacks on McConnell would hurt him on Capitol Hill, where relations with GOP leaders have seriously frayed as Trump’s agenda has stalled,” our colleagues report. “Despite the public criticism, Trump and McConnell have been in frequent contact, usually by telephone, to discuss legislative strategy, aides said. Privately, senior GOP congressional aides across Capitol Hill have said it’s Trump and his team — not McConnell — who deserve the blame for the collapse of the GOP’s health-care plan. The aides gripe that Trump seriously damaged relationships with key Republican senators over the months-long debacle.”

—  Politico’s Josh Dawsey has more: “Trump watched clips of McConnell criticizing him on the news and wasn’t happy. In a terse but loud conversation Wednesday, the president made clear he wasn’t to blame for the Obamacare failure and was displeased with the criticism he’s gotten for it. McConnell didn’t give any ground, said people briefed on the phone call, and there are no immediate plans to speak again. … The phone call … and comments at Bedminster mirror what Trump has said in private, according to four White House officials and Trump friends: that he is preparing to distance himself from Republicans in Congress if they aren’t successful in passing legislation and that he will not take the blame for them if they can’t. Increasingly, these people say, the president is prepared to cast himself as an outsider — and Congress as an ‘insider’ Washington institution.”

— Trump’s rebuke of McConnell was even more remarkable given the long list of high-priority items Congress needs to get passed next month. The New York Times’s Carl Hurse writes: “One Republican said it would be as if F.D.R. had undermined Eisenhower on the eve of D-Day. The unusual intramural conflict had the capital’s full attention even as the United States and North Korea traded warlike nuclear threats. … In some respects, taking on Mr. McConnell is not that politically risky for Mr. Trump. Congressional Republican leaders have far lower approval ratings than the president, whose numbers are at a record low for this point in a first term. And Mr. McConnell has never been popular with the anti-Washington crowd of conservative Republicans who align themselves much more with Mr. Trump.”

ON THE OPIOID CRISIS: “The opioid crisis is an emergency, and I’m saying officially right now it is an emergency. It’s a national emergency. We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis.”

CONTEXT: “On Tuesday, Trump received an extended briefing on the subject in Bedminster,” Joel Achenbach, John Wagner and Lenny Bernstein  White House aides said Trump report. “White House aides said Trump was still reviewing the report and was not yet ready to announce which of its recommendations he would embrace. A White House statement issued Thursday evening said that Trump ‘has instructed his Administration to use all appropriate emergency and other authorities to respond to the crisis caused by the opioid epidemic.’

But the declaration may not have much of an immediate impact: “It should allow the administration to remove some bureaucratic barriers and waive some federal rules governing how states and localities respond to the drug epidemic. One such rule restricts where Medicaid recipients can receive addiction treatment. … The emergency declaration may allow the government to deploy the equivalent of its medical cavalry, the U.S. Public Health Service, a uniformed service of physicians and other staffers that can target places with little medical care or drug treatment[.] … Governors in Arizona, Florida, Maryland and Virginia have already declared emergencies. And in recent months, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, Congress, physician groups and the insurance industry have taken institutional steps to address the crisis.”

THE NEW WORLD ORDER:

— Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Thursday released a strategy to increase U.S. air and ground forces in Afghanistan, preempting and rebuking Trump, who has not yet articulated a strategy for the war. Karoun Demirjian reports: “McCain promised to present his plan as an amendment to the annual defense authorization bill, upon his return to Washington in September. McCain’s plan outlines short- and long-term goals that envision a significant U.S. presence on the ground … [He] does not outline specific troop numbers. But among his plans is a proposal to integrate U.S. military training and advisory teams at the battalion level of the Afghan armed forces … [a commitment which] would by necessity raise the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan significantly, and put those troops — even in their advising and training roles — closer to combat.”

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Trump claimed his administration is “getting very close” to articulating a strategy for Afghanistan, saying he had “[Taken] over a mess … and we’re going to make it a lot less messy.” “He also suggested he continues to support his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, despite pressure from conservative activists to fire him, and reports Trump might make him the next commander of operations in Afghanistan. “He’s my friend, and he’s a very talented man,” Trump said. “I like him, and I respect him.”

TRUMP’S AGENDA:

— The immigration plan endorsed by Trump last week would cost the U.S. 4.6 million jobs and hurt the U.S. economy overall, according to two recent studies. CNNMoney’s Patrick Gillespie and Tal Kopan report: “In a report published Thursday, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School said the immigration plan, dubbed the RAISE Act, would result in 4.6 million lost jobs by the year 2040. It also found that the U.S. economy would be 2% smaller than it would be under the current immigration policy during that time. … [The RAISE Act, crafted by Sens. David Perdue and Tom Cotton] seeks to cut legal immigration to the U.S. by 50% within a decade. ‘If you have fewer workers, we will have less economic growth,’ said Kimberly Burham, a managing director at the Penn Wharton Budget Model, a nonpartisan research team at UPenn.”

“Another analysis … found that blocking low-skilled immigrants from entering or staying in the country could also have vast ramifications for small business creation in the U.S. Low-skilled immigrants have started millions of small businesses in the U.S., despite having less than a bachelor’s degree …” Under the RAISE Act, it would be nearly impossible for an immigrant with just a high school degree to qualify for residency.

— Trump appears to be deporting fewer immigrants than Obama was at the end of his second term, and that includes immigrants who have committed crimes. Maria Sacchetti reports: “In January, federal immigration officials deported 9,913 criminals. After a slight uptick under Trump, expulsions sank to 9,600 criminals in June. Mostly deportations have remained lower than in past years under the Obama administration. … During the election, Trump vowed to target criminals for deportation and warned that they were ‘going out fast.’ Later, he suggested he would try to find a solution for the ‘terrific people’ who never committed any crimes, and would first deport 2 million to 3 million criminals. But analysts say he is unlikely to hit those targets. Since January, immigration officials have deported more than 105,000 immigrants, 42 percent of whom had never committed any crime.”

— A new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates that the Trump administration’s indecision on the ACA is causing premiums to rise. AP’s Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar reports: “[Kaiser’s analysis] found that mixed signals from [Trump] have created uncertainty ‘far outside the norm’ and led insurers to seek higher premium increases for 2018 than would otherwise have been the case. … Kaiser researchers looked at proposed premiums for a benchmark silver plan across major metropolitan areas in 20 states and Washington, D.C. Overall, they found that 15 of those cities will see increases of 10 percent or more next year. … About 10 million people who buy policies through HealthCare.gov and state-run markets are potentially affected, as are 5 million to 7 million more who purchase individual policies on their own.”

 Even as Republicans attempt to pivot to tax reform, the Senate’s health-care failure continues to haunt town halls. David Weigel reports: “Over just one day, in three small towns along Georgia’s Atlantic coastline, Rep. Earl L. ‘Buddy’ Carter (R-Ga.) spent more than four hours answering 74 questions, many of them heated. Just three focused on tax reform; nearly half of all questions focused on health care. … Carter’s town halls — he is hosting nine total, more than any member of the House — mirrored what was happening in swing and safe Republican districts across the country. The failure of the repeal bill kick-started a tax reform campaign, backed by Republican leaders and pro-business groups[.] … But at town-hall meetings since the start of the recess, tax reform has hardly come up; health care has dominated. At a Monday town hall in Flat Rock, N.C., Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) pitched a plan to devolve ACA programs to the states, then found himself fending off constituents who backed universal Medicare.”

— “The Trump administration gave notice it intends to relax the rules governing greenhouse gas emissions on new model cars,” Dino Grandoni reports. “In a notice on the federal register, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department announced they were considering rewriting emissions standards for cars and light trucks made between 2021 and 2025. While other climate-change initiatives spearheaded by President Obama … received more scrutiny from industry and conservative critics, emissions standards for cars are just as consequential for curbing the buildup of atmosphere-warming gases, analysts said. … The notice begins a 45-day public comment period on a potential relaxation of the rules for cars and light trucks.”

PERSONNEL IS POLICY:

— MUST-READ PROFILE –> “Sebastian Gorka, the West Wing’s Phony Foreign-Policy Guru,” by the Rolling Stone’s Bob Dreyfuss: “Almost as soon as they entered the Trump administration, the Gorkas absorbed withering incoming fire from national-security experts … [and White House sources said he was on his way out]. According to one insider, Gorka’s dubious qualifications may have saved him. ‘The White House tried to find him a job at another agency,’ says the source. But no luck: ‘Nobody wanted him.’ But critics charge that Gorka’s hyperbole and his hands-off relationship with the truth have lately sent his stock skyrocketing with the president. … ‘Did you see Gorka?’ Trump reportedly said after Gorka took part in figurative fisticuffs on CNN. ‘So great. I mean, really, truly great!’ …” It’s unclear what Gorka’s official White House role is, though he claims to provide “behind-the-scenes advice to Trump on how to fight terrorism.” Here’s a sample of the response from veteran terrorism analysts:

  • “It’s surreal and quite horrifying that someone who’s such an amateur has reached such heights,” David Ucko, a professor at National Defense University, said of Gorka.
  • “This is not somebody who should be working anywhere near the White House,” said Michael S. Smith II, a veteran terrorism analyst.
  • Cindy Storer, an ex-CIA terrorism analyst, was even more blunt: “He’s nuts.”

— Breitbart’s campaign against H.R. McMaster is isolating Steve Bannon in the White House. Politico’s Tara Palmeri reports: “The attacks on McMaster have put Bannon in an especially awkward position with his new boss, retired Marine general John Kelly, who has been increasingly defensive of McMaster[.] … McMaster, who pushed Bannon off the National Security Council principals’ committee, hasn’t spoken to Bannon in weeks, one senior administration official said. … Kelly has told West Wing staff that he won’t tolerate the infighting or anonymous comments to the press that characterized the tenure of Kelly’s predecessor Reince Priebus. … Bannon has grown more isolated without his ally [Reince] Priebus in the West Wing. He remained in Washington this week … and spends his days either holed up in his office or attending meetings.”

— Sam Clovis, Trump’s pick to be chief scientist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, stoked unfounded theories about Obama’s birthplace and formerly referred to Eric Holder as a “racist black” during his time as a conservative radio host and political activist in Iowa. CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski, Chris Massie, and Paul LeBlanc report: “[In a 2012 blog post] … Clovis raised questions about Obama’s biography that echoed some of the theories pushed by those in the birther movement … ‘For over a decade, Obama allowed his publisher to carry a biography that had him born in Kenya. Only after beginning his pursuit of public office did he ‘correct’ the entry,’ Clovis wrote. (The literary agent who edited the biography has said the error was hers, and that she made it with no direct communication with Obama.) ‘Could it be that the first African-American president is being given a pass because he is Black? How incredibly racist is that?’” In a 2012 blog post, he also calls Eric Holder a “racist black” and Tom Perez a “racist Latino,” though he does not make clear in either instance why he believes they are racist. 

— “Why General John Kelly Is Trump’s Last Hope,” by Time’s Michael Duffy: “So began a new era at Donald Trump’s White House, one that might be his best, or last, chance for success. Almost overnight, Kelly shut the always-open door to the Oval Office, sent hangers-on back to their desks, fired the combustible communications director Anthony Scaramucci and told all the leaders of all the many White House factions to report to him, not to the President. No one knows whether Kelly will succeed, how long he might last or if the general’s starched-shirt discipline will be rejected by the client. Early results were mixed, and skeptics are not hard to find. But Kelly clearly arrived with a mission: to fix a broken system that the nation and the world depends on every day to keep the ship called Earth in the middle of the channel.

DEMOCRATS’ ROAD AHEAD:

— Democratic centrists are pushing back against the populist message of Bernie Sanders and his left-wing supporters. Paul Kane reports: “As the party faces great expectations of big gains in the 2018 midterm elections, Democratic centrists are increasingly worried that the disproportionate share of attention shown to [Sanders] and the agenda pushed by his anti-establishment allies will do more harm than good. That direction, the thinking goes, will energize liberals in places where Democrats are already winning by big margins. But it may drive away the voters needed to win inland races that will shape the House majority and determine which governors and state legislators are in charge of redrawing federal and state legislative districts early next decade.”

— The progressive Organizing for Action, which sprang out of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns, is also trying to expand its influence. David Weigel reports: “[OFA] is launching a new effort to train more activists by connecting progressive groups with newly-trained organizers. After training 1,000 fellows since the start of the year, OFA will work with the Wellstone institute, the woman-focused Emerge America, Run for Something, the African American-focused Collective PAC and the millennial-focused New Leaders Council to place fellows with the relevant causes.”

— Obama’s former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro has launched a new PAC called “Opportunity First” as 2020 rumors continue to swirl around the rising Democratic star. (Politico’s Scott Bland)

A BONUS READ FOR THE WEEKEND:

Perry Stein profiled the ANARCHISTS OF WASHINGTON, who insist their movement is about “more than just window-smashing:” “By day, they are graphic designers, legal assistants, nonprofit workers and students. But outside their 9-to-5 jobs, they call themselves anarchists — bucking the system, shunning the government and sometimes even rioting and smashing windows to make a point. [Their] anarchist community made a fiery entrance into the Trump presidency on Jan. 20, when they organized thousands of people to protest his inauguration … [using] wooden poles and pieces of concrete to break storefronts and smash newspaper boxes[.] City officials tally the damage from the rioting at about $100,000. What the court documents call ‘malicious’ and ‘violent’ acts, the anarchists see as a necessary way to draw attention to poverty, racism, educational inequality and other problems. … ‘It takes awhile to get used to the label because it comes with a lot of baggage,’ LeMaster said. ‘People assume that anarchism is so extreme. But I associate it with wanting everyone’s needs to be met.’”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Sebastian Gorka gave this tangled rationale for his critique of Tillerson:

Politico’s D.C. bureau chief responded to Gorka’s comment with confusion:

A CNN national security reporter noted the lack of coordination between Trump’s policy and budget proposal:

Former Gov. Mike Huckabee targeted Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters in this startling tweet:

A Senate candidate in Alabama is already embracing the anti-McConnell trend:

Trump discussed how drugs have changed over the decades:

Once again from Politico’s D.C. bureau chief:

GOP strategist Ana Navarro commented on Jeffrey Lord’s dismissal from CNN:

But Sean Hannity appeared to criticized CNN’s decision to fire Lord:

From CNN’s media correspondent:

A Democratic Rep. called out the NRA and its spokesperson:

One of the Weekly Standard’s writers replied:

Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher went after Google:

Anthony Scaramucci, who has accused the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza of taping their infamous conversation without his consent, compared Lizza to Linda Tripp, who secretly taped conversations with Monica Lewinsky about the then-intern’s affair with Bill Clinton:

Lewinsky responded to Lizza’s comparison with a wide-eyed, blushing emoji.

An editor at Breitbart took issue with the cover:

From one of Buzzfeed’s tech writers:

From a Politico media reporter:

A New York Times White House correspondent sarcastically commented on John Kelly’s Time cover:

And GOP strategist Rick Wilson shared this photo that no one will ever be able to un-see:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

— Foreign Policy, “Here’s the Memo That Blew Up the NSC,” by Jana Winter and Elias Groll: “The seven-page document, which eventually landed on the president’s desk, precipitated a crisis that led to the departure of several high-level NSC officials tied to former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. The author of the memo, Rich Higgins, who was in the strategic planning office at the NSC, was among those recently pushed out. The full memo, dated May 2017, is titled ‘POTUS & Political Warfare.’ It provides a sweeping, if at times conspiratorial, view of what it describes as a multi-pronged attack on the Trump White House. Trump is being attacked, the memo says, because he represents ‘an existential threat to cultural Marxist memes that dominate the prevailing cultural narrative.’ Those threatened by Trump include ‘“deep state” actors, globalists, bankers, Islamists, and establishment Republicans.’”

— Politico, “The Democratic Party’s Looming Fundraising Crisis,” by Michael Whitney: “It’s a simple principle, one that Democratic candidates from Bernie to Elizabeth Warren to Obama understood, but which the institutional Democratic Party now seems incapable of grasping: People are motivated to act when they feel like part of something larger than themselves—and when they understand that their participation in that larger something makes a real difference. The Democratic Party’s woes are basic symptoms of the failure to understand that immutable reality. DNC Chair Tom Perez has acknowledged the party’s problem with small-dollar donors, saying during his [candidacy] that the party needs to ‘go to school’ to figure out how to raise money from grass-roots donors … He should enroll soon: [Trump] and the Republicans are already several grades ahead.”

— The New Yorker, “The Uncomfortable Truth About Affirmative Action and Asian-Americans,” by Jeannie Suk Gersen: “The Harvard lawsuit does raise uncomfortable questions, especially in a time when it is also becoming less comfortable to be an immigrant. Is an admissions process that disadvantages a minority group benign, or even desirable, if that minority group is demographically overrepresented in higher education? Should colleges pursue their interest in a diverse class by limiting admissions of a minority group whose numbers may otherwise overwhelm the class?”

— Vogue, “Chelsea Manning Changed the Course of History. Now She’s Focusing on Herself,” by Nathan Heller: “Chelsea Manning—graceful, blue-eyed, trans—smiles and prepares herself. In August 2013, after pleading guilty to ten charges and being found guilty of 20, she was sentenced to 35 years in prison. The day after the sentencing, Manning came out publicly as trans. Tonight, a summer Monday, is a different kind of coming-out. To honor the occasion, she has picked an event with a celebratory turn: the after-party for the Lambda Literary Awards  … The evening is glamorous; the guest list is varied. Here Manning will reintroduce herself to a community in which she seeks acceptance for more than her heavy past.”

HOT ON THE LEFT

“The email Hillary Clinton’s pastor sent her the day after the election,” from CNN: “This is the email Hillary Clinton’s pastor, the Rev. Bill Shillady, sent her on the morning of November 9, 2016, the day after she lost the presidential election to Donald Trump. … ‘It is Friday, but Sunday is coming. This is not the devotional I had hoped to write. This is not the devotional you wish to receive this day. While Good Friday may be the starkest representation of a Friday that we have, life is filled with a lot of Fridays.’”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT

“Bill O’Reilly set to make first appearance on CNN,” from CNN: “[N]ext month, O’Reilly is set to make an unprecedented visit to one of Fox’s rivals when he sits down for an interview with CNN’s Michael Smerconish. The interview will mark O’Reilly’s first appearance on CNN, providing another reminder of just how much has changed for him. This time a year ago — or even five months ago — it might have been unthinkable to imagine O’Reilly on a cable news channel other than Fox. But at the end of an appearance Smerconish made on O’Reilly’s online talk show Wednesday, O’Reilly told Smerconish that he would appear on Smerconish’s CNN program.”

DAYBOOK:

Trump has a “workforce/apprenticeship discussion” in the afternoon, followed by a meeting with U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley.

Pence is headed back to his home state of Indiana today. He will speak at a Ten Points Coalition event and later participate in the unveiling of his governor’s portrait at the Statehouse. 

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

Trump at his press conference on his ban of transgender servicemembers in the U.S. military: “It’s been a very complicated issue for the military. It’s been a very confusing issue for the military, and I think I’m doing the military a great favor.”

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

— D.C. will have a cloudy weekend, which kicks off today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Clouds may win out over sunshine for most of the day. Muggier, tropical air is also overtaking us. Stray raindrops are possible any time, with higher and higher rain chances as the day wears on. Perhaps some downpours and storms by late afternoon. … High temperatures should range in the low-to-mid 80s.”

— The Nationals beat the Marlins 3-2. (Chelsea Janes)

— Virginia’s gubernatorial candidates are beginning to hit the airwaves. Gregory S. Schneider reports: “Republican Ed Gillespie was first up, beginning a series of three spots on July 25. His Democratic rival, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, unveiled his first TV ad of the general election on Thursday. … Titled ‘My Life,’ the 30-second spot features ordinary-looking people mentioning details about Northam’s bio — pediatrician, trained at Johns Hopkins, Army veteran — and concludes with the candidate calling to expand access to health care for Virginians. The biographical tone echoes his rival’s early ads. Gillespie’s three spots, which continue to air in markets across the state, include a one-minute spot called ‘American Dream’ that introduces Gillespie as the son of an Irish immigrant.”

— Charlottesville is bracing for another white nationalist rally planned for this weekend. The group is protesting the planned removal of a Robert E. Lee statue, and large counterdemonstrations are expected. (Joe Heim)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

SNL aired the first of three “Weekend Update: Summer Edition” specials last night, with Bill Hader playing Anthony Scaramucci:

Given the unplanned nature of Trump’s “fire and fury” statement, Stephen Colbert offered him some tips on improv:

The Post’s Glenn Kessler explains the (somewhat confusing) connections between the opposition research firm Fusion GPS and the infamous Trump dossier:

These four politicians have all been targeted by Trump on Twitter:

In D.C., the Department of Transportation is preparing to construct a more accessible and scenic Frederic Douglass Memorial Bridge:

Taylor Swift is suing a Colorado radio DJ for allegedly groping her in 2013:

And dogs in Cairo now have their own food delivery service:

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