With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve
THE BIG IDEA: President Trump has a troubling tendency to blame “both sides.”
Showing that the remarks he delivered from a White House teleprompter 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.
President Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit in Hamburg. (Evan Vucci/AP)
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, Adolf 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.
President Trump reaches into his suit jacket to read a quote from his Saturday statement during his news conference yesterday. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
— 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.
President Ronald Reagan addresses the nation on television in 1983 to make the case for a proposed defense budget. At left is a picture of Soviet Migs in western Cuba. (Dennis Cook/AP)
— 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 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. “Hedoes 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 earlierat 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 CBSmocked 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.)
Donald Trump greets Paul Ryan in May. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
— 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.”
Sen. Brian Schatz in his office. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
— 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:
Luther Strange speaks to reporters last night in Homewood after forcing a runoff against Roy Moore in the Alabama GOP Senate primary. (Butch Dill/AP)
— 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:
Congratulation to Roy Moore and Luther Strange for being the final two and heading into a September runoff in Alabama. Exciting race!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2017
— 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:
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) was arrested outside the White Houseas he participated in a rally to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the DACA program. (The Hill)
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)
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka leaves the White House in 2013. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
— 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.”
— North 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.”
Tadrint and Micah Washington have filed a lawsuit against organizers of the “Unite the Right” rally. (Arelis R. Hernandez/The Washington Post)
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.”
White nationalist groups march with Tiki torches through the University of Virginia campus last Friday night. (Mykal McEldowney/The Indianapolis Star via AP)
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 sueand 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 Congressional Budget Office on the fourth floor of the Ford House Office Building. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
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.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions promises to go after leaks during an Aug. 4 news conference. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
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.”
Vice President Pence and Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri talk yesterday at the presidential residence in Olivos, Buenos Aires. (Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images)
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:
“Very fine people” do not participate in rallies with groups chanting racist and anti-Semitic slogans and displaying vile symbols of hate.
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) August 15, 2017
North Carolina’s senator, who will face a tough 2020 reelection fight:
When it comes to white supremacists & neo-nazis, there can be no equivocating: they’re propagators of hate and bigotry. Period.
— Senator Thom Tillis (@SenThomTillis) August 15, 2017
Arizona’s senior senator, battling brain cancer:
There’s no moral equivalency between racists & Americans standing up to defy hate& bigotry. The President of the United States should say so
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) August 16, 2017
Arizona’s junior senator:
White supremacy, bigotry & racism have absolutely no place in our society & no one – especially POTUS – should ever tolerate it. Full STMT: pic.twitter.com/dufC1MGWgB
— Jerry Moran (@JerryMoran) August 15, 2017
A Northern Virginia congresswoman facing a tough reelection fight next year:
Mr. President, there were not “very fine people” on the NeoNazi, white supremacist side; only haters. Grateful DOJ understands this. https://t.co/MDmYPcUP5h
— Barbara Comstock (@BarbaraComstock) August 15, 2017
A retiring Florida congresswoman:
Blaming “both sides” for #Charlottesville?! No. Back to relativism when dealing with KKK, Nazi sympathizers, white supremacists? Just no.
— Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (@RosLehtinen) August 15, 2017
The GOP nominee for governor of Virginia and a former RNC chair:
The white supremacists and neoNazis who invaded cville espouse reprehensible views that have no redeeming value whatsoever. Simple as that.
— Ed Gillespie (@EdWGillespie) August 15, 2017
Newly hired RNC spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany had the temerity to defend Trump’s comments:
President @realDonaldTrump once again denounced hate today. The GOP stands behind his message of love and inclusiveness!
— Kayleigh McEnany (@kayleighmcenany) August 15, 2017
Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage praised Trump’s point that George Washington owned slaves:
That drew this rejoinder from a historian:
As a George Washington biographer…I really don’t feel like correcting Trump is worth my time.
— Alexis Coe (@AlexisCoe) August 15, 2017
From the commandant of the Marine Corps:
No place for racial hatred or extremism in @USMC. Our core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment frame the way Marines live and act.
— Robert B. Neller (@GenRobertNeller) August 15, 2017
Democrats were blistering. From Obama’s former “ethics czar”:
Trump’s comments just now were the single most disgraceful by an American president in my lifetime.
— Norm Eisen (@NormEisen) August 15, 2017
Obama’s former deputy chief of staff:
I believe deeply in public service but any senior staff who don’t quit over this will never outlive their legacy of supporting hate speech
— Alyssa Mastromonaco (@AlyssaMastro44) August 15, 2017
The former spokesman for the Obama Justice Department:
Quite possibly the worst thing he has ever said. The white supremacists who were there heard him loud and clear. And so did the rest of us. https://t.co/QsuC7UWnWS
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) August 15, 2017
A senior adviser to Obama:
Republican Party: This is on you, you did this, and only you can do something about this
— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) August 15, 2017
Democratic senators harshly rebuked Trump:
There are not ‘many sides’ to blame for #Charlottesville. There is right and wrong. White nationalism, hatred and bigotry are wrong. -SB
— Sherrod Brown (@SenSherrodBrown) August 15, 2017
.@realDonaldTrump, you are embarrassing our country and the millions of Americans who fought and died to defeat Nazism.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) August 15, 2017
Off prompter and in his own words, the president gives comfort to white supremacists and neo-Nazis. Absolutely horrifying.
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) August 15, 2017
Mr. President – Heather Heyer was not murdered by “both sides.”
— Sen. Patrick Leahy (@SenatorLeahy) August 15, 2017
From House Democrats:
From a Brookings fellow:
When determining whether or not the president is a racist, I’ll defer to the professional racists, who very much seem to think he is.
— Jamie Kirchick 🌹 (@jkirchick) August 15, 2017
From the editor of Wired Magazine:
The weird thing about “both sides” isn’t just that one side is Nazis—but also that they killed someone.
— Nicholas Thompson (@nxthompson) August 15, 2017
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:
Trump just said there were “very fine people on both sides” in #Charlottesville. I don’t know any “very fine” white supremacists, sir. None.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) August 15, 2017
Just watched the entire Trump news conference. Worst message I have ever heard a president put out to the world.
— Ben Stiller (@RedHourBen) August 16, 2017
When it comes to love, kindness, acceptance and progress, I believe there is only one side.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) August 15, 2017
Every past president that is still alive needs to come forward now and denounce Trump and advocate for him being declared unfit for office.
— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) August 15, 2017
Even basketball star LeBron James weighed in:
Hate has always existed in America. Yes we know that but Donald Trump just made it fashionable again! Statues has nothing to do with us now!
— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 15, 2017
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.”
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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