President Trump landed in storm-brushed Corpus Christi on Tuesday morning to see for himself some of the damage caused by Tropical Storm Harvey and demonstrate his personal commitment to a region still in the grips of a historic natural disaster.
Mr. Trump, who pushed aides to schedule a visit to Texas as early as possible after Harvey made landfall near Rockport, Texas, on Friday night as a Category 4 hurricane, initially considered touring San Antonio, which is outside the most hard-hit areas. But he settled on Corpus Christi because it was 30 miles away from the most severely impacted parts of the Gulf Coast, and suffered relatively light damage from the initial impact of the storm.
“It’s a real team, and we want to do it better than ever before,” Mr. Trump said of the response effort during a meeting with officials from local, state and federal agencies in a Corpus Christi firehouse. “We want to be looked at in five years, in 10 years from now as, this is the way to do it.”
He also said, “What a crowd, what a turnout,” because that’s what matters. You’ll notice that it’s all about what kind of praise he’s getting and hopes to get in the future.
As much as 30 percent of Harris County — which covers 1,777 square miles and is home to Houston, the country’s fourth-largest city — was underwater Tuesday, said Jeff Lindner, a meteorologist with the county’s flood control district. That geographic area is about equal to the combined square miles of New York City and Chicago.
And the heroism is remarkable: Police officers in the city have rescued more than 3,500 people from the flooding thus far.
* CNN reports that the special counsel has issued subpoenas to a former lawyer and a current spokesperson for former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, in what CNN calls an “aggressive tactic” designed to “add pressure” on Manafort:
Manafort is under investigation for possible tax and financial crimes, according to US officials briefed on the investigation. The allegations under investigation largely center on Manafort’s work for the former ruling party in Ukraine, which was ousted amid street protests over its pro-Russian policies.
Your regular reminder that Robert S. Mueller’s work continues.
* Ben White and Tara Palmeri report on the snow job the administration is about to try to pull on taxes:
President Donald Trump will launch a major push for a sweeping tax overhaul with a speech Wednesday in Missouri aimed at convincing his base — and the rest of the nation — that he has a fresh vision for “unrigging” the American economy and isn’t just repackaging the trickle-down economics of past Republican presidents.
It could be a tough sell for the president as he fights with saturation coverage of Hurricane Harvey and as Democrats prepare to frame Trump’s approach as a giveaway to corporate fat cats and the nation’s richest taxpayers.
Wednesday’s speech in Springfield is being built around the sale of tax reform as a populist policy, according to five senior administration officials.
The tax speech is being drafted by senior White House aide Stephen Miller, a leader of the nationalist wing of the administration. In Trumpian style, he’ll try out new phrases for selling the policy like “Jump-start America” and “Win again.”
The trouble is, every iteration of this plan we’ve seen so far gives the vast majority of its benefits to the wealthy. How that’s supposed to be “populist” is a mystery.
* A federal judge has tossed out Sarah Palin’s defamation suit against the New York Times. Remember Sarah Palin? At one time, the GOP became enthralled with an ignorant buffoon who was strangely compelling on television. It was weird, let me tell you.
* Michael Grunwald traces the disaster in Houston to its roots in policies made in Washington.
* David Rothkopf reports that Trump actions suggesting racist tendencies, like his comments after Charlottesville and his pardon of Joe Arpaio, have been huge news overseas and have profoundly damaged America’s interests and image.
* And a new survey from the Pew Research Center shows that a grand total of 16 percent of Americans say they like the way Donald Trump has conducted himself as president. Or as Sean Spicer would have said, this is the greatest poll result any president has ever achieved. Period.