* Ashley Parker and Jenna Johnson report that President Trump really brought the empathy to Puerto Rico today:
President Trump on Tuesday told Puerto Rican officials they should feel “very proud” they haven’t lost hundreds of lives like in “a real catastrophe like Katrina,” while adding that the devastated island territory has thrown the nation’s budget “a little out of whack.”
Trump’s remarks came as he touched down in San Juan for his first visit to Puerto Rico since the storm ravaged the island nearly two weeks ago. He has faced criticism for the slow federal response to the natural disaster, although he praised himself earlier in the day for his administration’s “great job” and “A-plus” response to Hurricane Maria.
“Every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous — hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here, with really a storm that was just totally overpowering, nobody’s ever seen anything like this,” Trump said, before turning to a local official to ask how many people had died in storm. “What is your death count as of this moment? 17? 16 people certified, 16 people versus in the thousands.”
Trump then praised officials in the room over the death toll.
It’s that tender human touch that makes him such a great leader. He actually said to a family of hurricane victims, “Have a good time.” I kid you not.
* Mike DeBonis and Kelsey Snell report that the massacre in Las Vegas has had a small effect on federal legislation:
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Tuesday that Republican leaders have no plans to advance a bill that would make it easier for Americans to buy gun silencers.
The focus on the legislation, which passed a House committee last month, was magnified Monday after the shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday night left at least 59 dead and hundreds injured.
“That bill is not scheduled now; I don’t know when it’s going to be scheduled,” said Ryan (R-Wis.). “Right now we’re focused on passing our budget.”
The Las Vegas shooting is the latest incident of mass violence to put Republican lawmakers on the defensive over their opposition to new gun restrictions — and, in some cases, their efforts to eliminate existing ones.
It’s almost as though Ryan felt a momentary bit of shame. Go figure.
* Andrew Restuccia and Matthew Nussbaum report that Mike Pence’s chief of staff is urging Republican donors to organize purges of any Republican who is insufficiently loyal to President Trump.
* Secretary of Defense James Mattis told Congress today that staying in the Iran nuclear deal is in the United States’ national security interests, contrary to what his boss seems to believe.
* Daniel Schultz has a strong piece arguing that the only real obstacle to sensible regulation of guns, amid the outpouring of public rage over Las Vegas, is the Republican Party, and that our only recourse is to vote them out.
* Rick Hasen has a good piece parsing today’s arguments before the Supreme Court, which suggest grounds for cautious optimism that Anthony Kennedy might be in favor of ruling against gerrymandering.
* This blog’s proprietor podcasted with Jason Sattler and Chris Savage on all manner of topics, including whether the Democrats should invest big resources in the Alabama Senate race.
* And Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s chief of staff flew to Palm Beach on a private plane belonging to a hedge fund billionaire. If public service isn’t like an episode of “Entourage,” what fun is it?