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The Daily 202: Why some Republican politicians are really coming out against Trump

Susan Collins has come out against Donald Trump. (Photos by Mark Wilson/Getty Images and Evan Vucci/AP)


-- The most important storyline of August is how many Republicans come out against their party’s nominee. If the base fractures, Donald Trump is doomed. So far, while a string of elites and vulnerable incumbents in blue states have defected, the grass roots has mostly — if reluctantly — coalesced.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine announces in a new op-ed for The Post that she will not vote for Trump. The centrist cites his mocking of a disabled reporter, his attacks on a federal judge over his Mexican heritage and his feud with the Muslim American parents of an Army captain killed in Iraq. (Read her full piece here.)

Fifty former national security officials who served in Republican administrations signed an open letter, released yesterday, saying they will not support Trump because “he would be the most reckless President in American history.

-- With the notable exception of Ted Cruz, commentators and pundits have covered GOP politicians who have spoken out against Trump as courageous and brave. While these are agonizing, career-defining decisions for lawmakers, they are also at heart based on cold political calculus. And that must not be lost in the conversation.

Most politicians respond more to political incentives than principles. That’s the single most important insight to understanding how Washington really works.

-- Every Republican who has bucked Trump can be pretty easily categorized. A clear pattern emerges: The less directly and immediately accountable to Republican base voters an elected official is, the more likely he or she is to break with Trump.

Case in point 1: Compare George P. Bush to his father, uncle and grandpa. The Texas land commissioner wants to be governor someday — 2022 maybe? — and he knows that will be harder if the Trump diehards are out to get him. So this weekend he urged Republicans to support Trump. Jeb, 41 and 43 will, of course, never be on a ballot again. So they are safe to stay on the sidelines.

Ask yourself: Could you bring yourself to endorse a guy who disparaged your mom, said that your dad’s position on immigration was based on the fact that she was born in Mexico and then refused to apologize for it?

Case in point 2: Compare Susan Collins to next-door neighbor Kelly Ayotte.

Ayotte, one of the most vulnerable Republican senators in November, still has to fend off a primary opponent on Sept. 13. Trump won the New Hampshire primary by almost 20 points, and her team believes she loses more by breaking with him than she would gain. This is backed up by some public and private polling. If Trump goes down hard this fall, she will probably go down with him.

Meanwhile, speculation on the ground in the much more Democratic-leaning Maine (and among fellow senators in Washington) is that Collins has her eyes on running for governor in 2018. Paul LePage, the polarizing Republican incumbent who is an outspoken supporter of Trump, is termed out. (She has declined to rule it out when asked.)

Assuming Collins would face no credible challenge for the nomination — or could always run as an independent if need be — distancing herself from Trump would help greatly. And, thinking about the GOP base, Collins pointedly says in her op-ed that she does not support Hillary Clinton either….)

Case in point 3: Compare 2012 nominee Mitt Romney to 2008 nominee John McCain.

Romney remains in the Never Trump camp because the 69-year-old has no plans to ever run for office. His son might, but it would be in Utah — where Trump is dangerously unpopular.

Does anyone reading this believe that McCain would be caught dead saying nice things about Trump — who has questioned his heroism and besmirched his decades of service to veterans — if he didn’t have a tough reelection fight, including a primary challenge to contend with on Aug. 30, and Trump had not won the March primary in his state by 22 points?

-- Like Collins, others breaking with Trump are ambitious politicians who are playing the long game:

John Kasich and Ted Cruz both want to run for president in 2020, and they believe that not supporting Trump will give them more credibility to claim the mantle of leadership after November. There are other up-and-coming politicians who may run in 2020, as well.

Compare Ben Sasse to Tom Cotton. Both freshmen senators probably see a future president when they look at themselves in the mirror. Both are playing Republican Roulette: One is putting all his chips on red; the other, on black.

Cotton (Ark.) has alienated some intellectual leaders of the conservative movement with his relatively steadfast support for Trump.

Sasse (Neb.) has alienated Trump diehards in the rank and file (they’ve been showing up at his town hall meetings during the August recess hopping mad), but his stock is very high among the leading lights of the conservative movement. (Bill Kristol affectionately calls him “The Boy Tweeter of the Platte,” an homage to William Jennings Bryan — who more than a century ago was called “The Boy Orator of the Platte.”)

Sasse, who is only 44, passed on running for president as an independent this year, despite lots of encouragement to do so. The Yale history PhD is cognizant of what happens to people who are perceived as spoilers....

Cotton, who is still in his 30s, is working to cement his popularity among the Trump-friendly grass roots in his home state of Arkansas.

-- It also makes total sense for those lawmakers fighting for their political survival — from deep-blue states — to break with an unpopular nominee. Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk is probably going to lose in November, and Trump will lose in his state by double digits. So he recanted his support.

Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman, who represents the swing suburbs of Denver, promises to be a check on a President Trump in a commercial that began airing last week.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker will both be up for reelection in 2018.

-- Others who have come out against Trump having nothing to lose. Not being on the ballot ever again will embolden some to take a stand. The two House Republicans who have received the most attention for criticizing Trump over the past week — New York’s Richard Hanna and Virginia’s Scott Rigell — are both retiring from Congress and not on the ballot in November. (Rigell resigned yesterday from the Virginia Beach Republican Party.)

-- In addition to principle, here are some of the reasons nonelected Republicans might be denouncing Trump:

-- They are seeking attention and relevance.

There are some old-timers whose moment in the arena has long since passed, but they badly want to appear on one last Sunday show or get booked on cable again. Speaking out against Trump is the surest fire way to make this happen.

Ex-South Dakota senator Larry Pressler, who lost reelection as a Republican in 1996 and then a comeback bid in 2014 as an independent, twice voted for Barack Obama. So his getting behind Clinton is not actually surprising or even particularly interesting.

A friend of the ex-senator with experience in PR emailed several reporters at different media organizations to say he wanted to talk about how he couldn’t support Trump in the wake of the Orlando nightclub shooting. Many outlets bit. MSNBC even put him on the air for seven minutes in prime time.

There’s also a class of aging Rockefeller Republicans who pop up in the news every once in a while to trash today’s more conservative GOP leaders. In June, it was former Minnesota governor Arne Carlson’s turn. Yesterday, former Michigan governor William Milliken — who has been out of office for 33 years —  got a news cycle for endorsing Clinton. For anyone who knows anything about Michigan politics, it would be more surprising had he endorsed Trump!

Frank Lavin, one of the political directors in Ronald Reagan's White House, announced his support for Clinton in an op-ed for CNN. The cable channel then allowed him to Skype in from Singapore for a hit. He seemed to really enjoy himself. (Notably, he is the CEO of a company that helps U.S. brands sell online in China. Why would he support Trump?)

Doug Elmets, an obscure ex-speechwriter for Reagan, got a prime speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention to announce his support for Clinton. (He’s previously given money to Dems at least half a dozen times.)

Clinton is trying to trickle out as many GOP endorsements as she can get, no matter how small bore. A press release from Brooklyn this morning announced that William K. Reilly, the EPA administrator under George H. W. Bush, is endorsing Clinton. You are forgiven if you don’t remember him.

-- Everyone is doing it (in their circle).

Virtually none of the éminence grises in the Republican foreign policy establishment will say a nice word about Trump. It is fashionable at cocktail parties, even when only in the company of lifelong Republicans, to express disgust. For many D.C. GOP power brokers, their base is not the grass roots — but other GOP elites in D.C.

That’s why it proved so easy to get 50 signatures for that letter from veterans of the national security community. Carol Morello flags some of the biggest names: Michael Chertoff and Tom Ridge, former secretaries of homeland security; Michael Hayden, a former director of the CIA and the National Security Agency; John Negroponte, a former director of national intelligence and deputy secretary of state; Robert Zoellick, who also was a deputy secretary of state and president of the World Bank and the U.S. trade representative under (W.); Carla Hills, the U.S. trade representative under (H.W.); and William H. Taft IV, a former deputy secretary of defense and ambassador to NATO under the elder Bush.” (Read the full letter here.)

-- Rather than ignore the letter and the 50 people who signed it, which a conventional campaign would do in order to keep it from drawing more attention, Trump put out a lengthy statement attacking the signatories. “The names on this letter are the ones the American people should look to for answers on why the world is a mess, and we thank them for coming forward so everyone in the country knows who deserves the blame for making the world such a dangerous place,” he wrote. “They are nothing more than the failed Washington elite looking to hold onto their power, and it’s time they are held accountable for their actions. These insiders — along with Hillary Clinton — are the owners of the disastrous decisions to invade Iraq, allow Americans to die in Benghazi, and they are the ones who allowed the rise of ISIS. Yet despite these failures, they think they are entitled to use their favor trading to land taxpayer-funded government contracts and speaking fees.”

-- To be clear, many of the folks mentioned above are patriots who deeply love this country and are profoundly terrified by Trump. It’s not mutually exclusive to feel authentic antipathy toward Trump while also playing an angle. Many very thoughtful people who have spent their careers in public service have concluded that Trump is a dangerous authoritarian who must never be in control of the most powerful nuclear arsenal and military in the history of mankind. They see him as a faux conservative who is telling people what they want to hear so he can obtain power. Finally, they see him as a racist demagogue who goes after Mexicans and Muslims to irresponsibly play on fear.

-- In this group is the spokesman for the Florida Republican Party, who announced yesterday that he is quitting his job to avoid defending Trump. From Ed O'Keefe: “Wadi Gaitan, a former senior House Republican aide who focused on Hispanic affairs, becomes yet another high-profile Latino Republican official to leave his job because he can no longer tolerate defending and explaining Trump.” Gaitan will join the LIBRE Initiative, a conservative Hispanic group backed by the Koch brothers. He said it will allow him to avoid efforts that support Trump.

-- Reminder: Today is the 42nd anniversary of Richard Nixon’s resignation as president. Trump has tried to model his campaign — including his acceptance speech in Cleveland — on Nixon’s 1968 campaign.

Ironically, the Clinton campaign put out a press release this morning announcing the endorsement of William D. Ruckelshaus — who famously resigned as deputy attorney general in 1973 in what became known as the “Saturday Night Massacre,” rather than fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Notably, the Clinton release identifies the 84-year-old only as “the first Administrator of the EPA under President Richard Nixon — and the fifth under President Ronald Reagan.”

Watch this video about the big-name Republicans who aren't supporting Trump:

The list of influential Republican officials saying that they can't vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton is growing. (Video: Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

Welcome to the Daily 202, PowerPost's morning newsletter. 

Written with Breanne Deppisch (@breanne_dep) and contributions from Elise Viebeck (@eliseviebeck).

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-- The U.S. men’s gymnastics team failed to claw its way into contention last night, netting a fifth-place finish behind Japan, Russia and China, which took gold, silver and bronze, respectively. “Their finish was no better or worse than how they fared at the 2012 London Olympics — also a fifth-place finish — despite outward indications and a deep conviction that they were capable of more,” Liz Clarke reports.

-- 19-year-old American Lilly King set an Olympic record in the 100-meter breaststroke, clocking in at 1:04.93 and besting a Russian who was allowed to compete despite previous doping sanctions. "I'm proud to be competing clean and doing what is right," said King, who has spoken out bluntly about the doping issue and the flagrant Russian cheating. (Dave Sheinin)

-- Ryan Murphy also brought home hardware in the men’s 100-meter backstroke, winning gold with an Olympic record time of 51.97 seconds. Teammate David Plummer took the bronze.

-- Michael Phelps advanced in the 200-meter butterfly semis alongside South Africa’s Chad LeClos, but not before flashing his rival some serious daggers. Both men will compete in the finals later today, but expect to see plenty of Phelps-inspired memes like the one above in the future. (Des Bieler has more.)

-- Indiana native Steele Johnson won silver in 10-meter synchronized diving, strong-arming his way to success in a sport that nearly killed him in 2009. From Roman Stubbs: “Johnson was just 12 years old and going through a routine diving practice at Indiana University … when he attempted a difficult 3 and 1/2 somersault dive. It would later become his favorite move, but that day it was too far advanced and nearly cost him dearly. As he began to spin in the air on the dive, Johnson’s head collided with the concrete platform. He fell unconscious and plunged 33-feet into the pool … His coach, John Wingfield, dove in to save him, and had to hold Johnson’s head together in the pool to keep the young diver from bleeding out, and to keep the pool’s chlorine from seeping into the open wound and causing brain damage.”

-- The grandmother of a Thai Olympian collapsed and died minutes before he won bronze in weightlifting.

-- Six-time gold medalist Usain Bolt made his first public appearance in Rio, addressing reporters after being sidelined by a hamstring injury during the Olympic trials. “I’m in much better shape. I’ve gotten races in,” he said of the injury. “I was really unhappy about not competing in trials because I need those runs. But I’ve been training well.” (In other news, Bolt went and bought himself a television set to furnish his Olympic digs and was serenaded by a credentialed campaign reporter). (USA Today)

-- Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first American Muslim woman to compete in the Olympics while wearing a hijab, lambasted Trump for his immigration plans. “I think his words are very dangerous,” Muhammad, who competed in team sabre competition yesterday, told CNN. “When these types of comments are made, no one thinks about how they really affect people. I’m African American. I don’t have another home to go to. My family was born here. I was born here. I’ve grown up in Jersey. All my family’s from Jersey. It’s like, well, where do we go?" Cindy Boren notes that "Muhammad, 30, is a Duke graduate and now lives and trains in New York."


  1. The Obama administration released more than 1,000 pages of previously-classified documents relating to U.S. policy toward Argentina during its "dirty war" in the late 1970s and early 1980s. “The documents, most from the administration of President Jimmy Carter, reveal a near-constant internal tension between U.S. eagerness to push human rights ... and concerns that cutting off aid and trade with Argentina’s ruling military junta could be counterproductive and might push it toward a closer relationship with the Soviet Union," Karen DeYoung reports. John Kerry presented an initial tranche of the documents to Argentine President Mauricio Macri during a visit to Buenos Aires last week.
  2. The Islamic State began circulating photos of U.S. military equipment online, claiming to have captured the stash – which includes weapons and a radio -- from Special Operations troops in the region. The photos come nearly two weeks after several U.S. troops were wounded while fighting militants in eastern Afghanistan. (Thomas Gibbons-Neff)
  3. Delta wound up canceling more than 450 flights because of yesterday's computer system outage. Some gate agents wrote out boarding passes by hand. (Ashley Halsey III)
  4. Wal-Mart announced a $3.3 billion acquisition of the online retailer “The deal is the largest ever purchase of a U.S. e-commerce startup and a sign Wal-Mart Chief Executive Doug McMillon sees the shift to online shopping and the expansion of as existential threats to the company’s five decades of growth." (Wall Street Journal) 
  5. The number of adults in the U.S. who say they currently smoke marijuana has nearly doubled over the past three years, according to a new Gallup poll. A full 13 percent now admit to using the drug, which translates to an estimated 33 million users across the country. (Christopher Ingraham)
  6. President Obama will attend the Lake Tahoe Summit later this month. The event, put on for 20 years now by Harry Reid and Dianne Feinstein, will offer the president a platform to talk about his legacy on climate change. (Louisa Loveluck)
  7. Ben Sasse’s chief of staff’s car was broken into while he visited the Omaha Zoo, and his Senate-issued laptop and iPad were both stolen. (KETV)
  8. A Chinese tourist visiting Germany ended up on a weeks-long tour of its refugee system after his wallet was stolen at the airport. The bizarre journey began after the man was directed to the wrong authorities -- and ended up filling out an asylum application instead of a police report. (Adam Taylor)
  9. A 20-year-old college baseball player was shot and killed while playing Pokémon Go with friends in San Francisco. Officials believe the shooting is random, saying the man and his friend reportedly “noticed someone suspicious watching them” from the top of a hill prior to the attack. (ABC 7)
  10. Meanwhile, Pokémon Go is hiring lobbyists on Capitol Hill. The company has hired K Street advocates in response to lawmakers raising questions about the safety and privacy of its game. (The Hill)
  11. An 11-year-old South Carolina girl died after contracting a rare “brain-eating amoeba” while swimming near Charleston. Doctors say her case is one of fewer than 40 believed to have occurred in the U.S. over the past decade. (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
  12. The 10-year-old son of a Kansas state legislator was killed while riding a waterslide this weekend, prompting investigations into the safety and structure of a 170-foot-tall attraction. (Michael E. Miller)
  13. A partially-nude Sanders supporter who was arrested for indecent exposure outside an L.A. rally this spring filed a federal civil rights lawsuit, suing both the city and the LAPD for allegedly using “excessive force” and assaulting her outside the Vermont senator’s rally. (LA Times)
  14. Ron Fournier, a prominent D.C. political journalist for the past 23 years, is moving to his hometown of Detroit to be the associate publisher of Crain’s Detroit Business. (The Atlantic)


-- Trump stoked fresh controversy last night after suggesting, without evidence, a possible link between the execution of an Iranian nuclear scientist and Clinton's use of a private email server, invoking an oft-used turn of phrase to suggest that “many people" are drawing a connection between the two. "Many people are saying that the Iranians killed the scientist who helped the U.S. because of Hillary Clinton's hacked emails," Trump tweeted. The hashtag #ManyPeopleAreSaying began trending on Twitter nationwide, a sign that the choice of words he often uses to get unsubstantiated claims into the bloodstream had attracted widespread attention.

The backstory, via Sean Sullivan: “Iran executed nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri, as first reported over the weekend. A top Iranian prosecutor told reporters he was convicted of spying and had ‘provided the enemy with vital information of the country.’ There are apparent references to Amiri in emails sent to Clinton when she secretary of state ... But no evidence has surfaced indicating that Clinton's emails were hacked. And as Post columnist Josh Rogin recently noted, Clinton spoke publicly about Amiri's travels back in 2010, well before her emails were released publicly. 'The Trump campaign has never met a conspiracy theory it didn’t like,' said Clinton spokesman Jesse Lehrich. 'It’s pretty remarkable to baselessly claim that Hillary Clinton is responsible for this tragic death.'" (Read more from Rogin.)

-- Related: Citing her “extreme carelessness” in using private email while at the State Department, the parents of two Americans killed in the 2012 Benghazi attacks filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Clinton. In the suit, Patricia Smith and Charles Woods allege that the attack “was directly and proximately caused, at a minimum” by Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure. (New York Times)

-- Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) called on voters to stop referring to Trump as “crazy,” saying it demeans the mentally ill: “Is he experiencing a mental illness? That’s the question making the rounds these days,” the former congressman and longtime mental health advocate writes in a Post op-ed. “What I do know is that we ought to stop casually throwing around terms like ‘crazy’ in this campaign and our daily lives.”

-- A lawmaker in the Philippines is calling for Trump to be banned from the country after he suggested Philippine immigrants “pose a threat” to the U.S. "There is no feasible basis or reasonable justification to the wholesale labeling of Filipinos as coming from a 'terrorist state' or that they will be a Trojan horse,” Joey Salceda said in a bill filed in Manila's House of Representatives. His outcry comes after Trump just included the Philippines on a list of countries he said had “plotted to kill Americans,” “sometimes successfully.” "We're letting people come in from terrorist nations that shouldn't be allowed because you can't vet them," he said. "There's no way of vetting them. You have no idea who they are. This could be the great Trojan horse of all time." (Adam Taylor)

-- Leading Kurds in Iraq sent an open letter to Trump complaining about the way he diminished the use of chemical weapons by Saddam Hussein against civilians. (Read the English version of the letter here.)


-- “Ivanka Trump champions working moms — except the ones who design her clothes,” by Danielle Paquette: During her speech at the convention, wearing a dress from her namesake label, shattered party norms by pledging that her father would revolutionize support for working mothers. "The eldest Trump daughter, 34, has built her personal brand around this cause … But the company that designs her clothing line, including the $157 sheath she wore during her convention speech, does not offer workers a single day of paid maternity leave. … The company’s policy breaks from Trump’s public stance on how businesses should support working moms. … Five past and current employees separately told The Post the company has no paid parental leave. One provided a document that she identified as G-III’s employee benefits. ‘Family MEDICAL Leave,’ the document states, becomes available ‘after 1 year of employment. Up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave (in accordance with Federal and State laws)."

-- Meanwhile, Ivanka tells Harper’s Bazaar in an interview that she would “most definitely” have a role in a Trump White House: "’The presidency of the United States is an incredible thing. You have an ability to effectuate change at the highest level," she said. (Read more.)

-- David Fahrenthold, who has been doggedly pursuing Trump’s dubious claims of charitable giving, investigated whether he actually made a $20 million donation to St. Judes: “Last October, at a rally in Las Vegas, a friend introduced the mogul-turned-candidate with a story about Trump's generosity. ‘You won’t hear this in the media, but Donald gave $20 million to the St. Jude children’s home,’ said Phil Ruffin, the owner of the Treasure Island casino … ‘He could have used that $20 million for television ads, but he decided to give with children with cancer,’ Ruffin said. The crowd cheered. Trump mouthed ‘Thank you’ twice and waved. Later that day … Trump retweeted a message from a fan, criticizing the mainstream media for not broadcasting Ruffin's story about the gift. The implication, from Trump, was that the gift story was important (and, therefore, true). If Ruffin's story were true, then Trump's gift to St. Jude would appear to be, by far, the largest charitable donation of Trump's life. But when The Washington Post looked for evidence to back up Ruffin's story it could find none … Records show Trump has donated to St. Jude's in the past, but never on the scale of the gift in Ruffin's story.”

It appears the touted donation may have involved Trump’s son Eric, who runs an entirely separate entity: “In February 2015 — a few months before Ruffin's comments — Eric Trump's foundation announced that it had acquired naming rights to a surgical and intensive-care center at St. Jude's,” Fahrenthold writes. “To get those rights, Eric Trump's foundation made a pledge to raise a large amount money for St. Jude's over the next 10 years. The amount that Eric Trump pledged to give? $20 million.”

-- Recounting his work as an attorney for Trump, Thomas M. Wells lists 20 REASONS why he should not be president in an op-ed for the Huffington Post“After the initial interview, my client contact with Donald was actually not very much. One low point I do remember … is a limousine ride to a meeting with the editorial board of a New Jersey newspaper in which my married client sought to regale me with the number and quality of eligible young women who in his words ‘want me.’ I was just plain shocked and embarrassed, but I kept smiling … While I was working for Donald, various press reports had Trump and his then-wife Ivana living in a personal apartment in the Trump Tower of 8, 16 and even 20 or 30 rooms. Genuinely curious, I once asked him how many rooms the apartment actually had. I will never forget his response to me: ‘However many they will print.’


-- Trump sought to put weeks of self-inflicted wounds behind him as he reached out to both traditional fiscal conservatives and disaffected blue-collar workers. From Sean Sullivan and Jim Tankersley: “Reading from a teleprompter at the Detroit Economic Club and pausing calmly when protesters interrupted him [14 times], Trump assailed [Clinton] and cast himself as the only change candidate on economic issues. He did so in part with tax-cutting, regulation-curbing plans that are squarely mainstream in his party and in part with his now-familiar attacks on the forces of globalization that have unnerved many workers. He took swipes at free-trade deals championed by GOP leaders and attacked immigrants and refugees.” Trump shared few new policy details and declined to offer specifics on how he would pay for tax cuts or increases large enough to “balloon the federal budget deficit,” instead promising more clarity “in coming weeks.”

-- On tax rates, Trump pledged to work with House Republicans, and embraced the 12 percent, 25 percent and 33 percent brackets first championed by Paul Ryan. “Previously, Trump proposed tax brackets of 0 percent, 10 percent, 20 percent and 25 percent. He continued to call for a 15 percent corporate income tax rate for all businesses, which is lower than Ryan’s proposed 20 percent corporate rate.” He also called for getting rid of the estate tax.

-- Rules to prevent another Wall Street meltdown would be frozen under Trump’s proposed “moratorium” on banking industry regulations, Renae Merle warns. “While Trump's proposal would cover a wide swath of what Washington does, the effect on the financial sector would be particularly pronounced, leaving key aspects of Dodd Frank undone. As of July, six years after the legislation was passed, rules have not been proposed to address about 20 percent of the Dodd Frank requirements ... The Securities and Exchange Commission has missed the deadline for about 17 percent of the regulations it was supposed to implement, for example. Among the rules that have yet to be implemented is a curb on Wall Street pay. In addition, rules to limit risks in the complicated world of derivatives and commodity markets -- that caused many of the problems during the financial crisis -- are still being worked out.”

-- Reaction to the speech, even among conservatives, was mixed. “The speech was supposed to help reset his campaign on a serious policy path,” Kelsey Snell explains. “Instead, some economic analysts said the speech revealed shaky details and a mix of proposals that could deliver even more tax breaks for top earners and a windfall for wealthy hedge fund managers and Wall Street executives." Two notable quotes:

  • “’In general, it’s less clear of a tax plan than it was before,’ said Ryan Ellis, a senior fellow at the Conservative Reform Network. Ellis, who previously served as the tax policy director for Grover Norquist’s group Americans for Tax Reform, said Trump’s proposal to allow parents to deduct the cost of child care would provide no benefit to low income workers and single parents who are unlikely to have any tax liability to begin with.
  • “He’s actually doing less for the middle class than he originally planned,” said Martin A. Sullivan, the chief economist at Tax Analysts.

-- Vox: Trump is adopting the economic agenda of conservative elites who hate him.

-- The New Yorker: Trump sells out to trickle-down economics.

-- Clinton summarized her view of Trump’s proposals in a tweet“1. Lower wages 2. Fewer jobs 3. More debt 4. Tax breaks for the 0.1%."

Who they are --> “Trump’s Diet: He’ll Have Fries With That,” by the New York Times's Ashley Parker: “President Obama is so disciplined that his wife has teased that he eats precisely seven lightly salted almonds each night. George W. Bush was an exercise buff … But Donald J. Trump is taking a different approach: A junk food aficionado, he is hoping to become the nation’s fast food president. In an era of gourmet dining and obsession with healthy ingredients, Mr. Trump is a throwback to an earlier, more carefree time in American eating. He prefers burgers and meatloaf, Caesar salads and spaghetti, See’s Candies and Diet Coke. But his highbrow, lowbrow image — of the jet-setting mogul who takes buckets of fried chicken onto his private plane with the gold-plated seatbelt buckles — is also a carefully crafted one. 'It goes with his authenticity,' said Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser and pollster on the Trump campaign. 'I don’t think Hillary Clinton would be eating Popeye’s biscuits and fried chicken.'"


-- Evan McMullin, a CIA veteran and onetime chief policy director for the House Republican conference, announced he is launching an independent presidential campaign. "With the stakes so high for our nation and at this late stage in the process, I can no longer stand on the sidelines," McMullin wrote on his website in a post titled “My Letter to America.” "Our country needs leaders who are in it for the right reasons and who actually understand what makes this country the greatest on earth. Leaders who will unite us and guide us to a prosperous, secure future, beyond the dysfunction of a broken political system."

-- “McMullin is an unlikely presidential candidate,” Buzzfeed’s McKay Coppins writes. “He has never held elective office before and has spent most of his career as a CIA officer. Young and unmarried, McMullin received an MBA at Wharton in 2011, and after a stint at Goldman Sachs, went to work as a policy wonk on Capitol Hill.  … Though McMullin’s announcement included some bipartisan appeals to disaffected voters in both parties, he made clear he would be running as a conservative. He also signaled his pro-life beliefs, writing, ‘Those who embrace the dignity and value of every human life from conception until death … are all looking for something better than the two major party candidates are offering.’”

-- "I suspect it will be closer to David French than, say, John Kasich," Joe Scarborough said of his candidacy. "That said, this will be a person that will allow Republicans to say, 'I'm going to vote for this third-party candidate, rather than Gary Johnson.'" (Callum Borchers)

-- Efforts will be funded by two GOP strategists with experience in third-party ballot access, Matea Gold reports: “Kahlil Byrd, who served as chief executive of Americans Elect, a now-shuttered organization that sought to create a pathway for an independent presidential candidate in 2012, and Chris Ashby, a GOP campaign finance attorney who worked on that effort, are together launching a new super PAC called Stand Up America to support McMullin. Until recently, Byrd had been serving as an adviser to Better for America, a nonprofit group that was laying the groundwork for a third-party candidate to gain ballot access this year. Byrd said the super PAC already has some financial commitments, which he declined to identify, adding that the organization plans to roll out a full political team later this week."

-- The New York Times says the divided field could help tip Utah to the Democrats for the first time since 1964. From Alan Rappeport: “More than 50 years later, a large Mormon population with a strong distaste for Mr. Trump has left the state up for grabs, and with a substantial Mormon presence spilling into places such as Arizona, Idaho and Nevada, what would normally be a Republican safe zone could be surprisingly competitive. With the Clinton campaign looking to put Republican-leaning states in play, the decision for many Mormon voters in Utah has become agonizing as they digest Mr. Trump’s stances toward for Muslims in light of their own history as an oft-maligned religion, and as his ‘America First’ message repels well-educated Mormons who travel the world on missions and who welcome refugees."

-- Speaking of an expanding map: Clinton has a slight lead over Trump in GEORGIA, topping the Republican 44 to 40 percent in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll. Her lead, which falls within the margin of error, comes as the latest showing of Trump’s struggle in a state that has voted for the GOP nominee since 1996. In another possible red flag for the GOP, Sen. Johnny Isakson bests Democratic challenger, Atlanta investment manager Jim Barksdale, by just six points. There is no realistic path to the White House for Trump if he loses the Peach State. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

For junkies:

-- A fresh national poll from NBC/Survey Monkey has up 10 points (51-41): "Clinton’s lead, her largest since the general poll’s first general election matchup, suggests her support has not slipped since her post-convention bounce in the polls following the Democratic nominating convention."

  • Trump’s lead has slipped among core constituencies: He now leads Clinton by just 5 points among men, down from 16 points two weeks ago. Meanwhile, Clinton’s support among women has widened: she leads Trump 24 points among females up from her 14 point lead in the earlier survey.
  • Non-degree holding voters also shifted towards Clinton: They now support Clinton by a four-point margin, compared to a nine-point lead in Trump’s favor in early July.


-- The father of Orlando gunman Omar Mateen attended Clinton’s rally in Kissimmee, Fla., sitting just behind her as she paid tribute to those affected by the Pulse nightclub shooting. Seddique Mateen showed off a bright yellow sign he brought to support Clinton. "Hillary Clinton is good for United States versus Donald Trump, who has no solutions," he said. When asked why he chose to attend an event so close to the Pulse nightclub shooting, he said “I spoke a lot about that and wish that my son joined the Army and fought ISIS. That would be much better," he said. (WPTV-5)

-- Clinton accepted invitations for the three presidential debates, confirming she will participate in the events as scheduled and urging Trump to do the same. Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said “it is concerning that the Trump campaign is already engaged in shenanigans around these debates.” His remarks come as Trump has complained of a conflicting NFL schedule, saying the selected debate slots will result in reduced viewership. (Anne Gearan)

-- The Democratic nominee will forgo her annual Hamptons vacation for a three-day fundraising blitz in the tony area. "She's packing in up to nine big-dollar events during a Hamptons fundraising sprint beginning Aug. 28 and ending Aug. 30," Politico’s Annie Karni reports. "Singer Jimmy Buffett, a Montauk resident, is expected to host a Clinton fundraiser at his home … And Loews CEO Jonathan Tisch and Rudin Management bigwig Bill Rudin have sent out invitations to a $33,400-a-head dinner they are co-hosting. Clinton's ritzy Hamptons vacation digs in the past have been a target for Republican attacks. Last year, she reportedly rented a $50,000-a-week beachfront mansion, while touting her middle-class upbringing to Iowa voters earning less than the cost of her one-week rental as their annual salaries.”

-- Speaking of fundraising --> “Trump embraces fundraising, not transparency,” by Politico's Shane Goldmacher: “Trump has scheduled a blitz of fundraisers across the country in the coming weeks, such as the two high-dollar soirees he attended in Nantucket and Cape Cod over the weekend, including one at the home of billionaire Bill Koch …. There, co-hosts had to raise at least $100,000 for six tickets to a VIP reception …It is a sharp departure from the primary, when Trump claimed he couldn’t be bought and his decision to pour tens of millions of his own money into the race … But now that both he and Clinton are leaning on big donors to fund their fall campaigns, it is Clinton who is more open about her own finances and where the money is coming from. Clinton has voluntarily released the names of nearly 500 bundlers who raised at least $100,000 for her, and her campaign shares with the press the location of all fundraisers that she or … Tim Kaine attends.” Trump, meanwhile, has not disclosed the names of his bundlers: “Nor does the Trump campaign systematically disclose when he attends fundraisers, who is hosting, or the price of admission.”

-- “For Kaine, war powers issue shows a break with Clinton — and a push that fell short,” by Paul Kane: “Tim Kaine is holding fast to his long-held belief that the current military operation against Islamic State forces has not been properly approved by Congress — a position that puts him at odds not only with President Obama but also with [Clinton]”: “The unwillingness of this Congress to authorize the war not only shows a lack of resolve, it sets a dangerous precedent,” Kaine said in early June, trying to force a debate on the issue.  But Kaine and a small band of younger allies in the Senate failed. “Kaine’s ongoing, unsuccessful effort to draft and win approval for a new war resolution serves as a window into how Kaine views the relationship between the executive and legislative branches. It has also shown the limitations of his ability to coax allies across the finish line, even on his hallmark issue — suggesting that his courtship approach might not work in today’s hyper-partisan era."

-- “McAuliffe taking a slower approach to rights restoration in Virginia,” by Laura Vozzella: “Armed with an autopen, Gov. Terry McAuliffe said two weeks ago that he had all he needed to swiftly but individually restore voting rights to more than 200,000 felons. But McAuliffe (D) has since decided that he needs something else: time. McAuliffe brought delegates to their feet at last month’s [Democratic convention] when he vowed to defy the state’s highest court, which had just struck down his April executive order to restore voting rights to felons who had completed their sentences. He said the 200,000 felons would have their rights back in the space of two weeks. That self-imposed deadline came and went Monday without a single felon’s rights having been restored. McAuliffe’s spokesman, Brian Coy, said the governor is taking the time necessary to make sure the rights-restoration orders are handled properly." Republicans accuse McAuliffe of trying to help Clinton by pumping up the voting rolls.


-- “Fox News’ senior executives have said they were unaware of sexual-harassment allegations against Roger Ailes before former anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against him in July,” New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reports. “But those claims are now being challenged by Fox host Andrea Tantaros, who says that she complained multiple times to senior Fox executives in 2015 about Ailes’s inappropriate sexual behavior toward her … Tantaros says that, after she came forward, she was first demoted and eventually taken off the air in April 2016. Fox continues to pay her. ‘She made multiple harassment and hostile-workplace complaints,’ said her lawyer, Judd Burstein. ‘As far as Tantaros knows, Fox executives never investigated her complaints, Burstein says; instead, they claim, Fox sidelined her. ‘I believe it’s retaliatory,’ says Burstein.”

-- Vanity Fair, “Exclusive: Inside the Fox News bunker,” by Sarah Ellison: “Few people in the news business have valued secrecy quite like (Ailes) ... Ailes’s very own corner office on the second floor of 21st Century Fox’s glass and steel headquarters, in Midtown Manhattan, featured a solid wood door that prevented anyone on the outside from peering in. Ailes’s second-floor office now stands empty. Floors below it, in Fox News’s subterranean newsroom … staffers are still coming to terms with the rollicking events of the past month. A sale of Fox News, which generates some $1 billion in annual profit, seems unlikely. A massive culture change, however, seems probable. Meanwhile, 21st Century Fox has begun discussing a settlement in the Gretchen Carlson lawsuit against Ailes … The company is requesting that Ailes, who has denied all Carlson’s allegations, fund at least a portion of the settlement, which is expected to reach eight figures … At issue in the settlement talks is the existence of audio tapes recorded by multiple women in conversation with Ailes.

-- Fox News staffers feared Ailes was monitoring them. From CNN Money’s Dylan Byers: “According to six current and former employees, many Fox News hosts, on-air personalities and producers have long feared that Ailes had tapped their phones and was monitoring their conversations. 'We all believe our phones are tapped and that we are monitored,' one Fox News personality said, echoing the fears of others who asked not to be quoted. 'People definitely felt that the clicks on the line were coming from the inside,' said another."

-- Scott Brown, who is a Fox News contributor, joked about having intercourse with his wife in his U.S. Senate office. The former Massachusetts senator, who lost to Elizabeth Warren in 2012 and then Jeanne Shaheen in 2014, was playing a version of “The Newlywed Game” during a cruise from Boston to Bermuda when he was asked to guess his wife’s answer to the most unusual place they have ever “made whoopee,” according to the Boston Globe. “His first answer? On a golf course. (Huff said ‘no’). Then he guessed an airplane, to which his wife responded that everyone’s done it on an airplane — that’s not unusual. The passenger said Brown’s final answer — his US Senate office — really got the crowd going, especially when Brown turned to the audience and quipped, ‘That’s right, and you all paid for it!’” Brown said the whole thing was a big joke. He told the Globe that he never did it in his Senate office and that he doesn’t golf.


-- “Voters on Tuesday will show how much they support House Speaker Paul Ryan and narrow the field for a congressional race in northeastern Wisconsin,” the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports. About 712,000 people are expected to show up to the polls in the Badger State.

-- During the final hours leading up to polls opening, Ryan didn’t make a single reference to primary opponent Paul Nehlen, Scott Bauer writes. “Instead of traditional campaign rallies or get-out-the-vote pushes on the eve of the election, Ryan toured two businesses. And while he took questions from workers, no one asked him about Nehlen and Ryan never mentioned his name.” Instead, the first question he received was about the Packers: 'You were at Packers training camp,' a worker said. 'What do you think the Packers chances are?' 'I'm really excited about this,' Ryan said to cheers from the workers. 'This is one of the coolest things I've ever done in my life. How many are Packers fans? Those are the people I'm going to answer questions from.'"

-- Nehlen spent the eve of the primary downplaying Trump and Mike Pence's endorsements of the Speaker. From WPR’s Chuck Quirmbach: "'[Trump] was not endorsing Paul Ryan's policies,’ Nehlen said at a rally Saturday in Janesville. ‘He was merely trying to bring some party unity and take the focus off all the fighting that's going on right now.’ ... Nehlen has been especially critical of Ryan on the issue of illegal immigration, which he says Ryan hasn't done enough to stop. ‘Pence endorsed his friend,’ Nehlen said. ‘I doubt very much that he endorsed his open borders policy or his policy of Americans being killed by murderous illegal aliens.’"


Ex-Mexico President Vicente Fox is tweeting against Trump:

The New York Post is giving Trump a break today:

Ben Sasse poked light fun at John McCain and LIndsey Graham:

Obama boosted the hashtag #TeamRefugees:


“Ex-Louisiana police officer convicted for lying to FBI in civil rights case,” from The Guardian: “A former Louisiana police officer pleaded guilty to violating the civil rights of a woman and lying to the FBI on Friday, in a rare case of a police officer facing conviction. According to the indictment, in 2012, Homer police department officer Willie Fred Knowles pushed a woman … to the floor and struck her face and body, causing injury. A few months later, when questioned by the FBI, Knowles lied about the incident, telling agents … he never struck her. Knowles’ case represents a rare example of a police officer facing a conviction for a civil rights case. A study by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review found that, between 1995 and 2005, federal prosecutors denied bringing charges in 96% of cases where law enforcement officers faced civil rights charges."



“Public College Offers Blacks-Only Classes, Claims It’s Totally Okay,” from the Daily Caller: “A community college in Illinois is trying to defend itself after it decided to offer special classes only available to black people. ‘College: Changes, Challenges, Choice” is a one-credit introductory course … intended to help new students ‘assess your purpose for college, assess your study strategies, set college and career goals, examine your values and decision-making skills, and develop an appreciation for diversity.’ But while the class may want students to appreciate diversity, the school doesn’t practice what it preaches. Two sections of the class are specifically set aside exclusively for black students, who make up about 10 percent of Moraine Valley’s 34,000 students.”


On the campaign trail: Clinton campaigns in Miami; Kaine is in Austin, Texas. Trump stops in Wilmington and Fayetteville, N.C., while Pence is in Pittsburgh and Lancaster, Pa.

At the White House: Obama is in Martha's Vineyard, Mass. Biden is in Southampton, N.Y.

On Capitol Hill: The Senate and House are out.


The New York Post's Andrea Peyser announced she can no longer support Trump, calling her embrace of his candidacy an “exercise in magical thinking” and recalling cringe-worthy moments from years of covering the mogul. One choice excerpt: “When I visited about two months after his lovely wife, Melania, now 46, gave birth to the couple’s son, Barron, now 10, the infamous germophobe boasted that after fathering five children, he’d never changed a diaper. I enthused that Melania, who stood quietly nearby aboard 5-inch stilettos, had lost all her baby weight. Trump corrected me: ‘She’s almost lost all the baby weight.'”


-- “Afghans Who Translated for the U.S. Military Are Stuck in Limbo on Visas,” by Emmarie Huetteman in the New York Times: “Zar Mohammad Stanikzai remembers the promise made to him when he became a translator supporting the U.S. military in 2012: Help us, and we will keep you safe. Four years later, his fear of Taliban reprisals has made him a prisoner in his Afghan home, he said, and he is still waiting for the Americans to honor their commitment. Instead, Congress is bickering over the program meant to be his deliverance. If the Taliban find him — or any of the Afghans hoping the U.S. will grant them visas — ‘they will kill us,’ he said. But congressional infighting, infused with nativist tones, has left in question whether the special visa program would be renewed at all, a potentially devastating blow to the approximately 12,000 Afghan translators and interpreters whose immigration applications are in limbo.”

“We’ve really been trying to reinforce the fact to Afghans that we are committed to you, and this gives the enemy some propaganda to say, ‘Hey, these people really aren’t committed to you,’” said Brig. Gen. Charles H. Cleveland. Speaking on the Senate floor, John McCain was more blunt: “People are going to die,” he said, challenging a fellow Republican who was blocking more visas. “Don’t you understand the gravity of that?”


-- “After a comfortable interlude, the hounds of humidity are back on the hunt,” the Capital Weather Gang reports. “More typical August weather returns with highs in the middle 80s to near 90 with higher humidity than Monday, especially by afternoon. Skies are partly to mostly cloudy and we run the chance of showers or thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening. Storm activity should be isolated with the best chances south and west of the city.”

-- The Federal Transit Administration blasted Metro’s “systemic safety deficiencies” in a scathing 36-page report, taking the agency to task after months of investigations into its track maintenance practices. FTA officials accused the Metro of prioritizing “service over safety” as it referenced two car derailments that occurred last month. (Martine Powers and Faiz Siddiqui

-- Fairfax City Mayor Scott Silverthorne announced he will resign from his post after being arrested and charged with felony distribution of methamphetamine, allegedly seeking to trade the drug in exchange for an orgy with other men. (Antonio Olivo)

-- A 69-year-old crashed his car into a Fairfax McDonald’s, killing one man and leaving another critically injured. Police said the incident is currently under investigation and no charges have been filed yet in relation to the crash. (Justin Wm. Moyer)


Watch a remarkable mash-up of 40 years of gendered questions posed to Clinton during interviews and debates:

Here's a behind-the-scenes look at the Democratic convention, which includes a brief clip of Obama getting pumped up for his speech by listening to Eminem's "Lose Yourself":

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) talks with Paul Kane about how he sets up his staffers with each other. There have been 13 "Schumer Marriages."

New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer describes his knack for matchmaking staff members. There have been 13 weddings so far, he tells The Post's Paul Kane. (Video: Washington Post Live)

Here are 20 things Trump says he will do for the economy:

At a rally in Detroit, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump outlines what he would do as president to take the U.S. economy to "amazing new heights" (Video: Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)

Penn Jillette designed a card trick based on Trump:

Here are the 16 servicemembers on the 2016 U.S. Olympic team:

Usain Bolt danced the Samba with Brazilian women:

Jamaica’s world record holding sprinter, Usain Bolt, puts on a show at his Olympic press conference, dancing the Samba with a line of Brazilian showgirls. (Video: Reuters)