THE BIG IDEA: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump each reluctantly backed down last night on major things that threatened to derail their campaigns.
The Clinton Foundation announced it will no longer accept donations from corporations or foreign entities if Hillary is elected president. Bill Clinton told foundation staff that the final meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative will be held next month, and he announced that he will stop giving paid speeches. “The former president, who turns 70 on Friday, said he will resign from the board, and the foundation will only accept contributions from U.S. citizens and independent charities,” according to the AP’s Ken Thomas, who broke the story.
Meanwhile, Trump expressed remorse for the first time since he got into the race 14 months ago. “Sometimes in the heat of debate, and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don't choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that," the Republican nominee, reading from a teleprompter, said during a rally in Charlotte. “And believe it or not, I regret it. I do regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain.”
-- Both candidates are extraordinarily reluctant to ever acknowledge wrongdoing, even tacitly, because they believe doing so projects weakness. This is why last night was so remarkable and may represent a true pivot point in the race.
Think about Clinton’s evolving explanations for her private email server through the 2016 cycle and her defense of her support for the Iraq War during the 2008 race (it took her until 2014 to say a 2002 vote was a mistake).
There are literally dozens of examples of Trump hurting himself by refusing to admit that he went too far. Think about his attacks on Gold Star parents Khizr and Ghazala Khan, John “not a war hero” McCain, Judge Gonzalo Curiel and Ted Cruz’s father Rafael (whom he claimed was with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before John F. Kennedy’s assassination). He also declined to express regret after mocking a reporter with a disability and calling Mexican immigrants rapists.
-- Hillary has now implicitly acknowledged that the Clinton Foundation is a major liability to her campaign, regardless of her campaign’s spin and inevitable denials. “The decision comes amid mounting criticism of how the foundation operated during her tenure as secretary of state, potentially allowing donors to seek special access through her government post,” Abby Phillip and Rosalind S. Helderman report.
Donald, a former donor to the group, often accuses Hillary of engaging in “pay-to-play” practices. In particular, he says the $25 million the foundation took from Saudi Arabia undercuts his opponent’s rhetoric on women’s rights.
But he’s inconsistent about his messaging. He also often levels unsubstantiated charges that overshadow any accurate lines of attack and make it easier for the war room in Brooklyn to push back by muddying the water.
A traditional GOP opponent, running a disciplined campaign and spending meaningful money on negative TV ads, could probably more effectively use the Clinton Foundation as a bludgeon to depict HRC as a shady shakedown artist who looks out more for her rich cronies and deep-pocketed foreigners than working-class Americans struggling to catch a break.
-- Message testing and focus groups, including those conducted by Democrats, have shown there are some particularly potent (and totally true) lines of attack. Among them:
- The Clinton Foundation accepted millions of dollars in money from foreign governments while Clinton was secretary of state.
- The Clintons promised transparency but did not always follow their own rules. One foreign government donation was not properly submitted to the State Department for approval.
- One-third of Clinton Foundation contributors who gave more than $1 million were foreign governments or other entities based outside the United States, according to a February 2015 analysis by my colleagues Roz Helderman, Tom Hamburger and Steven Rich.
- According to a batch of emails released just last week through a public records lawsuit, a foundation aide asked State Department staff to arrange a meeting on behalf of a foundation donor, a wealthy Nigerian businessman of Lebanese descent who had donated between $1 million and $5 million.
-- “There is no evidence that Hillary Clinton or her top aides completed ethics training when they started at the State Department, as required by federal law,” McClatchy’s Anita Kumar reported yesterday. “State Department records show only three of nine top Clinton aides took the mandated training for new employees. Records also suggest that none of seven top aides required to take subsequent annual training completed it. No records indicate whether Clinton herself took any training. Many of the aides still work for Clinton.… Clinton’s campaign did not respond to questions…”
-- Clinton has been getting hammered in the court of elite opinion. The Post’s Editorial Board lamented “the porous ethical wall” between the Foundation and the State Department in a Sunday editorial: “As secretary, she pledged to keep her official world and her family’s foundation separate, and she failed to keep them separate enough. Such sloppiness would not be acceptable in the White House.” A Tuesday editorial in the Boston Globe that went further, calling for the Clinton Foundation to shut down altogether, went viral.
“It’d be impossible to keep the foundation open without at least the appearance of a problem,” former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, a close Clinton ally, told the New York Daily News last week.
Back to Trump’s speech in Charlotte:
-- Last night showed that Kellyanne Conway is now calling the shots. In covering this week’s shake-up, the 202 has primarily focused on Breitbart executive Stephen Bannon becoming the campaign’s chief executive and probably has given insufficient attention to Conway taking over as manager.
Conway is a pollster who specializes in helping conservative men reach out to women. In early July, she told our Danielle Paquette that she didn’t like Trump’s name-calling and said she really wants him to avoid criticizing people’s looks and mental capacity. “Maybe,” she said, “it’s just the mother in me.” (The full piece is worth rereading.)
We’ve written a lot about Bannon’s push to let Trump be Trump, but clearly Conway is trying to talk some political sense into the candidate and explaining how much his insult-laden approach has damaged his standing with the women who will decide this election.
-- But there are many reasons to doubt the sincerity of Trump’s 11th-hour conversion. He’s clearly desperate to turn around his sinking campaign, and he did not specify last night what he was apologizing for, or to whom. And just like the man who faux apologizes to his wife by saying “I’m sorry you’re mad,” Trump at one point couched his penchant for divisive rhetoric by saying, “Sometimes I can be too honest.” Was he being “too honest” when he laced into McCain, Curiel and the Khans? Trump has until very recently refused to express any regret for what he said about them. What changed?
-- It was the third time in the past four days that Trump read a speech off a teleprompter, a practice he once routinely mocked. He clearly did not write the words he uttered. The language and tone sounded nothing like him.
-- The humility he expressed last night is part of a broader and renewed effort to rebrand Trump as more “presidential,” Jose A. DelReal, Robert Costa and Jenna Johnson report. That effort will continue today with a trip to Louisiana to tour flooded areas.
-- Conway said on CNN yesterday that Trump will finally begin preparing for the first debate this weekend, evidence that the candidate recognizes he must deliver a command performance to keep his hopes alive.
-- How long can this last? We still believe that the 70-year-old is, at heart, fundamentally incapable of changing. It is hard to imagine him going on some kind of apology tour and becoming self-disciplined in a sustained way. He’s plainly happiest when he’s feuding with someone and putting down others.
|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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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- Trump’s first TV ad of the general election, which will begin airing today, focuses on immigration. The campaign says it will spend $4.8 million to air the 30-second spot over the next 10 days in four states. “In Hillary Clinton’s America,” a narrator says, “the system stays rigged against Americans, Syrian refugees flood in, illegal immigrants convicted of committing crimes get to stay, collecting Social Security benefits, skipping the line. Our border open. It’s more of the same, but worse. Donald Trump’s America is secure. Terrorists and dangerous criminals: kept out, the border secured. our families safe. Change that makes America safe again.” (NBC breaks down the buy: $1.44 million in Florida, $716k in Ohio, $984k in Pennsylvania, and $838k in North Carolina. This pales in comparison to the $61 million spent so far by Clinton’s campaign.) Watch it here:
-- Mike Pence filed his personal financial disclosure with the FEC last night. “As Americans can clearly see, the Pence family has not enriched themselves from their public service,” spokesman Marc Lotter said, adding that “the Governor will release his tax returns in the near future.” (See the PFD here.)
GET SMART FAST:
- The State Department acknowledged that it delayed releasing a $400 million cash payment to Iran until the freeing of three U.S. hostages was assured, maintaining that the timing of the January payments was used as “leverage” rather than "ransom." “We felt it would be imprudent not to consider that some leverage in trying to make sure our Americans got out,” spokesman John Kirby said. The remarks mark the first time the administration has acknowledged any type of linkage between hostage negotiations and the payment to Iran. (Carol Morello)
- The Justice Department plans to end its use of private prisons, after officials concluded the facilities are less safe – and less effective – then government-run operations. (Matt Zapotosky and Chico Harlan)
- Russia said it will support a 48-hour ceasefire in the Syrian city of Aleppo, allowing the U.N. to provide temporary aid and medical evaluations following weeks of intense bombings. (Karen DeYoung)
- The months-long legal battle over Sumner Redstone’s mental state, with control of Viacom at stake, is nearing a close. The board has reportedly approved a deal that will give ousted CEO Philippe Dauman a $72 million payout. (Wall Street Journal)
- Chicago police officials recommended the firing of seven officers for lying about the death of Laquan McDonald, a black teenager who was fatally shot in 2014. Video footage later revealed police testimony about the event to be untrue, touching off demonstrations and a federal investigation of the department. (Mark Berman)
- Florida health officials have identified a possible new area of Zika transmission in MIAMI BEACH, suggesting the disease has spread beyond its original one-square-mile section of Wynwood. (Brady Dennis)
- Twitter announced it has shut down more than 235,000 accounts promoting terrorism since February, far surpassing previously reported numbers as the social media site seeks to push back on critiques that it has done little to silence violent threats. (Ellen Nakashima)
- An Indonesian prisoner believed to have been al-Qaeda’s chief operative in Southeast Asia appeared before a Guantanamo Bay review board, making his first public appearance in 13 years as a military representative argued for his release. (Louisa Loveluck)
- Angela Merkel rejected claims that Germany’s influx of refugees is to blame for the recent rise in violent extremist activities, saying Germany’s history of terror “predates” the war-torn newcomers. “The phenomenon of Islamist terrorism of ISIS is … one which we’ve already seen before,” the chancellor said. (Adam Taylor)
- The U.N. acknowledged for the first time that its peacekeepers played a role in the 2010 cholera epidemic in Haiti, making what many believe to be a long-overdue admission related to an outbreak that has killed thousands. (Nick Miroff)
- Turkish President Recep Erdogan again urged Obama to extradite U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey has charged with orchestrating last month’s coup attempt. Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, denies any involvement. (AP)
- Gawker is shutting down next week, just three days after Univision bought the controversial gossip site for $135 million. ( New York Post)
- The Baton Rouge Advocate’s editorial board called on President Obama to cut short his Martha’s Vineyard vacation and travel to Louisiana to address the flooding. “If the president can interrupt his vacation for a swanky fundraiser for Clinton, as he did on Monday, then surely he can make time to show up for a catastrophe that’s displaced thousands,” the board of the state’s largest newspaper wrote.
- Amber Heard announced she is donating the entirety of her $7 million divorce settlement from Johnny Depp to charity, maintaining that the bitter legal feuding with her ex was never about money. Heard said she will split the settlement equally between the ACLU and the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. (AP)
LOCHTE EMBARRASSES ALL OF US:
-- Brazilian police said Ryan Lochte fabricated his story of being robbed at gunpoint alongside other U.S. swimmers, though authorities acknowledged that the foursome did have a gun pulled on them — by a security guard — after reportedly damaging property at a gas station in Rio. From Dave Sheinin, Dom Phillips and Joshua Partlow:
An official apology: Overnight, the U.S. Olympic Committee issued a statement that acknowledged a version of events that involved an argument spurred by "an act of vandalism" committed by "one of the athletes." The statement concluded by saying, "We apologize to our hosts in Rio and the people of Brazil for this distracting ordeal in the midst of what should rightly be a celebration of excellence."
An attorney for Jimmy Feigen said he will pay more than $10,000 to a Brazilian charity to leave the country. Under Brazilian law, his attorney said, a donation can be made to avoid criminal prosecution. He did not say what charge was potentially facing Feigen. (Matt Bonesteel)
Lochte remains in the U.S., having left Rio on Tuesday, and teammates Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger were cleared to leave last night.
-- What really happened? The incident appears to have stemmed from a drunken pit stop at a gas station bathroom around 6 a.m: "Surveillance footage ... appears to show at least one of the swimmers … pull off the metal door to the bathroom. In the video ... gas station employees observe the athletes, then escort them out of the bathroom. In another clip, from a different camera angle, the athletes quickly seat themselves on the ground and raise their hands, as if ordered by a person with a gun."
The police chief confirmed a guard had produced a firearm to “contain” the swimmers so they could not leave without paying damages. “The firearm was used in a situation in which they were contained. When they were contained the firearm was put away,” he said.
-- “Brazilians have reacted with anger and indignation at an apparently false crime report that only served to boost the perception of Rio de Janeiro as a lawless, chaotic city that was unprepared to host an Olympics.” The city police chief said Lochte and the others owed Rio an apology for having “stained” the city “for a fantasy.” “As the American swimmers left the police station Thursday evening, they were swarmed by a crowd of journalists amid shouts of ‘liars’ by some, in English.”
-- The Post’s Sally Jenkins eviscerates Lochte as “the dumbest bell that ever rang” in a spot-on column: “Two things are going on here: Lochte’s self-promoting prevarications and the sensitivity of Rio authorities, who have been portrayed as incapable of keeping athletes safe amid other Olympic breakdowns. There have been a lot of genuine robberies of Olympic athletes and officials. The police need to show that fears are overstated and these Games are secure — though they are not, particularly — and the stupid Americans offered them something with which to save face. Lochte’s conceit intersected with a delicate political issue, and it made a perfect storm. His claim to NBC that men posing as police pulled over the taxi and he heroically resisted the robbers with a gun pressed to his forehead was an especially ludicrous detail — and the very thing that drew the attention of authorities, who know full well that anyone who defies a bandit in Rio gets shot on the spot, and they don’t leave you with your cellphone. Lochte’s done as a public figure, of course. Which is probably the most effective form of justice for someone who apparently so craves attention. Oblivion is what he deserves.”
-- How it's playing in the tabloids:
DAY 14 IN RIO:
-- One of the things that makes the Lochte mess so frustrating is that it overshadows the amazing performances by the upstanding Americans who keep crushing it on the field. The U.S. has now reached TRIPLE-DIGIT MEDAL STATUS. We’re officially at 100 – with 35 gold, 33 silver, and 32 bronze. China and Britain continue their battle for second place, with China squeezing out Britain with just a two-medal lead (58 to 56.) Check out the Post’s live medal count here.
-- The U.S. women’s 4x100 relay team got a second shot at advancing to the gold-medal round, after filing a protest over a dropped baton between sprinters Allyson Felix and English Gardner. Officials agreed that a Brazilian team had interfered with the handoff, The Americans got to rerun the race later – alone on the track – “an odd scene,” Des Bieler notes, but one that ultimately scored them the BEST time of the entire day.
-- Kerron Clement won gold for the U.S. in the men’s 400m hurdles. And Dalilah Muhammad did the same for the women’s team – becoming the first American female to ever win gold in the race. (Teammate Ashley Spencer also netted a third-place finish.)
-- Helen Maroulis became the first American woman to earn a wrestling gold medal, beating out a legendary three-time Olympic champion from Japan.
-- University of Virginia runner Robby Andrews qualified for the men’s 1500m finals – but was subsequently disqualified – after he stepped off the track.
-- USAIN BOLT soared to victory in his last individual race of the Rio Games, winning his third gold medal in the men’s 200m by a wide margin. He’ll now compete in the men’s 4x100m relay Friday, potentially earning him a “triple-triple” sweep and a tie with American Carl Lewis and Paavo Nurmi of Finland for the most career Olympic gold medals in track and field. (Mark Giannotto)
THE DAILY DONALD:
-- Ivanka Trump’s brother-in-law will NOT vote for Trump, according to a new Esquire profile: Through a spokesman, the magazine's Vicky Ward wrote, Josh Kushner "said that he loved his brother and did not want to say anything that might embarrass him. Nevertheless, the spokesman also said that Josh is a lifelong Democrat and will not be voting for Trump in November."
-- Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson, on live television, accused Clinton of a rare brain disease with which she has never been diagnosed: “What's new are the other reports of the observations of [Clinton's] behavior and mannerisms, specifically with what you just showed in those previous clips, as well as her dysphasia, the fact that she's fallen, she has had a concussion,” Pierson charged on MSNBC. (Dysphasia is defined as the "loss of or deficiency in the power to use or understand language as a result of injury to or disease of the brain.") Pierson’s accusations come after Clinton’s campaign has refuted the conspiracy theories, releasing multiple fact-checking articles and a statement from Clinton’s doctor saying she is in excellent health. "It's something that needs to be addressed," Pierson continued. "She's taken a lot of time off the campaign trail." (Aaron Blake)
-- Gov. Scott Walker pushed back on Trump ally Roger Stone’s allegations that he and “the Reince Priebus machine” rigged “as many as five elections” in Wisconsin, dishing out a rare moment of snark when asked about the longtime Trump confidante. “Apparently that’s what the long-term effect is of legalizing marijuana in the District of Columbia,” he quipped. (Wisconsin State Journal)
-- David A. Fahrenthold has the latest on Trump’s dubious claims of charitable giving – this time on his NBC show “The Apprentice”: “For Trump, ‘The Apprentice’ — and later, ‘The Celebrity Apprentice’ — helped reestablish him as a national figure, after his fall into debt and corporate bankruptcies in the 1990s. On-screen, Trump was a wise, tough businessman. And, at times, a kindhearted philanthropist — willing to give away thousands on a whim. On-air, Trump seemed to be explicit that this wasn’t TV fakery: The money he was giving was his own. ‘Out of my wallet,’ Trump said in one case. ‘Out of my own account,’ he said in another. But, when the cameras were off, the payments came from other people’s money.” The Post tracked all the “personal” gifts that Trump promised on the show but could not confirm a single case in which Trump actually sent a gift from his own pocket.
In 2012, Trump became more generous on the air – giving six $10,000 donations in a single episode, in one example. His gifts brought one insult comedian to tears. But a mystery remained: What happened in 2012 to make Trump so much more generous on the air? “In the tax records of the Trump Foundation … there is no record of a donation from Trump himself in 2012. But, in 2012, the Trump Foundation’s records show a large gift from NBC, the network that aired the show. That was more than enough to cover all the foundation’s gifts to ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ contestants’ charities, both before 2012 and since. For NBC, Trump’s ‘personal’ donations made for better TV … [giving] uplifting notes to the ‘firings’ and [burnishing] the reputation of Trump, the show’s star. Did NBC give Trump’s foundation money, so that Trump could appear to be more generous on-camera?”
THREE MUST-READS ABOUT PAUL MANAFORT:
-- Tom Hamburger, Dana Priest and Andrew Roth have the backstory on how Trump's campaign chairman revived his career – and his business fortunes – in Ukraine: “Manafort’s 2005 entry into Ukrainian politics and finances came when he signed on as an adviser to the steel magnate Rinat Akhmetov, one of Ukraine’s richest oligarchs and a key supporter of Yanukovych and the Party of Regions … Manafort’s first job was to burnish the local and international reputation of a company owned by Akhmetov based in the Russian-speaking industrial Donetsk region. Over time, Manafort’s role with the party expanded.”
“As Manafort built a political consulting practice in Ukraine, he also developed financial connections with wealthy figures in the region, some of whom face ongoing scrutiny from the Justice Department. … In 2008, he tried to develop an $850 million Manhattan luxury apartment project with Dmitry Firtash, a Ukrainian energy tycoon with a history of legal trouble. U.S. prosecutors charged Firtash in 2013 with money-laundering and bribery … In another business venture, Oleg Deripaska, a Russian aluminum magnate, accused Manafort in a court in the Cayman Islands of taking nearly $19 million intended for investments, then not accounting for the money.” Manafort insisted he had cut his ties with his Ukrainian client in 2014. But former colleagues however, say he continued to work for the party, and was seen in the country as recently as October.
-- "Ukraine Releases More Details on Payments for Trump Aide,” from the New York Times: “The Ukrainian authorities, under pressure to bolster their assertion that once-secret accounting documents show cash payments from a pro-Russian political party earmarked for Manafort, on Thursday released line-item entries, some for millions of dollars. The former party member, Vitaly A. Kalyuzhny, for a time chairman of the Ukraine Parliament’s International Relations Committee, had signed nine times for receipt of payments designated for ... Manafort, according to Serhiy A. Leshchenko, a member of Parliament who has studied the documents. The ledger covered payments from 2007 to 2012, when Mr. Manafort worked for the party and its leader, Viktor F. Yanukovych, Ukraine’s former president who was deposed.”
-- Trump advisers waged covert influence campaign,” by the AP's Jeff Horwitz and Chad Day: “A firm run by Trump's campaign chairman directly orchestrated a covert Washington lobbying operation on behalf of Ukraine's ruling political party, attempting to sway American public opinion in favor of the country's pro-Russian government. Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, never disclosed their work as foreign agents as required under federal law. The lobbying included attempts to gain positive press coverage of Ukrainian officials in [the NYT, WSJ, and the AP]. Another goal: undercutting American public sympathy for the imprisoned rival of Ukraine's then-president.
“The emails appear to contradict the assertion that the nonprofit's lobbying campaign operated independently from Manafort's firm. In papers filed in the U.S. Senate, Mercury and the Podesta Group listed the European nonprofit as an independent, nonpolitical client. The firms said the center stated in writing that it was not aligned with any foreign political entity. The emails show that Gates personally directed two Washington lobbying firms … to set up meetings between a top Ukrainian official and senators and congressmen on influential committees involving Ukrainian interests. Gates noted in the emails that … Ukraine's foreign minister, did not want to use his own embassy in the United States to help coordinate the visits. And Gates directed efforts to undercut sympathy for Yulia Tymoshenko, an imprisoned rival of then-President Viktor Yanukovych.”
MORE FALLOUT FROM THE BREITBART-IZATION OF THE GOP:
-- Former Breitbart News spokesman Kurt Bardella slammed Stephen Bannon for regularly disparaging minorities, women and immigrants – saying editorial meetings for the publication often sounded “like a white supremacist rally.” “This is someone who has a very low moral compass,” he said on ABC’s “Powerhouse Politics” podcast, “and the idea that this is the type of person that Donald Trump, as the Republican nominee, as president, would have closest to him is very disturbing.”
-- Bannon’s ascension to the post of Trump campaign CEO represents a dangerous seizure of the conservative movement by the alt-right, another ex-Breitbart employee, Ben Shapiro, writes in an op-ed for The Post. “It comes as a surprise — or at least it should — that the RNC appears ready to go along with the Bannon-Breitbart-Trump takeover over the party, even as the Trump campaign’s latest move means RNC Chairman Reince Priebus now sits, effectively, side by side with alt-right Trump fans. … Broad swaths of the alt-right, by contrast, believe in a creed-free, race-based nationalism, insisting, among other things, that birth on American soil confers superiority. The alt-right sees limited-government constitutionalism as passé; it holds that only nationalist populism on the basis of shared tribal identity can save the country. It’s a movement shot through with racism and anti-Semitism. [Now], it is this is the cast of characters, and their enablers, to whom Trump has turned. Bannon is … the guy who ushered along the twisted turn at Breitbart. If Republicans aren’t careful, he’ll inflict similar damage on their party now that he’s the top man running their standard-bearer’s campaign.”
-- Reacting to Trump bringing on Bannon, Stuart Stevens (Mitt Romney’s chief strategist in 2012) told Bloomberg: “This is the bunker scene in ‘Downfall,’ only the Trump crowd won’t tell Hitler the truth. It’s utter madness. Trump is a nut, and he likes to surround himself with nuts.”
-- Bannon is already making an imprint: The Trump campaign hired an ex-Sarah Palin aide, Pam Pryor, to oversee its “faith and Christian outreach," per the Wall Street Journal.
-- A secretive donor has more sway than ever over Trump’s orbit. The New York Times’ Nicholas Confessore reports on how his deep-pocketed family helped put the shake-up into motion and now has close allies in positions of authority: “[Bannon’s] ascension on Wednesday — urged on Mr. Trump by (Rebecca) Mercer, among others — shows how a cadre of strategists, ‘super PACs’ and political organizations quietly nurtured by her family have emerged to play a pivotal role in Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign. Over more than half a decade, Ms. Mercer’s father, the New York investor Robert Mercer, has carved an idiosyncratic path through conservative politics, spending tens of millions of dollars to outflank his own party’s consultant class and unnerve its established powers. His fortune has financed think tanks and insurgent candidates, super PACs and media watchdogs, lobbying groups and grass-roots organizations. Many of them are now connected, one way or another, to Mr. Trump’s presidential bid. Mr. Trump’s new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, is a veteran Republican pollster who previously oversaw a super PAC financed by the Mercers.” And Bannon oversees Breitbart, a company to which Mercer reportedly invested $10 million several years ago, and “likely still has a stake.”
WHEN IN DOUBT, BLAME THE MEDIA:
-- In Charlotte last night, Trump said the media created some of the controversies that have dogged him. “The establishment media doesn’t cover what really matters in this country, or what’s really going on in people’s lives,” he said. “They will take words of mine out of context and spend a week obsessing over every single syllable, and then pretend to discover some hidden meaning in what I said.”
-- In New Hampshire yesterday, Mike Pence said the press – not Trump – is to blame for the ticket’s slide in the polls. “Just about every day, the national media latches onto some issue about my running mate. It really does,” the Indiana governor said in Manchester. “I mean, the media is so busy parsing every word that Donald Trump said in the last 30 minutes, they don’t have time to cover what the Clintons have been up to for the last 30 years.” (Time)
BUT AT WHAT COST?
-- An important factor in the rise of Trump: Only 32 percent of Republicans trusted the media a “great deal” or a “fair amount” in Gallup polling from last year, which is one reason so many of the tough stories on Trump have been tuned out by his supporters.
-- “We’ve created this monster”: Business Insider’s Oliver Darcy posted the transcript of a thought-provoking interview he did with conservative Wisconsin radio host Charlie Sykes (a prominent critic of the GOP nominee) about how significant distrust of the media has been in both the rise and resilience of Trump. It’s worth reading in full:
“We’ve basically eliminated any of the referees, the gatekeepers,” Sykes said. There’s nobody. Let’s say that Donald Trump basically makes whatever you want to say, whatever claim he wants to make. And everybody knows it’s a falsehood. The big question of my audience, it is impossible for me to say that, ‘By the way, you know it’s false.’ And they’ll say, ‘Why? I saw it on Allen B. West.’ Or they’ll say, ‘I saw it on a Facebook page.’ And I’ll say, ‘The New York Times did a fact check.’ And they’ll say, ‘Oh, that’s The New York Times. That’s bull-[expletive.]’ There’s nobody – you can’t go to anybody and say ‘Look, here are the facts.’ And I have to say that’s one of the disorienting realities of this political year. You can be in this alternative media reality and there’s no way to break through it. And I swim [upstream] because if I don’t say these things from some of these websites, then suddenly I have sold out. Then they’ll ask what’s wrong with me for not repeating these stories that I know not to be true.”
“When this is all over, we have to go back. There’s got to be a reckoning on all this. We’ve created this monster,” Sykes added. “And look, I’m a conservative talk show host. All conservative hosts have basically established their brand as being contrasted to the mainstream media. So we have spent 20 years demonizing the liberal mainstream media. And by the way, a lot of it has been justifiable. There is a real bias. But, at a certain point you wake up and you realize you have destroyed the credibility of any credible outlet out there. And I am feeling, to a certain extent, that we are reaping a whirlwind at that. And I have to look in the mirror and ask myself, ‘To what extent did I contribute?’ I’ll be honest, the bias of the mainstream media has been a staple for every conservative talk show host, every conservative pundit for as long as I can remember. Going way back into the 1960s with William F. Buckley Jr.”
THE DAILY HILLARY:
-- Clinton told FBI investigators that Colin Powell advised her to use a private email account: “The account is included in the notes the Federal Bureau of Investigation handed over to Congress on Tuesday” relaying details behind the FBI’s decision not to charge Clinton, the New York Times’s Amy Chozick reports. “Separately, in a 2009 email exchange that also emerged during the F.B.I. questioning, Mrs. Clinton, who had already decided to use private email, asked Mr. Powell about his email practices when he was the nation’s top diplomat under George W. Bush, according to a person with direct knowledge of Mr. Powell’s appearance in the documents.”
-- Clinton held a closed-door meeting with top law enforcement officers from around the country in New York, seeking to discuss policing and racial tensions that have been exposed by recent killings. John Wagner and Abby Phillip: "It's obvious that recent events — from Dallas and Baton Rouge to Milwaukee and across the country — underscore how difficult and important the work is ahead of us to repair the bonds of trust and respect between our police officers and our communities," Clinton said, before dismissing reporters. 'We have to be clear-eyed about the challenges we face. We can't ignore them, and certainly we must not inflame them.'"
Clinton has sought to toe a somewhat narrow line, expressing support for officers while sympathizing with the concerns of Black Lives Matter activists and others outraged by discriminatory conduct. Trump, meanwhile, has cast himself as the “law and order” candidate, blasting Clinton in rallies as someone who is “against the police.” “I’m on your side a thousand percent,” Trump said during the meeting with a Fraternal Order of Police chapter this week.
-- Awkward: Trump and Clinton have set up White House transition offices in the same building, Lisa Rein reports: “It’s the first time in history that two presidential campaigns have worked to set up their governments in miniature literally side-by-side, riding the same elevators to adjacent floors of the tony, marble-floored building as they plan to govern.” The two will get two floors of federally-funded office space in the modern digs, along with millions in GSA-provided computers and technical support.
-- Trump and Clinton are slated to appear on the same stage next month at a “commander-in-chief forum” hosted a veterans group and broadcast on NBC. The two will field questions from NBC hosts, John Wagner reports, as well as an audience comprised mainly of current and former service members.
-- Wired Magazine, taking a side in a presidential race for the first time, endorsed HRC: “For all the barbs aimed at Clinton—the whole calculating, tactical, Tracy Flick enchilada—she is the only candidate who can assess the data, consult with the people who need to be heard, and make decisions that she can logically defend,” editor in chief Scott Dadich writes. “Sure, she’s calculating. She’s tactical. There are worse things you can ask of a person with nuclear codes.”
-- Speaking of endorsements: Trump still has the vote of “Benghazi mom,” even though the guy who wrote her speech to the RNC wrote an op-ed saying that he may vote for Clinton. (People Magazine)
-- The Green Party candidates showed why they're not getting much traction during an awkward CNN appearance. Presidential nominee Jill Stein appeared alongside running-mate Ajamu Baraka for a live town hall event last nigh, Dave Weigel reports. "Stein used most of the airtime to repeat her campaign's themes, from the cancellation of student debt to the cancellation of much military spending. She told one [Bernie Sanders] voter that the senator had been ‘relegated to a very low-profile role’ at the Democratic convention — which was untrue — and told another that bankers' debt was ‘canceled’ by the Troubled Asset Relief Program.” The two also answered to several campaign gaffes – moderator Chris Cuomo pushed Baraka on why he had referred to Obama as an “Uncle Tom.” And Stein was also pressed on whether she was anti-vaccine, a charge she ultimately dismissed as “ridiculous.”
-- Bernie is slated to launch his new progressive organization, “Our Revolution,” next week: Sanders, who began fundraising for the group earlier this month, has said he hopes to “transform American society” by mobilizing young people, working people and progressives. (Burlington Free Press)
THE BATTLE FOR THE SENATE:
-- Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the Senate Intelligence Committee chairman who once seemed primed for an easy reelection campaign, is now in trouble. National Review's Alexis Levinson reports that the Republican incumbent has barely begun campaigning in the state and must share the ballot with TWO deeply unpopular Republicans. Besides Trump, Pat McCrory, who signed the state’s “bathroom bill” into law, is very likely to lose reelection.
-- Carpetbagging alert: Indiana election officials concluded that Evan Bayh is an "INACTIVE" voter in their state after he failed to establish his residency in Indianapolis, CNN’s Manu Raju reports. The news comes as an additional hurdle for Bayh, who has stayed at a Marriott when he’s gone back to the state rather than his condo. Electric bills earlier this week made clear that he spends no time at his residence.
-- He's back: George W. Bush is planning to visit Indiana next month to stump for Bayh’s Republican opponent, Todd Young, hoping to shore up support for the Republican congressman and close a large fundraising advantage held by Bayh. (WDRB)
-- Rep. Michael McCaul declined to rule out the idea of challenging Ted Cruz for his Texas senate seat in 2018, fueling speculation that he is being courted by major donors to launch a bid. “Asked to rate Cruz's Senate tenure, McCaul said his fellow Texan has ‘spent a lot of time running for president.’ And though McCaul said he's focused on his re-election to the House this fall, he wouldn't limit his future prospects. ‘Never say never,’” he told reporters. (The Dallas Morning News)
-- “They survived Hurricane Katrina and rebuilt in Baton Rouge. Now they’ve lost everything again,” by Emma Brown, Ashley Cusick and Mark Berman: “When Hurricane Katrina leveled New Orleans, thousands of people left behind their ruined homes and took refuge here. They found new jobs and rebuilt their homes. Slowly, things started to feel normal again. But then a nameless storm brought unprecedented flooding to Baton Rouge and a wide swath of southern Louisiana over the last week. Countless Katrina survivors have been left, for a second time, with nothing. Two displacements, two traumas. A loss that has left many feeling tired, battered and hopeless. And even as many face unclear futures and questions about where they will live, experts say they are also concerned about the mental health consequences for Katrina survivors now weathering this new loss. 'I want to get away from water, get away from low-lying areas,' said Jerry Savage, who lost both his home and his lawn-care business in Katrina, then rebuilt both in Baton Rouge only to lose them again. 'I want to get out of here.'"
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Republicans seized on the news from the State Department:
ran·som (noun)— Rep. Kevin Yoder (@RepKevinYoder) August 18, 2016
1. a sum of money or other payment demanded or paid for the release of a prisoner. https://t.co/U6aK0PWmBp
A New York City spokesman made this joke at Trump's expense:
Donald Duck, making a point about Trump not releasing his tax returns, is now riding up and down the Trump escalator pic.twitter.com/0v5cWf2tGw— Max Tani (@maxwelltani) August 18, 2016
This is awful:
There's a new t-shirt at Donald Trump's rallies labeling Hillary Clinton a "bitch." pic.twitter.com/sPZBCA9p9l— Jenna Johnson (@wpjenna) August 18, 2016
Observations from a Trump rally:
So, going to tweetstorm a little bit about two people ejected from this Trump rally in the last hour. One is Rose Hamid, a Muslim woman.— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) August 18, 2016
Hamid, wearing head scarf, handing out flowers here at Trump's rally. She said she was having positive conversations with Trump supporters.— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) August 18, 2016
None of the conversations w/ Hamid/Trump supporters got hostile. Yet, Trump security had Charlotte police escort her out. Why?— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) August 18, 2016
The other person ejected was 18-year-old Jake Anantha, who told us on camera that he is a passionate Trump supporter.— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) August 18, 2016
Anantha said that multiple people in the crowd pointed him out to the Trump campaign. Why? And why is Charlotte police doing the escorting?— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) August 18, 2016
A picture of Trump security throwing out an 18-year-old Trump supporter who said on camera that he is one to us: pic.twitter.com/YKZSghBGsp— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) August 18, 2016
This little kid just asked why the crowd is chanting "Lock her up!" The adult in front of him explained why. pic.twitter.com/EA4X6ehGIn— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) August 18, 2016
Without context or additional explanation, Trump declared he will soon be known as "Mr. Brexit." Ostensibly he was referring to the idea of an upset that shocks elites.
They will soon be calling me MR. BREXIT!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 18, 2016
"Mr. Brexit immediately began trending globally," Jennifer Hassan and Max Bearak report. "Thousands of users questioned exactly what Trump meant by his triumphal prognostication."
Many Brits feel like their own leaders deserve the title:
So won't the real Mr Brexit please stand up, please stand up, please stand up? pic.twitter.com/SISxqGIoVa— Josh Barrie (@joshbythesea) August 18, 2016
The problematic logic of arguing big crowds point to a future win:
In 1984, the Mondale campaign talked up the shockingly large crowds he was drawing as proof the polls were wrong pic.twitter.com/aM6PVktoeD— Steve Kornacki (@SteveKornacki) August 18, 2016
A joke from the polling director at the Huffington Post:
if you're relying on large crowd sizes to measure voter preference you're making...— Ariel Edwards-Levy (@aedwardslevy) August 18, 2016
...a rally big mistake
From a Democratic pollster:
I am all for letting Donald be Donald. pic.twitter.com/uV5yY7uwPp— Geoff Garin (@geoffgarin) August 18, 2016
A flashback to 1996:
Back when I had hair! I left out of loyalty to Don Sipple, who had brought me in. https://t.co/stCAxzwNWY— mike murphy (@murphymike) August 18, 2016
Former George W. Bush White House Press Secretary Dana Perino responded to fans who want her to give them good news about the GOP's chances this election:
Getting a few things off of my chest cold: When it comes to political analysis, I make you a promise - I will never lie to you.— Dana Perino (@DanaPerino) August 18, 2016
Many of you write, wanting me to tell you GOOD things about the gop chances this year. I wish I could do that. But I WILL NOT LIE TO YOU.— Dana Perino (@DanaPerino) August 18, 2016
In 2012, I fell for "the polls are wrong" mantra. I felt sick election night, realizing I'd been suckered into a fall sense of complacency.— Dana Perino (@DanaPerino) August 18, 2016
Romney was not going to win in spite of the "rigged polls" - and I vowed that night that I would NEVER EVER fall for that again— Dana Perino (@DanaPerino) August 18, 2016
The Dems start with 242 electoral college votes to win. They need 270. Even I can do that math - it isn't hard.— Dana Perino (@DanaPerino) August 18, 2016
Sure there are 11 weeks to go and a lot could change. I expect the polls to tighten a lot after Labor Day. But you can't win a general...— Dana Perino (@DanaPerino) August 18, 2016
...Election with the current state of campaign. Think of how fast 11 weeks goes. Nov 8th will be here before you can buy any Xmas presents.— Dana Perino (@DanaPerino) August 18, 2016
Some of you call me Debbie Downer, Negative Nancy, or even Pollyanna. I've been called a Pragmatic Snob (is there such a thing?)— Dana Perino (@DanaPerino) August 18, 2016
But I will not lie to you about the state of this race. I won't do it. No amount of peer pressure digital or otherwise can move me.— Dana Perino (@DanaPerino) August 18, 2016
Watch Dana spar with the other hosts on "The Five" about it:
Romney's 2012 pollster backed her up:
Here's 1 thing I learned from '12. A unenthusiastic vote counts just as much as an enthusiastic one. https://t.co/eLShcVVfLb— Neil Newhouse (@KCkid) August 18, 2016
Brothers from opposite sides of the aisle -- one is the executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party and the other is a former DNC communications director who has worked for a constellation of liberal outside groups -- clashed publicly over a Republican effort to limit early voting in the Tar Heel State:
@woodhouseb and we voted on election day— Dallas Woodhouse (@DallasWoodhouse) August 18, 2016
@woodhouseb plus your allies sued to over turn our law that expanded early voting this cycle to more sites and more hours. You won— Dallas Woodhouse (@DallasWoodhouse) August 18, 2016
@woodhouseb we are now working under the law passed by democrats. You don't want the law we passed and you don't want the law you passed— Dallas Woodhouse (@DallasWoodhouse) August 18, 2016
.@DallasWoodhouse don't bother with bullshit explanations and spin - you want fewer black people and fewer young people to vote. Period.— Brad Woodhouse (@woodhouseb) August 18, 2016
@woodhouseb that is a lie— Dallas Woodhouse (@DallasWoodhouse) August 18, 2016
Tim Kaine and Tom Vilsack visited the Butter Cow at the Iowa State Fair:
Some 2008 campaign swag, courtesy of Cindy McCain:
Kevin McCarthy's office added a new member:
Jon Stewart appeared in the final episode of Larry Wilmore's show, which was canceled by Comedy Central. (Read a show summary here.)
Finally, a few thoughts on Gawker's demise:
Gawker was an incubator of incredible talent and a source of many an important scoop. RIP https://t.co/gKHtVRzTMb— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) August 18, 2016
.@Gawker trashed me more times than I can count but to be killed off by a thin skinned tech tyrant is appalling.— Tina Brown (@TinaBrownLM) August 18, 2016
1) The loss of @Gawker is huge & terrible. 2) Most people disagreeing don't read it. 3) Still can't believe *journalists* cheered Thiel.— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) August 18, 2016
gawker grief starter kit 💔 pic.twitter.com/Jfmqa9n8A6— Gabriela Barkho (@gabrielabarkho) August 19, 2016
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
HOT ON THE LEFT
“Pregnancy-Related Deaths Nearly Doubled In Texas After Cuts To Women’s Health,” from The Huffington Post: “Texas experienced a sudden and dramatic spike in pregnancy-related deaths in 2011, the same year the state slashed funding for Planned Parenthood and women’s health programs .... After a modest increase in maternal mortality in Texas between 2000 and 2010, the rate of pregnancy-related deaths nearly doubled in 2011 and 2012 ― something researchers described as ‘puzzling’ and out of sync with data from the other 49 states. While the study does not suggest a clear cause for Texas’ alarming data, the rise in pregnancy-related deaths coincided with lawmakers slashing family planning funds by 66 percent in the state budget in 2011.” Those cuts forced 82 family planning clinics to close.
HOT ON THE RIGHT
“Breitbart Editor Milo Yiannopoulos Takes $100,000 for Charity, Gives $0,” from the Daily Beast: “Months after he was supposed to give away more than $100,000 for college scholarships, Milo Yiannopoulos says all of the money is still sitting in his bank account. Yiannopoulos promised in January to create a college scholarship fund for ‘white men who wish to pursue their post-secondary education.’ [But] the Breitbart editor … came under fire this week as allegations surfaced that his charity … has so far done no charity work with the money.” Yiannopoulos said his lawyers are drafting paperwork that would establish it as a legal charity, but experts say that the way in which it accepted money unethical and possibly illegal.
On the campaign trail: Trump is in Dimondale, Mich.
At the White House: Obama is in Martha's Vineyard, Mass.
On Capitol Hill: The Senate and House are out.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Jeff Sessions cited Trump’s 1989 newspaper ads advocating the DEATH PENALTY -- for five men of color who were WRONGLY CONVICTED of raping a jogger in Central Park -- as proof he has always been a conservative. “He bought an ad — people say he wasn’t a conservative — but he bought an ad 20 years ago in the New York Times calling for the death penalty,” the Alabama senator, who is Trump’s main man on Capitol Hill, said on the Matt & Aunie show on WAPI radio. “How many people in New York, that liberal bastion, were willing to do something like that?”
BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski notes that, “Trump spent more than $85,000 to publish controversial full-page newspaper ads … The five men who were sentenced for the rape were later exonerated, but only after they had served their full sentences. The men convicted were all black and Latino and in their mid-teens. Their wrongful conviction settlement, which ran into millions of dollars, was sharply criticized by Trump.”
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- The Capital Weather Gang forecasts a sunny, “tolerably” humid Friday. “Mostly sunny, at least through midday. We’ll see a light north-northeasterly breeze around 5 mph. What’s not to like? Well, right, it’s still at least five degrees above average for this time of year, with high temperatures forecast to be around 90 and maybe a few mid-90s possible. Enjoy the quietness, even if it is a bit warm. On these hot days, there could always be an isolated shower or storm, but most or all folks staying dry is the best bet.” We’ll take it!
-- The Nationals beat the Braves 8-2.
-- The Federal Transit Administration announced it will spend $900,000 to hire and train federal contractors to form an eventually permanent Metro safety oversight agency. Officials say the new contractors will perform immediate inspections and investigations on the Metro, eventually transferring their knowledge base to the new safety oversight commission when it is established. (Faiz Siddiqui)
-- A Latino advocate in Virginia was found guilty of fraud after she posed as an attorney to cheat clients out of thousands of dollars, falsely promising to help them obtain legal status. (Antonio Olivo)
-- As the National Museum of African American History gears up for opening day next month, its director opened up about the “painful but crucial” process museum leaders went through as they grappled with how much of the dark corners of U.S. history to expose. The museum’s structure, they say, is purposefully designed to reflect that struggle. (Krissah Thompson has more.)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
The largest aircraft in the world just took flight:
Bloomberg broke down Trump's strange combination of idioms, expressions, and filler phrases:
The DNC released this video on Trump's refusal to release his tax returns:
Comedy Central mashed up videos of cats who dislike Trump:
A parody trailer for "Mad Trump: Fury Road" went up in June but has been making the rounds again online:
Finally, watch the making of the naked Trump statues that were placed in New York, San Francisco and other cities: