Donald Trump welcomes Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad on stage as he speaks during Sen. Joni Ernst's Roast and Ride at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines on Saturday. (Scott Morgan/Reuters)

THE BIG IDEA:

DES MOINES — At the end of his speech here Saturday, Donald Trump tried to shake the hand of Iowa’s governor. But Terry Branstad had other plans. He moved in for a hug.

The hug was a fitting symbol of how fully the Republican establishment in Iowa has embraced Trump, even as party leaders in other swing states increasingly keep him at arm’s length.

It’s driven largely by the governor, whose son Eric is Trump’s state director.

Just as Marion Barry was known as “mayor for life” in the District, Branstad is known as “governor for life” in Iowa. In his sixth term, the 69-year-old is the  longest-serving governor in U.S. history.

Branstad engaged in a messy battle to seize control of the state party from Rand Paul’s supporters two years ago, and he’s using the apparatus to go all-in for Trump. The manager of his 2014 reelection campaign is also working full-time on the effort.

Insiders say Trump’s Iowa field operation is probably two or three months behind at this point and still playing catch-up compared to Hillary Clinton’s. But sources involved in the effort says the governor’s guys have an easier time getting requests fulfilled by Trump Tower than more frustrated operatives on the ground in other states.

The candidate has come to the state four times since his coronation in Cleveland. Mike Pence has visited twice.

Part of the reason is that there is no realistic path to the presidency for Trump without Iowa’s six electoral votes. But there are much bigger swing states, including Ohio and Florida.

A big reason Trump likes to come here is that he’s welcomed with such open arms. That’s why he spoke for nearly an hour at Joni Ernst’s annual motorcycle ride and pig roast, which drew a crowd of 1,800 to the state fairgrounds. He spoke after a procession of elected officials called for everyone to unify behind him.

“Iowa is very fortunate to have some of the best and most dedicated public servants in the country,” Trump said when he took the stage. “A lot of states would love to have that roster! Believe me.”

Trump hugs Joni Ernst. (Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)

There are six factors that explain why so many Iowa Republicans are tying themselves to the polarizing nominee, in sharp contrast to places such as Ohio:

1. It is not as risky in Iowa as other places.

Trump could lose the election and still be the first Republican to carry the state since George W. Bush.

Polls consistently show Iowa is a toss-up. A CBS-YouGov poll published last weekend showed a dead heat at 40 percent. Quinnipiac University had Clinton up three points; Suffolk University has Trump up one point.

The backdrop during Trump's speech. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

2. Republicans want blue-collar Democrats who are crossing over for Trump to vote for down-ballot Republicans, too.

Iowa offers sort of a demographic sweet spot for Trump. More than other states, the Democratic base is still comprised mostly of blue-collar whites. They are less educated and live in places hollowed out by deindustrialization, so Trump’s protectionist message resonates.

Trump is likely to run up the score in these more beleaguered rural areas, and he’ll probably get blown out in the suburbs around Des Moines. Republicans want the crossover voters in the outer parts of the state to cast ballots for other GOP candidates.

“We must work to get out the vote for the entire Republican ticket,” Ernst told Trump supporters at her event, pledging that the congressional delegation would work to enact his agenda.

Ernst led a 42-mile motorcycle ride. Trump did not get on a hog. (Scott Morgan/Reuters)

3. Iowa Republicans said they don’t want the bottom to fall out from underneath Trump because it would cost them dearly down-ballot.

Senior Sen. Chuck Grassley, who has been in Congress since 1974, has a much closer race than expected. The 82-year-old, easily reelected in the past, has a lead only in the high single digits right now. If Trump collapsed in Iowa, Grassley could become vulnerable to an upset.

Ernst said there is insulation, but she’s not sure how much. “Inevitably it will have some impact,” she said.

There are also two very competitive U.S. House races, where Trump’s performance at the top of the ticket may determine whether the first-term GOP incumbents survive.

And Branstad is obsessed with trying to win control of the state Senate. He believes Trump must perform well for that to happen. Democrats have a three-seat majority out of 50. (It is unlikely the GOP takes the chamber because the districts that are up this year are not favorable with presidential-level turnout, even if Trump were not on the ballot.)

There was a lot of hay in the pavilion where Trump spoke. (Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)

4. GOP leaders believe supporting Trump is necessary to save the caucuses in 2020.

Iowans feel their special status kicking off the nominating process is vulnerable and must be safeguarded.

The success of Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee in the past three caucuses — and their subsequent failure to win the nomination — gives fodder to the jealous haters on the Republican National Committee who always maneuver behind the scenes to strip the state of influence.

Party leaders do not want to give any potential candidate an additional excuse to not compete here in four years.

“We understand the big picture,” said Jeff Kaufmann, the Republican state chairman. “And we understand that if we are not behind Trump, we have eight more years of Clinton.”

Chuck Grassley at Ernst's event. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

5. Iowa leaders care more about judges than others.

Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, got a standing ovation when he said he has his “finger in the dike” to block Merrick Garland from being confirmed to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. “This is not an election for the next four years,” he told the crowd. “This is an election for control of the Supreme Court for the next 40 years.”

Grassley never used Trump’s name, but he praised “our candidate” for putting out a list with the kind of judges he would appoint. “They are strict constructionists,” said Grassley.

Activists are especially keyed in on the importance of the judiciary. In 2010, Iowans voted to remove three state Supreme Court justices who had joined a pro-gay marriage decision.

Trump works the rope line after his speech in Des Moines. (Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)

6. Finally, some elected Republicans genuinely like Trump.

For most GOP politicians, “you can’t always get what you want” — the chorus of the song that plays at the end of every Trump rally — applies. But some like him. They really like him.

Take Rod Blum. He unexpectedly won an open House seat in a Democratic-leaning district in 2014. But he’s closely linking himself with Trump, partly because he genuinely admires the guy.

“Donald Trump is in the house,” Blum excitedly yelled when he took the stage at Ernst’s event.

The congressman uses Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway’s firm for his polling.

-- The Clinton campaign bracketed Trump’s Iowa visit by sending actor Ashton Kutcher and his wife, Mila Kunis, to open a field office in Cedar Rapids. From the Des Moines Register: “Kutcher said he believes some criticism of Trump has been exaggerated. He doesn't think the billionaire is actually a racist, as some have claimed.” Of Clinton: “He said she makes mistakes like all people.… ‘I think we all know what I'm talking about,’ he said to chuckles in the crowd [of 80].” The native Iowan added: "I'm not really like a Democrat, Democrat. I'm not really like a super-liberal. But I'm definitely not a Trumper."

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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- The FBI has recovered evidence that foreign hackers have broken into two state election databases in recent weeks, prompting the bureau to warn other election officials to step up precautions. "The FBI warning, contained in a 'flash' alert, ... comes amid heightened concerns among U.S. intelligence officials about the possibility of cyberintrusions, potentially by Russian state-sponsored hackers, aimed at disrupting the November elections," Michael Isikoff reports for Yahoo News. "The bulletin does not identify the states in question, but sources familiar with the document say it refers to the targeting by suspected foreign hackers of voter registration databases in Arizona and Illinois. In the Illinois case, officials were forced to shut down the state’s voter registration system for ten days in late July, after the hackers managed to download personal data on up to 200,000 state voters, Ken Menzel, the general counsel of the Illinois Board of Elections, said in an interview. The Arizona attack was more limited, involving malicious software that was introduced into its voter registration system but no successful exfiltration of data, a state official said. ... Menzel ... said that in a recent briefing, FBI agents confirmed to him that the perpetrators were believed to be foreign hackers, although they were not identified by country. He said he was told that the bureau was looking at a 'possible link' to the recent highly publicized attack on the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations."

-- Trump’s new ad is a contrast spot that focuses on the economy. “In Hillary Clinton’s America, the middle class gets crushed,” a narrator says. “In Donald Trump’s America, working families get tax returns. Millions of new jobs created. Wages go up. Small businesses thrive. The American Dream, achievable. Change that makes America great again.” Click the image above to watch.

A campaign source says upwards of $10 million will be spent over a week and that more money will be spent to air this spot than any other so far. The team is also expanding its current buy from four states to nine states. Last week, they were up in Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida. This week they're adding New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, Virginia and Colorado. Romney lost eight of these nine states. And the campaign hopes to capitalize on the main Clinton super PAC canceling its reservations in Colorado and Virginia because strategists see them as somewhat safely in her column.

-- Anthony Weiner has not given up lewd texting with women who are not his wife, the New York Post reports. The paper obtained a picture he sent of himself in his underwear while snuggling with his son in bed to a woman who says she’s been messaging with him from January 2015 until this month. "The stay-at-home cad shot the revealing photo while discussing massage parlors 'near my old apartment' shortly after 3 a.m. on July 31, 2015, a screen shot of the exchange shows.... Moments after forwarding the photo, Weiner freaked out over the possibility he had accidentally posted it publicly — just as he did during the infamous episode that forced him to resign from Congress in 2011."

Weiner — whose wife Huma Abedin is traveling constantly as one of Clinton's top aides — didn't deny he'd been in touch with the woman: "Asked for comment, Weiner admitted he and the woman 'have been friends for some time. ... 'She has asked me not to comment except to say that our conversations were private, often included pictures of her nieces and nephews and my son and were always appropriate,' he said."

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

-- San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick spoke to reporters about his refusal to stand up for the national anthem as a way to protest police brutality. From the San Jose Mercury News: "I’ll continue to sit. I’m going to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me this is something that has to change and when there’s significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent in this country ... I’ll stand."

Kaepernick had harsh words for both Clinton and Trump: "It wasn’t something that was planned. But I think the two presidential candidates that we currently have also represent the issue that we have in this country right now. ... You have Hillary, who’s called black teens or black kids 'super-predators.' You have Donald Trump, who’s openly racist. We have a presidential candidate who’s deleted emails and done things illegally and is a presidential candidate. That doesn’t make sense to me, because if that was any other person, you’d be in prison. So what is this country really standing for?"

-- Some fans are burning their jerseys in protest.

Nykea Aldridge, a cousin of NBA star Dwyane Wade, was shot in the head and killed when a stray bullet struck her while she was pushing her baby in a stroller Friday afternoon on the South Side of Chicago. Her family mourns during a prayer vigil. (Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. Two brothers on parole were arrested and charged with first-degree murder for the shooting death of Nykea Aldridge, the cousin of NBA star Dwyane Wade. Darwin Sorrells Jr., 26, was sentenced to six years in prison in 2013 on a gun charge and released early on parole; Derren Sorrells, 22, is a known gang member who is also on parole for motor vehicle theft and escape. (Vanessa Williams)
  2. A suicide bomber killed at least 54 and wounded at least 67 more with a car bomb in Yemen. ISIS claimed responsibility. (Ali al-Mujahed and Paul Schemm)

  3. Clashes are intensifying between two U.S.-backed forces -- Syrian rebels and Kurdish fighters -- in northern Syria. The skirmishes underline the no-win situation facing the United States in backing mutually hostile forces. (Sudarsan Raghavan)

  4. Virginia Republicans will pick their 2017 nominees for governor and other statewide offices in a primary instead of a convention. It’s a huge win for Ed Gillespie. The change was made Saturday in a 41-to-40 central committee vote after a passionate, hour-long debate. Conventions favor more ideological candidates. (Laura Vozzella in Richmond)

  5. There was a false report of an active shooter in the Los Angeles airport last night. Panicked passengers ran onto the runways, and the central terminal closed. This happened earlier in the month in New York. ( Los Angeles Times)

  6. Two United Airlines pilots on a flight from Scotland to Newark were arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of alcohol. They were taken into custody in Scotland before the plane took off. (Reuters)
  7. U.S. experts and former officials secretly met several times with top North Korean officials this year, and some of them have emerged believing the regime of Kim Jong Un is ready to restart talks about its nuclear program. (Josh Rogin)

  8. In Kashmir: Since the middle of last month, about 570 people have come to the main government hospital with injuries to their eyes from lead pellets fired at them during clashes with Indian police. "The patients have mutilated retinas, severed optic nerves, irises seeping out like puddles of ink," or "dead eyes," as the chief ophthalmologist puts it. (New York Times)

  9. Charles Osgood, 83, will retire from CBS’s “Sunday Morning” after 22 years on Sept. 25. Jane Pauley, Anthony Mason and Lee Cowan are being considered as replacements. (Jessica Contrera)

  10. More than 300 reindeer were killed by a lightning strike in central Norway. Their carcasses was found on the Hardangervidda mountain plateau in an unusually large natural disaster. (Associated Press)

Hillary in Charlotte last month (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

THE DAILY HILLARY:

-- Robert Samuels tracks Clinton's gradual transformation on gay rights, concluding that Clinton could have been an early champion for same-sex marriage but refused to lead: "As she prepared for a [2008] forum on the gay-oriented Logo network, she reached out to her friend Hilary Rosen, a political consultant who is a lesbian. Rosen expressed frustration that so many mainstream political figures opposed legalized same-sex marriage, and she challenged Clinton to speak out for a community that had strongly supported her. Clinton refused ... Clinton eventually got where her friends wanted her to go, though her change of heart came when the political risk had disappeared — close to a year after similar shifts by President Obama and Vice President Biden. ... Clinton’s path to get to this point frustrated many of her supporters. While most national politicians have been slow to evolve on gay marriage, Clinton’s handling of it was particularly saddening to some activists because they had expected more."

-- Today Hillary is releasing a comprehensive mental health policy agenda. She promises to convene a White House Conference on Mental Health during her first year as president. Other planks of the plan: “Integrate our nation’s mental and physical health care systems so that health care delivery focuses on the ‘whole person’ … Promote early diagnosis and intervention, including launching a national initiative for suicide prevention. … Enforce mental health parity to the full extent of the law. … Improve criminal justice outcomes by training law enforcement officers in crisis intervention, and prioritizing treatment over jail for low-level offenders. … Improve access to housing and job opportunities. … Invest in brain and behavioral research and developing safe and effective treatments.” Read the whole plan here.

-- HRC received her first national intelligence briefing since becoming the Democratic nominee on Saturday, during a two-hour session at an FBI field office near her home in Chappaqua, N.Y. Unlike Trump, who brought Chris Christie and Michael Flynn, the campaign let it be known that the former secretary of state went unaccompanied by staff. (John Wagner)

-- Clinton's plan for coal country is modeled on the experience of tobacco farmers. She is promising $30 billion over 10 years. "As in the case of tobacco, the idea is not to save the old economy, but to create a new one by retraining miners, investing in infrastructure and technology, and luring new industries," writes Coral Davenport in the New York Times. "Trevor Houser, the plan’s chief architect and an energy economist who grew up in coal-dependent Wyoming, spent two weeks last summer traveling through coal towns there and in Appalachia, meeting with miners, mayors and local boards and councils, to get an understanding of what is needed, what works and what does not."

-- Hillary plans to talk more about her late father and his drapery business to contrast her upbringing and values with Trump’s. “While Clinton has spoken of her father throughout the campaign, the recent recollections have been more detailed and intimate, the AP's Catherine Lucey reports. "‘He expected to be paid when he showed up,’ Clinton said recently during an event in Warren, Michigan. ‘He did the work. He paid for the supplies and the labor he often hired to help him on big jobs. I can’t imagine what would have happened to my father and his business if he had gotten a contract from Trump.’”

Mike Pence surprises patrons at Millie's Diner in Richmond on Saturday. (Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

THE DAILY DONALD:

-- "Mike Pence wants to keep Syrian refugees out of Indiana. They're coming anyway," by Katie Zezima: After the Paris attack last fall, the Indiana governor directed all state agencies to halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees. "But things did not quite work out the way Pence says they did. A single family scheduled to come to Indiana was diverted to Connecticut shortly after Pence’s announcement in November. But thanks to a lawsuit and subsequent court ruling overturning Pence’s directive, 140 Syrian refugees have since resettled in Indiana, with more expected in the coming weeks."

-- Trump will visit Detroit on Saturday to make his first appearance before a predominantly African American audience since his starting his outreach effort. “He will visit the Great Faith Ministries on Saturday in Detroit, a predominantly black church located in the heart of the city, said Pastor Mark Burns, a Trump supporter who arranged a meeting between the Republican presidential nominee and the church’s leader, Bishop Wayne T. Jackson,” Bloomberg’s Kevin Cirilli reports.

-- More scrutiny of Trump campaign CEO Steve Bannon, via Sean Sullivan and Alice Crites:  “Records show (he) changed his voter registration address in Florida this week as reporters were preparing a story about how he was registered at an address where he did not live … putting him at odds with state election laws. … The New York Daily News reported Friday that his ex-wife said in a 2007 court statement that Bannon didn’t want their twin daughters attending a school because too many Jews attended. ‘The biggest problem he had with Archer [School for Girls in Los Angeles] is the number of Jews that attend,’ (she) said in her statement … ‘He said that he doesn’t like the way they raise their kids to be ‘whiny brats’ and that he didn’t want the girls going to school with Jews.’” (Bannon, through a spokesman, denied these allegations and said he proudly sent his kids there.)

-- The story about Trump's doctor keeps getting weirder. After Harold Bornstein told NBC Friday that he wrote the letter extolling the candidate's health in five minutes, Huffington Post reporter Sam Levine emailed the address listed on the letter. The response: He'd only talk if the reporter paid him $325 an hour. Levine tried to confirm the writer's identity, but was rebuffed. Some of the enigmatic responses were in Italian. Read the story to believe it.

-- Questions on Trump's ever-shifting immigration policy persist. Aides and allies are still struggling to answer whether he would try to deport undocumented immigrants in the country who have NOT committed crimes, reports Sean Sullivan. But Trump pledged last night, on Twitter of course, to explain everything in a massive Arizona rally on Wednesday:

-- On the Sunday shows, Trump advisers twisted themselves into pretzels to insist that he has been consistent: 

Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway (Gerald Herbert/AP)

Kellyanne Conway downplayed the idea of Trump's proposal for a "deportation force" that would expel 11 million undocumented immigrants: "The deportation force, I would like to address that. He hasn't mentioned that since last November," she told "Fox News Sunday." About whether her boss would deport those who haven't committed crimes, Conway seemed to waffle: "And what he's said now is that he will look at that. But he wants to look — the softening is more approach than policy." Conway called that approach "fair" and "humane" in an interview with "Face the Nation's" John Dickerson. "He's pretty consistent," she said.

Mike Pence said on CNN's "State of the Union" that the idea of a deportation force was "a mechanism, not a policy," and that Trump has remained "completely consistent" on immigration. About whether Trump would throw out non-criminals, Pence said: "I know the media wants to focus on that one issue. Donald Trump will articulate a policy about how we deal with that population." The veep nominee also excused Trump's initial tweet about the death of Dwayne Wade's cousin, saying Trump "has a plainspoken way about him."

Pence refused to weigh in on birthright citizenship, saying the subject of so-called "anchor babies" should be revisited down the road. "The whole question of citizenship, of natural-born Americans is a subject for the future," he said. "I think the American people ought to ask it."

RNC Chair Reince Priebus found himself repeatedly stating he couldn't speak for Trump and said he sometimes disagrees with him. Priebus deferred to Trump on his immigration plan, saying "I just don't speak for Donald Trump" on the issue. On birthright citizenship, he conceded that he personally is "comfortable" with current law (the courts have said it is a Constitutional right) and added that Trump "doesn't have to adopt every single position" of the GOP. 

The chairman said he does not know Trump's new campaign CEO, Steve Bannon, well enough to say whether allegations made against him are true or not. "I go with the flow based on what the campaign wants to do. I think Kellyanne's doing a phenomenal job. I don't know Steve Bannon, to tell you the truth, very well. I'm going to get to know him," Priebus said.

-- Asked how Trump could call Clinton a "bigot," Chris Christie claimed the Democrats "started" it. "This type of discourse in the campaign is just unwarranted," he said on ABC's "This Week." "But it was started by Ms. Clinton. Ms. Clinton has started the idea of calling Donald Trump those types of names. And the fact is that, once you are the person — and Ms. Clinton is the person who injected this type of commentary into this race — once you inject that type of commentary into this race, you can’t then sit back and start complaining about it." (Chris Cillizza notes that Christie is incorrect.)

-- 2020 watch: John Kasich gathered with 125 of his supporters in New Hampshire last night. From NH1’s Paul Steinhauser: “While the gathering was billed as a way to personally thank supporters for their help in Kasich’s bid for 2016 … talk of another possible White House bid by Kasich was on the mind of many in attendance. Kasich was introduced by former U.S. Sen. John E. Sununu … The crowd went wild when Sununu described Kasich as ‘the man we all hope someday will be president of the United States.’ Kasich, in his comments, said that ‘the politics of the future is going to be about how we pull people together.’”

The Ohio governor told the Union Leader in an interview that Trump has not become more presidential. “Reboot? I don’t even know what that means,” he told the paper. “There has been no change as far as I can see; it’s the same old thing.”

-- Speaking of New Hampshire: Bernie Sanders will return to campaign for Clinton on Sept. 5. He will address the New Hampshire AFL-CIO Labor Day breakfast in Manchester. (Boston Globe’s James Pindell)

THE RACE FOR CONGRESS:

-- New York Times A1, “Democrats Step Up Pursuit of House Republicans Left Limping by Trump,” by Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin: “Few Democrats say they believe their party is positioned, at this point, to take control of the House … Multiple strategists involved in the campaign for control of Congress said Republican outside groups (are) prepared to run ads treating Mr. Trump as a certain-to-lose candidate and urging voters to elect Republicans as a check on [Clinton.] ... Republican candidates and groups are also weighing a renewed television barrage against Nancy Pelosi.”

"Democrats are particularly enticed by Mr. Trump’s dwindling support in affluent suburban areas — including those near Kansas City, Kan.; San Diego; Orlando, Fla.; and Minneapolis … Among the Republican districts that Democrats see as newly threatened are those held by Representatives John L. Mica of Florida, who represents the Orlando area; Kevin Yoder of Kansas, from the suburbs of Kansas City; and Michael G. Fitzpatrick, a lawmaker from outside Philadelphia who is retiring. Several others represent diverse, economically comfortable areas of California, including Representatives Darrell E. Issa and Ed Royce, from the San Diego and Los Angeles suburbs.”

Strategists for the National Republican Congressional Committee told donors that private polling showed voters were not yet equating vulnerable Republican lawmakers with Mr. Trump directly … But at the Four Seasons resort where (donors) assembled, there was open talk — and worry — about why House Democrats were outraising their Republican counterparts. ‘This pattern is unsustainable,’ wrote Megan Cummings, the finance director of the House Republican campaign committee, in a pleading email to Washington lobbyists last week. ‘We can’t go another month with the Democrats outraising us by such significant amounts.’” 

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

The Green Party candidate is trying to earn some free media by seizing on the death of that gorilla:

Social media was abuzz with Kaepernick's protest:

One Gold Star mom's take:

Trump continued to exploit Internet theories that Clinton is sick (despite his own issues with his doctor's note):

But the big Twitter moment was Trump's tying of the death of bastketball star Dwayne Wade's cousin to his campaign:

Here's the clean-up tweet:

The backlash was swift and diverse. Here's actor Don Cheadle:

Not even Trump's campaign manager Kellyanne Conway could defend it:

But it was pretty clear that she had some influence on Trump's follow-up tweet:

Rapper Ice Cube was mad at Trump for another reason:

Sheldon Adelson's son isn't a Trump fan:

Could this actually be peak Trump?

Lawmakers celebrated the 53rd anniversary of Martin Luther King's March on Washington:

Trump noted the anniversary late in the day:

Vladimir Putin (EPA/Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/Kremlin pool)

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

-- New York Times, "A powerful Russian weapon: The spread of false stories" by Neil MacFarquhar: "In Crimea, eastern Ukraine and now Syria, Mr. Putin has flaunted a modernized and more muscular military. But he lacks the economic strength and overall might to openly confront NATO, the European Union or the United States. Instead, he has invested heavily in a program of “weaponized” information, using a variety of means to sow doubt and division. The goal is to weaken cohesion among member states, stir discord in their domestic politics and blunt opposition to Russia ... The flow of misleading and inaccurate stories is so strong that both NATO and the European Union have established special offices to identify and refute disinformation, particularly claims emanating from Russia."

DAYBOOK:

On the trail: Mike Pence has two rallies in Georgia. The other candidates have no public events. 

At the White House: Obama and Biden lunch together at 12:30. Josh Earnest briefs at 1:30. 

Congress is in recess. 

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

"Basically, we have a psychopath running for president. ... He meets the clinical definition, okay?" -- David Plouffe, Obama's former campaign manager, on Meet the Press"

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

-- “Much like Sunday, ample sunshine steadily heats the air. Most places see highs with a few degrees of 90 and it’s moderately humid. With high pressure directly overhead, there’s not much breeze,” the Capital Weather Gang forecasts. “We bake for three more days before a welcome breath of fresh Canadian air. Some showers may sprint through the region during the transition but, for a second straight week, conditions are mostly dry all week long. The cooler, less humid air arriving Thursday into Friday and lasting through the weekend may start to retreat by Labor Day, when it turns hotter again.”

-- The Nationals lost 5-3 to the Rockies.

-- Federal prosecutors asked for three more weeks to decide whether they will pursue the public corruption case against former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, saying in a court filing that Justice Department officials are still debating how to proceed. “Friday’s filing asks the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit to keep both cases on hold until Sept. 19, adding that it will be the last request for any delay. It offers no indication of how prosecutors may be leaning,”  per Rachel Weiner and Matt Zapotosky.

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

The best moments from last night's Video Music Awards:

Read a story running through the key moments here.

A group of anti-Trump Republicans are launching a small ad buy calling on Trump to drop out:

Watch Trump and his surrogates defend his tweets about the death of Wade's cousin:

See visualizations of the recently-discovered new planet that some are calling a "second Earth":

Rescue dogs get dressed up for adoption: