With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve
THE BIG IDEA: Donald Trump often behaves, first and foremost, as if he is the president of the states and people who voted for him.
That’s at odds with the American tradition, and it’s problematic as a governing philosophy — especially in a moment of crisis. Trump’s initially tone-deaf response to Charlottesville underscores why.
Animated by grievance and congenitally disinclined to extend olive branches, Trump lashes out at his “enemies” — his 2020 reelection campaign even used that word in a commercial released on Sunday — while remaining reticent to explicitly call out his fans — no matter how odious, extreme or violent.
Channeling his inner-Richard Nixon, who kept an enemies list of his own, candidate Trump often claimed to speak for “a silent majority.” After failing to win the popular vote, President Trump has instead governed on behalf of an increasingly vocal but diminishing minority.
The president has held campaign-style rallies in places like West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. Indeed, almost all his political travel has been to places he carried last November. He keeps stacks of 2016 electoral maps to hand out to people visiting the Oval Office so he can point out the sea of red. He speaks often about his “base,” preferring to preach to the choir rather than evangelize for his policies. “The Trump base is far bigger & stronger than ever before,” Trump wrote on Twitter last week.
-- Apparently the president sees “the Trump base” as distinct from the GOP base: “Trump's job approval rating in Gallup Daily tracking is at 34% for the three-day period from Friday through Sunday — by one point the lowest of his administration so far,” Frank Newport wrote yesterday. “Republicans' latest weekly approval rating of 79% was the lowest from his own partisans so far, dropping from the previous week's 82%. Democrats gave Trump a 7% job approval rating last week, while the reading for independents was at 29%. This is the first time independents' weekly approval rating for Trump has dropped below 30%.” In the latest Gallup polling, 46 percent of whites approve of Trump’s job performance. That’s the same share Barack Obama had at this point in 2009. But while only 15 percent of nonwhites support Trump, 73 percent backed Obama.
-- Trump appeared reluctant to make his brief remarks yesterday, in which he explicitly condemned the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists. He tacked them on to a hastily arranged speech after praising his own stewardship of the economy, two days after he did not specifically condemn the “Unite the Right” rally and only after an outpouring of criticism from Republican leaders for that omission. Reading from a teleprompter, Trump said that the displays of hatred and bigotry in Charlottesville have “no place in America.” (Read a transcript of the president’s comments here.)
-- The president was still more tepid than members of his own Cabinet. “Though Trump has regularly employed the phrase ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ to describe other attacks in the United States and the Middle East, he chose not to echo Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s conclusion that the violence in Charlottesville met the Justice Department’s definition of ‘domestic terrorism,’” David Nakamura and Sari Horwitz note.
-- Conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin describes Trump’s performance as “classic narcissistic behavior”: “The sole determination of whether Trump likes someone (Saudi royalty, thuggish leaders, etc.) is whether they praise him. It’s always and only about him. He has been far more antagonistic toward Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his own attorney general … than he has been toward white nationalists because the former were disloyal in his mind, the only unforgivable sin in the Trump White House. …
“The white nationalists in Charlottesville did not hide their intentions. They were there to revel in the Trump presidency, which explicitly told them it was time to ‘take their country back,’” Rubin notes. “Former KKK grand wizard David Duke left no confusion as to his followers’ admiration for the president: ‘This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take our country back. We’re going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back, and that’s what we’ve got to do.’”
-- Meanwhile, alt-right leader Richard Spencer dismissed Trump’s statement as “nonsense,” telling reporters at a news conference yesterday that "[only] a dumb person would take those lines seriously.” Spencer also said he did not consider the president’s words to be a condemnation of the white nationalist movement. “I don't think he condemned it, no,” said Spencer, whose group advocates for a form of American apartheid, per Business Insider. “Did he say 'white nationalist?' 'Racist' means an irrational hatred of people. … I don't think he meant any of us.” Asked whether he considers Trump an ally, Spencer replied that while he didn't think of Trump as “alt-right,” he considers the president to be “the first true authentic nationalist in my lifetime.”
-- Compare Trump’s muted reaction to Charlottesville with his animated response last December to a similar incident in Columbus, another college town where an extremist plowed a car into a crowd of people. Abdul Razak Ali Artan, an Ohio State University student, drove a Honda sedan through a crowd outside a school building last November before emerging from the vehicle and slashing at people with a butcher knife. As president-elect, Trump flew to OSU to meet with survivors and praise the cop who shot the attacker. “This is a great honor for me today,” Trump told reporters during the visit. “We’re in a fantastic state that I love, Ohio.” One big difference: Artan was a Somali Muslim refugee. It's not even clear Trump has tried to call the mother of Charlottesville victim Heather Heyer.
-- In this context, Trump’s announcement that he is mulling a pardon for Joe Arpaio can be viewed as a strategic sop to mollify some of the most xenophobic elements of his nativist base. The president told Fox News in an interview published yesterday that he is “seriously considering” a full pardon to the former Arizona sheriff, who was convicted last month of criminal contempt for ignoring a federal judge’s order that he stop racially profiling Hispanics.
“I might do it right away, maybe early this week. I am seriously thinking about it,” the president told Gregg Jarrett. He called Arpaio a “great American patriot” who has “done a lot in the fight against illegal immigration”: “Is there anyone in local law enforcement who has done more to crack down on illegal immigration than Sheriff Joe? … He doesn’t deserve to be treated this way.”
Arpaio, who remains a “birther” and has insisted he has proof that Obama was not born in Hawaii, lost reelection last year. He was an early Trump endorser — going to Iowa for the announcement — and linked himself closely with the GOP nominee — speaking in prime time during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
Radley Balko, the author of the book “Rise of the Warrior Cop,” argues that Trump is giving racists “a reassuring wink” by floating the Arpaio pardon. “I very seriously doubt Arpaio would ever get jail time. Federal judges aren’t known for sending octogenarian ex-cops to prison. But his name and reputation ought to be stained. If any cop deserves that, it’s Arpaio,” he writes on The Watch.
“In 2011, the Justice Department concluded that Arpaio’s deputies had engaged in the worst pattern of racial profiling that the DOJ had ever investigated,” Balko recounts. “That report found that Arpaio’s deputies routinely put Spanish-speaking prisoners in solitary confinement as punishment for their inability to speak English. … 1 in 5 traffic stops during Arpaio’s immigration sweep’s involved Fourth Amendment violations. … Latinos were four to nine times more likely to be pulled over than non-Latinos. … Accusations that Arpaio’s deputies continued to harass Latinos were affirmed by another federal judge in 2013. Arpaio then launched an investigation of that judge. That report also found that Arpaio was spending so much time harassing Latinos that his department was neglecting violent crime.
“On multiple occasions, federal judges have found that Arpaio’s jails are unconstitutionally inhumane, most notably when it comes to diet, health care and mental health. The vast, vast majority of the people in Arpaio’s jails are being held on suspected immigration violations. … Arpaio in fact once boasted that his jails were akin to a ‘concentration camp.’”
“He faces up to six months in prison at his sentencing, which is scheduled for Oct. 5,” Matt Zapotosky reports. “Jack Wilenchik, Arpaio’s attorney, said after Arpaio was convicted that the former sheriff would appeal to get a jury trial. … A Justice Department spokeswoman said she was not aware of the president’s remarks but would wait until action was taken before commenting.”
“I would accept the pardon,” Arpaio told Fox News, “because I am 100 percent not guilty.”
-- In stark contrast to his caution after Charlottesville, it took Trump just 54 minutes to attack the chief executive of Merck by name on Monday morning after he resigned from the president’s manufacturing council. Kenneth C. Frazier, one of the few African American chief executives in the Fortune 500, touted the virtues of diversity in a statement. “I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism,” he said. “America's leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal.”
POTUS continued to use his social media bully pulpit to go after him last night:
Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President's Manufacturing Council,he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2017
.@Merck Pharma is a leader in higher & higher drug prices while at the same time taking jobs out of the U.S. Bring jobs back & LOWER PRICES!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2017
-- Trump’s fixation on his populist right flank, rather than the center, has made it easier for other corporate chieftains to distance themselves.
Kevin Plank, chief executive of Under Armour, joined Merck’s Frazier last night in announcing that he, too, is stepping down from Trump’s manufacturing council. “I love our country and our company and will continue to focus my efforts on inspiring every person that they can do anything through the power of sport which promotes unity, diversity and inclusion,” he wrote on Twitter.
A few hours later, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich announced in a blog post that he will also resign from the council — “to call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues.”
Yesterday’s defections will further intensify pressure on executives at companies that continue to collaborate with the administration — including General Electric, Dell and Dow — to follow their lead.
-- Meanwhile, even after his speech yesterday, Trump still has not reacted publicly to a bomb that was detonated at a Minnesota mosque Aug. 5. Sebastian Gorka, a far-right nationalist on Trump’s National Security Council, defended his silence last week. “There's a great rule: all initial reports are false,” Gorka said on MSNBC from the White House briefing room. “You have to check them. You have to find out who the perpetrators are. … We've had a series of crimes committed — alleged hate crimes — by right-wing individuals in the last six months that turned out to actually have been propagated by the left. So let's wait and see.” (The governor of Minnesota had already declared the mosque attack as “an act of terrorism” when Gorka said this.)
The president, of course, showed no such caution after attacks this spring in Paris and London. And don’t forget when he falsely described a casino robbery in Manila as a terrorist attack. Or his attacks on Mexican immigrants.
-- Finally, Trump’s botched response to Charlottesville should be viewed as another consequence of electing the first president in American history with no prior governing experience. “Say what you will about politicians as a group, but it is striking how all of them, from Bernie Sanders to Ted Cruz, knew the right thing to say in response to Charlottesville,” writes Daniel W. Drezner, a professor of international politics at Tufts University. “Running for office repeatedly tends to hone one’s rhetorical instincts. At a minimum, most professional politicians learn the do’s and don’ts of political rhetoric. Trump’s political education has different roots. He has learned the art of political rhetoric from three sources: reality television, Twitter and ‘the shows.’ His miscues this past week can be traced to the pathologies inherent in each of these arenas.”
-- “One of the difficult but primary duties of the modern presidency is to speak for the nation in times of tragedy,” Michael Gerson, a speechwriter for George W. Bush, wrote in a column this weekend. “It falls to the president to express something of the nation’s soul — grief for the lost, sympathy for the suffering, moral clarity in the midst of confusion, confidence in the unknowable purposes of God. Not every president does this equally well. But none have been incapable. Until Donald Trump.
“The president is confident that his lazy musings are equal to history. They are not,” Gerson continues. “Trump could offer no context for this latest conflict. No inspiring ideals from the author of the Declaration of Independence, who called Charlottesville home. No healing words from the president who was killed by a white supremacist. By his flat, foolish utterance, Trump proved once again that he has no place in the company of these leaders.”
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
THERE IS A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- A low-level foreign policy adviser to Trump “repeatedly” attempted to set up a meeting with Russian officials during the presidential campaign — passing along multiple requests for Trump to meet with Russian leadership, including Vladimir Putin. Tom Hamburger, Carol D. Leonnig and Rosalind S. Helderman scoop: “The adviser, George Papadopoulos, offered to set up ‘a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss US-Russia ties under [Trump],’ telling them his Russian contacts welcomed the opportunity …
“The proposal sent a ripple of concern through campaign headquarters in Trump Tower. Campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis wrote that he thought NATO allies should be consulted ... Another [Trump adviser] cited legal concerns … But Papadopoulos, a campaign volunteer with scant foreign policy experience, persisted. Between March and September, the self-described energy consultant sent at least a half-dozen requests for Trump, as he turned from primary candidate to party nominee, or for members of his team to meet with Russian officials. Among those to express concern about the effort was [Paul Manafort], who rejected in May 2016 a proposal from Papadopoulos for Trump to do so.
“Less than a decade out of college, Papadopoulos appeared to hold little sway within the campaign, and it is unclear whether he was acting as an intermediary for the Russian government ... [But] to experts in Russian intelligence gathering, the Papadopoulos chain offers further evidence that Russians were looking for entry points and playing upon connections with lower-level aides to penetrate the 2016 campaign …”
WILL NORTH KOREA BLINK?
-- Kim Jong Un appeared to slightly ease his rhetoric against the United States on Tuesday, with state media reporting he will “watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees” following a week of bluster. Anna Fifield and Dan Lamothe report: “But, as is often the case with North Korea, the message was mixed: Kim was inspecting the missile unit tasked with preparing to strike near Guam, and photos released by state media showed a large satellite image of Andersen Air Force base on Guam on the screen beside the leader. ‘The U.S. should stop at once arrogant provocations against the DPRK and unilateral demands and not provoke it any longer,’ the North Korean leader [said]. … If ‘the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions on the Korean Peninsula and in its vicinity,’ Kim continued, North Korea would ‘make an important decision as it already declared,’ he said. Kim was visiting [the] elite missile unit that — according to state media — is finalizing preparations to launch ballistic missiles into the Pacific Ocean near [Guam]. A decision was due this week, a week during which the Kim regime is celebrating [with huge propaganda displays].”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, elected in May on a pledge to adopt a more conciliatory approach to North Korea, urged the United States to give diplomacy a chance: “Peace will not come to the Korean Peninsula by force. Although peace and negotiation are painful and slow, we must pursue this path,” said Moon, adding that he is “confident that the U.S. will respond calmly and responsibly to the current situation.” He met yesterday in Seoul with Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Moon went a step further in a speech delivered in the last few hours, declaring that allied military action could only be taken with the consent of the South Korean government. The Wall Street Journal calls it "an implicit signal that Mr. Moon wouldn’t tolerate any unilateral action by the U.S. to strike North Korea."
-- Iran’s president, meanwhile, threatened to revitalize the country’s nuclear program. The AP’s Nasser Karimi reports: “Hassan Rouhani’s remarks to lawmakers follow the Iranian parliament’s move earlier this week to increase spending on the country’s ballistic missile program and the foreign operations of its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard. The bill — and Rouhani’s comments — are seen as a direct response to the new U.S. legislation earlier this month that imposed mandatory penalties on people involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them. … If Washington continues with ‘threats and sanctions’ against Iran, Rouhani said in parliament on Tuesday, Tehran could easily restart the nuclear program. ‘In an hour and a day, Iran could return to a more advanced (nuclear) level than at the beginning of the negotiations’ that preceded the 2015 deal, Rouhani said.”
-- During a recent dinner at the White House, Rupert Murdoch — who controls the Wall Street Journal and Fox News — told Trump that chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon needs to go. “Mr. Trump offered little pushback … and vented his frustrations about Mr. Bannon," the New York Times’s Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush report. Son-in-law Jared Kushner and chief of staff John Kelly were also at the meal. “Mr. Murdoch is close to Mr. Kushner, who has been in open warfare with Mr. Bannon since the spring. But Mr. Trump has expressed similar sentiments in the past, then backed off. Just a week earlier, as Mr. Trump ruminated on whether to dismiss [Reince Priebus], he was pushed by Mr. Kushner and others to dismiss Mr. Bannon as well. Mr. Trump signaled to allies that he was pretty much there ... So far, Mr. Trump has not been able to follow through — a product of his dislike of confrontation, the bonds of a foxhole friendship forged during the 2016 presidential campaign and concerns about what mischief Mr. Bannon might do once he leaves the [West Wing] … From the start, Mr. Bannon, 63, has told people in his orbit that he never expected to last in his current position longer than eight months to a year, and hoped to ram through as much of his agenda as he could while he stood in the president’s favor. More recently he has told friends that he … constantly asks himself whether he could better pursue his to-do list … on the outside. ... But the choice might not be his."
-- CBS News’s Major Garrett reports that Trump could dismiss Bannon as soon as the end of this week.
-- Ousted White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci appeared on Stephen Colbert’s show. Bethonie Butler reports: “Colbert said he had one ‘gotcha’ question for Scaramucci. ‘Nazis: good or bad?’ he asked. ‘Super bad,’ Scaramucci said.” Scaramucci also addressed his feud with Reince Priebus, saying, “The weird thing about my relationship with Reince is we were actually pretty good friends when I was a political donor writing checks to the RNC, but once I became part of the administration … it was a little more adversarial.”
GET SMART FAST:
- Hundreds of people were confirmed dead in Sierra Leone after a torrent of fast-moving floods and mudslides swept through neighborhoods, burying dozens of unsuspecting residents alive. At least 312 people have been confirmed dead so far, and authorities expect the death toll to soar as the body count continues. (Max Bearak)
- The FBI arrested an Oklahoma man on charges that he tried to detonate what he thought was a 1,000-pound bomb in front of a bank, acting out of a hatred for the U.S. government and an admiration for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. (Devlin Barrett)
- Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that some transgender members of the military may still be able to serve. Despite the president’s remarks to the contrary, Mattis reported that the Pentagon is still looking at the issue. (Dan Lamothe)
- The federal government has requested over a million IP addresses from Internet users who visited a website coordinating Inauguration Day protests. DreamHost, which houses the site in question, DisruptJ20.org, is fighting the request. (Ellen Nakashima)
- A Denver jury ruled in favor of Taylor Swift, awarding the pop star a symbolic $1 in damages after she accused radio DJ David Mueller of groping her before a concert in 2013. He had sued her for lost income. (Emily Yahr)
- Hillary Clinton’s spiritual adviser admitted to having plagiarized portions of his messages to the presidential candidate. Rev. Bill Shillady has compiled his prayers to Clinton in a new book released today, and one from the day after the election incorporates the exact words of Indiana pastor Matt Deuel. (Julie Zauzmer)
- Laura Ingraham is reportedly in line to get her own show at Fox. The potential Ingraham program could become a ratings rival of Rachel Maddow’s 9 p.m. show. (CNN)
- The Women’s March is reconvening. The Women’s Convention will be held in Detroit in October to address next year’s midterms. (USA Today)
- Medical experts are reconsidering the persistent advice from doctors to always finish your antibiotics, even if you’re feeling better. Some researchers worry that the advice is worsening antibiotic resistance. (Wall Street Journal)
- Roughly 1 in 9 Americans hold a job that could be affected by self-driving cars. But while some, such as taxi drivers, could be pushed out of their jobs, those who work in sectors like real estate or plumbing could be aided by the advanced technology. (Wall Street Journal)
- A D.C. firefighter was beaten by a crowd for allegedly responding to an emergency call for an injured child while intoxicated. The firefighter suffered a broken jaw and is now the subject of an internal review. (Peter Hermann and Ellie Silverman)
- A Chinese teenager died less than 48 hours after checking into an Internet-addiction treatment center. 18-year-old Li Ao’s body was covered in scars and bruises, causing Chinese authorities to shut down the center and launch an investigation. (Amy B Wang)
- New York City transit employees are expressing distress and disgust after coming into repeated contact with human corpses — hastily stored throughout the station; sometimes even in the same place where they eat lunch. The bodies belong to people who have been struck and killed by MTA trains, officials said — but the effort to quickly remove them from public view has left some station employees traumatized. (New York Daily News)
-- Years before James Alex Fields was accused of driving his car into a crowd of counterprotesters in Charlottesville “at a high rate of speed,” his disabled mother had twice called 911 to report violent behavior and threats from her son. Jack Gillum, Michael E. Miller, Arelis R. Hernández and Steve Hendrix report: “[In 2010, Samantha Bloom] — who uses a wheelchair — locked herself in a bathroom, called 911 and said her son had struck her head and put his hands over her mouth when she told him to stop playing a video game … On another occasion, records show, he brandished a 12-inch knife. Once, he spit in her face. ‘Mom is scared he is going to become violent here,’ a dispatcher wrote in a log of the November 2011 call in which [Bloom] requested police help in getting her son to a hospital for assessment. The portrait of a violent teen emerged as Fields was denied bail Monday during his first court appearance in connection with the Charlottesville attack.”
Fields is charged with second-degree murder, hit and run, and three counts of malicious wounding: “Prosecutors did not detail the evidence against Fields, who appeared via a [video link]. At his [court appearance], Fields said he could not afford an attorney and was appointed one by the court. Fields, who served a four-month stint in the Army in 2015, worked for about two years as a security guard in Ohio, earning $10.50 an hour and taking home about $650 every two weeks … But the judge informed Fields that he could not be defended by the Charlottesville public defender’s office because a relative of someone who works for the office was involved in Saturday’s incident. [The] judge did not specify whether that meant the protests or the crash.” His next court date has been set for Aug. 25, date to consider scheduling of a preliminary hearing.
A TURNING POINT IN THE DEBATE OVER CONFEDERATE MEMORIALS:
-- Unintended consequences: James Fields may do for the debate over Confederate statues what Dylann Roof did to the debate over the Confederate flag with his June 2015 massacre at an African American church in Charleston. It has become more politically untenable for ambitious elected officials to defend the memorials because they don't want to get lumped in with the extremists who descended on Charlottesville to keep the Robert E. Lee statue.
-- Protesters in Durham, N.C., last night toppled a Confederate statue that stood in front of a county administrative building. Alex Horton reports: “With a strap tied around the neck of the statue, protesters spat, kicked and gestured at the mangled figure after its base was ripped from the granite block. The statue, which depicts a uniformed and armed Confederate soldier, stood atop an engraved pedestal that read, ‘In memory of ‘the boys who wore the gray.’ … ‘The racism and deadly violence in Charlottesville is unacceptable but there is a better way to remove these monuments,’ Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said via Twitter on Monday evening. … Groups at the rally included members of the Triangle People’s Assembly, Workers World Party, Industrial Workers of the World, Democratic Socialists of America and the anti-fascist movement[.]”
-- Maryland gubernatorial candidates Ben Jealous, the former president of the NAACP, is calling for the removal of a controversial statue from the State House. Josh Hicks and Ovetta Wiggins report: “[Jealous] called on (Republican Gov. Larry) Hogan to scrap the statue of former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, who wrote an 1857 majority opinion that upheld slavery and said blacks born in the country were not U.S. citizens. Jealous criticized Hogan for once describing efforts to eliminate such memorials as ‘political correctness run amok,’ and he vowed to work for ‘complete removal’ of Confederate monuments in Maryland if he wins the governorship. He delivered his remarks in Baltimore, where Mayor Catherine E. Pugh (D) earlier that day announced plans to remove four Confederate statues in that city.”
-- A Confederate heritage organization has already requested permission to hold a rally next month at Richmond’s Robert E. Lee statue. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
-- The Gainesville Sun’s Andrew Caplan tweeted a video of the Florida city removing its “Old Joe” Confederate statue yesterday.
-- “Removing Confederate monuments is complicated in Tennessee, where lawmakers enacted a law last year that made any push to remove historical markers harder,” the AP’s Bruce Schreiner and Erik Schelzig report from Nashville. “That didn’t stop dozens of protesters from gathering in the Tennessee Capitol on Monday to renew calls to remove a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate cavalry general and an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan.”
-- Thought leader: Chris Long of the Philadelphia Eagles, who is originally from Charlottesville, defended his hometown’s decision to remove the Confederate statues: “Look, Charlottesville is taking the right steps to accommodate the sensitivities of people who might feel offended by statues and parks named after Confederate generals. I think that is very reasonable. I don’t know what it’s like to walk past a statue like that, as a minority. We’re doing the right thing.” (The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Marcus Hayes)
-- For a second consecutive evening, a crowd gathered in front of the White House to protest the Charlottesville marchers. Perry Stein reports: “Protesters trickled in after work on Monday, carrying signs that read ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘Make Racists Afraid Again.’ The young organizers invited anyone to ‘vent or rant,’ particularly encouraging people of color and those with disabilities to speak. People discussed their experiences with racism and discrimination, as well as how they want to counter it.”
-- Trump returned to Trump Tower last night for the first time since his inauguration, and he received a contentious welcome from New Yorkers. Kayla Epstein reports: “Protesters gathered in the shadow of Trump Tower on Monday evening, filling the sidewalk for several blocks and forming a gauntlet of signs and chants that ran several blocks down Fifth Avenue. Various organizers and a popular Facebook event had called for people to gather at Trump Tower starting at 5:30 p.m., and law enforcement was ready. Protesters were kept to the sidewalks with metal barricades, and the numbers gradually swelled as the evening progressed. For hours, protesters chanted ‘New York hates you!’ and ‘Shame, shame, shame!’… In the end, Trump declined to give New Yorkers a show. Though several blacked-out sport utility vehicles and police on motorcycles drove down Fifth Avenue, drawing jeers from the crowd, the president was nowhere in sight. According to the White House pool report, Trump’s motorcade avoided Fifth Avenue and the protesters, whisking the president into his residence without being seen by the crowd.”
A TEST OF CHARACTER:
-- “While Jewish leaders in the United States expressed shock at the events in Charlottesville and criticized President Trump’s response to the violence as halfhearted, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a close ally of Trump’s, remained notably silent,” Isaac Stanley-Becker and James McAuley report. “Meanwhile, Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, warned in a statement, “The anti-Jewish ideology of the Nazis was a precursor to the eventual murderous policy and extermination of six million Jews.”
-- The Web registration service GoDaddy’s decision to delist the neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer could have far-reaching implications on how the tech industry treats similar groups. Elizabeth Dwoskin and Tracy Jan report: “Although Silicon Valley companies have long resisted calls to police the content they host, in the current political climate they are under more pressure than ever to take a stand — and appear to be bowing at least to some of it. … The Daily Stormer then transferred its registration to Google, prompting an immediate outcry and a swift response from the Silicon Valley giant, which cut off the white supremacy site, citing policy violations. … Liberal activists and even some conservatives praised GoDaddy’s decision in the wake of Saturday’s attack, saying the move represented a shift by tech corporations to take more responsibility. … Other experts said the move to regulate speech puts Silicon Valley in an even deeper bind that is far from resolved. Technology companies are becoming the reluctant gatekeepers and facilitators of political expression for much of the world.”
-- Organizers of Saturday’s rally are now blaming Charlottesville authorities for the violence that played out. Politico Magazine’s Ben Schreckinger writes: “Before this weekend’s events, the alt-right had been a bastion of pro-police sentiment — especially when it came to police shootings of unarmed black victims and clashes with the Black Lives Matter movement. Now, the alt-right’s leaders are grappling with the realities of being identifiable members of an unpopular minority group in public. ‘I have never felt like the government or police were against me,’ said white nationalist leader Richard Spencer[.] … [Rally organizer Jason] Kessler claimed the city’s police failed to follow through on plans for protecting the rally that they had discussed with him. He also said that during planning for the rally, one police captain divulged to him that authorities were communicating about the event using their personal emails to avoid Freedom of Information Act requests.”
-- The Charlottesville police chief took issue with Kessler’s account. Arelis R. Hernández reports: “[Police Chief Al S. Thomas Jr.] said organizers of the Unite the Right rally did not follow what the chief said had been an agreed-upon plan that involved controlling the demonstrators’ access to Emancipation Park through a rear entrance. When rally attendees started coming in from all sides Saturday morning, the chief said, his officers had to alter their plans and transition into protective gear from the street uniforms they were wearing. Protesters and counterprotesters converged in some pitched battles in the streets before Charlottesville police, backed by Virginia State Police, quelled the fighting. … Thomas dismissed reports that officers were discouraged from making arrests. ‘That is simply not true,’ he said. … Thomas said more than 250 calls for service came in, including from people injured when a driver rammed into a crowd of antiracism protesters[.]”
-- Joe Heim compiled a detailed timeline of the violence in Charlottesville, beginning the night before the rally: “A little after 8 p.m., Richard Spencer … texted a reporter. ‘I’d be near campus tonight, if I were you,’ he wrote. ‘After 9 p.m. Nameless field.’ The rumor was true. The torchlight parade was on. It would prove to be the catalyst for a horrific 24 hours in this usually quiet college town that would come to be seen by the nation and world as a day of racial rage, hate, violence and death.”
A COMMUNITY TRIES TO HEAL:
-- The University of Virginia is scheduled to begin classes next week, but students are concerned about their return to campus after Saturday’s events. Susan Svrluga, T. Rees Shapiro and Sarah Larimer report: “[S]ome students are scared to go back. Some, like Wes Gobar, president of the Black Student Alliance, are determined to reclaim the campus as a place welcoming to all. … U-Va. has a complicated history with race. … Its founder, Thomas Jefferson, envisioned U-Va. as a school of the Enlightenment, believing the nascent American democracy would fail without an educated citizenry. But Jefferson owned slaves. … Two years ago, after a black student was bloodied by police, students demanded change. The university addressed many of their concerns, Gobar said. But ugly incidents continued last year, such as a racial slur found written on a door.”
A WINDOW INTO RESURGENT RACISM:
-- Bigger picture: “Why are people still racist? What science says about America’s race problem,” by William Wan and Sarah Kaplan: “Many Americans responded to this weekend's violence in Charlottesville with disbelieving horror. How could this happen in America, in 2017? “This is not who we are,” said Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine (D). And yet, this is who we are. Amid our modern clashes, researchers in psychology, sociology and neurology have been studying the roots of racism. … ‘In some ways, it’s super simple. People learn to be whatever their society and culture teaches them. We often assume that it takes parents actively teaching their kids, for them to be racist. The truth is that unless parents actively teach kids not to be racists, they will be,’ said Jennifer Richeson, a Yale University social psychologist.”
-- The national attention that Charlottesville attracted appears to have energized white supremacist groups. The New York Times’s Alan Feuer reports: “Some were making arrangements to appear at future marches. Some were planning to run for public office. Others, taking a cue from the Charlottesville event — a protest, nominally, of the removal of a Confederate-era statue — were organizing efforts to preserve white heritage symbols in their home regions. … The far right, which has returned to prominence in the past year or so, has always been an amalgam of factions and causes, some with pro-Confederate or neo-Nazi leanings, some opposed to political correctness or feminism. But the Charlottesville event, the largest of its kind in recent years, exposed the pre-existing fault lines in the movement.”
-- A Twitter campaign to name attendees of the Unite the Right rally has already forced two universities to come out with condemnations of white supremacy. Avi Selk reports: “[T]he Twitter user @YesYoureRacist asked for help identifying ‘Nazis marching in Charlottesville.’ The anonymous user linked to copious photos and videos of the rally — swastikas and crowds of shouting white men. Within minutes, names began to pour in, and consequences began to unfurl in home towns across the country. The first target was a man spotted in a crowd of tiki-torch-wielding marchers, whom Twitter users identified as Cole White, a cook at a hot dog restaurant in Berkeley, Calif. By Saturday evening, the restaurant had posted signs in its windows and sent a statement to The Washington Post — the cook was no longer employed.”
-- But, but, but: There have been instances of Twitter users misidentifying rally attendees. The New York Times’s Daniel Victor reports: “A man at the rally had been photographed wearing an ‘Arkansas Engineering’ shirt, and the amateur investigators found a photo of [Kyle] Quinn that looked somewhat similar. They were both bearded and had similar builds. By internet frenzy standards, that was proof enough. … Countless people [Mr. Quinn] had never met demanded he lose his job, accused him of racism and posted his home address on social networks. … For someone whose only sin was a passing resemblance to someone else … Mr. Quinn bore the direct consequences of the reckless spread of misinformation in breaking news, a common ritual in modern news events.”
WHY WERE THE WARNINGS OF LAW ENFORCEMENT IGNORED?
-- “House Democrats are calling on their GOP colleagues to hold congressional hearings on the rise of white supremacy and domestic terrorism,” Politico’s Rachael Bade reports: “Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee are asking panel Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) to examine racist fringe groups, including those that organized Saturday’s violent protest ... Homeland Democrats have already called for such hearings twice this year to no avail. … Democrats are starting to grow impatient with their GOP counterparts after Saturday. One Democratic source on the Homeland panel said Republicans for some time have been receiving law enforcement notices saying white supremacist extremism pose serious threats of lethal violence.”
-- Foreign Policy’s Jana Winter first reported on one of these notices: “The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security in May warned that white supremacist groups had already carried out more attacks than any other domestic extremist group over the past 16 years and were likely to carry out more attacks over the next year[.] … The report, dated May 10, says the FBI and DHS believe that members of the white supremacist movement ‘likely will continue to pose a threat of lethal violence over the next year.’ … The FBI … has already concluded that white supremacists, including neo-Nazi supporters and members of the Ku Klux Klan, are in fact responsible for the lion’s share of violent attacks among domestic extremist groups. White supremacists ‘were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016 … more than any other domestic extremist movement,’ reads the joint intelligence bulletin.”
THE REPUBLICAN CIVIL WAR:
-- As Trump received widespread criticism for his initial response to the Charlottesville violence, the three top GOP contenders in today’s Alabama Senate primary went after Trump’s critics instead. David Weigel reports: “In interviews over the race’s final hours ahead of Tuesday’s vote, Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) said Trump’s controversial Saturday reaction to the white nationalist rally had been sufficient. … There was no evidence that the events out of Charlottesville would affect the primary, with polls showing Strange and Brooks fighting Roy Moore, a former state Supreme Court justice, for two runoff berths. … In a Monday night speech to gun owners in Birmingham, Moore criticized the protests of Confederate monuments that followed the attack, and asked whether protesters would one day take down statues of George Washington because he owned slaves. … In interviews at several low-key Republican events, primary voters said they were horrified by what happened in Charlottesville but differed on what else Trump could have said.”
-- Although all three Republican candidates have embraced the president, Trump has tweeted his endorsement of Strange multiple times and recorded a robo-call for him that went out yesterday. (Politico’s Daniel Strauss)
-- The president even promoted a Strange TV hit this morning:
Senator Luther Strange, who is doing a great job for the people of Alabama, will be on @foxandfriends at 7:15. Tough on crime, borders etc.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 15, 2017
-- If Strange can’t make it to the runoff, it could have implications for the effectiveness of a Trump endorsement. Politico’s Strauss and Seung Min Kim report: “Strange is struggling even with the support of the president and the GOP establishment. Assuming he makes it to the runoff, though, the strength of his second-place finish will set expectations for how winnable the election is — or not. If Strange barely makes it into the runoff — or comes in third — it will call into question the influence of Trump’s support in a reliably Republican state. If Strange exceeds the low 20-percent support he's gotten in recent polls, he'll still face a tough battle against Moore but won’t have to field a wave of questions about his ultimate viability or the power of Trump's endorsement.”
-- Trump’s endorsement of Strange, the establishment candidate, struck many Republicans as odd and many die-hard Trump supporters as hypocritical. The Atlantic’s Molly Ball writes: “Strange himself was surprised—he nearly drove off the road when Trump called him from the White House on Tuesday afternoon, he said. … The usual slavishly pro-Trump conservative media were enraged. Mark Levin, the conservative radio host, called Trump’s tweet ‘a stab in the back to every conservative in this country[.]’ … In Alabama, the feud is playing out as a test of conservative voters’ loyalties in the Trump era—one of the first referendums on Trump’s ability to command his own partisans, and by extension to shape the GOP that he leads. But it’s a test complicated by the mixed messages Trump himself has sent to his supporters.”
-- In another sign of how hard it is for Republican incumbents to distance themselves from Trump, Nevada Sen. Dean Heller — who is up for reelection next year — said yesterday for the first time that he voted for the president last November. The Nevada Independent’s Riley Snyder reports: “The acknowledgment follows nearly a year and a half of criticism and cautious public statements made by Heller about Trump throughout the 2016 election. Most notably, he told reporters in October 2016 that he was 99 percent certain he would oppose the Republican nominee for president. Heller also donated campaign donations from Trump to charity in 2015, and said during the campaign he was ‘vehemently opposed’ to Trump, whom he described as a man that ‘denigrates human beings.’ But unlike several of his Senate colleagues, Heller never fully closed the door on supporting Trump, and had kept his presidential vote a secret until now.”
-- The Indiana Senate primary fight between GOP Reps. Todd Rokita and Luke Messer is already getting ugly. Politico’s Maggie Severns and Kevin Robillard report: “Their campaign didn’t officially get underway until last week, but Messer, 48, has already accused Rokita of attacking his wife and ‘spreading lies’ about his record. Rokita, 47, has questioned his rival’s mental health, calling Messer ‘unhinged’ and a ‘ticking time bomb.’ With 10 Democratic senators from states that President Donald Trump carried up for reelection in 2018, the scale of opportunity for Republican gains has already spawned several no-holds-barred primaries. But few states are as ripe for a Republican challenge as Indiana — where Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly is unusually vulnerable, running in a state Trump carried by 19 points — and no primary has gotten so nasty, so quickly.”
-- Today's special election in Utah to fill Jason Chaffetz’s House seat has attracted hundreds of thousands of dollars in fundraising, but it’s received little national attention. Mike DeBonis reports: “That’s largely because the seat is of limited utility as a bellwether for President Trump. Unlike other House races decided this year, Democrats are not seriously contesting the heavily GOP district, and unlike in Tuesday’s Senate primary in Alabama, the Republican candidates’ postures toward Trump have not been a crucial factor. Instead, Tuesday’s GOP primary in Utah is set to be decided along more familiar lines of ideology and sensibility in a state whose Republican voters have long had an uneasy relationship with Trump. … The front-runner for the Republican nomination, according to published polls, is Provo Mayor John Curtis, who has built a pro-business record during 6½ years in office[.]”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Some viewers questioned the sincerity of the president's remarks. From the former director of the Office of Government Ethics:
This had all the enthusiasm of a hostage video. Did John Kelly threaten to take away his Morning Joe watching privileges?— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) August 14, 2017
From a House Democrat:
All it took was 3 days of crushing public pressure for @realDonaldTrump to finally muster the courage to condemn nazism & racism.— Congressman Tim Ryan (@RepTimRyan) August 14, 2017
From the former secretary of state:
1.No matter what @potus says now-first instincts always revealing; his was to look into the camera and say "many sides"-that cant be erased.— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) August 14, 2017
2. @potus empowered the worst of the worst to hear exactly what they wanted to hear.— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) August 14, 2017
3. @potus has been tougher naming/shaming an American CEO and Senate Majority Leader than a domestic terrorist who took an American life.— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) August 14, 2017
From the MSNBC host:
Its striking that he has to carefully read it off a teleprompter. He railed against prompters yet he can't speak from the heart about racism https://t.co/olP7gXjR80— Katy Tur (@KatyTurNBC) August 14, 2017
It reminded some of this Trump tweet from 2015:
Hillary said such nasty things about me, read directly off her teleprompter...but there was no emotion, no truth. Just can't read speeches!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2015
But Trump claimed that he had not been properly credited for his Monday statement:
Made additional remarks on Charlottesville and realize once again that the #Fake News Media will never be satisfied...truly bad people!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2017
Trump's son also defended his statement:
Unfortunately, it will never be enough. That is the sad reality of the game today. https://t.co/z890vxx4Fh— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) August 14, 2017
There is no right answer/response only a moving goal line that can never be reached.— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) August 14, 2017
From a writer for the New Yorker:
Think about the implications here. Essentiallly: "I condemned Nazis against my will to appease the media and they're still not happy." https://t.co/cSUyKCam1P— Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza) August 14, 2017
From the Atlantic editor and former George W. Bush speechwriter:
The president never loses sight of the real victim in this tragedy: himself https://t.co/WVZEMUU6bu— David Frum (@davidfrum) August 14, 2017
Trump also retweeted this from an alt-right conspiracy theorist:
Meanwhile: 39 shootings in Chicago this weekend, 9 deaths. No national media outrage. Why is that? https://t.co/9Crutnnrp8— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) August 14, 2017
POTUS retweeting one of the Pizzagate conspiracy theorists 2 say he's being treated unfairly in criticism of his response to Charlottesville— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) August 15, 2017
Person who Trump retweeted came up with the fake "Rape Melania" viral photo that smeared protesters. https://t.co/iEgLPJTpkd— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) August 15, 2017
Perspective from a Politico reporter:
The president is sitting up at home after 11, retweeting an alt-right conspiracy theorist defending his grudging condemnation of Nazis.— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) August 15, 2017
Dr. Seuss's World War II-era cartoons were recirculated:
On Trump's approval rating hitting a new low:
"Trump hits 34%" doesn't convey the full story. It's "Trump somehow hits 34% without a recession, a military disaster, a gas crisis, etc"— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) August 14, 2017
Metaphor alert, via the Boston Globe's Annie Linskey:
Somebody at the WH is digging a hole. pic.twitter.com/0y5b1oERRQ— Annie Linskey (@AnnieLinskey) August 14, 2017
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- New York Times, “How a Conservative TV Giant Is Ridding Itself of Regulation,” by Cecilia Kang, Eric Lipton and Sydney Ember: “The invitation from David D. Smith, the chairman of Sinclair, went to Ajit V. Pai, a commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission who was about to be named the broadcast industry’s chief regulator. Mr. Smith wanted Mr. Pai to ease up on efforts under President Barack Obama to crack down on media consolidation, which were threatening Sinclair’s ambitions to grow even bigger. Mr. Smith did not have to wait long. Within days of their meeting, Mr. Pai was named chairman of the F.C.C. And during his first 10 days on the job, he relaxed a restriction on television stations’ sharing of advertising revenue and other resources[.] … Since becoming chairman in January, Mr. Pai has undertaken a deregulatory blitz, enacting or proposing a wish list of fundamental policy changes advocated by Mr. Smith and his company.”
-- Politico Magazine, “Cecile Richards to Democrats: Stand Firm on Abortion,” by Edward-Isaac Dovere: “Democrats like [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Rep. Ben Ray Luján] argue that to win back the conservative areas they’ve lost, the party will need to be flexible and let candidates break with liberal orthodoxy—including on hot-button national issues like abortion—in order to win. To Richards, that isn’t just wrong on principle, it’s dense on politics.”
HOT ON THE LEFT
“Former Va. attorney general Cuccinelli catches flak for telling Symone Sanders to ‘shut up’ on CNN,” from Laura Vozzella: “Ken Cuccinelli II on Monday found himself trending on Twitter, and not in a good way, after telling CNN political commentator Symone Sanders to ‘shut up’ on TV. The remark came during a heated discussion about President Trump’s response to ... Charlottesville. Sanders was critical of Trump … Cuccinelli, a Republican though hardly a Trump cheerleader, took issue with efforts to ‘smear’ the administration.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT
“‘Kid Rock’ May Be Ineligible for Michigan Ballot” from Roll Call: “Robert Ritchie may end up challenging Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow in Michigan next year, but his stage name, Kid Rock, may not be allowed to appear on the ballot. Kid Rock is a household name to Americans under the age of 50, and voters might be attracted to vote for him, as a middle finger to the political establishment. ... If Ritchie were to submit enough valid signatures to make the ballot and indicate that he wanted to be listed as ‘Kid Rock,’ the Michigan Bureau of Elections staff would have to research the question of whether that name would be allowed. At an initial glance, Ritchie’s stage name isn’t an obviously acceptable one under the state’s criteria."
Sanders spoke out on Twitter about the incident:
Everyday I get up to fight for the human dignity of marginalized people on int'l television. Only to be told to shut up. That is supremacy.— Symone D. Sanders (@SymoneDSanders) August 14, 2017
Trump, waking up at Trump Tower for the first time since he became president, has an infrastructure discussion today, followed by the signing of an executive order on “establishing discipline and accountability” in the approval process for infrastructure projects.
Pence is in Buenos Aires. He will meet with Argentina's president and vice president, as well as participate in a joint news conference, before meeting U.S. Embassy staffers.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“The scenes at the right-wing extremist march were absolutely repulsive — naked racism, anti-Semitism and hate in their most evil form were on display,” a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Steffen Seibert, told reporters before Trump's afternoon remarks from the White House. He added that such images and chants are “disgusting” and “diametrically opposed to the political goals of the chancellor and the entire German government.” (AFP)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- It will be an ugly day in the District. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Cloudy with scattered showers and maybe a thunderstorm. Highs move up a bit more than Monday into the middle-80s range, but if showers are more widespread around midday, we may struggle again to get much above 80 or the low 80s. We stay moderately humid as well.”
-- A man with a tattoo that included a swastika was escorted out of the Rumsey Aquatic Center near Eastern Market by D.C. police after other pool attendees complained about his presence, and he became belligerent. (Peter Hermann)
-- Teachers in D.C. Public Schools would receive salary increases of 9 percent over three years under a proposal unveiled Monday to end a labor impasse that has lasted since their last contract expired in 2012. (Donna St. George, Peter Jamison and Emma Brown)
-- The Wizards released their 2017-2018 schedule yesterday. (Aaron Torres)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Seth Meyers unequivocally referred to the Charlottesville violence as "yet another terror attack on American soil":
Jimmy Fallon cited his "responsibility to stand up against intolerance and extremism as a human being":
ABC's Shonda Rhimes is moving her talents to Netflix: