With Breanne Deppisch
THE BIG IDEA: The 2016 election represented, as much as anything else, a repudiation of America’s elites and everything they believe in. By running on the hollow promises of populism, nativism and isolationism, an angry outsider challenged many of the bipartisan shibboleths that have long united most of the highly educated and affluent leaders of our country and culture.
Seven months into President Trump’s reign, the elites are striking back. From Wall Street to West Palm Beach and West Hollywood, the past week has been a turning point, perhaps even a tipping point. Since Trump abdicated his moral leadership after Charlottesville, the well-connected have used their leverage — like checkbooks and celebrity — to send a message about what truly makes America great.
The growing number of groups canceling galas, stars boycotting ceremonies and chief executives resigning from advisory boards is further isolating Trump.
People in his orbit say the president has been in a sour mood about all of this. He stormed the barricades, but now he’s the one under siege. Unlike most of the criticism he’s engendered since taking office, the past week has actually impacted his bottom line. The value of the Trump “brand,” which he once said is worth billions, has taken a bath since he declared that some “fine people” were protesting alongside the neo-Nazis and white supremacists at the University of Virginia.
-- Afraid of losing major contributors, a stampede of charities has canceled planned fundraising events at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida:
On Thursday, the Cleveland Clinic, American Cancer Society and American Friends of Magen David Adom pulled out.
On Friday, the Salvation Army, American Red Cross and Susan G. Komen joined them.
On Saturday, the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach canceled its dinner dance that had been scheduled for next March. This alone probably represents a quarter-million in lost revenue.
On Sunday, the Palm Beach Zoo and an elder care organization called MorseLife both announced that they will not hold their annual fundraisers at Mar-a-Lago.
Both the Palm Beach Habilitation Center and the Kravis Center are calling emergency board meetings for early this week to discuss whether to keep their events at the club, per today’s Palm Beach Post.
“If he returns to the club for weekends next winter, the president could often find its grand ballrooms quiet and empty,” Drew Harwell and David Fahrenthold report. “One of the cancellations cut close to home for the Trumps. Big Dog Ranch Rescue said Friday it would no longer hold an upcoming event at the club and would instead move it to the group’s facility nearby. Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, was scheduled to co-chair the event.”
-- The White House announced on Saturday that neither the president nor first lady Melania Trump will attend the annual Kennedy Center Honors in December. For the first time since the award was created in 1978, they also will not invite the honorees over for a reception beforehand.
That came after three of the five honorees — television producer Norman Lear, singer Lionel Richie and dancer Carmen de Lavallade — said they would or may boycott the traditional reception. “As for the other two, rapper LL Cool J had not said whether he would attend, and Cuban American singer Gloria Estefan said she would go to try to influence the president on immigration issues,” per David Nakamura, Amy B Wang and Peter Marks.
On Friday, the members of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities announced their resignation en masse. “Ignoring your hateful rhetoric would have made us complicit in your words and actions,” they wrote in an open letter. “Supremacy, discrimination, and vitriol are not American values. Your values are not American values. We must be better than this. We are better than this. If this is not clear to you, then we call on you to resign your office, too.”
With so many consequential stories in the news, it can be easy to dismiss the intrigue swirling around a ceremony for Hollywood stars. After all, we’ve got Afghanistan, North Korea and Russia to worry about. But Trump’s decision to pull out of the Kennedy Center honors more than three months ahead of time is significant.
Make no mistake, Trump cares deeply about these snubs. He has spent his entire life trying to get onto the A-list. He’s a Queens kid who has tried hard to win acceptance in Manhattan. The pomp and circumstance of the presidency were big draws when he chose to run. He was genuinely excited about the ceremonial duties of the office after he unexpectedly won the election. More than most presidents, whatever he may say to the contrary, he has shown a love for ceremonies like the one at the Kennedy Center.
What he does not like, and goes to great lengths to avoid, is public humiliation. After his experience at the 2011 White House Correspondent’s Dinner, when Barack Obama and Seth Meyers ridiculed him from the stage, he announced that he’d skip this year’s. He didn’t throw the ceremonial first pitch at the Nationals home opener, as past presidents have, because he was afraid of getting booed.
As an alpha male, Trump seems to take special satisfaction when people who are richer, cooler and better looking than him kowtow. It seems silly to have to write this, but it’s true: Having his ring kissed seems to be one of Trump’s favorite parts of the job. But there’s not been very much ring-kissing lately.
-- Trump fancies himself a great businessman, but most truly elite business executives have never seen him as in their league. He’s a former reality television star and a developer who ran a family real estate business, failing spectacularly in Atlantic City and driving companies into bankruptcy. The true titans of industry, so-called masters of the universe, have said privately that they see him as a wannabe. But most tried to make nice after the election to advance their interests and get access.
Risking their stock prices, many chief executives spoke out last week. It started with Merck’s Kenneth C. Frazier, who quit the president’s American Manufacturing Council as “a matter of personal conscience.” Citing “a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism,” Frazier made it harder for others to justify staying in the tent. Many other chief executives then received heavy pressure from their employees and predecessors to follow suit.
By the end of the week, the manufacturing council, the president's Strategy & Policy Forum and an infrastructure council had all disbanded. Trump attacked Frazier on Twitter, then ripped the other chief executives as “grandstanders” and finally – bizarrely and falsely -- claimed that he had chosen to disband the councils, not the other way around. The net effect was to undercut Trump's image as a leading figure in the business world who commanded the respect of fellow chief executives.
Steven Pearlstein, a Washington Post business writer, believes that last week’s resignations from the advisory councils are “likely to be looked back upon as a turning point in the evolution of American capitalism — an acknowledgment from some of the nation’s top corporate executives that the single-minded focus on maximizing profits and share prices that has been their mantra for the past three decades is no longer politically viable or morally acceptable.”
“It is unlikely that any of smiling executives who posed for photographs with the president this spring at the first meeting of the White House Strategic and Policy Forum and the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative had been enthusiastic supporters of candidate Trump,” Pearlstein wrote in Sunday’s paper. “Publicly, most had opposed the president’s positions on immigration, trade, climate change and gay rights. Privately, many thought him unsuited for the job. Nonetheless, the president’s economic advisers had convinced the executives that they would be able to help shape the administration’s economic program. And the executives were eager to lend their support and legitimacy to administration efforts to boost their profits by lowering taxes and reducing regulation. …
“Now, after decades of preaching that what was good for General Motors is good for America, corporate leaders have acknowledged that it might actually be the other way around — that what’s good for America is good for General Motors,” he concludes. “However belated the conversion, their action this past week was courageous and impactful. We owe them our gratitude.”
-- It’s not just Trump. The elites who tied their fortunes to Trump are on the defensive like never before – under pressure from fellow elites.
On Friday, more than 300 people who also graduated from Yale University in the class of 1985 urged Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to resign. “We understand that graduates of Yale College have served the United States proudly … and that rarely, if ever, have any of us made such a request of a classmate, whatever our differences in political opinion have been,” they wrote in a letter. “We do so today because President Trump has declared himself a sympathizer with groups whose values are antithetical to those values we consider fundamental to our sacred honor as Americans, as men and women of Yale, and as decent human beings. … We can disagree on the means of promoting the general welfare of the country, on the size and role of government, on the nature of freedom and security, but we cannot take the side of what we know to be evil. … We know you are better than this, and we are counting on you to do the right thing.”
On Saturday, the Treasury Department issued a 582-word response from Mnuchin. In it, he strongly condemned the racism and hatred that was on display in Charlottesville. “As someone who is Jewish, I believe I understand the long history of violence and hatred against the Jews (and other minorities) and circumstances that give rise to these sentiments and actions,” Mnuchin wrote. “While I find it hard to believe I should have to defend myself on this, or the President, I feel compelled to let you know that the President in no way, shape or form, believes that neo-Nazi and other hate groups who endorse violence are equivalent to groups that demonstrate in peaceful and lawful ways …
“I don’t believe the allegations against the President are accurate,” the secretary concluded, “and I believe that having highly talented men and women in our country surrounding the President in his administration should be reassuring to you and all the American people.”
-- The Mnuchin letter generated a great deal of additional pushback from elites over the rest of the weekend, including this from former treasury secretary and ex-Harvard president Larry Summers last night:
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- Ten U.S. Navy sailors were missing and five were injured after the USS John S. McCain guided missile destroyer and an oil tanker more than three times its size collided near Singapore early Monday. From Anna Fifield: “American and Singaporean ships and helicopters launched a search-and-rescue mission after the pre-dawn collision at the entrance to one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. This was the second time in two months that a Navy destroyer based at the 7th Fleet’s home port of Yokosuka, Japan, has been involved in a collision at sea. Seven sailors were killed when the USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship south of Japan in June.
“The McCain, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer equipped with an Aegis system, had been on its way to a routine port visit in Singapore after patrolling in the South China Sea. Shipping data showed that the Liberian-flagged merchant vessel Alnic MC was also on its way to Singapore when the ships collided east of the Strait of Malacca at 5:24 a.m. local time, while it was still dark. … The Alnic is more than three times the size of the McCain, with a gross tonnage of 30,000, compared with the destroyer’s 8,300.
-- Trump, returning to the White House last night, responded to a reporter's questions about the collision by saying: "That’s too bad." Later, he tweeted this:
Imagine the reaction if Obama, Bush, Clinton said "that's too bad" in response to missing soldiers on a military vessel.— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) August 21, 2017
Cindy & I are keeping America's sailors aboard the USS John S McCain in our prayers tonight - appreciate the work of search & rescue crews https://t.co/jzk9giXbfg— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) August 21, 2017
GET SMART FAST:
- Spanish police erected 800 checkpoints across the region of Catalonia on Sunday as part of a manhunt for the Moroccan-born man believed to have driven the vehicle in last week’s terrorist attack. Authorities said they believe that same terrorist cell had planned a “much more serious attack,” which was likely thwarted by an accidental house explosion on Wednesday. (Souad Mekhennet, James McAuley and William Booth)
- Authorities also identified three more victims in the Barcelona attack. Among them are Julian Cadman, a 7-year-old from Sydney who was attending a wedding with his mother, and Jared Tucker, an American and father of three, who was on his honeymoon. (Souad Mekhennet, James McAuley and William Booth)
- The U.S. Embassy in Russia announced it has suspended the issuing of non-immigrant visas in Moscow until Sept. 1, and has stopped issuing visas at its consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok. The change comes in response to Russia’s recent decision to drastically reduce the number of U.S. embassy personnel in the country. (The Associated Press)
- The Trump administration and some sympathetic local sheriffs are working to transfer jailed illegal immigrants into federal custody. The move regarding “detainers” is designed to allow local law enforcements to hold prisoners who would otherwise be released because of their immigration status, and is under legal review (The New York Times)
- A Missouri Democratic state senator who posted a Facebook comment expressing hope that Trump would be assassinated has apologized but refuses to resign. “I made a mistake, and I’m owning up to it,” said Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal. (Jim Suhr)
- South Africa granted diplomatic immunity to Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe, following allegations that she viciously assaulted a 20-year-old model with an extension cord at a luxury hotel. (Max Bearak)
- Nearly 100 Gazan children visited Jerusalem for the very first time, traveling to the Al-Aqsa mosque as part of a program run by the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees. The journey was just 50 miles long, but for many young attendees — most of whom have never traveled outside Gaza — it may as well have been a completely distant world. (Loveday Morris)
- A father and daughter said they were booted from their Frontier Airlines flight after staff heard them privately discussing their “miserable” travel experience, which included an eight-hour flight delay — and then confronted them. “It was aggressive,” the father said, explaining the employees’ behavior. “They would lean over the back of the chair in front of us, get their face right up to here, and they would simply ask, ‘Do we have a problem?’” (Amy B Wang)
BIG SPEECH TONIGHT:
-- Trump will announce a “path forward” on the U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan tonight, settling on a strategy after what Defense Secretary Jim Mattis characterized as a “sufficiently rigorous” review. Carol Morello and John Wagner report: “Trump is scheduled to address the military and American people from Fort Myer in Arlington, Va. ... The nationally televised prime-time address offers Trump an opportunity to seize the mantle as commander in chief on a key foreign policy issue at a time when his standing at home has been undercut ...
“Various options have been under consideration for Afghanistan, including sending about 3,800 more troops to augment the 8,400 already there to train and assist local forces. Another option Mattis has mentioned is to replace U.S. troops with private contractors. But any proposal to reinforce the U.S. presence there is certain to meet resistance. ... Trump’s reluctance to commit to a new strategy to this point has reflected the paucity of good options. It also highlights a contradiction at the core of Trump’s foreign policy. On the campaign trail and in conversations with advisers, Trump has said he wants to win and project strength. But he also has called for ending costly commitments in places such as Afghanistan and the Middle East.”
-- The speech will generate a new debate about the U.S. role in Afghanistan.
- Sen. Benjamin Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that he would oppose sending more troops: “I don’t believe putting more American soldiers in Afghanistan is the answer,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”
- Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said many lawmakers have withheld judgment on troop levels until they heard a strategy from Trump. “The troop strength question is sort of the cart before the horse,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “The real question is what is our strategy? And then when you lay out the strategy, the troop strength question can kind of answer itself.”
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST:
-- So far this year, Republican committees have paid nearly $1.3 million to Trump-owned properties — helping boost Trump’s company even at a time when he has lost business at some of his other core properties. Matea Gold and Anu Narayanswamy report. “The Republican National Committee paid the Trump International Hotel in Washington $122,000 last month after the party held a lavish fundraiser at the venue in June, the latest example of how GOP political committees are generating a steady income stream for Trump’s private businesses ... At least 25 congressional campaigns, state parties and the Republican Governors Association have together spent more than $473,000 at Trump hotels or golf resorts this year[.] Trump’s companies collected an additional $793,000 from the RNC and the president’s campaign committee, some of which included payments for rent and legal consulting.
- “In late June, an estimated 300 Trump supporters attended a $35,000-a-person RNC fundraiser at [Trump’s D.C. hotel], raising a reported $10 million for the party and Trump’s reelection committee …”
- “The RNC is among 19 federal political committees that have patronized the Pennsylvania Avenue establishment this year. One of the biggest spenders has been Trump’s reelection committee, which has shelled out nearly $15,000 for lodging there, filings show.”
- “The Washington hotel also hosted events for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (Calif.), whose campaign committee spent more than $11,000 on event space and catering in late May and mid-June, as well as Rep. Jodey Arrington (Tex.), whose committee paid nearly $9,700 in early January for facility usage, food and beverages. The campaign of Rep. Bill Shuster (Pa.) spent more than $6,000 for ‘event facility rental’ in early April. And the committee of Rep. David Valadao (Calif.) paid $1,744 on March 9 for a fundraiser at the BLT restaurant in the hotel.”
-- “The Secret Service can no longer afford to pay hundreds of agents it needs to carry out an expanded protective mission – in large part due to the sheer size of [Trump's] family and efforts necessary to secure their multiple residences up and down the East Coast,” USA Today’s Kevin Johnson reports: “Secret Service Director Randolph ‘Tex’ Alles … said more than 1,000 agents have already hit the federally mandated caps for salary and overtime allowances that were meant to last the entire year. The agency has faced a crushing workload … and it has not relented in the first seven months of the administration. Agents must protect Trump – who has traveled almost every weekend to his properties … and his adult children whose business trips and vacations have taken them across the country and overseas. ‘The president has a large family, and our responsibility is required in law,’ Alles said. ‘I can't change that. I have no flexibility.’
THERE'S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian immigrant and lobbyist who attended a meeting a meeting last summer with top Trump campaign officials, has a “web” of Russian government connections. The New York Times’s Sharon LaFraniere, David D. Kirkpatrick and Kenneth P. Vogel report: “Akhmetshin ... has often struck colleagues as a classic Washington mercenary — loyal to his wife, his daughter and his bank account. But interviews with his associates and documents … indicate that Mr. Akhmetshin, who is under scrutiny by [special counsel Robert] Mueller, has much deeper ties to the Russian government and Kremlin-backed oligarchs than previously known. He has an association with a former deputy head of a Russian spy service ... and a history of working for close allies of [Putin]. Twice, he has worked on legal battles for Russian tycoons whose opponents suffered sophisticated hacking attacks ... He helped federal prosecutors bring corruption charges against an American businessman in the former Soviet Union who turned out to be working for the C.I.A. He also helped expose possible corruption in government contracting that complicated American efforts to keep troops at an air base in Kyrgyzstan — an American presence that the Russians fiercely opposed.
“In short, Mr. Akhmetshin’s projects over two decades in Washington routinely advanced the Kremlin’s interests, especially after he became an American citizen in 2009 …”
-- Gabriel Sherman in Vanity Fair, “Steve Bannon readies his revenge:” “On the morning he was being ousted as [Trump’s] chief strategist last Friday, ... Bannon had already turned the page. “Why do you sound unfazed?’ a friend asked Bannon as news of his demise ricocheted across the web. ‘Because,’ Bannon replied, ‘we’re going to war.’ … ‘He wants to beat their ideas into submission,’ Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow told me. ‘Steve has a lot of things up his sleeve.’
“Meanwhile, the next phase has already begun. On Sunday, the website’s lead story was based on a Daily Mail report that said Ivanka was behind Bannon’s removal. ‘Trump’s daughter Ivanka pushed out Bannon because of his ‘far-right views’ clashing with her Jewish faith,’ the article noted. In his feud with Kushner, Bannon may have a powerful ally: Reince Priebus, also recently departed from the White House with a quiver of grudges. [Recently], Bannon has told friends he wants Priebus to give his account of the James Comey firing to special prosecutor Robert Mueller. According to a source close to Priebus, the former chief of staff believes that the decision was made during an early May weekend in Bedminster, where Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and Stephen Miller were with the president. Trump returned to the Oval Office on Monday, May 8 and told other aides he intended to fire Comey …”
-- The story behind Bannon's ouster, from the New York Times’s Jeremy W. Peters and Maggie Haberman: “[New Chief of Staff John] Kelly told [Steve] Bannon in late July that he needed to go: No need for it to get messy, Mr. Kelly told Mr. Bannon … The two worked out a mutually amicable departure date for mid-August, with President Trump’s blessing. But as Mr. Trump struggled last week to contain a growing public furor over his [Charlottesville response], Mr. Bannon clashed with Mr. Kelly over how the president should respond. Give no ground to your critics, Mr. Bannon urged the president, with characteristic truculence. At the same time, New York real estate investor friends told Mr. Trump that the situation with Mr. Bannon was untenable ... By Thursday, after Mr. Bannon undercut American policy toward North Korea ... Trump himself had concluded that Mr. Bannon was too much of a liability.
- “[In] the end, [Bannon] had lost the war against a list of enemies that included nearly everyone in the West Wing. Mr. Bannon made little secret of the fact that he believed ‘Javanka’ … had naïve political instincts and were going to alienate Mr. Trump’s core coalition of white working-class voters. … In this sense, he was relieved when Mr. Kelly took over and put in place a structure that kept other aides from freelancing. ‘Those days are over when Ivanka can run in and lay her head on the desk and cry,' he told multiple people.”
- “Mr. Bannon was notorious for maintaining his own, shadowy presence within the White House. He would frequently skip meetings where policy was discussed, injecting his views into the process in other ways … He did not use a computer, preferring to have paper printed and handed to his assistant to stay outside the formal decision-making process. Mr. Bannon favored a culture similar to the one Mr. Trump brought with him from the business world to the White House — a flat structure with blurred lines of responsibility and competing power centers. And early on Mr. Bannon benefited from that structure, sitting at the top, free to slip unvetted materials to the president without a gatekeeper to get past.”
CHARLOTTESVILLE FALLOUT CONTINUES:
-- Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) questioned Trump’s “capability” on CNN’s “State of the Union,” echoing a handful of lawmakers from both parties who have expressed concerns with Trump’s stability and competence after his response to the Charlottesville violence. “I certainly think that there’s an issue with the president’s capability,” said Schiff. “There’s some attribute of his character that makes him seemingly incapable of introspection and a broad understanding of what the country really needs, and I think it’s a question that people are asking, you know, ‘What is going on with this president? What can explain this kind of behavior?’” And while Schiff said he thinks it is premature to consider invoking the 25th Amendment as a means of forcing Trump from office, he called for the departure of several White House staffers, Stephen Miller and Sebastian Gorka. “I there's more cleaning house that ought to take place,” Schiff said. (John Wagner)
-- Other Democratic lawmakers also appeared on Sunday news shows to defend the removal of Confederate statues. Steven Mufson, John Wagner and Paige Winfield Cunningham report:
- On ABC’s “This Week,” former DHS secretary Jeh Johnson called the statues “rallying points” for white supremacist groups, adding that he “[salutes] people taking down these monuments as a matter of public safety.”
- Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney (D) agreed, saying on the same program that he once thought the monuments could be “tools to teach and enlighten” people – but that he now considers them to be “rallying points.”
-- Republicans also expressed varying degrees of criticism to Trump’s Charlottesville response:
- On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” former Republican congressman J.C. Watts (Okla.) urged lawmakers to speak up if they disagreed with Trump’s remarks. “This is not a time for us to be afraid of being tweeted,” Watts said. “This is not a time for us to suppress our convictions.” He added: “If they’re silent, they wear the cap … saying we agree with that.”
- On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.) -- the Senate's only African American Republican -- again condemned Trump's remarks: “His comments on Tuesday started to compromise that moral authority we need the president to have for this nation to be the beacon of light to all mankind,” Scott said. “We need the president to sit down with folks who have a personal experience if the president wants to have a better understanding and appreciation for what he should do next … Without that personal connection to the painful past, it will be hard for him to regain that authority …”
- And Ohio Gov. John Kasich sidestepped questions over whether Trump should apologize for his remarks, saying on CNN’s “State of the Union” that “in some ways we’re looking backward.” “Where I want to look now is what are we going to do to deal with the fundamental issues we have in the country? The issue of race. The issue of police and community coming together and developing policing methods that can unify,” he said. Kasich also played down reports that he is considering mounting a primary challenge to Trump in 2020, telling Jake Tapper that he is “rooting for [Trump] to get it together.” “I mean, we’re only, like, seven months into his presidency."
-- Noticeably, Trump administration officials stayed off the air:
Fox News host just said they aggressively tried to get a Trump administration figure on TV today, but no one would come on.— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) August 20, 2017
-- A KKK leader in North Carolina who agreed to participate in a Univision interview last month threatened a Colombian news anchor who showed up on his property — calling Ilia Calderon the n-word and telling her that the KKK would “burn her out” of the country. When Calderon asked Christopher Barker how he would “burn out” the 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the country, he said: “Don’t matter … We killed six million Jews the last time. Eleven million is nothing.” Following the interview, the Barkers confirmed they had attended the Charlottesville rally, and praised the man who drove his vehicle into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. (Samantha Schmidt)
-- “Officials in the White House and in Arizona are bracing for a furious reception to [Trump’s] campaign rally in Phoenix this week, amid the fallout from his comments faulting ‘both [sides],’” the New York Times's Noah Weiland and Maggie Haberman report: “Of particular concern for some officials is the prospect that Mr. Trump may be planning to announce a pardon for [former sheriff] Joe Arpaio … Reached by phone at home on Sunday, Mr. Arpaio said that he was not sure why Mr. Trump was thinking of the pardon, and that he had not talked to the president since around Thanksgiving, when Mr. Trump called to ask about the health of Mr. Arpaio’s wife. But Mr. Arpaio would not say whether he had talked to the Trump campaign or White House about the visit Tuesday, or whether he had made formal plans with them to make an appearance.” Trump told Fox News reporters last Sunday – one day after the Charlottesville violence -- that he was “seriously considering” pardoning Arpaio.
-- The president of the University of Texas at Austin said Sunday night that the school will be removing four statues tied to the Confederacy from campus, including one of Robert E. Lee. In a statement, president Greg Fenves said the events in Charlottesville “make it clear … that Confederate monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism." (Reuters)
-- And Duke University has decided to remove its statue of Robert E. Lee from the campus’s chapel entrance after it was vandalized. In a statement Saturday morning, Duke President Vincent E. Price said the statue’s removal “represents an opportunity for us to learn and heal. The statue will be preserved so that students can study Duke’s complex past and take part in a more inclusive future.” (Kristine Phillips and Susan Svrluga)
-- A group of Liberty University graduates are sending back their diplomas after their president, Jerry Falwell Jr., praised Trump for his Charlottesville response — saying on Twitter that he was “so proud” of Trump for his “bold truthful” statement on the tragedy. Outraged graduates are also writing letters to the board of trustees — and to Falwell himself — calling for his removal. (Samantha Schmidt)
-- “A 121-year-old Confederate monument was coming down. This Kentucky town put it back up,” by Chico Harlan, an insightful read on a statue to Confederate soldiers removed from Louisville and placed in the town of Brandenburg 45 minutes away: “The monument had stood in Louisville for 121 years — 70 feet tall, more than 100 tons of granite. But Louisville wanted it removed and called a public meeting to help determine its relocation. One speaker said the structure should be ‘obliterated.’ Another said he would gladly help drop it into the river. And then, one by one, up to the microphone came the people from Brandenburg. ‘I think it would be well-received by the county and the residents,’ the county judge executive said. ‘Brandenburg has a rich Civil War history,’ the local historian said.
-- If you read one thing today on the emergence of the alt-right: “The road to hate: For six young men, Charlottesville is only the beginning,” by Terrence McCoy: “For all that he did in Charlottesville, chanting anti-Semitic slogans, carrying a torch through the college town, [William Fears, 29], wasn’t even aware that the alt-right existed one year ago. It wasn’t until Hillary Clinton condemned the movement … last August that he first learned of it, and from there, [radicalization] moved quickly. ‘It’s probably been about a year,’ he said, ‘but my evolution has been faster and faster.’ Last weekend’s [rally] was a collection of virtually every kind of white nationalist the country has ever known. There were members of the Ku Klux Klan, skinheads and neo-Nazis. But it was this group, the group of William Fears, that was not so familiar. The torch-lit images of Friday night’s march revealed scores like him: clean-cut, unashamed and young — very young. They almost looked as though they were students of the university they marched through.
“Neither the day’s events … nor the [widespread condemnation] that followed, has persuaded those interviewed that their beliefs are wrong. For some, it only confirmed their sense of victimhood. … They felt as if the death of [Heather] Heyer had changed everything, and that uncontrollable forces had been unleashed. ‘It was like a war ... it was an eerie feeling,’ Fears said. ‘Things are life and death now, and that was the first time that had happened.’”
-- Tens of thousands of counterprotesters massed in Boston Common on Saturday morning in an effort to drive out a planned “free speech” rally that many feared would draw white supremacist groups. Police said 27 people were arrested, primarily for disorderly conduct. Wesley Lowery and Christina Pazzanese report: “By 1 p.m., the handful of rally attendees had left the Boston Common pavillion, concluding their event without planned speeches. A victorious cheer went up among the counterprotesters, as many began to leave. Hundreds of others danced in circles and sang, ‘Hey hey, ho ho. White supremacy has got to go.’ City officials said that at least 40,000 people participated in the counter protest, 20,000 of whom participated in a march across town.” Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said no officers or protesters were injured and there was no property damage. “I think it’s clear today that Boston stood for peace and love, not bigotry and hate,” he said.
-- The Trump administration has disbanded a federal advisory committee on climate change, which was aimed at helping lawmakers and those in the private sector factor the government’s climate analysis into long-term planning. Juliet Eilperin reports: “The charter for the 15-person Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment — which includes academics as well as local officials and corporate representatives — [expired] Sunday. On Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s acting administrator, Ben Friedman, informed the committee’s chair that the agency would not renew the panel. [And] administration officials are currently reviewing a scientific report that is key to the final document. Known as the Climate Science Special Report ... "
-- “Trump’s job approval rating in three key states that helped propel him to the White House — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — stands below 40 percent, according to a trio of NBC News/Marist polls.” NBC News's Mark Murray reports: “In all three states, more than six in 10 voters say Trump’s conduct as president has embarrassed them, compared to just a quarter who have said it’s made them proud. In addition, Democrats enjoy double-digit leads in Michigan and Pennsylvania on the question of which party voters prefer to control Congress after the 2018 midterms, and they hold an 8-point advantage in Wisconsin.”
- “In Michigan, 36 percent of voters approve of Trump’s job performance (including 19 percent who strongly approve), while 55 percent disapprove (including 40 percent who strongly do).
- In Pennsylvania, 35 percent give the president’s job a thumbs up (17 percent strongly), versus 54 percent who disapprove (41 percent strongly).
- And in Wisconsin, 34 percent of voters approve of Trump (17 percent strongly), compared with 56 percent who disapprove (42 percent strongly).”
-- Boston Globe A1, “NASCAR fans feeling the Trump divide,” by Annie Linskey in Bristol, Tenn.: “Walk around the sprawling campsites at the Bristol Motor Speedway here in the green hills of Tennessee, and you know you’re deep in Trump country. …. National Rifle Association signs are omnipresent … A pop-up city of RVs sprawls outside the speedway, with many displaying spreads of barbecue and booze. And Confederate flags flap in the wind from the encampments. ... So for the most part, if you mention Trump, faces light up with some mixture of joy and aggrievement. … One man explained that he doesn’t talk politics with his wife because she’s ‘uninformed.’ ‘The white people are starting to stand up, ’said Miller “Bud” Fulton, 56 [of Ohio], who sat out near his camper sipping beer one evening last week with his son. ‘You’ve got a movement going on.’
“Many in this crowd said they feel more permission to be outspoken on issues once viewed as sensitive, like race. And in interviews with more than 50 fans here, nearly all have seen divisions in their lives growing wider, with sharper lines between those who support Trump and those who don’t. … One camper flying a Confederate flag was owned by Paul and Cathy Peary, a couple from Addison, Pa., who drove out for the races and met up with a boisterous group of friends. The flag is brand new. Paul Peary, 52, bought it after the Charlottesville demonstrations to support keeping Confederate monuments in place. ‘With what’s going on with the statues, that is a part of American history that is being snuffed out,’ said Paul Peary … Though NASCAR tried to discourage flying the Confederate flag in 2015, fans rebelled, and this week T-shirts with the flag were for sale along with the banner on the racetrack grounds.”
DEMS LOOK AHEAD:
-- “Even in red states, liberal candidates are climbing into power in the nation’s cities,” by David Weigel: “Randall Woodfin is not going to talk about ‘change.’ The 36-year old Democrat, a candidate for mayor of Birmingham (Alabama), is running to unseat a two-term incumbent — and he is selling a vision of how his city, which had lost one-third of its population since the 1960s, could be economically transformed. It just feels dangerous to boil that down to ‘change.’ ‘That word will trip you up,’ said Woodfin … ‘This is not about that. Change for change’s sake is what got us Trump. This is about progress for everybody.’ Woodfin, a soft-spoken attorney … has spent a whole year on his bid for mayor. In that time, Democrats have been locked out of national power, further diminished in state legislatures and wiped out in rural America. That has left the increasingly blue cities and suburbs as the obvious places for Democrats to attempt to rebuild. [Now], Birmingham’s August 22 primary is one of dozens of 2017 races where progressive candidates are trying to climb into power, knitting together community organizers, new activists and the remnants of [Bernie Sanders’s] presidential bid to form new left-wing majorities.”
-- “Labor leaders, once courted by [Trump], are stepping up their campaign to turn workers against the White House if it does not deliver more on jobs and trade — and if it does not stop undoing Obama-era regulations,” Weigel reports: “The most visible effort, which starts in Indianapolis on Monday afternoon, is a two-week tour organized by the coalition Good Jobs Nation that ropes in labor-friendly politicians … The Indianapolis rally, which will feature [Sanders], is designed to highlight the complicated aftermath of an early Trump coup for workers — a deal that delayed layoffs at a Carrier plant in nearby Huntington. In December, Trump came to Indiana to announce that Carrier would lay off only a few hundred of its 1,400-odd workers … Nine months later, Carrier is well into cutting 632 jobs — more cuts than the president had promised.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
John McCain spent time with Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman in Arizona this weekend:
And kicked back at a family reunion:
Kevin McCarthy’s wife parachuted with World War II vets:
Bill Clinton celebrated a birthday:
After a week spent stoking outrage and division following Charlottesville, it took Trump three tries to correctly spell the word “heal:"
Honestly, this will never get old. Never. Not for 100 years. pic.twitter.com/CSadS2OqcE— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) August 19, 2017
Naturally, the Internet had lots to say about it...
🏥 heal (to become healthy again)— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) August 19, 2017
😈 heel (a contemptible person)
🙋♂️ he'll (he will)
In his latest tweet, Trump commands America to heel.— Stephen King (@StephenKing) August 19, 2017
Here were some memorable signs from the counterprotest in Boston:
Props to the woman who carried this in Boston. Wanted to give it a signal boost on Twitter. pic.twitter.com/lxliNL0dEo— Kristi Winters (@KWintie) August 19, 2017
Kathy Griffin weighed in:
Awww, them there 100 nazis seem a lil scurred of 40 thousand actual Patriots! Well done Boston! pic.twitter.com/640qOWxOUi— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) August 20, 2017
More on Boston:
Aug. 1975: Pres Ford at Arlington, restoring Lee's citizenship.— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) August 19, 2017
Also there: Gov. Holton, Tim Kaine's father in law pic.twitter.com/AxZGVhoK0p
My favorite Civil War era monuments are the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments.— David Tanenhaus (@david_tanenhaus) August 18, 2017
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- Politico Magazine, “Why There Are No Nazi Statues in Germany,” by Joshua Zeitz: “In Germany, you won’t see neo-Nazis converging on a monument to Reinhard Heydrich or Adolf Hitler, because no such statues exist … The generation of Germans that came of age in the 1970s and 1980s confronted the country’s Nazi past and forcefully repudiated it. It took several decades of hard self-reflection, but a reunified Germany emerged from the Cold War as one of the great mainstays of democracy and human rights.”
-- The New Yorker, “Carl Icahn’s Failed Raid on Washington,” by Patrick Radden Keefe: “One recurring feature of the Trump Presidency has been an acute collective sensation … of helpless witness. Dismayed Americans wait, like spectators at a game that has turned suddenly dangerous, for a referee to step in and cry foul. But one reason that Trumpism is so transfixing to watch is that it is about the upending of norms, the defiance of taboos, the destabilization of institutions. School’s out forever. What this means in practice is a serious deficit of accountability. Whom can you call when the authorities are the ones breaking the rules?”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“House Dem introduces measure urging Trump undergo mental exam,” from The Hill: “A House Democrat introduced a resolution … suggesting that [Trump] undergo a physical and mental health exam to help determine whether he is fit for office. Rep. Zoe Lofgren’s (D-Calif.) resolution specifically calls on [Pence] and Trump’s Cabinet members to ‘quickly secure the services of medical and psychiatric professionals’ to ‘assist in their deliberations’ invoking the 25th Amendment … It posits that such an examination by doctors would ‘determine whether the president suffers from mental disorder or other injury that impairs his abilities and prevents him from discharging his Constitutional duties.’”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Man stabbed after haircut gets him mistaken for a neo-Nazi,” from the New York Post: “[A Colorado man who is avowedly not a neo-Nazi] believes his long-on-top, buzzed-on-the-sides haircut got him mistaken for one — and nearly stabbed to death by a confused anti-fascist. Joshua Witt, 26, escaped his brush with hairdo-doom with a defensive slice to the hand and three stitches. Witt says he’d just pulled in to the parking lot of the Steak ’n Shake in Sheridan, Colo., and was opening his car door.‘All I hear is, ‘Are you one of them neo-Nazis?’ as this dude is swinging a knife up over my car door at me. ...The dude was actually aiming for my head,’ he added. ‘I was more in shock ...' Witt says he has no tattoos or regalia that would finger him for a fascist.”
At the White House: Trump will have lunch with Mike Pence and meet with Rex Tillerson. Then, he will participate in a swearing-in ceremony of Robert Wood “Woody” Johnson, IV as United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Following, he will depart for Fort Myer, where he will give a televised speech. He will then return to the White House.
After joining Trump for lunch, Pence host students from Cornerstone Schools for a “Great American Solar Eclipse” viewing event at the United States Naval Observatory. He will then join Trump to participate in the swearing-in ceremony of Robert Wood “Woody” Johnson, IV, and participate in a swearing-in ceremony for U.S. Ambassador to Portugal George Glass. Later, Pence will attend Trump’s speech.
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Get your eclipse on: “Pop-up clouds may hide the sun at times for the partial solar eclipse this afternoon, but windows of opportunity should open up to see it (with your eclipse glasses, of course).” The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “We expect a mix of clouds and sun; not enough clouds to ruin eclipse-viewing prospects but some occasional interference is possible. The partial eclipse begins in the Washington region just after 1:17 p.m. and peaks just after 2:42 p.m. at 81 percent coverage. Just after 4:01 p.m., it ends. Humidity levels are high … and afternoon temperatures climb to near 90 degrees. A few storms could start to pop during the mid-to-late afternoon hours — especially in our western areas.”
-- Here's how to go old school if you forgot to buy eclipse glasses.
-- U.S. Park Police are investigating a report of a stabbing Sunday in Franklin Square Park. Authorities said the incident occurred shortly after 3 p.m. on the block of 13th and K streets NW, where church festivities had been taking place. Police said they have made no arrest in the case. (Faiz Siddiqui)
-- The Nationals beat the San Diego Padres, 4-1.
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Watch John Oliver discuss nuclear waste:
Stephen Colbert says the "businessman president" can't get along with businessmen:
And talks about the sun going away: