With Breanne Deppisch

THE BIG IDEA: President Trump gave an uncharacteristically introspective speech last night, acknowledging that he’s changed his position on the war in Afghanistan as he escalated the military’s involvement in America’s longest war.

After seven months, Trump has finally settled on a policy that does not go as far as his generals wanted but also represents a clear break with the populists and isolationists who he catered to as a candidate.

Reading carefully from a teleprompter, in his first prime-time address to the nation, the president sought to explain why he’s been persuaded that staying in Afghanistan is in America’s national interest. Continuing to use a phrase he debuted in Saudi Arabia during his first foreign trip, Trump described his doctrine as “principled realism.”

“Although Trump did not specify how many more troops will be sent to Afghanistan, congressional officials said the administration has told them it will be about 4,000 more than the 8,500 U.S. service members currently in the region,” David Nakamura and Abby Phillip report.

-- If you missed the 27-minute speech, delivered from the Fort Myer military base in Arlington, Va., here are the 12 most important nuggets:

He opened with a nod to the division after Charlottesville: “The young men and women we send to fight our wars abroad deserve to return to a country that is not at war with itself at home. We cannot remain a force for peace in the world if we are not at peace with each other. As we send our bravest to defeat our enemies overseas — and we will always win — let us find the courage to heal our divisions within.” (Trump did not say how he plans to do this.)

He acknowledged war fatigue: “Nearly 16 years after the September 11th attacks, after the extraordinary sacrifice of blood and treasure, the American people are weary of war without victory. Nowhere is this more evident than with the war in Afghanistan, the longest war in American history — 17 years! [Actually, it is 16.] I share the American people’s frustration. I also share their frustration over a foreign policy that has spent too much time, energy, money, and most importantly lives, trying to rebuild countries in our own image, instead of pursuing our security interests above all other considerations.”

He acknowledged that he’s flip-flopped on Afghanistan: My original instinct was to pull out — and, historically, I like following my instincts. But all my life I've heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office; in other words, when you're President of the United States. So I studied Afghanistan in great detail and from every conceivable angle.”

He gave three justifications for changing his position: “First, our nation must seek an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made … Second, the consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable. … A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists, including ISIS and al-Qaeda, would instantly fill, just as happened before September 11th. … Third and finally, I concluded that the security threats we face in Afghanistan and the broader region are immense. Today, 20 U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organizations are active in Afghanistan and Pakistan — the highest concentration in any region anywhere in the world.”

He critiqued Barack Obama: “As we know, in 2011, America hastily and mistakenly withdrew from Iraq. … When I became President, I was given a bad and very complex hand. … We cannot repeat in Afghanistan the mistake our leaders made in Iraq.”

He said there will never be a timetable for withdrawal: “A core pillar of our new strategy is a shift from a time-based approach to one based on conditions. I’ve said it many times how counterproductive it is for the United States to announce in advance the dates we intend to begin, or end, military options. We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities. Conditions on the ground — not arbitrary timetables — will guide our strategy from now on. America’s enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out. I will not say when we are going to attack, but attack we will.

He said he is unshackling and empowering military commanders: Micromanagement from Washington, D.C. does not win battles. They are won in the field drawing upon the judgment and expertise of wartime commanders and frontline soldiers acting in real time, with real authority, and with a clear mission to defeat the enemy. … Our troops will fight to win. From now on, victory will have a clear definition: attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al-Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over the country, and stopping mass terror attacks against Americans before they emerge.”

He preemptively pushed back on the idea he’s committing to an open-ended commitment: “Our commitment is not unlimited, and our support is not a blank check. The government of Afghanistan must carry their share of the military, political, and economic burden.”

He boldly promised victory: “One way or another, these problems will be solved. I’m a problem-solver. And in the end, we will win.”

He opened the door to negotiating directly with the Taliban: “After an effective military effort, perhaps it will be possible to have a political settlement that includes elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan, but nobody knows if or when that will ever happen.”

He played hardball with Pakistan: “We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting. But that will have to change, and that will change immediately. No partnership can survive a country’s harboring of militants and terrorists who target U.S. servicemembers and officials. It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order, and to peace.”

He insisted that he has not changed his mind about the United States promoting democracy abroad: “We are a partner and a friend, but we will not dictate to the Afghan people how to live, or how to govern their own complex society. We are not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists. … We want them to succeed. But we will no longer use American military might to construct democracies in faraway lands, or try to rebuild other countries in our own image. Those days are now over.”

-- Read the full transcript here.

-- If you read one story about how Trump made his decision, make it the ticktock by Philip Rucker and Robert Costa: “President Trump was frustrated and fuming. Again and again, in the windowless Situation Room at the White House, he lashed out at his national security team over the Afghanistan war, and the paucity of appealing options gnawed at him. Last month, as Trump mulled over a new strategy in a 16-year conflict that bedeviled his predecessors, he groused that sending additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan could have a negligible impact. He threatened to fire the current commander there. He flirted with privatizing the military effort. He even considered pulling out. Declaring victory seemed all but impossible. Five weeks later, at a Camp David summit, the commander in chief arrived at his decision. A president obsessed with winning has now settled on simply trying not to lose. …

“Trump’s private deliberations — detailed in interviews with more than a dozen senior administration officials and outside allies — revealed a president un-attached to any particular foreign-policy doctrine, but willing to be persuaded as long as he could be seen as a strong and decisive leader. Defense Secretary Mattis and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, both generals with extensive battlefield experience in Afghanistan, warned Trump about the consequences of withdrawal and cautioned that any move in Afghanistan would have ripple effects throughout the region. One of the ways McMaster tried to persuade Trump to recommit to the effort was by convincing him that Afghanistan was not a hopeless place. He presented Trump with a black-and-white snapshot from 1972 of Afghan women in miniskirts walking through Kabul, to show him that Western norms had existed there before and could return.

“Another key voice in Trump’s deliberations — especially in guiding the president to make a decision in recent weeks — was John F. Kelly, the newly installed White House chief of staff. A retired four-star Marine general, Kelly had a deeply personal understanding of the stakes: His son, 2nd Lt. Robert M. Kelly, 29, was killed there in 2010 when he stepped on a land mine while leading a platoon of Marines. … While (Reince) Priebus was considered a passive voice on Afghanistan, Kelly all but forced a decision from the president with newfound urgency. One adviser called him ‘the accelerator.’

“Trump’s decisions were put off in part because of infighting in his ranks, chiefly between McMaster and chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon … When McMaster floated possibly sending tens of thousands of additional troops, Bannon shot back that such a commitment would be a folly in a country where intervention had crippled foreign powers through the centuries … McMaster expressed alarm and irritation to confidants that Bannon was tempting the president to drift away from the military leadership with ideas that were not feasible. He was especially bothered by a proposal to hand over much of the military responsibility to private contractor Erik Prince, the founder of the controversial security company formerly known as Blackwater USA. Mattis heard out Bannon’s pitch during a weekend meeting at the Pentagon in early July but quickly sided with McMaster.”

-- More from The Washington Post’s team coverage:

Smart analysis by defense reporter Thomas Gibbons-Neff and diplomatic reporter Anne Gearan: “Trump’s decision … is an incremental shift in strategy that may help hold the line against a resurgent Taliban but isn’t likely to change the course of the … war. … Trump’s decision is a middle path that does not hew to either of the main foreign policy themes he articulated as a candidate: to stay out of expensive overseas quagmires, and to decisively win any conflict worth entering.” 

Debrief by White House reporter Jenna Johnson: “In escalating America’s longest war, Trump acts against his ‘original instinct.’”

Philip Bump: “Trump tries again to win the Battle of Charlottesville.”

Natalie Jennings calls the speech “muscular but vague.

Andrew deGrandpre and Alex Horton: “Here are six costly failures from America’s longest war. No. 1: cashmere goats.

-- The reception across right-wing media is mixed:

The banner headline on Breitbart News, which is again being led by Bannon: “Trump reverses course, will send more troops to Afghanistan. Defends flip-flop in somber speech.” From the lead story, written by Breitbart’s Pentagon correspondent Kristina Wong: “The speech was a disappointment to many who had supported his calls during the campaign to end expensive foreign intervention and nation-building.”

Another story on Breitbart says Trump is following in Obama’s footsteps: “His McMaster’s Voice: Is Trump’s Afghanistan Policy THAT Different from Obama’s?”

A few other heretofore Trump loyalists expressed concern. Replying to a tweet from the chair of the RNC, radio host Laura Ingraham wondered:

But the post-speech commentary on Fox News was mostly positive:

Fox host Sean Hannity interviewed Afghanistan's ambassador to the United States, Hamdullah Mohib, after the speech. The ambassador said he welcomes “a strong collaboration” between the two nations in the fight against terrorism. Hannity replied that “collaboration” includes Afghanistan and Pakistan stepping up. The U.S. does not have “endless patience and money,” Hannity said.

Former Fox host Bill O’Reilly:

“Trump Mugged By Reality” is the lead story on the Weekly Standard, which has been critical of the president. Michael Warren makes an astute observation: “What About Russia?—One player in the South Asia region Trump did not mention in his address was Russia. The Vladimir Putin government has been supportive of the Taliban, both rhetorically and likely by providing weapons and materiel.”

From an editor at the magazine:

National Review Editor Rich Lowry, who has also been critical of Trump at times, calls the speech “quite good”: “It’s hard not to seem presidential when giving a speech like this. If Trump had done nothing but give teleprompter speeches since his inauguration, he’d be about ten points higher in the polls. … It seems a pretty conventionally hawkish policy tailored to Trump’s predilections. He said we’re not nation-building and mentioned the very Jacksonian word ‘retribution.’ On the nation-building piece, no one likes nation-building, but if we are waging a war where the performance of the indigenous government and military matters to us, we are inevitably going to engage in nation-building (although it doesn’t have to be on the scale of what we attempted in Iraq). … At the end of the day, this is Trump concluding that he doesn’t want to lose a war on his watch, and if that means jettisoning some of his presuppositions, he’s willing to do it.”

The lead story on the Blaze, Glenn Beck’s website, features Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) saying there will be another 9/11 on U.S. soil if Congress doesn’t appropriate the money to support Trump’s plan.

-- After a week of criticizing the president over Charlottesville, Republican hawks in Congress were quick to praise Trump’s speech:

John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he will convene a hearing next month on the new approach: “I commend President Trump for taking a big step in the right direction with the new strategy for Afghanistan. The unfortunate truth is that this strategy is long overdue, and in the interim, the Taliban have made dangerous inroads. Nevertheless, I believe the President is now moving us well beyond the prior administration's failed strategy of merely postponing defeat. … For the last 16 years we have faltered. Now we must keep up the right level of effort, in the right places, with the right authorities and resources, together with our allies and partners, and see this conflict through to success. To do this, the President must conduct himself as a wartime commander-in-chief. He must speak regularly to the American people, and to those waging this war on their behalf, about why we are fighting, why the additional sacrifices are worth it, and how we will succeed. … The road ahead will not be easy, but America and the world cannot afford an Afghanistan that is under control of the Taliban and other terrorist organizations.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy:

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.):

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.):

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.):

Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.):

-- Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a noninterventionist, broke with his colleagues: “The mission in Afghanistan has lost its purpose, and I think it is a terrible idea to send any more troops into that war,” he said in a statement.

Other libertarian-minded Republicans struck a similar tone, such as this Kentucky congressman:

-- How the speech is playing in mainstream media outlets:

New York Times A1: “Angry Trump Grilled His Generals About Troop Increase, Then Gave In.

From a NYT reporter:

Politico’s lead story: “How Trump swallowed a bitter Afghanistan pill. The president didn't want to send more troops … until his military men convinced him the risks were too great.”

Foreign Policy Magazine: “Afghanistan Is Now Trump’s War.”

Wall Street Journal A1: “Trump Takes New Tack in Afghanistan Fight.”

Associated Press: “Trump vows to win the seemingly unwinnable war.

Reuters: “Despite expected U.S. troop hike, no end in sight to Afghan war.”

USA Today: “Trump's new Afghanistan war strategy reflects a lack of winning options.”

An editor at the paper adds:

The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board says “Trump's 'new' Afghanistan policy is more of the same.” The editorial board of the Chicago Tribune, a sister paper of the LAT, goes a different route and makes the case for more engagement: “The U.S. cannot let this battered land fall to terrorists.”

NPR: “‘We Are Not Nation-Building Again,' Trump Says While Unveiling Afghanistan Strategy.

NBC News: “Trump Vows Victory in Afghanistan, Stays Silent on Troop Levels.”

CNBC: “Trump just cranked up the rivalry between two nuclear giants. ... Trump's Monday night comments on Pakistan and India could worsen ties between the two rivals. The leader should be seeking to unite the South Asian giants, not encouraging divides, experts said.”

CNN: “In Afghanistan course correction, Trump learns winning is not so easy.

CNN’s senior White House correspondent adds:

ABC News: “Trump avoids specifics in Afghan strategy…”

From ABC’s political director:

A Daily Beast political reporter:

A writer for the Economist:

-- Congressional Democrats predictably expressed concern: “The President’s announcement is low on details but raises serious questions,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. “When President Trump says there will be no ceiling on the number of troops and no timeline for withdrawal, he is declaring an open-ended commitment of American lives with no accountability to the American people.”

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.):

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio):

Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.):

-- … As did the left-wing media:

HuffPost: “Trump’s Vague New Afghanistan Strategy Continues An Endless War. The president says he will no longer disclose how many troops will be deployed.”

Slate: “Killing Terrorists Is Not a Strategy. Trump's Afghanistan speech gave little indication of how he plans to end America's longest war.”

Vice: “More troops won’t end the unwinnable war in Afghanistan.”

Plum Line: “Trump’s ‘strategy’ on Afghanistan: Let the next president figure it out.”

The Telegraph: “If Donald Trump sounded presidential on Afghanistan it is because he is repeating his predecessors' mistakes.

-- How the world is responding:

Associated Press: “Afghan reaction mixed on Trump’s tough-talking speech.”

A Taliban spokesman dismissed Trump’s remarks. “The whole speech was old,” spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told the AP. “He said the Taliban will come out with a more detailed response, but he is initially calling Trump’s policy outline ‘unclear.’ Last week the Taliban issued a 1,600-word open letter to Trump warning against a troop surge… The Taliban have also said they aren’t ready for any peace talks.”

The Hindustan Times: “What India risks if it gets on board Trump’s Afghanistan project.”

The Khaleej Times: “Trump puts Pakistan on notice, warns it has much to lose.”

The Sun (of London): “Trump calls on Theresa May to send more troops to Afghanistan as US commits more boots on the ground.”

The Australian: “Defence Minister Marise Payne said Australia will ‘consider’ any request to further assist the United States in Afghanistan but emphasised the country’s ‘significant’ current contribution.

-- The buzz on social media:

A Harvard professor and former diplomat:

The president of the Eurasia Group:

A former senior adviser to Obama:

Actor Josh Charles (who played Will Gardner on “The Good Wife” and Dan Rydell on “Sports Night”):

The filmmaker and actor Rob Reiner:

A former Republican congressman from Florida:

A former Republican congressman from Illinois who now has a talk radio show:

A progressive writer for ShareBlue:

A Rolling Stone writer:

An editor for Task and Purpose:

From a WaPo columnist:

A Roll Call columnist:

A Boston Globe columnist:

The Stanford professor and former U.S. ambassador to Russia:

And the Onion:

-- Many people have been retweeting Trump’s old tweets calling for Obama to pull out of Afghanistan, underscoring how much Trump has shifted his position:

From 2011:

From 2012:

From 2013:

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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- North Korea threatened the U.S. with “absolute force” through their state-run media this morning. The Wall Street Journal’s Jonathan Cheng reports: “North Korea threatened to turn the U.S. into ‘huge heaps of ashes’ and warned that military exercises involving American and South Korean forces this week had worsened the standoff[.] … Pyongyang attacked President Donald Trump, branding his approach to the crisis on the Korean Peninsula ‘unimaginably reckless.’ The remarks came a day after the U.S. and South Korean militaries began annual drills, which the allies say are aimed at defending South Korea in the event of conflict but which Pyongyang says are rehearsals for an invasion."

-- An inbound train in suburban Philadelphia collided with a parked train, injuring 33. (AP

-- Immediately after the president's speech, Paul Ryan held a televised town hall with his constituents in Racine, Wis., during which he said that he would not support a censure of Trump for his Charlottesville comments. But Ryan did criticize Trump for praising some rally participants as “fine people.” “I do believe he messed up in his comments on Tuesday,” the speaker said on CNN. “I do think he could have done better.”

“Ryan said he found Trump’s comments 'not only morally ambiguous but it was equivocating' and criticized the president for comparing the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who organized the 'Unite the Right' rally with the counterprotesters who rallied to oppose them. But he said it would be a mistake to reduce the discussion over white supremacy to a partisan attack on Trump,” Kelsey Snell reports

-- Ryan’s likely Democratic opponent next year purchased ads to run during the nationally televised town hall. David Weigel reports: “The first spot, designed like the sort of question-from-voters videos that are often used at town halls. [Democrat Randy] Bryce fires off three questions, starting with one on the Congressional Budget Office’s coverage estimates for the American Health Care Act. Bryce then says: ‘Donald Trump is clearly a racist. When will you censure him in Congress?’ The second ad starts — as Democrats expect many 2018 ads to start — with footage from the Rose Garden celebration of the AHCA’s passage. And on the ground outside the town hall venue, progressive groups such as the Working Families Party and Ultraviolet were working to make as much noise as possible.”

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. Spanish police shot and killed the driver who plowed his van into a crowd of pedestrians last week in Barcelona, capping a four-day manhunt for Younes Abouyaaquob, who was the last believed member of a 12-person terrorist cell. Officials said he was discovered Monday in a small town west of Barcelona and was wearing a fake suicide vest. (William Booth and Souad Mekhennet)
  2. The Navy’s top admiral on Monday ordered a fleetwide review of seamanship and training after the USS John S. McCain collided with a merchant vessel off Singapore, leaving 10 sailors missing. The collision was the service’s fourth major accident at sea this year. (Anna Fifield and Dan Lamothe)
  3. The Army suspended its search for the crew of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter that crashed last week in the ocean off Oahu. Army officials identified the victims in a statement Monday and said the operations “have now shifted to recovery and salvage efforts.” (Andrew deGrandpre)
  4. An Ohio judge was shot outside his courthouse in Steubenville in an ambush that ended only when the judge and an officer returned fire and killed the attacker. In a strange twist, the shooter was identified as the father of a man convicted of rape in a high-profile 2013 case. (Mark Berman)
  5. The Air Force has narrowed its choice for who should replace a critical but aging part of the U.S. nuclear arsenal — the Minuteman ground-based inter-continental ballistic missile — down to Boeing and Northrop Grumman. (Aaron Gregg)
  6. A group of more than 100 robotics and artificial intelligence experts signed a letter Monday urging the United Nations to ban autonomous weapons (or robots), issuing a stark warning about what they called the “third revolution in warfare.” Signatories included Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has said artificial intelligence is more of a risk to the world than North Korea. (Peter Holley)
  7. A judge has ruled that Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) must be fingerprinted and photographed for his May assault of a Guardian reporter. Gianforte’s defense team had argued that was unnecessary because he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, but the judge overruled them. (Derek Hawkins)
  8. A Danish inventor charged with killing a journalist who accompanied him on his personal submarine before vanishing without a trace has admitted that she died onboard and that he subsequently “buried her at sea.” But Peter Madsen continues to insist Swedish journalist Kim Wall died in an “accident” before being tossed overboard. (Avi Selk and Samantha Schmidt)
  9. A U.S. soldier who defected to North Korea at age 21 — sprinting through the demilitarized zone as he fled both an unfaithful wife and a long-troubled childhood — has died, according to his Pyongyang-born sons. He was one of four U.S. soldiers who defected to the north while serving in South Korea and ultimately spent five decades living under the hostile regime. (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
  10. A measles outbreak in Minnesota is encouraging anti-vaxxers. Local activists have suggested on social media that they hold “measles parties” to expose unvaccinated children to the disease and allow them to develop immunity. (Lena H. Sun)

  11. London's Big Ben rang for the last time on Monday before falling silent for a four-year renovation period. Officials said the famous clock tower will still ring for special occasions, but some have complained about the lengthy repair time. (Karla Adam)

  12. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is on the verge of completing a five-year contract extension, which would keep him in the job through 2024. Goodell’s current deal has two years remaining on it. (Mark Maske)
  13. A gay couple who dined at Prime Rib in D.C. said their request to split dessert was denied by their waiter, who told them that two men eating out of the same bowl “doesn’t go with the ambiance” of the restaurant. “The waiter in question is Bulgarian, and he does speak four different languages,” the general manager said, noting that English is not the server’s first language. “I am not sure if he got confused as to what he was saying, or how he was saying it.” (Maura Judkis
  14. Tucker Carlson called Trump’s apparent decision to look at the solar eclipse without special glasses “perhaps the most impressive thing any president has ever done.” (Callum Borchers)

See the clip below:

A DIVIDED AMERICA AFTER CHARLOTTESVILLE:

-- A fresh Washington Post-ABC News poll finds twice as many Americans — 56 percent to 28 percent — disapprove than approve of Trump’s handling of the Charlottesville violence. A 62 percent majority of self-identified Republicans said they approve of Trump’s response, and he maintains an 80 percent job approval rating within the GOP. Meanwhile, 84 percent of Democrats said they disapproved of Trump’s remarks, as did a 55 percent majority of independent voters. Opinions among minority groups were much more negative, with more than 8 in 10 African Americans and nearly two-thirds of Hispanics saying they disapprove of Trump’s response.

-- “A melee broke out at the Charlottesville City Council meeting on Monday night, as activists and residents angrily took over the Council chambers and criticized the city’s response to a white supremacist [rally],” the New York Times’s Frances Robles reports: “White and black residents alike were furious with the police response to the demonstrations, and they faulted officers for not engaging during repeated scuffles ... When police officers forcibly removed three people from the Council meeting, the 100 or so people at the meeting broke out into furious chants, screaming ‘Shame’ and ‘Shut it down!’ Two people stood on the dais and unfurled a banner with the words 'Blood on your hands!' as council members and the mayor left the room.”

-- The ACLU criticized Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s (D) order to temporarily suspend protests at Richmond’s Robert E. Lee statue as “constitutionally suspect.” Jenna Portnoy reports: “The statement comes three days after McAuliffe issued an executive order barring public demonstrations at the monument, citing safety concerns ... He said no protests would be allowed at the Lee statue for three months to allow a task force to write regulations that would allow protests in a peaceful manner. … Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia, said fear or safety worries should not diminish the commitment to basic rights, including freedom of speech, guaranteed by the Constitution. … Still, the ACLU is not planning a legal challenge at this time, Gastañaga said.”

-- The white supremacist prominently featured in Vice News’s coverage of the Charlottesville rally could face criminal charges. The New York Times’s Matt Stevens reports: “Since the rally in Charlottesville, the prospect of an arrest has loomed over [Chris] Cantwell, who posted a video on Aug. 12 in which he choked back tears. He gave a phone number that he said the authorities could use to contact him, and he said that since then, his voice mail has been ‘recording death threats faster than I can listen to them.’ Officials at the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office of Albemarle County in Charlottesville said on Monday morning that four warrants had been issued for Mr. Cantwell’s arrest. … The Boston Globe reported on Thursday that the warrants were related to the ‘illegal use of gases, and injury by caustic agent or explosive.’”

    -- A man in Houston was charged Monday for attempting to bomb a statue honoring Confederate military leader Richard Dowling. Mark Berman reports: “Authorities said Andrew Schneck, 25, was found [late Saturday] night with materials capable of creating ‘a viable explosive device.’ An attorney for Schneck said the same man had also been convicted in an earlier explosives case. The park ranger said that Schneck admitted to wanting to do harm to the Dowling statue because he did not ‘like that guy.’ Inside the box, Houston police officials said, were other things able to ‘produce a viable explosive device,’ including a timer, battery and wires connected to a homemade detonator.”

    -- After Duke University decided to remove a Robert E. Lee statue Saturday, the University of North Carolina seems prepared to follow suit. Rachel Chason reports: “Margaret Spellings, the president of UNC, sent a letter to Gov. Roy Cooper on Monday asking for his help addressing the ‘significant safety and security threats’ related to ‘Silent Sam,’ the Confederate memorial erected in 1913 to honor alumni who served in the Civil War. The recent toppling of a Confederate statue in downtown Durham and the damage to the statue of Lee at Duke have ‘added to a climate that threatens to make similar statues a flash point for violence that could spiral out of control,’ she wrote.” UNC’s status as a public university complicates the matter, given a 2015 North Carolina law that requires permission from the state’s historical commission before monuments are moved. 

    -- The White House still plans to move ahead with a conference next month for historically black colleges and universities. BuzzFeed News’s Darren Sands reports: “Omarosa Manigault-Newman, assistant to the president and director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison, said in an email to BuzzFeed News that the conference was still on for its original date, and that the administration remained committed to the mission of HBCUs.”

    -- A Portland, Ore., emergency room doctor who graduated from Yale, and whose work has earned her dozens of awards and publications, said some white nationalist patients have refused her service because she’s Asian. In a widely shared Twitter thread, she said patients often either choose to leave or request to be cared for by white interns, despite her efforts to reassure them. “Breathtaking, isn’t it? To be so wedded in your theory of white superiority, that you will bet your life on it, even in the face of clear evidence to the contrary?” she wrote. “Sometimes I just look at them, my kin in 99.9% of our genetic code, and fail to believe they don’t see our shared humanity.” (Read the powerful thread here.)

    -- “Why Lee Should Go, and Washington Should Stay,” by presidential biographer Jon Meacham in the New York Times“Those who took up arms against the Union were explicitly attempting to stop the American odyssey. While we should judge each individual on the totality of their lives (defenders of Lee, for instance, point to his attempts to be a figure of reconciliation after the war), the forces of hate and of exclusion long ago made Confederate imagery their own. Monuments in public places of veneration to those who believed it their duty to fight the Union have no place in the Union of the 21st century[.]”

    TONIGHT, IN PHOENIX:

    -- As Arizona braces for Trump’s rally, some Republican lawmakers fear he will use the appearance to expand on his searing criticism of Sen. Jeff Flake — or even make a formal endorsement of Flake's primary challenger Kelli Ward. Sean Sullivan and Ed O'Keefe report: “That possibility has unnerved Republicans inside and outside the White House. Some worry about straining the president’s already tenuous relations with congressional Republicans at a time when they face several key challenges this fall … Others looking ahead to next year’s midterm elections believe Trump may even be putting the Senate GOP majority at risk ...

    “Allies of Flake, including [Mitch McConnell], are vexed by Trump’s posture. At a minimum, they believe he is needlessly creating a costly primary that will suck resources away from others targets on a map ripe for gains. ‘There are 10 Senate Democrats up for reelection in states the President won in 2016 and that’s where his political focus and energy ought to be … instead of harmful intraparty warfare,’ [said former NRSC communications director Brian Walsh]. Instead, [Trump] is targeting an incumbent of his own party … and seemingly bolstering a challenger who lost resoundingly last year to Sen. John McCain, and whose bona fides have raised concerns even inside the White House."

    -- Will Trumo pardon Arpaio? “Half of Arizonans surveyed over the weekend believe that [Trump] should not announce a pardon for former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio ... compared with 21 percent who said it would be a good move,” the Arizona Republic reports. “Another 29 percent said they weren't sure or didn't know. The poll results, released Monday morning, come amid speculation that Trump will use his Phoenix visit as an occasion to pardon the controversial lawman after his recent criminal-contempt conviction. As of Monday evening, though, Trump's intentions on the matter remained unclear — at least to Arpaio. At 4 p.m., [Arpaio] told The Arizona Republic he'd yet to hear from Trump's people or receive an invitation to the rally."

    -- But Arpaio said that he would be available to attend Trump’s rally if his presence were requested. “I’ve been doing rallies with him many, many times, and sometimes things are done the last minute,” the sheriff said. (Politico’s Ted Hesson)

    -- Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) will not attend the rally, however, joining a growing group of GOP officials who have sought to diplomatically distance themselves. “Gov. Ducey's focus has been working with law enforcement toward a safe event in downtown Phoenix for all those involved and in the area,” a spokesman said Monday. “That will continue to be his priority during the event and afterwards." The Democratic mayor of Phoenix has publicly urged Trump not to come. (Arizona Republic)

    -- Mike Pence will join Trump on stage.

    DISMANTLING WASHINGTON:

    -- Congress may have to intervene once the Secret Service hits its spending cap — likely at the and of September — in its quest to protect Trump and his family. Lisa Rein reports: “If lawmakers don’t lift the cap, about a third of the agency’s agents would be working overtime without being paid ... The spending limits are supposed to last through December, but the cost of protecting the president and members of the extended first family, who have traveled extensively for business and vacations, has strained the Secret Service, local governments and at least one other federal agency, the Coast Guard.”

    Statistic du jour: The Secret Service now protects 42 people around the clock, 11 more than it did under President Barack Obama. The Trump protection number includes 18 members of the president’s family.

    -- “Anxious to remake the federal government, the Trump administration is cracking down on employees who break the rules” Lisa also reports. “The White House in April instructed agencies to ‘remove poor performers’ as they construct plans to shrink the workforce as part of a federal downsizing … But in its efforts to fulfill the president’s campaign promise to ‘drain the swamp’ of entrenched federal workers, the new political leadership in Washington is meeting resistance from powerful federal employee unions and finding that maneuvering around long-guaranteed civil service protections is not easy.”

    -- Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) is slated to be nominated as NASA chief by early September. The Wall Street Journal reports: “[Bridenstine] is a strong proponent of commercial space ventures but has scant management experience … A former active-duty U.S. Navy pilot who publicly sought the position and was widely reported to be the front-runner even weeks [Trump's] inauguration, Mr. Bridenstine has been a leader in fashioning legislation boosting manned exploration of the moon, including minerals mining. Such positions are in line with the views of senior White House officials … as is his desire to save money-and improve efficiency-by more closely coordinating NASA programs with those at other civilian agencies and the Defense Department.”

    -- More controversial comments from Trump’s pick to be chief scientist at the Agriculture Department have come to light. CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski and Paul LeBlanc report: “[Sam Clovis] has argued that homosexuality is a choice and that the sanctioning of same-sex marriage could lead to the legalization of pedophilia[.] … Clovis made the comments between 2012 and 2014 in his capacity as a talk radio host, political activist, and briefly as a candidate for US Senate in Iowa. … Clovis has repeatedly argued that the science on homosexuality is unsettled and that ‘LGBT behavior’ is a choice. … Asked for comment on Clovis' beliefs surrounding the science of homosexuality, a USDA spokeswoman told CNN: ‘The Supreme Court settled the issue in 2015.’ … [Clovis] made most of his remarks in the context of discussing his belief LGBT people should not be given protections under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.”

    THE TRUMP AGENDA:

    -- The president’s tally of false or misleading claims now stands at 1,057, official Post Fact Checkers Glenn Kessler, Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Meg Kelly report: “At the president’s current pace, he averages nearly five claims a day. Many are repeats of claims that have been previously debunked. We also include statements that are unacknowledged flip-flops from previously held positions, such as touting new highs in a stock market that he previously derided as being a ‘big, fat bubble.’ More than 30 of the president’s misleading statements have been repeated three or more times. Trump’s most repeated claim, uttered 50 times, was some variation of the statement that the Affordable Care Act is dying and ‘essentially dead.’ … Trump repeatedly takes credit for events or business decisions that happened before he took the oath of office — or had even been elected.”

    -- “The Interior Department has ordered a halt to a scientific study begun under President Obama of the public health risks of mountaintop-removal coal mining,” the New York Times’s Lisa Friedman and Brad Plumer report. “The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, which was conducting the study, said in a statement Monday that they were ordered to stop work because [Interior] is conducting an agencywide budgetary review. Last year, West Virginia officials asked the Obama administration to look into the health effects of mountaintop mining, a technique used to extract underlying coal. … Environmental groups and Democrats sharply criticized the Interior Department decision.”

    -- The Trump administration is trying to block publication of a U.N. “blacklist” of companies that conduct business in controversial Israeli settlements. Anne Gearan reports: “The U.N. Human Rights Council voted to approve the database of companies last year, over objections from the United States and Israel, which describe the list as a prelude to anti-Israel boycotts. American companies on the list drawn up by the Geneva-based council include Caterpillar, TripAdvisor, Priceline.com, Airbnb and others[.] … Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, has told U.S. officials he plans to publish the list by the end of the year and has asked for comments by Sept. 1 from countries where affected firms are headquartered, diplomats said.”

    PALACE INTRIGUE:

    -- “[Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s] wife Louise Linton boasted of flying on a government plane with her husband to Kentucky on Monday and then named the numerous fashion brands she wore on the trip in an unusual social media post that only became more bizarre minutes later,” Damian Paletta reports: “When someone posted a comment on Linton's Instagram picture that criticized the way Linton touted the trip, [Linton] swung back hard, mentioning the extreme wealth she and her husband control. ‘Did you think this was a personal trip?!’ Linton wrote [in her response to the critic, adding]: ‘Adorable! Do you think the US govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol. Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country? I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day ‘trip’ than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours.’" She continued: “’You’re adorably out of touch…Thanks for the passive aggressive nasty comment. Your kids look very cute. Your life looks cute.’ The fashion companies Linton ‘tagged’ in her Instagram post were Hermes, Roland Mouret, Tom Ford, and Valentino.”

    -- Presidential historian and former White House aide Tevi Troy argues that the White House needs an “intellectual wrangler” to replace Steve Bannon: “Ever since Richard Nixon, Republican presidents have installed a kind of resident intellectual who can help shape the president’s vision, articulate that vision to conservative thinkers, and — importantly — warn the president of discontent from his key supporters in that conservative idea world,” he writes in Politico Magazine. “Steve Bannon wasn't a traditional liaison to that world, but there's no question he served this function for the Trump administration, keeping it connected to at least a portion of a national ecosystem of conservative thinkers that has provided significant benefits for Republicans over the years. ... This is one area in which Trump really does need the help: He doesn't have the patience, the background, or the interest to be able to articulate a consistent conservative-friendly vision … Bannon's absence means the White House lacks someone who can attempt to create a coherent narrative for the administration's efforts.”

    -- With Bannon back at the helm, what’s next for Breitbart? “Breitbart’s support of Trump, manifest during the campaign, doesn’t seem likely to waver so long as Trump continues to press for the policies that attracted Breitbart (and then Bannon himself) to him in the first place, such as building a wall on the southern border,” Paul Farhi reports. “Conversely, Trump faces some risk in alienating ‘Bannon-bart,’ which presumably speaks to and for a large segment of his base. [But] with Bannon back in control on Monday, Breitbart’s agenda seemed largely unchanged from when Bannon was advising Trump.

    “Kurt Bardella, who [formerly] directed public relations for Breitbart … said Bannon and Breitbart’s next move is into TV. His goal, according to Bardella, is to compete with Fox News for conservative viewers. ‘There was a lot of speculation about Bannon and Trump starting Trump TV had they lost the election,’ Bardella says. ‘With Mercer money and a lot of talent available, and with Trump needing some kind of exit strategy down the line, it makes sense. Also, for Bannon to demonstrate that he has the strongest hold on Trump’s base, he’ll want to show that what he and Breitbart does is more consequential than Fox.’”

    SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

    The solar eclipse took over the Internet:

    The CEO of Goldman Sachs seemed to throw some "shade" at Trump:

    The former secretary of state also chimed in:

    But it was nothing new for an astronaut:

    From an Atlantic writer:

    Sen. Lindsey Graham’s home state of South Carolina was in the path of totality:

    Sen. Ben Sasse responded to his colleague’s picture:

    And Graham hit right back:

    The president clearly missed the 10,000 news stories explaining why this is a bad idea:

    But he wasn’t alone. There were huge upticks in searches related to people not being able to see after staring at the sun:

    From a HuffPost political reporter:

    Another HuffPost reporter offered this cruel idea:

    The New York Times went way back into its archives, to the last solar eclipse:

    A newscaster in the 1970s offered this hope for the world when it experienced the next eclipse:

    But others downplayed the event:

    Blowback to Louise Lipton's Instagram post was interesting:

    And Chelsea Clinton defended Barron Trump after the Daily Caller published a piece entitled, “It’s High Time Barron Trump Starts Dressing Like He’s In the White House”:

    GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

    -- GQ, “A Most American Terrorist: The Making of Dylann Roof,” by Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah: “After Roof was found guilty, they went up to the podium, one by one, when it was time for the victim-impact testimony, and standing near the jury box, they screamed, wept, prayed, cursed. Some demanded that he acknowledge them. ‘Look at me, boy!’ one raged. He did not … Others professed love for him … He did not care. Some said they were working the Devil from his body. Feel it, they shouted. He did not appear to feel anything.”

    -- The New York Times, “All the Light Trump Was Not Supposed to See. But He Peeked,” by Matt Flegenheimer: “The president looked. He half-smiled. He pointed. Looking was fun. And with that, Mr. Trump had done it once more, on as cosmic a scale as any. He has run afoul of party officials, historical precedent, political gravity, stately decorum. Why not the sun?”

    -- Politico, “The new GOP primary litmus test: Loyalty to Trump,” by Kevin Robillard: “Loyalty to Trump has quickly become the most potent issue for the Republican base[.] … It has already put Sens. Jeff Flake and Dean Heller under pressure in their states, sparked bickering between GOP candidates in two of Republicans’ top 2018 targets, Indiana and West Virginia, and sunk one candidate running for Alabama’s open Senate seat. … Democrats are watching the Republican rush to embrace Trump with cautious optimism. While most competitive Senate races in 2018 are taking place in conservative states that Trump easily carried in 2016, upset primary wins by Tarkanian or Ward could give Democratic opponents an easier shot at winning those seats.”

    HOT ON THE LEFT:

    “East Idaho rep. says it’s ‘plausible’ Obama staged Charlottesville riots,” from the Idaho Statesman: “Idaho Falls Rep. Bryan Zollinger took to Facebook on Friday, re-posting a conspiracy theory suggesting that last weekend’s events in Charlottesville, Va., could have been an inside job orchestrated to smear [Trump]. The post … is replete with wild, unevidenced claims couched in what-ifs … [and] suggests, at various points, that the white supremacist demonstration … may have been plotted by former President Barack Obama, billionaire George Soros, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe or Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer — or by some shadowy cabal involving them all. In a comment, Zollinger called the blog post ‘completely plausible.’”

     

    HOT ON THE RIGHT:

    “Survey: Plurality of Med Students Support Trigger Warnings,” from the National Review: “According to a survey conducted by Ohio University medical-school professors, a plurality of med students think that using ‘trigger warnings’ in med-school classrooms is a good idea. According to the study … 31 percent of the 259 students surveyed said ‘yes’ when asked whether they supported the use of trigger warnings in medical education, with 39.2 percent saying ‘maybe’ and just 29.7 percent saying ‘no.’ According to an article in Campus Reform, many of the students who responded ‘maybe’ ‘expressed generally favorable opinions of trigger warnings, including one student who said they should be used before discussing ‘very deep issues that potentially could cause an emotional rise in someone.’"

     

    DAYBOOK:

    Trump is in Arizona today for a tour of Customs and Border Protection equipment in Yuma and a campaign rally in Phoenix.

    Pence has interviews with NBC’s Matt Lauer and Fox News’s Ainsley Earhardt before he leaves for Phoenix. After the rally, he will fly to Miami. 

    QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

    Mitch McConnell on “fake news,” hours after Trump once again attacked it on Twitter: “My view is that most news is not fake, but I do try to look at a variety of sources.”

     

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

    -- It will be another hot day in D.C. today, with some relief later in the week. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Partly to mostly sunny, hazy, hot and humid with highs in the low-to-mid 90s. Heat indexes as high as near 100 this afternoon mean you should take care with outside activities (stay hydrated and sun-protected). … Perhaps a stray late-afternoon shower or storm.”

    -- Maryland will receive $900 million in federal funding for its Purple Line. Robert McCartney and Faiz Siddiqui report: “The breakthrough came after ‘very productive, high-level conversations’ on Friday and Monday between Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Hogan spokesman Doug Mayer said. … The announcement put to rest worries in Maryland that the Purple Line might fall victim to desires in the Trump administration and the Republican Party to trim federal transit spending. Hogan drew praise for the deal from Maryland Democrats, who applauded him for ultimately backing the Purple Line despite having criticized it as too costly during his 2014 gubernatorial campaign.”

    -- D.C.’s workers flooded rooftops yesterday to watch the solar eclipse. (Justin Wm. Moyer)

    VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

    Trevor Noah explored the meaning of white supremacy:

    Andy Richter tested out his glasses for the eclipse:

    The Post compiled eclipse highlights:

    In 30 seconds, this is what Oregon’s total eclipse looked liked:

    A University of Maryland professor explained the science behind an eclipse:

    The Post’s Angela Fritz researched how people viewed solar eclipses over the course of history:

    And if you were too embarrassed to ask, a doctor described the damage that a simple glance at the eclipse without glasses can do:

    A new North Korean propaganda video shows U.S. officials being engulfed in flames:

    In light of the violent events in Charlottesville, this JFK speech seems newly relevant:

    And Frontier Airlines kicked a father and daughter off a flight: