With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve
THE BIG IDEA: Last August, Donald Trump attacked Barack Obama for golfing on Martha’s Vineyard after floods in Louisiana left 13 people dead. The then-Republican nominee flew to Baton Rouge to hand out toys to children who had lost their homes. “The president says he doesn’t want to go,” an outraged Trump told volunteers at a Baptist church.
“I heard he wants to stay under par while we are under water,” said Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council.
“He will never be under par,” Trump replied.
When Obama went down a few days later, Trump declared on Fox News that it was “too late.”
Now Trump faces his first major natural disaster as president. Will he go golfing this weekend as Hurricane Harvey pounds Texas?
-- If Harvey is not on your radar yet, it should be. Here’s the latest, via Joel Achenbach, Steven Mufson and Jason Samenow: “Texas is bracing for potentially catastrophic flooding and winds as Hurricane Harvey intensified Thursday and cruised toward a late Friday impact near Corpus Christi. The National Hurricane Center described Harvey’s sudden strengthening as ‘astounding.’ The storm is expected to strike as a Category 3 hurricane — meaning with winds greater than 111 miles per hour — making it the most powerful storm to make landfall in the United States since Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Despite the increasingly alarming forecasts, officials in Corpus Christi as of Thursday evening had held off on ordering mandatory evacuations of the city …
The hurricane center projected that the hurricane will stall on the Texas coast for several days, which could dump historic quantities of rain, with some places seeing as much as 35 inches: “The storm is forecast to meander to the east, deluging Houston and possibly New Orleans next week.”
“Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) declared a preemptive state of disaster in 30 counties, including Harris County, home to Houston, the fourth most-populated city in the country.
“ExxonMobil said at noon Thursday that it was already reducing production at its Hoover oil and gas platform in the Gulf of Mexico about 200 miles south of Houston and was evacuating personnel working offshore. Shell said it had evacuated about 200 offshore workers by helicopter and that it had shut in production and secured equipment at its deepwater Perdido oil and gas production hub. … More than 45 percent of U.S. petroleum refining capacity lies along the Gulf Coast … A Citigroup report to investors said more than 85 percent of Texas’s refining capacity is located inside the highest precipitation zone for the storm.”
-- Our in-house meteorologists at the Capital Weather Gang are closely monitoring every development. Follow this post for regular updates on the latest modeling.
-- Harvey’s flood threat has sparked flashbacks to Tropical Storm Allison. Matthew Cappucci reports on some of the parallels.
-- A brief-but-haunting video released by NASA last night shows the storm’s powerful churn toward Central Texas: “The footage was captured just after 6 p.m. by cameras aboard the International Space Station, not long after the tropical cyclone — aided by warm water and favorable winds — regenerated over the Gulf of Mexico,” per Andrew deGrandpre:
An astronaut on board, Marine Col. Randy Bresnik, also tweeted these two photos of the storm with a message of solidarity:
God Bless Texas, may you weather the storm as you always have! pic.twitter.com/8qXHXc8YMY— Randy Bresnik (@AstroKomrade) August 24, 2017
-- Storms like this can define presidencies. George W. Bush’s presidency never recovered after Hurricane Katrina 12 summers ago. George H.W. Bush’s 1992 reelection hopes were hurt by his botched response to Hurricane Andrew because it cemented the narrative that he was detached from domestic problems and unconcerned about acting swiftly to help regular people back home.
-- In contrast to his brother and father, everyone agrees that Jeb Bush did a fantastic job as governor of Florida at responding to hurricanes. “Nine hurricanes slammed into Florida during Bush’s time in office, eight of them in a dizzying, 14-month span in 2004-05 — a record-breaking number that defined Bush as a steady executive in the face of disaster,” the Miami Herald reported in a story that published two years ago yesterday.
The retrospective came as Jeb! sought to showcase his proven competence at disaster management as an asset on the campaign trail. A poll had just come out showing Trump overtaking Bush in his home state of Florida, so the campaign scheduled a town hall in Pensacola to remind voters of how well he’d managed the hurricanes.
It turned out Republican primary voters didn’t care. A plurality wanted an outsider who would blow up Washington, not a steady hand. The result was that the United States wound up with its first president ever who has no prior governing or military experience. Now a novice is captaining the ship of state as a potential disaster approaches. Will he rise to the moment?
-- Yesterday afternoon, Trump tweeted a video clip of him visiting FEMA headquarters for a briefing on hurricanes. That trip took place three weeks ago – on Aug. 4:
-- When will Trump go to Texas? The Obama White House bristled at Trump’s attacks last year, saying the president was not just going to fly down to Baton Rouge for a photo op. It’s a tricky balancing act. Bill Clinton criticized Bush 41 for going to Florida too soon after Hurricane Andrew during the 1992 campaign because he said it distracted emergency responders and tied up police who should have been helping people.
-- The danger of looking aloof is real. Bush 43 cut short a month-long vacation at his ranch in Crawford, Tex., by two days so that he could return to Washington to manage the response to Katrina. On the way back, Air Force One took a detour so the president could glimpse the wreckage. Photographers were invited into Bush’s cabin so they could document him looking down on Louisiana from the window of his plane. Looking back, Bush has described that as “a huge mistake” that made him appear “aloof.” “That photo of me hovering over the damage suggested I was detached from the suffering on the ground,” he wrote in “Decision Points,” his memoir. “That was not how I felt. But once that impression was formed, I couldn't change it.”
-- Beware the split-screen effect: Obama’s numbers took a big hit after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf. One reason it was so bad was that there was a live feed of oil gushing into the ocean while experts struggled to plug the well. Trump could look bad, for example, if cable news juxtaposes footage of a brash and divisive speech against images of devastation in Texas. Can the president stay on message and appear focused on the task at hand in the face of human suffering?
-- “As a political matter, a botched hurricane response in the Gulf Coast … would see Trump criticized — not by blue-state leaders he can mock or ignore — but by key members of his own coalition,” Ron Klain, a senior White House aide to Obama and Bill Clinton, noted in a potentially prescient Aug. 6 column.
-- Major damage will also draw public attention to severe budget cuts Trump has proposed. GOP operative John Weaver, a top strategist to John Kasich and John McCain before that, noted last night:
As we prepare for #Harvey and significant danger/damage, know that Trump wants to cut FEMA to help pay for his unneeded/unwanted wall.— John Weaver (@JWGOP) August 24, 2017
-- Trump wants to cut the National Weather Service’s budget by 6 percent and its parent agency, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), by 16 percent. “Trump also proposed huge subcuts for programs that engage in computer modeling of storms, as well as observation of storms and dissemination of data,” Newsweek’s Matthew Cooper reports. “Already, the U.S. is behind Europe in its forecast accuracy, and further cuts to research would likely leave the country farther behind in what’s been called ‘climate intelligence.’ The National Weather Service’s main forecasting model, the Global Forecasting System, has seen a major drop-off in accuracy. The White House’s budget proposal would only make it worse. It seeks to cut 26 percent from NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, which supports data collection, climate and science, as well as research into more accurate weather forecasting models. The budget blueprint also would cut $513 million from NOAA’s satellite division … a 22 percent reduction.”
-- Before his retirement at the end of June, the retiring chief of a team of U.S. hurricane specialists at the National Hurricane Center warned that Trump’s budget cuts could have dire consequences. “It's hanging on really by a thread in terms of funding,” James Franklin told the Associated Press before stepping down after 35 years at NOAA.
-- “What’s more, it’s terrifying to think that Trump will be handling this crisis while he continues to deny the existence of human-caused climate change, which makes heavy rainfall events like this one more likely,” writes the New Republic’s Emily Atkin. “He recently rolled back flood standards that required new federal infrastructure be built with sea-level-rise in mind.”
-- Some good news: Trump’s FEMA director, Brock Long, is well regarded by professionals. “He was sworn in just two months ago,” Bloomberg’s Chris Flavelle reports in a profile that just posted. “Long's appointment was welcomed by experts on extreme weather, who praised him as neither overtly ideological nor hostile to the mission of the agency he was chosen to lead. Before being appointed to the top job, he was director of Alabama's Emergency Management Agency from 2008 to 2011, as well as a regional hurricane program manager for FEMA.”
-- But Hurricane Harvey could also spotlight still-unfilled positions in the Trump administration. Trump still had not nominated an administrator to lead NOAA, for example, even though Obama named someone before he was even inaugurated.
There is also no replacement yet for John Kelly at the Department of Homeland Security, which includes FEMA. He resigned as secretary to become White House chief of staff. At yesterday’s briefing, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president has confidence in acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke. “I think that we are in great shape having General Kelly sitting next to the president throughout this process,” she said, adding that there is “probably no better chief of staff for the president during the hurricane season.” “The president has been briefed and will continue to be updated as the storm progresses,” Huckabee Sanders said. “Certainly (it is) something he’s very aware of, and we’ll keep a very watchful eye on, and (he) stands ready to provide resources if needed.”
-- Bigger picture: Does Houston have a problem? “Hurricane Ike, a storm that struck the Texas Gulf Coast in 2008, was the kind of event that’s often described as a wake-up call. Hurricane Harvey … could show whether the region actually woke up,” The Atlantic’s David Graham writes. “Depending on where it hits, and with what force, the storm could kill dozens, cause heavy flooding, and disrupt the national economy for months to come. The threat of a major storm striking the area, and especially the Houston Ship Channel, the nation’s second-largest port by tonnage, has long been a nightmare scenario for disaster experts, especially after Ike killed more than 100 people in the United States and inflicted $25 billion in losses. But that storm didn’t hit the ship channel head on. Rice University’s Severe Storm Prediction, Education, and Evacuation from Disasters (SSPEED) Center predicts a direct hit would ‘easily’ cause more than $100 billion in damages. Yet action to prepare for such a storm has been slow.”
-- ProPublica and Texas Tribune partnered on a March 2016 project called “Hell and High Water” about “why Texas isn’t ready” for a storm like Harvey. (Read it here.)
-- Marshall Shepherd, who directs the Atmospheric Sciences Program at the University of Georgia, lays out four dangers of Hurricane Harvey that may not be obvious to the public: Hurricane Amnesia, The Post-Landfall Flood Threat, Power Loss, and a major economic disruption.
-- Programming note: The Daily 202 is taking a hiatus next week. We’re going dark through Labor Day to recharge for what’s certain to be an intense sprint this fall. I’m excited to devour a huge stack of books that’s piled up, catch a few baseball games and spend a day at the state fair back home in Minnesota. Hopefully you too can get a little down time during the final week of the summer, and please join us in keeping the Gulf Coast in your thoughts and prayers.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
--- Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended that Trump alter at least three national monuments established by his immediate predecessors, including two in Utah, a move expected to reshape federal land and water protections and certain to trigger major legal fights. From Juliet Eilperin and Darryl Fears: “In a report Zinke submitted to the White House, the secretary recommended reducing the size of Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, as well as Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. … President Bill Clinton declared the 1.9 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante in 1996, while President Barack Obama designated the 1.35 million-acre Bears Ears last year. Cascade-Siskiyou, which now encompasses more than 113,000 acres, was established by Clinton shortly before leaving office and expanded by Obama in January. … Trump had ordered Zinke to examine more than two dozen sites established by Clinton, Obama and George W. Bush under the 1906 Antiquities Act. … Zinke did not recommend abolishing any monument. Still, some of the key constituencies most critical of sweeping restrictions for federal lands and waters — ranchers, fishing operators and local Republican politicians — won key concessions in his final set of recommendations.”
-- Philip Bump compiled a list of the regulations and policies Trump has undone since taking office. They include TPP, mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines and blocking the Clean Power Plan.
Trump once again boasted about his accomplishments on Twitter this morning:
Few, if any, Administrations have done more in just 7 months than the Trump A. Bills passed, regulations killed, border, military, ISIS, SC!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 25, 2017
GET SMART FAST:
- The U.S. Navy has turned a search and rescue mission for the 10 missing sailors from the USS John S. McCain into a recovery operation. (Anna Fifield)
- The State Department announced that at least 16 Americans suffered damage, including hearing loss, while associated with the U.S. Embassy in Cuba. This is the first official report of what the U.S. government suspects to be a “deliberate” targeting of its diplomats in Havana. (Carol Morello)
- Russia’s ambassador to Sudan, Mirgayas Shirinskiy, was found dead in his swimming pool this week, becoming the seventh high-ranking Russian diplomat to die since November. State news has said he manifested signs of an acute heart attack. (Max Bearak)
- The heir to Samsung was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to five years in prison. Lee Jae-yong has been accused of bribing former South Korean President President Park Geun-hye to receive government backing of Samsung deals. Park was removed from office due to corruption allegations. (The Wall Street Journal)
- The U.S. Army detail assigned to Mike Pence’s communications team has been removed from White House duties after the soldiers were seen on a security camera bringing women back to their hotel in Panama. (NBC News)
- Federal judges chose not to throw out Maryland’s congressional voting map, which critics have argued was gerrymandered to benefit Democrats. The decision allows Maryland to keep the map through next year’s midterms and pauses the lawsuit as the Supreme Court considers a similar case from Wisconsin. (Ann E. Marimow and Josh Hicks)
- Ronald Reagan will be inducted into the Labor Department’s Labor Hall of Honor. Reagan was a union leader while in Hollywood, but he also fired 11,000 striking air traffic controllers and decertified their union. (AP)
- Female federal inmates will now receive free tampons and sanitary pads. The move, initiated by a Bureau of Prisons memo earlier this month, was heralded by women’s rights advocates who had complained about prisons’ previously murky policy on the issue. (Michael Alison Chandler)
- A new study finds that Americans with commercial health insurance are filling fewer antibiotic prescriptions. This means that doctors and patients have begun to heed warnings about excessive antibiotic use, which officials have warned can breed drug resistance and “superbug” bacteria. (Amy Goldstein)
- A husband and wife in Austin, who in 1992 were accused of practicing satanism and child abuse at their day-care center, have been fully exonerated after spending 21 years in prison. Their case captivated America during the height of the “satanic panic” — and included hysterical testimonies that accused them of serving blood-laced Kool Aid and “using Satan’s arm as a paintbrush.” This week, they were awarded $3.4 million from the state. (Avi Selk)
- Amazon is finalizing its $13.7 billion buyout of Whole Foods Market on Monday and will begin lowering prices on a number of items in its stores next week. (Abha Bhattarai)
- A German grocery store emptied all its shelves of foreign goods, as part of a bid to illustrate just how reliant the country is on other countries. In place of food products, the nearly barren aisles held signs that read “This shelf is pretty boring without diversity,” and “This is how empty a shelf is without foreigners.” (Amanda Erickson)
- Joe Biden has written a memoir about his son Beau’s life and death. The book, entitled “Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose,” is due out in November. (People)
THERE IS A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- BIG: “As CIA director, Mike Pompeo has taken a special interest in an agency unit that is closely tied to the investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, requiring the Counterintelligence Mission Center to report directly to him,” Greg Miller scoops. “Officials at the center have, in turn, kept a watchful eye on Pompeo, who has repeatedly played down Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and demonstrated a willingness to engage in political skirmishes for President Trump.
“Current and former officials said that the arrangement has been a source of apprehension among the CIA’s upper ranks and that they could not recall a time in the agency’s history when a director faced a comparable conflict. The unit helped trigger the investigation ... by serving as a conduit to the FBI last year for information the CIA developed on contacts between Russian individuals and Trump campaign associates … The center works more closely with the FBI than almost any other CIA department does … and continues to pursue leads on Moscow’s election interference operation that could factor in the probe led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
“Pompeo has not impeded that work, officials said. But several officials said there is concern about what he might do if the CIA uncovered new information potentially damaging to Trump and Pompeo were forced to choose between protecting the agency or the president. ‘People have to watch him,’ said a U.S. official who, like others, requested anonymity to speak frankly. ‘It’s almost as if he can’t resist the impulse to be political.’ A second former CIA official cited a ‘real concern for interference and politicization,’ saying that the worry among some at the agency is ‘that if you were passing on something too dicey [to Pompeo] he would go to the White House with it.’
“Pompeo is also known for berating subordinates, aggressively challenging agency analysts and displaying the fierce partisanship that became his signature while serving as a GOP member of Congress. ... When asked about Russian election interference, Pompeo often becomes testy and recites talking points that seem designed to appease a president who rejects the allegations as ‘fake news.’“Pompeo was exposed to Trump’s wrath over the Russia investigation on at least one occasion, officials said. He was among those present for a meeting at the White House earlier this year when Trump began complaining about the probe and, in front of Pompeo and others, asked what could be done about it.”
-- After James Clapper expressed concern about Trump's stability, the president attacked the former director of national intelligence on Twitter for sending him “a beautiful letter” and wondered whether he'll release it to the public. Clapper responded that he hand wrote identical notes to both Trump and Hillary Clinton before the election. “The night before the election, we deployed two teams so that we would be ready to provide a (presidential daily brief) the next morning to whomever won,” Clapper told CNN's Jake Tapper. “I hand-wrote almost identical short notes to each of the two candidates to accompany the first brief as President-elect; only one actually got deployed — the one to him.”
-- Former CIA director John Brennan sent a memo last year complaining that certain members of congressional leadership briefed on the agency’s Russia investigation did not “understand and appreciate the importance and gravity of the issue.” BuzzFeed News’s Jason Leopold reports: “Brennan’s December 16, 2016 memo did not identify the lawmakers who expressed skepticism about the CIA’s judgment that Russia helped Donald Trump win the election. But three intelligence sources (said) that Brennan’s criticism was directed at [Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn]. … At the time, the two Republican lawmakers downplayed the importance of the CIA’s intelligence. Cornyn said it was ‘hardly news.’”
-- A Russian propaganda network aimed at U.S. audiences “consistently” spreads links to Breitbart and a spate of other far-right, Trump-boosting websites. USA Today’s Oren Dorell reports: “The websites — which include True Pundit, the Gateway Pundit and Imperialist U — are regular features on the list of ‘Top Domains’ pushed by a network of 600 Twitter accounts followed by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, which tracks a Russian disinformation and propaganda campaign focused on U.S. voters. On Thursday, the most popular domains mentioned by the network … included True Pundit, the Russian government-controlled television network RT, the Gateway Pundit, Fox News, Russian government news agency Sputnik News and Breitbart.”
THE TRUMP AGENDA:
-- Top DHS officials met this week to review DACA. The meeting has raised fears that Trump could move to eliminate the program, which has offered work permits to 800,000 illegal immigrants but faces a potential legal challenge from Texas next month. David Nakamura reports: “Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke and Thomas Homan, the acting head of [ICE], were among those who gathered Monday … It is not clear what conclusions the group reached. But rumors swept through the immigrant rights community Thursday that a decision from Trump is imminent … Any decision would provoke strong reaction from both sides of the debate. The president has wavered on his threats, and in April suggested that the DACA recipients … could ‘rest easy.’ [But] the threat of a lawsuit from the states has led to speculation that the Justice Department, led by [Jeff] Sessions, who opposed DACA as a Republican senator from Alabama, would not defend the program. Texas set a deadline of Sept. 5 for the administration to end the program.”
-- Every county in the country now has at least one insurance provider on its Obamacare exchange. Amy Goldstein reports: “Although insurers could still defect in the next month, before they must sign federal contracts to sell ACA coverage for the coming year, the move by CareSource to sell marketplace health plans in Paulding County, on the western edge of Ohio, appears to end a recent scramble by officials in seven states to persuade insurance companies to participate in a total of 81 counties. … Even with the bare spots filled at the moment, nearly 1 in 3 people who have ACA health plans will find only one insurer selling such coverage in their area[.]”
-- During her news conference yesterday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dodged four questions about whether Mexico would pay for a border wall. Aaron Blake writes: “Trump himself has suggested that Congress would fund the wall in the near term but that Mexico would be made to pay for it later. … Apparently the company line has changed, and it no longer includes Mexico paying for the wall at some future date. Of course, we probably should have seen that coming, given we now know Trump told Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto privately back in January that it wasn't actually a huge priority for him.”
-- The National Labor Relations Board ruled last year that private universities’ teaching and research assistants had the right to form unions. But Trump’s appointees to the NLRB may soon change that. Danielle Douglas-Gabriel reports: “Loyola University Chicago and Boston College are challenging the NLRB’s certification of graduate unions on the grounds that the board has no jurisdiction because of the schools’ affiliation with the Catholic Church. … That argument could gain traction as Republicans are poised to take control of the labor board.”
-- Some oil and gas executives worry that Trump’s rollback of environmental regulations could backfire. Politico’s Ben Lefebvre reports: “Among their fears: Laxer rules could set the stage for an environmental disaster like 2010’s BP oil spill in the Gulf, which blackened the industry’s reputation and spurred a regulatory clampdown. … In addition, some large companies that have already spent money to comply with Obama-era regulations fear being undercut by unscrupulous competitors if the Trump administration reverses those rules. And an industry that prizes regulatory certainty is uneasy with Trump's efforts to renegotiate lucrative trade deals like NAFTA and reorganize the agencies responsible for overseeing offshore drilling.”
THE REPUBLICAN CIVIL WAR:
-- Congress faces a jampacked legislative calendar when it returns from recess, and Trump appears prepared to blame Republican leadership if the debt ceiling or budget negotiations fall apart. Philip Rucker and Damian Paletta report: “Traditionally, top political figures are coached to project calm about the debt ceiling for fear of spooking investors. Trump's alarmist warning on Thursday could lead to a new concern because [Steven] Mnuchin has tried to alleviate fears. Neither Mnuchin nor Trump has had to deal with the debt ceiling before, and Trump — before he was sworn in as president — ridiculed Republicans for raising the debt ceiling.”
Trump went after Senate Republicans in a tweet this morning:
If Senate Republicans don't get rid of the Filibuster Rule and go to a 51% majority, few bills will be passed. 8 Dems control the Senate!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 25, 2017
I requested that Mitch M & Paul R tie the Debt Ceiling legislation into the popular V.A. Bill (which just passed) for easy approval. They...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 24, 2017
...didn't do it so now we have a big deal with Dems holding them up (as usual) on Debt Ceiling approval. Could have been so easy-now a mess!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 24, 2017
The only problem I have with Mitch McConnell is that, after hearing Repeal & Replace for 7 years, he failed!That should NEVER have happened!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 24, 2017
-- “Trump is railing against Republicans because he thinks it will help him politically down the road, for instance during a 2020 reelection bid, said one outside adviser to the White House,” per Philip Rucker, Sean Sullivan and Mike DeBonis. “For many GOP lawmakers, the justification for not fully breaking from Trump has been the promise of trying to salvage key parts of the party’s agenda. But now, they are increasingly resigning themselves to the reality that they will be largely on their own. … As a result, they have grown increasingly hostile toward the president.”
-- Trump’s border wall spending threat could be a gift to Democrats. The New York Times’s Carl Hulse writes: “Democrats may be only too happy to let him follow through on his threat since it will now be easy for them to blame the president for any government interruption, which would probably aggravate many Americans. Rather than cowing Democrats, Mr. Trump’s tough talk is more likely to embolden the opposition in ongoing negotiations, particularly since he has now twice suggested he was willing to shutter government agencies if he didn’t get his way.”
-- Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said yesterday that the president is “inviting” a 2020 primary challenger. (CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski)
-- Huckabee Sanders declined to respond to comments last week by Republican Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.) that Trump hasn’t demonstrated necessary “stability” or “competence” as president. “I think that's a ridiculous and outrageous claim that doesn't dignify a response from this podium,” Sanders said regarding the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (CNN)
-- But when it comes to an overhaul of the tax code, Trump is leaving the details to Congress. Bloomberg News's Sahil Kapur and Margaret Talev report: “Republican congressional leaders have already said they don’t expect to release a joint tax plan with the White House. Instead, they’ll rely on House and Senate tax-writing committees to solve the big questions that remain unanswered[.]”
-- Conservative media outlets are worried about John Kelly’s strategy to limit the information provided to Trump. BuzzFeed News’s Adrian Carrasquillo and Charlie Warzel report: “Longtime Trump adviser and occasional Infowars guest Roger Stone said Trump's ‘news summaries have been sanitized, which means no Infowars, no Daily Caller, no Breitbart. As such, his views are shaped by CNN and FOX News. He watches network news as well, which is almost antiquated. That's why he's so mad about the Russia investigation.’”
A DIVIDED AMERICA:
-- Christopher Cantwell, the self-described white nationalist who was featured in a widely shared documentary on the violence in Charlottesville, was denied bail Thursday after turning himself over to authorities the previous day. He is being charged on two felony counts of using tear gas, and one felony count of causing “malicious bodily injury” with a caustic substance. (Dana Hedgpeth)
-- If you read one interview: An award-winning black poet and actor from Denver spent months undercover as a white supremacist, seeking to learn more about revisionist history and how racism flourishes online. He recounted his experience in an interview with The Post’s Peter Holley, weighing in on the “disabling” alt-right media bubble — and why he thinks liberals should listen to the far-right.
-- Many cities with Confederate statues have attempted to remove them, but state governments have moved to block them. The Atlantic’s David A. Graham reports: “Across the South, citizens are rising up and demanding that their towns and cities remove Confederate monuments. And in many of those cities, local officials are reckoning with the fact that they don’t actually have the power to do that. … Like many recent preemption laws passed in states across the country, but especially in Southern states like North Carolina, they pit conservative state legislatures against cities that tend to be more liberal and more diverse.”
-- An online petition asking for the “antifa” to be designated as a domestic terrorist group has gained enough signatures to require a response from the White House, Politico’s Shawn Musgrave reports. “The petition asks the Pentagon to designate antifa groups — the term is short for anti-fascists, including some of the leftists who confronted white supremacist groups in Charlottesville … as terrorists, ‘just as they rightfully declared ISIS a terror group.’” It was posted last week to the “We The People” website.
-- University of Virginia police are reportedly investigating vandalism of the school’s Thomas Jefferson statue. The statue appeared to have been splattered with red paint early Sunday, but authorities wouldn’t confirm an investigation until yesterday. (The Daily Progress)
-- Several of the “Unite the Right” rally attendees have been fired, disowned and even arrested since being identified. Axios’s Haley Britzky has compiled a list of the affected attendees.
-- Hundreds of San Francisco residents are attempting to protest a far-right rally scheduled for Saturday in a very unique way — by coating Crissy Field, the site of the rally, in dog excrement. The Guardian’s Julia Carrie Wong reports: “‘I just had this image of alt-right people stomping around in the poop,’ [organizer] Tuffy Tuffington said. ‘It seemed like a little bit of civil disobedience where we didn’t have to engage with them face to face.’ Tuffington, a 45-year-old artist and designer, created a Facebook event page based on the concept, and the dog owners of San Francisco responded in droves. Many have declared their intention to stockpile their [dog poop] for days in advance, then deliver them in bags for the site. ... There will also be contingents of clowns, kayakers, cars, and kids — all hoping to use their particular strengths (humor, seaworthiness, the ability to monopolize parking spaces, and cuteness, respectively) to thumb their noses at hate.”
THE DIGITAL DIVIDE:
-- A D.C. Superior Court judge on Thursday ordered a tech company to release email addresses and other Web user data from people who visited an anti-Trump website in the months leading to his inauguration. Keith L. Alexander reports: “During an hour-long hearing, attorneys for DreamHost, which hosts the website Disruptj20.org, argued the federal search warrant still was too broad and would include information about people who visited the site but were not part of violent Inauguration Day rioting. Prosecutors have filed felony rioting charges against some 200 people who they say participated in the riots and are asking for the website information as they pursue their criminal cases.”
-- Meanwhile, a growing chorus of right-leaning tech leaders in Silicon Valley have begun calling for the regulation of tech giants — a surprising battle cry. Elizabeth Dwoskin and Hamza Shaban report: “Some in Silicon Valley — who say they do not espouse the talking points of the ‘alt-right’ or support the positions of the neo-Nazi organizers of the Charlottesville rally — say they are being roped in with extremists and that their voices have been drowned out. They say that tech giants are becoming the online enforcers of a liberal point of view and the gatekeepers of all political expression, with little checks on their power.”
-- Following the violence in Charlottesville, dating apps have begun cracking down on hate — with both OkCupid and Bumble urging their users to report anyone “involved in hate groups.” (OkCupid banned Cantwell after he appeared in the Vice News documentary.) New York Times’s Matt Stevens reports: “Dating apps have waded into a larger clash between the Silicon Valley and the alt-right that seems to have escalated in recent months. OKCupid was just one of several internet companies to undertake a sweeping purge after Charlottesville, stepping briskly away from what experts said was a longstanding laissez-faire approach that helped some social networks develop the broad base of users they once needed to function.”
-- The jury is set for the federal corruption trial of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.). Opening arguments will be heard on Sept. 6. (Politico’s Matt Friedman)
-- Menendez’s trial is expected to last well into October, and the results could have serious implications for Trump’s agenda. Paul Kane writes: “While Menendez would almost certainly appeal [a guilty] verdict, the calls for his immediate resignation would be swift and voluminous. And much has been written about the calamity that his departure would bring on the Democratic Party in this Year of the Deciding Vote. But no one should expect Menendez to heed those calls, at least not until Gov. Chris Christie (R) leaves office on Jan. 16. The current front-runner to replace Christie, Democrat Phil Murphy, could be sworn in then as the new governor. This scenario would allow Murphy to appoint a Democratic interim senator and set a special election for later in 2018. ... It might seem a bit outlandish for a felon to remain in the Senate for two to three months, just to deny the Republicans from getting an extra vote. But these are anything but normal political times in Washington.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Trump caught flak for retweeting this eclipse meme:
From a BuzzFeed editor:
Trump retweeted this meme which implies that he's a cold lifeless body that blocks the light, plunging the world into darkness pic.twitter.com/vhX2BnSAOA— Hayes Brown (@HayesBrown) August 24, 2017
From an LA Times editor:
The president of the United States just re-tweeted this.— Jackie Calmes (@jackiekcalmes) August 24, 2017
Imagine any other president doing something similar. You can't. Again. https://t.co/P5lUf84A8p
And in a more satirical take:
Liberals responded harshly to the news that the Trump administration was advancing a plan to block transgender troops from the U.S. military. From a progressive veterans group:
There's NO reason for a transgender ban. Military isn't asking for it. Americans don't want it. This is about Trump embrace of hate. Period. https://t.co/OwX3QEgXHV— VoteVets (@votevets) August 24, 2017
Hillary Clinton retweeted VoteVets’s message with a simple comment:
Current Democratic lawmakers also chimed in:
Banning transgender Americans from defending our country is un-American. We should welcome those who serve, not shut the door on them. https://t.co/dyUIWxuhjU— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) August 24, 2017
To the brave transgender men and women in uniform, your service & sacrifice will never be discounted or discredited. #ProtectTransTroops— Rep. Joe Kennedy III (@RepJoeKennedy) August 24, 2017
To all trans men and women serving bravely in the military: I plan to introduce legislation to fight back. We'll keep raising our voices. https://t.co/kvKLXe1aN4— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) August 24, 2017
When I was bleeding to death in my Black Hawk, I didn’t care if the troops saving me were gay, straight, transgender, black, white or brown pic.twitter.com/FTzjHpZuuH— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) August 24, 2017
An ultra-conservative House member urged his colleagues to approve a border wall:
Congress will fund the wall. Trump will build the wall. It is a mandate from the American people. Honor the mandate from We the People!— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) August 24, 2017
But an NPR Capitol Hill reporter noted this (once again):
The president campaigned on Mexico paying for the wall. https://t.co/31N1PJu5rN— Susan Davis (@DaviSusan) August 24, 2017
The House Intel ranking member took issue with Trump’s stance on three critical points:
.@realDonaldTrump fails to condemn white supremacists, urges cops to "rough up" suspects, & may pardon Sheriff Arpaio. A troubling pattern.— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) August 24, 2017
Mar-a-Lago is taking a financial hit this year:
Charity events planned at @realdonaldtrump's Mar-a-Lago, per season.— David Fahrenthold (@Fahrenthold) August 24, 2017
Trump’s press secretary has reverted to avoiding CNN during briefings. From one of CNN’s White House reporters:
Shocker! WH back to playing games and refusing to call on CNN at WH briefing.— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) August 24, 2017
Also worth noting... it's almost September and Trump still has yet to take questions from reporters in the WH briefing room.— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) August 24, 2017
Also worth noting... and not to belabor the issue... but the Obama WH always called on Fox at WH press briefings.— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) August 24, 2017
Legendary journalist Tom Brokaw responded to Trump’s attacks on the media:
mr president,— Tom Brokaw (@tombrokaw) August 24, 2017
i've been a journalist 50 yrs. Never met one who didn't love USA.
Many risk their lives reporting on US values.
Sen. John McCain recounted his first presidential run:
Fun trip down memory lane to my 2000 campaign on the Straight Talk Express w/ some young journalists who clearly didn't amount to much... pic.twitter.com/4sWKflhEUs— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) August 25, 2017
A Washington Examiner reporter came upon this scene:
this dad reading his sons the gettysburg address. just what need right now. pic.twitter.com/IM70m7WXdN— kelly cohen (@politiCOHEN_) August 25, 2017
Laura Ingraham’s illustration of Trump supporters was a bit misleading:
Sen. Ted Cruz seems to be enjoying his home state over the recess:
A Texas Supreme Court justice who was on Trump's list of possible SCOTUS choices retweeted a news story:
Anthony Scaramucci refuses to let his 15 minutes of fame end:
This cup has no leaks in it! 😎 pic.twitter.com/uRkqcnQ1FT— Anthony Scaramucci (@Scaramucci) August 25, 2017
And a fun fact about the top 40 charts:
“Despacito” has been the No. 1 song in America for 10.5 Scaramuccis— Hunter Schwarz (@hunterschwarz) August 24, 2017
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- Rolling Stone, “How a New Generation of Progressive Activists Is Leading the Trump Resistance,” by Tom Dickinson: “The Indivisible movement — which now counts more than 6,000 chapters nationwide — is the centerpiece of a robust new grassroots machinery that has arisen to confront the crisis of the Trump presidency. Rivaling anything accomplished by the Tea Party, the passionate activism of hundreds of thousands of progressives has already achieved the impossible in Washington, D.C. — overwhelming Republican control of Congress and the presidency to stymie the repeal of Obamacare. Looking ahead, Democratic Party leaders are determined to ride this political uprising to victory in the House in 2018. But neither the DNC nor the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have shown the technological savvy or comfort with grassroots engagement to create a platform for this activism within the party itself. Indeed, for many of the activists on the ground, the current Democratic Party appears less a vehicle for change than an obstacle to it.”
-- Politico Magazine, “My Weekend at the Falwells’ South Beach Flophouse,” by Brandon Ambrosino: “The Falwell-owned hostel encourages behavior that would get Liberty students expelled — the drinking, the smoking, the advertising for strip clubs, the free shuttles to local bars, the possibility of co-ed sleeping arrangements, and so on. … For most people, this probably seems like no big deal. But there’s a more substantive concern here than simple hypocrisy: For two years, the Falwell-controlled LLC that owned the hostel (as well as the land containing the liquor store and neighboring Italian restaurant) was based on property in Virginia owned by Liberty University.”
-- The Atlantic, “The Foreign Fascination With Trump's White House,” by Yasmeen Serhan: “The news of Bannon’s departure appeared in headlines in Arabic, Spanish, and Russian, as readers around the world began to learn that President Trump’s chief strategist … would not remain in his role long enough to see that agenda implemented. … From President Obama’s historic ascent to the White House to President Nixon’s scandal-ridden exit and before, American politics in recent decades has been far from dull for most overseas observers. But the extent of that fascination — particularly when it comes to the internal dynamics of an American president’s administration — is new.”
HOT ON THE LEFT
“Mnuchin viewed eclipse from roof of Fort Knox,” from Drew Harwell and Beth Reinhard: “Louise Linton, wife of U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, drew accusations of elitism this week for an Instagram glamour shot of her stepping off a government jet — and for her mockery of an online critic as ‘adorably out of touch.’ But a watchdog group and a lawmaker seized on a different issue: Did the millionaire couple fly to Louisville on Monday, on a taxpayer-funded plane, just to see the solar eclipse? … It turns out that Mnuchin did view the eclipse while he was in Kentucky, and from an extraordinary place: Just outside the path of totality, from the roof of the nation’s fabled Fort Knox[.]”
HOT ON THE RIGHT
“Counter-protester who allegedly sucker punched Trump supporter at O.C. rally tried to flee state, police say,” from Los Angeles Times: “A 20-year-old Ohio man pleaded not guilty to battery Thursday after he allegedly sucker punched a Trump supporter at an anti-illegal immigration rally in Laguna Beach on Sunday, officials said. Richard Losey was charged with one misdemeanor count of battery, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office. … Police said R.C. Maxwell was ‘peacefully’ speaking with a group of people at Main Beach Park when the counter-protester punched him. … Detectives arrested Losey on Tuesday as he was trying to buy a bus pass to Ohio in what they believe was an attempt to ‘flee the state to avoid criminal prosecution,’ police said.”
Trump has a meeting with Rex Tillerson before leaving for Camp David.
Pence has no events on his public schedule today.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Trump ally Roger Stone on calls for the president’s impeachment: “Try to impeach him. Just try it. You will have a spasm of violence — an insurrection — in this country like you have never seen before... Both sides are heavily armed, my friend.” When asked if he thought Trump’s removal from office could cause a civil war, Stone replied, “Yes, that is what I think will happen.”
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- It will be another beautiful day in the District. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Some clouds may mix with the sunshine at times. But that shouldn’t keep us from enjoying the comfortable, un-muggy air. Highs should stay several degrees below average, in the upper 70s to low 80s.”
-- The Nationals beat the Astros 5-4 in 11 innings. (Chelsea Janes)
-- D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine asked a federal appeals court to take another look at the District’s strict gun laws. Ann E. Marimow reports: “Racine’s decision follows a ruling last month from a three-judge panel that blocks the District’s requirement of a ‘good reason’ to obtain a permit because the requirement prevents most residents from carrying guns in public places.”
-- Although no one in the D.C. region claimed the Powerball jackpot, two residents won $1 million each. The winners have not yet come forward. (Justin Wm. Moyer)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Alec Baldwin reprised his role as Donald Trump for SNL's latest summer edition of "Weekend Update":
The Post’s Amber Phillips explains Congress’s packed schedule after lawmakers return from recess:
The Post fact-checked whether embassy downsizing in Moscow would save the U.S. money:
Florida put Mark Asay to death with a drug never before used in an execution:
Denver police are investigating after a video showed high school cheerleaders screaming as they're forced into splits:
And a company in Japan has launched a robot priest that can help conduct funerals: