With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve
THE BIG IDEA: For many of President Trump’s core supporters, his appeal has always been more about tone than substance.
Commentators often misunderstood his 2016 success by overly focusing on the specific policies he was proposing. To borrow one trite formulation, the media took Trump literally while voters took him seriously. Many Republicans who backed Trump in the primaries were willing to overlook his apostasies on the issues they theoretically cared about most, such as abortion or guns, because they liked his style. The brashness, bellicosity, swagger and machismo — whatever you want to call it — that made so many elder statesmen so uncomfortable was central to his success.
Many conservatives feel like the system — in Washington and the world — is broken. They don’t want leaders to prevaricate or speak the language of diplomacy. They want a streetfighter.
After a week of being angry at Trump for cutting deals with “Chuck and Nancy,” that’s what a lot of these same people saw in Trump’s maiden speech yesterday to the United Nations General Assembly.
“Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime,” the president said in the most memorable sound bite of the day. “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”
-- The conservatives who praised the speech focused mainly on the way Trump talked about North Korea:
John Bolton declared that “this was the best speech of the Trump presidency” because “people will remember” Trump’s threat against Pyongyang. “I think he was as clear and direct as it's possible to be” the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. said on Fox News. “For Americans, plain speaking is still a virtue. And there was a lot of plain speaking in that speech.”
The Resurgent’s Erick Erickson also called it “the best speech by President Trump so far” and said it was because “he did not mince words”: “A White House contact told me the President intended to wake up the United Nations to the threat North Korea poses on the world stage by using harsh language. I think it probably worked. Foreign policy elitists will treat the President’s statements about North Korea and ‘rocketman’ with the same disdain they showed Reagan for his ‘evil Empire’ remarks. But I suspect both Presidents will have the last laugh. … With President Trump we are not going to get the soaring rhetoric of Barack Obama or the happy smile and sentiment of George W. Bush. We are not going to get Reagan or Clinton. What we are going to get is a blunt instrument who understands he can occasionally use his bluntness to make real change.”
“The apology tour is over,” wrote Washington Times columnist Charles Hurt, praising the “strong dose of straight talk.”
“If his supporters worried about the supposed ‘globalists’ on his staff watering down Trump’s approach on foreign policy, the president dispelled all of those worries…,” Ed Morrissey wrote on his Hot Air blog.
“It may not be the most elegant solution, and it's certainly not what we're used to, but blunt threats are sometimes the only thing two-bit despots understand,” added Washington Examiner columnist Becket Adams.
-- Compare the tenor of that commentary to the horrified reaction of many media elites: ABC News correspondent Terry Moran said on the air after Trump finished speaking that threatening to “totally destroy” a nation of 25 million people “borders on the threat of committing a war crime.”
From CNN’s senior White House correspondent:
UN speech was a lot of Trump tweets strung together. Saber-rattling. But no clear doctrine. Threats of confrontation around the world.— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) September 19, 2017
From Politico’s chief international affairs columnist:
President just threatened to 'totally destroy' another country and mocked its leader at UN. Just take a moment to reflect on that.— Susan Glasser (@sbg1) September 19, 2017
Here is a taste of some of the headlines out there this morning:
- Vanity Fair: “IN MANIACAL U.N. SOLILOQUY, TRUMP THREATENS ANNIHILATION.”
- Baltimore Sun Editorial Board: “Who's the madman, Kim or Trump?”
- Daily Beast: “Strange Bedfellows: Israel and Saudi Arabia Loved Trump’s Nuke-Happy U.N. Speech.”
- NPR: “After Trump's U.N. Speech, Some Senators Look To Reinforce War Powers.”
- The Globe and Mail of Canada: “Trump stokes global tensions with threats against North Korea in UN speech.”
-- On the right, though, Trump offered a little something for everyone.
If you want to believe that the president’s heart is in the right place, if you’re inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt, there was at least something in the speech you could seize on and celebrate. Whether you’re a traditional Republican who cheered when George W. Bush focused on promoting democracy abroad during his second inaugural address or a libertarian who wants to bring the troops home, there was a theme for you to embrace.
In part, that is what happens whenever a speech is drafted by committee. It’s plainly obvious from reading the transcript that different sections of the speech were written by different people with different worldviews.
The Washington Post’s Greg Jaffe and Karen DeYoung focus on the ideological incoherence that resulted from that dynamic: “In previewing the speech for reporters, one senior White House aide described it as ‘a deeply philosophical address’ that would explain ‘how America fits into the world, how it operates, what its values are.’ These have been subjects of often intense debate in a White House split between foreign policy traditionalists and Trump’s senior political advisers … Trump’s initial instincts often have been to upend U.S. foreign policy — or at least question the core principles that have guided it — before pivoting back to a more traditional stance. Trump’s U.N. speech struggled with these conflicting impulses to the point of incoherence.”
- “In some moments, Trump suggested that his commitment to sovereignty — a word that he repeated 21 times — would lead to a less interventionist foreign policy. … In other instances, Trump outlined a far more expansive role for the United States.”
- “In paying homage to American generosity on the world stage, Trump cited several U.S.-funded global health programs that the budget his administration released May 7 calls for significantly cutting. He praised the Marshall Plan, which rebuilt Europe after World War II, even as he has repeatedly vowed that the United States’ days of nation-building are finished.”
- “The president was selective in his view of bad actors — North Korea, Iran, Cuba, Syria and Venezuela — whose sovereignty did not merit respect. He made little mention of China or Russia, congratulating both on their recent U.N. vote for more sanctions on North Korea and offering only a brief mention of Moscow’s violations of Ukraine’s sovereign territory.”
-- Foreign affairs columnist David Ignatius said he was “modestly reassured” by what he saw as a shockingly “conventional” speech: “He supported human rights and democracy; he opposed rogue regimes; he espoused a global community of strong, sovereign nations. … Because he’s Trump, the zingers got the headlines. … He said the Iran nuclear deal was ‘an embarrassment’ and Iran’s regional actions were a ‘scourge,’ but he didn’t say he would tear up the deal. He appealed to the Iranian people, without exactly calling for regime change. He checked all the hard-liner boxes, in other words, without making any new commitments. … He spoke about righteousness defeating evil, a ‘great reawakening of nations’ and other fuzzy Reaganisms. But at its core, this was a speech that any president since Harry S. Truman probably could have delivered. (Interestingly, Trump twice favorably mentioned Truman…) … Trump even invoked the Marshall Plan, the very cornerstone of the liberal international order. … (Warning to base: Has POTUS been kidnapped by the black-helicopter crowd?)”
-- “The tension between national sovereignty and universal rights has thrummed through the UN’s work like an electric charge ever since the organization was founded after the second world war,” The Economist observes. “Mr. Trump, in his speech to the General Assembly, did not so much resolve that tension as pretend that it does not exist. This required some heroic squinting at the historical record.”
-- The fact Trump threaded the needle allowed various conservative thought leaders who have been critical of his foreign policy to praise him:
The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, for example, thinks the president signaled that he’s coming around to their more globalist views: “Donald Trump’s method has been to use his speeches on the world stage to roil diplomatic convention, and he did it again Tuesday in his address to the United Nations. No coterie of complacency deserves candor more, and perhaps Mr. Trump’s definition of ‘America First’ is even evolving to recognize the necessity of American global leadership.”
In a nuanced take, National Review Editor Rich Lowry described the speech as a “sometimes awkward marriage of conventional Republican foreign policy and a very basic version of Trump’s nationalism.” But he keyed in on its “Jacksonian nature”: “As someone said on Twitter, never before has been there so much murmuring of ‘holy sh**’ in so many different languages. … It’s very safe to say that … we’ve never heard such direct, undiplomatic language from a U.S. president at Turtle Bay. … If the point of the speech was to get the world to take notice (of his threat to destroy North Korea), this surely succeeded. But it’s still an open question of what exactly the administration’s North Korea policy is — a rhetorically forceful version of the usual hope that we can get China to pressure North Korea and eventually sit down to negotiate again with Pyongyang, or something different?”
-- Other Trump critics in the GOP tent also found something to like.
Mitt Romney posted a rare tweet praising Trump:
President Trump gave a strong and needed challenge to UN members to live up— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) September 19, 2017
to its charter and to confront global challenges.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), a former chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has been one of the most outspoken Trump critics among congressional Republicans since announcing her retirement. But she loved his attacks on the governments in Havana and Caracas:
HOW IT’S PLAYING IN THE POST:
-- “The defiant and pugilistic speech put the General Assembly hall of more than 150 delegations on notice that the United States, under Trump’s leadership, is willing to pursue an unpopular and unpredictable course to protect its interests across the globe,” David Nakamura and Anne Gearan write in the lead story for today’s newspaper. “Most of the president’s views were well known before he arrived at the annual U.N. gathering. But his 42-minute speech, delivered in a combative tone rare for an American leader, put them in stark relief at a time of widespread anxiety among U.S. allies and partners over the nation’s traditional role of world leader.”
-- Sidebar: “Jitters and surprise in South Korea and Japan over Trump’s speech to the U.N.,” by Anna Fifield in Tokyo and Simon Denyer in Beijing.
-- From the opinion page:
- David Rothkopf: “Trump’s first speech to the United Nations was a disastrous, nationalistic flop.”
- Jennifer Rubin on Right Turn calls it “the weirdest U.N. speech ever.”
- Paul Waldman on Plum Line: “Trump just made it harder to get North Korea to give up nukes.”
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- After decimating the island of Dominica, Category 5 Hurricane Maria is hurtling toward Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands — threatening both with possibly unprecedented levels of damage. “Tuesday night and Wednesday, the intensifying storm will inflict a ‘potentially catastrophic’ combination of destructive winds up to 165 mph, coastal inundation from surging ocean waters, and tremendous rainfall,” says the Capital Weather Gang's Jason Samenow.
Forecasts have been dire, with one National Hurricane Center scientist warning that it could become the most destructive hurricane in Puerto Rico’s history. “This is going to impact all of Puerto Rico with a force and violence that we haven’t seen for several generations,” Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló told reporters. “We’re going to lose a lot of infrastructure in Puerto Rico. We’re going to have to rebuild.”
-- At least 226 have been killed after a 7.1-magnitude earthquake rocked central Mexico with terrifying force on Tuesday — collapsing buildings as panicked residents swarmed the streets. Officials expect the death toll to rise as they continue to search for those buried under the rubble. Joshua Partlow reports: “Coming less than two weeks after a deadly temblor off the country's Pacific coast, and just hours after a siren signaled an annual earthquake drill in the capital, Tuesday’s quake shook the ground with terrifying force … There were reports of fires and gas leaks. ... At least 44 buildings collapsed or partly collapsed in Mexico City, according to Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera.” The quake from two weeks ago was the most powerful earthquake in Mexico in a century and killed 90 people.
GET SMART FAST:
- The death toll from a South Florida nursing home that lost power during Hurricane Irma rose to nine. Carlos Canal died yesterday of pneumonia, according to his daughter. (Mark Berman)
- The Turkish president said that Trump apologized to him for the May beating of peaceful protesters by Turkish security personnel. “He said that he was sorry and he told me he was going to follow up about this issue when we come to the United States,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told PBS NewsHour. “The protesters were insulting us, and they were screaming and shouting. The police failed to intervene properly." The White House denied the account. (Axios)
- The Coast Guard set a record for cocaine seizures for the second straight year. The service has confiscated 455,000 pounds of the drug this year. (Dan Lamothe)
- The Navy acknowledged that some of its sailors work 100-hour weeks. The revelation came during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing focused on the service’s recent fatal collisions. (Alex Horton)
- Violence erupted Monday night at Georgia Tech, where protesters torched a police cruiser and clashed with officers following the fatal shooting of an LGBT leader this weekend. Authorities said 21-year-old Scout Schultz was suicidal and armed with a knife, but the student’s family pushed back — claiming the “weapon” was merely a multitool with no blade in sight. (T. Rees Shapiro, Avi Selk and Wesley Lowery)
- A white Baton Rouge man was arrested Tuesday for the “brutal murders” of two black people, whom he shot last week in separate incidents. Authorities have described the killings as potentially racially motivated. (Mark Berman)
- Prior to its massive data breach, Equifax lobbied Congress to limit the amount for which they could be sued by consumers. The credit reporting agency spent over $1 million on lobbying efforts last year. (Renae Merle and Hamza Shaban)
- Melania Trump’s lawyers threatened a Croatian language school with a lawsuit after the business used her image to advertise English lessons. “Just imagine how far you can go with a little bit of English,” the billboards read. (Herman Wong)
- Children who play football before age 12 suffer mood and behavior problems later in life at a “significantly higher” rate than those who take up the sport later, according to a new medical study. Researchers found that those who participated before age 12 were twice as likely to have problems with behavior regulation and executive function, and three times as likely to experience symptoms of depression. (Rick Maese)
- The percentage of U.S. adolescents who have a driver’s license, drink alcohol or date has plummeted since 1976, according to a new study — giving credence to the theory that today’s teens may feel more comfortable growing up slower than previous generations. (Tara Bahrampour)
- Kansas City Royal Alex Gordon broke the MLB’s season home run record. Gordon hit the 5,694th homer of the season off Toronto’s Ryan Tepera, breaking the record set in 2000. (The Kansas City Star)
THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- The Republican National Committee has spent more than $230,000 on legal fees in August alone related to the investigations into Trump's Russia contacts. Matea Gold has more: “The RNC will report a payment of $100,000 to Trump's personal attorney John Dowd and a payment of $131,250 to Jay Sekulow, another member of his legal team, in a Federal Election Commission report set to be filed Wednesday." RNC officials said the money came from a preexisting legal fund and did not eat into the party committee's political work.
“RNC officials concluded that it is permissible for the party to pay for the president's legal fees, according to a person familiar with the conversations. Separately, party and administration officials are working to determine whether executive branch staff members, who must comply with gift rules, could have their legal fees defrayed by the RNC or private legal defense funds.”
-- Robert Mueller’s office has interviewed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about Trump’s firing of James Comey earlier this year. The Wall Street Journal’s Aruna Viswanatha and Del Quentin Wilber report: “The interview, which occurred in June or July, presents the unusual situation of investigators questioning the person directly overseeing their probe. Mr. Mueller as special counsel has a good deal of independence, but he ultimately answers to Mr. Rosenstein, because [Jeff Sessions] recused himself from the investigation. The special counsel’s handling of the interview could be a sign that Mr. Mueller’s team doesn’t view Mr. Rosenstein as a central witness in its probe, as the deputy attorney general hasn’t withdrawn himself from overseeing it since that interview. A key witness would likely have to take such a step.”
“'It is unusual,’ said Peter Zeidenberg, a former federal prosecutor. ‘But my inference is that they are not viewing him as a potential critical witness, because either the testimony isn’t that critical or there are other people that can say the same thing.’”
-- The Senate Intelligence Committee demanded longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen appear for a public hearing next month after the panel abruptly canceled its planned closed-door session with him on Tuesday morning. Rosalind S. Helderman and Karoun Demirjian report: “Cohen had arrived for the interview with his attorney, Steve Ryan, but left after about an hour, informing reporters waiting outside that committee staff had suddenly informed him they did not wish the interview to go forward. In a joint statement, committee chairman Sen. Richard Burr and ranking Democrat Sen. Mark R. Warner said the session was canceled because Cohen made public statements before his interview. ‘We were disappointed that Mr. Cohen decided to pre-empt today’s interview by releasing a public statement … in spite of the Committee’s requests that he refrain from public comment’ they said. ‘As a result, we … will reschedule Mr. Cohen’s appearance before the Committee in open session at a date in the near future.’”
-- A spokesman for Paul Manafort called on the Justice Department on Tuesday to release any information on intercepted conversations with non-Americans, following reports that Manafort was wiretapped before and after the presidential election. “If true, it is a felony to reveal the existence of a FISA warrant, regardless of the fact that no charges ever emerged,” Jason Maloni said in a statement. “The U.S Department of Justice's Inspector General should immediately conduct an investigation into these leaks and to examine the motivations behind a previous administration's effort to surveil a political opponent. Mr. Manafort requests that the Department of Justice release any intercepts involving him and any non-Americans so interested parties can come to the same conclusion as the DOJ — there is nothing there.” (CBS News)
-- Far more minor characters from the Trump campaign are also under scrutiny and incurring massive legal fees as the Russia probe progresses. Bloomberg’s Shannon Pettypiece reports: “Four months as a communications adviser to Donald Trump’s campaign have turned Michael Caputo’s life upside down. Since congressional investigators decided they wanted to interview Caputo as part of an investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, he’s drained his children’s college fund to pay more than $30,000 in legal fees. He bought guns for his home and office after receiving death threats. He worries about the stress on his wife and daughters … Outside the spotlight, a large cast of peripheral characters are finding themselves drawn into the probe, incurring legal fees that can run up to $1,000 an hour and infecting people in the West Wing and Trump’s orbit with a deep paranoia.
‘Everyone is facing this. I talk to them all. I know they are worried and I think it is awful,’ Caputo said. ‘We heard about this happening during the Clinton investigations. Those stories loom heavily over us.’”
--Mueller has hired former congressional affairs chief for the FBI Stephen Kelly as his intermediary with the Hill. “’Stephen Kelly is exactly who I would hire if I wanted to share as little information with Congress as possible,’ said a Hill staffer who has interacted with Kelly in his new role as Mueller’s congressional liaison.” (Daily Beast)
-- NYT’s Kenneth P. Vogel, who overheard Trump’s lawyers discussing the Russia case at a popular Washington steakhouse, wrote about his accidental scoop: “[I’ve] picked up all manner of tantalizing nuggets — from U.S. senators, billionaire donors and influential operatives, among others — by positioning myself within earshot of those conversations while nursing a beer at the bar. But I’ve never overheard a conversation quite like the one I accidentally encountered last Tuesday, when I met a source for lunch at BLT Steak[.] … ‘Isn’t that the Trump lawyer?’ [my source asked]. They discussed presidential privilege and its effect on document production, tensions on the legal team and their colleagues. I ordered another iced tea, pulled out my phone and began typing out notes[.]”
-- Senate Republicans are charging ahead with their latest attempt to repeal Obamacare, even as GOP governors and big-name interest groups announced their opposition to the Graham-Cassidy bill. Sean Sullivan, Juliet Eilperin and Kelsey Snell report: “In a letter to Senate leaders, the group of 10 governors argued against the Graham-Cassidy bill and wrote that they prefer the bipartisan push to stabilize the insurance marketplaces that Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) had been negotiating before talks stalled Tuesday evening. The governors who signed the letter are particularly notable, since some are from states represented by Republican senators who are weighing whether to back the bill. Among the signers were Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I), who holds some sway over [Sen. Lisa] Murkowski [R-Alaska], a potentially decisive vote[.] … Nevertheless, Murkowski said Tuesday afternoon that she was still weighing her options[.]”
-- Paul Ryan and the White House have told Senate leadership they oppose the bipartisan push recommended by the governors. Our colleagues write: “Democrats had been working furiously since Monday to advance talks between Alexander and Murray on a deal to immediately stabilize ACA insurance marketplaces with federal subsidies. … Alexander on Tuesday played down expectations of reaching an agreement this week, telling reporters the pair had reached an impasse. … Democrats denied that the talks had fallen apart, accusing Republicans of walking away despite making progress on areas of disagreement. Schumer spokesman Matt House said Democrats offered to accept a number of GOP requests[.] … ‘This is not about substance,’ House said in a statement. ‘The Republican leadership is so eager to pass Graham-Cassidy that they’re scuttling a balanced, bipartisan negotiation.’”
-- Mike Pence traveled back to D.C. from the U.N. session in New York to work Republican senators at their party lunch on the Hill. “My message today is I want to make sure that members of the Senate know the president and our entire administration supports Graham-Cassidy,” Pence said on Air Force Two. “We think the American people need this.”
-- Senate leadership wants to begin voting on the bill next Wednesday, just three days before their window to pass a repeal with 51 votes closes. (Axios)
-- But the Jewish calendar could put congressional Republicans in an even tighter time crunch. Politico’s Jennifer Haberkorn reports: “[Lawmakers] left Washington on Tuesday ahead of Rosh Hashanah and are not expected to return until Monday evening. Yom Kippur will begin Friday evening, just about 30 hours before the reconciliation deadline hits on Saturday, Sept. 30.” Sen. Lindsey Graham said that he wouldn’t try to get Congress to work through the Jewish holiday to pass his legislation. “Harry Reid had a vote on [Obamacare on] Christmas Eve — we’re talking about religious holidays,” Graham said. “I want to honor every religion’s holiday so if we have to break for the Jewish holiday, we have to break for the Jewish holiday. I don’t want to get on the wrong side of God, but I am determined to do all I can as long as I can to repeal and replace Obamacare.”
-- Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are pleading with supporters to mobilize one last time to save Obamacare. David Weigel reports: “The multilevel campaign to block the Republican bill consists of everything progressives did to stop previous iterations — from ‘melting the phones’ of Republican senators to waging sit-ins at their offices. This time, activists admit, feels different and more desperate. There’s fear that Senate Republicans learned from their first failed attempt at repeal, as House Republicans did in March. There’s some bitterness directed toward Senate Democrats, who cut a deal on the debt limit with President Trump — one that infuriated Republicans, but also created an opening on the calendar before the GOP’s Sept. 30 deadline to pass a bill with a bare majority.”
-- Some Democrats have proposed a vote-a-rama to prolong debate past the Sept. 30 deadline. “It is a bill that reforms one-fifth of the American economy, in which senators have no opportunity to debate or amend until vote-a-rama,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn) said. “The only opportunity to debate this bill will be vote-a-rama.” (Politico)
-- “White House and GOP leaders are considering major changes to upcoming tax legislation, including scaling back plans for large-scale tax cuts for the wealthy, as Republicans seek to win support from Democrats in [Congress],” Damian Paletta and Mike DeBonis report: “The White House is considering, among other things, keeping the top tax rate for individuals at 39.6 percent, decreasing the benefits top earners would see in the tax package by scrapping an earlier proposal that would have cut that rate to 35 percent. White House negotiators are also considering giving up on a push to repeal the estate tax[.]”
-- Senate Republicans have reached a budget agreement, settling on a $1.5 trillion tax cut over 10 years without it being paid for. The New York Times’s Alan Rappeport and Thomas Kaplan: The Republican lawmakers, under mounting pressure to score a legislative win on taxes, say a tax cut of this magnitude will stimulate economic growth enough to offset any deficit impact. Yet critics say a deficit-financed tax cut is at odds with longstanding Republican calls for fiscal discipline[.] … Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, who considers himself a strict deficit hawk, said he remains deeply concerned about enacting tax cuts that add to the deficit. … An agreement on the size of the tax cuts between Mr. Corker and Senator Patrick J. Toomey [R-Pa.] helped seal the deal.”
This is not the end of the story, however: Even if the measure passed the Senate, it would still need to secure the support of House conservatives, many of whom have made their careers by railing against deficit spending.
-- Unlike his predecessors, HHS Secretary Tom Price has recently taken private jets for official business, potentially costing taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. Politico’s Dan Diamond and Rachana Pradhan report: “The travel by corporate-style jet comes at a time when other members of the Trump administration are under fire for travel expenditures, and breaks with the practices of Obama-era Secretaries Sylvia Matthews Burwell and Kathleen Sebelius, who flew commercially while in the continental United States. … HHS spokespeople declined to confirm details of the flights, or respond to questions about who paid for them[.] … All three organizations that hosted Price last week … told Politico they did not pay for his flights or other travel costs.”
OFF TO THE RACES:
-- Virginia’s gubernatorial candidates sparred over removal of Confederate statues in the Old Dominion, a fraught topic following the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. Fenit Nirappil reports: “‘Our history is our history,’ said [Republican Ed] Gillespie, adding that money spent on removing statues is better spent on schools and law enforcement. ‘And so my view is that — the statues should remain, and we should place them in historical context so that people can learn. We don’t have to glorify the objects of the statues, we can educate about them.’ [Democrat Ralph] Northam, who said in the wake of Charlottesville that he would be a ‘vocal advocate’ for localities to move monuments from public spaces to museums, has since dropped that language in favoring of deferring to locals. On Tuesday, he said he personally believes the statues should be moved to museums but then pivoted to talk more generally about the impact of racism.”
The candidates also diverged on Congress’s new health-care push: “The result [of the Cassidy-Graham bill], Northam said, would be more people like a child he treated at a free clinic in southwest Virginia for those without health insurance. ‘Go out to the Ram Clinic, look that little seven-year-old in the eye and look at her mother and say that she is not going to have the same health care that you and your family had. It’s wrong,’ said Northam. Gillespie, in his first comments on the bill, reiterated his earlier stance that any health care overhaul shouldn’t penalize states such as Virginia that didn’t expand Medicaid by targeting them for quicker and greater spending cuts. He said the latest legislation falls short of that standard.”
The director of U-Va.'s Center for Politics noted the debate's civil tone:
I've watched every VA GOV debate since 1981 start. Never have 2 nominees been so respectful. They barely raised their voices. #VaGovDebate— Larry Sabato (@LarrySabato) September 20, 2017
-- Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore said in a speech last month that America has “asked for” shootings and killings by turning away from God. CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski reports: “Moore … made the comments to the group Citizen Impact USA on August 24 at an event on defending religious liberties. ‘We are losing the acknowledgment of God, and I'm standing here talking, to Christians and Pastors, and I'm telling you we're losing the acknowledgment of God,’ Moore said ... ‘You wonder why we're having shootings, and killings here in 2017? Because we've asked for it,’ Moore said. ‘We've taken God out of everything. We've taken prayer out of school, we've taken prayer out of council meetings.’” In February, Moore suggested the 9/11 attacks might have also been punishment for turning away from God.
-- Steve Bannon has reportedly ordered his editors at Breitbart to ramp up negative coverage of Moore’s opponent, incumbent Sen. Luther Strange (who is being supported by Trump). CNN’s Oliver Darcy reports: “Shortly after Bannon told top editors to increase the site's volume of reporting on the race, Matthew Boyle, Breitbart's Washington editor, told staff ‘the only story that matters until next week is Alabama.’ … By Tuesday afternoon, Breitbart's front page was full of stories related to the race. The top story reported that former White House aide Sebastian Gorka and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin were set to campaign for Moore, while other stories attacked Strange and the ‘tsunami’ of ‘dark money’ supposedly supporting him.”
-- The Montgomery Advertiser has a window into Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's (R) thought process when he picked then-Attorney General Strange to replace Jeff Sessions. In notes revealed by reporter Brian Lyman, Bentley wrote that Strange had told him: “I can do more for you (the state agenda) as senator than I can as AG,” Bentley quoted Strange saying in a Jan. 6 note ... following it with notations that Bentley said meant support for roads and services."
Bentley was then under investigation by the state attorney general's office and resigned in April after pleading guilty to charges of campaign finance violations. But that investigation, maintains Bentley, was never disclosed until the new attorney general recused himself when Strange was appointed to the Senate.
The notes reveal that Bentley considered many candidates for the job, including former state revenue commissioner Julie Magee. “Magee submitted a list of reasons to appoint her and suggested in her submission that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., asked Bentley to appoint a woman to the U.S. Senate. Magee said the administration should 'just own it.' 'Appointing a female over a male would make me a hot commodity,' Magee wrote, 'I don’t like it, but we may as well use it to our advantage.' Bentley said McConnell told him 'we are made up of old white men in the Republican Party. If you could consider a woman, that would be really good for the party.'”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
The president offered his prayers to the people of Mexico and Puerto Rico:
God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2017
So did Obama — in two languages:
Thinking about our neighbors in Mexico and all our Mexican-American friends tonight. Cuidense mucho y un fuerte abrazo para todos.— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) September 20, 2017
Puerto Rico being hit hard by new monster Hurricane. Be careful, our hearts are with you- will be there to help!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 20, 2017
But he also took a moment to slam an old enemy — the Emmys:
I was saddened to see how bad the ratings were on the Emmys last night - the worst ever. Smartest people of them all are the "DEPLORABLES."— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 20, 2017
He added that his U.N. speech had gone over well with world leaders:
A great and important day at the United Nations.Met with leaders of many nations who agree with much (or all) of what I stated in my speech!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 20, 2017
But blamed Hillary Clinton for the problem to begin with:
After allowing North Korea to research and build Nukes while Secretary of State (Bill C also), Crooked Hillary now criticizes.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 20, 2017
The Twittersphere responded. From a Muslim-American activist:
The comments section gave a speech at the UN.— Hend Amry (@LibyaLiberty) September 19, 2017
From a Vox correspondent:
Reminder: threatening to kill 25 million North Koreans because you don't like their leader is threatening to commit genocide.— Carlos Maza (@gaywonk) September 19, 2017
From the Boston Globe's chief national correspondent:
Trump's America First foreign policy. Respect sovereignty!— Annie Linskey (@AnnieLinskey) September 19, 2017
But, not in NK, Cuba, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, or really socialist regimes.
From a Politico White House reporter:
Today's UN speech was the one in which Haley said Trump “slaps the right people, he hugs the right people.” Who did he hug?— Annie Karni (@anniekarni) September 19, 2017
From the digital production manager of the "Daily Show":
Is it just me or does the U.S delegation look concerned during Trump’s UN speech? pic.twitter.com/1g6Ez0e6Vw— Anthony De Rosa 🗽 (@Anthony) September 19, 2017
From a Washington Examiner editor:
John Kelly apparently went through some sort of existential crisis during Trump's UN speech. pic.twitter.com/v0JUz21klN— Kyle Feldscher (@Kyle_Feldscher) September 19, 2017
Ann Coulter thought Trump's speech didn't go far enough:
At U.N., Trump forgot to call out the Rogue state of Mexico, destabilizing U.S. by sending criminals, drugs & unskilled masses. #AxisOfEvil— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) September 19, 2017
Obama's former attorney general responded to Jeff Sessions's claim that “lawless policies” make sanctuary cities “a trafficker, smuggler or gang member’s best friend”:
Prove it. Not with alternative facts or ideological BS. With valid statistics. You can't do it. https://t.co/pBxmdplu0h— Eric Holder (@EricHolder) September 20, 2017
A Politico congressional reporter captured this surreal moment:
Just heard a senator tell another senator: "have a nice weekend"— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) September 19, 2017
Monica Lewinsky offered this fashion tip:
And the president's newest grandchild visited Trump Tower:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- The Wall Street Journal, “How Antifa Violence Has Split the Left,” by Ian Lovett, Jennifer Levitz and Cameron McWhirter: “The antifa tactics are testing the liberal movement that has galvanized in opposition to Mr. Trump — creating a rift among its leaders, organizers and demonstrators about whether to denounce a radical fringe, some of whose antidiscrimination objectives, if not tactics, they share. … Protesters calling themselves antifa often say they are acting defensively and are protecting demonstrators. Many point to antifa’s efforts to keep people in Charlottesville safe. Yet at more-recent protests, such as in Boston and Berkeley, they also initiated confrontations, leading to bipartisan complaints that antifa is imposing mob rule and denying others their rights to assemble — even though antifa protesters have made up only a small proportion of the crowds.”
-- The New York Times, “Before Wisconsin, Foxconn Vowed Big Spending in Brazil. Few Jobs Have Come,” by David Barboza: “Before the Taiwanese manufacturing giant Foxconn pledged to spend $10 billion and create 13,000 jobs in Wisconsin, the company made a similar promise in Brazil. At a news conference in Brazil, Foxconn officials unveiled plans to invest billions of dollars and build one of the world’s biggest manufacturing hubs in the state of São Paulo. The government had high expectations that the project would yield 100,000 jobs. Six years later, Brazil is still waiting for most of those jobs to materialize. … Foxconn’s experience in Brazil and other parts of the world illustrates how difficult it has been for it to replicate its enormously successful Chinese manufacturing model elsewhere.”
-- The Federalist, “After My Husband’s Death, I’m Learning To Steward The Light He Left Behind,” by Mary Katharine Ham: “I remember someone saying to me, right after he died, that they’d like to fast-forward to a time five years later when it didn’t hurt so much to remember him, and we could talk about him with smiles and laughter. I remember feeling panicky at the thought. I thought the intensity of the pain was all I had left of the fire. It was my tether to a time when he still existed on this Earth. ... And then sometimes to this day, without warning, like a hot ember in my hand, I’ll catch a memory, and it will sear just like that first day.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Ohio firefighter: ‘One dog is more important than a million’ African Americans,” from Kyle Swenson: “An Ohio firefighter appears to have put his job in jeopardy by posting offensive comments to Facebook. [According to station WHIO] … a recent Facebook back-and-forth caught the 20-year-old writing that in a burning building he would choose to save a dog before an African American because ‘one dog is more important than a million [expletive],’ [Tyler Roysdon] wrote, using the n-word. The post — arriving at a time when racial tensions are cranked high across the nation and debates are endlessly waged over what actually constitutes offensive speech — has since been deleted from Roysdon’s account. But the statement did not disappear before being spotted by local authorities. Last week, the township’s board of trustees voted to indefinitely suspend Roysdon for ‘conduct unbecoming a township employee.’”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Your Refusal To Date Conservatives Is One Reason We Have Donald Trump,” from The Federalist: “The popular dating website OkCupid announced Wednesday that it would make the online dating scene a little easier for progressives who can’t risk interacting with someone with whom they disagree … They announced a partnership with Planned Parenthood that allows site users to put a badge on their profile signifying support for the nation’s largest abortion provider ... It’s hard to not see this as a reaction to the rise of [Trump], as Planned Parenthood has long been a political football tossed back and forth between left and right, although dating sites have never made such an overt venture into politics. But, in our current bizarre world of politics, this represents a widening chasm between those who are most politically active, causing people to see an opposing viewpoint as an all-out assault on their personhood.”
Trump has a full day of meetings in New York with international leaders – including British Prime Minister Theresa May, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Pence will give a speech on the U.N.’s peacekeeping operations and then join Trump’s meetings with May and el-Sisi.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Trump’s nominee to be the U.S. ambassador to Russia, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, said this yesterday at his confirmation hearing: “There is no question — underline no question — that the Russian government interfered in the U.S. election last year, and Moscow continues to meddle in the Democratic processes of our friends and allies.”
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- It will be another sunny and warm day in the District. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “High pressure begins to build in, bringing mostly sunny skies and temperatures well above average, as highs head for the mid-to-upper 80s. The humidity’s not super low, but perhaps a bit better than recent days[.]”
-- The Nationals beat the Braves 4-2. (Chelsea Janes)
-- Michelle Obama’s former policy director, Krishanti Vignarajah, formally launched her bid to become Maryland’s governor, but questions linger over her eligibility to enter the race. Josh Hicks reports: “A review of records by The Post showed [Vignarajah] was registered in both Maryland and the District in recent years, had lived in both places, and voted in the District from 2010 to 2014 but in Maryland in 2016. Maryland law requires gubernatorial candidates to have lived and been registered to vote in the state for five years immediately preceding the election.”
-- U.S. Park Police arrested a man for vandalizing the Lincoln Memorial with a penny. (Justin Wm. Moyer)
-- Dockless bike-sharing arrives in D.C. today. Luz Lazo reports: “Instead of heading to a kiosk, such as with the familiar Capital Bikeshare racks, dockless customers will use an app to locate the nearest available bike, usually parked on a street or sidewalk. Customers will scan a code on the bike to unlock the wheels and begin their trip. Once they’re finished with the bike, they can park it any place it’s legal to park a bike. The bikes generally self-lock.” Two companies, China’s Mobike and the San Francisco-based Spin, will be offering the service.
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Jimmy Kimmel harshly criticized the Graham-Cassidy bill for failing the "Jimmy Kimmel test":
Hillary Clinton sat down with Stephen Colbert, who gave her all of the jokes he would have made if she had become president -- including a "cheeky" endorsement:
Three Democratic congressmen were arrested at an immigration protest outside Trump Tower:
The Post's Fact Checker celebrated its 10th birthday:
And two new snow leopard cubs were captured on video in Tibet: