THE BIG IDEA: When the National Rifle Association endorsed Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) for a ninth term last fall, the group noted that he’s consistently maintained an “A” rating and has been “solidly pro-gun.” Literature sent to members emphasized Turner’s opposition to expanding background checks and banning assault weapons, as well as his past vote to immunize gun manufacturers from liability and to force all states, regardless of their own laws, to recognize concealed carry permits issued anywhere else.
In the wee hours of Sunday morning, Turner’s daughter and a family friend had just entered the Tumbleweed Connection bar in Dayton when a gunman opened fire across the street. Nine people were killed, and 27 were injured. The congressman’s daughter ran home, as he prayed for her and the community.
On Tuesday afternoon, Turner announced that he’s had a change of heart on gun control. He said he would vote for an assault weapons ban, limits on the size of gun magazines and for a federal “red flag” law that would make it easier to “quickly identify people who are dangerous” so their firearms can be taken away.
“The carnage these military style weapons are able to produce when available to the wrong people is intolerable,” Turner said in a statement. “I understand not every shooting can be prevented or stopped from these measures, but I do believe these steps are essential. … This tragedy must become a catalyst for a broader national conversation about what we can do to stop these mass shootings.”
Why didn’t Turner think it was a “catalyst” for change when other people’s children had to run for their lives in cities that weren’t in his congressional district? It’s been 20 years since Columbine, with increasingly frequent and deadly mass shootings in places like Orlando, Las Vegas, Blacksburg, Va., Newtown, Conn., and Charleston, S.C.
A spokeswoman said Turner was not available for an interview and declined to answer follow-up questions from Colby Itkowitz, including whether the congressman regrets his votes in February against two bills that would strengthen background checks.
-- Turner is not alone: He joins a sizable group of conservatives who were outspoken opponents of gun control until the issue hit close to home. Only then did they stand up to the powerful gun lobby. Consider these three examples:
Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.) received the NRA’s support and contributions when he got elected to Congress in 2016. A little over a year after he took office, one of the congressman’s personal friends was among the 17 people massacred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where he had formerly lived. Aaron Feis was the assistant football coach, and he died while heroically ushering students to safety. Mast has said he decided during Feis’s funeral to call for a ban on “assault or tactical” firearms and for requiring background checks on all gun purchases, including online and private sales.
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) also had an A-rating from the NRA. As a candidate for that office in 2016, he campaigned against background checks on private gun sales, talked about the safe full of guns he kept in his home and touted his votes against new gun laws in the state legislature. Then, two days after the Parkland shooting, police in Fair Haven, Vt., arrested a teenager for allegedly plotting to shoot up Fair Haven Union High School.
Authorities had been tipped off about a threatening Facebook message. When police searched his car, they found a shotgun, 17 rounds of ammunition and four books about school shootings. They also found a diary entitled, “The Journal of an Active Shooter,” according to court documents. In an interview, the young man allegedly told police that he wanted to “exceed the body count from the Virginia Tech shooting,” which had left 32 dead, “and that he had chosen his ammunition accordingly.”
“As I processed this information, I was shocked,” Scott explained in April 2018. “Just 24 hours before — even in the aftermath of Parkland — I thought, as the safest state in the nation, Vermont was immune to this type of violence. … Sitting there, I realized, only by the grace of God did we avert a horrific outcome.”
That caused the lifelong gun owner to “do some soul searching” and, just two months later, sign into law a trio of bills that banned the possession and sale of magazines holding more than 10 rounds for a long gun and 15 for a handgun. To ensure background checks on private gun sales, Scott also required that nearly all guns be bought and sold through a licensed firearm dealer, and he increased the minimum age to purchase weapons.
“I was wrong. And that’s not always easy to admit,” he said at the signing ceremony, as opponents of gun control chanted “Traitor!” and “BS!” while carrying signs that blared “Not My Governor” outside the State House.
The most famous example is Ronald Reagan. On the 10th anniversary of being shot, the former president wrote an op-ed endorsing the Brady Bill. The legislation was named for his White House press secretary, James Brady, who was wounded in the assassination attempt. Reagan pushed back on the NRA’s arguments against background checks. “This level of violence must be stopped,” the former president wrote in the New York Times. Nancy Reagan, who had been deeply traumatized by seeing her husband in the hospital and remained good friends with Brady’s wife Sarah, played a starring role in her husband’s evolution.
Then, in 1994, Reagan teamed up with his old rival Gerald Ford — who had been lucky to avoid getting shot during two assassination attempts during his presidency — to endorse the assault weapons ban. “While we recognize that assault-weapon legislation will not stop all assault-weapon crime, statistics prove that we can dry up the supply of these guns, making them less accessible to criminals,” Reagan and Ford, along with Jimmy Carter, wrote in an op-ed for the Boston Globe. The bill passed the House by two votes, and multiple lawmakers cited personal lobbying from Reagan to explain why they had changed their earlier positions.
-- It’s understandable that personal experience shapes people’s worldviews as much as anything else. But it can be problematic. When a crack epidemic was killing young black men in urban centers in the 1980s, white lawmakers from rural areas championed tough-on-crime policies that put junkies and dealers alike behind bars for long sentences. When the opioid epidemic came to their communities and started killing their neighbors and the children of their friends, many of these same politicians demanded a more compassionate approach that focused on treatment, not incarceration. That’s not a coincidence.
-- There are exceptions, of course. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) has remained a stalwart opponent of new gun laws since getting shot during a congressional baseball team practice.
-- Reality check: The assault weapons ban and limits on magazine size that Turner endorsed yesterday appear dead on arrival so long as Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is majority leader. Red flag laws are more likely to get through, but even that’s not assured to get 60 votes — unless there’s a sustained push from the president.
“Supporters of universal background checks for gun purchases face a daunting reality in their demand for a snap Senate roll call: They don’t have the votes; not even close,” Paul Kane reports from the Capitol. “Just two Republican senators — Patrick J. Toomey (Pa.) and Susan Collins (Maine) — are on record in support of expanding background-check laws, specifically through a bill Toomey drafted with Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.). That bill, written after the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, contained several concessions designed to win support from Senate Republicans, such as allowing interstate sales of handguns among gun dealers. Now, quite a few Senate Democrats view the Manchin-Toomey bill as insufficient to deal with the mass violence that has grown worse since that failed 2013 effort. They are demanding a vote on the House version of the legislation, approved in February, which drops those concessions to conservatives.”
-- There are additional examples of prominent conservatives who do not hold public office embracing gun control after experiencing mass shootings. Caleb Keeter, the lead guitarist of the Josh Abbott Band, performed at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas a few hours before a gunman killed 58 people and wounded 546 more in 2017. “I’ve been a proponent of the 2nd amendment my entire life. Until the events of last night. I cannot express how wrong I was,” Keeter wrote afterward. “We actually have members of our crew with [concealed handgun licenses] and legal firearms on the bus. They were useless.”
The Texas-based musician continued: “Writing my parents and the love of my life a goodbye last night and a living will because I felt like I wasn’t going to live through the night was enough for me to realize that this is completely and totally out of hand. … We need gun control RIGHT. NOW. My biggest regret is that I stubbornly didn’t realize it until my brothers on the road and myself were threatened by it.”
-- Breaking overnight: Documents indicate that the NRA planned to purchase a luxury mansion in the Dallas area last year for the use of chief executive Wayne LaPierre. Carol D. Leonnig and Beth Reinhard scoop: “The discussions about the roughly $6 million purchase, which was not completed, are now under scrutiny by New York investigators. The transaction was slated to be made through a corporate entity that received a wire of tens of thousands of dollars from the NRA in 2018. ... The New York attorney general’s office is now examining the plan for an NRA-financed mansion as part of its ongoing investigation into the gun lobby’s tax-exempt status. … One property that was considered, according to a person familiar with the plans, was a 10,000-square-foot French country estate with lakefront and golf course views. The four-bedroom, nine-bath home in a gated golf course community northwest of Dallas resembles a French chateau, with a stately boxwood-lined drive, a formal courtyard, vaulted ceilings and an antique marble fireplace. ...
"The discussions ... in 2018 came as the NRA was in deepening financial trouble: The nonprofit was on track to run a deficit for a third year in a row, had cut back dramatically on its core mission of gun safety and legislative work and frozen its employee pension plan. ... The origins of the idea to buy the mansion, its proposed purpose and the reason the deal never went through are now being fiercely disputed by the NRA and its longtime ad firm, Ackerman McQueen, which are locked in a bitter legal fight. ... Ackerman McQueen said LaPierre had sought the ad firm’s assistance with the real estate transaction, a proposal it said alarmed company officials. ... For their part, NRA officials said that the real estate purchase was suggested in early 2018 by Ackerman McQueen as an investment that would be managed by the ad firm’s top executives — and that it was ultimately rejected by top NRA leaders. ...
"Leaked documents show that the NRA paid $542,000 for private jet trips for LaPierre, including a trip to the Bahamas with his wife after the Sandy Hook shooting and an array of Italian designer suits as well as the rent for a summer intern’s apartment. The expenses were first paid by Ackerman McQueen, which then billed the NRA as part of its multimillion-dollar annual contract. … LaPierre received a salary of $1.37 million for his role as executive vice president in 2017, plus an additional $67,289 in compensation, according to the NRA’s latest tax filing."
MORE FALLOUT FROM THE LATEST MASS SHOOTINGS:
-- The grief and sorrow in Dayton and El Paso have begun to give way to anger and frustration in advance of Trump’s planned visits to both cities today, with local leaders and residents increasingly vocal in their assertions that presidential condolences, thoughts and prayers will not be enough. “People are signing petitions, planning protests and, in Dayton, organizing a demonstration featuring an inflated ‘Baby Trump’ to express their discontent with a president whose anti-immigrant rhetoric was echoed by a gunman who killed 22 people in El Paso. And while the motive of the man who killed nine people in Dayton remains unclear, Trump’s silence on the issue of guns has been criticized by local officials who want action to prevent future massacres,” Toluse Olorunnipa, Arelis R. Hernández, John Wagner and Tim Craig report. “The open repudiation of a visiting president in the aftermath of a mass tragedy was striking. … At a makeshift memorial behind the El Paso Walmart, people gathered Tuesday to pray, to cry and to try to heal. Many said Trump’s planned visit was an unnecessary intrusion on the community’s efforts to process the tragedy and mourn the losses.”
“He’s made this bed and he’s got to lie in it. His rhetoric has been painful for many in our community,” Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley (D) told reporters Tuesday, adding that she supported the planned protests against Trump. “Watching the president for the past few years over the issue of guns, I don’t think he knows what he believes, frankly.”
-- By killing his sister, the Dayton shooter cut short a life full of promise, her friends said. Hannah Natanson reports: “Megan Betts was a stellar student, popular with peers and beloved by most everyone who spent time with her, whether in school band practice sessions or touring the wilds of Montana. This fall, she would have entered her senior year at Wright State University in Dayton, where she majored in earth and environmental sciences and sang in the school chorus.”
-- The FBI opened a domestic terrorism investigation into the Gilroy, Calif., shooting. Mark Berman reports: “Investigators say they found that the 19-year-old gunman had delved into ‘violent ideologies’ and held a list of possible targets across the country, including religious institutions, political organizations linked to both major parties, federal buildings and courthouses, said John F. Bennett, special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Francisco office, at a news briefing Tuesday. He declined to identify them.”
-- “Red flag” laws might not be enough to stop shooters who often slip through the cracks. Kevin Sullivan, Valerie Strauss and Emily Davies report: “Trump and Republican leaders have made ‘red flags’ such as mental illness, violent crimes or domestic attacks a priority for identifying people who should not be allowed to have guns, saying such warnings could prevent attacks better than gun control efforts. Several states have passed laws limiting access to guns when authorities receive warnings. But some young people, including those responsible for or accused of some of the nation’s worst mass shootings, have shown clear warning signs and still have fallen through the cracks. For ‘red flags’ to work, someone has to raise them. The FBI examined 63 active shooters who opened fire between 2000 and 2013, and all had displayed some worrisome behaviors beforehand that people around them had noticed, often expressions of a desire to commit violence. But in most cases, people who saw these behaviors responded by talking to the person directly or doing nothing, the study found.
“For the attackers who were 17 or younger, teachers and students were more likely than family members to notice these behaviors. For the older attackers, spouses or domestic partners were the most likely to spot them. The study concluded that posed a problem: Those most likely to spot dangerous warning signs often feel loyalty to the attacker, refuse to believe they could commit violence or fear what would happen if they reported the issue. …
“Virginia, Maryland, Florida, Texas and at least 13 other states, so far, have mandated threat assessment programs in schools to identify students who are troubled and have made some threat of violence. But those programs usually end at graduation. Troubled students who have been monitored and counseled as teens are often on their own as adults. … Businesses across the country are recognizing the need for threat assessment programs to look out for signs of danger from employees, said Matt Doherty, a former U.S. Secret Service agent who provides workplace training. … But if a person doesn’t work for a company that has a threat-assessment program, it can often be left to friends and family to spot problems — and the FBI study found that those people are often the least likely to report them.”
-- For millions of Latinos, the El Paso shooting felt like a turning point, calling into question everything they thought they knew about their place in American society. From the Times: In El Paso, “residents now talk about how it feels dangerous to go out to eat or to the movies. Gun shops in the city are bustling with customers, many of them Latino. ‘It’s basically out of the instinct of not wanting to be a victim,’ said Zachary Zuñiga, 32, a lawyer in El Paso who signed up for a shooting course and is planning to buy his first gun. ‘I want to be able to protect my family if people like this are going to come here thinking they can shoot up places where my family and friends go,’ said Mr. Zuñiga, who grew up in a home where his parents never had guns.”
-- “Many will not want to hear or believe this: Hispanics in this country are under attack,” 39 Latinx leaders write in an op-ed for The Post: “Black and brown people in this country are under attack. Immigrants in this country are under attack. And Trump is fanning the flames of hate, division and bigotry directed at us all — immigrants and U.S. citizens alike. Though the attack has been pervasive for many people in this country for years, it is becoming an epidemic that is quickly infecting more communities and posing a real threat to our country. The president is also providing cover for white nationalists, explicitly endorsing hate speech and tacitly endorsing violence. We, along with dozens of Latino leaders, demand leadership from both political parties, call on them to stand with all people in our country and proudly acknowledge that the diversity of our country has been our greatest strength. Our leaders must have the courage to stand tall against this hate, not just in words, but also in actions that protect their fellow Americans.”
-- San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, one of the highest ranking Mexican American Catholic leaders in the country, asked the president to “stop hate and racism, starting with yourself.” From Timothy Bella: “On Tuesday, Garcia-Siller, who deleted his tweets mentioning the president earlier in the day, apologized for singling out Trump, but maintained that hateful rhetoric and the violence that comes from it must be extinguished from society. … The archbishop’s blistering critique against Trump comes during a period in which religious leaders are speaking out more frequently against the president, his policies and his treatment of immigrants and minorities. In Garcia-Siller’s case, he is perhaps the first bishop in the nation to publicly accuse Trump of racism, CNN reported.”
-- But Trump’s Latino supporters said they’re still on his side. Scott Wilson and Eli Rosenberg report: “The president still has support from people such as Manuel Hernandez, an 80-year-old who has lived half his life in El Paso and voted for Trump in 2016. ‘A lot of bad things are expressed against Latinos,’ said Hernandez, speaking in Spanish. ‘But we don’t know if it’s this [that inspired the gunman] or not. There are a lot of supremacist groups, white supremacists, that don’t like minority groups — black people, Latinos. It’s not the fault of the president, because this has always been around, from way back in time.’ The political differences among Hispanics here are often generational and ideological, a contrast between longtime Mexican American citizens who tend to embrace a traditional Republican message of self-reliance and a younger group dismayed by the president’s broad disparagement of Latinos.”
-- Democratic presidential candidates are literally cursing inaction on guns. Amy B Wang reports: “As Trump addressed the nation after a weekend of mass shootings, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) was watching. … Trump asked God to ‘bless the memory of those who perished in Toledo,’ naming the wrong Ohio city. Shortly thereafter, Ryan, who rushed to Dayton after the tragedy, took to Twitter. ‘Toledo. Fck me,’ he wrote. Ryan is the latest Democratic presidential candidate to unleash his anger and frustration with raw, emotional language that would have been considered taboo in a pre-Trump era. … [Beto] O’Rourke has been calling out Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail as racist. When a reporter asked O’Rourke on Saturday whether there was anything Trump could do to make things better, he let loose. … ‘Members of the press: What the f---? Hold on a second!’ … In the past, there were penalties for losing your cool. … Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who in his campaign appearances emphasizes love and unity, didn’t mince words during Trump’s speech Monday. In a private text message his campaign manager shared on Twitter, Booker wrote: ‘Listening to the president. Such a bulls--- soup of ineffective words.’”
-- The 2020 contenders are also increasingly speaking of gun violence in highly personal terms. Sean Sullivan reports: “Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has been talking about how his 11-year-old nephew was shot by a 10-year-old schoolmate. Former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper has recalled personally dealing with a massacre that killed 12 in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. … Bullock plans to deliver a speech in Washington on Wednesday about gun violence and the state of the Democratic Party. The governor, who favors expanding background checks on gun buyers, said he plans to share his perspective as a gun owner.”
-- Joe Biden plans to accuse Trump of having “fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation” in a blistering speech set to be delivered in Iowa. “How far is it from Trump’s saying this ‘is an invasion’ to the shooter in El Paso declaring his attack is a response to ‘the Hispanic invasion of Texas?’ Not far at all,” the former vice president plans to say in the speech. He will also refer to the deadly clash between white supremacists and protesters in Charlottesville and the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, according to excerpts shared by his campaign. (John Wagner)
-- Meanwhile, Fox News host Sean Hannity thinks the solution to mass shootings is more guns in schools and shopping centers. “They should be on every floor of every school,” he said on his show. “We could do that with stores. We could do that in malls. We can do that pretty much anywhere the public is.” (Travis DeShong)
-- Another Fox host, Tucker Carlson, said white supremacy is not “actually a real problem in America.” “This is a hoax, just like the Russia hoax. It’s a conspiracy theory used to divide the country and keep a hold on power,” Carlson said on his show. (Tim Elfrink)
-- John Allen, the retired four-star Marine general, and Brett McGurk, the former special envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, said white nationalist terrorism is as big a threat as the Islamic State. They write in an op-ed for The Post: “The United States now faces a new national security threat. The enemy is not the Islamic State but domestic and homegrown white nationalist terrorism. And ‘terrorism’ is the term that must be used. The strain of thought driving this terrorism is now a global phenomenon … The terrorist acts may differ from Islamic State attacks in degree, but they are similar in kind: driven by hateful narratives, dehumanization, the rationalization of violence and the glorification of murder, combined with ready access to recruits and weapons of war. The first step to overcoming this dangerous strain of violence is to speak clearly and without equivocation. It is terrorism directed at innocent American civilians. If the Islamic State or al-Qaeda were committing such acts, the nation would mobilize as one to overcome it.”
-- Leaders of the House Homeland Security committee want the owner of fringe website 8chan to testify on his site’s handling of racist and violent posts after the El Paso gunman apparently posted an anti-immigrant manifesto on the site minutes before the massacre. From Politico: “Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and the panel's ranking member, Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), demanded that Jim Watkins ‘provide testimony regarding 8chan’s efforts to investigate and mitigate the proliferation of extremist content, including white supremacist extremist content, on your website.’ … The Homeland Security Committee said it will consider new legislation when Congress reconvenes in September ‘that will include a national commission on social media companies and terrorism content.’”
-- Gilbert Serna, a Walmart employee, helped more than 100 people escape from the store during the shooting in El Paso. From BuzzFeed News: “’I heard on my two-way radio, 'Code brown, run quick' in a panicked voice,’ Serna (recalled). In the frenzy of the moment, he didn't remember what that meant. He checked the back of his badge, which lists the codes. ‘I was like, 'Oh yeah, that’s a shooting,' and then heard the pop, pop, pop,’ he said. That's when he jumped into action — and may have saved more than 150 people thanks to his quick thinking. Serna led what he believed to be about 100 customers and employees through a fire exit and told them to get inside four shipping containers. He then closed the doors, hiding them safely inside. ‘They were scared. I was scared. We were all scared,’ he said.”
-- Gun violence in America: A man shopping yesterday at a Walmart in East Baton Rouge got caught in the middle of an altercation between two patrons. He was injured in the shooting that ensued. Authorities said the two patrons may have begun fighting while in the customer service line and both pulled guns on each other; only one fired his weapon. The victim, who was not involved in the altercation, was trying to buy a lunchbox for his child when he was hit multiple times by gunfire. He is in fair condition. (Baton Rouge Advocate)
-- The realignment is real: Orange County in California, once as synonymous with Republicanism as the elephant, has turned blue. The Los Angeles Times’s Seema Mehta and Melanie Mason report this morning on a watershed moment in American political history: “The county that nurtured Ronald Reagan’s conservatism and is the resting place of Richard Nixon is now home to 547,458 registered Democrats, compared with 547,369 Republicans, according to statistics released early Wednesday morning by the county Registrar of Voters. … Democratic leaders attributed the shift to changing demographics, aggressive recruitment efforts and President Trump. … Shawn Steel, Republican national committeeman for California, blamed the GOP decline on the large increase in the number of voters who register with no party preference, and on Republicans leaving the state because of high housing costs, poor schools and lackluster job opportunities.”
Neither of my late grandfathers would recognize what Orange County has become: “Reagan’s first political fundraiser took place in Anaheim in 1965 when he was running for governor; in 1984, when he ran for reelection to the White House, he won 75% of the county’s vote. Hillary Clinton beat Trump there by nearly 5 percentage points in the 2016 presidential election, the first time a Democrat won the county since the Great Depression. [FDR carried the county over Alf Landon.] … In 2018, Democrats flipped four Republican-held congressional seats in the county — wins that were key to the party taking control of the House of Representatives.”
It’s impossible to overstate the extent to which the O.C. was the epicenter of postwar conservatism: “Once covered with citrus groves and ranches, Orange County became a suburban haven of tract homes and master-planned communities full of white people fleeing Los Angeles, Midwesterners seeking warmth and workers with ties to the aerospace and defense industries. The John Birch Society had dozens of chapters in the county, and the phenomenon of megachurches was born there. The county was also home to a large community of wealthy Republican business executives, including … Carl Karcher of Carl’s Jr., as well as famous conservatives such as John Wayne.”
These dynamics predate Trump, but he’s supercharged them: “The changing voter patterns in Orange County are similar to those that have occurred in places like Montgomery County outside of Philadelphia and Fairfax County in northern Virginia. … [Handicapper Stu] Rothenberg pointed to the Atlanta suburbs, the North Carolina cities of Charlotte and Greensboro, and a number of areas in Texas that could be primed for a political turnaround like that of Orange County.” Meanwhile, Republicans are attracting non-college-educated whites in the Rust Belt who used to vote Democratic.
-- Trump and the Republican National Committee filed legal challenges against the California law seeking the release of the president’s tax returns. John Wagner reports: “The federal lawsuits, which were threatened last week when Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed the bill into law, argue that the measure requiring presidential and gubernatorial candidates to release five years of tax returns runs afoul of the U.S. Constitution. The RNC suit, which includes the California Republican Party as a plaintiff, alleges a 'naked political attack against the sitting president of the United States.’ … Both lawsuits filed Tuesday argue that the California law illegally added a new constitutional requirement for eligibility for office. … Jay Sekulow, Trump’s personal attorney, said he was confident that the president would prevail in court, claiming that California was attempting to ‘circumvent the U.S. Constitution.’”
-- Hickenlooper spoke to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer last week and is keeping the door open to leaving the presidential race to challenge Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.). From CNN: “’He is still in the race for president, but he hasn't closed the door to anything,’ said Peter Cunningham, the communications director for the former Colorado governor. The latest conversation between Hickenlooper and Schumer took place in New York, following the CNN presidential debates in Detroit. The two have spoken repeatedly about the Senate contest, but Hickenlooper has been insistent on keeping his presidential campaign alive.”
-- “I’m pretty damn worried,” says Harry Reid of the Democratic chances of beating Trump in 2020. “Anybody that thinks he's going to be beaten easily is wrong. As sad as it is. As hard as it is for me to say this: don’t count that man out,” the former Senate majority leader said. “I've never known a human being in a position of prominence that you can do nothing to damage his ego in any way. It is absolutely unbelievable.” (The Daily Beast)
-- Rep. Joaquín Castro (D-Tex.), the chairman of Julián Castro’s presidential campaign, tweeted the names and occupations of his constituents who have maxed out to Trump's reelection campaign. From Politico: “His tweet contained a graphic titled ‘Who’s funding Trump?’ and listed the names of 44 people who purportedly contributed the maximum amount allowed by campaign finance laws. Their occupations, which, like donor names, are public record, were also listed. Close to a dozen of the donors shown are retirees. … Several GOP congressional leaders rebuked their colleague … Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, whom Castro had once been rumored to challenge for his seat, called the tweet ‘grossly inappropriate’ and assailed what he called a dangerous ‘win-at-all-costs mentality.’” After being castigated on social media for his actions, Castro doubled down on his post, saying he hadn’t published any private or personal information.”
-- Trump is scheduled to headline fundraisers in the Hamptons, including one that charges up to $250,000 for a ticket. Michelle Ye Hee Lee reports: “The fundraisers are the latest sign that Trump is embracing the world of wealthy contributors who served as punching bags in his 2016 campaign. One event is scheduled to take place at the Southampton home of a New York real estate developer who owns the Miami Dolphins, and another at a 17,000-square-foot Bridgehampton mansion that was once rented out to Beyoncé and Jay-Z. The price of entry to the events ranges from $5,600 to $250,000.”
-- The founder of “Students for Trump” pleaded guilty to running a $46,000 scam in which he posed as a lawyer. John Lambert, 23, created a fake law firm called Pope & Dunn and claimed to be an NYU Law School graduate with 15 years of experience in corporate and patent law, prosecutors said. (New York Daily News)
-- A Trump campaign ad features two signs promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory. The signs appear in a close-up shot in a “Women for Trump” video posted by the campaign last month. (The Daily Beast)
-- Twitter said new congressional candidates have to win their primaries to get verified. (CNN)
-- The Iowa State Fair — which starts this week — can make or break a presidential candidate. Holly Bailey explains: “The fair is a rite of passage for anyone with White House aspirations, a photo op that often serves up funny and weird moments — and sometimes political catastrophe. … The 11-day event is a political obstacle course that’s been damaging to a number of candidates, establishing a narrative that when set is often hard to shake. And it will be especially challenging this year, as candidates struggle to strike the right tone while the nation contends with the aftermath of a violent weekend. … Watching this crop of Democratic contenders at the fair could also offer some early signs of organizational strength. …
“In 2015, one of the earliest signs of Bernie Sanders’s growing strength in Iowa was when his soapbox speech attracted a few thousand people. ... Hillary Clinton skipped the soapbox, citing security concerns, but toured the fair with a chaotic scrum of several hundred people that included members of the media, volunteers, staff, supporters and security. But in a foreshadowing of the tumultuous general election to come, it was Trump who stole the show. As Clinton emerged from an agriculture building where she had paid her respects to the butter cow, her entourage was suddenly distracted by Trump’s low-flying helicopter, which flew in slow circles around the fairgrounds, a scene reminiscent of ‘The Wizard of Oz.’”
-- “How Bill de Blasio Went From Progressive Hope to Punching Bag,” from the Times: “Historically, presidential hopefuls have drafted off popularity at home to build a national profile. De Blasio has been trying the near-opposite, hoping — as our sitting president did, in his way — that a national audience will be less hostile than much of his own city. That hostility, less than two years after an easy reelection, is something of a paradox: At a time of general stability for New York, progressive ascendancy in the Democratic Party and furious opposition to Trump across Blue America, why is the very liberal leader of the country’s very liberal largest city a reliable laugh line? How did he become such a disappointment?”
THERE'S STILL A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Peter Strzok, who was fired from the FBI after his anti-Trump texts were made public, sued for reinstatement. Matt Zapotosky reports: “Strzok asserted in the suit that the Trump administration had ‘consistently tolerated and even encouraged partisan political speech by federal employees’ — but only if that speech praised the president and attacked his opponents. The former FBI agent who President Trump has attacked repeatedly alleged that his removal was “part of a broader campaign against the very principle of free speech,” which he said was ‘initiated and led by’ the commander in chief. … Strzok alleged in the suit that others in the bureau had not received similar discipline for criticism of [Hillary] Clinton, and he claimed [FBI Deputy Director David] Bowdich’s decision was the ‘direct result of unrelenting pressure from President Trump and his political allies on Capitol Hill.’”
-- The case against former White House counsel Greg Craig, who was charged in connection with the special counsel’s Russia probe, will proceed to trial this month despite U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson dismissing one of the two charges against him. Ann E. Marimow reports: “Craig, who was President Barack Obama’s first White House counsel and a special counsel to President Bill Clinton, was indicted in April on suspicion of lying in connection with Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation. … In her 57-page opinion Tuesday, the judge struck the charge alleging that Craig made false statements in a letter submitted to Justice Department officials who monitor foreign lobbying activity because of a lack of clarity in the law. … The judge, however, retained the charge alleging that Craig tried to conceal his potential status as a foreign agent through false or misleading statements. The law, she said, clearly puts foreign agents on notice to report their activities and who paid for them.”
-- Jon Huntsman, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, is resigning from the diplomatic post he’s held for almost two years. Carol Morello and Will Englund report: “In a resignation letter sent Tuesday morning to President Trump, Huntsman characterized his tenure as a ‘historically difficult’ time in bilateral relations. His resignation takes effect Oct. 3. Huntsman’s resignation is fueling speculation that the former two-term governor of Utah may make a third run for the office. He resigned during his second term in 2009 and became the U.S. ambassador to China under the Obama administration. He left that post two years later for an unsuccessful run for president. When he became Trump’s ambassador to Moscow, he said he would take the job for two years. In his resignation letter, which was first reported by the Salt Lake Tribune, Huntsman, 59, said he wanted to return to his home state ‘to reconnect with our growing family and responsibilities.’”
THE WORLD IS A TINDERBOX:
-- Trump faces a cascade of new crises in East Asia now that North Korea nuclear talks have bogged down and the trade war with China has escalated so dramatically. The U.S. now has to deal with a bitter trade dispute between Japan and South Korea, two key allies, plus weigh how to respond to Hong Kong’s pro-democracy demonstrations. David Nakamura reports: “'These are big problems,’ said Michael Green, who served as a top Asia policy adviser in the White House under President George W. Bush. He said that it was unfair to blame them on the Trump administration but that the president’s lack of a clear strategy on trade and human rights has contributed to making the situations worse. … White House aides said the president and his team have been actively engaged in managing the potential flash points and reassuring U.S. allies of the administration’s resolve. New Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are visiting Asia this week, while John Bolton, the White House national security adviser, visited in late July.”
-- Esper wants to deliver on the goal of outpacing China. But can he do it? Missy Ryan and Dan Lamothe report: “In his first interview since being confirmed last month, Esper laid out his vision for restoring stability to the Pentagon after a period of leadership upheaval while also ensuring that the military can make good on its long-delayed goal of regaining its advantage over Beijing. … [He] said he would establish new metrics and processes for keeping staff focused on China-related goals while tapping his relationships with key Trump administration figures such as [Pompeo]. … [Esper] takes control of the Pentagon at a moment defined in part by its struggle to anticipate and understand the wishes of Trump. … It remains to be seen whether Esper can publicly reinforce traditional Pentagon positions, such as reassuring anxious allies and making a case for maintaining counterterrorism missions overseas, while advancing the president’s priorities.”
-- China’s Xi Jinping appears to be caught with no good options, as Hong Kong protests mount. Gerry Shih reports: “For Xi, an attempt to forcefully suppress the unrest with the Chinese military would end Hong Kong’s status as an international financial hub and deal a serious blow to his ambition of bringing Taiwan, the self-ruled island that split from mainland China in 1949, under Communist Party control. In his second appearance in a week, a top official from China’s Hong Kong policy office, Yang Guang, reiterated Tuesday that Beijing maintained its support for Hong Kong’s embattled leader, Carrie Lam. Yang voiced tough warnings about the consequences of violent protests, but he appeared to play down the prospect of China’s mobilizing the People’s Liberation Army to quell the dissent. Yet calm in Hong Kong appears to be more elusive than ever as the clock runs down on Beijing’s political calendar. The Communist Party is preparing for the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, an event the party plans to celebrate this fall with a massive military parade — and one that cannot be marred by embarrassing hitches, such as scenes of defiant protests in a major city.”
-- Asian shares were mixed after China decided to stabilize its currency. Meanwhile, Wall Street regained its footing a day after its worst decline in a year, which was set off by news that China allowed its currency to depreciate against the dollar. (AP)
-- A bomb attack on a Kabul police station fueled fears ahead of Afghanistan’s presidential election. Sayed Salahuddin and Sharif Hassan report: “A security source said at least 10 police and possibly a similar number of civilians were killed in the attack. A spokesman for the Public Health Ministry, Wahiddullah Mayar, released only the number of wounded, saying that 95 people were hurt, including women and children. … Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for the strike, which came a day after the militants and U.S. diplomats spoke of making progress in peace talks in Qatar. The powerful blast occurred in the southwestern part of Kabul but was felt across the city. It shattered windows in houses, shops and offices and sent a thick plume of smoke into the sky.”
-- Pakistan was stunned by India’s decision to retract Kashmir’s semiautonomous rights. Pamela Constable reports: “Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a grim address to a special joint session of Parliament, accused India’s Hindu nationalist leadership of promoting a ‘racist ideology.’ He said that after making numerous attempts at outreach, he has concluded that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government ‘took our overtures for peace as weakness.’ India's action Monday, which stripped Kashmir of numerous rights, ‘is not a decision they have taken out of the blue,’ Khan said.”
-- India has shut down Kashmir’s Internet access, leading to a communication blackout that spread worries across borders. Niha Masih reports: “A day [after India’s decision to retract Kashmir’s autonomy], there has been almost no word from inside Kashmir, a situation many described as a ‘siege.’ Internet shutdowns are not new to Kashmir. The current shutdown is the 53rd this year. In fact, Kashmir accounts for more than 70 percent of all government-imposed blackouts in the country. In one instance, mobile Internet remained suspended for 133 days in the wake of protests following the killing of popular militant Burhan Wani in 2016. But [Kashmiri Arusha] Farooq says this is the first time even landline networks have been shut down, leaving thousands of Kashmiris across the country with no means of getting in touch with their families.”
-- Britain’s head of counterterrorism warned that a “no deal” Brexit would harm Britain’s security. From the Guardian: “The Scotland Yard assistant commissioner, Neil Basu, said key crime-fighting tools would be lost and their replacements would not be as good. … ‘We can make them [the damaging effects] less, but they would be slower systems. Those systems and tools were developed in the EU for very good reason. They were very good. We had just signed up to biometric sharing,’ [he said]. ‘In a no deal we’d lose all that. We’d have to renegotiate it.’”
-- Venezuelans are preparing for more hardship and suffering after Trump announced an embargo against the country. Mariana Zuñiga and Rachelle Krygier report: “’No dictator has been ousted due to an embargo,’ said Neyda London, a 54-year-old store manager in Caracas. “ 'It didn’t work in Cuba, and unfortunately it’s not going to bring the end of Maduro and his allies.’ … Analysts said it was too early to predict whether the new sanctions would accelerate Maduro’s departure. The U.S. embargoes on Iran, North Korea and Syria have failed to dislodge their leaders. The head of the United Nations’ regional body for Latin America said last year that the U.S. embargo on Cuba had cost the Caribbean island $130 billion over nearly six decades, but the communist government established there by Fidel Castro remains in power.”
-- Coca-Cola featured same-sex couples in a Hungarian ad campaign that has now triggered calls for a boycott. Rick Noack reports: “Anger over the company’s “Love Is Love” campaign emerged immediately after the ads began showing up on Aug. 1, with ring-wing media outlets, online petitions and politicians from the country’s ruling party calling for the commercials to be pulled and for a boycott of Coca-Cola. Experts say the backlash underscores how slowly attitudes toward homosexuality have changed in post-communist Europe, compared with other parts of the continent and much of the Western world. It also mirrors what activists have warned is a growing anti-gay sentiment being promoted by right-wing governments in places like Poland.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Trump attacked Beto O'Rourke on Twitter, telling him to "be quiet." O'Rourke clapped back:
22 people in my hometown are dead after an act of terror inspired by your racism. El Paso will not be quiet and neither will I. https://t.co/dakFPKj0vJ— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) August 7, 2019
Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Tex.), who won O'Rourke's former House seat in November, was invited by the White House to join Trump during his visit to El Paso. She asked for a phone call with him to tell him that “he needs to understand that his words are powerful and have consequences." She said her request was denied:
Tomorrow, I will again be spending time with fellow El Pasoans who are dealing with the pain and horror left in the wake of this act of domestic terrorism fueled by hate and racism.— Rep. Veronica Escobar (@RepEscobar) August 6, 2019
Join #ElPasoStrong: https://t.co/CVLa38NJBf
O’Rourke’s communications director thanks another 2020 campaign for a classy gesture:
Trump's campaign is not exactly striking the same tone as the president in his call for unity on Monday:
Trump yesterday: “urges unity vs. racism.”— ACRONYM (@anotheracronym) August 6, 2019
Trump today: pic.twitter.com/5bnWoWRhkJ
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) continued hammering Mitch McConnell over a photo of some of his young supporters posing inappropriately next to a cardboard cutout of her:
And the Clintons, in the wilderness, are hanging out with as many celebrities as ever:
An honor to meet President Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton! 😊 Thank you for everything you have done and continue to do for our country. ❤️🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/uPj1WXQjnm— Mariah Carey (@MariahCarey) August 6, 2019
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
America is on edge. Here's the latest proof point from last night in New York:
Officers on horseback led a black suspect through the streets of Galveston, Tex., by rope. The chief apologized yesterday:
Stephen Colbert repeated El Paso's words to Trump:
Trevor Noah dissected Fox News's approach to the gun laws debate:
Jimmy Kimmel heartwarmingly welcomed new American citizens:
Passengers and crew had to be evacuated from a smoke-filled British Airways plane at Spain's Valencia airport: