The White House press office waited several hours to confirm that the call took place and then did so with a two-sentence statement sent to a pool reporter after 10 p.m. Trump “expressed concern over the vast wildfires afflicting Siberia,” the 28-word statement read. “The leaders also discussed trade between the two countries.”
The 149-word Russian readout went further: “The President of Russia regards the US President’s offer as a sign that it is possible that full-scale bilateral relations will be restored in the future. The presidents of Russia and the United States agreed to continue contacts in the form of telephone conversations as well as personal meetings.”
This is one of several newsworthy communications that Trump had with a foreign head of state that first became public because the other side disclosed it. The Trump White House has curtailed the longstanding, bipartisan practice of automatically sending out summaries of presidential communications with other world leaders. That retreat from transparency, which has often allowed adversaries to shape the narrative, merits fresh scrutiny and raises a battery of new questions in the wake of a big scoop overnight by my colleagues.
-- “The whistleblower complaint that has triggered a tense showdown between the U.S. intelligence community and Congress involves President Trump’s communications with a foreign leader,” Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima and Shane Harris report, citing two former U.S. officials familiar with the matter:
“Trump’s interaction with the foreign leader included a ‘promise’ that was regarded as so troubling that it prompted an official in the U.S. intelligence community to file a formal whistleblower complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community … It was not immediately clear which foreign leader Trump was speaking with or what he pledged to deliver … One former official said the communication was a phone call. …
“Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson determined that the complaint was credible and troubling enough to be considered a matter of ‘urgent concern,’ a legal threshold that requires notification of congressional oversight committees. But acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire has refused to share details about Trump’s alleged transgression with lawmakers, touching off a legal and political dispute that has spilled into public view and prompted speculation that the spy chief is improperly protecting the president. … The complaint was filed with Atkinson’s office on Aug. 12, a date on which Trump was at his golf resort in New Jersey. White House records indicate that Trump had had conversations or interactions with at least five foreign leaders in the preceding five weeks.”
-- One of those five interactions was that July 31 phone call with Putin:
US President Donald Trump, in phone talks with Vladimir Putin, offered assistance to Moscow in fighting wildfires in Siberia. The Russian president viewed Trump's offer as a sign that fully-fledged bilateral relations could be restored in the future— Russia in USA 🇷🇺 (@RusEmbUSA) July 31, 2019
🔹https://t.co/IUDFt5s6F3 🇷🇺🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/oe3YDbhEyg
-- On Aug. 20, Trump reiterated his call for Russia to be allowed to rejoin the Group of Seven industrial nations. “I guess President Obama, because Putin outsmarted him — President Obama thought it wasn’t a good thing to have Russia in, so he wanted Russia out,” Trump said in the Oval Office before flying to France for the G-7, referring to his predecessor’s push for a united stand against Russia after it annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region. “But I think it’s much more appropriate to have Russia in.” Russia was expelled from the group in 2014 after the annexation, which Obama called a violation of international law. The Kremlin subsequently interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
-- If the whistleblower complaint turns out to be about something Trump said on the Putin call, it would certainly not be the first time the president’s interactions with one of the United States’ biggest geopolitical rivals have caused heartburn for career intelligence professionals.
In March 2018, Trump ignored specific warnings from his national security advisers when he congratulated Putin on his reelection. “DO NOT CONGRATULATE,” his briefing materials stated in all-capital letters. Experts said Putin only got 76 percent of the vote because it was a rigged election.
In May 2017, Trump revealed classified information about espionage operations in Syria to senior Russian officials in the Oval Office.
Trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his conversations with Putin, including on at least one occasion taking possession of the notes of his own interpreter and instructing the linguist not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials. “Trump did so after a meeting with Putin in 2017 in Hamburg that was also attended by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson,” Miller reported in January. “U.S. officials learned of Trump’s actions when a White House adviser and a senior State Department official sought information from the interpreter beyond a readout shared by Tillerson.”
-- The White House decision to restrict private and public readouts of Trump’s calls with foreign leaders followed a series of leaks that embarrassed Trump. (The Washington Post, you might recall, published full transcripts in the summer of 2017 of Trump’s calls with the leaders of Australia and Mexico.)
In another memorable episode from April 2017, no one at the White House was aware that Trump had spoken on his personal cellphone with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. They found out only when Canada issued a readout that said Trudeau complained to Trump of “unfair duties” and “baseless” claims about trade by Trump administration officials. “After the call, White House aides urged Trump to route all conversations with foreign leaders through the Situation Room, as required under federal records law," a senior administration official told The Post at the time.
-- Social media is abuzz with reaction to the latest revelations:
From a former CIA spokesman who resigned when Trump took office:
The White House readout made mention of only Siberian wildfires and trade as topics of discussion. The Russians, as their tweet above suggests, came away think normalization of relations was on the table. 🤔— Ned Price (@nedprice) September 19, 2019
From a senior counsel at the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security during the Obama administration:
Key point: the Inspector General who is fighting the Acting DNI to transmit this info to Congress WAS APPOINTED BY TRUMP. If this alarms him, it’s bound to alarm us. https://t.co/a4nWhNtbbr https://t.co/aIlQiSxxAz— Eric Columbus (@EricColumbus) September 19, 2019
From a Democratic congressman who sits on the House Judiciary Committee and advocates impeachment:
news: #whistleblower possibly/probably about #Trump #Putin phone call. Since Helsinki &in every meeting btwn the two it’s clear who Owns whom.Believed Putin not our intelligence.Trump tears up translator notes.Mueller report:Russia interfered in election. https://t.co/3m0M1d7oFf— Steve Cohen (@RepCohen) September 19, 2019
From a University of Michigan law professor who formerly served as a U.S. attorney:
Whistleblower did things the right way by going to Intelligence Community Inspector General. IG found report credible and “urgent.” Now DNI and Congress must reward that faith by getting to the bottom of it. https://t.co/Zv3i3jCreZ— Barb McQuade (@BarbMcQuade) September 19, 2019
From another lawyer:
What the admin could have done is let the whistleblower process happen according to law and then addressed the substance of the matter. But they lack confidence they can win playing fair, so they immediately resort to bending and breaking the laws. That’s what worries me most.— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) September 19, 2019
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- A Taliban suicide bomber attack struck a hospital in southern Afghanistan, leaving more than 15 dead, while a U.S. airstrike killed nine civilians in the country’s east. Afghanistan’s Ministry of the Interior said the car bomb in the southern Zabul province also wounded 66 people. U.S. Col. William Leggett said the U.S. airstrike conducted in the Nangahar province was targeting Islamic State group fighters, Susannah George reports.
-- Trudeau apologized for wearing brownface and blackface after a yearbook picture surfaced showing him at an Arabian Nights-themed party in 2001, embroiling the Canadian prime minister in another scandal as he struggles to win a second term. Amanda Coletta, Hannah Knowles and Reis Thebault report: “The photograph, published Wednesday by Time and taken while Trudeau was a teacher at the private West Point Grey Academy in Vancouver, depicts the then-29-year-old smiling while wearing a feathered turban, his face darkened in a practice with racist roots. … ‘I dressed up in an Aladdin costume and put makeup on,’ Trudeau said at a news conference Wednesday evening. ‘I shouldn’t have done that. I should’ve known better, but I didn’t, and I’m really sorry.’ Trudeau also admitted to wearing blackface in high school while singing the song 'Day-O' at a talent show. ... Trudeau faces a formidable challenge from Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer, who blasted his opponent Wednesday night, calling the brownface photo 'an act of open mockery and racism.'"
Exclusive: Justin Trudeau wore brownface at 2001 ‘Arabian Nights’ party while he taught at a private school, Canada's Liberal Party admits https://t.co/j3UobfYNIF— TIME (@TIME) September 18, 2019
-- Pennsylvania state Sen. Mike Folmer (R) resigned after being charged with possession of child pornography. “The married grandfather of seven was charged as the result of a tip that the blogging site Tumblr had found that a user had uploaded an image of child pornography using its application,” Lateshia Beachum reports. “Folmer told authorities that he received child pornography images through his Tumblr blog and that he was experiencing ‘some personal problems,’ according to the Patriot-News’s review of charging documents.”
THE DOMESTIC AGENDA:
-- Trump’s leaked plan to expand background checks on firearm sales prompted attacks from the National Rifle Association, which promised to fight it. Seung Min Kim, Paul Kane and Josh Dawsey report: The NRA “immediately dismissed the plan drafted by the Justice Department as a non-starter. A White House spokesman denied that the document was a White House product — even though its top legislative official was briefing GOP senators on the plan’s details. Many Republicans who reviewed the specifics of the background checks measure remained lukewarm about it, and a handful of GOP senators who had been directly briefed by Attorney General William P. Barr on the plan acknowledged that the proposal was incomplete — at best.”
-- Trump claimed a deal on guns has become “much harder” because of Beto O’Rourke’s calls for a mandatory buyback program for assault-style weapons. O’Rourke, Trump tweeted, “convinced many that Dems just want to take your guns away.” Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Congress is still waiting for Trump’s guidance on what gun-related proposals he’s willing to support, per John Wagner.
-- A new report released by Democrats on Congress’s Joint Economic Committee measured the staggering human economic toll of gun violence in all 50 states. Some key findings:
- Firearms killed more people than motor vehicle accidents for the first time in 2017.
- Sixty percent of gun deaths each year are suicides.
- Gun violence costs the country $229 billion a year, or 1.4 percent of the nation’s GDP.
- Compared to other high-income countries, the U.S.’s gun-related fatality rate is nearly 50 times higher for teens and young adults.
-- Nancy Pelosi said she would have held former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski in contempt “right then and there” when he showed disrespect to House members during his hearing. Rachael Bade reports: “In a small huddle with lawmakers from across the caucus, Pelosi (D-Calif.) complained that no witness should be able to treat members of Congress like [Lewandowski] did during a Tuesday hearing before the House Judiciary Committee … Several lawmakers in the room took her remarks as a dig at House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who chose not to hold Lewandowski in contempt for his defiant behavior on Tuesday.”
-- House Democrats eager to impeach Trump are struggling to galvanize public support. Bade, Mike DeBonis and Josh Dawsey report: While Lewandowski’s “acrimonious testimony drew headlines and attention, even some impeachment proponents said it wouldn’t sway the public. … The skepticism underscores a problem Democrats face as they weigh whether to draft articles of impeachment this fall: Voters overwhelmingly oppose a move to oust the president — and some polls even show sentiment moving in the opposite direction. The public, some Democrats fear, is becoming desensitized to Trump-related scandals, making the committee’s job convincing voters even more difficult. … ‘Any other president, had they done one of those things [Trump has] — the public would be screaming,’ said Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.). ‘The public has become numb, and he gets away with it.’”
-- The White House will pull the nomination of Jeffery Byard to lead the Federal Emergency Management Agency, per Politico: “The official said that Byard withdrew his nomination after an accusation surfaced that he was in an altercation. The official also said that the FBI determined that the accusation was unsubstantiated.”
-- Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said he’s “doubtful” he’ll support Trump judicial nominee Steven Mensahi. “My thought is, look, if he’ll treat a United States senator the way he treated us, I wonder how he would treat the people,” Kennedy told HuffPost, throwing a major blow at an already controversial court pick.
-- Lynne Patton, a senior Housing and Urban Development official, was reprimanded by the Office of Special Counsel for making political statements on the job. Patton “used her official government Twitter account to promote political tweets and displayed a red ‘USA’ hat sold by the Trump campaign in her office,” Politico reports. She was issued a warning letter determining that both activities violated the Hatch Act, but she was cleared of two other alleged violations, including an appearance at an oversight hearing featuring former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen.
-- Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy plan includes special protection for the Sackler family fortune. If lawsuits against the wealthy family aren’t halted, the Sacklers "may be unwilling—or unable" to contribute billions to the drugmaker’s bankruptcy as planned, Purdue said in a court filing. (Renae Merle and Lenny Bernstein)
-- Federal authorities are conducting a criminal investigation of the former compliance officer at a McKesson Corp. warehouse in southern central Ohio, alleging he conspired to illegally distribute powerful narcotics over eight years. Bernstein, Matt Zapotosky and Scott Higham report: “With no announcement, David B. Gustin was indicted in March by a grand jury in eastern Kentucky on one count of conspiracy, a charge that carries a penalty of as much as 20 years in prison … The court records reveal the charges against Gustin stem from his responsibility to detect whether 13,000 pharmacy customers in 15 states were allowing drugs distributed by McKesson to be diverted to the black market. Two other people have been told they are possible targets of the probe, and subpoenas for information have been issued to McKesson, the largest drug distributor in the United States…”
-- Trump threatened to slap San Francisco with environmental violations over its homeless population. Allyson Chiu reports: “‘It’s a terrible situation — that’s in Los Angeles and in San Francisco,’ Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One. ... Trump said the [Environmental Protection Agency] should issue a notice in less than a week. It is unclear what laws San Francisco is accused of violating, but the president cited ‘tremendous pollution’ entering the ocean through storm sewers, specifically expressing a concern about used needles. ‘They have to clean it up,’ he said. ‘We can’t have our cities going to hell.’”
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- While Trump claims his plan to respond to Iran remains “very fluid,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laid the blame on Tehran and labeled the attack an “act of war.” Kareem Fahim, Carol Morello and John Wagner report: “Pompeo, who met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday evening, told reporters shortly before arriving in Saudi Arabia that the intelligence community had ‘high confidence’ that the weapons systems used in the attacks were not in the Houthis’ arsenal. The attacks had also not come from the south, where the Houthis control territory, he added, citing ‘flight patterns’ that would have explained the location of impact points at the Saudi oil facilities. ‘This was an Iranian attack,’ he said. ‘It didn’t come from the Houthis.’ ... A senior administration official familiar with Pompeo’s visit said the U.S. team examined photos and debris, including some intact weaponry.
"Meanwhile, the United States still has not issued visas for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his delegation to go to New York next week for the United Nations General Assembly, and the Iranians may cancel their trip, state media reported Wednesday. Pompeo declined to discuss visas for Rouhani and Zarif, whom the United States sanctioned in July.”
-- Pompeo said he’s in the Middle East to build a coalition to deter Iran and signaled that the U.S. will use the upcoming U.N. assembly to rally for support for action against Tehran. From CNN: “Vice President Mike Pence has suggested a military retaliation is possible ... But the President and US allies are sending conflicting signals. Trump, who campaigned on getting the US out of foreign fights and has been critical of American involvement in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, faces a battle for reelection that would be complicated by a new conflict. And Saudi officials have made clear to the White House that they do not want to be dragged into war either.”
-- Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned that any attack on his country will result in “all-out war,” in an apparent response to Pompeo’s comments. (AP)
-- Trump tapped Robert C. O’Brien, who previously served as the nation’s top hostage negotiator, as his new national security adviser, replacing John Bolton. John Hudson and John Wagner report: O’Brien’s appointment solidifies Pompeo’s status as “the most influential foreign policy voice in the administration. Pompeo has known O’Brien for years and backed his ascension to the job after battling with Bolton over an array of policy issues on Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea … Officials said [O’Brien’s] friendly demeanor and experience as a lawyer could bring more stability and collegiality to an often chaotic policymaking process going into the 2020 election.”
-- The new national security chief forged a relationship with Trump while working to secure the freedom of American hostages. Missy Ryan, Shane Harris and John Hudson report: “People close to some of the hostages freed and their families say they believe his appointment might bring more attention to their plight. … Since the beginning of the Trump administration, some 20 Americans have been released from imprisonment or captivity abroad, though it is difficult to say whether O’Brien’s efforts were pivotal in the release of those freed under his watch. … O’Brien has shown himself to be a skilled bureaucrat, developing a strong channel to top administration officials and securing a role in policy deliberations beyond hostage issues...”
-- From the sidelines, Bolton has made little secret of his disagreements with the president. From Politico's Daniel Lippman: Bolton “harshly criticized Trump’s foreign policy on Wednesday at a private lunch, saying that inviting the Taliban to Camp David sent a 'terrible signal' and that it was ‘disrespectful’ to the victims of 9/11 because the Taliban had harbored al Qaeda. Bolton also said that any negotiations with North Korea and Iran were ‘doomed to failure,’ according to two attendees. All the North Koreans and Iranians want to do is negotiate for relief from sanctions to support their economies, said Bolton, who was speaking before guests invited by the Gatestone Institute, a conservative think tank. ‘He ripped Trump, without using his name, several times,’ said one attendee.”
-- O’Brien will inherit a National Security Council struggling to attract talent, current and former U.S. officials told NPR: “In the Trump administration, some of the government's brightest minds are turning down high-powered NSC assignments, and others are avoiding the place altogether. Career foreign policy professionals increasingly fear that joining the NSC, which is part of the White House, will taint them as political operatives. ‘There is a school of thought that it can be risky for your career — sometimes being there puts you in a position where you have to say no to ambassadors and other senior officials, and they may remember that when you return,’ said one senior foreign policy official who turned down an offer to serve at the NSC. … A senior NSC official dismissed concerns that people don't hold the NSC in the same regard as before. He said Trump has sought to slim down the NSC, so there may not be as many opportunities. The people he knew, though, were proud of their work and extended their assignments.”
-- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, seeing his chances of outright victory slipping as the final votes from this week’s election were counted, called for a power-sharing agreement with his chief political rival — who promptly shot him down. Ruth Eglash and Steve Hendrix report: “Benny Gantz, head of the center-left Blue and White party, said he was open to the idea of unity government as long he was at the top of it. Netanyahu had rejected the idea of a unity government throughout the campaign, but he invited Gantz to ‘meet me today’ soon after Blue and White was shown to have picked up another parliamentary seat, giving it an edge over Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party of 33 seats to 31, with 97 percent of the vote recorded. …
“Gantz said his party won the election outright, receiving a larger share of the votes than Likud. He also said he would continue to pursue the creation of a centrist, secular and liberal government. … The shortest path to a majority for either major party is to turn to the other for a coalition and share the prime minister’s job and other top positions on a rotating basis. Israel has had several such unity governments, including a period in the 1980s when rivals Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Shamir shared power. Netanyahu and Gantz both appeared — and shook hands — at a memorial service for Peres on Thursday, and Netanyahu called for the parties to follow his example of power sharing. … But in today’s Israel — a polarized country with Netanyahu one of its most polarizing figures — a unity government would be a tough sell, even if the two party leaders begin to talk.”
-- Trump appeared to give Bibi the cold shoulder after declining to offer the embattled Israeli prime minister encouragement or praise now that he faces potential defeat. Anne Gearan reports: “Speaking a day after Israeli elections that at best leave Netanyahu weakened, Trump seemed cool to the Israeli conservative who has touted his ideological lockstep with Trump as a chief reelection credential. Trump said he had not spoken to Netanyahu, a man he has described as a close friend. He then noted that the election is close while playing down Netanyahu’s importance to the alliance between the United States and Israel. ‘Our relations are with Israel, so we’ll see what happens,’ Trump told reporters traveling with him in California.”
-- Avidgor Lieberman’s gamble has paid off: He could now play the role of kingmaker. From the AP: “Lieberman took the political gamble of his life when he spurned his mentor [Netanyahu] and forced an unprecedented repeat election. … Lieberman has emerged as the election’s true winner — the one most likely to dictate the makeup of the next government. Lieberman passed up the post of defense minister in Netanyahu’s government following April’s election and refused to join the new coalition ... His exit left the prime minister one seat short of a parliamentary majority. Instead of allowing an alternative candidate a chance to form a government, Netanyahu dissolved parliament and called another snap election — launching a scathing campaign aimed at ending the career of his former protégé. But now it may turn out to be the other way around.”
-- Israel is a “Russian-speaking country,” Putin declared in Moscow, adding that the two countries share a common history and extensive family ties. (Moscow Times)
-- Trump toured a section of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border as part of a show of force on immigration ahead of the 2020 election. Philip Rucker, Nick Miroff and David Nakamura report: “Trump’s visit to the Otay Mesa area ... near Tijuana comes as the administration has felt emboldened after winning new legal authority to move forward in funding a border wall and, at least temporarily, gaining additional powers to enforce restrictions on asylum that could help blunt a record surge of Central American families. Capping a three-day road trip that included a campaign rally in New Mexico and several campaign fundraisers in California, Trump touted his team’s progress in completing a 24-mile section of replacement barrier here. ‘People are hearing about the wall and they’re not coming up nearly as much,’ Trump told reporters while standing near the 30-foot steel bollard fencing, which he called the ‘Rolls-Royce’ of border walls. ‘People see this — it’s one of the reasons I’m doing this — and they think, ‘There’s no reason to make that long journey up because we’re not getting into the United States,' Trump added.”
-- The Pentagon warned of dire outcomes unless Congress paid for urgently needed military construction projects nationwide — the same projects that have now been canceled to fund Trump’s border wall. Aaron Gregg and Erica Werner report: “The warnings are contained in Defense Department budget requests sent to lawmakers in recent years. They include potentially hazardous living conditions for troops and their families, as well as unsafe schools that would impede learning. In numerous cases, the Defense Department warned that lives would be put at risk if buildings don’t meet the military’s standards for fire safety or management of explosives. Even before $3.6 billion in construction funding was pulled to support a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, military buildings across the country often had been neglected in favor of other priorities. The defense spending limits that took effect after a 2013 budget deal designed to end a government shutdown starved the military’s construction budget for years, officials and analysts say, meaning many construction projects are long overdue.”
-- The Interior Department is transferring more than 500 acres of public lands to the Pentagon for construction of the border wall, reports the Wall Street Journal.
-- Meanwhile, the U.S. military spent $184,000 at Trump’s Scotland resort, according to documents released by the House Oversight Committee. Leaders of the Democratic-led committee said information provided by the Pentagon indicated that taxpayer funds were used to pay for more than three dozen separate stays, significantly more than previously disclosed, per John Wagner and David Fahrenthold.
-- Trump’s friend Tom Barrack, who is under scrutiny by prosecutors looking into possible foreign influence over the president’s 2016 campaign, made an appearance at Trump’s California fundraisers. Barrack, who has given $360,600 to the Trump Victory Committee, participated in two of Trump’s California events, appearing among the president’s relatives, party and campaign officials, reports the Times.
-- Barack Obama offered a thinly veiled critique of Trump’s penchant for social media and TV news while speaking at a private event held by data company Splunk. Greg Bensinger reports: “Obama explained how he had approached the job, including some 3,000 political appointments, before offering this advice: ‘The other thing that is helpful is not watching TV or reading social media.’ ‘Those are two things I would advise, if you're our president, not to do,’ he said. ‘It creates a lot of noise and clouds your judgment.’ … ‘I’m proud of the fact we didn’t have indictments,’ during his two terms in office, he said."
-- Desperate to revive her fading campaign, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is betting it all on Iowa. From Politico: “Harris is putting her stumbling campaign on the line with a new Iowa-or-bust strategy: She's shifting away from the closed-door fundraisers that dominated her summer calendar to focus on retail politicking in the crucial kickoff state. Harris huddled with top campaign officials Tuesday in Baltimore to discuss the next steps as a series of polls show her plummeting into the mid-single digits. … Harris is planning to make weekly visits to the state and nearly double the size of her 65-person ground operation … Harris herself appeared to confirm the Iowa focus on Wednesday, though not on purpose. ‘I’m [expletive] moving to Iowa,’ she joked to a colleague in Washington, within earshot of a reporter."
-- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) parted ways with his Iowa political director, Jess Mazour. Sean Sullivan reports: “A campaign official ... said Mazour was let go in late summer and has not been replaced. Mazour, who was a high-ranking campaign aide but not the director of the Iowa effort, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The campaign did not publicly announce her departure at the time.”
-- Rep. Joe Kennedy III will make official his primary challenge to Democratic Sen. Edward Markey during a rally on Saturday. Bobby Kennedy's grandson met with Markey to tell him in person, Colby Itkowitz, Mike DeBonis and Annie Linskey report. The intergenerational matchup could be unsettling for donors in Massachusetts, a state that has long supported both of them.
-- Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, warned in blunt terms that the party cannot partner effectively with the Trump administration to fend off foreign interference in the 2020 election because of the president’s professed doubts about Russian interference in the 2016 election. Isaac Stanley-Becker reports: “The president’s words and actions have made it difficult to develop a truly effective trust-based relationship with the Department of Homeland Security," Perez wrote in a letter to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) in response to a request for information about how the major national party committees were guarding against information warfare.
-- With no warrant or subpoena, Kentucky State Police seized a computer from the Office of Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes as part of an investigation into how Grimes and her aides used voter data. The computers were seized as part of Grimes’ ongoing legal challenge to a law enacted earlier this year that stripped some of her powers as secretary of state over the Kentucky Board of Elections. (Lexington Herald Leader)
-- “Alexa, I want to make a political contribution”: Starting next month, users of Amazon’s voice-controlled home assistant Alexa will be able to dictate their donations to a 2020 presidential campaign. Users will be able to make donations of at least $5 and up to $200. Alexa Political Contributions is among the new features added to the home assistant to help users find more information about the 2020 presidential election, Michelle Ye Hee Lee reports. (Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns The Post.)
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Trump shared a warning in Spanish. Unfortunately, it wasn't grammatically sound, and Twitter quickly took note:
This is ungrammatical Spanish from the White House, but roughly translated means:— Maria Sacchetti (@mariasacchetti) September 18, 2019
"No more false asylum"
"No more catch & release"
"No more illegal entry in United States" (sic) https://t.co/IGkoVwmnjG
Two presidential candidates from Texas also critiqued the tweet:
No más niños en jaulas.— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) September 18, 2019
No más muros.
No más de esta retórica que incita ataques hacia los inmigrantes. https://t.co/5aqiORoJAP
Trump sent the tweet while visiting a portion of the border fence, which he signed with a Sharpie:
Migrants won't be able to go over the fence, Trump claimed:
“This wall can’t be climbed,” Trump says. pic.twitter.com/SFtkZbKvCG— Jeff Mason (@jeffmason1) September 18, 2019
A Post reporter shared more pictures from the border:
New fence casts a long shadow pic.twitter.com/iGP81We1mn— Nick Miroff (@NickMiroff) September 18, 2019
A Post reporter found out why Trump sometimes carries cash with him:
We asked Trump on AF1 to explain what was going on in this photo. He smiled & pulled a wad of cash out of his back pocket. “I don’t carry a wallet because I haven’t had to use a credit card in a long time...I like to carry a little something. I like to give tips to the hotel.” https://t.co/1TPaUjrELw— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) September 19, 2019
The president also lashed out (again) against the Fed chair, a man he appointed:
Jay Powell and the Federal Reserve Fail Again. No “guts,” no sense, no vision! A terrible communicator!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 18, 2019
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I am submitting this report as my testimony because I don’t want you to listen to me, I want you to listen to the scientists,” climate activist Greta Thunberg, 16, said during a congressional hearing while submitting a landmark United Nations report that warned of dire consequences for the planet if the atmosphere continues to warm. “I want you to unite behind science. And then I want you to take real action. Thank you.” (Kayla Epstein)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
A back-to-school PSA from anti-violence nonprofit Sandy Hook Promise is a punch to the gut. (Content warning: the video depicts scenes of school shootings and gun violence):
Our theater critic Peter Marks went to New Hampshire to follow Pete Buttigieg on the campaign trail:
Samantha Bee held a "Second Annual Brett Kavanaugh Remembrance," saying that, once a year, Americans are forced to relive the trauma of his confirmation:
Stephen Colbert joked that the new national security adviser looks like the second male lead on "Suits":
While dissecting the Saudi Arabia-Iran situation, Trevor Noah said he feels bad for the secretary of state because he always gets sent to clean up bad situations: