with Brent D. Griffiths

Yo, proletariat. This Director of National Intelligence is out, the second round of the Democratic debates is in. Tips, comments, recipes? Reach out and sign up

BREAKING: "Three people are dead and at least 15 injured after a shooting Sunday evening at a food festival in Gilroy, Calif. . . . One gunman was killed by officers at the scene, Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee said early Monday morning,” The Post's Allyson Chiu, Faiz Siddiqui and Meagan Flynn report

  • “Police are still searching for a possible second suspect, although it’s unclear if that person also fired on the crowd or assisted the shooter.” The shooter was carrying an “assault-type rifle,” the city of Gilroy said in a statement, and the motivation is still unclear. 

At The White House

RINSE, REPEAT: Another weekend, another tweetstorm from President Trump attacking a lawmaker of color.

This time, the attacks were on House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), who has initiated many investigations into the Trump administration. Trump called his Baltimore district a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess,” adding that “no human being would want to live there.” 

These latest broadsides — coming just two weekends after Trump tweeted that four U.S. congresswoman of color should “go back” to their ancestral homes — are a clear sign the president is doubling down on divisive rhetoric and even welcoming a racial debate.

  • Trump's advisers have determined that the “overall message sent by such attacks is good for the president among his political base — resonating strongly with the white working-class voters he needs to win reelection in 2020,” my colleagues Ashley Parker and Toluse Olorunnipa report. 

'The theater of dog whistle politics': University of California at Berkeley professor Ian Haney López, who studies how racism has evolved since the civil rights era, says the back-and-forth we saw this weekend can be simplified into a three-act play in the “theater of dog whistle politics." The author of the forthcoming book “Merge Left. Fusing Race and Class, Winning Elections, and Saving America" told Power Up that the attacks on the Squad and Cummings both follow a similar format: 

Act 1, according to Haney Lopez, is to “exploit coded language to stir voters’ racial anxieties”: 

  • Sure enough, Democrats this weekend accused Trump of deploying racist tropes by asserting that Cummings's district, which is 53 percent African American, was a “very dangerous and filthy place.” Maryland's 7th district has a $60,000 median household income and higher percentage of college graduates than the country as a whole, per Ashley and Toluse. (He also insisted Squad members should go back to the “crime infested” places from which they came, even though all four are U.S. citizens and only one was born overseas.) 
  • From the Baltimore Sun editorial board: Trump "was returning to an old standby of attacking an African American lawmaker from a majority black district on the most emotional and bigoted of arguments. It was only surprising that there wasn’t room for a few classic phrases like 'you people' or 'welfare queens' or 'crime-ridden ghettos' or a suggestion that the congressman 'go back' to where he came from."

“Act 2, issue an outraged denial that race played any role in your comments”: Trump's insistence that there was “nothing racist” about his comments was echoed by his chief of staff on the Sunday shows

  • “It has absolutely zero to do with race,” Mick Mulvaney said on Fox. “Have you seen some of the pictures on the Internet? Just this morning from the conditions in Baltimore."
  • Mulvaney noted on CBS News's Face the Nation that Trump "fights back when he feels like he’s attacked, and what Mr. Cummings said this week was wrong.” (Note: Trump's assaults came days after Cummings authorized subpoenas for senior White House officials' private communications.)

“Act 3, accuse your critics of being the real bigots”: Trump ratcheted up the feud yesterday and called Cummings “racist” without any explanation. 

Key quote: Trump's goal "is to stoke the idea that the fundamental division of this country is between whites and people of color — and then to promote the subsidiary idea that our political parties are racially affiliated,” Haney-Lopez told Power Up. Getting his liberal critics to accuse him of bigotry only fuels this. "What he is doing is seeking to draw Democrats and frankly the media into substantiating that basic story that we are a racist country.”

Not a new phenomenon: A Democratic strategist told Power Up the debate is reminiscent of another time when Republicans sought to use race as a wedge issue for political expediency. 

  • The strategist recalled the 1981 interview in which Lee Atwater, Ronald Reagan's political adviser, discussed Republicans' “Southern strategy” — and how some white voters might subconsciously support conservative policies that are not explicitly related to race if they have different unequal consequences for different races. 
  • “You say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff and you get so abstract,” Atwater said. “You talk about cutting taxes and these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.” 
  • In 2004, Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman famously criticized that approach: “Some Republicans gave up on winning the African American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization,” he said. " . . . We were wrong.” 

Will the fracas benefit Trump? That remains to be seen. Ron Brownstein argued in the The Atlantic after the Squad attacks that it's exactly this kind of rhetoric that has “led an unprecedented number of voters satisfied with the economy to nonetheless express doubts about his leadership” — especially among working class white women who turned out in smaller numbers for midterms than they did in 2016. 

  • In an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist College poll released [last week], fully one-third of adults who said the economy is working for them personally still said they disapprove of Trump’s job performance. An equal share of these voters said they now intend to vote against him for reelection,” per Brownstein. 
  • “To offset that unusual defection among the economically content, Trump must maximize his margins — and turnout — among the groups that have been most receptive to his exclusionary racist and cultural messages: older, nonurban, evangelical-Christian, and non-college-educated white voters.” 

On The Hill

INCHING TOWARD IMPEACHMENT?: 106 House Democrats — nearly half of the House Democratic caucus — now support opening an impeachment inquiry against Trump, according to our colleagues' running list. That's just 12 shy of being a majority of the caucus. That number includes 15 of the 24 members of the Judiciary Committee. 

  • The newbies: Washington Reps. Derek Kilmer, Kim Schrier, Suzan DelBene and Denny Heck all announced their support on Sunday
  • Sen. Patty Murray, their state’s senior senator and third-highest ranking Senate Democrat, also called for opening an inquiry.
  • Total post-Mueller: 10 Democratic lawmakers announced their support for the inquiry after former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s testimony, according to Politico’s Kyle Cheney

Leadership fracturing?: House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) told CNN's Jake Tapper that his “personal view is that [Trump] richly deserves impeachment.” Yet Nadler says his committee still needs “more evidence” before opening an inquiry. 

  • Pressure building: Rep. Katherine M. Clark (D-Mass.), a member of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's leadership team, called for opening an impeachment inquiry against Trump last week.
  • Yet House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) yesterday defended Pelosi's approach toward slow-walking launching an impeachment inquiry against Trump as the legal battles continue in the courts. 
  • “I worry equally about the message of taking an impeachment case to trial, losing that case, having the president acquitted, and then having an adjudication that this conduct is not impeachable,” Schiff said on NBC's Meet the Press

The People

COATS TO RESIGN AS INTEL DIRECTOR: “Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats will leave his position next month, President Trump announced Sunday, capping a tumultuous relationship in which the two were often at odds over the wisdom of negotiating with Russia, the status of Iran’s nuclear weapons program and the severity of foreign threats to U.S. elections,” our colleague Shane Harris reports.

  • His replacement, pending confirmation:
  • In the news lately: “Ratcliffe launched a spirited defense of Trump at that hearing on Wednesday, grilling Mueller about why he had provided evidence of Trump’s possible obstruction of justice in his probe if, as Mueller wrote, he never intended to decide whether the president had committed a crime,” Shane writes.
  • Coats was frequently at odds with Trump. Will Ratcliffe maintain that same independence?: Prepare for a tense confirmation battle and debates over threats from Russia, Iran, North Korea and others. "Members will grill him on whose analysis he believes is true: Trump’s or the intelligence community’s, [a] congressional official said," per Shane.
  •  Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) echoed these points. “It’s clear that Rep. Ratcliffe was selected because he exhibited blind loyalty to President Trump with his demagogic questioning of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller,” he said in a statement. “If Senate Republicans elevate such a partisan player to a position that requires intelligence expertise and non-partisanship, it would be a big mistake.”

Global Power

CRACKDOWN ON MOSCOW PROTESTERS: “Monitors said 150 protesters who were detained while demonstrating for independent local candidates remained in custody on Sunday, in one of Russia’s largest police crackdowns in the past decade," Matthew Bonder reports from the Russian capital for The Post.


Someone's poll numbers are about to take a dip: