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Has the moral authority of the US been eroded with Trump’s reaction to the violence in Virginia? – Washington Post


President Trump speaks Tuesday at Trump Tower on the violence in Charlottesville white supremacists and counter-protesters. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

In this occasional series, we will bring you up to speed on the biggest national security stories of the week.

It resonated around the world when President Trump blamed “both sides” for the violence in Charlottesville where white supremacists and neo-Nazis brawled with counterprotesters last weekend. Immediately after he condemned the white nationalists but apportioned the fault equally, allies and adversaries alike began questioning whether Trump had ceded his moral authority and weakened the role traditionally played by the United States as a global leader.

Here’s what you need to know about this fast-moving story:

What’s at stake?

The concept of moral authority, used by past presidents at home and abroad, is part of what makes the U.S. president the most powerful person in the world. Now the ability of the United States to influence events around the world is under assault. United Nations Secretary General António  Guterres, without mentioning Trump by name, rebuked the nationalism and populism that propelled Trump into office, saying the world must stand up against intolerance and “irrationality.”

What is the fallout so far?

It can be difficult to trace a direct line of cause and effect, but relations with other countries already were under strain. After a week of Trump trading threats with North Korea, South Korean President Moon Jae-in insisted his country effectively has a veto over a unilateral attack by the United States on the North. As the New York Times noted, Latin American leaders are telling the United States to butt out after Trump said a “military option” was on the table for Venezuela. Iran has threatened to quit the nuclear deal if more U.S. sanctions are imposed. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, tweeted, “If US has any power, they better manage their country, tackle #WhiteSupremacy, rather than meddle in nations’ affairs. #Charlottesville.”

Why do foreigners care about what happened in Charlottesville?

In some cases it’s about self-preservation. British Prime Minister Theresa May, for example, rushed to ally herself with Trump right after his inauguration. But British voters don’t share that affection, and with her own popularity ebbing, she now is openly distancing herself from Trump. In a clear reference to Trump’s remarks on Charlottesville, May said there was “no equivalence between those who propound fascist views and those who oppose them.”

Without the United States, who is there?

Many other countries now consider German Chancellor Angela Merkel the leader of the West. In Germany, where Nazi speech and gestures are curtailed by legal restrictions, Charlottesville and Trump’s shifting reactions have been heavily criticized. Merkel did not criticize Trump or the United States by name, but she called the actions by white supremacists “horrifying” and “evil” and blamed one side, saying, “It is racist, far-right violence and clear, forceful action must be taken against it, regardless of where in the world it happens.”

Is the erosion of U.S. moral authority permanent?

It is too early to say whether Trump’s reaction to Charlottesville has done any long-term damage. Some have suggested he could reverse the damage, perhaps by funding programs that investigate hate groups. But in the short term, his moral authority clearly has taken a hit.

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The ‘business president’ couldn’t even keep CEOs on his side – Washington Post

President Trump’s two major CEO councils disbanded Aug. 16 after Trump was slow to condemn white supremacy groups. (Taylor Turner/The Washington Post)

The businessman president just lost his business leaders. It’s a deep blow.

On Wednesday, so many executives were ready to quit President Trump’s two business panels — the Strategy and Policy Forum and the Manufacturing Council — that the president was forced to disband the groups. It was the ultimate vote of no confidence from more than 45 executives. Nearly all of these leaders stood by Trump despite the “deeply concerning” Muslim travel ban in January and the “disappointing” withdrawal from the Paris climate accord in June. But Trump’s failure to forcefully stand up to bigotry and neo-Nazis was the red line for America’s business community. The CEOs abandoned Trump.

“It is a leader’s role, in business or government, to bring people together, not tear them apartment,” JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said Wednesday. It was one of many strongly worded statements condemning the president’s failure to lead. Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, who started the mass exodus by resigning from the manufacturing council Monday, said he felt “a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and racism” because Trump did not.

There are three key questions now: How many others will abandon Trump? Is his agenda dead? And does this drive Trump further toward Steve Bannon and the nationalist members of his administration?

“This is a tipping point for Trump,” says Larry Sabato, head of the University of Virginia’s Center of Politics, who witnessed the horrific and tragic events in Charlottesville over the weekend. If even CEOs won’t stand by Trump, Sabato predicts that more Republicans and White House staff may jump ship too. “What about all the Jewish members of his administration? How can they serve a man who has essentially winked and nodded at neo-Nazis?”

[Trump’s solution to racism is ‘jobs.’ It’s not that simple]

Two of Trump’s top economic policy advisers are Jewish: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Council adviser Gary Cohn. They have been silent so far, at least publicly. Mnuchin stood stoically behind Trump during a heated news conference Tuesday in which the president repeatedly insisted that “both sides” were to blame for the violence in Charlottesville that killed a young woman who was trying to stand up to white nationalists. Mnuchin and Cohn have been dubbed Trump’s “Wall Street team.” They are often at odds with Bannon and the nationalist members of Trump’s team.

CEOs usually pride themselves on being able to work with anyone. They want to make money. That’s supposed to be the overriding concern. But American business leaders made it clear to Trump this week that they care about more than taxes, regulations and dollar signs. They did it at a time when so much is potentially at stake for the business community on tax reform, NAFTA, possible trade tariffs and more.

“Intolerance, racism and violence have absolutely no place in this country and are an affront to core American values,” the Strategy and Policy Forum said in a statement after the group broke up. Numerous CEOs stressed how important diversity is. In this age of talent wars, they want — and need — the best people from around the world. Trump has made that harder with his Muslim ban, his anti-immigrant rhetoric and now his comments that do not fully condemn neo-Nazis.

“Clearly the CEOs are making an important statement placing values ahead of policy,” says Kristina Hooper, global market strategist at Invesco.

[The brief life and messy end of Trump’s manufacturing council]

The question now is whether Republicans still want to work with Trump. On the very day the councils disbanded, some Republicans in Congress gathered at former president Ronald Reagan’s ranch to try to talk about how important tax reform is. Cutting taxes was supposed to be the signature part of Trump’s economic agenda to bump up growth and create more jobs. Now Democrats have one more reason not to work with the president, and even some Republicans will probably reevaluate whether it is worth staying tied to the White House. GOP Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) has already come out with an entire book rebuking Trump as a “crony capitalist” who isn’t a true conservative.

“I don’t know how the White House will repair relations” with businesses or Congress, said one lobbyist familiar with the CEO council deliberations Wednesday who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

It will be telling who has Trump’s ear in the coming days: Cohn or Bannon? The business community and many world leaders have said they can work with people like Cohn and Mnuchin. Both are former Goldman Sachs executives and political moderates. Cohn is known to walk into meetings and say, “I’m not a Democrat, and I’m not a Republican. I just want to get things done.” But it’s possible that Trump will be so angry with the rebuke from the CEOs that he will turn more toward his nationalist advisers. It already seemed to be going that way, even before Charlottesville.

After Congress gave Trump a major loss by failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) this summer, Trump was supposed to pivot to tax reform and infrastructure. Instead, he shocked many with his announcements that transgender individuals should be banned from military service and legal immigration should be cut by 50 percent. These policies came from the far right, not the Wall Street advisers. Both moves were overwhelmingly denounced by moderate Republicans, business leaders and economists. In an era when CEOs complain that they can’t find enough qualified workers, the last thing they want to do is cut off immigration or prevent talented military personnel from serving the country because of their gender identity.

President Obama was often criticized for being anti-business. He wasn’t popular in business circles for clamping down on Wall Street after the financial crisis, increasing environmental regulations and causing U.S. businesses to move overseas to reduce their tax bill. George Buckley, the CEO of 3M in 2011, said this of Obama: “We know what his instincts are … he is anti-business.”

But Trump just got an even bigger rebuke. The current CEO of 3M, Inge Thulin, resigned from the president’s manufacturing council Wednesday over Trump’s Charlottesville remarks. He was the last one to go before the council imploded. In a statement, Thulin said he felt that the White House no longer reflected the values of “sustainability, diversity and inclusion.”

The president who claimed to be uniquely able to pull together business and government leaders is proving to be uniquely able to drive them apart.

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Trump and race: Decades of fueling divisions – Washington Post

By ,

Last summer, when Donald Trump’s comments about Mexicans and Muslims led to widespread accusations that he harbored racist attitudes, the candidate pushed back. “I am the least racist person that you’ve ever encountered,” he said.

As evidence, Trump cited an endorsement he’d received from a weekly newspaper published in Ohio by Don King, the legendary African-American boxing promoter.

“Now, Don King knows racism probably better than anybody,” Trump said in an interview with The Washington Post. “He’s not endorsing a racist, okay?”

But how would Trump persuade those who believed he was a racist that wasn’t the case? “I’m not concerned,” he replied. “Actually, I’m not concerned because I don’t think people believe it.”

From his first public controversy in the 1970s, when the federal government sued Trump and his father over discriminatory rental practices in their New York real estate empire, to the opening salvo in his 2016 presidential campaign, when he said that Mexicans entering the United States were criminals and “rapists,” Trump has regularly fanned the flames of racial controversies.

After Trump’s defiant statement Tuesday that “both sides” bore responsibility for the street battles in Charlottesville last weekend, an unusually bipartisan collection of politicians and others have called on the president to back off from remarks portraying an overtly white-supremacist rally as something benign and reasonable.

What do such comments reveal about his personal attitude toward the nation’s wrenching history of racial discord? Are Trump’s racially divisive remarks just another example of his impulsivity and propensity to be provocative, or do they represent an abiding tolerance of racist views?

He’s like this on nearly every issue, said Armstrong Williams, a conservative, African-American TV and radio talk show host and longtime supporter of Trump. If ousted FBI director James Comey or former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus “had been black, people would have called what he did to them racist,” Williams said. “You cannot isolate this to race. It’s just who he is. He’s undisciplined and he causes unnecessary pain with what he says, and he’s done it all his life. The president treats everybody the same, unfortunately.”

Williams said Trump should have left his Monday statement condemning white supremacists as his last word, “but he just can’t stop himself, so he goes off without understanding the history of neo-Nazism and white supremacy. And those of us who had so much hope for him are just exhausted, because this is every day. People see it as a betrayal. Soon, he won’t have anybody, because when you start talking about Nazis and supremacy, who’s going to defend him on that?”

But others say Trump’s eagerness to speak up for at least some of the people who took part in the alt-right demonstrations in Charlottesville must be viewed as a reflection of his attitude on race.

“It could be both that he’s like this about all kinds of issues and that he’s particularly comfortable trafficking in racist language,” said Michael Fauntroy, a Howard University political scientist who has written on Republicans and the black vote. “I think he has something going on in his personality that leads him to say irrational things. But the most benign explanation of his behavior is that he’s very comfortable being around racists.”

Some Republicans have spoken out against Trump’s decision to equate left-wing protesters with the armed, avowed neo-Nazis who carried torches through the University of Virginia campus last weekend. But even those who strongly criticized the president stopped short of questioning his beliefs on race.

“There’s a whole lot of political calculus behind these comments,” Fauntroy said. “What are they going to say: ‘The leader of our party traffics in racism or is comfortable with racism, but we have to get things done, so we’re just going to ignore that?’”

Republican leaders have occasionally pushed back against Trump’s racial slurs. Last year, when Trump said that a federal judge of Mexican descent had ruled against him because he is “Mexican,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said the comment constituted “the textbook definition of a racist comment.” But Ryan did not back away from his endorsement of Trump’s candidacy.

Trump “is no racist,” said King, the boxing promoter, in an interview. “He’s a realist and a knight in God-sent shining armor. He promised to create a whole new system and that system includes the degradations of white supremacy, so when he takes down that old system, that doctrine goes with it. I still love Donald Trump.”

Trump’s four decades in the public eye began with a discrimination lawsuit against young Donald and his father, New York City developer Fred Trump.

For decades, the Trump real estate empire had been well known in Brooklyn and Queens as developments mainly for whites. In 1952, one of Trump’s tenants, the legendary folk singer Woody Guthrie, pushed back against the all-white nature of his 1,800-unit apartment complex by writing a song, “Old Man Trump,” that begins, “I suppose that Old Man Trump knows just how much racial hate he stirred up in that bloodpot of human hearts when he drawed that color line here at his Beach Haven family project.”

“Beach Haven is Trump’s Tower / Where no black folks come to roam,” the song continues.

As Fred Trump brought his son into leadership of the family business, the two faced an investigation by the city Human Rights Commission in which testers tried to rent Trump apartments. The white applicant was offered housing right away, but the black applicant was told nothing was available.

The city shut down rentals at that Trump complex, and the Justice Department picked up the case, filing suit in 1973 against father and son, accusing them of “refusing to rent and negotiate rentals with blacks.” Trump employees stated that they had been instructed to mark rental applications from blacks with the letter C for “colored.”

Donald Trump, then 27, took the lead in defending the family. Under the tutelage of Roy Cohn, the New York attorney who had formerly worked for Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the communist hunts of the 1950s, Trump pushed back hard, countersuing the government and accusing the prosecutor, who was Jewish, of conducting a “Gestapo-like interrogation.” The judge summarily rejected Trump’s claims.

After years of court battles, Trump sought a settlement, agreeing to buy ads in local newspapers assuring the public that his company would not discriminate.

Despite the rough press he endured during that dispute, Trump did not hesitate to wade into racial controversies throughout his career.

In 1993, when he testified before a congressional committee looking into Indian gambling, Trump questioned whether tribe members who operated a casino competing with his Atlantic City operations were really native Americans. “They don’t look like Indians to me,” he said.

But a few years later, during a period when he was a registered Democrat who often expressed liberal views, Trump attacked Reform Party presidential candidate Pat Buchanan for how he talked about “Jews, blacks, gays and Mexicans…. He wants to divide our country.”

And in 1995, Trump opened his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida with a pointed welcome to Jews, blacks and gay couples, all of whom had long faced restrictions at other Palm Beach social clubs.

But those who’ve worked with Trump for many years say he also has a history of making rough, stereotyping comments about racial minorities. John O’Donnell, who was president of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, said Trump blamed blacks for his financial problems.

“I’ve got black accountants at Trump Castle and at Trump Plaza — black guys counting my money!” Trump said, according to O’Donnell. “The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day…. Laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is; I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.”

Trump has denied making that remark, but has also said that “the stuff O’Donnell wrote about me is probably true.”

In 1989, after a 28-year-old white investment banker on a jog through Central Park was raped, beaten and left for dead, five teenaged boys, including four blacks and one Hispanic, were arrested.

Two weeks later, Trump bought full-page ads in the city’s four newspapers: “Bring back the death penalty,” he demanded, dismissing Mayor Ed Koch’s call for less hate in a frightened city. “I want to hate these muggers and murderers,” Trump wrote. “They should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed.”

When Rev. Al Sharpton, the black activist, denounced Trump for a “hatemongering ad,” Trump denied that race had anything to do with his call for retribution.

Soon after, Trump went on TV to talk about blacks in America: “A well-educated black has a tremendous advantage over a well-educated white in terms of the job market,” he said. “I’ve said on one occasion, even about myself, if I were starting off today, I would love to be a well-educated black, because I believe they do have an actual advantage.”

In 2014, the Central Park Five had their convictions overturned when a career criminal confessed and provided a DNA match that proved he was the rapist. The city paid the five men $41 million to settle their wrongful imprisonment suit, but Trump called the payment “the heist of the century” and “a disgrace,” said he wouldn’t give them a dime, and insisted he had nothing to apologize for.

A few months after the Central Park rape, Trump was asked about rumors that he planned to run for governor of New York. “Can you imagine me running for office?” he replied. “Wouldn’t you say I’m a little controversial for that?”

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Bannon: No military solution to North Korea – The Hill

President Trump’s chief strategist Stephen Bannon appeared to break with the administration on North Korea Wednesday, saying that he doesn’t believe there is a military solution to the escalating nuclear crisis.

“There’s no military solution [to North Korea’s nuclear threats], forget it,” Bannon told The Prospect in an interview published Wednesday.

“Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us,” he said.

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Bannon’s remarks to the liberal publication are a major break from President Trump, who last week promised to meet North Korean aggression with “fire and fury” after the rogue nation announced it was developing a plan to attack the island territory of Guam.

The chief strategist added that the U.S. is at “economic war” with China, calling North Korea a sideshow.

“We’re at economic war with China,” he continued. “It’s in all their literature. They’re not shy about saying what they’re doing. One of us is going to be a hegemon in 25 or 30 years and it’s gonna be them if we go down this path.

“On Korea, they’re just tapping us along,” Bannon added. “It’s just a sideshow.”

Bannon’s comments come just a day after North Korea reportedly backed off the threat to attack Guam, but warned that the policy could again change in the future.

“If the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions on the Korean Peninsula and in its vicinity, testing the restraint of the DPRK [North Korea], the [North] will make an important decision as it already declared,” Kim said Tuesday, according to the country’s state media. 

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CEOs Long Avoided Politics. Trump Is Changing the Calculus. – New York Times

Common Sense
By JAMES B. STEWART

The bar for a chief executive of a public corporation to repudiate a United States president is extraordinarily high. Corporate leaders aren’t given their power, prestige, responsibility and nine-figure pay packages to use the corner office as their personal soapbox.

With President Trump’s comments on white supremacists and other right-wing extremists ringing in the ears of America’s chief executives, that high bar appears to have been passed.

This week, what had been a trickle of defections from the White House business advisory councils over issues like immigration and climate change turned into a torrent. By Wednesday, both of the councils had collapsed; Mr. Trump insisted that he had decided to disband them.

Such a public schism between a president and a business leadership long considered the backbone of the Republican establishment left corporate historians at a loss for precedent. “There’s never been anything to compare to this,” said Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld, a dean of leadership studies at the Yale School of Management and the author of “Firing Back: How Great Leaders Rebound From Career Disasters.”

Charles M. Elson, a professor and director of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware, said he knew of no other examples, not even involving Richard Nixon at the height of the Vietnam War protests and during Watergate.

Referring to a tweet by Mr. Trump criticizing Kenneth C. Frazier, the Merck executive who led this week’s corporate retreat from the White House councils, Mr. Sonnenfeld said, “Never in history has a president attacked and threatened the chief executive of a major U.S. corporation like that.”

After provoking a furor with his initial failure to condemn the white supremacists behind last weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, Va., Mr. Trump might have staved off a full-scale exodus with his somewhat stilted but conciliatory comments on Monday. But then he reignited the flames at a news conference on Tuesday at which he blamed club-wielding members of the “alt-left” for the Charlottesville violence. The white nationalist leader Richard Spencer and the former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke were quick to embrace his remarks.

As pressure mounted on prominent council members like Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, Stephen A. Schwarzman of the Blackstone Group, Ginni Rometti of IBM and Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo, as well as other chief executives who remained silent or issued platitudes, corporate boards were hastily meeting to map strategy. “I’ve heard from 24 chief executives in the past two days,” Mr. Sonnenfeld said on Wednesday. “Boards are having ad hoc conference calls. People are very worried and concerned.”

Those conversations have been far more complicated than one might expect. It’s safe to say that no chief executive wants to be identified with white supremacy, racism or domestic terrorism. At the same time the president wields enormous influence over their shareholders, employees and customers.

“Chief executives don’t have the luxury of ventilating their personal political opinions, whatever they might be,” Mr. Elson said. “They shouldn’t let their personal views influence their business decisions. If they really feel strongly about something, they can always resign and then say whatever they want.”

As he told me shortly after Mr. Trump took office, “When the president calls, you should go to see him, regardless of your political persuasion, out of respect for the office.”

Back then, Mr. Sonnenfeld, too, praised Mr. Trump’s openness to business views as a welcome change from an Obama administration perceived as anti-business. “He’s very charming and open to new ideas,” Mr. Sonnenfeld said then of Mr. Trump.

This week was a different story. After the Charlottesville events and Mr. Trump’s comments, “chief executives have a moral duty to use their position as a bully pulpit and to speak out,” Mr. Sonnenfeld said, adding that George Weyerhaeuser, a former chairman of the giant timber and wood products company bearing his name, had once told him, “We have a license to operate from society, and if we violate that license it can be revoked.”

Or as Mr. Elson told me, “At some point, if identification with the administration becomes so polarizing that it impairs your ability to run the company, then you may have to do something.”

Weighing the benefits of advising a president steeped in controversy versus the risks to shareholders and other constituents from potential consumer boycotts is a calculus that varies widely from company to company.

At one extreme is a company like Boeing, which, as I noted last week, has thrived by burnishing its ties to Mr. Trump, who posed for photos in front of a 787 Dreamliner at a nonunion Boeing plant in South Carolina. Boeing is one of the federal government’s largest contractors ($1.1 billion was allotted recently for 14 Boeing fighter jets); the Export-Import Bank once threatened by Mr. Trump finances many of Boeing’s buyers; a host of other executive-branch decisions affect its profits; and it has no direct exposure to consumers.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is Under Armour, the maker of athletic wear, whose chief executive, Kevin Plank, left the president’s council earlier this week. Under Armour’s success depends in part on endorsements from celebrity athletes, many of whom — like Stephen Curry, the basketball star — are African-American. Under Armour customers had already organized a consumer boycott on social media earlier this year, prompting Mr. Plank to issue an open letter pledging to be “a force of unity, growth and optimism for our city and our country” and to oppose “any new actions that negatively impact our team, our neighbors or their families.”

That new action appears to have arrived.

“The risk of consumer blowback is especially acute for companies like Under Armour, and you’ve seen this elsewhere in the retail space,” Mr. Sonnenfeld said. But he noted that taking a public stand against a social scourge like racism can also enhance a brand. “Taking a public stand doesn’t mean there’s a misalignment with shareholder interests,” he said. “It can be the right thing to do. Howard Schultz has done this very effectively at Starbucks.”

On Monday, Mr. Schultz publicly criticized the president’s response to the Charlottesville events, and on Wednesday he spoke at an emotional companywide meeting. “I come to you as an American, as a Jew, as a parent, as a grandparent, as an almost 40-year partner of a company I love so dearly,” he said. “I come to you with profound, profound concern about the lack of character, morality, humanity and what this might mean for young children and young generations.”

Historically, corporate aversion to politics has at times held firm even under national leadership that threatens the health of the economy, and with it the well-being of every company. The most notorious example was the support of German industry for Hitler and the Nazi regime, which ended up destroying the nation’s economy. American companies also worked with the Nazis before the United States entered the war, including — as the current Amazon production of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Last Tycoon” reminds us — Hollywood studios.

Comparing the Trump administration to the Nazis may be a stretch, but many business leaders are concerned that stirring up deep-seated racial and nationalist animosities could be destabilizing, leading to riots, property damage and widespread civil unrest reminiscent of the late 1960s. Two Vanderbilt University professors, William J. Collins and Robert A. Margo, documented the devastating economic impact of the 1967 race riots in a widely cited article, “The Economic Aftermath of the 1960s Riots.”

In such circumstances, collective action by business leaders is often the most effective course, as members of the president’s advisory councils appear to have decided this week. That way no one company bears the brunt of the president’s wrath.

After Mr. Trump’s comments about Charlottesville, Mr. Sonnenfeld has been among those calling for collective opposition. “Fomenting racial unrest is not in the nation’s interest and it’s not in businesses’ interest,” he said. “Divide and conquer has always been Trump’s strategy, and somehow it has worked until now. The way to take a bully down is through collective action.”

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White Supremacist Who Boasted About Being ‘Ready for Violence’ Cries Over Possible Charlottesville Arrest Warrant – Newsweek

A neo-Nazi who said he was “ready for violence” at the deadly rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, has released footage of himself weeping after learning there is allegedly a warrant out for his arrest.

Christopher Cantwell, who was followed during the gathering of neo-Nazis, KKK, white supremacists and alt-right for a 22-minute documentary for VICE, showed off his guns to journalist Elle Reeve and boasted: “I’m carrying a pistol, I go to the gym all the time, I’m trying to make myself more capable of violence.”

However, in mobile phone footage uploaded to YouTube on Wednesday, Cantwell said he was terrified after learning the police wanted to speak with him.

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“I have been told there’s a warrant out for my arrest,” he said on the video. “With everything that’s happening, I don’t think it’s very wise for me to go anywhere. There’s a state of emergency. The National Guard is here!”

[embedded content]

“I want to be peaceful. I want to be law-abiding. That was the whole entire point of this,” Cantwell continues. “I’m watching CNN talk about this as a violent, white nationalist protest. We have done everything in our power to keep this peaceful!” he added.

The neo-Nazi, who said in the VICE interview that he would like to see someone “more racist than Trump” in the White House, with his ideal candidate for president being someone who did not “give his daughter away to a Jew,” provided a contact number for police to get in touch if there was a warrant out for his arrest.

“If I can confirm you are in fact law enforcement I will give you my location and let you come and get me. I am armed, I do not want violence with you. I’m terrified, I’m afraid you’re going to kill me, I really am,” he said.

“If I gotta go to jail today, you know it won’t be the f**king first time… I honestly believe I have been law-abiding. I have been engaged in violence, I have, there’s no question about it and I’ve done nothing to hide that but it was in defense of myself and others and I would not have done it for any other reason,” he added.

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Trump Ends CEO Advisory Councils as Main Group Acts to Disband – New York Times

President Trump’s main council of top corporate leaders disbanded on Wednesday following the president’s controversial remarks in which he equated white nationalist hate groups with the protesters opposing them. Soon after, the president announced on Twitter that he would end his executive councils, “rather than put pressure” on executives.

The quick sequence began late Wednesday morning when Stephen A. Schwarzman, the chief executive of the Blackstone Group and one of Mr. Trump’s closest confidants in the business community, organized a conference call for members of the president’s Strategic and Policy Forum.

On the call, the chief executives of some of the largest companies in the country debated how to proceed.

After a discussion among a dozen prominent C.E.O.s, the decision was made to abandon the group altogether, said people with knowledge of details of the call.

The council included Laurence D. Fink of BlackRock, Ginni Rometty of IBM, Rich Lesser of the Boston Consulting Group and Toby Cosgrove of the Cleveland Clinic, among others.

Before the president’s decision to dissolve the two councils, executives from his manufacturing council were expected to have a similar call Wednesday afternoon. The manufacturing panel has seen a wave of defections since Monday, as business chiefs who had agreed to advise the president determined that his remarks left them with no choice but to walk away.

Two additional chief executives — Denise Morrison of Campbell Soup and Inge Thulin of 3M — had announced Wednesday morning they would resign from the manufacturing council.

The defections left Mr. Trump all but isolated from the business leaders whose approval he covets.

Members of the advisory group had stood with the president in recent months even as he advanced policies they vehemently opposed, including tough immigration policies and withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate accord.

But the president’s equivocating in the wake of the outburst of white nationalist violence in Charlottesville was too much for the C.E.O.s to bear.

“He had put them in a very difficult position,” said Anat R. Admati, a professor of finance and economics at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. “This has ruined his relationships with some of them.”

On Monday, after Mr. Trump’s initial response to the violence, Kenneth C. Frazier, the chief executive of drugmaker Merck, resigned from the manufacturing council. For much of the day Mr. Frazier was alone in his opposition, but that night, two more C.E.O.s, from Under Armour and Intel, left the same group.

Then on Tuesday, three leaders of labor and nonprofit business groups left the council. And in a rebuke to the president, the chief executive of Walmart made public a letter to employees in which is explicitly criticized Mr. Trump’s leadership.

Presidential advisory councils are largely ceremonial, meant to give the business community a line in with the White House. But in the Trump administration, the councils have become politically charged entities, as the executives in the groups have routinely been asked to defend the president’s unpopular opinions and policies.

Moreover, the panels have not been seen to be particularly effective. After a few high profile events for the groups early in the Mr. Trump’s presidency, there have been few meetings since, and none more are planned.

“So far they haven’t done much,” Ms. Admati said. “They had a few meetings with a bunch of fan fare, but it was more symbolic than anything else.”

Andrew Ross Sorkin and Ben Protess contributed reporting.

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The Daily 202: False moral equivalency is not a bug of Trumpism. It’s a feature. – Washington Post

With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: President Trump has a troubling tendency to blame “both sides.”

Showing that the remarks he delivered from a White House teleprompter Monday were hollow and insincere, Trump yesterday revived his initial claim that “both sides” are to blame for the horrific violence at a white supremacist rally over the weekend in Charlottesville.

Going rogue during an event at Trump Tower that was supposed to be about infrastructure, the president said there are “two sides to a story.” He then attacked counterprotesters for acting “very, very violently” as they came “with clubs in their hand” at the neo-Nazis and KKK members who were protesting the planned removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. “You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent, and nobody wants to say that,” Trump said. “Do they have any semblance of guilt? Do they have any problem? I think they do!”

The president then complained that not everyone who came to the “Unite the Right” rally was a neo-Nazi or white nationalist. “And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly,” a testy Trump said during a combative back-and-forth with reporters. (Read the full transcript here.)

These comments suggest very strongly that the president of the United States sees moral equivalence between Nazis and those who oppose Nazis. Objectively, of course, there is NO moral equivalence between Nazis and those who oppose Nazis.

But this is part of a pattern.

President Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit in Hamburg. (Evan Vucci/AP)

In a pre-Super Bowl interview on Fox, Bill O’Reilly pressed Trump on why he respected Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Putin’s a killer,” O’Reilly said, noting that he murders his political enemies and leads a repressive authoritarian regime. Trump replied without hesitation, “We got a lot of killers. What? You think our country’s so innocent?”

“Take a look at what we’ve done, too,” the president continued. “We’ve made a lot of mistakes. … So, lot of killers around, believe me.”

Trump made similarly bizarre statements about the moral equivalence between the democratic United States and autocratic Russia as a candidate.

As William F. Buckley, the founding editor of National Review, once put it: “To say that the CIA and the KGB engage in similar practices is the equivalent of saying that the man who pushes an old lady into the path of a hurtling bus is not to be distinguished from the man who pushes an old lady out of the path of a hurtling bus: on the grounds that, after all, in both cases someone is pushing old ladies around.”

Yet that’s essentially the logic Trump used yesterday.

Don’t forget: Trump compared the U.S. intelligence community to the Nazi regime earlier this year.

And the president’s first White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, used another variant of false moral equivalency when he made the insane claim that, unlike Bashar al-Assad, Adolf Hitler “didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons” during World War II. He apologized the next day. “Frankly, I mistakenly made an inappropriate and insensitive reference to the Holocaust, for which there is no comparison,” Spicer said.

President Trump reaches into his suit jacket to read a quote from his Saturday statement during his news conference yesterday. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

— Trump has often defended his own immoral behavior on the grounds that other men also behave badly, as if that somehow exonerates him. Recall how defiant he was last October after The Post published a video of him boasting in extremely lewd and predatory terms to “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush about being able to get away with groping women and propositioning other men’s wives because he is a celebrity.

“Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course — not even close,” Trump said in his initial statement. “This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago.”

In a subsequent statement, he pivoted to argue that what he did was not as bad as what the Clintons had done in the past: “I’ve said some foolish things, but there’s a big difference between the words and actions of other people. Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary (Clinton) has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims.”

The GOP nominee for president then brought women who had accused the former president of sexual misconduct as his guests to the debate in St. Louis that weekend. It was part of a broader effort to make the case, for all intents and purposes, that a lot of men are boorish pigs. Muddying the waters, as irrelevant as it might have been to questions about Trump’s personal character, allowed his campaign to survive.

That scorched-earth strategy is consistent with Trump’s response to Charlottesville.

President Ronald Reagan addresses the nation on television in 1983 to make the case for a proposed defense budget. At left is a picture of Soviet Migs in western Cuba. (Dennis Cook/AP)

— One of the many ironies in all this is that conservatives have spent decades accusing liberals of believing in the kind of both-sides-ism that Trump now routinely espouses.

In one of his most famous speeches, Ronald Reagan told the National Association of Evangelicals in 1983: “I urge you to beware the temptation of … blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire.”

Jeane Kirkpatrick’s essay on “The Myth of Moral Equivalence” is a classic of this genre. Reagan’s former ambassador to the United Nations pilloried those who argued that NATO was no better than the Warsaw Pact.

It has never gotten sufficient attention, but the year Kirkpatrick published her piece, Trump was paying to run full-page ads in The Washington Post attacking Reagan and his administration for lacking “backbone” in the realm of foreign policy. Talk about being on the wrong side of history …

The right’s disdain for both sides-ism continued through the Obama era. In 2011, Paul Ryan told the Weekly Standard: “If you ask me what the biggest problem in America is, I’m not going to tell you debt, deficits, statistics, economics — I’ll tell you it’s moral relativism.”

— “The president’s rhetorical ricochet … seemed almost perfectly designed to highlight some basic truths about Donald Trump,”observes Marc Fisher, who co-authored The Post’s “Trump Revealed” biography last year. “Hedoes not like to be told what to say. He will always find a way to pull the conversation back to himself. And he is preternaturally inclined to dance with the ones who brought him …Trump said Tuesday that Saturday’s confrontation ‘was a horrible day.’ And he made clear again that ‘the driver of the car’ that plowed into pedestrians in Charlottesville ‘is a disgrace to himself, his family and this country.’ But then the president turned to one of his favorite rhetorical tools, using casual language to strip away any definite blame, any clear moral stand, and instead send the message that nothing is certain, that everything is negotiable, that ethics are always situational. ‘You can call it terrorism,’ he said. ‘You can call it murder. You can call it whatever you want.’”

We’ve become sort of numb to Trump’s rhetoric since he rode down the escalator at Trump Tower 26 months ago and declared that Mexican immigrants are rapists, but we cannot lose perspective of just how shocking it is that an American president said what he did yesterday. This is one of the most surreal moments of Trump’s surreal presidency.

HOW IT’S PLAYING:

— A top-ranking official in Angela Merkel’s government slammed Trump’s comments in a press release that went out this morning. From Reuters: “German Justice Minister Heiko Maas on Wednesday condemned (Trump’s) latest comments … ‘It is unbearable how Trump is now glossing over the violence of the right-wing hordes from Charlottesville,’ Maas said … reflecting concern across the German political spectrum about the Trump presidency.”

— The mainstream media’s coverage is brutal:

  • Washington Post A1: Trump appeared far more passionate in defending many of the rally participants than he had in his more muted denunciation of the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis a day earlierat the White House.”
  • The Post’s Editorial Board: “The nation can only weep. … That car in Charlottesville did not kill or wound just the 20 bodies it struck. It damaged the nation. Mr. Trump not only failed to help the country heal; he made the wound wider and deeper.”
  • Philip Bump: “Trump puts a fine point on it: He sides with the alt-right in Charlottesville.”
  • David Weigel: “If some Republican candidate for state representative gave that press conference, the party would take him off the ballot.”

  • Dana Milbank: “Trump just hit a new low. … It was downright ugly. … The nationalist-turned-presidential-adviser Stephen K. Bannon used to say that the publishing outfit he led, Breitbart, was a ‘platform for the alt-right,’ a euphemism for white nationalists and related far-right extremists. But now there is a new platform for the alt-right in America: the White House. It looks more and more like the White Nationalist House. … Trump, who this week retweeted an ‘alt-right’ conspiracy theorist and ally of white supremacists, continues to employ in his White House not just Bannon and Stephen Miller, two darlings of the alt-right, but also Sebastian Gorka, who uses the platform to defend the embattled white man.”

  • New York Times A1: “[Trump] buoyed the white nationalist movement on Tuesday as no president has done in generations … Never has he gone as far in defending their actions as he did during a wild, street-corner shouting match of a news conference in the gilded lobby of Trump Tower, angrily asserting that so-called alt-left activists were just as responsible for the bloody confrontation as marchers brandishing swastikas, Confederate battle flags, anti-Semitic banners and ‘Trump/Pence’ signs.”

  • USA Today: “Former KKK leader David Duke praises Trump for his ‘courage.’”
  • Associated Press: “Racial politics haunt GOP in the Trump era.”
  • Wall Street Journal: “With New Remarks on Charlottesville, Trump Leaves Himself Isolated.”
  • Los Angeles Times: “Trump provokes new furor by giving foes of white supremacists equal blame.”

  • The Daily Beast: “For a White House that has careened from crisis point to crisis point, Trump’s performance on Tuesday was a uniquely chaotic crescendo. He had gathered the press to talk about infrastructure regulations only to find himself defending a portion of the white supremacists who had marched with tiki-torches on Friday while shouting anti-Semitic epithets. Trump often can serve as his own worst enemy. One White House official conceded … that Tuesday’s presser was a continuation of a pattern that the president follows, in which he will ‘extend the shelf life’ of a controversy because he somehow cannot help himself from talking about it. … ‘It was the president’s decision to do this,’ another White House official (said) of Trump’s free-wheeling at the press conference. Asked for a mini-review of Trump’s press conference performance, the official would only respond, ‘clean-up on aisle Trump.’”
  • CNBC’s John Harwood: The president does not share the instinctive moral revulsion most Americans feel toward white supremacists and neo-Nazis. And he feels contempt for those — like the executives — who are motivated to express that revulsion at his expense. … Trump has displayed this character trait repeatedly. It combines indifference to conventional notions of morality or propriety with disbelief that others would be motivated by them. He dismissed suggestions that it was inappropriate for his son and campaign manager to have met with Russians offering dirt on Hillary Clinton. … ‘Most people would have taken the meeting,’ he said. He called it ‘extremely unfair’ that Jeff Sessions recused himself from [the Russia investigation] after the attorney general concluded that the law required him to do so. ‘In a president, character is everything,’ Republican commentator Peggy Noonan has written. ‘You can’t buy courage and decency. You can’t rent a strong moral sense. A president must bring those things with him.’ Trump has brought other values, as today’s news conference again made clear.”
  • CNN’s Chris Cillizza“Trump’s comments … not only revealed, again, his remarkable blindness to the racial history and realities of this country, but also showed his willingness to stake out morally indefensible positions as the result of personal pique. … What Trump is doing is dangerous — for our politics and for our moral fiber. To condone white supremacists by insisting there are two sides to every coin is to take us back decades in our understanding of each other. … To do so purposely to score political points or stick it in the eye of your supposed media enemies is, frankly, despicable.”
  • The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza: “Firing Steve Bannon Won’t Change Donald Trump. … If Trump finally pushes Bannon out of the White House, the nationalist policy project will be all but dead. … Trump himself has always been more animated by the xenophobia of Bannonism than by its populist economic views. A Trump White House without Bannon will be no more radical in its coddling of far-right groups—today, Trump showed again that he needs no encouragement—but it will be more captured by the traditional small-government agenda of the G.O.P. that Bannon hoped to destroy.”

— Television news hosts reacted viscerally in real time at the end of Trump’s 23-minute presser:

  • Chuck Todd on MSNBC: “What I just saw gave me the wrong kind of chills. Honestly, I’m a bit shaken by what I just heard.”
  • Kat Timpf on Fox News: “I’m still in the phase where I’m wondering if it was actually real life. I have too much eye makeup on to start crying right now.
  • Her co-anchor Guy Benson in the 5 p.m. hour added that Trump “lost me” when he said some “very fine people” participated in the white supremacist rally: “They were chanting things like, ‘Jews will not replace us.’ There’s nothing good about that.”
  • Jake Tapper on CNN: “Wow, that was something else.”

— Responsible conservative thought leaders were aghast: 

  • Post columnist Charles Krauthammer declared on Fox last night: “What Trump did today was a moral disgrace.
  • National Review’s David French argues that Trump gave the alt-right its “greatest media moment ever”: “To understand the significance of Trump’s words, you have to understand a bit about the alt-right. While its members certainly march with Nazis and make common cause with neo-Confederates, it views itself as something different. They’re the ‘intellectual’ adherents to white identity politics. They believe their movement is substantially different and more serious than the Klansmen of days past. When Trump carves them away from the Nazis and distinguishes them from the neo-Confederates, he’s doing exactly what they want. He’s making them respectable. He’s making them different. But ‘very fine people’ don’t march with tiki torches chanting ‘blood and soil’ or ‘Jews will not replace us.’”
  • Commentary Magazine Editor John Podhoretz tweeted: “There were not ‘very fine people on both sides’ in Charlottesville. No one on the Nazi side was fine. Every one of them is a monster.

— Multiple right-wing news sites deleted articles from January that encouraged readers to drive into protesters: “Originally published by The Daily Caller and later syndicated or aggregated by several other websites, including Fox Nation, an offshoot of Fox News’ website, it carried an unsubtle headline: ‘Here’s A Reel Of Cars Plowing Through Protesters Trying To Block The Road.’ Embedded in the article was a minute-and-a-half long video showing one vehicle after another driving through demonstrations,” CNN reports. “The footage was set to a cover of Ludacris’ ‘Move B****.’ … The article … drew renewed attention on Tuesday following this weekend’s deadly incident in Charlottesville. As the outrage grew on Twitter, Fox News took action, deleting the version Fox Nation had published.”

— Did Trump get his George Washington and Thomas Jefferson line from Fox News? “The night before the president’s press conference, Fox’s Martha MacCallum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich discussed the same thing,” BuzzFeed notes

— Doubling down: The White House press office last night distributed these suggested talking points to friendly surrogates: The President was entirely correct — both sides of the violence in Charlottesville acted inappropriately, and bear some responsibility. … We should not overlook the facts just because the media finds them inconvenient: From cop killing and violence at political rallies, to shooting at Congressmen at a practice baseball game, extremists on the left have engaged in terrible acts of violence.” (The Atlantic’s Molly Ball posted the full document.)

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— Late-night hosts didn’t just have a field day. They felt obligated to also take a more somber approach to Trump’s comments.

Dispensing with his usual monologue jokes, Jimmy Kimmel offered a serious, 12-minute plea to Trump’s voters on ABC last night: “Every day there’s something nuts. But you’ve been trying to ignore it because you don’t want to admit to these smug, annoying liberals that they were right. That’s the last thing you want to do. But the truth is deep down inside you know you made a mistake. You know you picked the wrong guy. And it isn’t getting better. It’s getting worse. … Well, now he does need to go. So it’s time for especially you who voted for him to tell him to go. Please. Think about it.” (Emily Yahr)

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— Stephen Colbert on CBSmocked Trump’s claim that the reason he waited two days to properly respond to the violence was because he needed all the facts first. “I wait for the facts, okay?” Colbert said in his Trump voice. “Just ask the millions of illegal voters who refused to look for Obama’s birth certificate during my record breaking inauguration, okay? It’s all on the Obama wiretaps.”

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 — “President Trump this afternoon gave a press conference that can only be described as clinically insane,” Seth Meyers said on NBC. Later in the show, Meyers recognized some of the unsung heroes from Charlottesville – including an African American Virginia state trooper who tried to keep the peace. (Watch here.)

Donald Trump greets Paul Ryan in May. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

— Top Republicans quickly distanced themselves from the president’s comments:

  • Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.): “We must be clear. White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity.”
  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla), who battled Trump in the 2016 primaries, went on a tweetstorm: “The organizers of events which inspired & led to #charlottesvilleterroristattack are 100% to blame for a number of reasons. They are adherents of an evil ideology which argues certain people are inferior because of race, ethnicity or nation of origin. … These groups today use SAME symbols & same arguments of #Nazi & #KKK, groups responsible for some of worst crimes against humanity ever. Mr. President, you can’t allow #WhiteSupremacists to share only part of blame. They support idea which cost nation & world so much pain. The #WhiteSupremacy groups will see being assigned only 50% of blame as a win. We cannot allow this old evil to be resurrected.”
  • Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee: “I don’t understand what’s so hard about this. White supremacists and Neo-Nazis are evil and shouldn’t be defended.”
  • Rep. Will Hurd (R-Tex.): “Apologize. Racism, bigotry, anti-Semitism, of any form is unacceptable. And the leader of the free world should be unambiguous about that.”
  • Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio): “Let’s get real. There is no moral equivalency to Nazi sympathizers. There can be no room in America — or the Republican party — for racism, anti-Semitism, hate or white nationalism. Period.”
  • Mitt Romney: “No, not the same. One side is racist, bigoted, Nazi. The other opposes racism and bigotry. Morally different universes.”

— But, but, but: Actions will speak louder than words. And GOP congressional leaders are not rushing to hold hearings on the resurgence of white supremacy. So far, they are ignoring the pleas of Democrats. Politico’s Kyle Cheney and Rachael Bade report: “[T]he House Judiciary Committee, which oversees the Department of Justice’s handling of domestic terrorism, has no immediate plans to schedule one, aides say. The House Homeland Security Committee is lumping the issue into an annual ‘global threats’ hearing scheduled sometime in September. … Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has no plans to call for one focused on the events in Charlottesville. GOP leaders, meanwhile, aren’t leaning on their allies to hold public sessions or launch inquiries. … GOP sources suggested it might be too early to tell whether Congress should get involved. And some question what tangible action Congress could take to help the situation, aside from calling public attention to the issue through hearings.”

Sen. Brian Schatz in his office. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

— Many elected Democrats cited the news conference to argue that Trump is no longer a legitimate president and/or should be removed from office:

  • Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii): “As a Jew, as an American, as a human, words cannot express my disgust and disappointment. This is not my president.”
  • Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.): “My Republican friends, I implore you to work with us within our capacity as elected officials to remove this man as our commander-in-chief. For the sake of the soul of our country, we must come together to restore our national dignity that has been robbed by [Trump’s] presence in the White House.”
  • Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.): “FYI, after today, White House staff have effectively been folded into the white supremacy propaganda operation. Your choice — stay or go.”
  • Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.): “No more dog whistle, now a megaphone used by the President to message approval for violent hate groups.”

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

Luther Strange speaks to reporters last night in Homewood after forcing a runoff against Roy Moore in the Alabama GOP Senate primary. (Butch Dill/AP)

— Appointed Sen. Luther Strange will now face conservative judge Roy Moore in a September runoff to determine the Republican Senate nominee in Alabama, after no candidate secured more than 50 percent of the vote yesterday.David Weigel reports: “Democrats, who have not won a Senate race in Alabama since 1992, nominated former U.S. attorney Doug Jones over a field of fringe candidates. On the Republican side, Moore, with nearly 40 percent of the vote, was in first place with more than 90 percent of votes counted. Strange — who was appointed in February to temporarily fill the seat (vacated by Jeff Sessions) — was second with 32 percent, and [Rep. Mo] Brooks was third with 20 percent. … Strange now faces the challenge of needing to continue to court Trump’s supporters during a six-week runoff campaign even as the national appetite for aligning with the president has diminished. … Alabama Republicans, who during the Obama years drove Democrats to near-extinction, were operating as if the winner of their primary and runoff would glide toward victory.”

“Mr. Moore predicted a wave of ‘the most negative campaign ads in the history of Alabama,’ and he leveled sharp attacks against Republican leaders,”the New York Times’s Jonathan Martin and Alan Binder report. “Tuesday’s results, he said, showed that ‘the attempt by the silk-stockinged Washington elitists to control the vote of the people of Alabama has failed.’ … [Strange] offered a preview of his message for the runoff by repeatedly highlighting Mr. Trump’s support and borrowing his slogan. ‘What it all boils down to is: Who’s best suited to stand with the people of this country, with our president, and make sure we make America great again?’ … The runoff will effectively hinge on what Alabama Republicans are more uneasy with: Mr. Strange, an appointed senator many believe has been foisted upon them by state and national party insiders, or Mr. Moore, a highly controversial jurist who was once taken off the bench after he refused to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the Supreme Court building.”

— Trump appeared to hedge his bets on the Strange endorsement in a tweet this morning:

Congratulation to Roy Moore and Luther Strange for being the final two and heading into a September runoff in Alabama. Exciting race!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2017

— In Utah, Provo Mayor John Curtis won the GOP nomination to fill Jason Chaffetz’s House seat. Mike DeBonis reports: “Curtis is now well positioned in Utah’s conservative 3rd congressional District ahead of the Nov. 7 general election, where he will face a Democrat and several third-party candidates. … Although the race generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in spending and unusually heated political attacks in a state known for its relatively subdued politics, it has flown under the national political radar — largely because President Trump has not been a major factor in the contest. Unlike other House races decided this year, Democrats are not seriously contesting the heavily GOP district, and unlike in Tuesday’s Senate primary in Alabama, the Republican candidates’ postures toward Trump have not been a crucial factor.”

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. Fentanyl-related overdose deaths increased by nearly 600 percent over just two years. The man-made narcotic is particularly causing a problem in urban centers. (Nicole Lewis, Emma Ockerman, Joel Achenbach and Wesley Lowery)

  2. A federal judge rejected a request from the author of the infamous Trump dossier to avoid testifying. Russian businessman Aleksej Gubarev is suing Buzzfeed for libel after the online news outlet published an unabridged version of the dossier. Gubarev wants to depose its author, Christopher Steele, as part of the case. (Politico)

  3. Oregon has approved a sweeping expansion of access to abortion and birth control. A new law requires insurers to provide both without a co-pay and allows noncitizens to receive reproductive health services with state funding. (Sandhya Somashekhar)

  4. The Texas House adjourned its special session without taking up a controversial “bathroom bill.” Moderate Republicans killed the measure, which would have required transgender citizens to use facilities corresponding to their sex at birth. (Reuters)

  5. Federal judges ruled that two Texas congressional districts are unconstitutionally drawn. A three-judge panel said that the House districts, one of which was deemed “an impermissible racial gerrymander,” had to be redrawn by the state Legislature or a federal court. (Texas Tribune)

  6. South African officials said they will seek charges against Zimbabwe’s first lady Grace Mugabe, after she allegedly assaulted a 20-year-old model using an extension cord. (Max Bearak)

  7. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) was arrested outside the White Houseas he participated in a rally to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the DACA program. (The Hill)

  8. Ninety-one previously unknown volcanoes were discovered underneath west Antarctica. They aren’t likely to melt the continent’s ice sheet by themselves, but ice that is already melting could set off an eruption and begin a very dangerous cycle. (Avi Selk)

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka leaves the White House in 2013. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

MORE DEFECTIONS:

— AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka announced after Trump’s news conference that both he and Thea Lee, the deputy chief of staff, are leaving the president’s manufacturing council. “We cannot sit on a council for a president who tolerates bigotry and domestic terrorism,” Trumka said in a statement. “President Trump’s remarks today repudiate his forced remarks yesterday about the KKK and neo-Nazis. We must resign on behalf of America’s working people, who reject all notions of legitimacy of these bigoted groups.” He was joined by Scott Paul, the president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, who explained in a tweet: “I’m resigning from the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative because it’s the right thing for me to do.”

— Walmart chief executive Douglas McMillon criticized Trump in a letter to the retailer’s 1.5 million employees, saying that he “missed a critical opportunity to help bring our country together by unequivocally rejecting the appalling actions of white supremacists.” But he plans to remain on the council. (Abha Bhattarai)

— “Some companies on the council … do substantial business with the government, adding another complex dynamic to their calculations. But the consensus among business leaders was that the risks of crossing Mr. Trump had diminished in recent months,” the New York Times notes. “The risk calculus has changed dramatically,” said Scott Galloway, a professor at New York University’s business school. “Yes, you may risk a tweet from Trump. But his tweets are increasingly flaccid.”

THE RAPIDLY SHIFTING DEBATE OVER CONFEDERATE STATUES:

— Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland recommended the removal of a State House statue of Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney, who defended slavery in the 1857 Dred Scott decision. Ovetta Wiggins reports: “‘While we cannot hide from our history — nor should we — the time has come to make clear the difference between properly acknowledging our past and glorifying the darkest chapters of our history,’ Hogan said in a statement. ‘I believe removing the Justice Roger B. Taney statue from the State House grounds is the right thing to do.’ The decision, which comes after the deadly rally of white nationalists in Charlottesville over the weekend, is a reversal for Hogan. Last year, the governor said he had ‘no interest’ in removing Taney’s statue, and he described calls for the removal of statues and other Confederate monuments as ‘political correctness run amok.’

— The city of Baltimore removed its Confederate statues in the wee hours of this morning. The New York Times’s Russell Goldman reports: “Beginning soon after midnight on Wednesday, a crew, which included a large crane and a contingent of police officers, began making rounds of the city’s parks and public squares, tearing the monuments from their pedestals and carting them out of town. Small crowds gathered at each of the monuments and the mood was ‘celebratory,’ said Baynard Woods, the editor at large of The Baltimore City Paper, who documented the removals on Twitter. … The statues were taken down by order of Mayor Catherine Pugh, after the City Council voted on Monday for their removal.”

— A woman was arrested in connection with the toppling of a Confederate statue in Durham, N.C. The sheriff said Tuesday that his department has video from the protests and plans to use footage to find other suspects. (CNN)

— North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) wrote a Medium post on this subject: “Some people cling to the belief that the Civil War was fought over states’ rights. But history is not on their side. We cannot continue to glorify a war against the United States of America fought in the defense of slavery. These monuments should come down.”

— Noth Carolina is one of four states that has passed laws in recent years to make it harder for local jurisdictions to get rid of Confederate statues. The others are Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee. (Axios’s Haley Britzky)

— Not all of the Confederate memorials are located in former Confederate states. “About 8 percent of the memorials to the Confederacy that were indexed by the [Southern Poverty Law Center] are in states that fought for the Union in the Civil War,” Philip Bump reports, “though most of those memorials are in states that were on the border with the Confederacy — and that allowed slave ownership.”

— And some of the most famous Confederate statues sit smack dab in the U.S. Capitol — and there are no plans to remove them. Politico’s Elana Schor reports: “[Robert E.] Lee is among the 10 Confederates whose statues remain in the Capitol, lionizing a slaveholding era and sparking calls this week from some House Democrats to rid the building of their likenesses. The Capitol’s Confederate statues are part of the National Statuary Hall Collection, created more than 150 years ago as a means to represent two citizens of each state under the dome. Even as multiple other cities follow Charlottesville in pursuing removal of their Confederate monuments, however, only a handful of Democrats have so far called for the statues’ replacement[.] … [Paul] Ryan spokesman Doug Andres affirmed Tuesday that House GOP leaders would leave it up to individual states to decide whether to replace Confederate statues: ‘These are decisions for those states to make,’ he said.”

Tadrint and Micah Washington have filed a lawsuit against organizers of the “Unite the Right” rally. (Arelis R. Hernandez/The Washington Post)

THE FALLOUT IN CHARLOTTESVILLE:

— Two women injured during the chaos surrounding the rally in Charlottesville have filed a $3 million lawsuit against individuals they say were the organizers and name more than two-dozen right-wing and neo-Nazi groups, accusing them of inciting violence. From Arelis R. Hernández: “Sisters Tadrint and Micah Washington were headed home in their car Aug. 12 when they turned down an open Charlottesville side street where counterprotesters were marching. Within minutes, a Dodge Challenger slammed into the crowd and rammed into the rear of their car, causing a chain-reaction crash that killed one and injured 19 others. … The Washington sisters were not participating in the protests and had been visiting a friend when they got caught in a maze of detours. Lawyers for the Washingtons — Tadrint, 27, who recently finished EMT training, and Micah, 20, who works in the hospitality industry — say at the point their car was hit, they had nowhere to move as bodies flipped over them and onto their vehicle’s windshield. Their car was splattered with blood, and emergency personnel tried to revive Heyer, a 32-year-old counterprotester from Charlottesville, a few inches away.”

— The helicopter involved in the crash that killed two Virginia State Police officers this weekend as they surveilled the white supremacist rally had crashed once before in 2010,after it lost power during a training flight. It is unclear whether the incidents are related, but officials said the earlier crash will be considered as part of their broader investigation. (Lori Aratani)

— The University of Virginia’s president defended the response to last weekend’s white nationalist marchers. Susan Svrluga reports: “U-Va. President Teresa Sullivan wrote to the campus community that law enforcement learned Friday afternoon that a protest was planned at the Rotunda, and officers were staged along the route that the white nationalist group said it would walk. But the group took another route and turned onto the Lawn, Sullivan wrote. She wrote that law enforcement stepped in within minutes of the violence and ordered people to disperse.”

— A student newspaper editor who had originally argued that the city of Charlottesville should allow the alt-right to march admits in a new column, “I was wrong.” “It was naïve of me to not take their threats seriously,” incoming sophomore Brendan Novak added in an interview with The Post. “You could see it coming…it wasn’t hard to predict.” (Samantha Schmidt)

Vanity Fair’s Sarah Ellison writes on how Charlottesville became “ground zero for white supremacy”: “Charlottesville may always look pretty on the outside, but as someone who attended U.Va., and recently reported on the school, it’s actually a sadly predictable location for the biggest and bloodiest white supremacist rally the nation has seen in decades. Charlottesville is perhaps one of the most liberal towns in the South. It is also one of the whitest.”

— Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called on the Trump administration to form a task force on the threat posed by white supremacist groups and urged Jeff Sessions to go to Charlottesville and “personally handle domestic terrorism investigations.” (Charleston Post and Courier)

— “Weeks before a violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville … the Trump administration revoked a grant to Life After Hate, a group that works to de-radicalize neo-Nazis,” the Huffington Post reports. “The Department of Homeland Security had awarded the group $400,000 as part of its Countering Violent Extremism program in January, just days before Barack Obama left office. It was the only group selected for a grant that focused exclusively on fighting white supremacy. But the grant money was not immediately disbursed. Trump aides, including Katharine Gorka, a controversial national security analyst known for her anti-Muslim rhetoric, were already working toward eliminating Life After Hate’s grant and to direct all funding toward fighting what the president has described as ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’ … DHS also revoked funding from the Muslim Public Affairs Council, an American Muslim advocacy organization that was told in January it would receive a $393,800 grant to create community resource centers throughout the country.”

White nationalist groups march with Tiki torches through the University of Virginia campus last Friday night. (Mykal McEldowney/The Indianapolis Star via AP)

A DIVIDED AMERICA:

— What exactly is “the alt-left,” which Trump said deserves some of the blame for what went down in Charlottesville? Alex Horton explains: “The term alt-left or violent left has been used by some on the right to describe anti-Trump protesters and Black Lives Matter activists. But it has been used most often for ‘anti-fascist’ groups, also known as antifa, that have mobilized to confront right-wing gatherings, sometimes escalating to violence. … Antifa activists vandalized property and committed acts of violence on Inauguration Day in Washington and during protests at the University of California at Berkeley over a planned speech by then-Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos. Their actions have been relatively isolated, focused on disrupting white nationalist rallies. However, ‘Leftist violence’ has become a part of how right-wing media discusses Trump’s opponents[.] … Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association has shifted its mission and language to appear as a line of defense against what it calls ‘the violent left,’ spinning images of anarchists bringing peaceful democracy down.”

— Free speech protests that were planned at Google locations across the United States were postponed last night due to supposed threats from “left-wing terrorists.” Elizabeth Dwoskin reports: “‘The Peaceful March on Google has been postponed due to credible Alt Left terrorist threats for the safety of our citizen participants,’ organizers wrote on a blog post on the protest’s website. … The rally’s organizer, Jack Posobiec, is an alt-right activist and self-described ‘reality journalist’ who used conspiracy theories to galvanize Trump supporters during the presidential campaign, including the infamous ‘Pizzagate’ rumors of child trafficking. … In his blog post announcing the postponement, Posbiec blamed the mainstream media, and in particular CNN, for making ‘malicious and false statements that our peaceful march was being organized by Nazy sympathizers.’ He said that someone had threatened to use a vehicle to drive into the march. … But Posobiec was also facing pressure to postpone the march from other members of far-right movements, who said that it was ill-timed.”

— “Less than 24 hours after Texas A&M University officials canceled his plans to hold a rally on a university plaza, white nationalist Preston Wiginton indicated Tuesday that he is planning to sueand remains determined to hold some kind of event on or near the College Station campus,”the Texas Tribune’s Matthew Watkins reports. “Wiginton said he is considering leading a march on a public street through the university instead of his originally scheduled ‘White Lives Matter’ rally. A&M officials said they axed the planned Sept. 11 event out of safety concerns. But Wiginton said he didn’t buy that reasoning. ‘Their real fear is the fear of words,’ he said. … When Wiginton announced his original plans, he did so with a press release headlined ‘CHARLOTTESVILLE TODAY TEXAS A&M TOMORROW.’ A&M officials cited that headline in their decision to cancel the event, suggesting it invoked the possibility of violence.”

— An assistant principal lost his job after writing a children’s book with Pepe the frog as the protagonist. The plot includes the alt-right symbol Pepe facing off against a bearded alligator by the name of “Alkah.” (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)

The Congressional Budget Office on the fourth floor of the Ford House Office Building. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

THE CBO STRIKES AGAIN:

— According to a report issued yesterday by the Congressional Budget Office, if Trump ends cost-sharing payments to health insurers, premiums will increase by 20 percent, and the federal government will lose an additional $194 billion over 10 years. The New York Times’s Robert Pear and Thomas Kaplan report: “The nonpartisan budget office has now quantified the cost of [Trump’s threats to end the payments] and potentially handed Democrats a weapon to force Congress and the administration to keep the money flowing. ‘Try to wriggle out of his responsibilities as he might, the C.B.O. report makes clear that if President Trump refuses to make these payments, he will be responsible for American families paying more for less care,’ the Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, said. ‘He’s the president and the ball is in his court — American families await his action.’”

— Even amid Trump’s threats, the Obamacare exchanges are proving resilient, with 14 previously “bare” Nevada counties picking up an insurer yesterday. The Hill’s Jessie Hellmann reports: “SilverSummit Healthplan has agreed to fill Nevada’s 14 ‘bare’ counties that were slated to have no insurers on the ObamaCare exchanges next year.  SilverSummit, a subsidiary of Centene, announced the decision at a press conference with Gov. Brian Sandoval (R). Those 14 rural counties became in danger of having no insurers in 2018 after Anthem announced it wouldn’t sell ObamaCare plans next year in Nevada.  Unless something changes, SilverSummit and Health Plan of Nevada will be the only two companies selling ObamaCare plans in the state next year.”

— Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, faced angry town halls yesterday over his vote to repeal Obamacare. Politico’s Rachana Pradhan: “While Gardner’s constituents in this purple state applauded him for his swift and strong condemnation of white supremacist groups this weekend, he was interrupted by boos and jeers of ‘shame’ and was called a ‘liar’ as he defended his support for health care legislation that would have significantly scaled back Obamacare and Medicaid. … Gardner also held town halls in Colorado Springs and Lakewood, where he shot down repeated calls to support a single-payer universal health care system favored by progressives. Meanwhile, he also faced criticism from Republicans who urged him to fulfill the party’s promise to repeal and replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions promises to go after leaks during an Aug. 4 news conference. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

TRUMP’S DOMESTIC AGENDA:

— “The Justice Department under [Sessions] has effectively blocked the Drug Enforcement Administration from taking action on more than two dozen requests to grow marijuana to use in research, one of a number of areas in which the anti-drug agency is at odds with the Trump administration,”Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett report. “A year ago, the DEA began accepting applications to grow more marijuana for research, and as of this month, had 25 proposals to consider. But DEA officials said they need the Justice Department’s sign-off to move forward. So far, the department has not been willing to provide it. A year ago, the DEA began accepting applications to grow more marijuana for research, and as of this month, had 25 proposals to consider. But DEA officials said they need the Justice Department’s sign-off to move forward. So far, the department has not been willing to provide it. As a result, said one senior DEA official, ‘the Justice Department has effectively shut down this program to increase research registrations.’”

— The president signed an executive order yesterday that aims to streamline the approval process for infrastructure projects by sidestepping certain environmental requirements. Darryl Fears and Steven Mufson report: “Trump said that the approval process for projects was ‘badly broken’ and that the nation’s infrastructure was a ‘massive self-inflicted wound on our country.’ Trump said that ‘no longer’ would there be ‘one job-killing delay after another’ for new projects. … The White House confirmed that the order issued Tuesday would revoke an earlier executive order by [Obama]. … Obama’s Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, established in 2015, sought to mitigate the risk of flood damage charged to taxpayers when property owners file costly claims. Climate scientists warn that sea levels will rise substantially in the coming decades, and they say that long-term infrastructure projects will probably face more frequent and serious flood risks.”

— NAFTA renegotiations kick off today. The Wall Street Journal’s Paul Vieira, William Mauldin and Anthony Harrup report: “Under Nafta, the U.S., Mexico and Canada have resolved tariff conflicts by submitting them to expert panels that can sustain or overturn tariffs. The system has helped guide the trilateral relationship for 23 years. Now the U.S. wants to do away with those dispute-resolution panels, while Canada is digging in on its insistence that they are a crucial tool for Canadian firms to use to fight tariffs imposed by its powerful southern neighbor. Mexican senators have also called for retaining the mechanism. Though the system for resolving tariff disputes is only one of many issues that U.S. officials are expected to put on the table in the talks that begin Wednesday in Washington, it is a particularly divisive one.”

— “Trump tried to save their jobs. These workers are quitting anyway,” by Danielle Paquette: “Kipp Glenn grew tired of standing for eight-hour shifts … [and] his knees ached from 25 years on the concrete factory floor. So even after [Trump] made his job at Carrier a symbol of American prosperity and vowed to save it, the Indiana native took a buyout. ‘What we want to call ‘blue-collar jobs’ are on the way out,’ he said. At a time when the Trump administration argues that creating manufacturing jobs is a critical national goal … many factory workers are making a surprising decision: They’re quitting. Government data shows workers in the sector are giving up their jobs at the fastest pace in a decade. That’s a powerful sign, economists say, that workers think they can find work elsewhere. Leaving steady work, of course, carries risks. … And there is no guarantee that these workers, who often possess just a high school diploma, will not encounter new challenges in an economy that favors those with more education.  Still, analysts say, the increase of people departing reflects a healthy adjustment in an industry that is likely to shrink as technology advances.”

Vice President Pence and Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri talk yesterday at the presidential residence in Olivos, Buenos Aires. (Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images)

THE NEW WORLD ORDER:

— Vice President Pence praised Argentina and further rebuked Venezuela during an appearance in Buenos Aires yesterday. Philip Rucker reports: “Delivering the centerpiece speech of his week-long visit to South and Central America, Pence on Tuesday declared ‘the dawn of a new era in the New World.’ He carried a message of unity here to Buenos Aires and promoted economic and security ties between the Trump administration and Argentine President Mauricio Macri’s government. … Pence singled out one exception: Venezuela, the South American country where President Nicolás Maduro has precipitated an economic collapse and drawn international scorn by cracking down on dissent and asserting his autocratic rule. ‘Venezuela is sliding into dictatorship, and as President Donald Trump has said, the United States will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles,’ Pence said.”

— China is encouraging the U.S. and North Korea to “hit the brakes” on their escalating tensions. The AP’s Christopher Bodeen reports: “Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a phone conversation with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that the two countries should work together to contain tensions and permit no one to ‘stir up an incident on their doorstep,’ according to a statement posted on the Chinese foreign ministry’s website. … On Wednesday, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, continued a visit to China following talks the day before with his Chinese counterpart that touched on North Korea. No details of the talks have been released. Dunford on Tuesday told Fang Fenghui, chief of the People’s Liberation Army’s joint staff department, that the sides had ‘many difficult issues’ between them but were willing to deal with them through dialogue.”

— “Can the United States play North Korea against China?” by Josh Rogin: “For decades, the United States has been trying to get China to use its influence and power to isolate North Korea. Now, experts are asking, why doesn’t the United States try working with North Korea to isolate China? That could be a game changer not just for the North Korea crisis but for the entire region. … The time might be right to approach Kim with a better deal for his regime and his people by offering him a grand bargain that would take North Korea away from China and bring it into the camp of the United States and its allies. It’s a difficult gambit, for sure. But even if the United States can’t peel North Korea fully away from its chief sponsor state, opening that avenue of diplomacy might still be useful toward breaking the stalemate between Washington and Pyongyang.”

— On North Korea, Japan’s Shinzo Abe has been Trump’s most consistent ally. The Wall Street Journal’s Peter Landers reports: “Shinzo Abe is the type of leader to repeat talking points in measured words, while Mr. Trump is known for issuing aggressive statements unpredictably. On substance, however, they are in the same place, a reflection both of Japan’s dependence on U.S. military might in the event of a conflict and of Mr. Abe’s personal frustration with Pyongyang, which mirrors Mr. Trump’s. … The Japanese leader’s refusal to let any daylight come between him and Mr. Trump contrasts with other leaders who have hinted at unease with Mr. Trump’s language, including his threat last week to bring ‘fire and fury’ on North Korea. … But like Mr. Trump, Mr. Abe blames North Korean intransigence for the impasse.”

— “Rex Tillerson highlighted abuses committed by the Islamic State group and Iran as he released a new survey Tuesday of religious rights and freedoms around the world,” Anne Gearan and Carol Morello report. “Tillerson called out some important partners, such as Bahrain, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey in brief remarks introducing the annual report[.] …  He devoted the most attention to the Islamic State, however, accusing the group of targeted, religiously motivated atrocities against Christians and minority sects. The Obama administration had accused the Islamic State of genocide, and Tillerson endorsed that position Tuesday. … Criticizing Iran, Tillerson pointed to persecution of religious minorities and said that country had carried out executions last year under ‘vague apostasy laws.’”

— While meeting with sailors aboard the USS Kentucky last week, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis gave an off-color assessment about those who don’t serve. Dan Lamothe reports: “‘You’ll miss [being in the Navy] like the dickens, and you’ll be changed for the better for the rest of your life,’ said Mattis, who retired as a four-star Marine general in 2013. … ‘That means you’re living. That means you’re not some p— sitting on the sidelines, you know what I mean, kind of sitting there saying, ‘Well, I should have done something with my life.’ … It took a couple days, but the Defense Department has now released the unedited transcript, and it generated both positive and negative attention Tuesday on social media. … Dana White, a spokesman for Mattis, described the exchange with the sailors as an example of the secretary’s ‘unique way of connecting with his audience.’”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

— Trump retweeted – then deleted – an image of a train running over a CNN reporter yesterday morning. It was widely seen as inappropriate in the wake of the Charlottesville rally, where a man barreled his car at speed into a crowd of counterprotesters. (David Nakamura and Aaron C. Davis have more on the reaction.)

— Here are a few of the many tweets from elected Republicans in response to Trump’s remarks that there were “some very fine people” at the Charlottesville rally:

A congressman from Michigan:

“Very fine people” do not participate in rallies with groups chanting racist and anti-Semitic slogans and displaying vile symbols of hate.

— Justin Amash (@justinamash) August 15, 2017

North Carolina’s senator, who will face a tough 2020 reelection fight:

When it comes to white supremacists & neo-nazis, there can be no equivocating: they’re propagators of hate and bigotry. Period.

— Senator Thom Tillis (@SenThomTillis) August 15, 2017

Arizona’s senior senator, battling brain cancer:

There’s no moral equivalency between racists & Americans standing up to defy hate& bigotry. The President of the United States should say so

— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) August 16, 2017

Arizona’s junior senator:

Jeff Flake: “We cannot accept excuses for white supremacy and acts of domestic terrorism. We must condemn them. Period.” pic.twitter.com/uhfS3U8crI

— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 15, 2017

Kansas’s senator:

White supremacy, bigotry & racism have absolutely no place in our society & no one – especially POTUS – should ever tolerate it. Full STMT: pic.twitter.com/dufC1MGWgB

— Jerry Moran (@JerryMoran) August 15, 2017

A Northern Virginia congresswoman facing a tough reelection fight next year:

Mr. President, there were not “very fine people” on the NeoNazi, white supremacist side; only haters. Grateful DOJ understands this. https://t.co/MDmYPcUP5h

— Barbara Comstock (@BarbaraComstock) August 15, 2017

A retiring Florida congresswoman:

Blaming “both sides” for #Charlottesville?! No. Back to relativism when dealing with KKK, Nazi sympathizers, white supremacists? Just no.

— Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (@RosLehtinen) August 15, 2017

The GOP nominee for governor of Virginia and a former RNC chair:

The white supremacists and neoNazis who invaded cville espouse reprehensible views that have no redeeming value whatsoever. Simple as that.

— Ed Gillespie (@EdWGillespie) August 15, 2017

Newly hired RNC spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany had the temerity to defend Trump’s comments‏:  

President @realDonaldTrump once again denounced hate today. The GOP stands behind his message of love and inclusiveness!

— Kayleigh McEnany (@kayleighmcenany) August 15, 2017

Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage praised Trump’s point that George Washington owned slaves:

I am very pleased @POTUS had made this point. We must not rewrite American history to suit the hard left. https://t.co/kgVFgrYL3A

— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) August 15, 2017

That drew this rejoinder from a historian:

As a George Washington biographer…I really don’t feel like correcting Trump is worth my time.

— Alexis Coe (@AlexisCoe) August 15, 2017

From the commandant of the Marine Corps: 

No place for racial hatred or extremism in @USMC. Our core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment frame the way Marines live and act.

— Robert B. Neller (@GenRobertNeller) August 15, 2017

Democrats were blistering. From Obama’s former “ethics czar”:

Trump’s comments just now were the single most disgraceful by an American president in my lifetime.

— Norm Eisen (@NormEisen) August 15, 2017

Obama’s former deputy chief of staff: 

I believe deeply in public service but any senior staff who don’t quit over this will never outlive their legacy of supporting hate speech

— Alyssa Mastromonaco (@AlyssaMastro44) August 15, 2017

The former spokesman for the Obama Justice Department:

Quite possibly the worst thing he has ever said. The white supremacists who were there heard him loud and clear. And so did the rest of us. https://t.co/QsuC7UWnWS

— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) August 15, 2017

A senior adviser to Obama:

Republican Party: This is on you, you did this, and only you can do something about this

— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) August 15, 2017

Democratic senators harshly rebuked Trump:

There are not ‘many sides’ to blame for #Charlottesville. There is right and wrong. White nationalism, hatred and bigotry are wrong. -SB

— Sherrod Brown (@SenSherrodBrown) August 15, 2017

.@realDonaldTrump, you are embarrassing our country and the millions of Americans who fought and died to defeat Nazism.

— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) August 15, 2017

Off prompter and in his own words, the president gives comfort to white supremacists and neo-Nazis. Absolutely horrifying.

— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) August 15, 2017

Mr. President – Heather Heyer was not murdered by “both sides.”

— Sen. Patrick Leahy (@SenatorLeahy) August 15, 2017

From House Democrats:

If @realDonaldTrump wants to fight white supremacy, he should do three simple things:

1) #FireBannon
2) #FireGorka
3) #FireMiller

— David Cicilline (@davidcicilline) August 15, 2017

.@realDonaldTrump just defended the KKK, neo-nazis, & domestic terrorists in #Charlottesville. Disgrace to the office of the presidency. https://t.co/a4sJGto5Ny

— Rep. Joe Crowley (@repjoecrowley) August 15, 2017

.@realDonaldTrump: “Both sides” did not wield torches, swastikas, and drive a car into a crowd, killing a woman. https://t.co/gqeTLpzfBY

— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) August 15, 2017

Dear @realDonaldTrump: Yes there were both sides in #Charlottesville. The Nazi side & the side opposing the Nazis. You’re on the wrong side. https://t.co/jtaZnoLqLl

— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) August 15, 2017

From a Brookings fellow:

When determining whether or not the president is a racist, I’ll defer to the professional racists, who very much seem to think he is.

— Jamie Kirchick 🌹 (@jkirchick) August 15, 2017

From the editor of Wired Magazine:

The weird thing about “both sides” isn’t just that one side is Nazis—but also that they killed someone.

— Nicholas Thompson (@nxthompson) August 15, 2017

Trump said he didn’t put out a strong statement on Saturday because he always waits to learn all the facts before he comments on something. He doesn’t have a history of doing that:

Trump: Before I make a statement, I like to know the facts.” pic.twitter.com/mYjox85xGY

— Carrie Dann (@CarrieNBCNews) August 15, 2017

Hollywood celebrities piled on:

Trump just said there were “very fine people on both sides” in #Charlottesville. I don’t know any “very fine” white supremacists, sir. None.

— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) August 15, 2017

Just watched the entire Trump news conference. Worst message I have ever heard a president put out to the world.

— Ben Stiller (@RedHourBen) August 16, 2017

I fought Nazis in World War II. They aren’t “very fine people,” @realDonaldTrump. #Charlottesvillehttps://t.co/IS5J5x0oI9

— Norman Lear (@TheNormanLear) August 15, 2017

When it comes to love, kindness, acceptance and progress, I believe there is only one side.

— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) August 15, 2017

Every past president that is still alive needs to come forward now and denounce Trump and advocate for him being declared unfit for office.

— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) August 15, 2017

Even basketball star LeBron James weighed in:

Hate has always existed in America. Yes we know that but Donald Trump just made it fashionable again! Statues has nothing to do with us now!

— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 15, 2017

The Onion’s take:

Trump: ‘There Is Hatred On Both Sides Of My Heart’ https://t.co/6xS8DG27lGpic.twitter.com/Zc9ygtt5hW

— The Onion (@TheOnion) August 15, 2017

Trump Warns Removing Confederate Statues Could Be Slippery Slope To Eliminating Racism Entirely https://t.co/Eofx8XjnFJpic.twitter.com/iMgV9txwlE

— The Onion (@TheOnion) August 15, 2017

Roy Moore, who received the most votes in Alabama’s Republican primary last night, claimed that Sharia law ran the Midwest:

Roy Moore, asked by @JStein_Vox where exactly US is under Sharia law: “In Illinois, Indiana—up there. I don’t know.” https://t.co/O70x8mrSTIpic.twitter.com/GzRQUMyWlc

— Dara Lind (@DLind) August 15, 2017

— Barack Obama’s tweet quoting Nelson Mandela in the wake of Saturday’s violence has become the most-liked tweet ever, with more than 2.7 million people clicking the favorite button. (Kristine Phillips

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…” pic.twitter.com/InZ58zkoAm

— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 13, 2017

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

— The Atlantic, “From Trump Aide to Single Mom,” by McKay Coppins: “[T]he fallout from their affair didn’t take an equal toll on their lives and careers. After returning home to and reconciling with his wife, [Jason] Miller joined the consulting firm Teneo, signed a contract with CNN as an on-air contributor, and has reportedly continued to advise the White House in an informal capacity. (A.J.) Delgado did not join the White House staff, or land a plum appointment in a cabinet agency, and she stopped getting booked as a Trump surrogate on television. Instead, she moved in with her mother in Miami, and looked for work there…

“[I]f there’s one person whose absence most roils Delgado, it’s her baby’s father. According to Delgado, she and Miller haven’t spoken since December, and he has yet to provide any child support. In fact, she said, he only resurfaced through an attorney—after months of silence—a few weeks before their son was due. … She was particularly hurt when Miller demanded a paternity test shortly after William was born. She thought the test was unnecessary, but agreed anyway, asking only that they wait until after the baby received his two-month vaccination shots. She wanted to mitigate the risk of the newborn getting sick from his exposure to the lab tech performing the test. But, she said, Miller’s lawyer insisted that it couldn’t wait.”

— Associated Press, “N.H. neighbors say Corey Lewandowski threatened them in land dispute“: “Neighbors of President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski say he harassed them in a land dispute and threatened to use his ‘political clout’ to make their lives ‘a nightmare.’ Glenn and Irene Schwartz countersued Lewandowski this month after he filed a $5 million lawsuit in July over access to a pond-front property in Windham, New Hampshire.”

— BuzzFeed, “How A Hoax Made To Look Like A Guardian Article Made Its Way To Russian Media,” by Craig Silverman and Jane Lytvynenko: “A completely fake article, made to look as if it were published by The Guardian and containing explosive comments attributed to the former head of British intelligence, was likely created to serve as propaganda material for Russian media …. The fake Guardian story carried the headline: ‘Former MI6 Chief Admits Defeat to Putin on the Russia Fragmentation Strategic Plan.’ It began circulating on Twitter and Facebook on Sunday thanks to a handful of accounts based in Russia. The story contained lengthy quotes attributed to former MI6 head John Scarlett, and was riddled with grammatical errors easily spotted by an English speaker. Scarlett’s fake quotes were also a red flag because they amounted to an admission that the Rose Revolution in Georgia was a result of a CIA and MI6 plan. [Additional reporting] also found that the hoax story is connected to a series of other fabricated articles made to look like they had come from media outlets such as Haaretz, The Atlantic, and Al Jazeera. The fake stories used the same malicious domain technique to trick people, and all were translated from English into Russian for the same Russian news blog.”

— The New York Times, “In Ukraine, a Malware Expert Who Could Blow the Whistle on Russian Hacking,” by Andrew E. Kramer and Andrew Higgins: “That a hacking operation that Washington is convinced was orchestrated by Moscow would obtain malware from a source in Ukraine — perhaps the Kremlin’s most bitter enemy — sheds considerable light on the Russian security services’ modus operandi in what Western intelligence agencies say is their clandestine cyberwar against the United States and Europe. It does not suggest a compact team of government employees who write all their own code and carry out attacks during office hours in Moscow or St. Petersburg, but rather a far looser enterprise that draws on talent and hacking tools wherever they can be found.”

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“Former Google engineer: ‘I do not support the alt-right,’” from CNN: “James Damore was fired from Google last week over his controversial 3,300 word essay on diversity. His memo put him in the good graces of the alt-right — but he’s now distancing himself from the movement. ‘I do not support the alt-right,’ he told CNN Tech. ‘Just because someone supports me doesn’t mean I support them.’ Many alt-right personalities have expressed their support of Damore and his document, which criticized Google for its ‘politically correct monoculture’ and critiqued its efforts to increase staff diversity. … Even as Damore clarified his personal political views, he argued adamantly that Silicon Valley is closed off to people it considers conservative.”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“Democrats Fret as Clinton Book Rollout Looms,” from Bloomberg News: “Clinton has promised to ‘let my guard down’ in the book, ‘What Happened,’ explaining her shocking loss to Trump in November. She has already offered up several explanations, blaming Russian interference, former FBI director James Comey, and misogyny, while also acknowledging tactical errors by her campaign. Many Washington Democrats, though unwilling to criticize her in public, wish she’d ‘move on,’ as Senator Al Franken has put it. They fear that her complaints help Trump make his case that the controversies surrounding him flow from the Democrats’ bitterness about their 2016 loss.”

DAYBOOK:

Trump will travel to Bedminster, N.J., where he will sign the Veterans Educational Assistance Act.

Pence is in Santiago, Chile. He has a meeting, a joint news conference and luncheon with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet followed by a meet-and-greet with families at the U.S. Embassy. He will end his day with a speech on promoting economic growth throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Paul Ryan will hold a televised town hall next week. The House Speaker is expected “to outline House Republicans priorities for the fall.” (Wisconsin State Journal)

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“I stand by my man – both of them.” — Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao brushed aside a question about Trump’s attacks on of her husband, Mitch McConnell

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

— It will be sunny, hot and humid in the District today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “After patchy areas of fog burn off this morning, we’re in for a much brighter day compared to the last few. A sun-filled sky in mid-August usually comes at a price, and we’ll certainly pay it as highs reach the upper 80s to near 90. With humidity remaining high, it could feel as warm as the mid-90s at times, so stay hydrated if you spend time outside.”

— The Nationals beat the Angels 3-1. (Jorge Castillo)

— A Maryland man pleaded guilty to accepting $9,000 from foreign entities to fund a terrorist attack in the United States. Lynh Bui reports: “Mohamed Yousef Elshinawy, 32, of Edgewood, pledged his allegiance to [the Islamic State] and received cash from foreign companies run by people looking to develop weaponized drones, according to federal court records outlining the government’s allegations. Elshinawy, a U.S. national of Egyptian descent, had kept in touch with a childhood friend who was a self-described member of the Islamic State, court records stated. Through social media conversations in 2015, he asked his friend to tell the group’s leadership that he was one of their soldiers and committed to ‘violent jihad,’ the records state.”

— The Lincoln Memorial was vandalized with red spray paint. Justin Wm. Moyer reports: “At about 4:30 a.m., graffiti was found on a column at the memorial, the National Park Service said in a statement. The graffiti was difficult to read, but appeared to say ‘[expletive] law,’ the statement said. … The graffiti at the Lincoln Memorial was to be removed with ‘a mild, gel-type architectural paint stripper that is safe for use on historic stone,’ the Park Service said.”

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Stephen Colbert updated Steve Bannon’s resume in case he gets fired:

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Charlie Rose discussed Charlottesville with historian Jon Meacham and Al Sharpton:

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A woman confronted a man in North Carolina over why he was flying a Nazi flag:

Watch how uncomfortable John Kelly was as Trump spoke:

WATCH: Chief of Staff Kelly listens to Pres. Trump speak during the president’s news conference at Trump Tower today – @kristindonnellypic.twitter.com/YX86aXB8iN

— NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) August 15, 2017

Town hall attendees shouted “Shame!” at Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.):

The Post fact-checks Trump’s claim that unemployment is at a record low:

A 6-month-old baby allegedly teargassed and beaten by Kenyan police has died:

Thirteen zoo animals rescued from Aleppo arrived in Jordan:

Finally, a Belgian town feasted on a giant omelet made of 10,000 eggs:

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After Charlottesville, Trump retweets — then deletes — image of train running over CNN reporter – Washington Post


President Donald Trump speaks about the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Monday, Aug. 14, 2017, in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Trump’s war with CNN went off the rails Tuesday morning after he retweeted an image of a Trump train running over a CNN reporter, then quickly deleted it after the meme sparked criticism as inappropriate just days after the Charlottesville violence.

Trump was in the middle of his usual morning tweetstorm when he sent the image, posted by a supporter who added “Nothing can stop the #TrumpTrain!!,” to his nearly 36 million followers.

Trump RT’d this pic showing a CNN journalist hit by a train days after a white nationalist ran his car into activists, killed Heather Heyer. pic.twitter.com/tWjdoE70AS

— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 15, 2017

The president quickly deleted his handiwork but not before the original tweet had been retweeted hundreds of times and was captured on screen shots by journalists and activists.

A car plowed into crowds at a white nationalist gathering in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, killing one person and injuring 19 others. (The Washington Post)

Trump’s promotion of the image came three days after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville turned into a violent clash between the supremacists and counterprotesters. Heather Heyer, 32, was killed and 19 others injured when a driver slammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters. A 20-year old man, who has reportedly espoused neo-Nazi views, has been charged with second-degree murder in the case. Two police officers also died when their helicopter crashed.

[‘Very threatening’: Mother of Charlottesville suspect James A. Fields called 911 twice]

Trump did not immediately condemn the hate groups behind the “Unite the Right” rally, drawing criticism from Democrats and some Republicans. On Monday, the president attempted to make amends and denounced the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis by name, while calling white supremacists “repugnant to all that we hold dear as Americans.”

But even as he attempted to clarify his views, Trump seemed eager to blame the backlash on reporters, in particular CNN. As the president was wrapping up a photo op related to international trade Monday, CNN correspondent Jim Acosta asked him why he had waited so long to condemn the hate groups by name and why he had not answered questions from reporters.

“I like real news, not fake news,” Trump said. Pointing a finger toward Acosta, Trump added: “You are fake news.”

On Aug. 14, President Trump defended his response to the violence in Charlottesville where white nationalists and counterprotesters fought. (The Washington Post)

If the president awoke Tuesday thinking his Twitter account would help him regain control of his political narrative, he was mistaken, however, as he also misfired in retweeting a man calling him a “fascist.”

A user named Mike Holden was replying to a Fox News story that said Trump had told the network in an interview that he was considering issuing a presidential pardon for former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was found guilty of defying a judge’s order to halt traffic patrols on suspected undocumented immigrants. “He’s a fascist, so not unusual,” Holden wrote, only to find himself retweeted by the 45th president of the United States.

I’m announcing my retirement from Twitter. I’ll never top this RT. pic.twitter.com/HuGHkiPoyR

— Mike Holden (@MikeHolden42) August 15, 2017

Holden has posted a rapid-fire series of tweets and retweets over the past days on British politics and the fallout from the violence in Charlottesville, including a retweet of a cartoon in the Guardian newspaper depicting the White House topped by a KKK-style pointed hood. His Twitter page also has various tributes to Bernard Kenney, a British man who attempted to subdue a far-right gunman who fatally shot British parliament member Jo Cox last year. Kenney, who was stabbed by the attacker Thomas Mair, died Monday.

In a telephone interview with The Washington Post, Holden described himself as a 53-year-old information technology worker who lives near Manchester, England, whose politics are left-wing but not radical. He was bracing for Trump’s morning dose of tweets — which because of of the 5-hour time difference usually land around lunchtime for Holden.

Holden said he had walked away from his computer after his tweet and was shocked when he logged back in. “My Twitter went completely bananas,” he said. Holden, who said he was angered by Trump’s response to the Charlottesville violence, hoped more people might question Trump’s motives.

“It’s a strong term to use, but I wouldn’t apologize for it,” Holden said of the word “fascist.” “Why he retweeted it is beyond me, but maybe he got a taste of his own medicine.”

Holden called the Charlottesville rally a “fascist march.”

“For a president to still be at Bedminster playing golf and not come out and say more? From a large catalogue of things he’s done, it seemed among the worst,” he said.

Holden quickly set a screen shot of Trump’s retweet as his Twitter background image and boasted about the endorsement — kind of — in his bio on the social media site.

“Officially Endorsed by the President of the United States,” he wrote. “I wish that were a good thing.”

Late Monday, Trump also retweeted a post the Twitter account linked to right-wing provocateur Jack Posobiec, a Trump supporter known for fanning conspiracy theories, including the infamous “Pizzagate” rumors of child trafficking. Posobiec’s tweet — retweeted by Trump and not taken down — linked to a story from an ABC affiliate and read: “Meanwhile: 39 shootings in Chicago this weekend, 9 deaths. No national media outrage. Why is that?”

[Trump’s retweet blitz includes “Pizzagate” conspiracy peddler]

Posobiec, a former Navy Reserve intelligence officer, had worked for right-wing website The Rebel. Posobiec gained national attention during “Pizzagate,” a conspiracy theory that claimed Hillary Clinton and her campaign chief harbored a child sex ring in a pizza restaurant in Washington. The Internet-fueled falsehood led a gunman in December to fire an assault-style rifle as he searched the pizzeria, Comet Ping Pong.

Brian Murphy contributed to this report. 

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