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You had one job –> All Donald Trump had to do yesterday afternoon, in his third try at it, was condemn neo-Nazis and white supremacists. That’s it. But things didn’t go smoothly, as Trump interrupted his own press conference ostensibly about manufacturing to insist that there were some “very fine people on both sides” and offer some Fox News-quality talking points about how George Washington owned slaves so statues of Robert E. Lee should stay up. The remarkable transcript, via CNBC, is at the link above.
Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman report for The New York Times that “Trump buoyed the white nationalist movement on Tuesday as no president has done in generations.” But not everyone was happy: “members of the president’s staff, stunned and disheartened, said they never expected to hear such a voluble articulation of opinions that the president had long expressed in private.”
Trump was willing to paint the entire Black Lives Matter movement with a broad brush. But white supremacists and literal Nazis get nuance.
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) Aug. 15, 2017
“That was all him — this wasn’t our plan,” a WH official tells me in candid moment as reality of what transpired sinks in at Trump Tower.
— Jeff Zeleny (@jeffzeleny) Aug. 15, 2017
Dogs-not-barking watch: Has a single member of the Trump administration resigned over this?
— Annie Lowrey (@AnnieLowrey) Aug. 16, 2017
In other Charlottesville news, The Nation’s Katrina vanden Heuvel wonders whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions can really pursue justice for Heather Heyer, the young activist killed in Saturday’s terror attack.
Ali Watkins and Josh Meyer report for Politico that while law enforcement enjoys “sweeping powers to investigate and prosecute suspected foreign terrorists on US soil,” they are “severely limited in their ability to crack down on domestic extremist groups — even those who spew hate-filled rhetoric, acquire arms and advocate violence.”
And Jessica Schulberg reports for HuffPost that Katharine Gorka, “a controversial national security analyst known for her anti-Muslim rhetoric,” played a key role in the Trump regime’s decision to defund a program that deradicalizes neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Gorka’s husband, Sebastian, is a Trump aide long suspected of having ties to neo-Nazi groups in Hungary.
Meanwhile –> In Baltimore, Confederate statues “were removed from their bases overnight,” according to Sean Welsh and Colin Campbell at The Baltimore Sun.
Check out this graphic that shows most confederate monuments were put up long after the war was over.
This graphic (via @emayfarris) shows how late most Confederate monuments were put up.
Again, note the timing: Jim Crow & civil rights era. pic.twitter.com/ceDhXxdOD5
— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) Aug. 15, 2017
At Medium, North Carolina’s Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, writes an impassioned plea to both take down Confederate memorials and to kill a proposed law that would give immunity to people who drive their cars through protesters if they’re blocking a road.
Racial gerrymander –> A federal court ruled that two Texas congressional districts were unconstitutionally drawn along racial lines, “setting up a scramble to redraw them ahead of the 2018 elections.” Alexa Ura and Ji Malewitz have that story at The Texas Tribune.
Speaking of Texas –> Paul Weber and Will Weissert report for the Associated Press that the Lone Star State’s latest “’bathroom bill’ targeting transgender people died again late Tuesday along with many of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s summer demands as an already bruising legislative session was derailed by Republican backbiting.”
Somewhat relatedly, Ellen Mitchell reports for The Hill that “Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Monday hinted that the Pentagon may propose its own changes to President Trump’s plan to ban all transgender individuals from the military.” This comes as the White House still hasn’t sent the DoD an official order.
The high cost of erratic leadership –>Rachel Roubein reports for The Hill that “insurance companies would raise premium prices about 20 percent for Obamacare plans” if Trump follows through on his threat to end payments that reimburse insurers for reducing out-of-pocket expenses for low-income people, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
Bulldog –> At The Daily Beast, Betsy Woodruff profiles one of the legal big guns hired by special counsel Robert Mueller, an aggressive, controversial prosecutor named Andrew Weissman. Woodruff writes that his hire “means the probe may push legal boundaries as it investigates alleged collusion between Trump and Russian interests.”
Race to the bottom –> Before going off-script yesterday, Trump praised the recent deal Wisconsin made with Foxconn, but Justin Miller writes at The American Prospect that it’s another example of “using taxpayer-funded subsidies to prop up boondoggles that enrich corporations, squeeze state and municipal budgets, and generally fail to generate long-term, good-paying jobs.”
5,200 –> That’s the estimated number of accused “drug offenders” who have been killed in the Philippines during strongman Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war. The Associated Press reports that 32 were killed on Tuesday in one especially bloody day.
“Why Was an Italian Graduate Student Tortured and Murdered in Egypt?“ –> That’s the question Declan Walsh seeks to answer in an engrossing longform essay in The New York Times Magazine.
Dear Leader –> We’ll leave you with The Telegraph’s photo gallery of “some of the most bizarre photo opportunities” taken by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Daily Reads was compiled by BillMoyers.com staff and edited by Kristin Miller.
We produce this news digest every weekday. You canto receive these updates as an email.