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Morning Reads: In Trump’s Big Speech, Will He Address Anti-Semitic and Racist Crimes? Campaign Finance Laws Catch a Break in Court

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Morning Reads: Will Trump Address Anti-Semitic, Racist Crimes?

Two men look at Jewish tombstones vandalized at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

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Anti-Semites are emboldened –> The latest, appalling wave of anti-Semitism in America saw 30 Jewish community centers across 18 states targeted with bomb threats yesterday, requiring employees and in some cases children, including infants in cribs, to be evacuated. “The latest rash of threats against Jewish centers is the fifth since the beginning of 2017, bringing the number of threats in the US and Canada to more than 90 reported before the end of February,” Mike Hayes and Claudia Koerner report for Buzzfeed. In response to a bomb threat, the Anti-Defamation League headquarters in San Francisco also was evacuated. In Philadelphia, more than a hundred headstones were pushed over in a Jewish cemetery over the weekend, a similar incident to the vandalism that occurred last week in a St. Louis cemetery. And in Kansas, swastikas and other hateful graffiti were scrawled on a school’s walls.

“The majority of the threats have come in waves and often feature a disguised, robotic voice,” Matt Ferner and Willa Frej report for The Huffington Post. “One of those calls warned of ‘slaughter’ by explosion. So far, no explosive devices have been discovered at any of the facilities targeted. It remains unclear who is making the threats and if it’s one person or a group, but they have rattled communities around the US.”

“I need an answer from the government” –> The widow of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, the Indian immigrant who was shot in a Kansas bar last week by a man who yelled “get out of my country,” spoke out yesterday before flying to India for her husband’s funeral. “I need an answer from the government,” Sunayana Dumala said. “What are they going to do to stop this hate crime?” Dumala said she was still deciding whether to continue her life in America, or permanently return to India.

President Trump has not responded to the incident, which occurred nearly a week ago. “At some point, embarrassingly late begins to verge on something more disquieting,” The Kansas City Star’s editorial board writes. “President Donald Trump has silently planted himself in that space.”

…but the president will address the nation tonight –> Will he use this opportunity to speak out against these hateful acts? Unclear. But Sean Spicer told reporters that the president will discuss tax and regulatory reform, Obamacare, education, his plans to increase the size of the military, and veterans’ issues. Before Spicer delivered this outline to the media, someone else in the administration gave a copy of it — a “scoop” — to InfoWars, the off-the-wall, extreme right-wing conspiracy website that seems to be the source of Trump’s ideas that millions voted illegally and that the media covers up terrorist attacks. The site also has questioned whether the Sandy Hook Elementary School killings happened and argued that the government is putting chemicals in food and water to turn Americans gay.

Trump also gave an “exclusive” interview to Breitbart, in which he denounced The New York Times, saying “the intent is so evil and so bad.”

Dropping accusations of racist intent –> “The Trump administration is reversing the Obama administration’s opposition to Texas’s strict voter-ID law, withdrawing the federal government’s claim that the law intentionally discriminates against black and Latino voters,” Ari Berman reports for The Nation. “… Texas’ voter-ID law — which allows voters to cast a ballot with a handgun permit but not a student ID — has already been blocked three times by federal courts.” The brief announcing this decision was signed by deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights John Gore, who, before joining Jeff Session’s Department of Justice, “worked to defend laws that critics say are designed to weaken the voting rights of African-Americans and other minorities,” Lee Fang writes at The Intercept.

Your tax dollars at work –> “Most taxpayers will never pay $10,000 in flights for an overseas trip, but in the year prior to the 2016 election, taxpayers paid for 557 such trips that each cost more than $10,000 for a member of Congress or a staffer,” Paul Singer reports for USA Today. “Those five-digit global itineraries made up 40 percent of all individual congressional trips for which travel costs were publicly reported. By comparison, less than 0.2 percent of tickets purchased by the general public through US travel agencies in 2015 and 2016 were more than $10,000, according to the Airlines Reporting Corp.”

Campaign finance laws catch a break –> John Roberts’ Supreme Court hasn’t been kind to campaign finance regulations, issuing a series of decisions — most infamously Citizens United — that opened the floodgates for unlimited cash contributions. Yesterday, however, the Supreme Court “upheld a requirement that forces groups to say who is paying for issue advertising directed at candidates in an approaching election,” the AP reports. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the heavyweight champion of dark money, had been pushing the suit and was hoping for a different outcome.

Here’s a gambit –> “The White House is dismissing an idea from Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) that would place both Judge Neil Gorsuch and Judge Merrick Garland on the Supreme Court at the same time, according to a White House spokesperson.” Ashley Killough reports for CNN that Udall’s proposal “is for Trump to meet privately with Supreme Court justices who are interested in retirement. If one of those justices decided they would be willing to retire, and if Trump promises to nominate Garland, President Barack Obama’s unconfirmed former SCOTUS pick, in their place, then the retiring justice would submit a letter of resignation contingent on that promise. Then, both Garland and Gorsuch would be voted on simultaneously.” Sounds great; we all know how good Trump is at keeping promises.

Jon Stewart has some advice for the media –> He offered it up on last night’s Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Morning Reads was compiled by John Light and edited by Michael Winship.



We produce this news digest every weekday. You can sign up to receive these updates as an email newsletter each morning.