Don West for New Times Always
BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — White House officials, under siege over President Trump’s reluctance to condemn white supremacists for the weekend’s bloody rallies in Charlottesville, Va., tried to clarify his comments on Sunday, as critics in both parties intensified demands that he adopt a stronger, more unifying message.
A statement on Sunday — issued more than 36 hours after the protests began — condemned “white supremacists” for the violence that led to one death. It came in an email sent to reporters in the president’s traveling press pool, and was attributed to an unnamed representative.
It was not attributed directly to Mr. Trump, who often uses Twitter to communicate directly on controversial topics. It also did not single out “white supremacists” alone but instead included criticism of “all extremist groups.”
The email was sent “in response” to questions about Mr. Trump’s remarks, in which he blamed the unrest “on many sides” while speaking on Saturday before an event for military veterans at his golf resort in Bedminster, N.J., where the president is on vacation.
“The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred,” the statement said. “Of course that includes white supremacists, K.K.K. neo-Nazi and all extremist groups. He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together.”
Mr. Trump’s high-volume outbursts on issues petty and profound have become a defining feature of his presidency. But his quiescence on the violence in Charlottesville has had, in many ways, a more profound and unsettling effect.
The president’s reluctance to speak out with force and moral indignation against the white nationalists who incited the most serious racial episode of his presidency elicited deep feelings of disappointment spanning the ideological spectrum, and a spreading sense that he had squandered a critical opportunity to empathize, unite and move beyond the acrimony that has engulfed the White House and country.
Read more at The New York Times.
At a theater in Charlottesville, Va., the mother of Heather Heyer issued a rallying cry.
“They tried to kill my child to shut her up,” Susan Bro said. “Well, guess what. You just magnified her.”
She invoked her daughter’s famous Facebook post — “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”
“She paid attention. She made a lot of us pay attention,” Bro said. “I want you to pay attention. Find what’s wrong — don’t ignore it, don’t look the other way. You make a point to look at it and say to yourself, ‘What can I do to make a difference?’ ”
Bro had struggled to climb the stairs to the lectern where she spoke. As she slowly made her way toward the microphone, she told the crowd she’d aged 10 years in the past few days. But once there, she stood resolute, gazing out at the crowd, telling mourners and all other listeners they needed to “carry Heather’s spark” and confront injustice with “righteous action.”
“That’s how you’re going to make my child’s death worthwhile,” Bro said. “I’d rather have my child, but by golly, if I’ve got to give her up we’re going to make it count.”
Heyer, 32, was killed on Saturday, as she was demonstrating against a white supremacist rally. Police say James Alex Fields Jr., who marched with fascists on Saturday and reportedly had a longstanding interest in white supremacy, intentionally drove his car into a crowd of anti-racist protesters.
Read more at NPR.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Steve Bannon, the blunt-spoken and divisive strategist who went from Donald Trump’s victorious campaign to a top White House post, has been pushed out by the president, capping a turbulent seven months that witnessed the departure of much of Trump’s original senior staff.
A favorite on the farther-right flank of the Republican Party, Bannon had pressed Trump to follow through on contentious campaign promises, such as banning travel from some predominantly Muslim countries and pulling out of the Paris climate agreement. Bannon left the White House on Friday and immediately returned as executive chairman to Breitbart News, which he led before joining Trump’s campaign. The news site said Bannon presided at its Friday evening editorial meeting.
Trump has not spoken publicly about his latest personnel decision, but he tweeted praise for Bannon’s return to the conservative news outlet.
“Steve Bannon will be a tough and smart new voice at @BreitbartNews … maybe even better than ever before. Fake News needs the competition!” Trump said Saturday in one of two tweets. He also thanked Bannon for serving.
“He came to the campaign during my run against Crooked Hillary Clinton – it was great! Thanks S,” the president said.
Read more at AP News.
To the men and women of the Trump White House–the curious, the hopeful, the desperate and the dubious–the all-hands summons was a little out of the ordinary.
It invited everyone to a meeting the next day in an unusual place: not a room in the cramped West Wing or the much larger South Court Auditorium, which is typically used for such sessions, but the quieter marbled entryway of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next to the White House. After almost 200 days of infighting, leaks and operatic staff shake-ups, morale was running a bit thin. Hundreds of people, including dozens who have been exiled from the West Wing for a sorely needed renovation, turned up to meet the new boss.
No introduction was needed. John Kelly simply stepped to the microphone and said, “Hi. Nice to meet you. I’m from Boston.” As the President’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and other senior aides watched from the wings, the retired four-star Marine general then rallied the embattled troops and laid down new rules of engagement. He urged his staff to stop the infighting and set their egos and agendas (and any leaking) aside. With a nod to the Marine credo–God, Country, Corps–he told his audience that they must start serving a hierarchy that put the nation, and not the President, first: “Country, President, Self,” he said.
Read more at TIME.
Barack Obama’s response to violence in Charlottesville has now become the most “liked” tweet in the history of Twitter.
Following a white nationalist protest that led to three deaths, the former president tweeted a quote from Nelson Mandela’s 1994 autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom” that said, “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin or his background or his religion.”
“People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
The quote was divided into three separate tweets. The first, which so far has received 2.9 million “likes”, was accompanied by an image of young children looking down at Mr Obama through a window.
Photographer Pete Souza took the photo in 2011 at a daycare facility next to Mr Obama’s daughter Sasha’s school in Bethesda, Maryland.
Read more at The Independent.
I. Leaks and Geeks
It was wheels-up at Joint Base Andrews as Peter Baker, the chief White House correspondent for The New York Times, settled into the Air Force One press cabin on May 19 at the start of a presidential flight to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Then his cell phone rang with a heads-up from his boss, Washington-bureau chief Elisabeth Bumiller, that the paper was about to break a big story: Donald Trump had denounced James Comey—whom he had just fired as F.B.I. director—as a “nut job” during a meeting with Russian officials in the Oval Office. He had also told the Russians that Comey’s ouster relieved “great pressure” on him just as the F.B.I. investigation of the Trump campaign and contacts with Russian officials seemed to be gathering momentum.
The airplane was aloft when the two television sets in the aft cabin, both turned to the Fox News channel, flashed bulletins about the story. But moments later, the same TV sets were touting another revelation, this one from The Washington Post—Baker’s alma mater. The Post was reporting that the F.B.I. probe had identified “a current White House official as a significant person of interest.”
“It wasn’t even five minutes,” recalled Baker, who has trouble, like most people, keeping track of the competing Post–Times exclusives about the Trump administration that have dominated the media world for months. Two revived bastions of Old Media are engaged in a duel that resembles the World War II rivalry of American general George S. Patton and British general Sir Bernard Montgomery as they scrambled to be first to capture Messina. There is a sense, too, that something fundamental about the nation is at stake. The Washington Post now proclaims every day in its print and online editions, “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”
The ongoing tit for tat helps explain the online-traffic records for both newspapers and why they are, more than ever, the tip sheets and storyboards for cable and broadcast news. So the Post discloses that Trump revealed classified information to the Russians; then the Times discloses that Comey memorialized an Oval Office meeting in which the president allegedly pressured him to end the F.B.I.’s investigation into former national-security adviser Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russian officials. In headlines, they both question the honesty of Trump, even using the once taboo words “lie” and “lies.” Dean Baquet, the executive editor of the Times, traces the use of those words in his newspaper to Trump’s lies about Barack Obama’s place of birth. To have not used them, he told me, “would have been screwing around with the English language.” At the Post, Glenn Kessler’s interactive Fact Checker graphic keeps a tally of Trump’s false and misleading claims as president. (As of late July: 836.) It was a Post story which broke the news that fake Time magazine covers of a pre-presidential Trump (“HITTING ON ALL FRONTS . . . EVEN TV!”) had been hung prominently at some of his resorts. Meanwhile, a Times bombshell revealed that Trump’s son Donald junior, along with campaign chairman Paul Manafort and son-in-law Jared Kushner, had met, two weeks after Trump’s nomination, with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer who was said to be offering dirt on Hillary Clinton—leaving himself open to charges of attempted collusion with a foreign government. Both papers are windows on—and vehicles for—the animus between Trump and the intelligence community, and thus for what Baquet concedes have been unceasing leaks from a Trump-wary bureaucracy. (“Remarkably easy” is how he described some of the reporting.)
Read more at Washington Post.