Not even 24 hours after telling reporters that he was “not happy” with the “send her back” chant against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) at his reelection rally earlier this week, President Donald Trump on Friday seemed to be more onboard with the widely condemned message in his morning rage tweets from the toilet.
On Friday afternoon, Trump decided to clear this up straight from the Oval Office, not to admit that he lied about trying to stop the chant, but to clarify that there was nothing wrong with that chant after all. According to Trump, the people making a demand that a naturalized American citizen be shipped to Somalia for the crime of being black and insufficiently grateful were not racists. They were “fine patriots.” Which is Trump’s new way of saying “very fine people.”
Trump declared that far from being upset by the chants, what really bothered him was the person being chanted at. “You know what I’m unhappy with—the fact that a congresswoman can hate our country.”
So I suppose the privately outraged Republicans in Congress who, of course behind the scenes, pleaded with Vice President Pence to intervene with Trump so that he disavowed the chant, will be back to leaking their displeasure. CBS News has learned President Trump took a lot of heat from his family over the racist chants at a campaign rally in North Carolina on Wednesday. He heard from first lady Melania Trump, his daughter Ivanka and Vice President Mike Pence.
So, I suppose, if he spends any time with his family at all this weekend (he won’t), he won’t be pleasant.
“The House Judiciary Committee is examining the truthfulness of former White House communications director and Trump confidante Hope Hicks’ statements in the aftermath of new documents released on Thursday, asking her to clarify her testimony to the committee last month!” CNNreports.
“The FBI documents released earlier Thursday revealing that one day after the tape came out, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen spoke on the phone with then-campaign spokeswoman Hicks and candidate Donald Trump. Those conversations were apparently about adult film actress Stormy Daniels.”
“President Trump’s campaign and the RNC have paid more than $600,000 in legal fees to the law firm that represents Hope Hicks,” CNN reports.
This video is worth watching: For several minutes in the Oval Office, human rights activist Nadia Murad stood beside a seated President Trump and implored him to help the Yazidi community return to Iraq.
Said Murad: “If I cannot go to my home and live in a safe place and get my dignity back, this is not about ISIS. It’s about I’m in danger. My people cannot go back.” Murad told him she never wanted to be a refugee but that ISIS murdered her mother and six brothers. Trump’s response suggested he wasn’t even listening: “Where are they now?”
Murad: “They Killed them..they are in the mass graves in Sinjar” Trump nods and turns away. The lack of empathy, attention and compassion is stunning.
“Faith leaders in Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) home district are standing firmly behind her in the face of attacks from President Trump, despite disagreeing with some of her comments on Israel,” ABC News reports.
Rabbi Avi Olitzky said he can’t “sit or stand silently while our sitting president issues such racist rhetoric.” He added: “This is a very eerie wave of similar situations in history, be that Nazi Germany or elsewhere.”
David Brooks: “The real American idea is not xenophobic, nostalgic or racist; it is pluralistic, future-oriented and universal. America is exceptional precisely because it is the only nation on earth that defines itself by its future, not its past. America is exceptional because from the first its citizens saw themselves in a project that would have implications for all humankind. America is exceptional because it was launched with a dream to take the diverse many and make them one — e pluribus unum.”
“Trump’s campaign is an attack on that dream. The right response is to double down on that ideal. The task before us is to create the most diverse mass democracy in the history of the planet — a true universal nation. It is precisely to weave the social fissures that Trump is inclined to tear.”
Aaron Blake: “A big reason we’re all searching for Trump’s Secret Political Genius is that we’re still trying to figure out how we could have gotten 2016 so wrong. He must know something we don’t, after all.”
“But what if it was a fluke? Well, to some degree, it was. And it was a fluke that we all should have known was a possibility.”
“Trump won the presidency by winning three key states — two of which (Michigan and Wisconsin) Hillary Clinton clearly neglected — by less than 1 percentage point each. He did so despite losing the popular vote. He took less of the popular vote than Mitt Romney did (47 percent) in his 2012 loss and about as much as John McCain did (46 percent) in his lopsided 2008 loss. He did so against the other most unpopular presidential nominee in modern political history. It was a perfect storm.”
During a meeting last week, a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services official floated a radical cap for the number of refugees to be accepted into the country next year: zero. According to a Politico report, DHS representatives at the meeting countered with a cap in the 3,000 to 10,000 range.
The Trump administration already slashed the cap by a third to 30,000 this year while also attempting to choke off asylum opportunities for migrants fleeing violence or devastating poverty.
The meeting, though still preliminary, displays the reach of White House adviser Stephen Miller’s influence — the hardliner has maintained significant sway in President Donald Trump’s orbit.
Andrew Sullivan: “This country has had volatile civil conflicts before. What’s different now is we have a president whose instinct in such turbulent times is actually to intensify the turbulence with rhetoric and mass rallies that foment greater and greater mutual hostility. Most presidents regard it as their responsibility to tamp down racial and cultural conflict. Trump, having no concept of any broader interest than his own, is incapable of it. His malignant narcissism prevents him from any other way of behaving, and each outrage becomes a new baseline for the next one.”
“So yes, we are in an abyss. And as Trump becomes increasingly emboldened by his survival, and one of the two major parties has become a cult, the bottom seems even more elusive than before. Think of what might happen if Trump loses the popular vote in 2020 by an even bigger margin but still ekes out an Electoral College victory. Think of how a close election could lead to Trump’s refusal to concede, and how the wheels could come off the entire system. What we know for certain is that, for the first time, we have a president who doesn’t care if that happens, who’d rather destroy the legitimacy of liberal democracy than compete legitimately within it.”
George Nader, a wealthy Lebanese-American businessman who was a witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, “has been indicted on charges of importing child pornography and traveling with a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity,” Politico reports.
“Prosecutors filed a criminal complaint against Nader over the images in April 2018, but kept the charges under seal and never told his attorneys about them even as he continued to cooperate with Mueller’s probe.”
“The Mueller Report tells a heck of a story, a bunch of incredible stories, actually. But it does so in a form that’s hard for a lot of people to take in. It’s very long. It’s legally dense in spots. It’s marred with redactions. It’s also, shall we say, not optimized for your reading pleasure.”
“Over the coming dozen or so episodes, we will walk through the entire report, we hope in an engaging fashion that is at once thorough, true to the document, and genuinely engaging to listen to.”
Writing for Lawfare, former FBI director James Comey lists the questions he would ask former special counsel Robert Mueller next week in his much-anticipated House testimony.
Bloomberg: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is rebuffing a White House demand for $150 billion in spending cuts as debt ceiling deal negotiations continue, according to a Democratic official close to the talks.
The extended talks mean Congress and the White House will be pushing up against Pelosi’s deadline to get a deal on spending levels and the debt ceiling done before the House leaves town for its August recess. The Trump administration late Thursday gave Democrats a menu of $574 billion in savings options from which to find $150 billion to offset the costs of a two-year budget cap agreement.”
Ron Brownstein: “Trump also faces clear evidence that he may be unable to build a winning coalition with just the voters satisfied with his performance in office. That’s evident even with an economy that’s booming, at least according to measures like the low unemployment rate and the soaring stock market.”
“The latest such evidence comes in a new study released today by Navigator Research… The report examines a group that many analysts in both parties believe could prove to be the key bloc of 2020 swing voters: Americans who say they approve of Trump’s management of the economy, but still disapprove of his overall performance as president. And it shows Trump facing significant headwinds among that potentially critical group, partly because of the divisive language and behavior he’s taken to new heights, or lows, since last weekend.”
The EPA announced it would not ban a widely used pesticide associated with developmental disabilities and other health problems in children, the New York Times reports.
“The decision not to prohibit the use of the pesticide, chlorpyrifos, comes after years of legal wrangling. It represents a victory for the chemical industry and farmers who have lobbied to continue using the substance, arguing it is necessary to protect crops.”