What The Fuck Just Happened Today?

Today's essential newsletter. Logging the daily shock and awe in national politics. Read in moderation.
Curated by @matt_kiser

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Day 215: Principled realism.

1/ Trump put forward his strategy for resolving the nearly 16-year-old conflict in Afghanistan last night. He insisted he would “not talk about numbers of troops” needed or telegraph military moves, but hinted that he supports the Pentagon’s proposal to add nearly 4,000 troops to the roughly 8,400 Americans there now. Trump also said the US will shift away from a time-based approach to a results-based approach, declining to specify the benchmarks for success or a timetable for withdrawal. He added, however, that there would be no “blank check” for Afghanistan and that “a hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum for terrorists, including ISIS and Al Qaeda.” He described his plan as "principled realism." (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press)

2/ Trump's national security team spent months talking him out of ending the war in Afghanistan. “It wasn’t a debate,” said a senior White House aide. “It was an attempt to convince the president.” Trump's acceptance was less a change of heart than a willingness to be persuaded as long as he could be seen as a strong and decisive leader, even if it broke with his “America First” campaign rhetoric. “We are not nation-building again,” Trump said in his speech. “We are killing terrorists.” National security adviser H.R. McMaster used black-and-white photos from 1972 of Afghan women in miniskirts in an effort to convince Trump that Western norms had existed there before and could return. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)

3/ The Treasury Department sanctioned China and Russia for assisting North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Six individuals and 10 companies were added to the sanctions list in order to increase economic leverage on North Korea and reduce the flow of money to its weapons development. (Bloomberg / CNBC)

4/ Pro-Trump rallies in 36 states have been canceled. The America First Rallies were scheduled for September 9th, but “out of an abundance of caution” due “to the recent violence in America and in Europe" the rallies will be held as online demonstrations because "citizens cannot peacefully express their opinion without risk of physical harm from terror groups domestic and international." (Newsweek)

5/ Paul Ryan said Trump “messed up” his response to Charlottesville when he failed to denounce white supremacy and defended them as "fine people." Ryan said that by blaming "both sides" for last week's violence, Trump “made comments that are much more morally ambiguous, much more confusing” than he should have. He stopped short of calling on Trump to apologize for his Charlottesville response. (Politico / New York Times)

6/ Pence: the US should be building more monuments, not tearing them down. "I'm someone who believes in more monuments, not less monuments," Pence told Fox News. "What we ought to do is remember our history," arguing that America's monuments should tell the country's full history. "We ought to be celebrating the men and women who have helped our nation move towards a more perfect union and tell the whole story of America." (The Hill)

7/ German police seized 5,000 Trump-shaped ecstasy tablets, worth tens of thousands of euros. (CNN)

8/ In 214 days, Trump has made 1057 false and misleading claims. Trump averages nearly five false claims a day and more than 30 of his misleading statements have been repeated three or more times. (Washington Post)

Day 214: A path forward.

1/ The Secret Service has blown through its budget to pay agents because of Trump's frequent travel and large family. More than 1,000 agents have hit the federally mandated caps for salary and overtime allowances that were meant to last the entire year. The Secret Service has enough to money to continue protecting Trump and his family through September. If Congress don’t lift the cap, about a third of the agency’s agents would be working overtime without being paid. (USA Today / Washington Post)

2/ Republican political committees have spent nearly $1.3 million at Trump-owned properties this year. Federal Election Commission records show the Republican National Committee paid the Trump International Hotel in Washington $122,000 last month and at least 25 congressional campaigns, state parties, and the Republican Governors Association have together spent more than $473,000 at Trump hotels or golf resorts this year. (Washington Post)

3/ The Trump administration disbanded the National Climate Assessment panel, a group aimed at translating scientific findings into concrete guidance for both public and private-sector officials. Its members have been writing the Climate Science Special Report, due for release in 2018, which estimated that human activities were responsible for an increase in global temperatures of 1.1 to 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit from 1951 to 2010. (Washington Post)

4/ The Trump administration cut funding for Obama's Teen Pregnancy Prevention program after three years instead of the planned five. The Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement that the "very weak evidence of positive impact of these programs stands in stark contrast to the promised results, jeopardizing the youth who were served." (Axios / Wired)

5/ Trump will address the nation tonight on a "path forward" in Afghanistan at 9PM ET. The speech will "provide an update on the path forward for America’s engagement in Afghanistan and South Asia." Defense Secretary Jim Mattis received authority in June to send as many as 3,900 troops to Afghanistan. It will be Trump's first prime-time broadcast on a specific policy issue. (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times)

6/ Paul Ryan will hold his first public town hall in nearly two years tonight. The town hall will air tonight at 9:30PM ET on CNN. Last month, Ryan said he would not hold public town halls due to concerns over potential protesters coming in from outside districts. (CNN / The Hill)

7/ Trump's pick for USDA chief scientist has argued that homosexuality could lead to the legalization of pedophilia. Sam Clovis also said that homosexuality is a choice and the science on "LGBT behavior" is unsettled. Clovis is not an agricultural scientist and lacks the "specialized training or significant experience in agricultural research, education and economics" required by law for the position. (CNN / Politico)

8/ At least 15 charities have cancelled their planned fundraisers at Mar-a-Lago. Large nonprofits began walking away from Mar-a-Lago after Trump's blamed “both sides” for the violence in Charlottesville and there were “very fine people on both sides." (New York Times / Washington Post)

9/ Trump thanked a fake Twitter user and then attacked the "dishonest Fake News Media." The account was created in October 2015, but it first tweeted just 3 days ago, gathering over 6,000 followers with memes and posts exclusively celebrating Donald Trump. Trump thanked the bot for its tweet saying that "Every single day the #FakeNews media try to take you down.. You never falter, you always stand strong!" (Mashable)

10/ Mitch McConnell undercuts Trump that "most news is not fake." McConnell told a group at the Louisville Chamber of Commerce that he reads a variety of sources that Trump has blasted, including the New York Times, and that "it is my view that most news is not fake." (Politico)

11/ Robert Mueller is investigating the Russian lobbyist with deep ties to Moscow that attended the Trump Jr. meeting. It was previously reported that Rinat Akhmetshin attended the June 2016 meeting between Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. However, Akhmetshin's ties to the Russian government and Kremlin-backed oligarchs are much deeper than was previously known. Akhmetshin has been accused of being involved in various hacking schemes and nurturing a relationship with the former deputy head of Russia’s intelligence service, who was until last year a top aide to Putin. (New York Times)

poll/ Trump's job approval rating is below 40% in three key states that won him the White House. Six-in-10 voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin also say Trump’s conduct as president has embarrassed them. (NBC News)

poll/ 28% approve of Trump's response to Charlottesville. 42% believe Trump has been equating neo-Nazis and white supremacists to those who oppose them. (ABC News)

Day 211: Smell ya later.

1/ Trump fired Steve Bannon. The White House issued a statement saying, "White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve's last day. We are grateful for his service and wish him the best." A person close to Bannon insists that it was his idea to part ways and that he submitted his resignation on August 7th, but it was delayed in the wake of Charlottesville. A White House official said Bannon and then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus were supposed to be fired at same time, but the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus urged Trump to keep Bannon on board. (New York Times / CNN / Politico / Washington Post)

2/ Bannon will return to Breitbart News as executive chairman and will be “going to war” for Trump, vowing to intensify the fight from the outside. “Steve is now unchained,” a source close to Bannon said. “Fully unchained.” Another added that "He’s going nuclear. You have no idea. This is gonna be really fucking bad.” Earlier this week Bannon met with billionaire Republican donor Bob Mercer for five hours to plot out their political and media strategy. (New York Times / Bloomberg / Politico)

3/ Robert Mueller is focusing on Trump Jr.'s intent when he met with the Russian lawyer as prosecutors investigate possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Trump Jr. has acknowledged that he was looking for negative information about Hillary Clinton, but he claimed he didn't receive anything useful. Prosecutors are trying to determine what information was provided. (BuzzFeed News)

4/ Mitt Romney called on Trump to apologize for his Charlottesville comments. Romney warned of “an unraveling of our national fabric” if Trump doesn’t take “remedial action in the extreme." He added that "whether he intended to or not, what he communicated caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep, and the vast heart of America to mourn." (Washington Post / New York Times)

5/ Billionaire investor Carl Icahn stepped down as a special adviser to Trump. Unlike other executives who quit Trump’s advisory councils in protest over his refusal to condemn white supremacists, Icahn quit because he didn't want to be subject to questions of potential conflicts of interests over his role. (Financial Times / Bloomberg)

6/ The remaining members of Trump's arts commission resigned in protest over his comments on the violence in Charlottesville. The presidential arts and humanities panel, whose members are from Broadway, Hollywood, and the broader arts and entertainment community, said in a letter to Trump that “Supremacy, discrimination, and vitriol are not American values. Your values are not American values. We must be better than this. We are better than this. If this is not clear to you, then we call on you to resign your office, too.” (Washington Post)

  • Members of the digital economy council have resigned in protest. The committee’s aim is to “provide recommendations on ways to advance economic growth and opportunity in the digital age." It's the third advisory council to see resignations this week following Trump's remarks that there were “very fine people on both sides” of the Charlottesville violence. (Vice News)

7/ House Democrats have introduced a measure to censure Trump for his response to the violent white supremacist march in Charlottesville. At least 79 Democratic colleagues have signed on, including Nancy Pelosi, Jerry Nadler, Bonnie Watson, and Pramila Jayapal. A censure is a formal condemnation from Congress that's rarely used, but is the preliminary step before introducing impeachment. (Politico / ABC News)

8/ Five charities are cancelling planned fundraising events at Mar-a-Lago. The American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, Susan G. Komen foundation, the Cleveland Clinic, American Cancer Society, and the American Friends of Magen David Adom all said they wouldn't hold their 2018 galas at the resort. (CNN Money / Washington Post)

9/ James Murdoch pledged to donate $1 million to the Anti-Defamation League in a rebuke of Trump and his response to Charlottesville. James, the son of Rupert Murdoch, is the CEO of 21st Century Fox and an informal adviser to Trump. "Standing up to Nazis is essential," the younger Murdoch said in a statement. "There are no good Nazis. Or Klansmen, or terrorists. Democrats, Republicans, and others must all agree on this, and it compromises nothing for them to do so.” (New York Times)

10/ Pence praised Trump as the modern reincarnation of Theodore Roosevelt. “Just as President Roosevelt exhorted his fellow Americans to ‘dare to be great,’" Pence said, "President Donald Trump has dared our nation to ‘make America great again,’ and we’ll do it with all of our friends in the world.” (Washington Post)

11/ Neil Gorsuch will speak at the Trump International Hotel in Washington next month, raising questions about his impartiality and ethics concerns. The speaking engagement is for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of The Fund for American Studies group and is scheduled just days before the Supreme Court's next term begins. (CNN)

12/ Trump reorganized the military's Cyber Command, putting it on the same level as other combatant commands. The move will help the US bolster its cyber weapons so it can match Russia's capabilities in addition to giving it some operational independence. The head of Cyber Command will eventually report directly to the secretary of defense. (CNN / Axios / Vox)

Day 210: Ripped apart.

1/ Trump is "sad" that "our beautiful statues and monuments" to the Confederacy are being taken down. He tweeted that we're seeing the "history and culture of our great country being ripped apart." (Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times)

  • Apple’s Tim Cook "disagrees" with Trump’s take on neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville and will donate $1 million each to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League. (Recode)

  • Unlike His Predecessors, Trump Steps Back From a Moral Judgment. Asked if he would put white supremacists and neo-Nazis on the same “moral plane” as their liberal and leftist resisters, Trump replied, “I’m not putting anybody on a moral plane.” (New York Times)

  • The rabbi who oversaw Ivanka Trump's conversion to Judaism criticized her father's response to Charlottesville in a letter to his congregation. (CNN)

2/ White House aides are wrestling with how to respond to Trump after he doubled down that “both sides” were to blame in Charlottesville. Gary Cohn, Trump’s top economic adviser, who is Jewish, was “disgusted” and “frantically unhappy" by Trump's remarks that there were some “very fine people" at the white nationalist rally. John Kelly, the new chief of staff, has been trying to instill a sense of discipline in the West Wing, but is "frustrated and dismayed" by Trump's self-inflicted controversies, from his North Korea rhetoric to publicly attacking Mitch McConnell. (Washington Post / Reuters / Politico)

  • "He is stubborn and doesn't realize how bad this is getting," a White House adviser said. Trump’s temper has been a constant force in the White House, making policy decisions after becoming irritated with staffers and escalating fights because he doesn't like being told what to do. (Politico)

3/ Jeff Sessions criticized Chicago’s “sanctuary city” policy, saying the "respect for the rule of law has broken down." He tied the violence in Chicago to its refusal to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, arguing that it's made Chicago a haven for predators and drug dealers. (New York Times / Reuters / Politico)

4/ Steve Bannon gave an outrageous interview then said he didn't know he was being interviewed in an attempt to divert attention from Charlottesville. Bannon called Robert Kuttner, the co-editor of The American Prospect, to say his rivals are "wetting themselves," called white supremacists “clowns” and “losers," and contradicted Trump on North Korea. (Washington Post / Axios / CNN)

5/ Trump’s personal lawyer forwarded an email warning that Black Lives Matter “has been totally infiltrated by terrorist groups" and that Robert E. Lee's rebellion was the same as the American Revolution against England. John Dowd forwarded the email with the subject line "The Information that Validates President Trump on Charlottesville" to conservative journalists, government officials and friends. (New York Times / CNN)

6/ Trump spread a debunked rumor while responding to the Barcelona terror attack on Twitter less than an hour after issuing an initial, measured statement. "Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught," Trump tweeted. "There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!" The reference is to General John J. Pershing who allegedly dipped bullets in pigs' blood to execute Islamic terrorists in the Philippines whose religion forbid contact with the animals. The Pershing legend has been debunked multiple times. (CNN Money / Washington Post / PolitiFact)

7/ Trump abandoned plans for an infrastructure council after his two other business advisory councils disbanded in protest over his remarks legitimizing white supremacists. The council would have advised Trump on his plan to spend as much as $1 trillion upgrading roads, bridges and other public works. (Bloomberg)

poll/ 67% of Republicans approve of Trump's response to the Charlottesville violence. 82% of Democrats disapprove. (CBS News)

poll/ 40% of Americans support impeaching Trump and removing him from office. That’s compared to 30 percent who said the same in February. (NBC News)

poll/ More people worldwide trust Putin over Trump to handle foreign affairs. 22 of the 36 countries polled, including Germany, France and Japan, trust Putin more than Trump, while 13 countries, including Australia, Canada, and the UK trust Trump slightly more. The survey was conducted February 16th to May 8th, which is before Trump threatened to rain “fire and fury” on North Korea. (Pew / Bloomberg)

poll/ 53% of Americans – both Republicans and Democrats – say there is nothing Trump could do to change their mind about him. 72% of female Trump supporters say they will never change their support. (CNN)

Day 209: Stunned and disheartened.

1/ Trump's staff is "stunned and disheartened" by his Charlottesville remarks. They say they "never expected to hear such a voluble articulation of opinions that the president had long expressed in private." While Trump has repeatedly said he is not prejudiced, his statements against white nationalists and racist organizations have been equivocal: It started on Saturday with his comment placing blame “on many sides," which was followed by a stronger denunciation of hate groups via email, attributed to an unnamed “spokesperson.” On Monday, Trump said that “racism is evil," but by Tuesday, Trump had reassigned “blame on both sides” for the Charlottesville violence, singling out "alt-left" groups who were “very, very violent." (New York Times)

  • Donald Trump Denounces Amazon More Strongly Than Neo-Nazis. (HuffPost)

  • Pence: “I stand with the president, and I stand by those words.” (Politico)

  • What Steve Bannon thinks about Charlottesville. (Axios)

  • Jewish Trump Staff Silent on His Defense of Rally With Anti-Semitic Marchers. (New York Times)

2/ Obama’s response to the Charlottesville violence is now the most liked tweet in Twitter’s history. The former president quoted Nelson Mandela, saying: “No one is born hating another person because of the color 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." Trump, meanwhile, placed "blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it." (BBC / Washington Post)

3/ Former Presidents H.W. and W. Bush denounce racism in wake of Charlottesville. "America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred in all forms," the statement said. (CNN)

4/ The White House is telling Republicans to say Trump's comments on Charlottesville are “entirely correct.” The evening communications briefing encouraged members to echo Trump's line that “both sides … acted inappropriately, and bear some responsibility.” The memo adds that the "media reacted with hysteria" and that "we should not overlook the facts just because the media finds them inconvenient.” (The Atlantic)

5/ Paul Ryan called white supremacy “repulsive” in a tweet hours after Trump doubled down on his claim that "many sides" are to blame for the violence in Charlottesville. “We must be clear," Ryan tweeted. "White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity.” (Talking Points Memo / The Hill)

6/ Mitch McConnell issued a statement condemning white nationalist groups ahead of a planned alt-right rally in his home state of Kentucky. The Senate majority leader said their ideologies "should not be welcome anywhere in America." (CNN / Axios)

7/ The Navy, Marines, Army, Air Force, and the National Guard have all denounced racism via Twitter following the violence in Charlottesville. (Army Times)

8/ Baltimore removed its four Confederate monuments early this morning after the City Council voted unanimously to take them down following the violence in Charlottesville. (CNN / New York Times)

  • Lincoln Memorial vandalized with profanity in Washington, DC. (BBC)

  • Holocaust Memorial in Boston Is Vandalized for Second Time This Summer. (New York Times)

9/ Hope Hicks is taking over as Trump's interim Communications Director and will work with White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to find a permanent person for the job. Hicks was a spokeswoman for Trump during his presidential campaign and at the Trump Organization. (New York Times / NBC News)

10/ Trump's business councils disbanded after multiple executives quit over his equating white nationalist hate groups with the protesters opposing them. The Strategic and Policy Forum called to inform Trump the group would disband. After the call, Trump tweeted that it was his decision to disband that council. "Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council and Strategy and Policy Forum, I am ending both," Trump tweeted. (ABC News / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

11/ One of Robert Mueller's top FBI investigators has left the team. Peter Strzok oversaw the beginnings of the Russia probe last summer. About a month ago, Mueller brought Strzok in to help manage the investigation into Russian election meddling. (ABC News / CNN)

12/ A panel of federal judges ruled Texas voter maps illegally discriminate against Hispanic and black voters and can’t be used in the upcoming congressional midterm elections. The state has three days to say if and when the Texas Legislature will fix the congressional map. The court will redraw the districts maps itself if Texas decides not to fix them. (Bloomberg)

  • Former Trump campaign aides are starting a group to identify “disaffected” rural and working-class Americans who either do not vote or are not on the voter rolls, in order to register and mobilize them ahead of future elections. (New York Times)

13/ The Trump administration agreed to continue making health care subsidy payments after the CBO reported that cutting off the payments would increase federal spending and cause insurance premiums to rise sharply. (Los Angeles Times)

poll/ 52% of Americans think Trump's response to the violence in Charlottesville was "not strong enough." No shit. (NPR)

Day 208: Retweet rampage.

1/ Trump retweeted an alt-right conspiracy theorist, a train hitting CNN, and a critic calling him a fascist. Last night, Trump retweeted Jack Posobiec, an alt-right figure who pushed the Pizzagate and Seth Rich conspiracy theories. Then this morning, Trump retweeted an image of a person holding a CNN sign being hit by a train, with the commentary, "Nothing can stop the #TrumpTrain!!" The White House said the tweet was inadvertently posted and it was deleted. And, finally, Trump retweeted a critic who called Trump a "fascist" for "seriously considering" pardoning former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was found guilty of ignoring a judge's order to stop racially profiling Latinos during patrols. (USA Today / CNN / Washington Post)

  • Trump says he's seriously considering pardoning former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a vocal Trump supporter during the 2016 presidential campaign. Earlier this month Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt for ignoring a court order to stop detaining suspected illegal immigrants. He faces up to six months in prison. (ABC News)

2/ Trump, again, blamed both sides for the Charlottesville violence, asking why the "alt-left" is not being blamed because, he says, they were “very, very violent” when they confronted white nationalist and Nazi groups. He asked if George Washington statues were going to come down next. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Bloomberg)

3/ Four CEOs have now resigned from Trump's advisory council over his slow denouncement of white supremacists. The chief executives of Merck, Under Armour, Intel, Alliance for American Manufacturing have all quit the manufacturing council. Trump, meanwhile, tweeted that "For every CEO that drops out of the Manufacturing Council, I have many to take their place. Grandstanders should not have gone on. JOBS!" Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, left the council earlier this year after Trump announced the US would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. (CNN Money / Recode / Reuters / The Hill)

4/ Trump won't visit Charlottesville, because “why the hell would we do that?" The White House official suggested that the administration sees no upside and whatever Trump might do in Charlottesville would be “used against” him by the media. (The Daily Beast)

5/ Trump went off script, ad-libbing his "many sides" remark in response to Charlottesville violence. "Those were his own words," a senior White House official said. His "on many sides" comment "were not" in his prepared remarks. (ABC News)

6/ The leaders of four minority House caucus groups sent a letter to Trump asking him to fire Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and Sebastian Gorka. “Americans deserve to know that white nationalists, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis are not in a position to influence U.S. policy,” the heads of the black, Hispanic, Asian and progressive caucuses wrote, suggesting that their continued presence in the White House is emboldening a resurgence of white supremacy. (Associated Press)

7/ North Korea won't fire missiles at Guam after all. State media said Kim Jong-un reviewed plans to fire missiles towards Guam but decided to hold off. He warned he could change his mind “if the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions.” (NPR / BBC / Wall Street Journal)

8/ The Justice Department has demanded that 1.3 million IP addresses from a Trump resistance site be turned over. The web hosting company, DreamHost, is fighting the search warrant, saying that the request for visitor logs, contact information, emails, and photos could be used to identify people who are exercising their Constitutional right of free speech to protest. Prosecutors obtained a search warrant for the records in July and are now asking a federal judge to force the company to turn over the information. (The Hill / Business Insider / CNN / DreamHost)

9/ Trump's threat to end Obamacare insurance subsidies would send premiums up 20% next year and increase the federal budget deficits by $194 billion in the coming decade, the Congressional Budget Office said. Trump has said he would "Let Obamacare implode" in order to force Democrats to negotiate on a replacement plan. (New York Times / Vox)

Day 207: On many sides.

1/ The White House issued a statement criticizing white supremacists for the violence that led to one death in Charlottesville more than 36 hours after the protests began. It was meant to clarify Trump's earlier remarks and condemn “all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred” and “of course that includes white supremacists, KKK, Neo-Nazi and all extremist groups.” The statement came in an email sent to reporters and attributed to an unnamed representative. Trump had previously said: "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides." (New York Times / CNN)

  • Trump Is Criticized for Not Calling Out White Supremacists. He was the only national political figure to spread blame for the “hatred, bigotry and violence” that resulted in the death of one person to “many sides.” (New York Times)

2/ The White House’s clarification stopped short of what Republicans have urged Trump to do: directly call out and condemn white supremacy. Three of Trump's top advisers attempted to defend his vague statements: Ivanka Trump tweeted: “There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis.” National security adviser H.R. McMaster said Trump was “very clear” in his statement and “called out anyone, anyone who is responsible for fomenting this kind of bigotry, hatred, racism and violence.” And, CIA Director Mike Pompeo said Trump was “specific,” “very clear” and, “frankly, pretty unambiguous” in responding to the violence, adding “when someone marches with a Nazi flag, that's unacceptable, and I think that's what the president said yesterday.” (Washington Post)

  • Pence spoke out more forcefully than Trump on Charlottesville, saying: “We have no tolerance for hate and violence from white supremacists, neo Nazis or the KKK. These dangerous fringe groups have no place in American public life and in the American debate, and we condemn them in the strongest possible terms.” (Washington Post)

  • Even Anthony Scaramucci criticized Trump's unwillingness to single out white supremacy groups. “I wouldn’t have recommended that statement," the former White House communications director said. "I think he needed to be much harsher as it related to the white supremacists and the nature of that." (Washington Post)

3/ Contrasting Trump's reluctance to criticize white supremacists, Jeff Sessions said the “evil attack” in Charlottesville is an act of domestic terrorism. “You can be sure we will charge and advance the investigation toward the most serious charges that can be brought because this is unequivocally an unacceptable evil attack." McMaster added: "Certainly I think we can confidently call it a form of terrorism." (New York Times / NBC News)

4/ An African-American CEO quit Trump's advisory council after Trump failed to condemn white supremacists. Kenneth Frazier, Merck's CEO, is one of just a handful of black CEOs to run a Fortune 500 company. Frazier said: "America's leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy." Within minutes, Trump attacked him on Twitter, saying Frazier's resignation will give him "more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!" (CNN Money / New York Times / The Hill)

5/ Trump finally denounced white supremacists 48 hours after initially blaming the Charlottesville violence on “many sides," which prompted nearly universal criticism. “Racism is evil,” Trump said. “And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.” (New York Times / Politico)

6/ In May, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security warned Trump about the white supremacist movement and that it “likely will continue to pose a threat of lethal violence over the next year.” The report, titled “White Supremacist Extremism Poses Persistent Threat of Lethal Violence,” showed that white supremacist groups had already carried out more attacks than any other domestic extremist group over the past 16 years. (Foreign Policy)

7/ Special Counsel Bob Mueller wants to interview Reince Priebus. Mueller has been talking with the West Wing about interviewing other current and former senior administration officials about specific meetings, who attended them and whether there are any notes, transcripts or documents about them. Mueller also wants to ask the officials about Trump’s decision to fire James Comey. (New York Times)

8/ A junior Trump campaign adviser repeatedly tried to setup a meeting with Putin. Starting in March 2016, George Papadopoulos sent at least a half-dozen emails to Trump campaign leadership to set up “a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss US-Russia ties under President Trump.” He said that his Russian contacts welcomed the opportunity and that he was receiving “a lot of calls over the past month” about arranging a meeting. “Putin wants to host the Trump team when the time is right,” he wrote. Intelligence officials said the messages may have represented a Russian campaign to use lower-level aides to penetrate the 2016 campaign and see if the Trump campaign would be willing to cooperate. (Washington Post)

9/ North Korea’s successful ICBM tests have been linked to a Ukrainian factory with ties to Russia’s Cold War missile program. The engine design on North Korea's latest missiles match those that once powered the Soviet Union’s missile fleet and are based on a technology too complex for North Korea to have switched to so quickly themselves, a classified report by American intelligence agencies says. The report suggests that North Korea purchased black market rocket engines that were probably from the Ukrainian factory. (New York Times)

10/ Trump believes Steve Bannon is behind the White House leaks targeting McMaster and has considered firing him. West Wing colleagues say Bannon has instigated leaks to members of the far right, like Mike Cernovich, accusing McMaster of having a drinking problem (Trump is teetotaler) and getting the right-wing Zionist Organization of America to accuse McMaster of being anti-Israel. Rupert Murdoch has repeatedly urged Trump to fire Bannon and Scaramucci has said Trump's "toleration of [white nationalism] by Steve Bannon is inexcusable." McMaster has refused to say he could work with Bannon. (New York Times / Axios / ABC / CNN)

  • Sheldon Adelson comes out in support of H.R. McMaster, disavowing a campaign against McMaster by a group Adelson funds, the Zionist Organization of America. (Axios)

  • A former Trump political adviser warned of consequences for McMaster and Matt Drudge if Steve Bannon is fired. Sam Nunberg said that "if Steve is fired by the White House and a bunch of generals take over the White House there will be hell to pay." Nunberg is mad that the Drudge Report continues to link to negative stories about Bannon, saying “Matt should understand that people like me can blow him the fook up. F-o-o-k, Conor McGregor. Blow him the fook up [sic].” He added that there will be "serious fucking consequences if he continues this jihad against Steve Bannon" and that he would “blow” McMaster “the fook out [sic]," too. (The Daily Caller)

poll/ Trump's job approval rating ticked down to 34% – the lowest of his presidency so far. (Gallup)