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Donald Trump bets on LI donors’ data firm as top aide quits

At a rally in Charlotte, N.C., on Thursday,

At a rally in Charlotte, N.C., on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, Donald Trump said he "regrets" not "choosing the right words or saying the wrong thing" in the past. Photo Credit: AP / Gerald Herbert

Trump the Mercer-ful

The growing influence on Donald Trump of Long Island’s megadonor Mercers — father Robert and daughter Rebekah — goes beyond encouraging the recent revamp of the campaign’s top command.

The Mercers are also part owners of Cambridge Analytica, which boasts it can help campaigns target potentially friendly voters based upon their psychological profiles.

The data firm’s effectiveness gets mixed reviews from GOP consultants. But Trump, who not long ago called data analysis “overrated,” has signed up the company for his struggling campaign.

The Mercers also back a pro-Trump super PAC run by David Bossie, a conservative activist long associated with the family and its money. The super PAC was previously led by Kellyanne Conway, now the campaign’s manager.

The Mercers also have invested in Breitbart News, whose executive chairman, Stephen Bannon, is now the campaign CEO.

A Trump apology tour?

In the first rally since his campaign came under new management, Trump said he “regrets” past instances of not “choosing the right words or saying the wrong thing,” particularly “where it may have caused personal pain.”

“Believe it or not, I regret it,” he said.

Trump didn’t get more specific in the scripted remarks, so it’s anyone’s guess just what he’s sorry — and not sorry — about. His flaw, Trump went on to tell the crowd in Charlotte, North Carolina, is that “sometimes I can be too honest.” In contrast, he said, “Hillary Clinton is the exact opposite: She never tells the truth.” (Here’s a video excerpt of his “regrets.”)

Cashing out

Seeking to blunt accusations of conflicts of interest, the Clinton family foundation will no longer accept foreign and corporate donations if Hillary Clinton is elected president.

President Bill Clinton announced the policy change Thursday to foundation staff members, The Associated Press reported. Questions persist about the level of influence foundation donors had at the State Department when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.

Trump aide 'quits' amid covert lobbying scandal

Newly obtained emails showed departing Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s lobbying firm orchestrated a covert Washington lobbying operation from 2012 to 2014 to try to sway U.S. opinion in favor of Ukraine’s then pro-Russian government, according to The Associated Press.

A few hours after the revelation, Manafort "resigned" as campaign chairman, it was announced. "Paul is a true professional and I wish him the greatest success," Trump said in a statement.Beyond praising him, Trump gave no further information other than to say he "accepted' the resignation that Manafort "offered."

Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, never disclosed their work as foreign agents between 2012 and 2014 as required under federal law, the report said. Trump and his campaign have come under broader scrutiny for advocating friendlier relations with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

The take-away: Sunshine state

Florida may offer Trump the best shot on a daunting swing-state map to put a big electoral-college prize — 29 votes — in his column, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.

The battle and the badges

Clinton — accused in Trump’s Tuesday law-and-order speech of being anti-cop — met Thursday with police brass from around the country, including the NYPD’s William Bratton, at a John Jay College forum on police-community relations.

“Everyone is safer when there is respect for the law, and when everyone is respected by the law,” Clinton said. “So we have a lot of work to do together and we don’t have a minute to lose.” Read the story by Newsday’s Emily Ngo.

Trump met with law enforcement officers in North Carolina and said their support for him “could be unanimous.”

Run to the light, or the dark

A Pew Research Center poll finds that 81% of Trump supporters believe that life in America is worse than it was 50 years ago “for people like them.”

Most Clinton supporters take the opposite view: 59% say life for people like them has gotten better over the past half-century.

Clinton leads Trump by 4 points among registered voters in the survey.

What else is happening

 

  • The Clinton campaign is pushing back hard at what it calls “deranged conspiracy theories” that Trump and his allies are promoting to stir doubts about her health. The Trump campaign keeps ginning it up.
  • Colin Powell, one of Clinton's predecessors as secretary of state, "confirmed" her decision to use private e-mail,which she cited in her FBI interview, according to the New York Times.  
  • The Justice Department plan in Obama's final months to end federal use of private prisons could cost an industry that's a major donor to GOP campaigns.
  • Trump’s top supporter in the Senate, Alabama’s Jeff Sessions, says newspaper ads the businessman bought in 1989 calling for the execution of the Central Park Five show his strength on law and order. The five young black men convicted of raping a jogger were later exonerated.
  • A statue of limitations -- namely Trump's -- was removed from Union Square in Manhattan on Thursday after causing a sensation
  • The Rev. Al Sharpton told Politico he will endorse Clinton after Labor Day to help her turn out African-American voters who twice put President Barack Obama in the White House.
  • Trump’s campaign is buying its first ads of the general election cycle, Almost half of the $4.9 million will be spent in the swing states of Florida and Pennsylvania. Smaller buys were made for Ohio and North Carolina.
  • Joseph Schmitz, a Trump foreign policy adviser, was accused in formal complaints while Pentagon inspector general of bragging about firing Jews and of minimizing the Holocaust, a report from McClatchy newspapers says. He denies it.
  • Trump and Clinton have opened transition offices in the same building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, one block from the White House, The Washington Post says.
  • Trump's charity pledges, when fulfilled, seem to come from other people's money, the Washington Post reports.

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