Hate bait pleases the crowd
What began, according to The Wall Street Journal, as impulsive Sunday morning tweets in reaction to a "Fox & Friends" segment is now a script for Donald Trump's 2020 campaign.
One day after Democrats passed a House resolution condemning his "racist" comments against four first-term women from the left side of their ranks, the president expanded his attack on them as "hate-filled extremists" at a re-election rally in North Carolina.
It's taken 32 months since his election, but finally, on Wednesday night, Hillary Clinton barely rated a mention. He now has four women to whip up MAGA crowd anger against, at least until the Democratic field of White House candidates sorts itself out.
"If they don’t like it, let them leave, let them leave," Trump said of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar.
He read from prepared remarks that mixed accurate accounts of their controversial comments with embellishments, distortions and fictions. He drew the strongest reaction by depicting Omar, a Muslim born in Somalia, as an al-Qaida sympathizer. "Send her back! Send her back!" the crowd chanted.
He complained that Tlaib "used the F-word to describe the presidency and your president." Said Trump: "That’s not someone who loves our country." Elsewhere in the speech, he used barnyard profanity to dismiss the investigations he has faced.
The four progressive Democrats, Trump said, are "always telling us how to run it, how to do this, how to do that. You know what? If they don't love it, tell ’em to leave it." The crowd agreed: "Leave it," they shouted. Watch a video excerpt.
Polls apart on 'go back'
A 59% majority of Americans considered Trump's tweets telling the congresswomen to go back to countries "from which they came" to be un-American, according to a USA TODAY/Ipsos Poll. But 57% of Republicans agreed with Trump's attack.
Independents, by more than 2-1, say the comments are "un-American," as do 88% of Democrats.
Large numbers considered Trump's statements racist — 65% overall, 85% of Democrats and a 45%-34% plurality of Republicans.
Graham narcs on Trump
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally and frequent golfing partner, contends it was just the president's narcissism, not racism, that motivated the tweets saying the congresswomen should leave the country.
“I really do believe that if you’re a Somali refugee who likes Trump, he’s not gonna say, ‘Go back to Somalia,’ ” Graham told reporters from Fox and NBC. “A racist says ‘Go back to Somalia’ because you’re Somali or Muslim or whatever. That’s just the way he is. It’s more narcissism than anything else.”
Graham added later, "I don’t like the idea of telling somebody who’s an American citizen to go home, this is their home."
Hush-money case closed
Manhattan federal prosecutors have closed their investigation into hush-money payments by Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen without accusing anyone else of violating campaign finance laws.
Cohen pleaded guilty to making payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and arranging for the National Enquirer to make payments to Playboy model Karen McDougal to keep them silent about alleged affairs with Trump.
Cohen implicated the president. But charging Trump would require evidence that the payments were campaign-related instead of personal, and that he knew they were in violation of campaign finance law, reports Newsday's John Riley.
Judge William Pauley granting a request by media organizations including Newsday to unseal warrants and affidavits from a search of Cohen’s office, home and hotel room last year, saying “it is time that every American has an opportunity to scrutinize the materials.” Cohen, who pleaded guilty to a variety of crimes, is serving a federal prison sentence.
Trump and Epstein, party animals
The president has played down his past social ties to Jeffrey Epstein and said he was "never a fan." But NBC News found video from 1992 that shows them partying at Mar-a-Lago with dozens of NFL cheerleaders and sharing leers.
At one point Trump points out a woman to Epstein and leans in to tell him, “She’s hot.” Trump is also shown dancing with the women as music blares and pulling one of them closer to him and then patting her on her rear end.
The footage was shot for a talk-show profile of Trump, whose second marriage was on the rocks. It was more than a decade before Epstein's arrest in Florida for soliciting sex from underage girls.
How did the show's host, Faith Daniels, get that story 27 years ago? She said in the segment that Trump agreed to come on the show after he kissed her on the lips in front of photographers at a charity dinner in New York while her husband’s back was turned.
Impeachment not ripe
The House killed a resolution pushed by a dissident Democrat to impeach Trump. The president claimed it as a win during his rally, but it was more a victory for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's efforts to keep control of her caucus.
Pelosi has warned against an impeachment move before additional evidence is developed that could win over a public that has so far been skeptical about Congress trying to remove Trump. Democrats leaned against the resolution by Texas Rep. Al Green by about a 3-2 margin as the chamber killed the measure 332-95. Republicans unanimously opposed it.
House finds them contemptible
The Democratic-controlled House voted along party lines to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with subpoenas related to their failed effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
The action marks an escalation of Democratic efforts to use their House majority to aggressively investigate the inner workings of the Trump administration. But the contempt vote is largely symbolic because the Justice Department is unlikely to prosecute Barr and Ross.
What else is happening:
- Twenty candidates made the Democratic National Committee's cut to be included in the second round of presidential debates July 30-31. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, who missed the first round, is in. Failing to qualify were Mike Gravel, Wayne Messam, Seth Moulton, Joe Sestak and Tom Steyer.
- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seemed to have ruled out a 2020 Senate run in Kansas, but he's reopened the door a crack. He told a Kansas City radio station that he will “always leave open the possibility that something will change.”
- New York, New Jersey and Connecticut sued the Trump administration in a new effort to undo the new $10,000 federal cap on deductions for state and local taxes, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced. See Newsday's story by Yancey Roy.
- Mayor Bill de Blasio, who got scorched for being in Iowa during last Saturday's power outage in Manhattan, has canceled campaign plans for the coming weekend. “I am staying here until we get through this heat wave, which sounds like all the way until Sunday, maybe later," he said in a radio interview on Hot 97.
- A 51%-35% majority of voters supports the mass deportation raids that Trump promised, a Politico/Morning Consult poll found. There's still no sign of big roundups. De Blasio said ICE agents were spotted at eight locations in the city over five days but took no one into custody, reports Newsday's Matthew Chayes.