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Domestic terrorism, guns and blame all shape the post-massacre agenda

Gun-control activists Tuesday in a park across from

Gun-control activists Tuesday in a park across from the White House. Credit: Getty Images/Win McNamee

Defining enemies

President Donald Trump — preparing to visit Texas and Ohio, where back-to-back massacres took at least 31 lives — has said he “asked the FBI to identify all further resources they need to investigate and disrupt hate crimes and domestic terrorism.”

His own internal relations with federal law enforcement agencies, however, have been shaky from the start of his administration. Now the 14,000-member FBI Agents Association is appealing for more law-enforcement authority by renewing its calls for stronger domestic terrorism laws, and the prospects of this happening are faint.

John Bash, the U.S. attorney for West Texas, said the El Paso, Texas, killings already meet the "statutory definition of domestic terrorism." The alleged shooter, Patrick Crusius, has been linked to an anti-immigration "manifesto" posted on line.

FBI officials said Tuesday that deceased gunman Santino Legan, who killed three and injured 13 in Gilroy, California, had a “target list” of religious institutions, Democratic and Republican political organizations and federal buildings. They opened a domestic-terrorism investigation there. Officials also said Dayton, Ohio, gunman Connor Betts "explored violent ideologies."

New look at terrorism?

All this comes as the chairmen of the 9/11 commission into jihadi terrorist attacks on the U.S. call for a similar investigation to examine domestic terrorism. Tom Kean, the former GOP governor of New Jersey, and Lee Hamilton, a former Democratic congressman from Indiana, suggested political leaders seem to be at a loss for responses to the recent violence and could use such a bipartisan probe.

Trump said in his 2017 inaugural speech, "This American carnage stops right here and right now," but he never said how. This week, former President Barack Obama said, "We should soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments." On Tuesday, Trump tweeted, "Did George Bush ever condemn President Obama after Sandy Hook. President Obama had 32 mass shootings during his reign ..."

Plea for help

The latest post-carnage gun-law talk plods onward. Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) joined Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in asking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to call an emergency session to approve a universal background-check bill for gun purchases.

Firearms dealers would have to wait at least 10 days after a background check is done before a sale could be completed. Current legislation allows sellers to wait just three days after a background check is finished, Newsday's Robert Brodsky reports. The House approved the bill in February.

Meanwhile, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, moved for his state to enact a "red flag" law designed to deny firearms to the mentally ill.

Newsday's Tom Brune describes the full scope of the latest national gun debate.

'Rocket Man' launches again

National security adviser John Bolton reminded North Korea on Tuesday that it had vowed not to resume launches of intercontinental-range missiles. Dictator Kim Jong Un's regime had just conducted its fourth short-range missile test in less than two weeks and warned it might pursue “a new road," Reuters reports.

Trump has been downplaying the short-range launches. “I think the president is watching this very very carefully," Bolton said. But a Foreign Ministry spokesman for the Pyongyang government said it “will be compelled to seek a new road as we have already indicated” if South Korea and the United States continue what he called hostile military moves.

Tax attacks

Trump and the Republican National Committee filed two lawsuits Tuesday against California officials, seeking to void a new law that would force Trump to disclose tax returns if he wants to appear on that state's primary ballot.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the law last week. Plaintiffs call it a “naked political attack against the sitting president of the United States.” Newsom tweeted: "There’s an easy fix Mr. President — release your tax returns as you promised during the campaign and follow the precedent of every president since 1973.”

Takin' in the Trump-tons

Trump, who once boasted his "self-funded" campaign meant he wouldn't "owe anybody anything," is due to headline a Hamptons fundraisers on Friday where donors will pay up to $250,000 to have lunch and take a photo with him, Newsday's Laura Figueroa Hernandez reports.

Developer Joe Farrell is hosting a 12:30 p.m. reception for Trump at his Bridgehampton estate to benefit Trump 2020 and the Republican National Committee, says an invitation to supporters.

The president then heads to the Southampton home of developer Stephen Ross and his wife, Kara Ross, for a 2:30 p.m. fundraising reception. Admission starts at $100,000 for lunch and a photo with Trump and runs up to $250,000 for the chance to attend a roundtable discussion with the president.

What else is happening:

  • Jon Huntsman is resigning as U.S. ambassador to Russia after a difficult two years between the two countries.
  • Peter Strzok, an FBI agent whose anti-Trump texts got him reassigned and then fired, is suing. He says the administration encouraged political speech by employees — if it favored the president.
  • Mayor Bill de Blasio told Politico he now thinks Sen. Bernie Sanders would have beaten Trump if he'd been the 2016 Democratic candidate.
  • Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-Manhattan), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is pushing for records related to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
  • Former VP candidate Sarah Palin had her libel case against The New York Times reinstated. A 2017 editorial linked her political committee to the 2011 shooting of then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Newsday's John Riley reports.

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