President Donald Trump signed into law a bill that aims...

President Donald Trump signed into law a bill that aims to get veterans' appeals heard more quickly at the Department of Veterans Affairs, during the national convention of the American Legion in Reno, Nev., on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017. Credit: AP / Alex Brandon

Trump’s shutdown threat

Someone’s gotta pay, right? First, Donald Trump vowed he would make Mexico bear the costs of a border wall. Now, he wants funds from Congress — and is threatening a government shutdown if it doesn’t deliver.

“Believe me, if we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall,” he told his rowdy rally in Phoenix Tuesday night.

But Democrats said Wednesday they won’t agree to wall funding, which cannot get through the Senate if the opposition party stands in the way. Republicans on Capitol Hill don’t seem eager to force the issue — at least not when a stopgap spending bill is due Sept. 30 to keep the federal government fully operating.

“I don’t think a government shutdown is necessary, and I don’t think most people want to see a government shutdown — ourselves included,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said.

Still, Trump could veto a stopgap bill and force a shutdown. Members of Congress who want no part of such disruption would try to make sure the president owns it.

The takeaway: Fake outrage

Cable news viewers Tuesday night took a trip into a Trump twilight zone — the one where he claims the networks have cut away from his speech while the audience at home can see that’s completely false.

Surely Trump knows it’s nonsense, too, but he used the bit once more to stir up his live rally crowd in Phoenix against the news media. His road show inanities may be getting harder for Republicans in Congress to shrug off, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.

The mild one

Johnny Cash sang in “Folsom Prison Blues” of a character who “shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.” After Trump’s wild performance in Arizona, no one was sure what to expect when he moved on to the northwestern Nevada city for a speech Wednesday to the American Legion.

Turns out that Trump put his venting on pause. Instead of railing against those in Congress who have blocked much of his agenda, he delivered a win for the veterans — signing a bill that aims to get their appeals heard more quickly at the VA.

He appealed for unity — a healing of “the wounds that divide us” — without shifting into his grievances.

See Newsday’s story by Tom Brune.

Hillary: Trump crept me out

Hillary Clinton, in an excerpt from a forthcoming campaign memoir, said her “skin crawled” as Donald Trump loomed behind her at a presidential debate in St. Louis and “was literally breathing down my neck.”

She said and did nothing, but she second-guessed her reaction.

“Do you stay calm, keep smiling and carry on as if he weren’t repeatedly invading your space? Or do you turn, look him in the eye and say loudly and clearly, ‘Back up you creep, get away from me,’” she said in an audio excerpt played on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

See you in September

Neither the White House nor Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office is denying reports of a bitter feud punctuated by a profane shouting match. But each was trying to play it down.

Statements from both sides Wednesday said that both remained committed to a shared agenda, and that they will meet after Congress returns from its August recess. But then the president took to Twitter....

Tweet-tantrum Thursday

Early Thursday, Trump was back to complaining about the Republican Congressional leadership in both houses. 

He said he'd asked that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan tie a raise in the debt ceiling to a veterans' bill "for easy approval."  

"They didn't do it so now we have a big deal with Dems holding them up (as usual) on Debt Ceiling approval. Could have been so easy-now a mess!"

It is of course quite possible that the GOP crew Trump likes to blame and denounce collectively and individually didn't mind handing their president "a mess." But McConnell said Monday there is "zero chance" the Congress would fail to raise the debt ceiling by September.

What else is happening:

  • Three prominent groups of rabbis decided not to hold their annual conference call with the president to mark the Jewish high holy days, charging Trump’s remarks on Charlottesville supported “those who advocate anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia.”
  • Trump’s ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, told a TV interviewer there that Trump’s Charlottesville reaction “wasn’t fine,” though he also said the president is “treated very unfairly in the media.”
  • A Quinnipiac poll finds 62% of voters say Trump is doing more to divide the country; 31% say he is doing more to unite it. They disapprove 60%-32% of his response to the events in Charlottesville.
  • Is Trump a lock for the GOP nomination in 2020? The Democratic National Committee is hedging its bets, collecting opposition research on Vice President Mike Pence, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, among others, Politico reports.
  • Anthony Scaramucci’s nostalgia for his days as White House communications director has outlasted his tenure. He tweeted an image of a T-shirt that read, “I was communications director for 10 days and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.”
  • The White House has prepared the paperwork for Trump to pardon former Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a fellow immigration hard-liner, when he makes the final decision to do so, CNN reported.