‘Peace to ALL Americans’
A year after deadly clashes erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia, between white supremacist groups and counterprotesters, President Donald Trump once again found himself fielding criticism for his response to the violence back then and his current handling of race relations.
Last year, Trump condemned the actions of people on “many sides,” and said there were good people “on both sides” of the protests. Those remarks sparked widespread backlash from lawmakers and civil rights activists, who argued the president was not forceful enough in denouncing the neo-Nazi and white nationalist groups that descended on the University of Virginia campus with lit torches last year.
Trump on Saturday tweeted about the “senseless death and division” that resulted from last year’s protests — his tweet coming on the eve of a second, sparsely attended, iteration of the Unite the Right rally where a few dozen white nationalist protesters appeared to be outnumbered by throngs of counterprotesters denouncing racism.
“The riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division. We must come together as a nation. I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to ALL Americans!”
For some, the tweet was too little, too late.
‘He’s got to be better than that’
Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Md.), speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” urged Trump to do more to denounce racism.
“I think it’s a low bar for the president of the United States to simply say he’s against racism,” Lewis said. “He’s got to be better than that. He’s got to address the people who are espousing the racist comments and doing racist acts.”
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the only black Republican in the Senate, said on “Face the Nation” that Trump’s tweets “were a positive sign of a better direction for the nation, without any question. The president condemning all acts of racism and violence is a positive step in the right direction.”
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), also on “Face the Nation,” said it “was infuriating” that Trump “could not distinguish who was on the right side and who was on the wrong side in a white supremacist, neo-Nazi rally.”
Read Newsday’s Scott Eidler and Laura Figueroa Hernandez’s roundup from Sunday’s political talk show circuit for more.
Omarosa strikes back, with tapes
The weekend’s Charlottesville-related events came as Trump grappled with allegations of racism raised by his former White House aide and former “Apprentice” star Omarosa Manigault Newman in a new tell-all book, “Unhinged: An Insider Account of the Trump White House.”
Manigault Newman, in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” to promote the book, told host Chuck Todd she has heard audiotapes of Trump using the N-word during his time starring on “The Apprentice.”
Manigault Newman had her own tape to share on air, providing NBC with a copy of audio she surreptitiously captured of Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly firing her inside the White House’s Situation Room.
The one-time reality show star turned West Wing staffer told Todd she questioned Trump’s mental aptitude for the Oval Office.
“I was complicit with this White House in deceiving this nation,” she said. “They continue to deceive this nation by how mentally declined he is, about how difficult it is for him to process complex information, how he is not engaged in some of the most important decisions that impacts our country.”
Omarosa’s security breach?
National security experts told reporters that Manigault Newman’s recording of Kelly in the Situation Room, one of the most tightly guarded offices in the White House, represents a serious security breach.
Ned Price, a former National Security Council spokesman for the Obama administration, told The Washington Post the Situation Room “is the inner sanctum within an already-secure facility where the most sensitive of the most sensitive information is discussed.”
“It’s where negotiations with Iran were hashed out. It’s where contingency plans for nuclear launches have been developed. The fact that she was recording a conversation in there really raises alarm bells in the minds of people who have worked in that room,” Price said.
Price said cellphones and recording devices are not allowed in the room, though aides are not screened before entering.
Bradley Moss, a Washington, D.C., attorney specializing in national security law, told Politico, “deliberately bringing an unsecured cellphone into a [secure facility], would absolutely be a fireable offense.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement Sunday evening that said: “The very idea a staff member would sneak a recording device into the White House Situation Room, shows a blatant disregard for our national security — and then to brag about it on national television further proves the lack of character and integrity of this disgruntled former employee.”
Janison: Manafort’s money trail
A condo in Manhattan’s trendy SoHo neighborhood. A Brooklyn town house. A home on Jobs Lane in Bridgehampton.
Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s federal trial on bank and tax fraud charges has spotlighted the trail of financial transactions federal investigators had at their disposal when investigating his overseas work in Ukraine for an ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Read more about Manafort’s real estate money trial in Dan Janison’s Newsday column.
What else is happening:
- Bill Shine’s time at Fox News working under Roger Ailes could give him an edge in navigating Trump’s White House as the president’s new lead communications strategist, reports The Washington Post.
- Following a “Bikers for Trump” event on Saturday, the president gave his Twitter endorsement to Harley Davidson owners who say they plan to boycott the American motorcycle manufacturer because of its plans to ship production of some of its bikes overseas in response to trade tensions between the U.S. and the European Union.
- The editorial boards of more than 70 news outlets have signed on to a campaign launched by The Boston Globe that will condemn Trump’s attacks on the media.