Let me try to take some stock of President Trump’s speech. There were a lot of random weird asides through the speech, some of which I flagged in real time. One example: In the course of defending himself on Charlottesville he gave a shout-out to CNN Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord who was recently fired for using a Nazi slogan in a Twitter fight. He had kinder and lengthier words for Lord than he did for Heather Heyer. He had kinder words for Kim Jung Un. Everyone said “you won’t bring [quarterly economic growth] up to 1%.” What?

Aside from the rambling weirdness, the big things are these. President Trump spent something like forty-five minutes in a wide-ranging primal scream about Charlottesville, ranting at the press, giving what might generously be called a deeply misleading and dishonest summary of what he actually said. It all amounted to one big attack on the press for supposedly lying about him.

There were some other points that were momentary and perhaps easy to miss but quite important.
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10:56 PM: Trump just threatened to shut down the federal government over the border wall.

10:45 PM: Note that so far Trump has name-checked the victimization of Jeff Lord – who was fired for using a Nazi slog – but not Heather Heyer, the woman killed in Charlottesville.

10:40 PM: The media is “trying to take away our history and our heritage.”

10:33 PM: Trump name-checks victimization of Jeffrey Lord who was canned by CNN for using a Nazi slogan.

10:25 PM: Crowd seems to agree: Trump killed it on Charlottesville response.

10:19 PM: Trump seems to again go for the both-sides-ism version of condemning Charlottesville. But in his attack on the media he does name check neo-nazis and white supremacists.

10:19 PM: Notably, Trump looks to civil society to emulate on duty soldiers.

10:11 PM: Fascinating. The guy who runs the “Blacks for Trump” cult site has again managed to position himself right behind Trump.

In the new episode of The Josh Marshall Show (#18) I talk to Professor Stephen Shoemaker about how the source and text critical methods which have been applied to the early histories of Judaism and Christianity for more than a century can shed dramatically new light on the origins of Islam. Specifically we talk about Shoemaker’s book The Death of a Prophet, one of the most fascinating books I’ve read in quite some time.

I want to let you know about a renewed emphasis I want to bring to how TPM covers the news: not a new topic area, but better, more consistent and deeper ways to do what we already do best: dogged coverage of core TPM stories over days, weeks and months.

Let me explain what I mean.
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I’ve noted on a number of occasions that the Trump Soho project, a major building project in lower manhattan, was the one where Russian and post-Soviet cash seemed to play the clearest role. That is, that’s the biggest place to look if we’re trying to get to the bottom of the Trump Russia story. Trump business partner Felix Sater was running the Trump Soho project, with heavy involvement by the Trump family.  And a key source of the Russia money was an investment fund in Iceland called the “FL Group”, one known to be a repository of choice for cash from Putin-aligned Russian oligarchs. Well, it turns out it wasn’t just Trump Soho. The two other roughly contemporaneous projects, Trump Merrimac in Ft Lauderdale and Trump Tower Pheonix, also got money from FL Group. FL also appears to have loaned money to the man behind Trump Tower Toronto. It seems like  Sam Thielmann has the story.

Recent events have led various platforms and services to banish racist, white supremacist, alt-right groups, pushing them to the platform fringes of the web. TPM’s Allegra Kirkland spoke to various alt-right luminaries about the developments. Some interviews went better than others.

Other sites are more focused in their target audience and demographics: TPM reached out to Pax Dickinson, who was fired as chief technology officer at Business Insider for his racist, misogynist views who went on to found Counter.Fund, a fundraising platform “built by and for the wider Alt-Right counter-culture.”

His response: “Fuck you, Talking Points Memo bullshit artist, I wouldn’t talk to you if you paid me.”

Seriously, most went a lot better. Read Allegra’s report here.

A few moments ago I noticed a new PPP poll showing that Mitch McConnell seems to have been damaged significantly in his home state of Kentucky by the effort to repeal Obamacare. The number that caught my eye was that McConnell has an astonishing 74% disapproval rating with just 18% approving of his performance in office. A hypothetical Democrat beats him by 7 percentage points. But that only tells part of the story.
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President Donald Trump first lady Melania Trump and son Barron Trump board Air Force One at Morristown Municipal Airport, Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017 in Morristown, N.J., for the return flight to Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

One of the oddities of the last week-plus is that it has created what seems like a crisis for the White House which is new and perhaps a turning point. Yet the most daunting challenge facing the White House  – or the two most daunting challenges – aren’t on people’s radar at all. Or, rather they are entirely unconnected to the chain of events stemming from the incidents last weekend in Charlottesville. And the events in Charlottesville have largely pushed them off the front pages.
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President Donald Trump stands with Liberty University president, Jerry Falwell Jr., right, during commencement ceremonies at the school in Lynchburg, Va., Saturday, May 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

I got an email about my post on Trump from an old friend Fred Block, a professor of sociology at UC Davis, and the author of pathbreaking books on the relationship between government and the economy. Here is what Fred wrote:

What a week. Who would imagine that Bannon would do the political equivalent of “suicide by cop” by calling Bob Kuttner? But I wanted to respond to your second childhood post about Trump.

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Counselor to the President of the United States, Steve Bannon, left, talks with White House senior advisers Jared Kushner, right, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Friday, Feb. 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Here’s one thing to consider as Steve Bannon leaves the White House. There’s hardly anyone in the close Trump orbit who hasn’t been tripped up in some way by the Russia investigation. There’s one big exception: Steve Bannon.
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Jessica Huseman is a reporter at ProPublica covering national politics and civil rights. Prior to joining ProPublica, she was an education reporter at The Teacher Project and Slate. Her stories have been published in The Atlantic, the Dallas Morning News, and NPR.

Jessica will be in The Hive on Wednesday, May 24th for a 30-minute chat about voting rights and Trump’s shady “voter fraud” panel. Submit your questions at any time or join us on Wednesday! If you’d like to participate but don’t have TPM Prime, sign up here.

If you don’t have the twitter or breaking news wires spiked directly into your veins, for the last 10 or 20 minutes there have been a series of reports that Steve Bannon is out at the White House. First the news came from Drudge (who, whatever you think about him, is well-sourced on this front). The Times has now confirmed the story – but with a major caveat.
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Every president has these industry councils like the ones we’ve been talking about in recent days. They range from meaningless to not terribly important. They’re mainly symbolic. With everything that’s happened in recent days, I don’t want to make it out like the decisions of a small number of CEOs is the biggest news. Still, we should recognize that it is entirely unprecedented to have a sitting president become so toxic that corporate America feels unable to publicly associate with him. That is totally, totally new territory.
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Roy Moore–yes, THAT Roy Moore–has a plausible path to the U.S. Senate. Not a lock, but probably a lot more plausible than you realize. It’s going to be a barnburner in Alabama over the next six weeks, and Cam Joseph is on the case.

President Donald Trump speaks to the media in the lobby of Trump Tower, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017.  (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

One of the many privileges I have as the proprietor of TPM is that can let my writing be driven, at least in part, by impulse. Sometimes it’s like a fever and I have to and do write constantly. Other times, I don’t feel I have anything particular to say. And while I feel some self-imposed pressure, I can, to a degree, wait. In the last six days, we’ve had the horrifying events in Charlottesville followed by a series of self-inflicted injuries by the President, driven by his own rages, damaged psyche, grievance and inner illness. In the last 36 hours, almost everything seems to be falling apart. And yet, despite the fact that these are all issues which have been central to my interests and concerns for years, I’ve found myself with little to say.
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President Donald Trump pauses as he answers questions from members of the media in the lobby of Trump Tower, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017.  (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

When Donald Trump won the presidency last November, I believed that he would grow into the presidency. I attributed his incendiary views on Mexicans or his past promotion of birtherism to campaign theatrics. He was looking for applause (votes). When he became president, he would be humbled by his responsibility to govern the entire nation (rather than energizing the faithful) and his role as world leader. He would still press some of his policies on trade, immigration, taxes, and infrastructure, but would do so soberly and with a view toward winning majority support.

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Several members of Trump’s bogus voter fraud commission will be very familiar to longtime TPM readers, but two in particular were major TPM characters during the heady days of Bush DOJ politicization, and on into the early years of the Obama administration, including one who was a driving force behind turning the New Black Panther incident in the 2008 election into a cause célèbre on the right. Tierney Sneed catches us up on what they’ve been up to since then, and what that bodes for where Trump’s new commission is headed. Don’t miss this.

Many of you will have seen this by now, but I didn’t get a chance to watch it in full until last night as we were waiting for Alabama returns to come in. If you missed it, it’s a segment Elle Reeve did for Vice on the horrible weekend in Charlottesville. It’s highly compelling TV and masterfully put together. Give a look:

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President Donald Trump speaks to the media in the lobby of Trump Tower, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017.  (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

For those who’ve recognized what should really be obvious, this is quite a paragraph in the Times’ account of today’s Trump press conference

No word in the Trump lexicon is as tread-worn as “unprecedented.” But members of the president’s staff, stunned and disheartened, said they never expected to hear such a voluble articulation of opinions that the president had long expressed in private. National Economic Council Chairman Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, who are Jewish, stood by uncomfortably as the president exacerbated a controversy that has once again engulfed a White House in disarray.

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It may depend on your definition of fun, but the GOP establishment, led by Donald Trump, trying to keep ex-Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore from winning the GOP primary runoff is going to make for an interesting next six weeks in Alabama. Cameron Joseph has the latest on tonight’s results.

Bob Mueller is reportedly most interested in two Trump mega-developments: Trump Soho in New York City and Trump Tower Toronto. The first has already gotten a fair amount of attention, the latter much less. Here’s our look at Trump Tower Toronto and its links to state-owned Russian bank Vnesheconombank. If Mueller’s interested, shouldn’t you be too? Here’s our report.

I wanted to follow up on yesterday’s post about public memory, the Civil War and Robert E. Lee with some more discussion and documents from the year’s just after the Civil War.

One of the things that all historians do is look for the earliest sources and those closest to events and facts we are seeking to understand. In some ways, this core imperative is more clear in ancient history or any period more than a few hundred years ago because historians of the distant past must cope with what is often the extreme scarcity of sources whereas modern historians often have the opposite problem: the sheer volume of source material that is impossible ever to fully digest and process. But the fundamental task is the same: recapturing the past on its own terms before subsequent events, needs, agendas and memory packaged them for use or simply distorted them for subsequent ages. This isn’t a matter of uncovering lies in most cases. We are constantly in the process of reshaping our history to serve our present needs. Indeed, we are constantly in the process of doing this in our own lives, reshaping our own personal story into a coherent backdrop to the person we are in this moment. 
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Debates over public memory and the valorization of history are frequently complicated and politically vexed. But on the margins, in extreme cases, they are often pretty straightforward. For any subject of controversy, the first question we should ask is: What is the person known for? How did they earn a place in our collective public remembrance?
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