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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Over the last twenty four hours or so we’ve seen reports of numerous white supremacist marchers in Charlottesville who also show up in meet-and-greet type photos with members of Congress and candidates for office. Needless to say, they’re all Republicans. We’re looking into this. But I want to add some context and suggestions about what this means and what it doesn’t. 
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The problem with the continued begging, ‘why won’t he denounce, why won’t he denounce’ is that at some point, maybe later today, President Trump will go before a podium and read off through gritted teeth a pro-forma denunciation of Nazis and it will seem to a lot of people like it means something when it doesn’t. He’s already made crystal clear where he stands here. The question is how we individually and as a country are going to deal with that fact, not how many more mulligans we’re going to give him. His neo-nazi supporters are truly over the moon that he’s steadfastly refusing to criticize them, even in the face of withering criticism and derision. They get the message. They’re ecstatic. Everyone who doesn’t see this, see that it is intentional, is getting played for chumps.

Touching self-invocation of the ‘real’ Peter Cvjetanovic here. Cvjetanovic was one of the frothing racist bros who was photographed at Friday night’s tiki torch rally …

As his photo shot around the world, he told a reporter from a local tv station …

I did not expect the photo to be shared as much as it was. I understand the photo has a very negative connotation. But I hope that the people sharing the photo are willing to listen that I’m not the angry racist they see in that photo.


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Rescue personnel help injured people after a car ran into a large group of protesters after an Alt Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.  (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

As we get underway today, a few thoughts on yesterday. In addition to going out of his way not to denounce the white supremacist and neo-nazi marchers yesterday, for those primed to hear it (which is the point) the President made a point of calling out and valorizing the marchers. In his at length on-camera comments, in addition to bromides and calling for people to love each other, Trump noted that we must “cherish our history.”

Here’s the passage …
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James M. Lindsay is senior vice president, director of studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg chair at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), where he oversees the work of the more than six dozen fellows in the David Rockefeller Studies Program. He is a leading authority on the American foreign policymaking process and the domestic politics of American foreign policy.

James will be joining us in The Hive to chat about foreign policy and the U.S. Submit your questions at any time or join us on Thursday! If you’d like to participate but don’t have TPM Prime, sign up here.

Virginia authorities charge 20 year old James Alex Fields, Jr on multiple counts related to the car attack on counter-protestors in Charlottesville.

The President has made a few more comments today. They follow the standard pattern: Make the absolute minimum criticism of white supremacists, neo-nazis and right wing extremists. From a few moments ago: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides.” He explicitly equates the white supremacist/nazi marchers and the counter-protestors.

2:26 PM: This is from the AP wire at 2:00 PM, eyewitness reports from credentialed journalists on social media suggest substantially more people injured than in this copy …

Authorities are on the scene after a vehicle plowed into a group of people marching peacefully through downtown Charlottesville.

An Associated Press reporter saw at least one person on the ground receiving medical treatment immediately afterward the incident, which occurred approximately two hours after violent clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters.

The nationalists were holding the rally to protest plans by the city of Charlottesville to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

There were several hundred protesters marching in a long line when the car drove into a group of them.

Here’s video of one angle of the incident …

Here is a ‘better’ view of the incident. As you can see, two cars are moving very slowly through a crowd of counter-demonstrators when another cars comes at high speed behind them, hitting demonstrators and then plowing into the back of one of those two cars. That appears to have caused a chain reaction throwing the other two cars into other people on foot.

White supremacists and Neo-Nazis are the President’s domestic Putins. We’re not supposed to say in polite company that he’s on their side. But he has to be dragged kicking and screaming to criticize them. And he usually refuses to do so altogether. Today’s tweet in response to the incidents in Charlottesville is just the latest example.

Earlier this month, The Atlantic reported on a memo written by a since-fired NSC staffer named Rich Higgins. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster fired Higgins in July over the memo. But Higgins’ dismissal was part of McMaster’s broader effort to assert control over an NSC which still has or had numerous staffers brought in by Mike Flynn. Yesterday Foreign Policy published the memo in its entirety along with new reporting about the context of the memo, its discovery and Higgins’ dismissal.
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Let me note something about this afternoon’s news that Paul Manafort is switching out his legal team. Pay attention to some key parts of the rather brief announcement. The statement by spokesman Paul Maloni says that Manafort is “in the process of retaining his former counsel, Miller & Chevalier, to represent him in the office of special counsel investigation” and that “as of today, WilmerHale no longer represents Mr. Manafort.”
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Picking up on my earlier post about why Trump’s lawyer appears to be signaling that he fears materials seized from Paul Manafort’s home may incriminate the President, let me say this. It’s quite possible that John Dowd is just being stupid. Or, more specifically, it’s possible Dowd is just sounding up for the benefit of Trump’s political supporters and doesn’t care if his comments make sense in other contexts or might even appear incriminating. Unlike the now semi-canned Marc Kasowitz, he’s a real DC lawyer. He’s also got a reputation as a hothead.  But I want to zoom in on the issue of Paul Manafort.
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President Trump’s lawyer John Dowd allegedly sent an email to The Wall Street Journal in which he said, among other things, that the raid on Paul Manafort’s home was a gross abuse of power. The FBI definitely used aggressive tactics. I said as much yesterday. But the part that jumps out to me is that Dowd is threatening to make a motion to have the fruits of the search suppressed.
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The deliberate wrecking of Obamacare, which President Trump has declared as his political strategy, is going to come in many forms. Both acts of commission and omission. As Alice Ollstein reports today, Trump’s HHS, under the guiding hand of anti-Obamacare jihadist Tom Price, has abandoned the outreach programs that did so much to boost the ranks of covered Latinos.

It’s an important story, but it’s just one window into Trump’s planned demolishing of Obamacare. We need your help in tracking the myriad ways the administration is tearing down Obamacare so that it can declare it broken and revive repeal efforts. (That’s been the GOP MO on Obamacare for years, but Trump strips the pretense away and just says as much.)

If you’re in HHS, used to be in HHS, work with HHS or have in the past, or otherwise have information about the undoing of Obamacare by executive fiat, email us. That includes you, insurance industry folks, state regulators, and trade groups. As always, talk at talking points memo dot com is the best way to reach us. Put “Attn: Alice Ollstein” in the subject line and she’ll be sure to see it.

In almost every discussion of the North Korea situation, I try to remind everyone that North Korea made its nuclear break out under George W. Bush – not under Bill Clinton and not under Barack Obama. A key part of that backstory is that over the course of the late 90s the US negotiated a series of agreements called the Agreed Framework which shuttered the North Koreans nuclear weapons program in exchange for a combination of commitments and aid. The Bush team argued that the agreement was ‘appeasement’ and that the US had caught the North Koreans cheating on the agreement during Bush’s first term. The cheating argument has always struck me as questionable – quite possibly true but questionable. But the bigger issue is this: Does any of this really matter today as more than affixing blame for a situation we have to grapple with today whoever is at fault? I would argue that it very much does. Here’s why.
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That Robert Mueller’s probe is beginning to examine to Trump finances is neither surprising nor out of the ordinary, as Tierney Sneed reports. But one point I hadn’t seen made before comes from a former federal prosecutor who handled national security cases:


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TPM Reader ML thinks I’m mistaken to believe Trump’s bellicosity has played a role in the recent escalation between the US and North Korea …

I am a big fan of your work. TPM is absolute “must-read” for me every morning (right after the Red Sox box score). But, I have a bit of of a dissent to offer related to something you said in your Korea piece. It will seem like a minor point on the surface, but there is a larger issue at stake that troubles me.


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In response to a new round of threats from North Korea, themselves spurred by new US sanctions led by the US, President Trump has now, rather casually, threatened North Korea with a nuclear holocaust. At a meeting on the opioid crisis a short time ago Trump just said: “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” Trump said. “He has been very threatening, beyond a normal state, and as I said they will be met with fire and fury and, frankly, power the likes of which this world has never seen before.”
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I mentioned earlier that a number of publications, including TPM, have now spoken to the young New Jersey woman who is somehow involved in the “ProTrump45” Trump merchandise scam and was the basis of the “Nicole Mincey” persona. Her story keeps changing, with references to other fictive personalities, contradictory claims about money that was involved, how she became involved and so forth. She has insisted through multiple interviews that she only got involved because of her support for Trump and never received any money. In the latest interview, which I discuss below, she claims she left the scam group in June because, “the store was getting disorganized. They weren’t keeping up with the orders. I wasn’t getting paid.”   The evolving story has all the hallmarks of a band of grifters, of uncertain size and collective intelligence, scrambling for cover stories.
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