POLITICS
08/15/2017 06:06 pm ET

Party Of Lincoln Returns To Its Pro-Confederacy Roots

Shots fired in Fort Trumpter
Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

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A New York businessman is giving so much support to the Confederacy you’d think it was the Civil War. President Trump’s press conference this afternoon recalled Dr. King’s famous words that we not judge a man by the color of his skin but by the unrivaled Cabernet Sauvignon produced at his sizable Virginia vineyard. And it’s abundantly clear that the commander-in-chief is far less worried about whether the country thinks he tolerates hate groups than if a few men with NetJets accounts find him disagreeable. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, August 15th, 2017:

WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT - Paige Lavender: “During remarks at Trump Tower, the president put blame on all protesters who were present in Charlottesville. ‘You had a group on one side who was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent, and nobody wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now,’ Trump said, referring to white supremacists, anti-fascists known as ‘antifa’ and counterprotesters who converged in Charlottesville over the weekend. ‘You had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit, and they were very, very violent.’ But Trump also explained why he was quick to condemn any specific people in his initial statement on the protests. ‘You have people who are very fine people on both sides,’ Trump said. He also argued he was waiting on ‘the facts’ before condemning white supremacists Saturday…. The president argued the removal of Confederate statues, such as the Robert E. Lee statue at the center of the Charlottesville protests, could lead to the removal of statues of historic figures like George Washington or Thomas Jefferson.” [HuffPost]

Breitbart hed: “Trump on Fire: Blasts Reporters’ Handling of Charlottesville Violence”

@DrDavidDuke: Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka resigned from the president’s manufacturing council shortly after the press conference.

TRUMP’S APPROVALS STILL SINKING - Ariel Edwards-Levy: ”Just 39 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s job performance as of Tuesday afternoon, according to HuffPost Pollster’s aggregate of public polls, down from about 45 percent at the beginning of February. While nearly 8 in 10 Republicans still view the president positively, that’s also down nearly 5 points in the months since his inauguration ― and that doesn’t account for disgruntled former Republicans who’ve left the party. The share of Trump voters who strongly support him, meanwhile, has fallen from two-thirds at at the start of his term to a bare majority in recent polls…. Overall, however, Trump’s already limited bank of supporters seem to declining even further ― a trend that raises the question of just how low his absolute floor of support might be. According to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll, the answer could be about 14 percent. That’s the share of Americans who say both that they approve of Trump’s performance as president, and that there’s almost nothing Trump could do to lose their approval. Twenty percent approve of Trump, but say he could squander their backing.” [HuffPost]

ELECTION DAY IN UTAH, ALABAMA - In Alabama, well, things are going more or less how you’d expect. David Weigel: On the Republican side, a bitter and expensive campaign seemed to favor Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.), who was appointed to replace Sessions in February by a governor who later resigned in disgrace. Despite millions of dollars in ads, and tweets and robo-calls from a supportive President Trump, public polling had Strange in a dogfight with Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) and former state Supreme Court justice Roy Moore. In a Tuesday morning tweet, Trump reiterated that Strange ‘will be great’ if sent back to the Senate…. But in the final hours of campaigning, both Moore and Brooks attacked Strange as a pawn of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), whose Senate Leadership Fund and One Nation super PACs have spent more than $2.4 million to bail out the incumbent.” [WaPo]

A special election is being held in Utah today to fill the House seat vacated by Jason Chaffetz, who took his investigations of Hillary Clinton to their right and proper place: Fox News. “Moderate Utah Republicans have backed a popular mayor, John Curtis, who was once a Democrat and said he had strong moral concerns that kept him from voting for Trump. Those further to the right have split their support behind Chris Herrod, a former state lawmaker known for strict immigration positions, and Tanner Ainge, a business consultant, first-time candidate and son of Boston Celtics president Danny Ainge. Out-of-state organizations and political action committees have spent about $900,000 in Utah’s race — on top of about $600,000 in campaign contributions collected by the three Republicans running for Utah’s 3rd Congressional District.” [AP’s Michelle L. Price]

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TRUMP ADMINISTRATION AXED ANTI-HATE INITIATIVE - It’ll be fun to think about this when they try to cut the effective corporate tax rate later this year. Jessica Schulberg: “Weeks before a violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, ed to three deaths and 19 injuries, the Trump administration revoked a grant to Life After Hate, a group that works to de-radicalize neo-Nazis. The Department of Homeland Security had awarded the group $400,000 as part of its Countering Violent Extremism program in January, just days before former President Barack Obama left office. It was the only group selected for a grant that focused exclusively on fighting white supremacy. But the grant money was not immediately disbursed. Trump aides, including Katharine Gorka, a controversial national security analyst known for her anti-Muslim rhetoric, were already working toward eliminating Life After Hate’s grant and to direct all funding toward fighting what the president has described as “radical Islamic terrorism.” [HuffPost]

MOST OF TRUMP’S BUSINESS ADVISORS STAYING PUT - Despite several resignations from the president’s manufacturing council in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, there has been a noticeable lack of departures from POTUS’ other business advisory group.  Alexander C. Kaufman: ”[N]o one has left the president’s other business brain trust. The Strategic and Policy Forum, a council of 16 big-name executives tasked with advising Trump on economic policy, includes some huge consumer brands, making those members more susceptible to public pressure through boycotts. Still, most of them did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment on Tuesday. The fastest responses tended to come from executives who lead finance and financial services giants that generally don’t count ordinary consumers among their clients. Steve Schwarzman, the billionaire chief executive of the investment goliath Blackstone Group, issued a strongly worded statement on Monday, condemning ‘bigotry, hatred and extremism’ as an ‘affront to core American values.’ But his spokesman told HuffPost he had no plans to leave the council.”′ [HuffPost]

DOLLARS AND PENCE - Paul Blumenthal: “No vice president in modern political campaigning formed their own fundraising committee independent of the president so far in advance of an election until Vice President Mike Pence launched Great America Committee in May…. Pence has already raised more than $500,000 and spent more than $230,000 through his political action committee. The funds largely come from donors residing in his home state of Indiana, where he has hosted at least one fundraiser this year. Pence’s committee spent more than $130,000 on political and fundraising consultants, and $68,000 on fundraising events. The committee made the maximum allowed donation of $5,400 to Trump’s re-election campaign…. None of the vice presidents before Pence who held office since the enactment of campaign finance reforms in 1971 and 1974 have established independent political fundraising efforts to promote themselves to donors prior to announcing their own presidential campaigns.” [HuffPost]

DACA TURNS FIVE - Outside of Robert Baratheon’s’ illegitimate children, few five-year-olds are under such threat. Roque Planas and Elise Foley: ”[A] coalition of states led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is threatening legal action to kill the policy, if the Trump administration doesn’t do it first…. Trump has left DACA alone, angering some conservatives who viewed the program as an unconstitutional way to skirt congressional authority. Paxton is responsible for torpedoing a more expansive version of deferred action that Obama tried to implement in 2014. The Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program, or DAPA, would have exempted as many as an estimated 3.7 million undocumented immigrants with U.S. citizen or legal resident children from deportation and allowed them to work legally. At the same time, Obama sought to expand DACA to a larger group of undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.” [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s a dog who’s not ready for the eclipse.

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