Aug 19, 2017

Ben Sasse doubts if Trump can calm the nation after more violence

Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska has been trying to understand last weekend's violence in Charlottesville, much like the rest of the country. Between his talks with constituents —one of whom is a self-described Trump supporter who told Sasse "we should admit that the President has done a bad job getting us through this" — and his discussions with family, Sen. Sasse has a prediction for what's next: By equalizing the "alt-right" and "alt-left," Trump's comments could lead to future clashes because his lousy responses don't calm tensions between the groups.

Key quote: "What will happen next? I doubt that Donald Trump will be able to calm and comfort the nation in that moment. He (and lots of others) will probably tell an awful combination of partial truths and outright falsehoods. On top of the trust deficits that are already baked so deeply in, unity will be very hard to come by."

Why it matters: Sen. Sasse has never liked Trump. He's consistently stood up to him, calling him a "megalomaniac strongman" and refusing to say whether or not he even considers Trump an adult. But his public (and blunt) Facebook message against Trump's handling of Charlottesville reflects a larger trend of Republican lawmakers distancing themselves from the president after his week of flip-flopping on whether to denounce violent white nationalists.

Other highlights from Sasse's post:

  • "I expect that violence will come when white supremacists and the alt-right fight anarchist groups aligned with the extreme left."
  • "Besides ability and temperament, I also worry that national unity will be unlikely because there are some whispering in the President's ear that racial division could be good politics for them."

Why it really matters: September is just a few days away and Trump will need to push forward (and pass) various important legislation that will require the support of Republican lawmakers. (Think: increasing the debt ceiling, passing a budget to avoid a government shutdown, moving ahead on and introducing a proper tax reform plan, possibly revisiting the health care repeal.) Trump willingly ostracized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake when he repeatedly attacked them on Twitter. But reactions like Sasse's show that other Republicans, who Trump hasn't targeted in recent weeks, are now choosing to alienate themselves from the president after months of seeing how little he values words and uniting the country.

Go deeper

History's largest lockdown leaves Indian workers stranded, afraid

A migrant worker on the move with his child, in Gurugram, India. Photo: Parveen Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty

Few moments better capture the world into which we've slipped than the decision of one man to order 1.4 billion into lockdown.

Why it matters: India’s three-week lockdown is the largest ever attempted, and it sparked South Asia's greatest migration since partition in 1947. While the economic effects could be devastating, the public health crisis it's intended to fend off could be more destructive still.

Go deeperArrow18 mins ago - World

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 782,319 — Total deaths: 37,582 — Total recoveries: 164,565.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 161,807 — Total deaths: 2,953 — Total recoveries: 5,595.
  3. Federal government latest: The White House will extend its social distancing guidelines until April 30.
  4. State updates: Rural-state governors say testing is still inadequate, contradicting Trump — Virginia, Maryland and D.C. issue stay-at-home orders to residents, joining 28 other states.
  5. Business latest: Ford and General Electric aim to make 50,000 ventilators in 100 days.
  6. In photos: Navy hospital ship arrives in Manhattan.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

First U.S. service member dies from coronavirus

Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

The Pentagon on Monday announced the death of a member of the New Jersey National Guard who tested positive for the coronavirus.

Why it matters: It's the first U.S. service member — active, reserve or Guard — to die from the virus, according to the Pentagon. The guardsman passed away on Saturday after being hospitalized for the novel coronavirus on March 21.