Alayna Treene

This week in Trumpland: chaos from Charlottesville to Bannon

Lazaro Gamio / Axios

The fallout from President Trump's controversial response to the violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend dominated the week's headlines. But Trump made some other gaffes this week, which ended in the abrupt resignation of his embattled chief strategist Steve Bannon.

It was another whirlwind week in Trumpland, so let's dive in:

Charlottesville flip-flopping

  • Trump seemingly redeemed himself from his initial weak statement on Charlottesville when on Monday he finally condemned racist hate groups for their violent behavior in Charlottesville. (He singled out neo-nazis, white supremacists, and other groups as "repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.")
  • But that all came to an end Tuesday when Trump declared, in an unplanned presser, what he truly believes — that "both sides" (meaning the white nationalists and the "alt-left") were to blame.
  • The statement led many top Republicans to distance themselves from the president, and the blatant lack of party members coming to his defense in the days that followed sent a silent, but powerful message that Trump had isolated himself completely.

Business councils disbanded

  • Another damaging after-effect of Trump's incendiary Charlottesville remarks was the number of CEOs that pulled out of Trump's special councils.
  • It all started with the resignation of Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, which led to a domino effect of other top CEOs following suit. It quickly became such a problem that Trump, feeling rejected, abruptly decided to disband two of his key groups of outside business advisers on Wednesday.
  • The next day, the WH announced that they were also scrapping plans for the creation of an infrastructure council. (Don't forget: It was Infrastructure Week.)

"Beautiful statues"

  • Many cities across the nation removed their Confederate monuments after the Charlottesville rally and Trump's remarks.
  • Thursday, Trump publicly defended the "beautiful statues," stating that it's "sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart."

A powerful message

  • Susan Bro, the mother of 32-year-old Heather Heyer who was killed when a car rammed into a crowd of protestors at the Charlottesville rally, became a focal point this week with her powerful statement to those responsible for her daughter's death.
  • Key quote: "They tried to kill my child to shut her up. But guess what? You just magnified her."
  • Later in the week Bro, who initially thanked Trump for his "words of comfort" on Monday, also stated that she "will not" talk to the president after learning of his "both sides" remarks, and doesn't plan to return his phone calls. "You can't wash this one away by shaking my hand and saying I'm sorry," she said.

Bye bye, Bannon

  • Bannon drew sharp criticism this week with the publication of his eye-opening Tuesday interview with the liberal-leaning American Prospect — a conversation that he clearly didn't think was on-the-record.
  • After reading the piece, one of Bannon's colleagues told Axios: "Since Steve apparently enjoys casually undermining U.S. national security, I'll put this in terms he'll understand: This is DEFCON 1-level bad."
  • Fast forward to Friday morning, Axios' Jonathan Swan reported that WH officials expected Bannon to be fired, and that the only real question was "when," not "if."
  • Axios sources quickly confirmed it, and one senior WH official told Swan, "Steve was made aware he was going to be asked to leave... he was given the opportunity to do it on his own terms. He was told the decision had been made and that he would no longer be serving at the WH."

Mitt to Trump: admit you were wrong and apologize

Rogelio V. Solis / AP

Mitt Romney urged in a Facebook post Friday that Trump should take "remedial action in the extreme" and "[s]tate forcefully and unequivocally that racists are 100% to blame for the murder and violence in Charlottesville."

Key excerpts:

  • "Whether he intended to or not, what he communicated caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep, and the vast heart of America to mourn."
  • "He should address the American people, acknowledge that he was wrong, apologize."
  • "This is a defining moment for President Trump. But much more than that, it is a moment that will define America in the hearts of our children. They are watching, our soldiers are watching, the world is watching. Mr. President, act now for the good of the country."

Romney's full post:


Trump attacks "obstructionist" Democrats after Barcelona

A day after a terrorist attack in Barcelona left 14 dead and more than 100 people injured, President Trump slammed "Obstructionist" Democrats and the courts on Twitter for making it "very difficult" for his administration to be tougher on border security:


Axios Morning 5

Welcome to the Axios Morning 5, where we bring you 5 stories to get you smarter for the day ahead. Check out our Apple News channel for the latest smart brevity on politics, tech, business, science and the future of work, and sign up here for our free newsletters.

1) New GOP fear: Trump slump legislatively, in stock markets

White House staffers sound dejected and deflated. They're not surprised; they're not mad. They just realize that President Trump, self-indulgent and self-destructive, has wound up in a cul-de-sac of his own making.

Their new fear: An erratic Trump — with few friends, and fires all around — will get nothing of consequence done legislatively and roil markets, thus undoing the one consistently good indicator of '17.

Go deeper: Axios' Mike Allen on the chaos in Washington.

2) The walls are closing in on tech giants

Rebecca Zisser / Axios

Tech behemoths Google, Facebook and Amazon are feeling the heat from the far-left and the far-right, and even the center is starting to fold.

Why it matters: Criticism over the companies' size, culture and overall influence in society is getting louder as they infiltrate every part of our lives. Though it's mostly rhetoric rather than action at the moment, that could change quickly in the current political environment.

Go deeper: Axios' David McCabe on the three biggest fights.

3) Scoop: NBC's daily Snapchat show posts monster numbers

In less than a month, over 29 million unique viewers have already watched "Stay Tuned," NBC News' daily Snapchat Discover show, Axios has learned.

Why it matters:

  • Millennials are actually watching news shows: Getting nearly 30 million young people to watch a hard news show is an enormous feat, given that millennials don't typically watch TV news show on cable. (The average cable news viewer is over 60 years old.)
  • Video news is going mobile: Snapchat uses its own measurement techniques that are different from television ratings (they measure a view as a video being opened), so a direct comparison cannot be made to TV, but the success of "Stay Tuned," combined with the success of Snapchat's original political newscast "Good Luck America," demonstrate a major shift in how TV news will transition to mobile in the digital age.

4) Bernie Sanders’ first draft of “Medicare for All”

Rebecca Zisser / Axios

There's been a lot written lately about how Democrats are going to have to start working out details about single payer if they're serious about running on it. Now, we're getting a better idea of how Bernie Sanders will address some of them — though not all of them — in the "Medicare for all" bill he hopes to introduce next month.

The bottom line: It will give some basics on how to handle one of the main practical issues: how to manage a transition to the new system, according to aides. But don't expect a detailed explanation of how to pay for it, which of course is one of the biggest questions everyone will ask. And no, private insurance companies wouldn't have much of a role to play.

Go deeper: Axios' David Nather on some of the practical issues and how Sanders is likely to address them.

5) Travis Kalanick hits back at Benchmark in Uber lawsuit reply

Former Uber CEO on Thursday filed his reply to a fraud lawsuit brought against him last week by venture capital firm Benchmark, which was designed to get him removed from the embattled company's board of directors.

Under duress: Kalanick alleges that Benchmark took advantage of him while he was in mourning for his mother, who was killed in a tragic boating accident that also seriously injured his father. "It executed its plan at the most shameful of times: immediately after Kalanick experienced a horrible personal tragedy."


Heather Heyer's mother: "I will not" talk to Trump

Susan Bro — the mother of 32-year-old Heather Heyer who was killed Saturday when a man drove his car into a crowd of counter-protestors at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville — told Good Morning America Friday that she has changed her opinion of President Trump. "You can't wash this one away by shaking my hand and saying I'm sorry," she said.

Following Trump's Monday statement, where he specifically singled out racist hate groups for being "evil," Bro initially thanked Trump for his "words of comfort." However, once Bro heard Trump's Tuesday statement, where he blamed "both sides" for the violence in Charlottesville, Bro said "I have not, and I will not" talk to the president, adding that she doesn't plan to return his phone calls.


5 presumed Barcelona terrorists shot dead to stop second attack

Police officers stand next to the van involved on an attack in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 (Manu Fernandez / AP)

Spanish police said Friday (local time) that five people presumed to be terrorists involved with the Barcelona attack have been shot dead in Cambrils, south of the Catalan capital, in an effort to prevent a second attempted attack, per the BBC.

Go deeper: Read more about the Barcelona attack here.

This post has been updated to reflect that the fifth suspect who was shot, and initially reported injured, has died.


McConnell supports Flake hours after Trump calls him "toxic"

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) has his "full support" ahead of his reelection bid next year, according to an official McConnell Twitter account:

  • Timing: Earlier today, Trump tweeted, "Great to see that Dr. Kelli Ward is running against Flake Jeff Flake, who is WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate. He's toxic!"
  • Context: Flake opposed Trump during his presidential campaign and in his recent book, "The Conscience of a Conservative," Flake sharply criticized Trump and condemned his party for enabling Trump's rise to the presidency.
  • Why it matters: McConnell, who was reportedly livid with the way the president handled the violence in Charlottesville, has been engaged in an ongoing feud with Trump following the president's series of tweets criticizing the Majority Leader's performance. McConnell's latest statement in support of Flake only adds fuel to the fire.

White House calls it quits on Infrastructure Council

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

The White House called it quits Thursday on a council that was expected to advise President Trump on how to best improve U.S. infrastructure, acknowledging that participation in the council could subject members to intense criticism given the controversy surrounding Trump's handling of the Charlottesville, Virginia attacks, per the WSJ.

  • Why it matters: It's Infrastructure Week. And it suggests the Charlottesville fallout is having larger implications.
  • The announcement: "The President's Advisory Council on Infrastructure, which was still being formed, will not move forward," a White House official said Thursday.
  • Timing: The move comes just one day after Trump abruptly shut down his two key groups of outside business advisers.
  • Bad optics: Canceling plans for an infrastructure council the same week that the White House is supposed to be pushing its infrastructure agenda is only intensifying what has already been a tough week for the administration.

How magazines are reacting to the Trump-Charlottesville fallout

Many magazines are reacting with covers alluding to Trump's role in the racial tension currently reverberating through America after the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Go deeper: Axios' Mike Allen on two nations, divisible, under Trump. And here are some of the most anti-Trump magazine covers from the year, as well as 5 ways to make a winning Trump magazine cover.


Trump again pushes debunked claim on WWI-era general

President Trump tweeted a fictional claim about WWI-era General John Pershing Thursday afternoon, telling his followers to "study it." This is one of several times Trump has cited the debunked claim about Pershing.

The fictional story he's referring to: Pershing, around the time of the Philippine-American War, killed 49 Muslims with bullets dipped in pigs' blood, and spared the 50th person so that he would take the last bullet to his people and tell them what happened.

Why? Trump has referenced this story repeatedly at rallies both during his campaign and his presidency as a way to give credence to his claim that the U.S. should "go much further" than waterboarding suspected terrorists.

Timing: The tweet came hours after a terrorist attack in Barcelona left at least 13 people dead and more than 50 injured.