Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

A Republican close to the West Wing summed up President Trump's do-over Charlottesville remarks yesterday: "Wound cauterized. Healing begins. Scars remain."

What he finally said, on Day 3: "Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans."

The backstory, from AP's Jonathan Lemire:

  • "Loath to appear to be admitting a mistake, Trump was reluctant to adjust his remarks. ... He ... expressed anger to those close to him about what he perceived as the media's unfair assessment of his remarks, believing he had effectively denounced all forms of bigotry."
  • "Several of Trump's senior advisers, including new chief of staff John Kelly, ... urged him to make a more specific condemnation, warning that the negative story would not go away and that the rising tide of criticism from fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill could endanger his legislative agenda."
  • "Reading from a teleprompter, he made a point of beginning with an unrelated plug for the strength of the economy under his leadership. Then, taking pains to insist 'as I said on Saturday,' Trump denounced the hate groups."
  • "At [a China] trade event later in the day, he was asked why it took two days for him to offer an explicit denunciation of the hate groups. 'They have been condemned,' Trump responded before offering a fresh criticism of some media as 'fake news.'"
  • "He followed with a tweet declaring 'the #fakenews will never be satisfied.'"

The reaction:

  • N.Y. Times columnist Frank Bruni, "Trump Cannot Redeem Himself": "[T]he length of his delay upped the ante on his delivery, which was passionless."
  • Jesse Watters on Fox News' "The Five": "These same people who were mad at President Trump for saying 'radical Islam,' now all of a sudden want him to say 'white supremacy'?"
  • Cover tease on Trump-friendly N.Y. Post: "Trump: OK, yes, racists are bad."

Be smart: Conservative radio and MSNBC weekend host Hugh Hewitt, who has generally given Trump the benefit of the doubt, said the president's reaction to Charlottesville was basically the opposite of President Reagan's unifying eloquence after the space shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986. Trump will have other moments to try to transcend the national din. There's no getting this one back.

Go deeper

GAO finds Chad Wolf, Ken Cuccinelli are ineligible for top DHS roles

Photo: CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and his acting deputy Ken Cuccinelli are ineligible to be serving in their positions, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) decided in a report released Friday.

Why it matters: While the finding has no immediate power, it could be important evidence in litigation over policies enacted under Wolf and Cuccinelli's leadership, said America's Voice's Ur Jaddou, who served as chief counsel to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) under President Obama.

The many divisions over Trump's methane rollback

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

EPA's decision to cut regulation of methane is laying bare an oil-and-gas industry divide and setting the stage for political battles this fall and beyond.

Why it matters: Methane is an extremely powerful greenhouse gas and the industry is a key emissions source.

Kushner says Trump didn't promote false Kamala Harris birtherism theory

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner told "CBS This Morning" on Friday that he does not believe President Trump promoted a baseless claim that Sen. Kamala Harris is ineligible to be vice president.

Driving the news: During a press briefing on Thursday, Trump did not question the veracity of a Newsweek op-ed that inaccurately claimed Harris may be ineligible for the office due to her parents' naturalization status at the time of her birth. Harris is an American citizen and was born in Oakland, Calif.