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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.

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Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel almost resigned over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel almost resigned in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelations stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

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NRA declares bankruptcy, says it will reincorporate in Texas

Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association (NRA) speaks during CPAC in 2016. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The National Rifle Association said Friday it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will seek to reincorporate in Texas, calling New York, where it is currently registered, a "toxic political environment."

The big picture: The move comes just months after New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the NRA, alleging the group committed fraud by diverting roughly $64 million in charitable donations over three years to support reckless spending by its executives.