Aug 14, 2017

Trump on defensive after oddly measured Charlottesville remarks

Evan Vucci / AP

Look for President Trump to say more today about this weekend's racist pageant in Charlottesville, which resulted in three deaths but drew oddly measured condemnation from him.

  • Top Republicans, including some who have been trying to give Trump the benefit of the doubt, fear the damage may be done to the party, and to the president.
  • Yesterday's deafening presidential silence was underscored when Vice President Mike Pence told reporters in Cartagena, Colombia: "We have no tolerance for hate and violence from white supremacists, neo Nazis or the KKK. These dangerous fringe groups have no place in American public life and in the American debate, and we condemn them in the strongest possible terms."
  • Trump, in New Jersey but on vacation in name only, returns to the construction-zone White House today for 8½ hours.

He'll meet the cameras of the press pool at 3 p.m. in the Diplomatic Reception Room to sign a memo jabbing China on trade. We expect he'll amplify his "many sides" remark from Saturday.

He's on the defensive, when he could be soaring:

  • N.Y. Times' Glenn Thrush and Rebecca Ruiz: "As the gravity of the events on Saturday became clearer, the pressure on Mr. Trump to make a stronger statement came from his innermost circle of advisers and family."
  • "Trump consulted a broad range of advisers before speaking on Saturday, most of whom told him to sharply criticize the white nationalist protesters. ... Trump listened attentively ... but repeatedly steered the conversation to the breakdown of 'law and order,' and the responsibility of local officials to stem the violence."
  • NBC's Chuck Todd, on "Meet the Press": "It was almost as if the Republican Party was waiting to see what he would do. And then, it was a rush to say, 'Whoa.' He's on an island right now, I think, in his party."
  • Rich Lowry, National Review editor and proud U.Va. grad, to Chuck: "[T]his was a moment ... where the president could've elevated himself. Instead, he came up small. And that's one of the reasons ... you've seen such a premium on the statements from other Republicans on moral clarity, given the president's ambiguity."
  • Front page of today's N.Y. Times: "A White House Statement on Virginia Is Also Found Wanting." And WashPost: "White House seeks to quell backlash over Trump remarks." And L.A. Times: "Criticism of Trump intensifies." And Boston Globe: "Division in the United States: Trump draws criticism for reaction to violence." And Guardian: "Trump under fire from all sides."
  • And the paper he'll see this morning, the N.Y. Post: "TRUMP SLAMMED FROM 'MANY SIDES.'"

Be smart: The truism that you only have one chance to make a first impression has been leavened by today's short attention spans. I've told you before that the biggest surprise of the Trump presidency is that he's done so little to reach out to the 54% of people who didn't vote for him.

Today's his chance to do that in a big way, on a subject that matters vitally to a fractured, fractious country. Trump's challenge is to lead the more extreme elements of his own coalition, and also resonate with America's great middle.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 1,513,358 — Total deaths: 88,415 — Total recoveries: 329,329Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 430,376 — Total deaths: 14,739 — Total recoveries: 23,707Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Top Trump administration officials had been developing a plan to give cloth masks to huge numbers of Americans, but the idea lost traction amid heavy internal skepticism.
  4. States latest: New York has reported more cases than the most-affected countries in Europe. Chicago's Cook County jail is largest-known source of coronavirus in U.S.
  5. Business: One-third of U.S. jobs are at risk of disappearing, mostly affecting low-income workers.
  6. World: WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged countries to put politics aside "if you don’t want to have many more body bags.”
  7. Environment: COVID-19 is underscoring the connection between air pollution and dire outcomes from respiratory diseases.
  8. Tech: A new report recommends stimulus spending to help close the digital divide revealed by social distancing.
  9. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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U.S. coronavirus updates: New York tops previous day's record death toll

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New York's death toll surged to its highest one-day total on Wednesday — beating the previous day's record. 779 people died in the state in 24 hours. The state has reported more cases than the most-affected countries in Europe.

Why it matters: Public health officials have warned this would be a particularly deadly week for America, even as New York began to see declining trends of hospitalizations and ICU admissions.

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The pandemic and pollution

New York City's skyline on a smoggy day in May 2019. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

COVID-19 is underscoring the connection between air pollution and dire outcomes from respiratory diseases.

Why it matters: Old-fashioned air pollution is almost certainly the single biggest environmental health threat, contributing to the deaths of some 7 million people a year according to the WHO, making it comparable to deaths from smoking.

Go deeperArrow4 hours ago - Health