If you only read one thing: In the latest chapter that is the saga of offensive Donald Trump tweets, the presumptive GOP nominee tweeted an image Saturday with a six-pointed star, piles of money, and an attack on Hillary Clinton. Within minutes, the obvious anti-Semitic subtext of the meme became a social media firestorm, and hours later Trump’s account deleted it. The next day, the image was traced to a white supremacist website. Trump’s campaign has offered a ridiculous defense of it actions, claiming it was a “sheriff’s star” or a “simple star,” while blaming the controversy on Clinton, whose campaign condemned it Monday. In a statement Monday, Trump’s social media director said he found the image on Twitter and simply copied it without attribution to attack Clinton. The intent of the tweet aside, the controversy and bumbling response highlights the culture of the Trump campaign, where fault can never be admitted and tripling down on an indefensible position is the default strategy. It’s not a smart strategy though, and Trump, in one what should have been one of his best news cycles of the year, is paying dearly for it.
I hope everyone enjoyed their long Fourth of July weekend. One thing that did not take a break was the presidential race. Besides the aforementioned controversy, a major party nominee was interviewed for three and a half hours by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. (Great job stepping on that news, Trump social team…) Hillary Clinton‘s interview with federal agents marked one of the final stages in the investigation into the appearance of classified information on her private email server, with a recommendation to the Attorney General expected within weeks. Clinton has denied wrongdoing, blaming the kerfuffle on an executive branch that overclassifies information, but her shifting story has only heightened the sense among voters that she had something to hide and did something wrong. This criminal probe is not to be confused with the ongoing civil probe over the establishment of the private server, in which several top aides were recently deposed.
President Obama will campaign in North Carolina Tuesday with Clinton, serving as “convert-in-chief,” as he seeks to bolster the case for Clinton (rather than against Trump). The embrace will be total, with Clinton accompanying Obama down to Charlotte aboard Air Force One in a symbolic gesture that will elevate her over Trump, but also expose her to the charge that she represents a third Obama term. Democrats are less worried about that attack, pointing to Obama’s 50% approval rating as an asset, not a thing to fear.
While his campaign was trying to lose an election on social media, Donald Trump was meeting with potential running mates Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst. Both would be lower-key picks than the likes of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich—two other members of the short list. Rather than try to hide his Veep maneuvering, as his customary, Trump is advertising his every move as he seeks to heighten the suspense over the pick.
Congress is back Tuesday, where gun control is back on the agenda and Republicans will spend the week ducking questions about Trump and stars of David. The only people rushing to Trump’s defense are current and former members of his payroll, as the RNC, GOP leadership, and political operatives avoid him—or are piling on the criticism.
How bigness became an bipartisan cause on Capitol Hill. Meet Trump’s fixer. And immigration reform dreams begin for 2017.
Here are your must-reads:
Donald Trump Campaign Improves in Fits and Starts
The Tweets still cause trouble [TIME]
President Obama Will Stump for Hillary Clinton in North Carolina
Why Bigness Became a Bipartisan Cause on Capitol Hill
A source of anger in an election year, TIME’s Haley Sweetland Edwards writes
The Quiet Fixer in Donald Trump’s Campaign
His Son-in-Law, Jared Kushner [New York Times]
FBI Interviews Hillary Clinton in Email Investigation
The interview on Saturday lasted about three and a half hours, according to an aide [TIME]
Donald Trump’s Complex Business Ties Could Set a New Precedent
Conflict-of-interest question would loom large if the Republican is elected [Wall Street Journal]
“The social media graphic used this weekend was not created by the campaign nor was it sourced from an anti-Semitic site. It was lifted from an anti-Hillary Twitter user where countless images appear. The sheriff’s badge — which is available under Microsoft’s ‘shapes’ — fit with the theme of corrupt Hillary and that is why I selected it. As the Social Media Director for the campaign, I would never offend anyone and therefore chose to remove the image.” — Statement from Dan Scavino, Trump’s social media director
“These false attacks by Hillary Clinton trying to link the Star of David with a basic star, often used by sheriffs who deal with criminals and criminal behavior, showing an inscription that says ‘Crooked Hillary is the most corrupt candidate ever’ with anti-Semitism is ridiculous.” — Donald Trump in a statement
Bits and Bites
Obama After Dark: The Precious Hours Alone [New York Times]
Donald Trump Meets With Senator Joni Ernst, a Possible Running Mate [New York times]
Immigration Reformers Eye Gang of 8 Revival [Politico]