In times of sorrow and crisis, the American people look to their elected leaders for guidance and comfort. What they saw Tuesday, as President Trump angrily defended associates of neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and the KKK was foreign. Trump's insistence on blaming "both sides" for the weekend's violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, further isolated him from the bipartisan political establishment and from the majority of the people he serves. In defending a vocal minority of his core base of supporters, Trump revealed his steadfast commitment to his tribal instincts at the expense of filling the role of national healer.
The unanswered question is where Trump and the country go from here. White House aides were stunned and dismayed, but there has been no inkling of an exodus in protest. Republicans in Congress are openly critical, but stop there as they look to maintain what little hope remains for their agenda. Democrats there are exasperated, yet haven't come close to providing a viable alternative path. To the majority of Americans who are unsettled by the events of the last week, there is little basis for feeling differently.
The fight over Confederate monuments rages. Trump gets an interim communications director. And NAFTA renegotiations begin.
Here are your must reads:
How President Trump Failed His Biggest Leadership Test Yet
Presidents can make war, but the truest test of a commander in chief is his power to heal [TIME]
A Confederate Statue Is Gone, But the Fight Remains in Durham
TIME's Nash Jenkins on the debate over Civil War memorials
Trump Gives White Supremacists an Unequivocal Boost
Remarks hailed by extremist groups [New York Times]
A Defiant Trump's Combative Homecoming
Trump came home, in more ways than one [Real Clear Politics]
NAFTA Talks Open With Spat Over How to Resolve Tariff Conflicts
U.S. wants to end dispute-resolution panels Canada and Mexico see as vital alternative to U.S. courts [Wall Street Journal]
"When I make a statement, I like to be correct. I want the facts." — Trump on why he didn't forcefully condemn the KKK until Monday
"There were people in that rally, and I looked the night before. If you look, they were people protesting very quietly the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. I'm sure in that group there were some bad ones. The following day, it looked like they had some rough, bad people -- neo-Nazis, white nationalists, whatever you want to call them. But you had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest and very legally protest, because you know -- I don't know if you know, they had a permit. The other group didn't have a permit." — Trump
Bits and Bites
Trump pours gasoline on feud with CEOs [Politico]
Donald Trump Says 'We'll See' What Happens to Steve Bannon [Associated Press]
Texas 'Bathroom Bill' Is Dead for Now After Second Defeat [Associated Press]
The Senate subway: The new epicenter of American democracy? [Washington Post]