If you only read one thing: Just when you thought you couldn’t be amazed anymore by this campaign cycle, Donald Trump proved otherwise Wednesday with a rambling address in which he said he regretted that his campaign deleted an image widely criticized as anti-Semitic. The story, already an unforced error that overshadowed a terrible week for his rival, was propelled into its sixth day of coverage by the candidate’s big mouth and boundless capacity for self-sabotage. Trump had personally been silent on the issue much of the week, as his campaign and cast of surrogates offered bizarre and inconsistent defenses why the six-pointed star tweet wasn’t a Star of David or was a simple mistake. “Actually, they’re racially profiling,” Trump said of those who have spoken out against the tweet, which includes Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. He doubled-down on his kind words about Saddam Hussein. The event in Cincinnati was supposed to showcase former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich as a potential counterpart on the ticket, but instead but the worst tendencies of the presumptive GOP nominee on display. After his remarks, Trump tweeted a photo—lifted from Reddit—of a Disney coloring book with a six-pointed star, asking where was the outrage. The issue with the meme wasn’t just the star, rather the juxtaposition with the waterfall of cash—and also the fact that it was lifted from an extremist website in the first place. Hillary Clinton’s campaign was thrilled by the latest Trump response, as Republicans ponder ways to further distance themselves from their standard-bearer.
After an abysmal May, Donald Trump finally stepped up his fundraising last month, bringing in more than $50 million for his campaign and the Republican National Committee. It’s a substantial sum, and an indication that he has a large pool of committed donors who will write small-dollar checks, but he is still way behind where Mitt Romney was in 2012 on the mechanics—he raised $106 million in June of 2012—let alone the far larger and better organized Hillary Clinton campaign. (He’s already being outspent $30 million to nil on battleground television.) Trump is spending much of Thursday courting frustrated Republican leaders in Washington, though after this week, many are trying to make themselves scarce.
Two potential contenders to be Trump’s running mate, Sen. Bob Corker and Sen. Joni Ernst, pulled themselves from contention Wednesday, citing the need to focus on their day jobs. Trump tells TIME he hopes to make a selection just before or at the GOP convention in Cleveland, as he turns the process into another season of his reality television show. Clinton, meanwhile, has scheduled a rally in Virginia next week with veep favorite Sen. Tim Kaine.
Six reasons why Donald Trump will still be the GOP nominee after Cleveland, despite the best efforts of the Dump Trump movement. Clinton borrows an idea from Sanders as she looks to lock in his endorsement. And your humble newsletter writer gets shamed for never having watched ‘Frozen.’
Here are your must-reads:
Donald Trump Expects to Announce Vice President Pick ‘Just Prior’ to Convention
He tell’s TIME’s Alex Altman that there’s a chance it could come at the convention in Cleveland
Obama Slows Down U.S. Troop Pullout from Afghanistan
Will drop to 8,400 instead of 5,500 by year’s end, as Obama leaves the nation’s longest war to its third president [TIME]
Here’s Why the Latest Never Trump Plan Is Doomed
They’ve lost the will to fight [TIME]
In a Defiant, Angry Speech, Donald Trump Defends Image Seen as Anti-Semitic
He’s all-in [New York Times]
Can Super PACs Be Put Back in the Box?
A new legal effort wants to restore limits [Washington Post]
“I said, ‘Too bad, you should have left it up.’ I would have rather defended it.” — Donald Trump on the Star of David tweet lifted by campaign aides from an extremist website
“That’s correct.” — Bernie Sanders confirming to MSNBC that he is preparing to endorse Hillary Clinton in the coming days
Bits and Bites
Anti-Donald Trump Forces See Convention Coup as Within Reach [Wall Street Journal]
Justice Dept. Closes Hillary Clinton Email Probe With No Charges [Associated Press]
Jared Kushner: The Donald Trump I Know [Observer.com]
Cruz Shakes Up Senate Office, Expands Political Operation [National Review]
Norm Coleman: I Will Never Vote for Donald Trump [Star Tribune]