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In the political crisis caused by Trump's racist tweets




President Trump talks to reporters on Wednesday before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House. (Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post)

President Trump's own top adjutants did not believe he understood exactly what he had done last Sunday when he fired a trio of racist tweets before heading off to his golf course.

After returning to the White House, Senior Advisor Kellyanne Conway felt compelled to tell him why the Missives were leading news broadcasts across the country, angering allies and angering opponents. The call to four congressmen – all citizens, three of whom were born in the US – to return to the "totally broken and crime-ridden places" had hit a painful historical nerve.

Trump defended himself. He had seen "Fox & Friends" after he woke up. He wanted to raise Congress women, as he had previously discussed with adjutants. Democratic lawmakers – Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Ilhan Omar (Min.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) – are good films, he told his advisors, including campaign manager Brad Parscale , The president said he thought he would be well involved in the politics of the Democratic Party.

As so often, Trump acted alone – impulsively following his gut on the dark side of American politics, and now the country had to pick up the pieces. He had not mentioned it the day before on the golf course. In the coming days, dozens of friends, consultants and political allies behind the scenes would try to fix the mess without publicly acknowledging a mistake, since that was not the trump card.


Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) Arrives at the White House on July 13, after playing golf with President Trump. (Yuri Gripas / Reuters)

"He realized that part of it was not going well," said Senator Lindsey O. Graham (RS.C.), a Trump confidant who played golf with the President on Saturday he talked about it on Monday. "Well, he always doubles. Then he adapts.

Like others, Graham challenged Trump to break away from the racist idea at the heart of the tweets – that only European immigrants or their descendants have the right to criticize the country. Counselors wrote new points of discussion and handed him countless oppositional investigations to the four congressional women. The hub of patriotism. Focus on your ideas and your behavior, not your identity. Some would still see a racist agenda, was the argument, but at least it would not be so explicit.

"The goal is to fight back against them and not make it around you," Graham said.

Damage control did not save elected Republicans from their chronic struggle for control over Trump's excesses. The Democrats demanded a settlement, a plenary vote condemning his racist remarks that expressed their own unity and moral vision. The White House would initiate an intensive whip operation and repeatedly call Trump to the telephone to keep his members in line.

Then, as many believed the firestorm would get under control, Trump's own followers would set him on fire again with a "Send her back!" – Singing at a Wednesday night rally in Greenville, NC, inspired by the president's own words

This report on Trump's tweets and their consequences is based on interviews with 26 aid workers, advisors, legislators, and other White House activists, including the Most talked about the condition of anonymity to exchange details behind the scenes.

The political crisis was both well known and extraordinary – it covered every aspect of American politics, from the presidential campaign to the White House to Capitol Hill. Many in both parties, well acquainted with Trump's story of racist rhetoric, were struck by how far he had gone this time. Republicans feared the possible damage, but resisted against confronting or contradicting Trump. The White House and the Trump campaign wanted to curb the unrest without alienating the main followers. The Democrats finally joined forces after a week of conflict to sharply condemn the President.

And in key moments there were attempts to pretend that it had not happened at all. When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Talked to Trump about budget negotiations earlier this week, according to two people familiar with the talks, the tweets did not even materialize.

In the end, Trump succeeded in at least one respect. Only a few days before, he had a public appetite for the days when he could publish a tweet that started "like a rocket". Now he had done it again. The Americans had to choose a side and he had pulled the dividing line.

"Making America White Again"

When Trump woke up on a tweet on July 14, the leadership of the nation was scattered and their attention turned to another country.

The acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, was out of the country. House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Had flown back to San Francisco. The Republican House representatives, Republicans Kevin McCarthy (California) and Steve Scalise (La), participated in a fundraiser at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Pennsylvania.

Of the group only Pelosi, who just sleeps a handful of hours most nights, acted quickly. Trump's tweets landed on the west coast around five-thirty. Within three hours of his arrival at his golf club in Virginia, Trump had condemned his words on Twitter and pronounced the racial tone directly. Trump's plan to "make America great again" has always been to whitewash America.

Trump's outburst gave her the chance to break away from an irritating and increasingly personal separation from the four congressional women, who had been furious when Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic Assembly refused to join their leadership in a recent poll Now they were united.


From the left, MEPs Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ilhan Omar (D-Min.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ( DN.Y.) at a press conference on Monday to answer racist comments by President Trump. (J Scott Applewhite / AP)

At a joint press conference of the four legislators late Monday, Omar said Trump's tweets "the agenda of the White

Democratic presidential candidates quickly responded with outrage and offered support to the embattled house legislators.

Sen. Kamala D. Harris (California), the child of an Indian mother and a Jamaican father, told her campaign staff that she was "going home" from the same attack. In an emotional reaction to an event in Iowa on Tuesday, Harris said Trump "polluted" his office and "it must stop".

"I'll tell you what my mother told me:" Never let anyone tell you who you are. You tell them who you are. Point, "Harris said, visibly angry as she spoke. "We are Americans and will speak with the authority of that voice."

Trump's own campaign, on the other hand, was surprised by the tweets and initially did not know how to react. When the president blew up a news cycle, the best consultants had boasted of being able to fund and use social media advertising. But they did not place Facebook ads to ride this wave. The Republican National Committee was silent for more than a day. Nobody wanted to touch it, consultants said.

"People have been through so many of them," said a Republican involved in the fight.

Cliff Sims, a former Trump West Wing adjutant, explained the mentality that still dominates the building. "The people who thrive and survive in the long run are those who are right to go where the president leads them," he said.

But as work began, it became clear that the uproar could not be ignored. One person involved in the President's fundraiser said many donors were dismayed by the comments – but that there is little desire to publicly withdraw from the president.

"You put your head up and get it cut off," said that person. "And then everyone remembers that you were not faithful when this was over."

Many Republican legislators rejected it or tried to find a middle ground to avoid direct criticism of Trump, yet expressed their face dissatisfaction. "We should focus on ways to bring people together," said Sen. Cory Gardner, who faces a tough reelection race in Colorado next year.

During the weekly Republican lunch on Tuesday, GOP leaders attempted to avoid direct references to Trump's racist comments. McConnell echoed a phrase made famous by the late Supreme Court judge, Antonin Scalia, whom he adored: "I attack ideas. I do not attack people.

An exuberant Trump ally, Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Spoke out during the lunch in defense of Trump and announced a litany of conservatives on complaints against the left, such as attacks against the enforcement of immigration rules and comments that are perceived as anti-Semitic. "Let's face it, the radical views that come from the house, not from the Eyes lose, "Daines described in an interview his message to the other Republican senators.

Still, other GOP senators were uneasy, at least it was" stupid politics, "said a high-ranking GOP senator, open on condition of anonymity talked about the president's tweet.

Significantly, two of the Republicans' toughest setbacks came from the only two elected black Republics ners who served in the congress. Senator Tim Scott (S.C.) called the tweets "racially offensive."

"There is no room in America for racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and hatred," said Member of Parliament Will Hurd (Tex.).

"Stay there and fight"

On Monday afternoon, the Republican struggle to minimize the damage took place on two fronts. The first was trying to get Trump to change his message without admitting a mistake. A senior adviser to the White House said it was the goal "to bring the message back to a place where we can defend the president."

The idea was to argue that the four congressional women hate America and for that reason would like to leave. There were also other lines of attack. Omar had been convicted earlier this year over a series of comments criticizing Israel's support, which many Democrats considered anti-Semitic. Apparently, Pressley had proposed a racial litmus test for politicians, claiming that Democrats no longer need "black faces who do not want a black voice".

Privately, the president's allies said that the levy would benefit "The Squad," a term the legislature adopted for itself and ridiculed the Republicans. They hoped to use the feud to portray the president's re-election as a patriotic undertaking.

"We are talking about four congressmen who represent rather extreme views," Graham said. "If that's the face of the Democratic Party, we're in pretty good shape."

On Capitol Hill, Republican leaders similarly opted to deal with the disaster.

"I want to make absolutely clear that our opposition to our socialist colleagues has absolutely nothing to do with their gender, religion or race," said House Chairwoman Liz Cheney (Wyo.) Republican Conference.

The Democrats now focused on making sure the nation did not forget Trump's original message. Pelosi had begun working on a solution to disapproval in talks with MPs Jamie B. Raskin (Md.) And Tom Malinowski (N.J.). They had already passed a resolution in April condemning White Heads terrorism.

But first they had to lead a recalcitrant caucus who began to argue about the language of the resolution. At least one member urged a more aggressive solution that would condemn Trump. Another suggested insertion language for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

White House voters initially feared that up to 50 Republicans could support the resolution, and Trump ordered the White House to do its utmost to keep the GOP caucus together. White House assistants told the hill allies that it was OK to criticize Trump unless they were voting with Democrats.

Trump was obsessed with voting and received regular briefings. The adjutants provided him with constant reactions from the legislature and even telephoned several legislators. He asked his team to tell all Wafflers that he loves America and that they have to choose a side. Trump called McCarthy to cancel a planned White House immigration meeting scheduled for Tuesday.

"Stay there and fight," he told McCarthy.

Vice President Pence also telephoned and called on the Republicans not to fall into a democratic trap.

In the end, only four Republicans broke the ranks, including Hurd. Major members of districts where Trump's message was "going home" loudly clung to the president. Among them were two members from New York, John Katko and Elise Stefanik, and Cuban immigrant son Mario Diaz-Balart, whose Florida district is 76 percent Spanish.

"A statement does not make racists," he told reporters.

"I'm fed up with this mess"

While privately lobbying, Republican leaders also began to look for a way to regain the narrative in public, at least in a way that played with the conservative base could.

When Pelosi fell to the ground to read the words of the resolution, he described Trump's comments as racist – not Trump himself, despite what Diaz-Balart argued – as a Republican saw an opening.

Her vehicle was an opaque text, Thomas Jefferson's Manual of Parliamentary Practice, a set of rules that dominated the floor of the house since 1837. Based on old British traditions to respect the king, an updated version of the manual explicitly said that the president could do this. It was not accused of making a racist statement, regardless of the accuracy of the allegation.

Emanuel Cleaver II – a Pastor of the United Methodist and respected figure in the Caucus – was on the podium and was specifically mandated by Pelosi to lead the debate. The Chamber seemed to be close to completion when MP Douglas A. Collins (R-Ga.) Rebelled and demanded that Pelo's words from parliamentarians be removed from the minutes.

When the Missouri Congresswoman was disappointed with Republican maneuvers, he thought he was exposed to the same racist machinations that the President had tweeted. An interview ,

"I'm sick of this mess," Cleaver recalled. "In theology, we say the devil has two favorite instruments: disunity and division. , , I see people walking around, the devil is running around and having fun. , , I just think he's just having fun and using people to get pleasure. "

So Cleaver announced," I'll leave the chair, "dropped the gavel and abruptly left the podium.

It did not matter that the President himself had said Pelose's reaction to him was only a day earlier "racist," or that the house rules still allowed the law to be translated into law, and the Republicans finally had the opportunity to call themselves victims of a runaway democratic leadership.

"The Democrats are outraged by their hatred of the Blinded presidents to use whatever tools they have at their disposal to harass him, "said Chris Pack, communications director of the National Republican Congressional Committee," and it really gets miserable. "

" We find a way "[19659071] President Trump speaks on Wednesday at an election rally in Greenville, NC (Gerry Broome / AP)

When Trump landed in Greenville, NC Wednesday evening had sic The mood in the White House has improved, and the Republicans believed the worst was behind them. A White House official urged the traveling press pool to join the rally, indicating that it was not something they wanted to miss.

"You may have problems with your tactics," said Josh Holmes, a close advisor to McConnell. "But the reality is that there is no political figure to remember that consistently sates its opponents with unpronounceable arguments like President Trump." Auditorium of East Carolina University. In the middle of his speech, when he was telling the denunciation of Omar's record, the crowd began to sing "Send Them Back!", A paraphrase of his own tweet "Go Back!".

He paused for about 13 seconds to allow the songs to wash over him.

Back in Washington, and even for some Republicans in the room, it was a nightmare scenario that suggested that nativism at the heart of Trump's Sunday tweet – that non-white citizens had less claim to the land – would soon become a fixture in the US Campaign.

The following morning, Republican leaders, including McCarthy and Cheney, gathered at the Vice President's residence to find out how to deal with the danger of the singing continuing. Pence agreed to submit the matter to the President.

Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, a group that Trump had invited to their meeting in April, also spoke out. The songs, he wrote on Twitter, were "mean" and "have no place in our society".

Others in the White House began to rethink the emerging strategy of using Omar's own record as a collective call for the base.

Trump agreed that the songs were wrong – but only a few said that was the end.

In fact, he attacked the four legislators again by Friday, suggesting that no criticism of the country should be tolerated, and praised the rally songs he had distanced himself from just a day before. "These are incredible people. These are incredible patriots, "he said.

In other words, there was little evidence that Trump had been overwhelmed by the week's experience.

At one point during the rally in North Carolina, the president was thinking about Pressley's comments on race, which he considers "that people with the same skin color all have to think alike".

"And only this week – can you imagine me saying that? It would be over, would not it?" Trump continued. "But we would find a way to survive, would not we? we always, here we are, here we are, we find a way, I always have to find a way. "

Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.


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