At Arizona Rally, President Tries To Re-Write History, Paint Himself As Victim Of “Dishonest” Media

Trump: “The Words Were Perfect”

Here’s what the President tells the adulating crowd he initially said about Charlottesville:

“We’re closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia. We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence.”

He repeats it twice. (To emphasize his accuracy)? Only in this, latest, revisionist version he leaves out the part where he sets fire to the fuse on the powder keg.

Because here’s what the President actually said:

“We’re closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia. We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides, on many sides.”

What’s he thinking? That we’re dummies? It’s memorialized on video! Here’s the video:

What the President says he said:

Let’s break for a second to answer the President’s (probably rhetorical) question: “I think you can’t do much better, right?” Yeah, that would’ve been OK if that’s what you’d, in fact, said. But instead you decided to put Nazis on the same plane with protesters. (At least we now know the President knows right from wrong, otherwise he wouldn’t have gone so far out of his way to omit, obscure and conceal).

What the President actually said:

He sums up by patting himself on the back: “I said everything. I hit ’em with Neo-Nazis….I got the White Supremacists, Neo-Nazis, everything. KKK? We have KKK. I got them all.” And then paints himself the victim, and the media as the arch-villain and agitator for “their role in formenting (sic) divisions and…trying to take away our history and heritage.”

Trump’s unhinged meltdown then rumbles down sundry paths, both familiar and new, in what the New York Times calls an “angry” and “sulfurous” performance: attacking the people who want to tear down statues of George Washington. Who? Who’s calling for that? As well as Arizona’s two Republican Senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, though not by name. Then he suggests if he doesn’t get money soon for his “wall” there’ll be hell to pay: most likely in the form of a government shutdown. Trump also doesn’t pardon anti-immigrant Sheriff Joe Arpaio, saying he doesn’t want to “cause any controversy”, but assures the crowd “I’ll make a prediction, I think he’s going to be just fine.”

After The Rally, Police Use Pepper Spray, Tear Gas To Disperse Protestors

While Trump inside belittled protesters and several times during his speech insisted there “aren’t too many”, there were apparently enough bearing the 100-degree heat outside that police saw fit to use tear gas and pepper spray to get them to leave.

Police say their action was in response to protesters throwing water bottles, rocks and gas canisters of their own. Phoenix’ Mayor said he will investigate. Four arrests were made.

Trump Blasts Away At NAFTA, Just As Trade Negotiators Get Serious

At the same rally, Trump goes and says “I think we’ll end up probably terminating NAFTA.” But then he immediately follows with something curious, and seemingly contradictory: “I don’t think you can make a deal without a termination.” So wait. Is this a window into Trump’s bargaining strategy? Or just him bloviating?

The U.S., Canada, and Mexico just concluded a round of talks on the North American Free Trade Agreement (as we reported Monday). Even if the preliminary meetings didn’t produce any huge breakthroughs, negotiators agreed to an extremely aggressive schedule for further talks, which will start in about a week. That’s something to be at least a little excited about if you’re a trade negotiator, or a farmer, or a car maker, or an assembly line worker.

We wonder if some Senior White House staff isn’t thinking right now, why bother? Because this seems to be a pattern with Trump too: torpedoing or at least adding degrees of difficulty to things that are tough-going enough already.

BTW, even though Trump blames Clinton, a North American free trade agreement was actually Ronald Reagan’s idea.

Here’s a quick version of what happens if NAFTA falls apart:

• Canada ramps up unilateral deals with the EU.

• China becomes Mexico’s biggest trading partner.

• U.S. Agriculture is devastated. As are manufacturers of big-ticket items like cars.

Meanwhile, The Rest Of The White House Goes About Its Business

Our opinion of new White House Chief of Staff John Kelly went way up when Trump beckoned him to the stage in the midst of his crazy-train rally and Kelly didn’t go up. But Kelly and others have got work to do, following up on Trump’s sober and actually coherent argument for expanding U.S. military activity in Afghanistan.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson took time to explain what the new Afghanistan policy might look like diplomatically. His emphasis not so much directed at the U.S. getting a decisive win, but demonstrating to the Taliban they can’t win. (Like so many flashpoints these days, Trump has not yet named a U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan.) You can see some of Tillerson’s comments here:

Tillerson also complimented North Korea for not firing any missiles recently, suggesting “perhaps we’re seeing our pathway to sometime in the near future of having some dialogue.” This is such a radical statement in some ways, that it would’ve been our lead story on any “normal” day. While not as explicit, President Trump had some kind words for Kim Jong-un during his speech in Arizona.

Navy Removes Admiral After Second Fatal Accident

Unless we missed it, Trump made no mention of the 10 sailors missing after a collision between the destroyer USS John McCain and an oil tanker near Singapore. The Navy is relieving the Admiral in charge of the Japan-based 7th fleet after that and another fatal accident in June.

Is Trump/McConnell Beef More Significant Than A Reality-Show Type Diva War?

The New York Times has an interesting story about how relations between Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are now at a nadir, and for at least one reason that might not be immediately evident. Of course, if you’ve been anywhere near Twitter you know full well Trump blames McConnell for failing to give him a “win” on Obamacare. But the Times says it’s also because of what Trump perceives to be “the Senate leader’s refusal to protect him from investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election.”

The Times says the two have not spoken to each other in weeks; their last phone conversation ending in a profanity-laden “shouting match.”

It’s interesting too that while Trump and McConnell both support the same candidate in Alabama’s special Senate election to fill the seat vacated by now Attorney General Jeff Sessions, they are squaring off big-time in the upcoming Arizona Senate race. A PAC affiliated with McConnell has already started running ads highly critical of Trump’s choice to unseat Jeff Flake, the incumbent.

Before We Go, Just Want To Quickly Call Your Attention To What Might Be A Great Idea For Stabilizing Health Care

This comes to us courtesy of Vox’s intrepid Sarah Kliff. She says Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz is preparing legislation to allow people to buy into Medicaid. This, or even the threat of it, should immediately solve the problem of private insurers pulling out of some regions, without going all the way to a single-payer system.