May 21, 2014

Ever since Karl Rove suggested that Hillary Clinton has brain damage, Republicans have been accused of being terrified of a Hillary 2016 presidential candidacy, said Stephen Colbert on Tuesday night's Colbert Report. But nothing could be further from the truth. No, Colbert said, Republicans are merely indicating that, unlike in the 1990s, "when they pampered the Clintons," this time they're coming after Hillary with (rhetorical) guns blazing.

That's right, the "gloves are coming off — this is hand-to-hand combat, and the GOP will not be the Jay Z to Hillary's Solange," Colbert said. After a Harry Potter quip and very well-received jokes about how Hillary got to the White House the first time around, and also about her wife, Diane, Colbert reached a not-very-surprising conclusion about what to expect in the 2016 race. Hint: It rhymes with bud-clinging. --Peter Weber

2:42 p.m. ET

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker (R) said President Trump "has not demonstrated that he understands the character of this nation" in grave comments delivered at the Rotary Club of Chattanooga on Thursday. "The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to ... in order to be successful. And we need for him to be successful," Corker said.

The senator pointedly added that Trump does not appear to understand "what has made this nation great and what it is today."

The remarks followed a number of tweets from Trump on Thursday, some of which bashed Republican senators and others that defended Confederate monuments. Many reporters and analysts consider Corker to be something of a bellwether on Trump:

"We're at a point where there needs to be radical changes that take place at the White House itself," Corker said. "It has to happen." Watch his full comments below. Jeva Lange

2:42 p.m. ET

A van jumped the curb and plowed into a crowd in the center of Barcelona on Thursday. Thirteen people were killed and at least 50 were injured, Catalan interior minister Joaquim Forn tweeted. Police have confirmed that the incident was a terrorist attack.

The driver of the van reportedly fled on foot after plowing into pedestrians in the city's historic Las Ramblas district, a popular tourist destination. One man has been arrested.

Police have dismissed earlier reports that two armed men were hiding out in a bar following the attack. Becca Stanek

This is a breaking news story and has been updated throughout.

1:53 p.m. ET
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Mitch McConnell's former chief of staff, Josh Holmes, ripped into President Trump on Thursday, warning that "when you're eight months in and Republicans are all you have left, chipping away at the remaining few is a helluva strategy," Politico Playbook reports.

Now the president of the management firm Cavalry, Holmes expressed concern that Trump has repeatedly made Republican members of Congress the target of his rants and tweets. "Trump is using the precious capital of the bully pulpit to talk about Confederate monuments in between savage attacks on fellow Republicans," Holmes said. "Just think about that. Not tax reform. Not repeal and replace. Not North Korean nuclear capabilities. No focused critiques on extremely vulnerable Democrats who have opposed him at every possible turn."

On Thursday, Trump once again attacked his longtime enemy, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake (R), tweeting support for Flake's primary opponent. "Great to see that Dr. Kelli Ward is running against [Jeff Flake], who is WEAK on borders, crime, and a non-factor in Senate," Trump said. "He's toxic!" Politico called Trump's ramped up attacks on Flake "a free gift" for Democrats: "It distracts the GOP and could force McConnell and other outside groups to spend millions of dollars in a costly primary tying up money that could be used elsewhere."

Still, Trump remains popular among most Republicans, polls show. Jeva Lange

12:59 p.m. ET

President Trump might not be very popular nationwide, but most Republicans believe he is pulling the party in the right direction, a new Quinnipiac University poll has found. While just 39 percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing in office right now, Quinnipiac found that 81 percent of Republicans approve of Trump and 82 percent believe he is steering the party in the "right direction."

Quinnipiac's poll ran from August 9-15, reaching 1,361 voters on landlines and cellphones. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.4 percent. Read the full results here. Jeva Lange

12:33 p.m. ET
Sarah Rice/Getty Images

Maine's Republican governor said Thursday that removing Confederate monuments is "just like going to New York City right now and [taking] down the monument of those who perished in 9/11," the Portland Press Herald reports.

Gov. Paul LePage told the hosts of WGAN that while he condemns the KKK and white supremacist groups, people calling for the removal of statues of Robert E. Lee "don't even know the history of this country and they are trying to take monuments down."

"I think what they are standing for is equally as bad [as the KKK], they are trying to erase history," LePage told WGAN. "How can future generations learn if we are going to erase history? That's disgusting."

President Trump has also spoken out against removing Confederate monuments, tweeting Thursday: "You can't change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson — who's next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!" Jeva Lange

12:31 p.m. ET

On Thursday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) issued a statement urging the prompt removal of Confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol. As the debate over the removal of Confederate monuments rages across the nation, Pelosi declared there is "no room for celebrating the violent bigotry of the men of the Confederacy" in the Capitol, nor in "places of honor across the country."

"The halls of Congress are the very heart of our democracy. The statues in the Capitol should embody our highest ideals as Americans," Pelosi said. She called on House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to join Democrats in removing the "reprehensible" statues "if Republicans are serious about rejecting white supremacy." Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) has already said he plans to introduce legislation proposing the removal of the monuments.

Politico reported there are 10 statues in the Capitol's National Statuary "honoring individuals who served in the Confederate army or government." There are also statues of individuals who were "supporters of slavery or the Confederacy."

Read Pelosi's full statement below. Becca Stanek

11:11 a.m. ET

President Trump argued Thursday in favor of the beauty of parks with Confederate monuments (needless to say, a questionable perspective), tweeting that "you can't change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson — who's next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!"

Despite Trump's claims that "you can't change history," a short trip down memory lane lands us at that one time Trump erected a monument at his golf course in honor of a completely made up Civil War battle:

Even though there's a monument and plaque commemorating "casualties [that] were so great the water would turn red and thus became known as 'The River of Blood'" [at Trump's National Golf Club on Lowes Island in Sterling, Virginia], all the local historians reached by The New York Times denied anything of the sort ever happened in the area.

"No. Uh-uh. No way. Nothing like that ever happened there," Richard Gillespie, the executive director of the Mosby Heritage Area Association, the region's historical preservation group, said. Alana Blumenthal, who curates the Loudoun Museum in nearby Leesburg, agreed there had never been a battle at or near the site, as did another expert who chose not to be named.

When told about the historians' denial of the so-called River of Blood massacre, Trump replied, "How would they know that? Were they there?" [The Week]

Trump told the Times that "if people are crossing the river, and you happen to be in a civil war, I would say that people were shot — a lot of them," which unfortunately isn't how history works. Read the full story at The New York Times, and check out the inscription on Trump's statue below. Jeva Lange

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