March 3, 2014

The White House said today it won't be sending a presidential delegation to the upcoming Paralympic Games in Sochi. The decision is a result of Russia's military invasion of Ukraine, a National Security Council spokeswoman told National Journal. American athletes will still participate in Friday's event.

"President Obama continues to strongly support all of the U.S. athletes who will participate in the Paralympics and wishes them great success in the Olympic competition," a statement said.

The six-person delegation that will no longer attend had included Rep. Tammy Duckworth and three administration officials, including Celeste Wallander, the senior director for Russia and Central Asia on the National Security Council.

The news comes after Britain said it won't be sending a group of government officials to Sochi because it would be "wrong" to attend. Jordan Valinsky

9:44 a.m. ET
Chris Kleponis/Getty Images

In another stark statement Thursday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) reminded President Trump that "history is watching us all."

Graham first acknowledged that "like most" he wants to move "forward — toward the light — not back to the darkness." He also noted that Trump's "very nice and appropriate" tweet honoring Heather Heyer, who was killed Saturday after a man drove a car through a crowd of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, was "well done."

However, Graham continued, Trump's comments in the wake of the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville are extraordinarily problematic. "[B]ecause of the manner in which you have handled the Charlottesville tragedy you are now receiving praise from some of the most racist and hate-filled individuals and groups in our country," Graham said in the statement. "For the sake of our Nation — as our president — please fix this."

Hours before Graham released his statement, Trump attacked him in a series of tweets. Trump took issue with a previous statement by Graham saying that Trump, by arguing "both sides" were to blame for the violence in Charlottesville, was suggesting there is "moral equivalency between the white supremacist neo-Nazis and KKK members who attended the Charlottesville rally and people like Ms. Heyer."

"Such a disgusting lie," Trump tweeted. "He just can't forget his election trouncing. The people of South Carolina will remember!" Becca Stanek

9:37 a.m. ET

During his combative press conference Tuesday, President Trump was asked if statues of Robert E. Lee should stay up. "I would say that's up to a local town, community, or the federal government depending on where it is located," Trump answered.

By Thursday, though, Trump had shared more of his thoughts about the removal of statues:

Trump hasn't always had such an appreciation for sculpture, Mother Jones points out. As Harry Hurt III writes in his book Lost Tycoon, Trump once ordered demolition workers to destroy two historic Art Deco friezes coveted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in order to expedite the construction of Trump Tower. Jeva Lange

9:10 a.m. ET

As America remains gripped by the violent protests that unfolded in Charlottesville over the weekend, "tens of millions" of people have tuned into a 22-minute Vice documentary to learn more about what's going on, CNN reports.

The overwhelming success of "Charlottesville: Race and Terror" is a major win for HBO's Vice News Tonight, which launched in October as "an immersive alternative to traditional broadcast and cable nightly newscasts," CNN writes. HBO allowed the documentary to be shared on YouTube, extending the reach of the program. To date, it has reached around 500,000 people on HBO when it aired Monday and earned another 3 million views on YouTube and 25 million views on Facebook. Excerpts of the program were also aired on networks like CNN and NBC.

"I knew we had something pretty unique and pretty horrifying," said the program's executive producer, Josh Tyrangiel. Watch below. Jeva Lange

8:31 a.m. ET

The Economist and Time have released images of their covers for next week, and they're a doozy:

The references to the KKK and neo-Nazis are extraordinary and dismaying in 2017. Read more about how Charlottesville is a turning point here at The Week. Jeva Lange

8:00 a.m. ET
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

On Wednesday, endangered chief strategist Stephen Bannon gave two eyebrow-raising interviews, although at least one he has since argued was intended to be "off the record." The other, with The New York Times, saw Bannon defending Trump on Charlottesville and arguing that the left has picked the wrong fight.

"President Trump, by asking, 'Where does this all end' — Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln — connects with the American people about their history, culture, and traditions," Bannon told the Times. "The race-identity politics of the left wants to say it's all racist."

For good measure, Bannon added: "Just give me more. Tear down more statues. Say the revolution is coming. I can't get enough of it."

One person was killed and more than a dozen others injured when a Charlottesville protester rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters on Saturday. Critics of Trump's response to Charlottesville are also quick to point out that the president has apparently equivocated white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and KKK members with counter-protesters on the left.

As Politico observes: "Bannon is an incredibly savvy political operator who talks to reporters all the time, and did these interviews for some reason ... Whatever his motivation was, he felt like he should dial up some reporters and get his take out there." Jeva Lange

7:56 a.m. ET

When you order a test of your genetic makeup from or 23andMe, the results you get back are often a surprise. When you are racial purist like white separatist Craig Cobb, that shock can be pretty upsetting, as Cobb found out on Trisha Goddard's talk show in 2013:

Cobb didn't just protest that his African ancestry was "statistical noise" on British TV, though. Like dozens of white supremacists, he went on the white nationalist website Stormfront to dispute the results, reports Eric Boodman at Stat News. Generally speaking, if you want to be a member of the Stormfront community, "you have to be 100 percent white European, not Jewish," says sociologist Aaron Panofsky, who read thousands of Stormfront posts with partner Joan Donovan to find out how white supremacists handle the news that they aren't as white as they think — which happens about two-thirds of the time. They presented their research, coincidentally, on Monday at a conference in Montreal.

Some of the Stormfront users' critiques of the accuracy of spit-in-a-cup genetic ancestry testing are similar to ones by scientists, at least when it comes to determining race. But others have folksier ways to dispute the results, Panofsky says, like the "mirror test" — "They will say things like, 'If you see a Jew in the mirror looking back at you, that's a problem; if you don't, you're fine'" — or calling genetic tests a Jewish conspiracy "to confuse true white Americans about their ancestry," he explains. Boodman continues:

For the study authors, what was most interesting was to watch this online community negotiating its own boundaries, rethinking who counts as "white." That involved plenty of contradictions. They saw people excluded for their genetic test results, often in very nasty (and unquotable) ways, but that tended to happen for newer members of the anonymous online community, Panofsky said, and not so much for longtime, trusted members. Others were told that they could remain part of white nationalist groups, in spite of the ancestry they revealed, as long as they didn't "mate," or only had children with certain ethnic groups. [Stat News]

You can read more about how white nationalists navigate the news they aren't all-white at Stat News. Peter Weber

7:27 a.m. ET

President Trump attacked two members of Congress before 7 a.m. on Thursday, potentially complicating his already contentious relationship with the Senate:

Trump also attacked his longtime enemy, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.):

Republicans hold just a sliver of the majority in the Senate, and their support will be necessary for Trump to pass a budget, infrastructure bill, tax reform, and eventually health care. Jeva Lange

See More Speed Reads