August 14, 2012

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9:17 a.m. ET
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The proposed removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee became the spark for Charlottesville's violent weekend protests, rallying opposition from the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacist and nationalist groups. Now Lee's direct descendants have spoken out to condemn any who use their ancestor's name as something to "hide behind," Newsweek reports.

Of the Charlottesville demonstrations, Lee's great-great-grandson, Robert E. Lee V, said: "We don't believe in that whatsoever … Our belief is that General Lee would not tolerate that sort of behavior either. His first thing to do after the Civil War was to bring the Union back together, so we could become a more unified country."

The Lee descendant added that he believes the statue of his great-great-grandfather could be moved to a museum instead, in order to give it the "proper historical context." "We look at the institution of slavery, and it's absolutely horrendous. Back then, times were just extremely different," said Lee, adding: "If you want to put statues of General Lee or other Confederate people in museums, that makes good sense."

Karen Finney, the "biracial daughter of Jim Finney, a black civil rights lawyer descended from enslaved Virginians, and Mildred Lee, a white social worker and the great-great-great-great niece of [Lee]," also weighed in at The Washington Post, writing that Lee is "my ancestor, and as far as I'm concerned, his statues can't come down soon enough."

Baltimore became the most recent city to remove a statue of the Confederate general in the dark of night between Tuesday and Wednesday. Jeva Lange

8:50 a.m. ET

President Trump has praised Rasmussen Reports for producing "the most accurate" polls, although the latest news from the polling company might not have him so thrilled. As of Tuesday, Rasmussen finds Trump's "strong" approval rating is a mere 26 percent, while 45 percent of people "strongly disapprove" of the job he is doing in office.

Trump's lowest rating on Rasmussen came August 3, when a mere 23 percent of voters strongly approved of him.

Rasmussen also records "total" approval of the president, with Trump at 42 percent approval and 57 percent disapproval Tuesday. This is higher than his marks in the Gallup Daily tracking poll, which recorded a new floor for the president Monday at just 34 percent approval.

The Rasmussen poll surveyed 1,500 likely voters on landlines and through the internet and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percent. The full daily results can be found here. Jeva Lange

8:25 a.m. ET

President Trump's impromptu press conference on Tuesday made some waves, but so did Politico's transcript of his comments, which originally contained this line: "Okay, what about the alt-left that came charging at us — excuse me — what about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right?" That seemed to suggest that Trump had made a Freudian slip, or perhaps a Kinsley gaffe, identifying himself as a member of the so-called alt-right. But Politico has since updated the transcript to the more accurate: "Okay, what about the alt-left that came charging at [indiscernible]."

BuzzFeed's Claudia Koerner looked into what Trump really said, noting that the official White House transcript just reads "charging at — excuse me," while the one from the Federal News Service quotes Trump as saying, "charging at them," not us. You can listen for yourself, near the beginning of the CNN clip.

"BuzzFeed News reviewed video of the press conference, and though the audio is muffled, it does sound like Trump is saying 'them,'" Koerner concluded. So if you are going to be outraged by Trump's statements on the Charlottesville violence, you can channel your ire toward the idea that in 2017, we have to have a national conversation about whether Nazis and white supremacists hold defensible beliefs. CNN's Jake Tapper has your answer below. Peter Weber

8:01 a.m. ET

Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough did nothing to hide his disgust over President Trump's comments Tuesday regarding Charlottesville. "He has now officially become the president not only of America but also of the white nationalist movement," Scarborough told viewers Wednesday.

Lawmakers from both parties, including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, took issue with Trump's moral equivalency Tuesday between neo-Nazis and those opposed to them, and Trump's statement that some of the alt-right protesters are "very nice people." Trump's comments received positive reviews from former KKK leader David Duke and alt-right organizer Richard Spencer.

"The president has chosen sides and it is very clear, not only morally …but also politically, he has chosen the wrong side," Scarborough went on. While the host made clear not everyone who voted for Trump is a white supremacist, Scarborough added: "There are a lot of people across the country asking, 'What the hell did I vote for? … I didn't want a Clinton or a Bush in the White House, but I sure as hell didn't want a Duke in the White House.' And that's what they've got." Watch below. Jeva Lange

7:33 a.m. ET

Crews in Baltimore worked through the night to remove four Confederate monuments after the city council approved the plan Monday evening, the Baltimore Sun reports.

"They needed to come down. My concern is for the safety and security of our people," said Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh in the wake of violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. Pugh's predecessor, former Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, had introduced a commission to review Baltimore's Confederate statues in June 2015.

"Way to be, Baltimore, sneaky style, and do it in the middle of the night," observed one late night passerby to the Baltimore Sun.

Pugh suggested the statues might be moved to Confederate cemeteries in other parts of Maryland, The New York Times reports.

Although Maryland sided with the Union in the Civil War, 22,000 of its residents fought for the Confederacy, The Guardian reports. In addition to a statue of Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, the city removed its Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Confederate Women's Monument, and Roger B. Taney Monument between 11:30 p.m. Tuesday and 5:30 a.m. Wednesday. Jeva Lange

7:03 a.m. ET
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Hope Hicks, President Trump's White House director of strategic communications, will be promoted to communications director, filling the hole left by Anthony Scaramucci's departure, The Daily Caller's Rachel Stoltzfoos reports, citing a White House insider. Trump has already offered the role to Hicks, one of his most trusted aides, and she has accepted, The Daily Caller says. Hicks did not offer any response in the report. Peter Weber

6:22 a.m. ET

Daniel Craig had some news to make on Tuesday's Late Show, and he said he'd been saving it for Stephen Colbert. Colbert got the ball rolling, telling Craig he thinks he's the best of the six James Bonds and asking if, as rumored, he is going to reprise the role. "I've been quite cagey," Craig said. "I've been doing interviews all day, and people have been asking me and I think I've been rather coy, but I kind of felt like, you know, if I was going to speak the truth, I should speak the truth to you." The answer, of course, was yes. "I couldn't be happier," he said, and neither could Colbert, who exclaimed, "Hot damn!"

"I have to apologize to all the people I've done interviews today," Craig said, and Colbert assured him, "You did the right thing." He said he has been sitting on the news for "several months," and that he always wanted to return to the role, though he "needed a break." Colbert fact-checked him, noting he said he would rather slit his wrists than play Bond again, and Craig apologized for the "really stupid answer" he gave to a reporter two days after wrapping Spectre. Still, he said, this will probably be his last Bond film. "I just want to go out on a high note, and I can't wait," he said. They also, sometimes punchily, talked about Colbert's crush on Craig's wife, Craig's new movie Logan Lucky, and his cameo in The Force Awakens. Peter Weber

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