10 things you need to know today: August 16, 2017
Trump reverts to claim that "both sides" were to blame in Charlottesville, calls for Trump to drop Bannon continue, and more
Trump doubles down on assertion that 'both sides' share blame for Charlottesville
President Trump on Tuesday rejected bipartisan criticism for his earlier assertion that "many sides" were to blame for the deadly violence at Saturday's white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. In a combative exchange with reporters, Trump said at Trump Tower in New York that "alt-left" counter-protesters were "very, very violent" so there was "blame on both sides." Trump also said that many of the people who participated in the rally were not white nationalists or neo-Nazis, just people opposed to removing a statue of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee from a park. "This week, it is Robert E. Lee and this week, Stonewall Jackson. Is it George Washington next?" Trump said. "You have to ask yourself, where does it stop?"
Calls intensify for Trump to dump Bannon
President Trump is facing intensifying calls from top aides and supporters to fire Stephen Bannon, the White House chief strategist, in the wake of the Charlottesville, Virginia, white supremacist rally, due to his ties to the alt-right and white nationalists. Before joining Trump's staff, Bannon ran the Breitbart website, which he called a "platform for the alt-right." Conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch has repeatedly urged Trump to fire Bannon, and former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci criticized Bannon on TV, calling him a white nationalist. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster would not say that he could work with Bannon.
1 arrested over Confederate statue pulled down in North Carolina
Durham County, North Carolina, authorities said Tuesday that they had arrested a woman in connection with the destruction of a Confederate statue during a protest outside a courthouse. "As the sheriff, I am not blind to the offensive conduct of some demonstrators nor will I ignore their criminal conduct," Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews said. "With the help of video captured at the scene, my investigators are working to identify those responsible for the removal and vandalism of the statue." Deputies executed search warrants before arresting the 22-year-old woman on two felony counts of property damage and inciting others to riot. More arrests are expected.
DOJ fights Dreamhost for data on visitors to site on Trump protests
The Justice Department is to make an internet hosting company turn over information about people who have visited a website used to organize protests during President Trump's inauguration. Federal investigators launched the privacy battle last month, getting a judge to issue a search warrant demanding that the company, Dreamhost, turn over data identifying visitors to the website and what pages they viewed or uploaded. Dreamhost is fighting the warrant, calling it an unconstitutionally broad attempt to "identify the political dissidents" and "understand what content each of these dissidents viewed on the website." Federal prosecutors in the District of Columbia declined to comment but said in a filing that Dreamhost "has no legal basis for failing to produce materials" under the search warrant.
CBO: Trump's threatened ObamaCare cuts could boost premiums by 20 percent
Many Americans' ObamaCare health-coverage premiums could rise by 20 percent in 2018 if President Trump follows through on a threat to cut off payments to help low-income families pay for out-of-pocket expenses, according to a report the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released Tuesday. The CBO said ending the cost-sharing reductions, which amounted to $7 billion in 2017, would leave five percent of Americans in areas with no insurer in the individual market next year. Trump has called the cost-sharing payments a "bailout" for insurers. Several insurers, most recently Anthem, have pulled out of some states, citing uncertainty over the fate of the payments.
Trump orders faster permitting for infrastructure projects
President Trump said Tuesday that he had signed an executive order to speed up federal permitting for construction, water, and other infrastructure projects. "It's going to be quick, it's going to be a very streamlined process," Trump said. "And by the way, if it doesn't meet environmental safeguards, we're not going to approve it. Very simple. We're not going to approve it." Trump also revoked former President Barack Obama's order requiring projects built on flood plains to take rising sea levels into account. Trump has said predictions about rising seas due to climate change have been exaggerated. Construction industry groups had said the flood plain order pushed up building costs.
Judge Roy Moore and Sen. Luther Strange reach Alabama GOP runoff
Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore and Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) advanced into a Senate Republican primary runoff in the race to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions' former seat. Strange, who was appointed to temporarily fill the seat in February, survived a challenge from Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), who finished third, but he trailed Moore despite getting endorsements from President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Strange predicted that Trump's backing would help him win the Sept. 26 runoff. Moore, a controversial figure twice suspended from the state Supreme Court for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument and to recognize same-sex marriages, said he led the low-turnout primary because voters rejected "silk-stocking Washington elitists." The winner will face Democrat Doug Jones, a former U.S. attorney, in the December general election.
Obama's post-Charlottesville tweet becomes most 'liked' in Twitter history
Former President Barack Obama's tweet in response to the deadly attack during Saturday's white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, became the most "liked" post in Twitter's history on Tuesday, reaching nearly three million likes. The tweet, the first in a series of three, quoted the late South African leader Nelson Mandela and included a photo of Obama smiling at a group of small children from different racial backgrounds. "No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion," the quote from Mandela's biography begins. "People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."
Lincoln Memorial vandalized with spray paint
Vandals used red spray paint to write "f--- law" on a column at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., early Tuesday, the National Park Service said. Crews are removing the graffiti using a "gel-type architectural paint stripper that is safe for use on historic stone," the Park Service said. President Abraham Lincoln led the Union government to victory over the secessionist Confederacy in the Civil War, and freed African-American slaves in 1863. He was assassinated five days after the war was effectively ended with Confederate general Robert E. Lee's surrender. Saturday's violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, erupted during a protest against the removal of a Lee statue from a park. Also Tuesday, a Massachusetts teen was arrested on charges of vandalizing a Holocaust memorial in Boston.
Texas 'bathroom bill' dies as special session ends
Texas' state House ended a special session a day early on Tuesday without passing a "bathroom bill" with North Carolina-style restrictions limiting transgender people's bathroom access in schools and other public buildings. It was the second time divided Republicans failed to pass the measure. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott gave no indication he would call on lawmakers to take a third shot at passing the controversial bill. Civil rights groups and major corporations such as Amazon and ExxonMobil opposed the measure, saying it promoted bigotry and would have cost the state billions of dollars in lost business. Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, a national LGBT rights group, called the bill's failure a victory "against legislation that helps no one and harms many."