Donald Trump lands in Reno for first Nevada visit as president – Las Vegas Review-Journal

RENO — President Donald Trump sidestepped political controversy for the most part in brief remarks to the American Legion on Wednesday, instead focusing on the needs of veterans and the military.

Trump delivered a patriotic 24-minute speech, telling the assembled veterans that Americans are defined not by the color of their skin, but by “our shared humanity.”

“If American patriots could secure our independence, carve out a home in the wilderness, and free millions from oppression around the world, that same sense of patriotism, courage, and love can help us create a better future for our people today,” he said.

Trump, fresh from a politically oriented rally in Phoenix on Tuesday, talked about his new plan to fight terrorism in Afghanistan and efforts to expand and improve a system to shoot down missiles in flight with increased defense spending in his budget.

The president couldn’t resist a few political comments, however, noting that the veterans he spoke to backstage before his public remarks were “much more proud than they were last year at this time.”

He also mentioned the need to enforce the nation’s immigration laws, a comment made after a visit Tuesday to Yuma, Arizona near the border with Mexico.

Trump used the event to sign the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act, which passed the Senate unanimously earlier this month. The legislation was co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.

The legislation aims to streamline the lengthy process that veterans undergo when appealing their claims for disability benefits with the VA. More than 470,000 veterans are still waiting for decisions regarding their appeals.

Trump’s remarks were well received by the audience of several thousand veterans.

But there was no mention of Charlottesville, the border wall with Mexico or other controversies that have captivated much of the country in recent days.

Navy veteran Ken Lembrich, from Idaho Falls, Idaho, said Trump was on point and delivered a good speech.

Focusing on unity and Americans’ shared values was the right message, he said.

“It is what veterans need, what the military needs, what the country needs,“ Lembrich said. “We need to come together.”

Army veteran Marj Goosey of California also praised Trump’s comments.

“I was impressed,” she said. “I really appreciate what he had to say, particularly about cleaning up the VA system.”

Goosey, who said she voted for neither Trump nor Hillary Clinton, added that she has been impressed with his performance as president so far.

“I think he’s doing a pretty good job,” she said.

Trump was greeted on his arrival at Reno International Airport by Gov. Brian Sandoval and Attorney General Adam Laxalt on his first public appearance in the state since his election as president.

Protesters both in support and opposition to Trump lined the streets around the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, where some roads were closed and a heavy police presence was on hand. The protests did not get out of hand.

His arrival in Nevada came amid continuing controversy over his comments that “there is blame on both sides” regarding violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The American Legion, a 2 million-member veterans group, issued a statement on the eve of Trump’s appearance announcing the organization has reaffirmed a 1923 resolution that condemns racism and hate groups.

“In 1923, The American Legion passed a national resolution at our convention in San Francisco that is as relevant today as it was 94 years ago,” National Commander Charles E. Schmidt said in a statement.

Trump’s comments about the violence that erupted Aug. 12 in Charlottesville continued to shadow him during the first stop on his western trip, an appearance Tuesday at a Phoenix campaign-style rally.

Trump lost Nevada to Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November 2016 general election but won Nevada’s Republican caucuses, beating a slew of seasoned GOP politicians.

Contact Sean Whaley at [email protected] or 775-461-3820. Follow @seanw801 on Twitter. Contact Ben Botkin at [email protected] or 775-461-0661. Follow @BenBotkin1 on Twitter. White House correspondent Debra Saunders contributed to this report.

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The day white Virginia stopped admiring Gen. Robert E. Lee and started worshiping him – Washington Post

The Robert E. Lee monument and scaffolding during construction in Richmond in 1890. (Cook Collection, the Valentine)

The canonization of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee began shortly after 5 p.m., May 7, 1890, on the docks of the James River in Richmond. That’s when at least 10,000 citizens clamped 20,000 hands on ropes and hauled three huge crates a mile and a half up to the empty tobacco field above the city now known as Monument Avenue.

Inside the boxes, fresh from the sculptor’s studio in France, was the massive statue that would soon loom over not just the skyline of Richmond but the psyche of Virginia: the noble Lee mounted on his horse. It was a many-handed moment of popular acclaim that lifted Lee to new heights of esteem and helped germinate the growing perception of him as “the Commonwealth’s greatest son,” said historian Edward Ayers, who teaches at the University of Richmond.

“Lee had certainly been celebrated at the time of his death” 20 years earlier, Ayers said. “But in 1890, this was a remarkable public display that really began to put him at the top of the pantheon for white Virginians. People saved pieces of those ropes for the rest of their lives.”

In the 127 years since that day on the docks, Lee memorials have become fixtures across the country, especially in the South. Now they are coming down — often at night. In the wake of violence at a white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville — a gathering meant to protest the planned removal of a Lee statue — images of the general have been removed from pedestals from Texas to North Carolina to Baltimore.

A crew covered the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on Aug. 23 in black fabric following approval from the Charlottesville City Council. (Twitter/Lauren Berg via Storyful)

But nowhere is the retreat on Lee more fraught than in the Old Dominion, his beloved home state. In Virginia, Lee tributes have included at least five high schools, two elementary schools, an Army base and a university. His name is stamped on both a state holiday and a trans-commonwealth highway that stretches from Rosslyn to Bristol. The Lee Chapel at Washington and Lee University in Lexington is a cathedral-worthy shrine that includes a statue of the general in eternal marble repose and his tomb one floor below it. The Lee mansion overlooking Arlington National Cemetery is a Park Service memorial that draws more than a million visitors a year.

That legacy is now under pressure all over the state. In Charlottesville, where officials are awaiting a  federal judge’s ruling on plans to remove it permanently, city workers Wednesday covered the Lee statue with black tarp. Residents of Arlington are pushing the school board there to strip Lee’s name from Washington-Lee High. Arlington County board members are seeking permission to rename the stretch of Lee Highway running through the county. R.E. Lee Memorial Church in Lexington, the historic Episcopal church where Lee once worshiped, is considering a name change.

Some of Lee’s own descendants, including Robert E. Lee V, have called for moving the memorials in the name of reconciliation, a virtue they say was their ancestor’s greatest final wish for the country.

The recumbent Statue of Robert E. Lee at his burial site on the campus of Washington & Lee University. The Confederate flags were removed in 2014. (Library of Congress)

And in Richmond itself, the former capital of the Confederacy, Mayor Levar Stoney (D) said last week that he was asking the city’s Monument Avenue Commission to examine the removal of some or all the confederate statues — including Lee’s. Asked to talk more about those plans, the mayor declined further comment.

[How statues of Robert E. Lee and other Confederates got into the U.S. Capitol]

For many white Virginians, Lee ascended to the very ranks of the hallowed founders of the republic: Washington, Jefferson, Madison. When the Virginia legislature got to pick two notable natives to honor in the U.S. Capitol, it was Lee, not Jefferson, they chose to stand forever with Washington in Statuary Hall. Only one of those choices sparked controversy outside of the commonwealth; the appearance of Lee in the Capitol of the nation he went to war with was condemned by many outside the South.

The two Virginia generals first had their names linked just after Lee’s death in 1870, when Lexington’s Washington College renamed itself Washington and Lee in honor of the general who had lived out his retirement as its president. In today’s contretemps, they’ve been conjoined frequently by opponents of removing Lee statues, including President Trump.

“So this week, it’s Robert E. Lee,” Trump said at a combative news conference last week. “I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week, and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after?”

Whatever role Lee plays in the wider controversy engulfing the country, he has a unique role on his home turf that will  influence the debate within the commonwealth.

“Washington and Jefferson belong to the nation,” Ayers said. “Lee belongs to Virginia.”

Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee is shown on his mount, Traveler. (AP)

The writer Roy Blount Jr., who wrote a 2003 biography of Lee, was on hand to watch a statue of the general being dismantled in New Orleans in May. Blount, noting that the famously upstanding Lee “wasn’t really a New Orleans sort of fellow,” said onlookers made more jokes than objections as the memorial came down. He predicted that wouldn’t be the case in Virginia.  

“I imagine in Richmond there would be less laissez les bon temp rouler,” Blount said. “It would be more like someone trying to take down the statue of Louis Armstrong in New Orleans.”

The 1890 gathering of the Richmond crowd wasn’t spontaneous, and it wasn’t without controversy. The event was planned as both a practical way to haul the massive stone sculpture to its home and as a kickoff to the unveiling and dedication that would come three weeks later. John Mitchell, an African American member of the city council and editor of a black newspaper, condemned the project for celebrating Lee’s “legacy of treason and blood,” according to author Richard Schein in “Landscape and Race in the United States.”

[The truth about Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee: He wasn’t very good at his job]

But for white residents, the time was ripe that Monday to turn out for a mass benediction of Lee and the war effort he led. Twenty years after Lee’s death and 25 years after Appomattox, veterans were beginning to die in growing numbers and Confederate honor societies were springing up to memorialize them. The revisionist “Lost Cause” movement was gaining steam, and Lee — whose reputation for rectitude made him an acceptable icon even to some northern whites — was the perfect “marble man” to change the narrative of the rebellion from slavery to honor, Blount said.

“He enabled people to put a kind of gentlemanly High-Church face on the Confederacy,” said Blount. “It was a time when people were trying to establish the idea of white supremacy. You can bet the 20,000 who showed up were white people.”

Indeed so, according to The Washington Post’s front-page dispatch from the scene, under the headline “Drawn by Fair Hands.” A good number of those jostling to take part in the tug-of-Lee were women, young girls and babes in arms. “Little tots were carried out into the streets in their mothers’ arms, and their small hands placed upon the ropes,” the report said.

The next day’s Chicago Tribune described a festive throng, with aging soldiers in their battle grays and Confederate flags waving over the crowd. The massive crates containing eight tons of Lee and his horse were mounted on three wagons, each with 200 feet of rope attached in twin lengths. One was pulled by citizens, one by veterans and the third by women. Porches along the route were packed with onlookers, and so many people tried to join in the pulling that 700 more feet of rope was added.

“When the procession reached the monument pedestal, the crowd began to cut the rope,” the Tribune reported. “The police at first attempted to stop this, but their efforts were useless and the hemp was soon stored in pockets as souvenirs.”

White nationalists walk toward Virginia State Police at the Lee statue in Charlottesville on Aug. 12. The rally, which led to the death of a counterprotester, was held to protest the removal of the memorial. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Lee himself would have eschewed such relics and rituals, scholars say. He spoke against monuments as irritating “the sores of war,” and his modesty would have made him chafe at hero worship, Blount said. Nor would Lee have appreciated the appearance of white supremacists and neo-Nazis earlier this month to protest the proposed removal of his image from the park in Charlottesville.

“He would have thought of them as rabble,” Blount said. “He would not have liked to be honored by these roughnecks.”

But the seeds were planted for a flowering of Lee worship that is now under intense review. And no memorial may be harder to move than Lee’s towering image in Richmond — the one dragged there by “fair hands” and long ropes a century and a quarter ago.

Correction: An earlier version of this story did not make it clear that Lee’s statue and tomb at Washington and Lee University are on different floors of the Lee Chapel. This version has been updated. 

Read more Retropolis:

Neo-Nazis rallied around Jefferson’s statue. But it was a Jewish family that saved Monticello.

Trump said to study General Pershing. Here’s what the president got wrong.

The day 30,000 white supremacists in KKK robes marched in the nation’s capital

The shadow of an assassinated American Nazi commander hangs over Charlottesville

Death of ‘a devil’: The white supremacist got hit by a car. His victims celebrated.

Removing a slavery defender’s statue: Roger B. Taney wrote one of Supreme Court’s worst rulings

‘Then they came for me’: A Hitler supporter’s haunting warning has a complicated history

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Trump’s demand to build border wall could upend sensitive negotiations on Capitol Hill – Washington Post

By Mike DeBonis, Elise Viebeck and Damian Paletta,

President Trump’s threat to shut down the federal government over his demand for $1.6 billion in border wall money could upend delicate negotiations on Capitol Hill to keep the government open and funded past Sept. 30, further entrenching Democrats against what they see as an unpopular president scrambling to appeal to his base of supporters.

During a campaign rally in Phoenix on Tuesday night, Trump leveled his latest threat about blocking new government funding if it doesn’t include the $1.6 billion he wants to partially construct a new wall along the Mexico border.

“Build that wall,” he said. “Now the obstructionist Democrats would like us not to do it. But believe me, if we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall.”

Congressional Democrats, meanwhile, are holding their ground in opposition to Trump’s proposal. On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) repeated their objections to funding a wall and argued that Trump would be responsible if the government shuts down over the impasse.

“If the President pursues this path, against the wishes of both Republicans and Democrats, as well as the majority of the American people, he will be heading towards a government shutdown which nobody will like and which won’t accomplish anything,” Schumer said in a statement.

Trump’s threat Tuesday night during a campaign-style rally in Phoenix instantly raised the stakes for the showdown over government spending that awaits lawmakers. Federal spending authority expires in a little more than a month, requiring Congress to act to keep the government fully operating past Sept. 30.

[Trump threatens shutdown, suggests controversial pardon at Arizona rally]

Many Republicans are hoping to include border wall funding in any deal to keep the government open, and key conservative lawmakers have rallied to Trump’s side. But Democrats on Wednesday showed no sign of backing down.

“Last night, President Trump yet again threatened to cause chaos in the lives of millions of Americans if he doesn’t get his way,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Make no mistake: The President said he will purposefully hurt American communities to force American taxpayers to fund an immoral, ineffective and expensive border wall.”

Trump, escalating a conflict that has been brewing for months, told supporters Tuesday night: “Let me be very clear to Democrats in Congress who oppose a border wall and stand in the way of border security: You are putting all of America’s safety at risk.”

During the presidential campaign last year, Trump vowed to force Mexico to build a wall along the U.S. border that he said could be as much as 50 feet tall. Since the election, he has changed course, saying that Congress instead needs to authorize $1.6 billion for the next fiscal year to begin construction of parts of the wall. There is already a wall or fence along parts of the U.S. border with Mexico.

The Department of Homeland Security prepared an internal report earlier this year that estimated the cost of constructing a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border would be $21.6 billion. Trump has chafed at that estimate, saying he could get the cost to come “way down.”

On Wednesday, a committee that raises money for Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee sent an email to supporters calling on them to pressure Senate lawmakers that “the American VOTERS want this beautiful, impenetrable wall constructed.”

It went on to ask supporters to digitally sign an “Official Build The Wall Petition.”

Neither Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) nor House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) has weighed in yet on Trump’s remarks, but some prominent conservative lawmakers are urging Republicans to support the president.

“Congress would do well to join the President by keeping our own commitments and including border wall funding in upcoming spending measures,” Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) wrote on Twitter before Tuesday’s rally.

[As Trump ranted and rambled in Phoenix, his crowd slowly thinned]

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), another influential voice within the group, repeated the same message. “Secure borders are vital to natl security — Congress shld fund border wall in govt funding legislation this fall — time to keep our promise,” he tweeted Tuesday.

Rasmussen Reports, a Republican firm, conducted a poll of likely U.S. voters late last month and found that a solid majority of Americans oppose building a border wall, with 37 percent supporting Trump’s proposal versus 56 percent against. That is largely unchanged from a poll conducted in February by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center that found Americans opposed the wall 62 percent to 35 percent.

House Republicans voted last month to provide the $1.6 billion in seed funding for the border wall as part of a larger spending package. That bill is expected to be taken up in the Senate, where Democrats can filibuster any measure that funds the wall or includes other GOP provisions that they have termed “poison pills.”

A 2017 spending bill passed into law earlier this year did not include border wall funding after Democrats refused to accept it. That impasse increased pressure on Republicans to deliver wall funding in a future spending battle.

Democrats uniformly slammed Trump’s remarks, with several calling the president’s speech “unhinged” on Twitter.

Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, called Trump’s threat the “polar opposite of leadership” and said the president should be held accountable if the government shuts down.

“Wasting tens of billions on a useless and immoral border wall is a nonstarter for Democrats, particularly at a time of such real need in our communities. Congress should use this funding to help American families — not fulfill campaign applause lines,” Lowey said Wednesday in a statement.

Rank-and-file Democrats and several caucuses representing them took to Twitter Tuesday to double down on that position.

“Threatening to shut down the gov’t for a campaign promise and a wall we don’t need is irresponsible and reckless,” Rep. Bennie Thompson (Miss.), the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, tweeted from an account representing the panel’s Democrats.

Tweeted the Congressional Hispanic Caucus: “Trump irresponsibly vows to shut down govt if his immoral, ineffective & unnecessary #borderwall isn’t funded by the American taxpayer.”

Trump could follow through on his threat to shut down the government by blocking any funding bill sent to the White House by Congress. If he doesn’t sign a funding bill, or if vetoes one, it would lead to a partial government shutdown. This means that national parks would shut down, many federal agencies would suspend certain operations, and hundreds of thousands of federal workers would be sent home indefinitely without pay.

The last government shutdown came from Oct. 1 until Oct. 17, 2013, when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) led a conservative revolt against the Affordable Care Act.

The number of federal employees placed on furlough during that shutdown peaked at 850,000 workers, with federal employees losing a total of 6.6 million work days, the Obama administration said at the time. Economists also believe that the shutdown negatively impacted economic growth, though they disagree on precisely how much.

Federal workers are typically repaid for their lost wages during a shutdown,but it can cause strain while they wait for lawmakers to sort out differences.

Last week, Goldman Sachs issued a research note estimating that there was a 50 percent chance that Trump could lead the country into a government shutdown.

“Low approval ratings raise legislative risks,” Goldman Sachs analysts wrote. “In the near term, we believe there is a 50% chance of a brief government shutdown, as the president seeks to solidify support among his base by embracing more controversial positions, despite needing Democratic support to pass spending legislation.”

Read more at PowerPost

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Donald Trump’s 57 most outrageous quotes from his Arizona speech – CNN

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US Navy 7th Fleet commander dismissed, Navy says –

Guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain moored pier side at Changi Naval Base, Republic of Singapore following a collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC while underway east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore on August 21, 2017.

US Navy 7th Fleet commander dismissed, Navy says

Guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain moored pier side at Changi Naval Base, Republic of Singapore following a collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC while underway east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore on August 21, 2017.

Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin has been relieved of his duty as the commander of the US 7th Fleet, based in Yokosuka, Japan, according to the Navy.

This follows an incident Monday in which the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain collided with a merchant ship.

Ten sailors assigned to the ship were missing following the accident, and the Navy has reported that “some” remains have been recovered, Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, said Tuesday. Swift will be in Japan today to meet 7th Fleet commanders and families from the affected warship.

The McCain and the tanker ship collided Monday east of the Malacca Strait, the fourth time a US warship has been involved in an accident in Asian waters this year.

A statement from the 7th fleet said Aucoin was relieved “due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command.”

Rear Adm. Phil Sawyer, who has already been nominated and confirmed for the position and promotion to Vice Adm., will assume command immediately.

US Navy and Marine Corps divers found the remains in the sealed compartments aboard the McCain after it docked at a naval base in Singapore, said Swift. US military divers continue to search the flooded areas of the McCain.

The Royal Malaysian Navy has located one body at sea, and officials are working to determine whether it is one of the missing sailors, he said. Ships and planes are scouring the seas east of Singapore.

“Until we have exhausted any potential of recovering survivors or bodies, the search and rescue efforts will continue,” Swift said.

The White House expressed its “great sadness” about the incident. “As the Navy begins the process of recovering our fallen sailors, our thoughts and prayers go out to their families and friends,” the statement said.

Medical support

As well as providing material support from the amphibious assault ship the USS America, the 7th Fleet statement said that the Navy was providing mental health support and other counseling and medical resources.

“Although most people will spontaneously emotionally recover, there may be some that experience significant psychological distress and may need attention from mental health professionals,” Lt. Cmdr. Carlos Coleman, Medical Service Corps said. “We want to do everything we can to help them manage the stress of this tragic event.”


The McCain suffered a steering failure as the warship was beginning its approach into the Strait of Malacca, before colliding with the tanker, a Navy official told CNN.

The official said it was unclear why the crew couldn’t use the ship’s backup steering systems to maintain control.

Reporters on Tuesday asked about the possibility that the McCain could have had its computer systems compromised.

Swift said that, while there were “no indications of that as of yet … we are not taking any consideration off the table and every scenario will be reviewed and investigated in detail.”

Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations had previously indicated on Twitter that the possibility of a cyberattack, however slight, would be investigated.

Carl Schuster, a Hawaii Pacific University professor and former director of operations at the US Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center, said that he thought it was unlikely that the ship would have been hacked.

“Navigating a ship in a shipping channel is a manual operation. It comes down to watch attention and awareness. It’s a training procedure issue and a watch qualification issue,” he said.

He added that even if the steering had been compromised it would be possible for the McCain to outrun the tanker, and that some degree of directionality would be possible by changing the speed of the port and starboard propellers.

The “traffic situation” in the shipping channel at that time should be the focus of investigation, Ridzwan Rahmat, a senior defense and security analyst at Jane’s suggests.

“The signs were that the merchant ship was in compliance and the damage on the USS John S. McCain suggests that it wasn’t in compliance” of traffic rules at the time, he said.

‘Operational pause’

The collision prompted the Navy to order a rare, one-day operational pause.

The pause is a one-day, safety stand-down that would be done at the discretion of individual commands, a US defense official told CNN. It will be done rotationally, with units standing down for a 24-hour period, so as to minimize the effect on operational capability.

Swift said the Pacific Fleet will complete the operational pause by next Monday.

“The question is: are naval operations (in the Pacific theater) stretched too thin; is the tempo of operations sustainable,” said Rahmat.

Aucoin’s role has come under scrutiny since a spate of incidents in the Pacific theater, including another at-sea collision between a US Navy destroyer, the USS Fitzgerald, and a cargo ship off Japan’s Izu Peninsula.

“This trend demands more forceful action,” Richardson said.

Spate of incidents

“It’s peculiar that so many (incidents) have occurred in a short period of time, which suggests that there could be systemic (problems),” Rahmat said.

He suggests it could be a “problem with certification of crew: are they capable enough to be on the bridge, to perform maneuvers?”

The Fitzgerald incident, on June 17, caused the deaths of seven US sailors.

Speaking shortly after that incident, Aucoin told reporters, alongside the ship at Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan, that the loss of sailors under his command “is something we all feel.”

“We have found a number of the remains … of our missing shipmates, and our deepest sympathies go out to the families of those shipmates,” he said.

Findings in that investigation suggested the accident was caused by multiple errors by the Fitzgerald’s crew and a failure to take action in the minutes leading to the collision, according to two defense officials.

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