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Trump Blames Attorney General, Fired FBI Agent for Russia Probe

U.S. President Donald Trump unleashed new attacks Tuesday on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and fired FBI agent Peter Strzok, blaming them for the investigation of Russian links to his 2016 U.S. presidential campaign that has consumed his presidency.

The U.S. leader said on Twitter, “If we had a real Attorney General, this Witch Hunt would never have been started! Looking at the wrong people.”

Trump’s attack on the country’s top law enforcement official came days after he described Sessions as “scared stiff” and “missing in action.”

Trump has long been critical of Sessions but has stopped short of firing Sessions for recusing himself from oversight of special counsel Robert Mueller’s criminal investigation into whether Trump associates conspired with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign, and whether Trump, as president, has obstructed justice by trying to thwart the probe.

Under Justice Department rules, Sessions was required to remove himself from overseeing Mueller’s operation because of conflicts of interest, Sessions’ own 2016 contacts with Russia’s then-ambassador to Washington and his staunch support of Trump’s presidential candidacy.

Trump also assailed Strzok, who was a key investigator in Mueller’s probe until Mueller removed him when text messages Strzok wrote disparaging Trump were uncovered. The FBI fired him last week, although an earlier Justice Department inspector general’s report had concluded there was no evidence that Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, the woman with whom he was corresponding, acted on their anti-Trump views to try to stop Trump’s election.

Trump tweeted, “Fired FBI Agent Peter Strzok is a fraud, as is the rigged investigation he started. There was no Collusion or Obstruction with Russia, and everybody, including the Democrats, know it.”

Trump claimed, without elaboration, “The only Collusion and Obstruction was by Crooked Hillary, the Democrats and the DNC!” using his favorite pejorative for his 2016 challenger, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

He added, “Strzok started the illegal Rigged Witch Hunt – why isn’t this so-called ‘probe’ ended immediately? Why aren’t these angry and conflicted Democrats instead looking at Crooked Hillary?”

On Monday, Trump praised Strzok’s dismissal from the FBI after a 22-year career, tweeting, “Agent Peter Strzok was just fired from the FBI – finally.”

Last month, Strzok told a House of Representatives hearing that the anti-Trump text messages he exchanged with Page reflected his personal opinions and that he had never let his beliefs interfere with his work for the FBI.

In the key exchange between Strzok and Page, she texted him that Trump is “not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” Strzok replied, “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it.”

Mueller’s investigation is now in its 15th month.

He has secured guilty pleas from several Trump associates, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and ex-foreign affairs adviser George Papadopoulos, both of whom pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about their contacts with Russia.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is currently on trial for bank and tax fraud in connection with his lobbying efforts for Ukraine that predated his work on Trump’s campaign.

 

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Trump Blames Attorney General, Fired FBI Agent for Russia Probe

U.S. President Donald Trump unleashed new attacks Tuesday on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and fired FBI agent Peter Strzok, blaming them for the investigation of Russian links to his 2016 U.S. presidential campaign that has consumed his presidency.

The U.S. leader said on Twitter, “If we had a real Attorney General, this Witch Hunt would never have been started! Looking at the wrong people.”

Trump’s attack on the country’s top law enforcement official came days after he described Sessions as “scared stiff” and “missing in action.”

Trump has long been critical of Sessions but has stopped short of firing Sessions for recusing himself from oversight of special counsel Robert Mueller’s criminal investigation into whether Trump associates conspired with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign, and whether Trump, as president, has obstructed justice by trying to thwart the probe.

Under Justice Department rules, Sessions was required to remove himself from overseeing Mueller’s operation because of conflicts of interest, Sessions’ own 2016 contacts with Russia’s then-ambassador to Washington and his staunch support of Trump’s presidential candidacy.

Trump also assailed Strzok, who was a key investigator in Mueller’s probe until Mueller removed him when text messages Strzok wrote disparaging Trump were uncovered. The FBI fired him last week, although an earlier Justice Department inspector general’s report had concluded there was no evidence that Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, the woman with whom he was corresponding, acted on their anti-Trump views to try to stop Trump’s election.

Trump tweeted, “Fired FBI Agent Peter Strzok is a fraud, as is the rigged investigation he started. There was no Collusion or Obstruction with Russia, and everybody, including the Democrats, know it.”

Trump claimed, without elaboration, “The only Collusion and Obstruction was by Crooked Hillary, the Democrats and the DNC!” using his favorite pejorative for his 2016 challenger, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

He added, “Strzok started the illegal Rigged Witch Hunt – why isn’t this so-called ‘probe’ ended immediately? Why aren’t these angry and conflicted Democrats instead looking at Crooked Hillary?”

On Monday, Trump praised Strzok’s dismissal from the FBI after a 22-year career, tweeting, “Agent Peter Strzok was just fired from the FBI – finally.”

Last month, Strzok told a House of Representatives hearing that the anti-Trump text messages he exchanged with Page reflected his personal opinions and that he had never let his beliefs interfere with his work for the FBI.

In the key exchange between Strzok and Page, she texted him that Trump is “not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” Strzok replied, “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it.”

Mueller’s investigation is now in its 15th month.

He has secured guilty pleas from several Trump associates, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and ex-foreign affairs adviser George Papadopoulos, both of whom pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about their contacts with Russia.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is currently on trial for bank and tax fraud in connection with his lobbying efforts for Ukraine that predated his work on Trump’s campaign.

 

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Trump Calls Ex-aide a ‘Dog’ Who Deserved to Be Fired

U.S. President Donald Trump resumed his attacks Tuesday on a former adviser, Omarosa Manigault Newman, calling her a “dog” who deserved to be fired.

In a Twitter comment, the U.S. leader praised his chief of staff, John Kelly, for dismissing her late last year. She was a long-time contestant on Trump’s one-time reality television show, “The Apprentice,” before Trump named her to a $179,700-a-year White House position, noting that she “only said GREAT things about me.”

“When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out,” Trump tweeted. “Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!”

Meanwhile, Trump’s campaign filed for arbitration against Manigault Newman, claiming she violated a non-disclosure agreement she signed by writing a new book, “Unhinged,” that is highly critical of Trump and his White House operations.  It was published Tuesday.

While promoting her book, Manigault Newman, who was the highest-ranking African-American serving in the White House, has released audio tapes the last two days she recorded in the White House, one of Kelly firing her and a second of Trump seeming surprised that she had been ousted.

Trump’s newest attack on her came a day after he described her as “Wacky Omarosa” and said she “was vicious, but not smart.”

“Wacky Omarosa, who got fired 3 times on the Apprentice, now got fired for the last time,” Trump tweeted Monday. “She never made it, never will. She begged me for a job, tears in her eyes, I said Ok. People in the White House hated her. She was vicious, but not smart. I would rarely see her but heard really bad things. Nasty to people & would constantly miss meetings & work. When Gen. Kelly came on board he told me she was a loser & nothing but problems. I told him to try working it out, if possible, because she only said GREAT things about me – until she got fired!…”

Later, he half-apologized for his comments about her.

“While I know it’s ‘not presidential’ to take on a lowlife like Omarosa,” he said, “and while I would rather not be doing so, this is a modern day form of communication and I know the Fake News Media will be working overtime to make even Wacky Omarosa look legitimate as possible. Sorry!”

Trump’s Monday tweets about Manigault Newman came a couple hours after she played an audio recording of a conversation she had with Trump seeming to show that the president was surprised that Kelly had fired her last December.

“Omarosa, what’s going on?” Trump said on the brief recording aired on NBC’s “Today” show. Manigault Newman said the phone call occurred the day after Kelly ousted her. “I just saw on the news that you’re thinking about leaving. What happened?” Trump said.

“General Kelly came to me and said that you guys wanted me to leave,” Manigault Newman replied.

But Trump said, “No. Nobody even told me about it. You know, they run a big operation, but I didn’t know it. I didn’t know that. (expletive).”

“I don’t love you leaving at all,” he added, while not doing anything to block her dismissal.

On Sunday, Manigault Newman released a recording of Kelly firing her in the Situation Room, the supposedly secure inner sanctum of the White House where U.S. presidents discuss crucial national security issues and aides are supposed to leave electronic devices outside.

As he fired her, according to the recording, Kelly told Manigault Newman, “I think it’s important to understand that if we make this a friendly departure, we can all be, you know, you can look at your time here in the White House as a year of service to the nation. And then you can go on without any type of difficulty in the future, relative to your reputation.”

Manigault Newman claims that she was offered a $15,000-a-month retainer as she left the White House to not criticize Trump or Vice President Mike Pence and their wives, but that she turned it down. She says she has other tapes she secretly made at the White House.

Trump’s spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said Sunday, “The very idea a staff member would sneak a recording device into the White House Situation Room shows a blatant disregard for our national security — and then to brag about it on national television further proves the lack of character and integrity of this disgruntled former White House employee.”

The Republican Party tweeted: “Omarosa is … ‘Unbelievable.’ ‘Not credible.’ ‘Unethical.’”

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Trump Calls Ex-aide a ‘Dog’ Who Deserved to Be Fired

U.S. President Donald Trump resumed his attacks Tuesday on a former adviser, Omarosa Manigault Newman, calling her a “dog” who deserved to be fired.

In a Twitter comment, the U.S. leader praised his chief of staff, John Kelly, for dismissing her late last year. She was a long-time contestant on Trump’s one-time reality television show, “The Apprentice,” before Trump named her to a $179,700-a-year White House position, noting that she “only said GREAT things about me.”

“When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out,” Trump tweeted. “Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!”

Meanwhile, Trump’s campaign filed for arbitration against Manigault Newman, claiming she violated a non-disclosure agreement she signed by writing a new book, “Unhinged,” that is highly critical of Trump and his White House operations.  It was published Tuesday.

While promoting her book, Manigault Newman, who was the highest-ranking African-American serving in the White House, has released audio tapes the last two days she recorded in the White House, one of Kelly firing her and a second of Trump seeming surprised that she had been ousted.

Trump’s newest attack on her came a day after he described her as “Wacky Omarosa” and said she “was vicious, but not smart.”

“Wacky Omarosa, who got fired 3 times on the Apprentice, now got fired for the last time,” Trump tweeted Monday. “She never made it, never will. She begged me for a job, tears in her eyes, I said Ok. People in the White House hated her. She was vicious, but not smart. I would rarely see her but heard really bad things. Nasty to people & would constantly miss meetings & work. When Gen. Kelly came on board he told me she was a loser & nothing but problems. I told him to try working it out, if possible, because she only said GREAT things about me – until she got fired!…”

Later, he half-apologized for his comments about her.

“While I know it’s ‘not presidential’ to take on a lowlife like Omarosa,” he said, “and while I would rather not be doing so, this is a modern day form of communication and I know the Fake News Media will be working overtime to make even Wacky Omarosa look legitimate as possible. Sorry!”

Trump’s Monday tweets about Manigault Newman came a couple hours after she played an audio recording of a conversation she had with Trump seeming to show that the president was surprised that Kelly had fired her last December.

“Omarosa, what’s going on?” Trump said on the brief recording aired on NBC’s “Today” show. Manigault Newman said the phone call occurred the day after Kelly ousted her. “I just saw on the news that you’re thinking about leaving. What happened?” Trump said.

“General Kelly came to me and said that you guys wanted me to leave,” Manigault Newman replied.

But Trump said, “No. Nobody even told me about it. You know, they run a big operation, but I didn’t know it. I didn’t know that. (expletive).”

“I don’t love you leaving at all,” he added, while not doing anything to block her dismissal.

On Sunday, Manigault Newman released a recording of Kelly firing her in the Situation Room, the supposedly secure inner sanctum of the White House where U.S. presidents discuss crucial national security issues and aides are supposed to leave electronic devices outside.

As he fired her, according to the recording, Kelly told Manigault Newman, “I think it’s important to understand that if we make this a friendly departure, we can all be, you know, you can look at your time here in the White House as a year of service to the nation. And then you can go on without any type of difficulty in the future, relative to your reputation.”

Manigault Newman claims that she was offered a $15,000-a-month retainer as she left the White House to not criticize Trump or Vice President Mike Pence and their wives, but that she turned it down. She says she has other tapes she secretly made at the White House.

Trump’s spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said Sunday, “The very idea a staff member would sneak a recording device into the White House Situation Room shows a blatant disregard for our national security — and then to brag about it on national television further proves the lack of character and integrity of this disgruntled former White House employee.”

The Republican Party tweeted: “Omarosa is … ‘Unbelievable.’ ‘Not credible.’ ‘Unethical.’”

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Trump Signs Defense Policy Bill with Watered-down China Measures

U.S. President Donald Trump signed a $716 billion defense policy bill on Monday that authorizes military spending and includes watered-down controls on U.S. government contracts with China’s ZTE and Huawei Technologies.

Trump signed the law at the U.S. Army’s Fort Drum base in upstate New York on his way back to Washington after a 12-day working vacation at his golf club in New Jersey. The bill was named for one of Trump’s political critics, the ailing U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona, but he did not mention McCain’s name.

McCain said in a statement he was “humbled” the bill was named after him, adding that it will address “a growing array of threats.”

Trump later made a reference to McCain at a political fundraiser in Utica, New York, knocking him – as Trump does repeatedly – for voting against a bill to repeal parts of President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare reform law last year.

Even though Trump said the bill “is the most significant investment in our military and our war-fighters in modern history,” Obama’s first three defense budgets were larger, when adjusted for inflation, according to Todd Harrison at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Weak on China

Some lawmakers wanted to use the bill to reinstate tough sanctions on ZTE to punish the company for illegally shipping products to Iran and North Korea, but the restrictions included in the final National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, that passed Congress were weaker than earlier versions of the bill.

Trump has lifted an earlier ban on U.S. companies selling to ZTE, allowing China’s second-largest telecommunications equipment maker to resume business and putting him at odds with both Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

Leaders of U.S. intelligence agencies have said they are concerned that ZTE, Huawei Technologies and some other Chinese companies are beholden to the Chinese government or Communist Party, raising the risk of espionage.

The White House opposed putting stronger measures against the companies in the bill, and the measures were softened before lawmakers held their final vote.

The NDAA does strengthen the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which reviews proposed foreign investments to weigh whether they threaten national security.

That measure was seen as targeting China.

Separately, the NDAA authorizes spending $7.6 billion for 77 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets, made by Lockheed Martin.

The bill also directs the Secretary of Defense to study whether Turkey’s planned deployment of the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system will risk the security of several U.S.-made weapons used by Turkey, including the F-35 jet. The mandate to produce a study came after an earlier version proposed to bar the delivery of F-35s to Turkey.

Prior to the ceremony Trump watched an air assault demonstration by U.S. troops at Fort Drum.

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US Rests Case Against Former Trump Aide Manafort

Prosecutors on Monday rested their tax evasion and bank fraud case against Paul Manafort, a longtime Washington operator and President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman.

The case now goes to Manafort’s defense team, which is expected to lay the blame for wrongdoing with Rick Gates, the former Manafort protege who says the two committed crimes together. Defense attorneys have called Gates a liar, philanderer and embezzler as they’ve sought to undermine his testimony.

The trial is the first to emerge from Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election, but neither Manafort nor Gates have been charged in connection with their Trump campaign work.

Still, the proceedings have drawn international attention — as well as Trump’s — for what the case reveals about people in the combative president’s orbit as Mueller examines the same circles for any election interference or obstruction.

Trump has distanced himself from Manafort, who was chairman of the campaign from May to August 2016 — with Gates at his side. Gates struck a plea deal with prosecutors and provided much of the drama of the trial so far.

The government says Manafort hid around $16 million in income from the IRS between 2010 and 2014 by disguising money he earned advising politicians in Ukraine as loans and hiding it in foreign banks. Then, after his money in Ukraine dried up, they allege he defrauded banks by lying about his income on loan applications.

Gates said he helped Manafort commit crimes in an effort to protect Manafort’s finances. Defense attorneys called Gates a liar interested in avoiding jail time under a plea deal. Gates was forced to admit embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort and an extramarital affair.

The prosecution has introduced a trove of documentary evidence as they’ve sought to prove Manafort defrauded banks and concealed millions of dollars in offshore bank accounts from the IRS. Along the way, they’ve not only faced an aggressive defense team but tongue-lashings from U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, who presides over the case. The admittedly impatient judge has pushed the government to speed up its case.

Before prosecutor Greg Andres told Ellis the government rested its case on Monday afternoon, the court heard testimony from a bank executive who said he found several red flags with Manafort’s finances while he was being considered for around $16 million in bank loans.

James Brennan, a vice president at Federal Savings Bank, says Manafort failed to disclose mortgages on his loan application. He said he also found several “inconsistencies” in the amount of income Manafort reported for his business.

That information led senior executives to reject one of the loans. But Brennan said Federal Savings Bank chairman Stephen Calk overruled that decision.

“It closed because Mr. Calk wanted it to close,” Brennan said.

Other witnesses have said Calk pushed the loans through because he wanted a plum post in the Trump administration.

Brennan said the Chicago-based bank lost $11.8 million because it had to write off a significant portion of two loans it made to Manafort. He said they were the two largest loans the bank had made when they were issued in late 2016 and early 2017.

On Friday, proceedings were halted for hours by mysterious backstage discussions between the judge and attorneys for both sides. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III recessed the trial without explanation after huddling with his bailiff and attorneys from special counsel Robert Mueller’s office and Manafort’s lawyers for more than 20 minutes.

At one point on Friday, Ellis left the courtroom and headed toward the jury room. After bringing court back into session, he reminded jurors several times that they weren’t to discuss the tax evasion and bank fraud case at all. That included telling them to not even comment on the attire of any witnesses.

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Trump’s Harley Boycott Call Roils Wisconsin Primary

President Donald Trump’s call for a boycott of Harley-Davidson motorcycles forced Gov. Scott Walker and other Republicans to either criticize the president or stick with the Milwaukee-based company just ahead of Tuesday’s primary where Trump allegiance has been a central focus.

Trump on Sunday tweeted it was “great” that “many” Harley owners planned to boycott the company if manufacturing moves overseas, continuing a steel tariff dispute he’s had since June with the company.

Walker, Wisconsin’s most prominent Harley owner who faces a tough re-election bid in November, issued a statement that did not directly address the boycott call.

“I want Harley Davidson to prosper here in the state of Wisconsin,” Walker said. “And one of the best ways for that to happen is to do what the president has called for and that is to get to no tariffs.”

Trump’s attacks on Harley have put Walker in a tough spot politically as he runs for a third term in November. Eight Democrats were running in Tuesday’s primary for a chance to take on Walker who is seeking a third term.

“By attacking Wisconsin workers to cover for failed economic policy President Trump took a page right out of Scott Walker’s playbook,” said Mahlon Mitchell, one of the eight candidates and the head of the state firefighters union. He has more backing from labor unions than any other candidate.

Another Democratic candidate, Kelda Roys, accused Walker of “cowering before Trump” and the president’s “attempts to destroy an iconic Wisconsin business.”

Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who is also up for re-election in November, was more forceful than Walker in her reaction to the Trump tweet.

“You can’t run our economy with tweets,” Baldwin tweeted to Trump. “Wisconsin businesses like @harleydavidson need better trade deals, not tweets and trade wars.”

Former U.S. Marine Kevin Nicholson and state Sen. Leah Vukmir were running in the Republican primary for chance to take on Baldwin. Both were running as strong Trump supporters, but the president has not endorsed in the race.

Nicholson said on WTMJ radio Monday he was against a Harley-Davidson boycott but also supported Trump’s approach to trade. He also pushed back against Baldwin on Twitter.

“We do need better trade deals, not the ones engineered by you and other members of the political class,” Nicholson tweeted at Baldwin. “We must bring trade partners back to the table and do away with tariffs. You don’t fight for WI and you don’t understand our economy.”

Vukmir, who won the endorsement of the Wisconsin Republican Party, was making a final campaign swing in southeast Wisconsin, including a stop with retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan. She did not address Trump’s boycott call in a statement calling Harley “a point of pride not only for our state, but also our nation.”

“I trust they will not abandon their Wisconsin roots, and the best way for that to happen is to get rid of tariffs like the president is working to do,” Vukmir said.

In July, Harley-Davidson said it expects new tariffs to cost the company as much as $100 million annually.

A spokesman for Harley-Davidson declined to comment both Sunday and Monday.

Polls have shown the Senate race to be a dead heat. State Superintendent Tony Evers had a double-digit lead in the Democratic gubernatorial primary based on polls in the months leading up to the election.

But others in the race who had raised enough to advertise on television — including Mitchell and Roys — were hoping for a late swing in their favor, particularly among younger voters.

Whoever wins the Democratic primary will enter the final three months of the race at a financial disadvantage to Walker. He had $4.8 million cash on hand in August, while the top tier Democrats were likely to be tapped out after spending on the primary.

The Wisconsin Democratic Party and the Democratic Governors Association have been raising money and building infrastructure in preparation for Wednesday, to help the winner of the primary get a fast start against Walker.

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‘Unite the Right’ Doesn’t Live Up to the Hype

The people who attended dueling rallies in the nation’s capital Saturday and Sunday came to be heard, although their messages were vastly different.

About two dozen white supremacists, some shielding their faces behind masks and unfurled American flags, rallied in a park across the street from the White House Sunday afternoon but the event ended under rainy skies before the official 5:30 p.m. start time.

Jason Kessler, the man who organized the event in support of “white civil rights,” expected between 100 and 400 people to attend, according to the permit he received from the National Park Service.

“I’m O.K. with sharing this country with people from around the world,” Kessler said, speaking from a platform before the rally’s official start time, “but if you bring in too many people at once, it’s not the same country anymore and that’s what they’re doing and that’s why a lot of white people feel aggrieved.”

Kessler also said he is not a white nationalist. Journalists were kept away from the rally site and could not directly interview the participants.

Kessler and his group of protesters arrived at and departed Lafayette Park under police protection. They were far outnumbered by anti-hate protesters at a counter rally. A heavy law enforcement presence, and a temporary metal fence, kept the opposing groups away from each other.

Marcia Gaysue, a web content manager from nearby Silver Spring, Maryland, who joined the counter-protests, said she felt uneasy about being in the same vicinity as white supremacists.

“You hear about it but to actually be here, see, experience it, is something I can’t describe. It’s mind-boggling to think that in 2018, we’re still doing this,” said Gaysue.

“Being black in America is a very difficult thing at the moment so I wanted to be out here…I feel like sitting at home is not really going to do anything.”

Leah Sink-Barth, the wife of a U.S. military officer and stay-at-home mother of two teenagers, also attended the counter-protest and referred to Kessler and his group as a “bunch of Nazis.”

“I’m scared for my friends that are immigrants, I’m scared for my black friends, my brown friends,” said Sink-Barth. “I just felt, as a white woman, that I wanted to show my solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. And I just wanted to show my brothers and sisters my support because I don’t know their struggle on a daily basis. And if I can come down and show that people are supporting them, that we are against fascism and xenophobia, racism, then at least I did something as a human being.”

Earlier in the day, before the protests began, the white nationalists gathered at a metro station in Northern Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C., to travel into the nation’s capital. They were jeered by counter-protesters as they exited the metro stop at the end of their short trip before marching to the site of their rally near the White House.

One of the Unite the Right marchers shook a U.S. flag at the heckling counter-protesters and said, “America, baby, America.”

The white nationalist event, called Unite the Right II, came one year after the first Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where white supremacists, neo-Nazis and members of other hate groups, marched across the University of Virginia campus and clashed with counter-demonstrators in the city. A self-described Nazi is accused of ramming his vehicle into a crowd of counter-protestors, killing a 32-year-old woman named Heather Heyer.

“I would prefer that we didn’t have any identity politics. I would prefer that we could not see race at all,” rally organizer Kessler said at Sunday’s rally. “[But] no one [is] advocating for white people and that’s got to change.”

Counter-protesters screamed and threw water bottles at a man and woman leaving Sunday’s rally wearing Trump 2020 t-shirts. When someone in the crowd told them to get out of his city, the woman answered with a smile, “It’s my city, too.”

A French tourist who happened to come across Sunday’s protests says his impression of the United States has recently changed.

“America is great already, there are plenty of things that are good,” said Arnaud Fourcans. “At the moment it seems like things are going backwards. And that’s not the way I used to see America earlier.”

Counter-protester Jesse Belsky came dressed for a luau, which is a traditional Hawaiian party that typically features entertainment. He saw his outfit as a way to mock the white supremacists who carried tiki torches in Charlottesville last year. Belsky said he’s “disappointed, saddened and concerned” about the current political and social climate in the United States.

“I hope we can make a strong left turn towards civility and moderation and democracy,” Belsky said, “and, you know, find our better selves and be better than we are right now.”

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‘Unite the Right’ Doesn’t Live Up to the Hype

The people who attended dueling rallies in the nation’s capital Saturday and Sunday came to be heard, although their messages were vastly different.

About two dozen white supremacists, some shielding their faces behind masks and unfurled American flags, rallied in a park across the street from the White House Sunday afternoon but the event ended under rainy skies before the official 5:30 p.m. start time.

Jason Kessler, the man who organized the event in support of “white civil rights,” expected between 100 and 400 people to attend, according to the permit he received from the National Park Service.

“I’m O.K. with sharing this country with people from around the world,” Kessler said, speaking from a platform before the rally’s official start time, “but if you bring in too many people at once, it’s not the same country anymore and that’s what they’re doing and that’s why a lot of white people feel aggrieved.”

Kessler also said he is not a white nationalist. Journalists were kept away from the rally site and could not directly interview the participants.

Kessler and his group of protesters arrived at and departed Lafayette Park under police protection. They were far outnumbered by anti-hate protesters at a counter rally. A heavy law enforcement presence, and a temporary metal fence, kept the opposing groups away from each other.

Marcia Gaysue, a web content manager from nearby Silver Spring, Maryland, who joined the counter-protests, said she felt uneasy about being in the same vicinity as white supremacists.

“You hear about it but to actually be here, see, experience it, is something I can’t describe. It’s mind-boggling to think that in 2018, we’re still doing this,” said Gaysue.

“Being black in America is a very difficult thing at the moment so I wanted to be out here…I feel like sitting at home is not really going to do anything.”

Leah Sink-Barth, the wife of a U.S. military officer and stay-at-home mother of two teenagers, also attended the counter-protest and referred to Kessler and his group as a “bunch of Nazis.”

“I’m scared for my friends that are immigrants, I’m scared for my black friends, my brown friends,” said Sink-Barth. “I just felt, as a white woman, that I wanted to show my solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. And I just wanted to show my brothers and sisters my support because I don’t know their struggle on a daily basis. And if I can come down and show that people are supporting them, that we are against fascism and xenophobia, racism, then at least I did something as a human being.”

Earlier in the day, before the protests began, the white nationalists gathered at a metro station in Northern Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C., to travel into the nation’s capital. They were jeered by counter-protesters as they exited the metro stop at the end of their short trip before marching to the site of their rally near the White House.

One of the Unite the Right marchers shook a U.S. flag at the heckling counter-protesters and said, “America, baby, America.”

The white nationalist event, called Unite the Right II, came one year after the first Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where white supremacists, neo-Nazis and members of other hate groups, marched across the University of Virginia campus and clashed with counter-demonstrators in the city. A self-described Nazi is accused of ramming his vehicle into a crowd of counter-protestors, killing a 32-year-old woman named Heather Heyer.

“I would prefer that we didn’t have any identity politics. I would prefer that we could not see race at all,” rally organizer Kessler said at Sunday’s rally. “[But] no one [is] advocating for white people and that’s got to change.”

Counter-protesters screamed and threw water bottles at a man and woman leaving Sunday’s rally wearing Trump 2020 t-shirts. When someone in the crowd told them to get out of his city, the woman answered with a smile, “It’s my city, too.”

A French tourist who happened to come across Sunday’s protests says his impression of the United States has recently changed.

“America is great already, there are plenty of things that are good,” said Arnaud Fourcans. “At the moment it seems like things are going backwards. And that’s not the way I used to see America earlier.”

Counter-protester Jesse Belsky came dressed for a luau, which is a traditional Hawaiian party that typically features entertainment. He saw his outfit as a way to mock the white supremacists who carried tiki torches in Charlottesville last year. Belsky said he’s “disappointed, saddened and concerned” about the current political and social climate in the United States.

“I hope we can make a strong left turn towards civility and moderation and democracy,” Belsky said, “and, you know, find our better selves and be better than we are right now.”

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