Inside Trump - August 8th, 2019

Inside Trump (Aug 8th, 2019)

Comforting Shooting Victims / New Lawsuit to Block Tax Returns / Possible Pardon for Blagojevich

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1. President Trump is defending his visits with mass shooting victims. He spent Wednesday traveling to hospitals in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, where he was met with hundreds of protesters in both cities, who say his rhetoric has heightened political and racial tensions in the country. The president visited privately with hospitalized victims, where Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said the president "was received well" and "was comforting." When Trump did speak publicly, including during remarks in El Paso and on Twitter, he turned his focus on political rivals and tried to connect the shooter to Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont). When asked why he was attacking political rivals during the trip, the president said, "They shouldn't be politicking today." – AP

2. The mass shootings have revived calls for new gun control legislation, including background checks—which may have the president's support. But while the president said he's "all in favor" of stronger background checks for gun purchases, he added that he doesn't think there's a political will in Congress for the legislation. That may be true. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) is resisting efforts to call senators back from their vacation to address gun violence. However, some Republicans in Congress, including Ohio's Rep. Mike Turner, are changing their stance on gun legislation. Separately, the NRA has reportedly warned President Trump that gun legislation would hurt his relationship with his base. – THE HILL

3. The president has opened a new front in the legal battle to prevent his tax returns from becoming public. The new lawsuit takes aim at California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a new law requiring presidential and gubernatorial candidates to release five years' worth of tax returns in order to appear on the state's primary ballot. The president's lawsuit calls that an "unconstitutional qualification" that violates his First Amendment rights. His legal team is also challenging a New York law that would allow Congress to access the president's state tax returns. – TIME

4. President Trump has suggested that he may commute the prison sentence for former "Celebrity Apprentice" contestant and disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Blagojevich is serving a 14-year sentence on multiple federal corruption convictions. The convictions stem from his attempts to sell the senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama after the 2008 election. President Trump told reporters he thought Blagojevich "was treated unbelievably unfairly." – CHICAGO TRIBUNE

5. We're learning about the president's plans to unveil a sweeping health care reform proposal next month. Counselor Kellyanne Conway told reporters that the president's plan will include an "international pricing index." That index, which is strongly opposed by the pharmaceutical industry, would match Medicare drug costs to costs in other countries (which often pay far less for the same products). The president views health care as a vulnerability in the 2020 election, so he's hoping to secure a victory in the field that he can tout on the campaign trail. However, he faces hurdles within his own party, which has voiced concern that the White House's health care policies are too similar to the "socialist" policies proposed by Democrats like Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont). – BLOOMBERG

6. We're waiting for the president to release a comprehensive list of all the people who, in his words have been "so (ridiculously) accused" of racism. He tweeted that Democrats call people racist when they "run out of facts." – @realDonaldTrump

7. Major banks have provided Congress with thousands of pages of documents relating to Russians who may have had business with President Trump, his family, or his organizations. Cooperating banks include Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Deutsche Bank. Deutsche Bank is President Trump's primary bank, and it has been forced to pay billions in fines for its implication in multiple Russian money-laundering schemes. In addition to Congressional inquiries, the banks are also cooperating with state investigators in New York. – WSJ

8. The 39-year-old who allegedly fractured a 13-year-old's skull believed he was acting on an order from President Trump, according to the man's attorney. The Army veteran is charged with assaulting the teen after the child failed to remove his hat while the national anthem played at a county fairgrounds in Montana. The suspect's attorney cited the president's "rhetoric" as a contributing factor to the attack. – MISSOULIAN

9. As the UK prepares for an uncertain future without the EU, the U.S. is pushing for a trade deal with the soon-to-be independent economy. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said President Trump will be waiting "on the doorstep, pen in hand," ready to sign a new trade deal on October 31. That's the current deadline for the EU and UK to strike a Brexit deal. If the two can't strike a deal by then, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has indicated that he's prepared to crash out of the trading bloc without a deal. – THE GUARDIAN

10. Actor Woody Harrelson described a dinner with President Trump in 2002, while the eventual Republican president was considering a run for the Democratic ticket. His advice for how to best enjoy a dinner with the president? Bring weed. He also described crossing paths with Vice President Mike Pence when the two were involved in a religious youth group at college. – ESQUIRE

Schuyler Durham writes Inside Finance and Inside Trump. He’s a lifelong Portlander who got his start covering the local music scene, but later became enamored with the complexities of financial and political reporting. After three years in broadcast news, he's now diving back into the digital realm. You can keep up with his writing on Twitter at @SchuylerWriter or watch him goof around on Instagram at @bitterbuddha.

Editor: David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology).

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