All eyes now turn to a tragedy and mourning in a small town in Texas, not the political dramas that were slated to mark the week and dominate headlines.
President Donald Trump, who hoped to make his mark on the other side of the world, must balance his actions abroad with responses to an unspeakable episode and its political fallout.
The same goes for his fellow Republicans, whose “thoughts and prayers” for those grieving in Texas may not be enough to keep the focus on taxes, even if Special Counsel Robert Mueller doesn’t bring any new action before a grand jury.
It goes for Democrats, too.
A year after a disappointment for the ages, and on the eve of the biggest electoral tests of the Trump era, the party is groaning under the weight of its own divisions instead of rebounding.
The Democratic Party is reliving the divides that defined the 2016 primary fights, in internal battles that don’t begin to address why Hillary Clinton lost to Trump.
Democrats face a must-win night where they just might lose in Virginia on Tuesday, a race where the outcome will help define the landscape for 2018 and beyond.
The news cycle will go on, of course.
But once again, a tragic event is shaking the nation’s psyche — and making its politics seem particularly small.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
It seems no corner of America is safe from the threat of gun violence.
Big cities, wealthy suburbs, small towns, tiny rural communities. East Coast, West Coast, red states, blue states. Mass casualty shootings have occurred across this country, leaving many again asking “why”?
What makes the United States vulnerable to this violence?
Is it the pervasiveness of guns or something in the culture?
And, with increased frequency and deadliness of these shootings, is the country reaching a fever pitch or resigned to a new normal?
Arguably, government is designed first to keep its citizens safe and Democrats have suggested stricter gun control laws as part of the solution. Republicans have balked at the idea that more controls would curb the violence and argue for better enforcement of the laws currently on the books.
In the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting, two Republican senators and 27 Republican Members of the House supported a bill to ban the so-called bump stocks device. Despite the bipartisan backing, Republican leadership expressed little interest in bringing up the legislation.
Such inaction may quickly no longer be a politically viable option, especially as critics point to inconsistencies from the White House.
President Trump was noticeably quick to advocate for sweeping changes in immigration policy after the attack in New York last week. In a press conference Monday morning in Japan, Trump said it was a “little bit soon” to be talking about guns. According to Trump, “this isn’t a guns situation”…”mental health is your problem here.”
If Republicans do not think more regulations around firearms would help than what would? A big investment in mental health? A new tactic for law enforcement?
The pressure to offer some proposal is growing with each tragic shooting.
The TIP with Jack Date
The special counsel has responded to Paul Manafort’s request to modify his conditions of release. Prosecutors appear to be prepared to allow Manafort to travel to Virginia, New York and Florida, but not overseas. The government also asks for a $10 million bond secured by “two financially responsible sureties and real property or additional assets.” The government says it will not object if the two responsible parties are Manafort’s wife and daughter.
Prosecutors also maintain, “the weight of the evidence against him is strong.”
One factual point appears to be in dispute, according to a footnote in the government’s filing, “Manafort claims that his work in the Ukraine ended in 2014, … while the indictment alleges his continued work through 2015 on behalf of the Opposition Bloc, after the flight to Russia of President Victor Yanukovych.”
Manafort’s attorney, in a court filing Saturday, asked the government to accept three properties and life insurance policies which they value at $12.5 million as bail. The special counsel argues in its Sunday filing that, “The government does not presently have sufficient information to assess the claimed net asset value of this property, or even to be confident that the property has equity in it at all.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY:
A gunman went on a shooting rampage at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas Sunday morning, killing at least 26 and 20 others were injured. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called it the largest mass shooting in Texas history.
In a joint-press conference with the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump called the Texas church shooter “a very deranged individual” and said mental health, and not guns, is to blame for the massacre. Trump has been briefed several times and will continue to get regular updates on the shooting.
President Trump and Melania Trump met with Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at the Imperial Palace. The president also met with U.S. and Japanese business leaders at the American ambassador’s residence.
Republican senator and outspoken Trump critic Jeff Flake is a guest on today’s episode of ABC’s “The View.”
The Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke must make a decision on what to do with the temporary protected status currently in place for Honduras and Nicaragua.
Former Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner reports to federal prison after he was sentenced to 21-27 months in prison for sending obscene material to a 15-year-old North Carolina high school student.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families of today’s horrendous attack. This attack is an act of evil…occurred as the victims and their families were in a place of sacred worship. I cannot put into words the pain and grief we all feel.” – President Donald Trump on the Texas church shooting.
NEED TO READ
Democratic advantage for ’18 might not be what it seems. A Democratic advantage in preference for the 2018 midterm elections fades to insignificance among the most likely voters in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, signs of the Democrats’ enduring challenges in turning out their voters in off-year contests. (Gary Langer) http://abcn.ws/2h8vxP8
At least 26 dead, 20 injured in Texas church shooting. The alleged shooter, who has not been identified, is dead, and there is no longer an active threat at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, about 40 miles southeast of San Antonio, police told ABC News. (M.L. Nestel and Emily Shapiro) http://abcn.ws/2AaWjOB
Trump touts US military might while in Japan: ‘We dominate the sky, we dominate the sea.’ Sporting a bomber jacket as he addressed U.S. troops at Yokota Air Base just after landing in Japan, President Donald Trump touted the might of the U.S. military as he began his tour of Asia at a time of heightened tensions with North Korea. (Jordyn Phelps) http://abcn.ws/2j2isuW
Trump pressures N. Korea over Japanese abductees, says return would be ‘tremendous signal.’ President Trump says North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un could open the door to “something very special” if the regime were to release more than a dozen abducted Japanese citizens who remain in its custody. “Now the spotlight is on” the abductee issue, Trump said at a press conference in Tokyo. “And perhaps we could have good luck, and perhaps the regime would send them back. That would be a tremendous signal if Kim Jong Un would send them back.” (Devin Dwyer and Katherine Faulders) http://abcn.ws/2hJcvQa
Donna Brazile: ‘No evidence that Democratic primaries were ‘rigged.’ Former Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile said she found “no evidence” that the 2016 Democratic primary for the presidential nomination was rigged. (Nicki Zink) http://abcn.ws/2zg4fB6
Sen. Paul recovering from 5 broken ribs. A senior adviser for Rand Paul says the U.S. senator is recovering from five broken ribs following an assault at his home. Doug Stafford said it is unclear when Paul will return to work since he is in considerable pain and has difficulty getting around, including flying. (AP) http://abcn.ws/2yAVYIq
Preet Bharara: Former Trump campaign adviser Papadopoulos ‘almost certainly’ has ‘flipped.‘ Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the charges against Donald Trump’s former campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, are the most significant development so far in the Russian investigation because they suggest he has “almost certainly” flipped to cooperate with investigators. (Joy Lin) http://abcn.ws/2AlTUBi
Top 5 cultural moments from Trump’s official trip to Japan. Wrapping up the first stop in the president’s grueling five-country swing through Asia, President Trump and the first lady were treated to several Japanese cultural moments over the business of international diplomacy. (Jordyn Phelps) http://abcn.ws/2ziVeHs
Los Angeles Times columnist apologizes for jab at Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning, David Horsey has recently chastised for describing President Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, as a “slightly chunky soccer mom” in The Times. http://nyti.ms/2hfGceD
The Guardian reports on the Paradise Papers. The leak reveals secrets of the world elite’s hidden wealth. The world’s biggest businesses, heads of state and global figures in politics, entertainment and sport who have sheltered their wealth in secretive tax havens are being revealed this week in a major new investigation into Britain’s offshore empires. http://bit.ly/2AaQ9xS
One year later, Trump voters blame the president’s tweets for his troubles. Voters who helped put candidate Donald Trump in office did so because he promised to shake up a political system they didn’t think was working for them. Now, almost exactly one year after his election, they worry his disruptive persona and provocative rhetoric may be undermining his ability to make the government work for them. https://usat.ly/2zkGyr4