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August 16, 2017

The White House sends Republican members of Congress a list of talking points every day, and Tuesday was no different, Molly Ball reports at The Atlantic. The notes from the White House communications office are supposed to get everyone in the GOP on the same page, and a GOP congressional aide sent Ball Tuesday evening's special talking points, aimed at defending Trump's comments at his press conference Tuesday. The memo begins: "The president was entirely correct — both sides of the violence in Charlottesville acted inappropriately, and bear some responsibility."

Except for David Duke, alt-right organizer Richard Spencer, and maybe Fox News eminence gris Brit Hume, not many public figures applauded Trump's statements that neo-Nazis and white supremacists and their "very nice" allies did not shoulder all the blame for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, because the "alt-left" counter-protesters picked some fights, too. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) insisted that "there can be no moral ambiguity" that "white supremacy is repulsive," for example, and Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) dropped the subtweeting, saying: "White supremacy, bigotry, & racism have absolutely no place in our society & no one — especially POTUS — should ever tolerate it."

Maybe they hadn't gotten the memo yet, or perhaps they disagree with Trump's equivocations. You can read the entire memo at The Atlantic, and if you want more information about what happened in Charlottesville, what its organizers had in mind, and who bears the blame for the death and violence, you can watch the chilling, sometimes NSFW documentary VICE News released earlier this week. Peter Weber

August 14, 2017
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The 20-year-old man charged with second-degree murder after allegedly driving his car into a crowd of counter-protesters Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia, once reportedly threatened his mother with a knife and beat her, 911 call records obtained by The Associated Press show.

James Fields had moved with his mother to Ohio from Kentucky shortly before he made the trip to Virginia for Saturday's white nationalist demonstrations. Fields' mother, Samantha Bloom, told The Associated Press on Sunday: "I just knew he was going to a rally. I mean, I try to stay out of his political views. You know, we don't, you know, I don't really get too involved, I moved him out to his own apartment, so we — I'm watching his cat."

Bloom uses a wheelchair and 911 call records show that Fields' once allegedly stood behind her and threatened her with a 12-inch knife. "In another incident in 2010, Bloom said that Fields smacked her in the head and locked her in the bathroom after she told him to stop playing video games," AP writes. "Bloom told officers Fields was on medication to control his temper."

Fields was photographed at the Unite the Right rally carrying a shield with a white supremacist emblem. Heather Heyer, 32, was killed when Fields allegedly intentionally drove his car in the crowd. Jeva Lange

August 14, 2017
Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images

James Alex Fields Jr., the Ohio man accused of intentionally ramming his car into a crowd of anti-racist demonstrators Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia, appeared in court Monday to face his charges at a bail hearing. He was denied bail, assigned a court-appointed attorney, and scheduled for another hearing later this month.

The vehicle attack killed one woman, 32-year-old Heather Heyer, and injured 19 other people. Fields has been charged with second-degree murder as well as three counts of malicious wounding and one count of fleeing the scene of his car wreck. He is also central to a Justice Department civil rights investigation of the violence in Charlottesville this past weekend. Bonnie Kristian

August 14, 2017

Merck pharmaceutical company CEO Kenneth Frazier resigned from President Trump's American Manufacturing Council on Monday, over concerns about the administration's subdued response to violent white supremacist demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend.

That, of course, prompted a furious response from Trump:

Frazier, who is the first African-American president of Merck, said earlier Monday that "America's leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry, and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal. As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism."

Trump's decision to swiftly attack Frazier renewed criticism of his muted response Saturday to the violence in Charlottesville. "Unreal," tweeted political scholar Brian Klass. "Frazier resigned out of principle since Trump wouldn't denounce neo-Nazis. Instead of denouncing neo-Nazis, Trump denounces Frazier." Jeva Lange

August 14, 2017

President Trump faced heavy criticism for declining to call out white nationalist groups by name following violent demonstrations in Charlottesville over the weekend, a decision that Attorney General Jeff Sessions dismissed Monday on Today. "[Trump] made a very strong statement that directly contradicted the ideology of hated, violence, bigotry, racism, white supremacy," Sessions told Today's Savannah Guthrie. "Those things must be condemned in this country."

Guthrie, though, pressed the question further. "You say that it was a forceful statement but [Trump] adds that this violence that's been going on, this hatred and bigotry, was on 'many sides,'" she said. "'On many sides,' he says, which seems to equivocate. What are the other sides?"

"We've had violence around the country in any number of ways over decades," Sessions answered, adding: "I'm sure [Trump] will talk about it again soon." Watch below. Jeva Lange

August 14, 2017
AP Photo/Steve Helber

In 1990, lawyer and author Mike Godwin created Godwin's Law, the half-serious "pseudo-mathematical probability statement" that any internet discussion, if it continues long enough, will include someone comparing another person in the discussion to a Nazi or Adolf Hitler, and through the years the convention became that whoever mentioned Hitler or the Nazis first lost the argument and brought the discussion to an end. The point, Godwin explained in The Washington Post in December 2015, was to expose "glib Nazi comparisons or Holocaust references to the harsh light of interrogation," raise the level of internet discourse, and not dilute the horrors of the Holocaust with "poorly reasoned, hyperbolic invocation."

After a phalanx of neo-Nazis and other white supremacists converged on Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, some carrying Nazi symbols, wearing Hitler clothes, and shouting Nazi slogans, and a reputed Nazi sympathizer allegedly ran his car into a crowd of anti-racism protesters, killing one 32-year-old woman, Heather Heyer, and wounding 19 others, Godwin created a spur-of-the-moment, salty codicil Sunday night:

Godwin actually made a similar point in his December 2015 essay, about the future president of the United States: "First, let me get this Donald Trump issue out of the way: If you're thoughtful about it and show some real awareness of history, go ahead and refer to Hitler or Nazis when you talk about Trump. Or any other politician." In other words, study history and don't overuse the Nazi card — but sadly, don't retire it for good, either. Peter Weber

August 14, 2017

A white nationalist protester identified by the Twitter account @YesYoureRacist has since lost his job, the East Bay Times reports. Cole White, an employee at the hot dog chain Top Dog, was fired Saturday, just hours after being noticed in photographs from the Charlottesville Unite the Right march:

"Effective Saturday 12th August, Cole White no longer works at Top Dog," the hot dog company wrote in a statement. "The actions of those in Charlottesville are not supported by Top Dog. We believe in individual freedom and voluntary association for everyone."

@YesYoureRacist also identified protester Peter Cvjetanovic, who claims he has "received death threats" since being spotted by the account. Jeva Lange

August 14, 2017
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Image

"Why doesn't President Donald Trump just unequivocally condemn white supremacists?" asks Associated Press Washington bureau chief Julie Pace. "It's a jarring question to ask about an American president. But it's also one made unavoidable by Trump's delayed, blame-both-sides response to the violence that erupted Saturday when neo-Nazis, skinheads, and members of the Ku Klux Klan protested in Charlottesville, Virginia." According to White House officials and Trump associates, Trump did not want to single out the white nationalists, for whatever reason.

Trump "consulted a broad range of advisers before speaking on Saturday, most of whom told him to sharply criticize the white nationalist protesters," The New York Times reports, citing a White House official. White House National Security Adviser Tom Bossert was "at the center of the discussion" and he "laid out the situation on the ground, including a description of provocations by both protesters and counterprotesters," the Times says, adding:

Two hard-edge economic populists — Stephen K. Bannon, the president's chief strategist, and Stephen Miller, a senior adviser — spoke with Mr. Trump repeatedly on Saturday, the person said, although it was not clear if Mr. Bannon had offered him advice on his comments. Mr. Trump listened attentively, according to another person familiar with the discussions, but repeatedly steered the conversation to the breakdown of "law and order," and the responsibility of local officials to stem the violence. [The New York Times]

Trump's response was based largely on his "own read of the hate-fueled melee with counterprotesters" and "deeply colored" by his initial briefing on the situation, which said various groups had entered Charlottesville and were protesting even though the white supremacists and neo-Nazis had planned the rally, The Washington Post reports, citing two people familiar with the response. Bannon was not in New Jersey with Trump, associates told the Post.

"Trump's approach Saturday — trusting his instincts, averting talk of white nationalism, and feeling no obligation to grapple with its consequences — echoed how the president responded last year to an endorsement from David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader who appeared in Charlottesville," the Post reports, and Trump has "shrugged off" mounting calls from Republicans and others to single out the white supremacists and neo-Nazis "as a politically correct distraction that would not give him credit for his original statement." You can read more about Trump's particular response at The Washington Post, The New York Times, and AP. Peter Weber

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