Trump announces plan to increase U.S. presence in Afghanistan

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(FORT MYER, Va.) -- President Donald Trump announced on Monday night his administration’s plans to increase the presence of the United States military in Afghanistan, a strategy meant to combat the influence of the Taliban and the ISIS affiliate in the country that will forgo a formal timetable and instead rely upon "conditions on the ground" to guide U.S. activities.

"We must acknowledge the reality I'm here to talk about tonight, that nearly 16 years after September 11 attacks, after the extraordinary sacrifice of blood and treasure, the American people are weary of war without victory," said Trump in an address from Virginia’s Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.

The president's announcement follows meetings with military advisers and his national security team at Camp David on Saturday. In June, he gave Secretary of Defense James Mattis the authority to set troops levels in Afghanistan, after providing the defense chief with similar authority over troop levels in Iraq and Syria.

"I have directed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to make preparations to carry out the president’s strategy," Mattis said Monday in a statement from Jordan, where he is traveling this week.

"I will be in consultation with the Secretary General of NATO and our allies -- several of which have also committed to increasing their troop numbers," he added. "Together, we will assist the Afghan Security Forces to destroy the terrorist hub."

Though the announcement amounts to a reversal of the position he held prior to his bid for the presidency, the addition of U.S. troops in Afghanistan comes as Trump has demonstrated a willingness to engage militarily in the region.

"My original instinct was to pull out, and historically I like following my instincts," said Trump Monday night. "But all of my life I heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office."

Despite official combat operations ceasing in 2014, the U.S. continues to guide and train the Afghan military, and in April dropped a 22,000 pound "mother of all bombs" on ISIS-occupied caves there.

Currently, about 8,400 American troops are stationed in Afghanistan in an advisory capacity. Several thousand U.S. personnel are also engaged in counterterror operations against al Qaeda and ISIS-Khorasan, the group’s affiliate in Afghanistan.

Trump's remarks Monday largely avoided specific details and he did not provide a number of troops that will be deployed to the country. Top U.S. military officials, including Mattis, support sending as many as 4,000 additional soldiers as part of a broader revamp of regional strategy.

"We will not talk about numbers of troops, or our plans for further military activities," said the president, later adding, "America's enemies must never know our plans, or believe they can wait us out."

"I will not say when we are going to attack, but attack we will," he said.

In February, Army Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. official leading the international coalition in Afghanistan, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the mission had a “shortfall of a few thousand” troops.

In his first formal address since his speech in February to a joint session of Congress, Trump commented upon the role he expects nations in the region surrounding Afghanistan to play, placing particular emphasis on the actions of Pakistan, which he accused of "harbor[ing] terrorists."

"We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond," he said. "Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan."

But while Trump promised Monday to support the armed forces with "every weapon to apply swift, decisive and overwhelming force," he also said that the U.S. commitment was "not a blank check."

"The government of Afghanistan must carry their share of the military, political, and economic burden," said the president. "The American people expect to see real reforms, real progress, and real results. Our patience is not unlimited."

The president's decision to increase the U.S. military posture in Afghanistan contrasts sharply with his position from as early as 2012, four years prior to his election, when he said with frequency on social media that the U.S. should "get out of Afghanistan" and that it has "wasted an enormous amount of blood and treasure."

As a presidential candidate, Trump repeatedly criticized past administrations’ handling of the Afghanistan conflict, but said it would be a mistake for the U.S. to pull all troops out of the country.

“At this point, you probably have to stay because that thing will collapse about two seconds after they leave," Trump said in a CNN interview in 2015.

Less than two weeks ago, addressing the possibility of sending additional troops to the country, Trump expressed confidence in the eventual outcome, though did not yet reveal his ultimate determination on what his administration will do there.

"It's a very big decision for me," he said on August 10. "I took over a mess, and we're going to make it a lot less messy."

So far this year, 11 U.S. service members have been killed in Afghanistan. More than 2,250 Americans have died in the country since 2001.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Speaker Ryan on Charlottesville: 'There are no sides'

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke up forcefully in a Facebook post on Monday against the recent violence in Charlottesville and the death of Heather Heyer, the woman killed when a car plowed into a group of counter protestors.

“There are no sides,” Ryan wrote in an implicit critique of President Donald Trump, who was rebuked by Democrats and Republicans last week for blaming “both sides” for the violence between white supremacists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville.

“There is no other argument,” Ryan said in the post, which made no mention of Trump. “We will not tolerate this hateful ideology in our society.”

Ryan -- who called white supremacy “repulsive” in a statement after Trump’s freewheeling and contentious press conference last Tuesday at Trump Tower -- went on to decry neo-Nazis and their ideology.

“We all need to make clear there is no moral relativism when it comes to neo-Nazis,” Ryan said. “The notion that anyone is intrinsically superior to anyone else runs completely counter to our founding principles.”

Ryan said he was camping with his family last week during the protests in Charlottesville. “Our annual camping trip is the kind of time away we really cherish these days,” he said. “Of course, the escape was short-lived, jolted back to reality by what happened in Charlottesville.”

Ryan posted his reflection Monday morning ahead of a televised town hall with CNN in Racine, Wisconsin.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Only 28% approve of Trump's response to Charlottesville (POLL)

ABC News.(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump moves out of his difficult Charlottesville week and into his national address on Afghanistan policy tonight with a poor but stable job performance rating and still-weaker grades for his handling of the neo-Nazi-fueled unrest – with vast gaps across groups.

Additionally, 9 percent in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll call it acceptable to hold neo-Nazi or white supremacist views, equivalent to about 22 million Americans. A similar number, 10 percent, say they support the so-called alt-right movement, while 50 percent oppose it.

Trump’s overall job rating in the national survey, 37-58 percent, approve-disapprove, is virtually identical to its level in an ABC/Post poll July 13 (the lowest on record for a president at six months). Approval of his response to Charlottesville, Virginia, drops to 28 percent in this poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, with similar disapproval (56 percent).

Intensity is against Trump by 2-1: Forty-five percent of Americans strongly disapprove of his job performance, vs. 22 percent who strongly approve. That’s a career low for Trump in strong approval, down 5 points since April, with sizable declines in some of his core groups: among strong conservatives (-11 percentage points), Republicans (-11) and whites (-9).

Trump’s overall job rating is 6 to 14 points lower than Barack Obama’s in polls by Gallup just ahead of his six televised addresses on Afghanistan, in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016.


Strength of sentiment is similarly negative for Trump on Charlottesville and, notably, his lower approval rating for handling this issue occurs in his base. Compared with his overall job performance, approval of his response to Charlottesville is 18 points lower among Republicans and 13 points lower among conservatives.

Only about one-third of Americans reject the suggestion that Trump has been equating neo-Nazis and white supremacists with those who oppose them. That said, there’s division and uncertainty on the question: Forty-two percent say he’s been doing this, while 35 percent think not and 23 percent have no opinion.

Additionally, those most familiar with Charlottesville (those who’ve seen, read or heard a great deal about it, 43 percent of all adults) are most critical of Trump. Disapproval of his response spikes to 66 percent in this group, and 53 percent say he’s been equating neo-Nazis and white supremacists with their opponents. That said, its members of groups more critical of Trump who’ve been paying the closest attention to the controversy.

As noted, 9 percent overall call it acceptable to hold neo-Nazi or white supremacist views, while 83 percent call this unacceptable, leaving 8 percent with no opinion. Seventy-two percent feel strongly that it’s unacceptable.

Also related to the Charlottesville controversy, 10 percent say they support the “alt-right” movement, while 50 percent oppose it; indicating wide unfamiliarity, four in 10 have no opinion. Further, about four in 10 think the “alt-right” holds neo-Nazi or white supremacist views, nearly twice as many who say it does not (39 vs. 21 percent); again, four in 10 can’t say. (Fifty-seven percent of Democrats think this is so, vs. 19 percent of Republicans.)


Divisions among groups are profound. Perhaps most notable is the gender gap in Trump’s overall approval rating, 46 percent among men vs. 28 percent among women. At 18 percentage points this is not only the widest of his presidency, but wider than the largest gender gaps recorded for either of his two predecessors. The gender gap in terms of his response to Charlottesville is similar.

Trump has 44 percent overall approval among whites vs. 22 percent among nonwhites, including just 11 percent among blacks. On Charlottesville the pattern also is similar – 35 percent approval from whites, 14 percent among nonwhites and a single-digit 8 percent among blacks.

Age gaps are broad, with Trump’s approval overall ranging from 47 percent among adults age 50 and up to 22 percent among those younger than 30. On Charlottesville, it’s 37 vs. 15 percent in these two age brackets.

The sharpest gaps, as ever in the political climate of the past decade or more, are political and ideological. Trump’s approval rating overall drops from 80 percent among Republicans to 34 percent among independents and 12 percent among Democrats; it’s 67-27-16 percent moving from conservatives to moderates to liberals. The range is from 87 percent approval among conservative Republicans to 10 percent among liberal Democrats. Each group represents about one in seven Americans.

On Charlottesville, again, the patterns are similar, while lower across the board. Sixty-two percent of Republicans approve of Trump’s response; this plummets to 28 percent of independents and 6 percent of Democrats. It’s 54-20-8 percent from conservatives to moderates to liberals. And 72 percent of conservative Republicans approve of Trump’s response; across the political chasm, 3 percent of liberal Democrats agree.

There’s far more agreement on whether it’s acceptable or unacceptable to hold neo-Nazi or white supremacist views. Across groups, 4 to 17 percent call this acceptable, with the largest numbers among men, Republicans and strong conservatives, all 13 percent; young adults, 14 percent; and those who strongly approve of the president’s work in office, 17 percent.

An additional 13 percent of strong Trump supporters have no opinion on whether it’s acceptable or not. That leaves 70 percent of his strong supporters who call neo-Nazi or white supremacist views unacceptable, compared with 92 percent of his strong opponents.


This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone Aug. 16-20, 2017, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,014 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 33-22-42 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by SSRS of Media, Pa. See details on the survey’s methodology here.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


President Trump, Melania watch total solar eclipse from White House balcony

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Standing on a White House balcony, President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump joined millions of Americans to watch the total solar eclipse Monday.

At first, Trump was seen viewing the rare astronomical event without any special solar filters, which can cause serious damage to the eyes. Someone was heard yelling to the president, "Don't look!"

Later, both Trump and his wife donned eclipse glasses to watch the moon move between the sun and Earth.

Although the White House was not within the path of totality, where the moon completely blocks the sun and casts a dark shadow on Earth, the president and first lady were able to witness the moon cover about 81 percent of the solar surface.

Monday's total solar eclipse was particularly rare because it's the first time since June 8, 1918, that the path of totality exclusively crossed the continental United States. It was also the first continent-wide eclipse to be visible only from the U.S. since 1776.

The last time the contiguous United States saw a total solar eclipse was Feb. 26, 1979, when the path of totality only crossed the Pacific Northwest.

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What President Trump has said about Afghanistan in the past

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump's announcement Monday night on U.S. strategy in Afghanistan may be at odds with prior positions he has taken on a conflict that has become the longest war in U.S. history.

Trump's exact plans have not been released ahead of his comments, but some of his top advisers, including Secretary of Defense James Mattis, are known to favor an approach that involves keeping in line with current policy and adding more American troops on the ground.

Here's a review of what Trump has said about U.S. policy in Afghanistan in the past.

Before his presidential campaign

Trump was active on social media, particularly on Twitter, long before he ran for president.

He posted a number of tweets about the war in Afghanistan in 2011, 2012, and 2013, calling for the U.S. to end its involvement in the country.

In 2011, he suggested it was a matter of priorities, writing, "When will we stop wasting our money on rebuilding Afghanistan? We must rebuild our country first."

In 2012, he called the conflict a "total disaster" said, "we don't know what we are doing," and later criticized the Afghan forces.

"Afghanistan is a total disaster. We don't know what we are doing. They are, in addition to everything else, robbing us blind," he wrote in March 2012.

Five months later, Trump wrote, "Why are we continuing to train these Afghanis who then shoot our soldiers in the back? Afghanistan is a complete waste. Time to come home!"

The following year, he echoed his earlier sentiments.

"Let’s get out of Afghanistan. Our troops are being killed by the Afghanis we train and we waste billions there. Nonsense! Rebuild the USA," he wrote in January 2013.

Later that year, he appeared dismayed about the prospect of keeping 20,000 troops "there for many more years," adding the next day, "We have wasted an enormous amount of blood and treasure in Afghanistan."

"Do not allow our very stupid leaders to sign a deal that keeps us in Afghanistan through 2024-with all costs by U.S.A. MAKE AMERICA GREAT!" he wrote on Nov. 21, 2013.

In late 2014, Trump took issue with then-President Obama's decision to keep American soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan for another year. "He is losing two wars simultaneously," Trump wrote.

During the campaign

A number of articles were written during the presidential race about how Afghanistan policy was not addressed extensively by either of the eventual nominees. When Trump specifically was asked about Afghanistan, he typically responded in the context of his stance on the war in Iraq or used Afghanistan as a point of comparison to the "carnage" he saw in some American cities like Chicago.

One of the most controversial statements Trump made about Afghanistan came during an October 2015 interview with CNN.

"We made a terrible mistake getting involved there in the first place," he said on CNN's "New Day" on Oct. 6, 2015.

"At some point, are they going to be there for the next 200 years? At some point what's going on? It's going to be a long time," he said.

"We made a terrible mistake getting involved there in the first place. We had real brilliant thinkers that didn't know what the hell they were doing. And it's a mess. It's a mess. And at this point, you probably have to (stay) because that thing will collapse about two seconds after they leave. Just as I said that Iraq was going to collapse after we leave."

Later that same month, Trump said that he never said that the U.S. should not have gone into Afghanistan in the first place, asserting that he was talking about Iraq. Trump often claimed that he had always been against the invasion of Iraq, which is not supported by evidence.

When asked in a subsequent CNN interview about his calling the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan a mistake Trump said, "I never said that. OK, wouldn't matter, I never said it. Afghanistan is a different kettle. Afghanistan is next to Pakistan, it's an entry in. You have to be careful with the nuclear weapons. It's all about the nuclear weapons. By the way, without the nukes, it's a whole different ballgame," Trump said in the Oct. 20, 2015, interview with CNN.

"We made a mistake going into Iraq. I've never said we made a mistake going into Afghanistan," he said.

The presidential candidate maintained that explanation when asked during a March 3, 2016, Republican debate about a series of flip-flops he had made about Afghanistan.

"Well, on Afghanistan, I did mean Iraq. I think you have to stay in Afghanistan for awhile, because of the fact that you're right next to Pakistan, which has nuclear weapons, and we have to protect that. Nuclear weapons change the game," he told moderator Megyn Kelly.

As president

Just five days after taking office, Trump spoke to ABC News' David Muir at the White House and referenced Afghanistan. But he spoke about the South Asian country not in the context of his foreign policy plans, but in reference to problems in Chicago.

"It is carnage. It's horrible carnage. This is Afghanistan -- is not like what's happening in Chicago. People are being shot left and right," he said, referring back to a point in his inaugural speech when he talked about "American carnage."

Trump and his team have since been developing the administration's policy for Afghanistan.

Defense Secretary Mattis told Congress in June that he believed the administration would formulate its Afghanistan strategy by mid-July. But that deadline came and went because Trump's national security team debated whether the strategy should be broader in scope.

The plan for Afghanistan has evolved into what is now known as the South Asia strategy and includes regional considerations for neighboring countries like Pakistan, India, China and Russia.

Trump is said to have been dissatisfied with the original strategy review and the request for more American troops, which is one reason why his national security team has developed additional options.

Trump most recently met with his national security team on Aug. 18, 2017, and tweeted the following day that there were "many decisions made, including on Afghanistan."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


How Trump has divided his time between the White House and Trump properties

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- As President Donald Trump marked his 214th day in office Monday, ABC News looked at how Trump has divided his time between his many private properties and the White House.

As of Sunday, with the president's return to Washington, D.C., from a working vacation at his New Jersey golf club, he has visited at least one of his properties on more than a third, 35.7 percent, of his days as president -- or 76 days out of 213, according to an ABC News' count.

He has spent the night at one of his private properties somewhat less often, on 44 -- or 20.7 percent -- of the nights since his Jan. 20 inauguration. He’s spent 24 nights (11.3 percent) at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club; 18 nights (8.5 percent) at his Florida resort, Mar-A-Lago; and two nights (0.9 percent) at Trump Tower.

Sunday night was the president’s 155th night at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, which is nearly 73 percent of the nights since he took office.

The president has also spent the night on Air Force One twice during foreign travel (0.9 percent); once at Camp David on June 17 (0.5 percent); and 11 nights (5.2 percent) in various international cities.

So far, Trump has not spent a night at any domestic location other than one of his own properties, the White House or Camp David. That’s likely to change in Arizona this week – unless he spends Tuesday night at his nearby hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Trump will be in Phoenix on Tuesday for a campaign rally, making Arizona the 18th state he has visited as president. Afterward, he will head to Reno, Nevada, making it the 19th state.

Trump’s most frequent domestic destinations outside of Washington, D.C., are Florida (8 trips), New Jersey (7 trips) and New York (3 trips).

His trip out West this week will mark Air Force One’s 35th mission under President Trump. Air Force One has taken off and landed 82 times with Trump aboard.

The president is likely add four more flights on this week’s trip traveling from Washington to Yuma, Phoenix, and Nevada, then back to the District of Columbia, pushing the total Air Force One flights to 86.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


A look back at President Trump's tumultuous 17-day working vacation

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump left his New Jersey golf club to head back to the White House on Sunday, ending a tumultuous 17-day working vacation.

The president, along with first lady Melania Trump and their son, Barron, arrived via helicopter at the Morristown Airport in New Jersey on Sunday evening to board Air Force One and head back to the nation's capital.

Here are a few highlights of Trump’s unofficial August recess.

Friday, Aug. 4

President Trump lands in Bedminster, New Jersey, to begin a working vacation as the White House was being renovated.

Trump releases a statement in defense of National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster after he comes under attack in Breitbart News.

“General McMaster and I are working very well together. He is a good man and very pro-Israel. I am grateful for the work he continues to do serving our country,” the president said late Friday night.

The New York Times reports that Special Counsel Robert Mueller asked the White House for documents related to the former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and possible business dealings with the Turkish government. Flynn’s attorney declined ABC News’ request for comment on the report at the time.

Saturday, Aug. 5

Vice President Mike Pence hits back at what he calls a "total lie" in The New York Times that he is laying the groundwork for a potential 2020 presidential run.

Sunday, Aug. 6

Trump slams "fake news” media on Twitter, saying the media “refuses to report the success of the first 6 months” of his presidency.

Monday, Aug. 7

Trump tweets more than a dozen times and bashes what he calls "fake news" over reports that his support base is diminishing.

North Korea vows harsh retaliation over sanctions imposed by the United Nations with U.S. support.

Trump attacks Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., in a series of tweets after Blumenthal said he was worried that the president was trying to "politicize" the Justice Department.

Blumenthal fires back and says Trump’s “bullying” won’t work with him.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., says Trump's immigration plan is dead in the water.

Tuesday, Aug. 8

Trump tweets a Fox News report detailing classified information that "US spy agencies" detected North Koreans moving anti-ship cruise missiles on a patrol boat. United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley breaks with him and calls the leak inappropriate.

The Washington Post reports that North Korea has the ability to put a nuclear warhead on a missile. Trump threatens Pyongyang with "fire and fury" if it continues to provoke the U.S.

North Korea promptly responds with a fresh threat to strike the U.S. territory of Guam.

ABC News reports the Trump campaign handed over thousands of documents to the Senate Judiciary Committee in connection to its investigation into possible Russian election-meddling.

Wednesday, Aug. 9

President Trump tweets that he modernized the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

“Hopefully we will never have to use this power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world,” he said.

ABC News confirms that federal authorities executed a search warrant for the home of Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, in connection with the Russia investigation.

President Trump speaks by phone with Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who earlier criticized the president and said he had "excessive expectations" about getting legislation passed in Congress.

“Senator Mitch McConnell said I had ‘excessive expectations,’ but I don’t think so,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “After 7 years of hearing Repeal & Replace, why not done?”

An inflatable chicken near White House captivates social media.

Thursday, Aug. 10

President Trump receives a security briefing on North Korea and takes questions from the press.

Trump attacks McConnell again, saying the senator should “get back to work..."

"Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed Repeal & Replace for 7 years, couldn't get it done,” Trump tweeted.

“Mitch, get back to work and put Repeal & Replace, Tax Reform & Cuts and a great Infrastructure Bill on my desk for signing,” he wrote in a separate tweet about 6 hours later.

Trump tells a pool of reporters that his “fire and fury” comment may not have been “tough enough” and says North Korea should "get their act together."

Trump declares an impromptu national emergency on the opioid epidemic, directing “all appropriate emergency and other authorities to respond to the crisis.”

Trump responds to Russian President Vladimir Putin's expulsion of 755 U.S. diplomats from Russia over new sanctions against the country, thanking him "because we're trying to cut down on payroll." The president later said he was being sarcastic.

Friday, Aug. 11

President Trump warns North Korea that the U.S. military is "locked and loaded."

ABC News reports that congressional investigators want to question Trump's longtime personal secretary, Rhona Graff, in connection to the Russia probe.

Trump threatens North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un while taking questions from reporters. "If he [Jong Un] utters one threat in the form of an overt threat ... if he does anything with respect to Guam or any place else ... He will truly regret it and he will regret it fast,” Trump said.

Trump holds another freewheeling exchange with reporters, threatens a "military option" against Venezuela, won't rule out war with North Korea.

Trump calls Guam's governor, predicts a bump in tourism numbers.

White nationalists march with torches in Charlottesville, Virginia, a day ahead of a "Unite the Right" gathering and counterprotest that left a young woman dead.

Saturday, Aug. 12

President Trump holds scheduled bill signing on veterans, as Charlottesville erupts in chaos over white nationalist gathering.

First Lady Melania Trump addresses the violence in Charlottesville before the president does.

Trump delivers remarks in the afternoon blaming "many sides" for violence, as reports emerge that a driver plowed a car into a group of counterprotesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring over a dozen more.

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides -- on many sides,” Trump said at a press conference from his New Jersey golf club. “It's been going on for a long time in our country.”

Democrats and Republicans slam Trump for suggesting a moral equivalence between white nationalist demonstrators and counterprotesters in Charlottesville.

Sunday, Aug. 13

President Trump stays out of public view as pressure mounts over his controversial Charlottesville statement.

Civil rights and faith leaders call on Trump to directly disavow white supremacists and violent extremism and to fire White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon.

A White House official issues an anonymous clarification that President Trump did condemn white supremacists and neo-Nazis in his remarks on Charlottesville.

Monday, Aug. 14

President Trump heads back to the White House for a day trip where he delivers a further statement on Charlottesville.

“Racism is evil,” Trump said. “Those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the [Ku Klux Klan], neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

“As I said on Saturday, we condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence. It has no place in America,” the president added.

On Twitter that evening, Trump lashed out at the "#Fake News Media," saying they "will never be satisfied" with what he says on Charlottesville.

Tuesday, Aug. 15

President Trump spends the night in Trump Tower in New York City for the first time since taking office. He holds an impromptu press conference defending his response to the violence in Charlottesville.

He goes after what he calls the "alt-left," saying "there is blame on both sides" for the Charlottesville violence and that there were also "many fine people" on both sides, including among those marching against the removal of the Confederate statue there.

CEOs begin to resign from Trump's manufacturing council. Trump attacks the CEO of Merck on Twitter.

Wednesday, Aug. 16

A number of prominent Republicans condemn Trump's comments at the press conference the day before.

White House announces Hope Hicks as interim communications director.

Former presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush issue rare joint statement targeting Trump's remarks.

After more CEOs announce plans to drop out, Trump disbands the President's Strategic Policy Forum and President's Manufacturing Council.

Steve Bannon gives an interview to the American Prospect, questioning the limits of U.S. power in North Korea and slamming the Democratic party's response to Charlottesville.

Thursday, Aug. 17

The president starts tweeting attacks against Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.

Trump tweets a debunked legend on Gen. Pershing after a vehicle attack in Barcelona kills 13 people and injures dozens more.

Reports surface that top Republicans, including McConnell, are "privately seething" about Trump's response to Charlottesville and Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., openly questions his "stability" and "competence."

Trump disbands the Presidential Advisory Council on Infrastructure before it gets off the ground.

Friday, Aug. 18

President Trump heads to Camp David to hash out military strategy on Afghanistan.

Sixteen members of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities resign. The White House later says it planned to disband the committee anyway.

Susan Bro, the mother of Charlottesville victim Heather Heyer, delivers an emotional rebuke to Trump, saying she no longer wishes to speak to him.

Steve Bannon is pushed out as chief strategist. The White House releases a statement saying the departure was mutually agreed to with John Kelly.

Bannon rejoins Breitbart News as executive chairman, says he's "going to war" for Trump's agenda.

At least seven different organizations pull out of planned charity events at Mar-a-Lago in continued fallout from the president's response to Charlottesville.

Saturday, Aug. 19

President Trump tweets thanks to Bannon, cheers his return to Breitbart to fight "fake news."

White House announces the president and first lady will not attend Kennedy Center Honors, citing "political distraction."

Bannon to Washington Post says, "No administration in history has been so divided."

President Trump goes after "anti-police agitators" marching in Boston, later encourages protesters "speaking out against bigotry and hate."

Sunday, Aug. 20

The president spends last day at Bedminster before evening return to the White House.

Trump says he spent his time away “working hard” and takes another jab at “fake news.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


'The Three Amigos' John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Joe Lieberman go hiking in Arizona

Twitter/John McCain(PHOENIX) -- The boys are back.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and former Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn. -- previously dubbed "The Three Amigos" by retired general David Petraeus -- headed on Saturday to Arizona's Oak Creek Canyon, where they went hiking and waded in water. McCain's daughter Meghan joined the trio.

"The three amigos together again!" tweeted McCain, along with a photo of the casually-dressed, baseball cap-wearing group.

McCain, who is battling brain cancer, has finished his first round of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, Meghan announced on Friday.

In another photo McCain tweeted, he and Lieberman are wading in the water. "Where's Lindsey?" McCain wrote, illustrating his sense of humor.

In a photo posted on Instagram which includes Meghan with her dad and his friends, Meghan wrote, "Morning hike with The Three Amigos! @senjohnmccain @lindseygrahamsc Joe Lieberman!"

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Richmond mayor on Confederate monument debate: Trump 'doesn't live here'

Chuck Myers/MCT/Getty Images(RICHMOND, Va.) -- In the wake of the unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia, that was sparked by plans to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, the mayor of nearby Richmond said that while he respects President Donald Trump’s views on Confederate monuments, the president “doesn’t live here.”

Richmond is the former capital of the Confederacy, and the events in Charlottesville have reignited a longstanding debate over five Confederate statues dotting the city's Monument Avenue.

Mayor Levar Stoney told This Week co-anchor Martha Raddatz on Sunday, “I appreciate the president's opinion, but here in the city of Richmond, I don't think that frankly matters. He doesn't live here."

The mayor's comments come five days after President Trump compared Confederate leaders to the nation's founding fathers.

"So this week, it's Robert E. Lee," Trump said at a press conference on Aug. 15. "I noticed that Stonewall Jackson's coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself: Where does it stop?"

Stoney initially agreed that the monuments should remain, but that historical context should be added to them. But, following the violence in Charlottesville, he revised his position and is now in favor of their removal.

“We've seen that these are now rallying points for people to harbor hate and division and intolerance, and those are not with the values of this city,” the mayor said at a This Week panel at the American Civil War Museum in Richmond that also included the co-CEO of the museum, Christy Coleman, and Kristin Szakos, a City Council member from Charlottesville.

Stoney said he “doesn’t believe that there is a comparison at all” between Confederate figures and the nation's founding fathers.

Szakos agreed, saying that statues of Washington and Jefferson portray them “writing the Declaration of Independence or being president,” while Confederate monuments portray people “fighting a war against the United States for the perpetuation of slavery, and that's not something our community celebrates.”

Coleman said there are people who don't view Confederate monuments as "racist."  "They view them as a memorial to a sacrifice that people made for their homes."

That view is clearly "part of the narrative," Coleman said. She added, however, that it is natural for questions to arise about the monuments and the Confederate figures they depict.

"History is always a process of new questions." Coleman said. "Every generation asks a new question."

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Trump’s generals must stay in Cabinet to 'right the ship': Obama official 

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The secretary of Homeland Security for President Obama said that despite recent talk of "whether people should resign from the White House," the military leaders now serving in top positions for President Donald Trump need to stay to "right the ship."

ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz asked former Secretary Jeh Johnson on “This Week” Sunday about recent turmoil in the White House, including with the departure of Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon and the resignation of many people from presidential advisory councils.

"What do you think it says [that Trump] has surrounded himself with generals -- and they remain?" Raddatz asked.

"Well, that's interesting," Johnson said. “There’s been a lot of talk this week about people resigning from the White House, whether people should resign from the White House."

"Frankly, if John Kelly, or my friend Jim Mattis, came to me and said, 'I'm thinking about resigning from this White House,' I'd say, 'Absolutely not. You have to stay,' " Johnson said. "We need people like John Kelly, Jim Mattis, H.R. McMaster to right the ship."

The former Homeland Security chief was referring to retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, who is Trump's new chief of staff; retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, defense secretary; and Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, national security adviser.

Johnson also weighed in on Trump’s recent comments suggesting that removing public monuments of Confederate figures such as Robert E. Lee could lead to taking down statues of the nation's founders who owned slaves, such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

“I think most Americans understand, most African-Americans understand, that many of the founders of our nation were slave owners.” Johnson said. “But most of us are not advocating that we take them off the currency or drop Washington's name from the nation’s capital.”

The problem, he said, is that "Confederate monuments are now, modern-day, becoming symbols and rallying points for white nationalism, for neo-Nazis, for the KKK. And this is most alarming.”

Johnson noted that he has family roots near Charlottesville, Virginia, where violence broke out on Aug. 12 after a gathering of white nationalists. “My great-grandfather was born a slave in 1860 in Lynchburg,” he said. “He was freed by Abraham Lincoln when he was a child.”

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