Trump changes tune on Twitter to support rallies after initially condemning them
Developments on Day 212 of the Trump Administration:
Mass Demonstrations Force Trump to Change Tone
Tens of thousands of Americans rally on Saturday after white supremacy, a week after violent marches by the supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The most dramatic display was in Boston. As a few dozen people gathered on Boston Common — in the name of defending “free speech”, but raising concerns that the event would be a magnet for white supremacists — an estimated 40,000 counter-protesters marched to fill America’s oldest public park. The gathering was peaceful, except for a few isolated scuffles — police said there were 33 arrests, mostly for disorderly conduct.
The “free speech” gathering soon disbanded, with police escorting the participants out of the Common, while tens of thousands continued to rally. The commissioner of the Boston Police Department, William Evans, said afterwards: “We had 40,000 people ‘standing tall against bigotry and hatred in our city, and that’s a good feeling.”
— ABC News (@ABC) August 19, 2017
— Mikel Jollett (@Mikel_Jollett) August 19, 2017
Chants of “We can’t hear you” from the crowd, directed at the small right-wing group:
— Waqas Mirza (@waqasahmi) August 19, 2017
Other rallies took place in cities such as Atlanta; Dallas; Houston; Memphis; New Orleans; Hot Springs, Arkansas; and the bridges across the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon.
The display forced Donald Trump — or staff taking over his Twitter account — to climb down from days of rhetoric verging on support of the white supremacists and denunciation of those who opposed them. Mid-afternoon on Saturday, Trump lashed out again at the demonstrators against white supremacy:
Looks like many anti-police agitators in Boston. Police are looking tough and smart! Thank you.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 19, 2017
But three hours later — after twice misspelling a tweet, “Sometimes you need protest in order to heel [sic], & we will heel [sic]” — Trump or a White House surrogate praised the rallies:
I want to applaud the many protestors in Boston who are speaking out against bigotry and hate. Our country will soon come together as one!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 19, 2017
Trump Administration Ends Ban on Bottled Water at National Parks — After Appointing Lobbyist for Bottled Water Industry
After appointing a lobbyist for the bottled water industry, the Trump administration ends a ban on selling bottled water at some national parks, aimed at easing plastic pollution and waste.
Mirroring the arguments of a campaign by the International Bottled Water Association, the National Park Service said the 2011 regulation by the Obama Administration “removed the healthiest beverage choice at a variety of parks while still allowing sales of bottled sweetened drinks”.
Three weeks ago, the Senate confirmed David Bernhardt as Deputy Interior Secretary. Bernhardt is a former lobbyist with the law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, which represented Nestlé Waters, one of the largest water bottlers in the US.
Nestlé Waters issued a statement:
Claims… that Nestlé Waters North America unduly influenced the National Parks Service to rescind its ban on bottled water are categorically false. No one in the General Counsel’s office at Nestlé…has ever met or spoken to Mr. Bernhardt, and frankly was not familiar with him until these irresponsible claims were made.
Trump and Melania to Skip Kennedy Center Honors
Donald Trump and his wife Melania announce that they will not attend the annual Kennedy Center Honors in December.
The White House said in a statement, “The President and First Lady have decided not to participate in this year’s activities to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction.”
The Kennedy Center recognizes individuals for their influence in the arts. This year’s honorees include dancer and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade, singer-songwriter and actress Gloria Estefan, hip hop artist and actor LL Cool J, television writer and producer Norman Lear, and musician and record producer Lionel Richie.
The Kennedy Center responded:
[We] respect the decision made today by the office of the President of the United States. In choosing not to participate in this year’s Honors activities, the Administration has graciously signaled its respect for the Kennedy Center and ensures the Honors gala remains a deservingly special moment for the Honorees. We are grateful for this gesture.
Before the White House announcement, De Lavallade and Lear had said they would not attend the event, and Richie was considering his position. Estefan said she would be present to bring attention to the value of immigrants.
On overseas trips or dealing with foreign policy crises, Jimmy Carter did not attend in 1979, George H.W. Bush in 1989, and Bill Clinton in 1994, but they participated in all their other years in office.
The White House statement said, “First Lady Melania Trump, along with her husband President Donald J. Trump, extend their sincerest congratulations and well wishes to all of this year’s award recipients for their many accomplishments.”
9 Groups Cancel Galas at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Resort
Nine organizations have cancelled festivities at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, following Trump’s comments on white supremacy and last week’s violence in Charlottesville.
The groups include the American Red Cross, the American Cancer Society, the Salvation Army, and Susan G. Komen, the nation’s largest breast-cancer fundraising group, which had held its “Perfect Pink Party” at Mar-a-Lago every year since 2011.
The Salvation Army said it was moving its gala, hosted by Mar-a-Lago since 2014, “because the conversation has shifted away” from its mission of helping those in need.
— David Fahrenthold (@Fahrenthold) August 19, 2017