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Aug. 27 2016 11:52 AM

Trump Uses Shooting of Dwyane Wade’s Cousin to Court Black Voters

Nykea Aldridge, the cousin of NBA star Dwyane Wade, was pushing a baby stroller in Chicago’s Parkway Gardens neighborhood on Friday when she was shot and killed. Aldridge, 32, was on her way to register her children at a nearby school when she was hit by stray bullets from a nearby gunfight. The baby was not injured. Wade took to Twitter on Friday night to tell the world about the tragedy, describing it as “another act of senseless gun violence.” A day earlier, Wade had participated in a town hall meeting in Chicago on gun violence that was hosted by ESPN.

For Donald Trump, the killing of a mother of four seemed like just the right way to pitch black voters on why they should elect him in November. Without even offering condolences to Wade or anyone in his family, he wrote on Twitter: “Dwayne Wade's cousin was just shot and killed walking her baby in Chicago. Just what I have been saying. African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!” (Yes, Trump misspelled Dwyane’s first name in the tweet.)

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And that was it. Trump did not offer any explanation as to why the shooting illustrates just what he had “been saying” or why it shows why he will get the support of African-American voters. Presumably though he was referring to a speech he gave earlier this week in which he used a law-and-order argument as part of his latest push to try to win over minority voters. "I say this to the African-American community. Give Donald Trump a chance! We will turn it around!" he said. "We will make your streets safe so when you walk down the street, you don't get shot, which is happening now. That's what's happening now." Earlier, he had said black voters had nothing to lose by voting for him. "You're living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed—what the hell do you have to lose?"

While trying to win over black voters, Trump has attempted to turn the tables and portray Clinton as a “bigot who sees people of color only as votes.” On Friday, Clinton released a campaign ad criticizing Trump’s effort to appeal to black voters.

Aug. 27 2016 10:41 AM

Trump’s Doctor Wrote Letter Declaring “Excellent” Health in Five Minutes

The letter Donald Trump released last year from his physician that declared the presidential contender was in “astonishingly excellent” health was already strange. The horribly informal language, the hyperbole, and the lack of details were just three of the reasons why many raised questions about whether the letter was even real. Dr. Harold Bornstein finally spoke up on Friday, sitting down with NBC News for an astonishing interview that made the whole tale even stranger, ultimately raising more questions about the health of the 70-year-old candidate who would be the oldest person elected president of the United States if he wins in November.

Bornstein said it’s hardly a coincidence that it sounds like the letter was a rushed affair. He wrote it only around five minutes while a limo waited outside.

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"I thought about it all day and at the end, I get rushed, and I get anxious when I get rushed," Bornstein said. "So I try to get four or five lines down as fast as possible so that they would be happy.

One of the aspects of the letter that many raised questions about from the beginning is how it seemed to use words that Trump himself would use to describe his own health, leading many to joke that the candidate had penned the letter. In the interview, Bornstein said that, yes, it’s true he wouldn’t normally use that kind of language but admitted he may have been influenced by Trump’s language. “I think I probably picked up his kind of language and then just interpreted it to my own,” he said.

In the letter, Bornstein had declared that Trump’s lab results were “astonishingly excellent” and that “his physical strength and stamina are extraordinary.” But in the interview, he toned that down a bit. "I don't think he's in any better or worse than the average person that goes and exercises every single day," he said.  

What about the part when he declared that “if elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency"? The doctor stands by those remarks. "I like that sentence to be quite honest with you and all the rest of them are either sick or dead," he said.

In the end though, Trump only has himself to blame for making his doctor letter news again. When Trump started joining the fringe conspiracy theorists by raising questions about Hillary Clinton’s health many started asking questions about his own health. Earlier this month, for example, Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald completely eviscerated the letter, noting problems with everything from its font, to the website listed in the letterhead, and to the kind of language that was used. In what may be one of the most eyebrow raising aspects of the letter, Bornstein declared that a recent examination of the candidate “showed only positive results.” Sounds like positive language until you think about it for a second and realize that in medical language “positive results” usually means that a disease was discovered.  

Trump’s campaign said it was ridiculous to insinuate there was anything wrong with the letter just because it was written quickly. Trump is willing to release more medical records, his campaign says, but only if Clinton does so as well.

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Screenshot/donaldjtrump.com

Aug. 26 2016 4:38 PM

This Week’s Conservative Pundit Tracker: The Alt-Right Is So Wrong Edition

Each week we’re publishing a new chart showing where our group of 25 right-wing pundits stand on the question of Trump, and you’ll be able to look back at past weeks to see if minds are changing. Our categories are “Voting Trump,” “Voting Clinton,” “Not Voting,” “Someone Else,” and “Inscrutable.” Someone else means either a third party candidate or a write-in. Inscrutable includes pundits who have voiced opposition to both Trump and Clinton, but are otherwise undecided, and those who are sharply critical of Trump but haven’t stated a preferred alternative. Click on a pundit’s head to see what he or she has said about the election this week. (If someone doesn’t write or speak or tweet—crazy, but possible—in a given week, we’ll assume they are “thinking…” Also: We are scouring the internet obsessively, but it’s a big place and it’s possible someone will say something that we miss. We are confident you’ll let us know in comments if so!)

Will the Inscrutables pull it together come November? Will anyone else jump on the Hillary train? Will more pundits coalesce around a third-party candidate? Or will everyone eventually fall into line for Trump between now and Election Day? Keep an eye on this weekly tracker to find out.

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The week started with Hillary Clinton facing serious accusations of corruption and cronyism related to her meetings with Clinton Foundation donors while serving as secretary of state. It ended with experts and pundits wondering if she had possibly ended Donald Trump’s campaign with a fiery speech calling out his ties to the racist, anti-Semitic alt-right.

Talk about a quick turnaround. But so it is when Trump is your opponent.

Instead of going after Hillary on the issues, Trump spent the week 1) calling Morning Joe hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski “clowns,” insinuating they had a romantic relationship, and saying that Brzezinski was “off the wall, a neurotic and not very bright mess!" and 2) currying favor with black voters by telling them that in the Trump era, “You’ll be able to walk down the street without getting shot.” Meanwhile, his campaign manager argued that polls that show him losing are wrong, “because it’s become socially desirable, if you’re a college-educated person in the United States of America, to say that you’re against” a man who calls women neurotic messes and implies that black people can’t walk down the street without getting shot.

Such Trumpian outbursts earned eye-rolls from our skeptical conservative pundits.

But they didn’t hurt him with his supporters, who still see Hillary as a bigger problem:

Many of our conservative pundits might share Clinton’s opinion that the alt-right is not reflective of the conservative movement, but they had mixed reactions to the speech itself.

At the Daily Wire, Ben Shapiro wrote:

Hillary Clinton gave one of the most cynical, hypocritical, pandering and clever political speeches in recent memory. …  Clinton simultaneously linked the alt-right to Trump and separated it from traditional conservatism. It was smart politics. It was also unlikely to move the needle very much in a race already so polarized that few Americans either believe Hillary Clinton or like Donald Trump.

Shapiro gets to the heart of this election. However distasteful Trump might be to some conservatives, Clinton has enough baggage that she’s unlikely to win over many people who are desperately seeking someone to vote for. Like Guy Benson.

In responding to a Twitter user who said that the big moment of Hillary’s speech was when she suggested that Republicans had a choice between “Ryanism or Trumpism,” Benson responded like this:

Which is a longwinded way to say: No movement in the tracker this week.

Aug. 26 2016 2:55 PM

Today’s Trump Apocalypse Watch: Doesn’t This Look Like a Campaign Going Down the Tubes?

The Trump Apocalypse Watch is a subjective daily estimate, using a scale of one to four horsemen, of how likely it is that Donald Trump will be elected president, thus triggering an apocalypse in which we all die.

Trump in the past 24 hours:

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I don't want to jinx anything, but I also have to call 'em like I see 'em: This is a death spiral. He's throwing crap at the wall, and it's not sticking, and the only people he can get to work for him are damaged goods and/or retreads. We're about to have to create a danger level lower than a half a horse.

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Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Getty Images, Wikimedia Commons

Aug. 26 2016 2:31 PM

Steve Bannon Was Once Hired to Manage an Artificial World of People Living Under Glass (Before the Trump Campaign)

Stephen Bannon does not, at this point, seem to have been a good hire for the Trump campaign. It has emerged that he was charged with domestic violence and battery in 1996 and allegedly threatened his wife to keep her quiet. He is illegally registered to vote in Florida as the resident of a vacant house. He has allowed Clinton to solidify in voters’ minds the connections between Trump and the right wing fringe.  And, most relevantly to the prospects of Trump’s campaign organization, the last project he ran, the alt-right propaganda outlet Breitbart, saw an exodus of people disgusted with his character.

 

Aug. 26 2016 1:49 PM

Trump’s Crack Staff Now Includes a Key Idiot From the Chris Christie Bridge Scandal

As the tweet notes, if you've heard of Stepien, it's probably because he got fired during the scandal that began when Chris Christie's staffers and allies closed several lanes on the George Washington Bridge for no other reason to punish a Fort Lee, New Jersey, mayor who had declined to endorse Christie in the state's governor's race. (Christie's team subsequently claimed that the lane closures were part of a "traffic study," a claim that was immediately debunked.) At least two other Bridgegate figures have said Stepien knew about the closure plan before it was executed; he was also definitely involved in the farcical "traffic study" explanation and was specifically fired after it was revealed that he called the Fort Lee mayor an "idiot" in the closures' aftermath.

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You know how, in Knocked Up, Paul Rudd's character describes marriage as a tense, unfunny episode of Everybody Loves Raymond that lasts forever?* The Trump campaign is a tense, unfunny episode of Veep that will last until we all die in a nuclear holocaust.

Correction, Aug. 26, 2016: This post originally misidentified the show Everybody Loves Raymond as Everybody That Loves Raymond.

Aug. 26 2016 1:48 PM

Trump’s New “No, Hillary Is the Bigot” Counterattack Won’t Work for So Many Reasons

On Thursday, Hillary Clinton delivered a rather devastating critique of Donald Trump and his ties to the ethno-nationalist movement that calls itself the alt-right. She stopped short of specifically labeling Trump a bigot or racist, but she nonetheless reminded voters of the many, many, many times the GOP nominee has said or done bigoted or racist things. Taken together, the picture Clinton painted was of a paranoid race-baiter who, in her words, is “taking hate groups mainstream” with his “steady stream of bigotry.”

Trump’s response? I know you are, but what am I?

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The GOP nominee, who had pre-emptively called Clinton a “bigot who sees people of color only as votes” at a Mississippi rally the day before, repeated that charge on Thursday. “She is a bigot because you look at what's happening to the inner cities, you look at what's happening to African Americans and Hispanics in this country where she talks all of the time,” Trump told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Pressed further on whether he thinks his rival is “personally” bigoted, Trump replied: “Well, she is, of course she is. Her policies—they're her policies, she comes out with the policies and others that believe like she does also. … This is over the years, a long time. She's totally bigoted, there's no question about that.”

Then, on Friday, the GOP nominee unveiled this low-budget attack ad on Instagram via a tweet declaring [sic]: “The Clinton's are the real predators...”:

The ad seeks to remind voters that Hillary used the term “super predators” while advocating for the 1994 crime bill her husband signed into law (Bernie Sanders also sought to attack Clinton this way during the primaries, a moment to which this ad calls back). The term, a reference to a since-debunked crime theory, played to racist white fears of monstrous black youth. Clinton has since said she regrets using the term, but the fact it was so readily deployed in support of criminal justice reform remains relevant to any contemporary conversation about race and policing. (As does the 1994 law itself, which as Slate’s Jamelle Bouie has explained, involved a “complicated story of fear, racism, good intentions, and cynical political maneuvering.”)

But the fact this is the first item Trump is pointing to in order to make his Hillary’s the real racist argument is telling. After all, the law-and-order rhetoric that was the centerpiece of his Republican National Convention address and is a key component of his campaign sounds an awful lot like an endorsement of the aggressive policing and incarceration policies that formed that 1994 law. And the valid point he’s implicitly, if unintentionally, making here—that racially charged language has no place in a conversation about crime—runs counter to his own Us vs. Them campaign rhetoric.

Another flaw in the ad is that Trump’s intended audience for this attack would appear to be the left, but it’s hard to imagine him making up any ground there given a liberal voter who is unhappy with the Clintons’ tough-on-crime approach two decades ago is likely to be even more troubled by Trump’s tough-on-crime promises today. Meanwhile, the people Clinton’s big alt-right speech was designed to appeal to—white moderate Republicans—seem incredibly unlikely to be moved by the idea that Clinton is a racist for using the term “super predators,” particularly when confronted with far less nuanced images and sound bites of the flock of bigots who have descended around the Trump campaign. And there’s also this: Clinton has admitted she was wrong for using the term super predator, something Trump has notably refused to do for any of the horrible things he’s said—and continues to say—about blacks, Hispanics, and Muslims.

Trump, then, is explicitly calling Clinton a bigot without offering much proof that she is. Clinton, meanwhile, is offering up a wealth of evidence but leaving it to the voters to draw the obvious conclusion about Trump for themselves.

Aug. 26 2016 9:55 AM

New Trump Campaign Exec Seems to Have Committed Voter Fraud by Registering Illegally in Florida

As Donald Trump has fallen further and further behind in the polls, he's started to talk more and more about the conspiratorial idea that November's general election is going to be "rigged" against him via voter fraud. "I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have to be honest,” he said earlier this month, later adding that “I’m telling you, November 8th, we’d better be careful." More broadly, the dubious idea that Democrats engage in widespread electoral fraud is commonly discussed in hyperbolic terms on right-wing sites like Breitbart.

It is in this context that the Guardian's report that new Trump campaign chief executive Stephen Bannon, who is also a Breitbart exec, seems to be committing voter fraud by claiming an unoccupied Florida house as his home address is so satisfyingly ironic:

Stephen Bannon, the chief executive of Trump’s election campaign, has an active voter registration at the house in Miami-Dade County, Florida, which is vacant and due to be demolished to make way for a new development.
“I have emptied the property,” Luis Guevara, the owner of the house, which is in the Coconut Grove section of the city, said in an interview. “Nobody lives there … we are going to make a construction there.” Neighbors said the property had been abandoned for several months.
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The newspaper notes that "Under Florida law, voters must be legal residents of the state and of the county where they register to vote" and that "[w]ilfully submitting false information on a Florida voter registration ... is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison." The Los Angeles Times wrote last week that Bannon is a resident of Laguna Beach, California; he was registered to vote in California's Orange County until 2014.

Politico reported Thursday night, meanwhile, that Bannon was charged with committing misdemeanor domestic violence against his then-wife in relation to a 1996 incident after which she told police that the couple had also had "three or four" previous arguments that "became physical." Bannon pleaded not guilty to the charges and they were dismissed when his wife declined to appear in court as a witness.

Aug. 25 2016 10:25 PM

Does Trump Have an Immigration Policy? “The Answer Could Be Yes.”

Donald Trump, professional wall-builder, may not realize his remarks are televised. How else to explain Trump’s lack of a pivot foot when undoing his previous immigration “plan” and vaguely replacing it with something else that he’ll let us in on once he’s figured it out. As a candidate for the Republican nomination, Trump was a finger-jabbing tough guy, calling for a “deportation force” to expel the some 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., now he’s melted into a word jumble.

Over the past week, each time Trump appears in public, he says something new as part of his immigration improvisation. It's hard for his staff to keep up. Here’s Thursday’s addition to Trump’s immigration week:

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And that was just Thursday.

Aug. 25 2016 6:39 PM

The Alt-Right Is Thrilled About Hillary Clinton’s Alt-Right Speech

Hillary Clinton’s speech today on Donald Trump and the right wing fringe was supposed to expose to voters Trump’s disturbing links to his white supremacist and conspiracy minded supporters, including the those on the alt-right, a loose confederation of racists and reactionaries active online who are broadly pro-Trump.

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