NATION POLITICS ESSENTIAL WASHINGTON

Donald Trump calls for U.S. withdrawal from NAFTA, while Hillary Clinton says "it's time to move on," from Benghazi.

In Hollywood, Hillary Clinton looks to the future and brushes aside the past

 (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

For Hillary Clinton , the driving imperative of the presidential campaign is to focus voters on the future, the candidacy of Donald Trump and her myriad policy plans -- and away from the controversies of the past.

But on Tuesday, the past and the future collided in a big way as Clinton campaigned in Denver and Los Angeles, discussing technology proposals meant to spur entrepreneurial activity and increase the nation’s Internet savvy.

The first collision came with the release of the Republican report on the killings of four U.S. citizens in Benghazi, Libya, one of the low points of Clinton’s tenure as secretary of State. The second arrived via Trump, denouncing in Pennsylvania trade policies backed by Hillary Clinton in the 1990s.

Clinton stayed relentlessly focused forward in Hollywood, where she answered questions Tuesday evening from a mostly millennial audience of Web entrepreneurs, and but for a brief comment on the Benghazi report, in Denver as well.

So we can't do waterboarding? It's not the nicest thing, but it's peanuts compared to many alternatives. ... But they can do chopping off heads, drowning people ... they can do whatever they want to do.

Donald Trump at a rally in St. Clairsville, Ohio, on Tuesday night where he re-upped his calls for waterboarding as a way to punish suspected terrorists.

Hillary Clinton is spending big on ads. Donald Trump? Not so much

Clinton's total is an increase from a few weeks ago.

Trump returning to California for high-dollar fundraiser

Donald Trump plans to visit California to raise money on July 13. (Associated Press)
Donald Trump plans to visit California to raise money on July 13. (Associated Press)

Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump is headed to Southern California days before the Republican National Convention for a fundraiser where donors are being asked to contribute up to $449,400 per person.

The reception and dinner is set for July 13 at an undisclosed location in Rancho Santa Fe, according to an invitation obtained by The Times. The least expensive ticket costs $25,000 per person.

The event comes as Trump has sharply increased his fundraising schedule in the aftermath of campaign finance reports that showed he lags far behind presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Trump ended May with $1.3 million on hand, compared to Clinton’s $42 million.

Prior to heading to California, Trump’s fundraising schedule includes events in Boston on Wednesday, Denver on Friday and Cincinnati on July 6.

The hosts of the Rancho Santa Fe event include major GOP donors: developer Doug Manchester, diet guru Jenny Craig, energy investor Doug Kimmelman, outsourcing innovator Darwin Deason, and Madeleine Pickens, the ex-wife of Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is also listed on the invitation though it is unclear if he is attending.

The contributions are to be split among Trump’s campaign, the RNC and several state Republican parties.

Trump calls Benghazi 'another Hillary Clinton failure'

Twitter loses it over Donald Trump's speech in front of a trash wall

 (Keith Srakocic / Associated Press)
(Keith Srakocic / Associated Press)

As Donald Trump delivered a major speech at a Pennsylvania aluminum plant about trade and economic policy, promising that his proposals bring about prosperity, all Twitter could focus on was the wall of crushed-up recyclables that served as his backdrop.

Here are some of our favorite reactions:

Trump's comments about women are focus of new ads seeking to capitalize on his woes with female voters

 (Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)
(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

Donald Trump often boasts that he, not Hillary Clinton, is beloved by women.

Yet Trump consistently comes up short when women are surveyed about whether they like him or which presidential candidate they prefer, and one of Clinton's biggest backers is trying to seize on his high unfavorability ratings.

On Tuesday, Priorities USA, a super PAC backing Clinton, released a barrage of digital ads focused on Trump's past comments about women. The ads, which are part of a $1-million buy, are targeted at women in a host of swing states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Colorado.

In one ad, titled "Greater Women," the super PAC highlights Trump's comments in which he suggests a female journalist was menstruating when she questioned him, and an instance when he told a woman on NBC's "The Apprentice" that "it must be a pretty picture" seeing her "drop to her knees."

Nationally, Trump's unfavorable ratings among women -- more than double his favorable ratings -- have moved little since he became the Republican Party's presumptive nominee last month.

In a CNN/ORC poll released last week, 61% of female respondents said they had an unfavorable view of Trump, compared with 38% who said they had a favorable view of him. Clinton, the first woman to top a major party's presidential ticket, also had high unfavorables among women, with 52% saying they viewed her unfavorably. But nearly as many, 47%, said they had a positive view of her.

Overall, the poll found Clinton topping Trump with female respondents, 46% to 34%. Clinton also outpaced Trump in that category in several swing states.

In Ohio, where Trump was to rally Tuesday night and where women in the suburbs around Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati are seen as crucial voting blocs, Among female respondents, Clinton leads the billionaire businessman, 48% to 31%, according to a Quinnipiac poll released last week. Clinton's lead increased about 5 percentage points from a similar poll released last month.

Similarly, in Pennsylvania, Clinton outpaces Trump, 50% to 34%, among women, based on a Quinnipiac poll -- a number that has remained unchanged from a survey in May.

"Voters' knowledge of Trump is a mile wide and an inch deep," said Justin Barasky, a spokesman for Priorities USA, which in addition to the digital ads has run television spots in a number of states, assailing Trump's rhetoric about women.

"So it’s important for people to know that in Trump’s view, women don’t deserve the same opportunities as men and instead should be objects of ridicule and derision," he said.

Donald Trump pledges to withdraw from Pacific trade deal, punish China

Donald Trump, who has ridden a wave of anti-globalism to capture the GOP nomination, made a series of pledges and threats Tuesday aimed at punishing China and divorcing the U.S. from trade deals he blames for the loss of manufacturing jobs.

The speech, delivered from a teleprompter at the Alumisource factory in Monessen, Pa., was one of the most traditional he has given since entering the presidential race a year ago. After battling with fact-checkers for much of the past week, Trump included 128 footnotes in his prepared remarks .

“Globalization has made the financial elite who donate to politicians very, very wealthy,” Trump said from the heart of the battered Rust Belt region, where voters embraced him during the GOP primaries. “I hate to say it, but I used to be one of them.”

Trump’s speech took aim mostly at politicians, with little regard to the role mechanization and corporate outsourcing — including some by his own companies — have played in the decline of America’s industrial base.

“As Bernie Sanders said, Hillary Clinton ‘voted for virtually every trade agreement that has cost the workers of this country millions of jobs,’ ” Trump said, noting his alignment on the issue with Clinton’s Democratic primary rival.

Trump’s seven-point plan also made an overt threat to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement, negotiated and signed by President George H.W. Bush and supported by President Bill Clinton, who also campaigned in Congress for enabling legislation, which he also signed.

“A Trump administration will change our failed trade policies and I mean quickly,” Trump said.

The plan calls for withdrawing from NAFTA unless the other parties agree to renegotiate and give the U.S. “a better deal by a lot.”

It also calls for withdrawing from the massive Pacific trade deal in the works, the Trans Pacific Partnership, which Clinton pushed as secretary of State but now says she would not sign. It also calls for punishing other countries for trade and currency violations, with a heavy emphasis on China, which Trump would label a currency manipulator, setting off new tariffs.

White House says Benghazi report is just a political attack on Clinton

White House officials on Tuesday dismissed the latest House Republican findings on the 2012 Benghazi attacks as a “conspiracy” theory designed to sully former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for political reasons.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said he could think of no other reason for the eighth government investigation into the attacks.

“This is the best evidence yet that this is a Republican conspiracy, seeking political advantage out of a terrible tragedy,” Earnest told reporters during his daily briefing.

“What possible goal could Republicans have by taking a look at this matter in 2016 other than trying to influence the outcome of the elections that are held in 2016?” he asked.

The 800-page report released Tuesday did not reveal new evidence but argues that Clinton’s State Department failed to adequately protect its staff in Benghazi, Libya, when a mob of militia fighters launched deadly attacks there four years ago.

U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and State Department information officer Sean Smith were killed in the violence. CIA contractors Tyrone S. Woods and Glen A. Doherty died later when the complex they were in was attacked by mortar fire.

The latest report charges incompetence up and down the chain of command in the Obama administration, referencing a vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who was hosting a dinner party for foreign dignitaries instead of being at the Pentagon. It also reports confusion among intelligence officials about which militias the U.S. could trust in Libya.

Earnest batted back the criticism, saying the White House and the National Security Council made sure the right people were assembled to discuss the emergency.

“There’s just no there there. There hasn’t been,” Earnest said. “But yet we’ve seen repeated attempts by Republicans to try to score political points off the deaths of four innocent Americans.”

Watch: Donald Trump talks trade policy in Pennsylvania

Hillary Clinton reacts to the Benghazi report: 'It's time to move on'

The media always have questions for Hillary Clinton at her campaign events, and she typically pays them no attention. In Denver on Tuesday, hours after the Benghazi committee report was released , she made a point of noticing.

“I think the press has a question,” she said.

Yes, reporters did. Her thoughts on the Benghazi report?

“I said this when I testified for 11 hours — that no one has thought more about or lost more sleep over the lives that we lost, the four Americans, which was devastating,” she said. “And we owe it, we owe it to those brave Americans to make sure that we learn the right lessons from this tragedy. That’s why I put together an independent committee to go everywhere, look everywhere, come up with what recommendations would help us prevent such tragedies in the future, and that of course should be the goal.”

But she questioned whether it was the goal of the most recent effort.

“I understand that after more than two years and $7 million spent by the Benghazi Committee under taxpayer funds, it had to today report that it had found nothing — nothing — to contradict the conclusions that the independent accountability board, or the conclusions of the prior multiple earlier investigations carried out on a bipartisan basis in the Congress,” Clinton said. “So while this unfortunately took on a partisan tinge, I want us to stay focused on what I’ve always wanted us to stay focused on, and that is the important work of diplomacy and development.

“So, I’ll leave it to others to characterize this report,” Clinton said, “but I think it’s pretty clear that it’s time to move on.”

Clinton unveils tech policy plan with focus on economic impact

 (John Locher / Associated Press)
(John Locher / Associated Press)

Hillary Clinton released a tech policy proposal Tuesday, outlining a plan for her first 100 days in office to invest in jobs, make education debt-free and increase access to the Internet.

“Hillary recognizes that technology and the Internet are transforming nearly every sector of our economy,” a news release from her campaign said. “... With the right public policies, we can harness these forces" for growth, jobs and social benefits.

Clinton presented the plan Tuesday at a workforce training facility, Galvanize, in Denver.

Clinton also plans to invest in science, technology, engineering, math and computer science education and to make governmental operations more visible and easily understood.

Trump calls for trade overhaul in Pennsylvania

I will tell you, it was the same shame where she was sort of forced into saying radical Islamic terrorism.

Donald Trump on how his trade policies forced Hillary Clinton to backtrack her stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnernship (TPP)

A Trump administration will change our failed trade policies, and I mean quickly.

Donald Trump, Republican presidential candidate

We are going to embrace the possibilities of change, but real change, not Obama change.

Donald Trump, Republican presidential candidate

Watch: Hillary Clinton meets with supporters in Colorado

Ohio senator attacks Trump on trade before his rally in the state

 (Tony Dejak / AP)
(Tony Dejak / AP)

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown criticized Donald Trump's record on trade and manufacturing Tuesday ahead of a Trump speech on trade in Pennsylvania and a nighttime rally in Ohio.

Brown and Leo Gerard, the international president of the United Steelworkers, lambasted Trump for manufacturing products around the globe when they could have been made in U.S. factories.

"We know just in my state alone where Donald Trump could have gone to make these things," Brown said after listing the sites overseas where Trump produced clothing, furniture, housewares and raw materials under his brands. "He could have fought to make these products here, but he didn't."

Both Gerard and Brown, considered a potential vice-presidential pick for Hillary Clinton, praised her for her work on developing trade policies. Gerard criticized Trump for not having said "a darn thing" about trade specifics like rules of origin, market economies and currency issues.

Even though U.S. workers have been hard hit by the globalization of the economy, Gerard said Trump had no workable solutions.

Brown contended that Clinton has been rooting for workers in his state's hard-hit southeast region, long home to coal-mining operations, where Trump did well in Ohio's Republican primary in March.

"I trust her to fight with me to protect coal-miner pensions," Brown said. He added that Clinton would work to improve benefits for black lung patients, a disease that has affected miners, and drive investment to the area.

Brown said there's no "magic wand" to fix the problems affecting blue-collar workers who support Trump, but Gerard said American workers need to know "the whole truth."

"He believes workers make too much," Gerard said. "He believes in the right to work for less."

Former Cruz aide joins the Trump campaign

 (John Locher / Associated Press)
(John Locher / Associated Press)

A former Ted Cruz advisor jumped to a top spot on Donald Trump’s campaign, despite a history of criticizing the presumptive GOP nominee.

Jason Miller joined Trump as a senior communications advisor Monday. Trump has been building his campaign staff after firing former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski last week and amid complaints from Republicans that he does not have the infrastructure in place to mount a serious challenge to Hillary Clinton.

“As we continue to work to defeat Hillary Clinton this November, I am constantly building a superior political team,” Trump said in a news release.

Before he accepted the position, though, Miller deleted tweets attacking Trump during the GOP primary season. Some included hashtags like “#sleazydonald” and accused Trump of flip-flopping on his views.

“So which lobbyist wrote Donald Trump’s foreign policy speech today, and what foreign companies have they done work for?” Miller tweeted on April 27, according to Think Progress, which documented the tweets before Miller deleted them.

Trump also announced the hiring of former Republican National Committee aide Michael Abboud and campaign advisor Alan Cobb.

Clinton camp rips Benghazi findings as partisan attack

Hillary Clinton's campaign blasted the House special committee investigating the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, after it found no new evidence of wrongdoing on Clinton's part.

Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon criticized the committee's Republicans for using Benghazi to try to undermine the Obama administration and hurt Clinton in the 2016 election.

"The Republicans on the House Benghazi Committee are finishing their work in the same, partisan way that we've seen from them since the beginning," he said, dismissing some findings as "conspiracy theories."

Republicans have and are likely to continue to use the report to argue that Clinton is unfit to be president, but the committee's failure to uncover any new evidence against her beyond what seven previous government probes found has weakened their case.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and former Speaker John A. Boehner said "officials in Washington" were to blame for flaws in the U.S. response to the attacks and encouraged Americans to read the report themselves.

But the Republican National Committee took up the mantle of directly blaming Obama and Clinton for what they called a "politically motivated cover-up" over the source of the attacks.

Watch: Republicans hold news conference on Benghazi report

House Committee on Benghazi addresses report findings in press conference

Nothing could have reached Benghazi because nothing was headed to Benghazi.

Trey Gowdy, Chair of House Select Committee on Benghazi

What did start before the attack was over was the political spin

Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Select Committee on Benghazi

Here's what we have to recognize: if we are going to ask Americans to put themselves at risk in the future, we've got to remedy this, all of us.

Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), Select Committee on Benghazi

The bottom line is Washington failed to have our guys' backs when they needed it.

Martha Roby (R-Ala.), Select Committee on Benghazi

This was failed American foreign policy. It was failed American foreign policy from the beginning.

Susan Brooks (R-Ind.), Select Committee on Benghazi

They have been serial leakers of information, and they missed a good opportunity.

Trey Gowdy, Chair of House Select Committee on Benghazi on Democratic involvement on the committee

The Democrats mantra all along has been that there's no new information.

Trey Gowdy, Chair of House Select Committee on Benghazi

Long-awaited Benghazi report slams Obama administration response but is less damning of Clinton than expected

 (Michael Reynolds / European Pressphoto Agency)
(Michael Reynolds / European Pressphoto Agency)

Republicans on the House Benghazi Committee released their long-anticipated final report Tuesday, the conclusion of a politically charged investigation into the events surrounding the 2012 terrorist attacks on the Libyan city.

The 800-page report, which Democrats on the committee denounced -- even before it was released -- as a sham focused on discrediting presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, found that the Department of State under her leadership did an inadequate job of protecting its staff in Benghazi. It accuses the Obama administration of incompetence at various levels, including a failure to deploy needed military assets, CIA intelligence reports that were “rife with errors” and misguided planning in the midst of the violence.

The report is certain to be a springboard for Republicans looking to weaken Clinton. But it is unlikely to be a potent tool, after Democrats spent months working to discredit the committee and its focus on the former secretary of State. The final report is a less damning indictment of Clinton than her supporters had anticipated. It includes no new evidence of wrongdoing by her, focusing more broadly on the Obama administration.

The report also comes as the committee has struggled to maintain its credibility. Its all-day grilling of Clinton last fall in Washington was seen largely as a flop, as she deftly dispensed with politically tinged questioning that lacked focus or any new revelations. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s gloating on cable news that the committee would hurt Clinton’s White House chances also fueled the narrative that it was not a serious fact-finding mission.

By the numbers

How does Clinton or Trump get to 270 electoral votes? Play with our map.

Third debate scorecard: Here's who's winning each round

All things Clinton | All things Trump

Who's endorsing who? Find out which celebrities support each candidate.

Find out which Republicans support Donald Trump

Get free news and analysis in your inbox daily from our political team.

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
67°