“We know there are some things we do not know,” former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld once famously said. “But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”
That sure sounds like the feeling you get trying to guess what’s next in this latest flashpoint over words spoken by Donald Trump.
Good morning from the the state capital. I’m Sacramento Bureau Chief John Myers, and prepare yourself for another day of intense back-and-forth about Trump’s critique of a fallen soldier’s parents, a Muslim American couple that took him to task during the Democratic National Convention.
TRUMP, KHAN, MILITARY FAMILIES: THE FIGHT CONTINUES
The Republican nominee was roundly criticized on Monday for his weekend comments about Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of the late U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, killed in Iraq in 2004.
Arizona Sen. John McCain said that Trump’s comments “do not represent the views of our Republican Party,” an amazing statement from the 2008 nominee about the 2016 standard-bearer. Even so, McCain stopped short of actually withdrawing his support.
Then, it was a leader of the Veterans of Foreign Wars who admonished Trump for his criticism of the Gold Star parents, calling the comments “out of bounds.”
President Obama joined in, too, during a speech in Atlanta. “No one — no one has given more for our freedom and security than our Gold Star families,” said Obama.
Trump tried to shake off the controversy on the campaign trail in Ohio on Monday. But as Cathleen Decker writes, the real danger for Trump may be the timing of all of this controversy — less than 100 days from the election and in a period where voters may be now carefully tuning in.
AND SPEAKING OF THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN…
The public feud with the Khan family is far from the only presidential campaign news as the post-convention period begins.
On Monday, billionaire Warren Buffett endorsed Hillary Clinton and did what only a billionaire could do: He promised to disclose his own tax returns if Trump, who has refused to do so, did the same.
He even offered to provide a trolley to transport voters to the polls in his hometown of Omaha, Neb., on election day.
“I’m going to be on it all day,” Buffett said of the trolley. “I’m going to do selfies, whatever it takes. Let's give America a civics lesson! How about it?”
SOME TRUMP SUPPORTERS HANG TOUGH
Is the dustup swaying die-hard Trump supporters? Not Peggy Hayes of swing-state Virginia. Noah Bierman, who profiled Hayes a few months ago as part of our “Trump Nation” series, checked in with her. The personal fitness instructor remains “in the Trump train,” she tells him.
And check out what one Trump supporter said to an NBC News reporter: “I told the L.A. Times, if he murdered the right person, I still might vote for him.”
KOCH BROTHERS FACE THE TRUMP QUESTION, TOO
The Koch brothers — the nation’s best known and most controversial independent political actors — had an unambiguous message to donors at their biannual retreat this weekend: We’re staying out of the presidential race.
Melanie Mason was on the scene at the swanky Colorado Springs resort, where conservative-leaning attendees mingled with elected officials like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
But Charles Koch strongly pushed back on the perception not backing Trump was a de facto endorsement of Clinton; in fact, he called such a notion “blood libel.”
DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO FIGHTING HUMAN TRAFFICKING
More than two decades ago, human trafficking was a crime without a name. Now as prosecutors, law enforcement officials and advocates have brought the problem to the political forefront, California lawmakers are attempting to tackle a multibillion-dollar industry that sweeps hundreds of thousands of children and teens into the trade nationwide every year.
But as Jazmine Ulloa reports, there’s no coordinated approach in the two dozen or so legislative proposals that remain pending in Sacramento. And in some cases, they pit advocates against law enforcement.
CAMPAIGN CASH STARTS ROLLING IN FOR NOVEMBER PROPOSITIONS
We’ve got an early look at the money being raised and spent on this fall’s 17 statewide ballot propositions, thanks to filings submitted on Monday.
While Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s gun violence initiative, Proposition 63, is significantly outpacing its opponents in campaign cash, the biggest haul so far appears to be the effort to defeat the prescription drug pricing initiative, Proposition 61 — almost $66 million, largely from drug companies.
Meantime, efforts at two competing ballot measures on the fate of California’s death penalty reported only a total of about $6 million in contributions. And the state’s largest teachers union has opened up its wallet to the tune of some $13 million as part of the effort to pass Proposition 55, an extension of existing income tax rates on the most wealthy.
We’ll be tracking all of the campaign cash, and more state political news, on our Essential Politics news feed.
HERNÁNDEZ CALLS IN SICK AFTER DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ALLEGATIONS
Lawmakers returned to the state Capitol Monday for the beginning of their final four weeks of the 2016 session, but Assemblyman Roger Hernández (D-West Covina) wasn’t one of them.
The embattled Democrat, facing domestic violence allegations, requested medical leave for at least the first week and a half of August.
His staff wouldn’t disclose what was causing him to miss work or when he might return. Whenever he does return, Hernández will find himself less busy: He was stripped of his committee assignments last month after a judge issued a domestic violence restraining order against him.
— California's campaign ethics watchdog agency said Monday that it's looking into whether there was illegal coordination between the campaign of Assemblyman David Hadley (R-Manhattan Beach) and an independent expenditure committee supporting him.
— Meantime, the state agency’s former chief enforcement officer says final approval of a $1.2-billion dollar condominium and hotel project in Beverly Hills should be denied because the city’s former mayor lobbied on behalf of its Chinese developer.
— Gov. Jerry Brown and First Lady Anne Gust Brown have sold their Oakland home, and they took a small loss on the sale. Their official residence is now the historic governor’s mansion in Sacramento.
— Two prominent Democrats running for governor in 2018 were the first to report their campaign contributions in Monday’s state filings.
— A man who once had enormous political influence, former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, withdrew his guilty plea on Monday to charges of lying to federal investigators.
— Black Lives Matter has signed on to a political platform for the Nov. 8 election. The document suggests 40 policy proposals and calls for “black liberation.”
— Here’s what Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson told The Times’ Editorial Board.
— The Simpsons have their say on the Clinton-Trump battle.
— Who will win the November election? Give our Electoral College map a spin.
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