Newsletter: Essential Politics: Trump’s tour of tragedy

Essential Politics

Presidents are routinely forced to confront tragedies at home and around the world, often judged by their ability to show empathy and help their fellow Americans begin the process of healing.

Rarely, though, are there two of those kinds of moments in as many days.

In a few hours, President Trump’s tour of American tragedy moves to Las Vegas.



The president will meet with law enforcement, first responders and the families of victims of Sunday night’s mass shooting. On Monday, he called the murders and woundings “an act of pure evil” and led top officials in a brief moment of silence.

Our team of Times journalists is keeping a close eye with live updates on the investigation and what’s known about the shooter, including late word on Tuesday about a detailed surveillance system set up near his room at the Mandalay Bay resort and the arrival in Los Angeles of the alleged gunman’s girlfriend.

We’re also telling the stories of some of the victims.


Trump will likely try to steer clear of talking about gun control and gun violence, a debate that the shooting has again brought back into focus across the country. Republicans in Washington are showing no interest in shifting gears on the topic. And one of the controversial devices believed to have been used has repeatedly been declared to be legal by federal officials.

For Nevadans, these are familiar topics. Last year, the state’s voters narrowly passed a ballot measure requiring most private buyers and sellers of guns to participate in a background check through a licensed dealer.

And for many, the 2nd Amendment is at the core of the debate. Should it be re-imagined for modern times? We’re letting you have your say.

Follow the president’s visit with our Essential Washington news feed.


Trump spent a few hours on Tuesday touring parts of Puerto Rico that suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Maria. And he insisted his administration was doing a solid job, while also weighing in with an odd quip about a subject he’s brought up before on Twitter.

“I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you threw our budget a little out of whack!”

The storm’s aftermath has given the island more time in the spotlight than it’s had in years and has reminded a lot of people that Puerto Rico would like to be the nation’s 51st state.


It’s also left some on the U.S. mainland to sort out just how American this U.S. territory really is.


-- Defense Secretary James Mattis says maintaining the Iran nuclear treaty is “something that the president should consider staying with.

-- The new U.S. envoy to Russia, Ambassador Jon Huntsman, had his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday and pledged to help patch up relations between the two superpowers.

-- Unexplained sickness among U.S. diplomats stationed in Havana has led to the expulsion from Washington of 15 Cuban diplomats.

-- Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is under investigation for taxpayer-funded flights on private planes.

-- What’s in the more than 3,000 Russia-linked ads that Facebook turned over to Congress?

-- The House passed a bill on Tuesday to ban abortions after 20 weeks, but the bill isn’t expected to pass muster with the Senate.



Four weeks ago, the president gave Congress six months to address the needs of young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally. Of those enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, about one in four lives in California.

But on Tuesday, a congressional hearing made it clear just how far lawmakers have to go in coming up with a solution.

“Every day that we fail to act means one more day that hundreds of thousands of Dreamers ... are forced to live with this cloud hanging over them,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein.


Voters in a downtown Los Angeles state Assembly district went to the polls Tuesday to fill a vacancy created by Rep. Jimmy Gomez’s election to Congress earlier this year.

Two Democrats — Wendy Carrillo and Luis López — look to be moving on to a special election runoff in December, with no one winning a majority of the votes cast in Round 1.

If you’ve missed the lead up to election night, try one quick way of catching up: an Assembly race in seven tweets.


Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro is best known for stoking controversy with his speeches on college campuses, but on Tuesday night he helped raise money for a California Republican congressional candidate. He attended a private event with Yona Barash, a surgeon who is running to unseat Rep. Ami Bera, a Sacramento-area Democrat.

Earlier in the day, Shapiro appeared at a state legislative hearing that examined the causes and solutions in fighting hate speech in California.


-- California adopted some of the toughest gun control laws in the country after multiple mass shootings.

-- The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday on its ability to prevent partisan gerrymandering of political maps in the states. And justices sounded as though they think they’ve got a role to play.

-- Members of Congress lashed out Tuesday at Richard Smith, the former CEO of Equifax. “I don’t think we can pass a law that fixes stupid,” said Oregon Rep. Greg Walden.

-- Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and top Democrats are hosting a fundraiser for Feinstein’s re-election campaign next week in Beverly Hills. And he was clear he is worried about a Feinstein primary.

-- Billionaire activist Tom Steyer is trying to reach a half a million California voters in vulnerable GOP districts.

-- Sexual violence against women is a pervasive problem in California fields. This bill would address it.

-- Facing a likely special election to remove him from office, state Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) insisted in a court filing this week that the Legislature acted properly in adopting new recall rules and the effort against him is politically motivated.

-- As part of our ongoing events series, we’re talking about California politics in the age of Trump on Oct. 18 in Los Angeles. I’ll be moderating a panel with voices from across the state, and Christina Bellantoni will interview House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Get your tickets now.

-- Don’t miss our riveting series, online and in podcast form, “Dirty John.


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