David A. Graham
David A. Graham
David A. Graham is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covers U.S. politics and global news. More +
  • Aaron P. Bernstein / Reuters

    Is It Newt?

    Fox News has suspended its contract with the former speaker of the House, fueling speculation that he could be Donald Trump’s choice as a running mate.

  • Jim Bourg / Reuters

    The Shaky Basis for Trump's 'Law and Order' Campaign

    The presumptive Republican nominee is delivering racially tinged warnings that “crime is out of control,” but the numbers suggest otherwise.

  • Bryan Woolston / Reuters

    The Latest Setback for Prosecutors in the Freddie Gray Case

    A judge tossed an assault charge, but Lieutenant Brian Rice still faces charges of manslaughter, reckless endangerment, and misconduct.

  • Aaron P. Bernstein / Reuters

    Trump Is Whoever You Want Him to Be

    The Republican says he’ll build a wall on the Mexican border, ban Muslim immigration, and rip up free-trade deals. Many of his endorsers insist he doesn’t really mean it. Who should voters believe?

  • Stewart F. House / Getty

    The Dallas Shooting and the Advent of Killer Police Robots

    Chief David Brown says officers used a device equipped with a bomb to kill a suspect, a perhaps unprecedented move that raises new questions about use of lethal force.

  • Walt Zeboski / AP

    The Second Amendment's Second-Class Citizens

    Black citizens of the United States have seldom enjoyed the same right to bear arms that whites do.

  • Evan Vucci / Associated Press

    Dueling Injunctions on Transgender Rights

    The federal government asks a court to block North Carolina’s “bathroom bill,” while a coalition of states wants a different court to block federal guidance on what constitutes unlawful discrimination.

  • Gaffe Track: That's No Sheriff's Badge, Donald

    Rick Wilking / Reuters

    The candidate: Donald Trump. Yep, again.

    The gaffe: On July 2, Trump tweeted out an image featuring Hillary Clinton’s face over a background of cash, with a six-pointed star reading “Most corrupt candidate ever.” Many people immediately recognized this as an anti-Semitic dogwhistle, as the six-pointed Star of David is a symbol of Judaism. Trump deleted the tweet, then resent the same image with the star changed to a circle.

    The defense: Trump argues that it was a sheriff’s badge, or perhaps a “basic” six-pointed star. But a sheriff’s badge wouldn’t make any sense in this context. There’s also the small problem that the image appears to have originated in a neo-Nazi-frequented message board, then traveled to an anti-Semitic Twitter account before being picked up by Trump.

    Why it matters (or doesn’t): Trump’s tweet has produced a heated debate over whether Trump is anti-Semitic. That argument is to a certain extent beside the point. It’s hard—though some diehards are finding ways—to ignore the pattern of Trump encouraging anti-Semitic and other racist elements, regardless of whether Trump himself bears any personal animus toward Jews. (One of his staunch defenders at this moment is his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is Jewish.) Time and again, Trump has tweeted or retweeted material that originated with white supremacists. There was also, of course, the moment where he declined to condemn an endorsement from former KKK leader David Duke, and later tried to blame it on a bad earpiece. (Duke helpfully insists the star was a Star of David, by the way.) The white supremacists are certainly convinced that Trump is speaking to them with a wink and a nudge. In any case, Trump shows no remorse.

    The lesson: This schmuck’s shtick is still a shanda.

  • Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

    Clinton in the Queen City

    The Democratic candidate’s visit to Charlotte revealed a two-step plan—relying on Barack Obama to help her turn out Democrats, and on Donald Trump to keep Republicans at home.

  • Gaffe Track: Trump's Mash Note for Saddam

    Joshua Roberts / Reuters

    The candidate: Donald J. Trump

    The gaffe: Speaking in Raleigh, North Carolina, last night, Trump found the positive side of the late repressive, genocidal Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. "He was a bad guy—really bad guy. But you know what? He did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good. They didn't read them the rights. They didn't talk. They were terrorists. Over. Today, Iraq is Harvard for terrorism.”

    The defense: There’s a coherent case that toppling Saddam was a grave error because it destabilized the Middle East and led to sectarian wars, broader regional dysfunction, and ISIS. Also, the Harvard remark is kind of hilarious trolling coming from a Penn grad.

    Why it matters (or doesn’t): Here’s a handy, one-word guide for presidential candidates on when to praise Saddam Hussein: “Never.” Whatever the case to be made that toppling Saddam was a bad idea, it’s not really the case Trump made. Instead, he praised a war criminal for his handling of enemies, and a known sponsor of terrorism for his killing of terrorists. (When Henry Kissinger makes the case for cozying up to repressive dictators because of American self-interest, he’s revered as a wise statesman, but when Trump does it, everyone is appalled—though maybe that says more about Kissinger than about Trump.) This isn’t the first time Trump has argued the world would be better off with Saddam in power, and it’s not even the first time he’s made the “Harvard of Terrorism” joke. But once again, the Republican has managed to trip on his own feet, distracting from condemnation of Hillary Clinton’s email. It’s a weird comment to make in North Carolina, a state with many Iraq veterans, though he also suggested in Greensboro that U.S. soldiers siphoned reconstruction funds. Anyway, all of this would ring a lot more true if Trump had been opposed to the Iraq war from the start. But despite his claims, he clearly supported it.

    The lesson: Praising Saddam can make a candidate’s image go from Baath to worse.

  • Patrick Fallon / Reuters

    North Carolina's HB2 Compromise That Wasn't

    Legislators restored the right to bring discrimination suits but otherwise failed to agree on changes to the state’s controversial “bathroom bill.”

  • Gaffe Track: Trump Doesn't Understand SCOTUS

    Brian Snyder / Reuters

    The candidate: Donald Trump

    The gaffe: On Monday, the Supreme Court struck down a Texas law restricting abortion clinics, a landmark in the decades-long battle over abortion. Yet Donald Trump was strangely quiet, not saying anything about the decision, which upset many Republicans. On Thursday, he finally weighed in. “Now if we had [the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin] Scalia was living or if Scalia was replaced by me, you wouldn’t have had that. Okay? It would’ve been the opposite,” the presumptive GOP nominee said in a radio interview. The problem here is that the ruling was decided 5-3, so that either with a live Scalia or a Trump appointee, the math doesn’t add up.

    The defense: The Court isn’t always subject to simple math—a jurist as brilliant as Scalia could perhaps have convinced another justice to join him—but there’s no indication that’s what Trump meant.

    Why it matters (or doesn’t): The Supreme Court vacancy remains one of Trump's most potent talking points. Even some conservatives who fiercely dislike him would rather have him appointing justices than Hillary Clinton, who could hand lifetime appointments to liberals with long-reaching consequences. So it’s not a surprise that Trump would speak strongly about it. Still, the delay in response, followed by a questionable comment, can’t instill much confidence about his understanding of the justice system. Not that he’s alone: Bernie Sanders and Mike Huckabee have also delivered some howlers about how the Supreme Court works during this election cycle.

    The lesson: Justice is blind, but she isn’t innumerate.

  • Gaffe Track: Trump's Wee Scottish Blunder

    Clodagh Kilcoyne / Reuters

    The candidate: Donald J. Trump

    The gaffe: Trump arrived in Scotland hot on the heels of the Brexit vote last week, ready to promote his Turnberry golf resort. He cheerily reported:

    Och, ye daft minger. As my colleague James Fallows wrote, although the “Leave” side won, the Scots voted heavily for “Remain.”

    The defense: How should Trump tell the difference between Scotland and the United Kingdom as a whole? It’s not as if Trump has claimed a special affinity for Caledonia, his mother’s native land.

    Why it matters (or doesn’t): The comment—along with Trump’s admission that he hadn’t spoken with foreign policy advisers about the Brexit vote—simply reinforces the idea that Trump knows nothing about, and moreover has no interest in learning about, policy issues. It shouldn’t hurt his standing with the Scots, though: They already despise him.

    The lesson: When ye dinnae ken whit yer talkin aboot, haud yer wheesht.

  • Nancy Wiechec / Reuters

    The Trump Campaign Gets a $50 Million Donation

    Donald Trump converted around $50 million in loans to his campaign to a gift—but did he have any choice?

  • Bryan Woolston / Reuters

    A 'Not Guilty' Verdict in the Death of Freddie Gray

    A judge acquitted Officer Caesar Goodson of all charges in the April 2015 mortal injury of the 25-year-old Baltimore man, including second-degree murder.

  • Aaron Josefczyk / Reuters

    Cleveland's Restrictions on Convention Protests Are Unconstitutional

    A judge has ruled that a 3.3-mile zone around the convention, to be held in July, infringes on demonstrators’ rights.

  • Chuck Burton / AP

    A Tale of Two Rallies

    Voters from both parties in North Carolina, a newly minted swing state, are grappling with the weaknesses of the presumptive Republican nominee.

  • Library of Congress

    What Steve King Doesn't Understand About Harriet Tubman

    Despite the Iowa Republican’s effort to block her, putting Tubman on the $20 bill isn’t about political correctness—it’s about historical correctness.

  • David Becker / Reuters

    Trump Is on the Verge of Losing Even Republicans

    In a new CNN poll, nearly half of GOP voters responded that they’d prefer to see their party nominate someone else.

  • John Locher / AP

    Donald Trump's Campaign Is Nearly Penniless

    The most recent filing for the presumptive Republican nominee shows just $1.3 million cash on hand and a measly $5.6 million in fundraising over the course of May.