It is Tuesday and a Hurricane is coming

Hurricane Florence is barreling toward the East Coast, presenting a new leadership challenge to President Trump and his administration.

Florence is currently on a path to strike the U.S. this week with dangerous force. Forecasters expect the storm to strengthen in coming days, potentially bringing 150 mile per hour winds and deadly flooding from days of torrential rainfall.

With the storm set to make landfall on Thursday or Friday morning, evacuations are underway in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Officials in those states requested pre-emptive emergency declarations and the U.S. Navy sent ships out of port to sea.

The Associated Press: Millions prepare for potentially catastrophic Florence.

The Washington Post: Hurricane Florence’s track and projected timing.

For Trump, it’s another test of his ability to administer the government in a time of crisis.

The president learned last year that the government’s response to a natural disaster can have enormous political consequences, which will be magnified this year with the midterm elections only eight weeks away.

The Trump administration was praised for its response to Hurricane Harvey, the storm that ravaged the Gulf Region about this time last year.

The president, however, was roundly criticized for the government’s response to Hurricane Maria, the storm that devastated Puerto Rico and left many of the island’s 3.4 million residents without power, food or clean water for weeks on end.

The White House insisted that it did all it could to prepare for and respond to the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico. They argued that the response was complicated by the difficulties inherent in transporting aid to a disaster zone on an island in the ocean.

But Trump inflamed the matter by feuding with Puerto Rican officials and criticizing the local government’s response. As the island dealt with the deadly aftermath, Trump said Puerto Ricans “have to give us more help,” and he blamed the country for throwing the U.S. budget “out of whack.”

Key administration officials began briefing Trump about the approaching storm on Tuesday evening, and will brief him again this afternoon in the Oval Office.

One of those updating the president is Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Brock Long, an experienced hand on natural disasters. White House homeland security advisor Doug Fears will be in the mix, as well. Fears replaced Tom Bossert, who was steady last year while communicating with the public about hurricanes Harvey and Maria and helping to coordinate federal, state, local and private-sector responses.

Emergency federal spending is almost certain to become a political issue when Florence has blown through the East Coast. Congress is still working to pass a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown at the end of the month.

But on Tuesday at least, the president’s focus will be on a different national security matter – the 17th anniversary of 9/11.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump will travel to Stoystown, Pa., to pay their respects at the Flight 93 memorial to the 40 passengers and crew of killed on the plane that went down in the area. Nearly 3,000 people were killed by al Qaeda terrorists on that day.

Vice President Pence, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Gen. Paul Selva will host an observance ceremony at the Pentagon.

Perspectives and Analysis

The New York Times: New Taliban attacks kill dozens of Afghan soldiers and police officers. This double-bylined piece on the horrors of the forgotten war in Afghanistan is worth your time.

 

CNBC: The U.S. has spent $1.5 trillion on war since the 9/11 attacks.

The Los Angeles Times: 17 years later, al Qaeda may be stronger than ever.

CBS “This Morning”: Norah O’Donnell  interviews FBI Director Christopher Wray on terrorism that “moves at the speed of social media.”

The Hill: Cyberattacks are a constant fear 17 years after 9/11.

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