A Rising Threat to Pregnant Women: Syphilis

The Treponema pallidum bacterium, which causes syphilis. It can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy or birth.CreditCreditSusan Lindsley/CDC, via Associated Press


Syphilis continues to make a dismaying comeback in the United States.

Between 2012 and 2016, the rate of primary and secondary syphilis among women increased 111 percent. Over the same period, the rate of congenital syphilis increased by 87 percent.

The sexually transmitted disease is caused by infection with the bacterium Treponema pallidum. The bacterium also can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy or birth.

Up to 40 percent of infants with syphilis are stillborn. The rest appear normal at birth; if left untreated, however, they may develop a number of serious symptoms, from bone pain to deafness and blindness.

Infected babies are treated with penicillin. Infants who picked up the bacterium while passing through the birth canal generally fare better than those infected during pregnancy.

The number of reported syphilis cases in women — including primary and secondary stages, and latent stage, when infection is much less easily transmitted — rose to 14,838 in 2016 from 9,551 in 2012, an increase of 55 percent, according to a study published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Over the same period, the number of cases in pregnant women increased 61 percent, to 2,508 from 1,561.

The increases occurred in all age groups, among all racial and ethnic groups, and in every region of the country. The greatest increases were among women in their twenties, non-Hispanic black women, and women who live in the South.

Only half of pregnant women reported any of the known risk factors, among them drug use, a history of sexually transmitted disease, or more than one sex partner in the past year.

“All women must be tested,” said the study’s senior author, Dr. Sarah Kidd, a medical officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “If you’re only trying to weed out women with typical risk factors, you’re going to miss a lot of women.”

The C.D.C. recommends screening at the first prenatal visit. Because some women become infected after the initial test, women should be screened again during the third trimester and again at delivery, especially those women living where prevalence is high.

Treatment of pregnant women with penicillin is up to 98 percent effective in preventing congenital syphilis.

“The incidence of syphilis has been at an all-time low over the past 20 years,” Dr. Kidd said. “Some recently trained physicians have never seen it. But it’s making a comeback, and physicians should be aware of it.”


In California, Criminal Justice Reform Offers a Lesson for the Nation

San Quentin State Prison in California. Several new laws in the state seek to reduce the number of people who are incarcerated and ease the harsh penalties imposed for some crimes.CreditCreditMax Whittaker for The New York Times


LOS ANGELES — A police officer is shot dead in Whittier by a gang member. A mentally ill homeless man walks into a steakhouse in Ventura and stabs a man to death in front of his family. In Bakersfield, a man angry over his divorce goes on a shooting rampage, killing his ex-wife and four others.

In the aftermath of these high-profile killings, some police officers, district attorneys and politicians were quick to use them as examples to show that criminal justice reform had let dangerous people onto the streets.

It turned out they were wrong. Not one of the crimes was directly linked to any of several new laws that seek to reduce incarceration and lower harsh penalties. But the cases show how muddled the debate over criminal justice has become, even in this liberal state.

Over the last decade, California has been at the forefront of the nation’s efforts to reduce mass incarceration, in part because the state was forced by the courts to lower the population of severely overcrowded prisons. California, once a byword for get-tough-on-crime polices like its three-strikes law enacted in the 1990s, has let thousands of inmates out of prison or jail.

Overall crime rates, meanwhile, are at historic lows, with levels not seen since the 1960s. Yet some categories of crimes, like theft, have ticked up, feeding into a narrative by opponents of criminal justice reform that California’s new measures have gone too far.

Now that President Trump has signed into law a federal criminal justice reform bill, California’s experience, and the political fallout, is especially instructive. Experts are finally starting to study the effects on crime rates.

At the same time, powerful forces are lining up in an attempt to roll back some of the changes and, supporters of the new laws fear, return California to its get-tough-on-crime days.

Police unions have put up hundreds of thousands of dollars to support a ballot measure to expand the category of crimes that can be charged as felonies. And the grocery store chain Albertsons has also contributed to the effort, blaming the changes for a rise in shoplifting. Big bail companies have raised $3 million to overturn a recent California law that ends the cash bail system, which critics have long said unfairly targets the poor.

Jerry Brown, the former governor, left office recently with a $15 million campaign war chest, and has said some of that money could be used to defend his criminal justice legacy by trying to defeat the ballot measures.

The data on crime, and what it says about reforms, has been contested. Small upticks in some types of crime in some areas has muddied the picture. And Californians may well be confused about what to believe: One day, headlines say that crime is up; the next, that crime is down. For instance, violent crime rose in California in 2012 and between 2015 and 2017, allowing opponents of the laws to point to increases, even as scholars say arguments about criminal justice policies should not be based on short-term fluctuations — and that overall crime rates are declining.

Activists see parallels in the strategies of opponents of more lenient sentencing laws in California and the rhetoric on crime at the national level. The former attorney general, Jeff Sessions, warned early last year about a “staggering increase in homicides.” Violent crime had ticked up in 2015 and 2016 after a long decline, but when F.B.I. statistics for 2017 were released — after Mr. Sessions’s warning — they showed that violent crime had gone down again.

One of the most controversial changes in California was a law passed last year to end cash bail. Initially anticipated by liberal activists as a significant step to end the practice of holding poor defendants in pretrial detention because they could not afford bail, the final version of the law has been disavowed by many of its early supporters. That is because, activists say, the law gives judges more discretion to hold the accused before trial. The new system will also use algorithms to assess whether a defendant is a flight risk or might commit another crime — tools that activists say are biased against people of color.

“It gives judges basically unlimited power without due process,” said John Raphling, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch in Los Angeles. The risk assessment tools that judges would use, he said, “embed racial bias.”

The controversy over the bail law has essentially placed the bail industry and civil liberties advocates like the A.C.L.U. on the same side. But it is the bail industry that has backed a ballot measure to overturn the law, which has received enough signatures to go before California voters in 2020.

In pushing the measure, the industry has offered contradictory arguments, sometimes suggesting that eliminating cash bail would mean more criminals on the streets, and other times adopting the argument of the liberal activists that the new law could, in fact, end up locking up more people in a manner that would be unfair to poor African-Americans.

Jeff Clayton, the spokesman for a coalition of bail companies backing the ballot proposition, said the issue would be “focus grouped and polled” to figure out what the right message should be for advertisements in the run-up to the vote in 2020.

Bail-bond companies in Los Angeles. A recent California law has abolished cash bail for defendants awaiting trial in the state’s courts, a practice that critics said unfairly burdened the poor.Mario Tama/Getty Images

In one of the first academic studies on the effects of California’s criminal justice reforms on crime rates, Bradley J. Bartos and Charis E. Kubrin, of the University of California at Irvine, found no links between Proposition 47 — a ballot measure enacted in 2014 that reduced some drug crimes and thefts to misdemeanors — and violent crime. The study, published in the journal Criminology and Public Policy, found that larceny and auto thefts seemed to have increased moderately after the measure was enacted, but said other factors may have been to blame and that more study was needed.

“At the time I was hearing so many claims about what Prop 47 was doing to crime in the state,” Ms. Kubrin said. “Prop 47 has nothing to do with violent crime.”

Even so, her research was challenged by law enforcement groups. A statement released by the Los Angeles Association of Deputy District Attorneys attacked the study, saying that because crime had ticked up after Proposition 47 was enacted, the measure had “arguably failed.”

Links between criminal justice policies and crime rates have long been tenuous. There are almost endless factors that can lead to crime, including poverty and drug addiction.

“The literature on how policing and levels of punishment relates to actual crime is so disputed,” said Rob Smith, executive director of the Justice Collaborative.

Mr. Smith said that it was “important to understand that we are in a historic decline.”

“So these year-to-year fluctuations don’t really tell you much,” he said.

While pointing to short-term increases in certain crimes in recent years, some — mainly law enforcement personnel and victims’ rights advocates — have also been quick to seize on highly publicized crimes as evidence that California’s policies have become too lenient.

In one example, John Cox, the Republican businessman who lost the race for governor, in several instances pointed to the death last year of Anthony Mele, a 35-year-old man who was killed in the steakhouse in Ventura by a homeless man.

Mr. Cox said he believed the system was too lenient and that “plea bargains” had allowed too many criminals onto the streets. “I think of Anthony Mele, a young man who was murdered in cold blood by a guy who was out,” he said.

Richard Simon, the senior deputy district attorney in Ventura who is prosecuting the case and who believes California has become too liberal on criminal justice, said the suspect, Jamal Jackson, was not on the streets because of any recent changes.

Similarly, in the killing of the police officer in Whittier in 2017, law enforcement initially blamed criminal justice reform, saying the suspect would not have been on the streets had it not been for new sentencing guidelines. But the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation issued a statement saying the suspect was not released early as a result of justice reforms. And an investigation by The Los Angeles Times and The Marshall Project revealed that missteps by Los Angeles County and probation officials — who were overseeing the suspect after his release from prison — had led to him being on the streets.

Another case that has galvanized opponents of the justice overhaul was a homicide last year in Fresno, in which a man was cited — but not arrested — for methamphetamine and then shortly after killed a young man in a robbery attempt. The mother of the victim and law enforcement officers have blamed the reforms, saying that under old laws the assailant would have been arrested and off the streets.

But activists and supporters of the new sentencing measures in California have pushed back. They note that no new law precludes an arrest for possessing drugs. And in the Fresno case, they say there were other circumstances, such as the presence of guns in the hotel room where they found the suspect with meth hours before the killing, that could have justified an arrest.

Advocates worry that it is only a matter of time before a high-profile crime will be linked definitively to criminal justice reforms, giving opponents a Willie Horton-style example to stoke fear. They say that would hardly justify a return to a harsher system — that a free society should not lock up lots of people, at great cost, on the worry that one may commit a horrible crime.

“We all want to live in a society where you can walk from your house to work or the bus station or the subway and feel and be safe,” said Mr. Smith of the Justice Collaborative. “And the reality is across California and across the country we are safer than almost at any time in history.”

California’s reform effort began in earnest in 2011, with a law that shifted many state prison inmates to county jails, and was followed by other measures approved by voters that reduced penalties for certain crimes and allowed for more inmates to be released early for good behavior. The high mark for California’s prison population was 2006, with about 163,000 people incarcerated. Nowadays, there are about 115,000 people behind bars, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.

As California moves toward referendums in 2020 on sentencing laws and bail, scholars worry that opponents will be successful in stoking fear among the public about runaway crime.

“I really worry that people will make decisions based on fear rather than empirical data,” Ms. Kubrin said.


Trademark Fight Over Vulgar Term’s ‘Phonetic Twin’ Heads to Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a First Amendment dispute over the name of a line of clothing.CreditCreditT.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times


WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court, which is pretty squeamish about vulgar language, recently agreed to hear a case about whether the owner of a line of clothing sold under the brand name FUCT can register a trademark for the term.

An official at the Patent and Trademark Office said no, reasoning that the term sounded like the past tense of the most versatile Anglo-Saxon curse word. A 1905 federal law allows the office to refuse to register trademarks that are “immoral, deceptive or scandalous.”

Erik Brunetti, the owner of the clothing line, appealed to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, arguing that the name stood for “Friends U Can’t Trust.” That “stretches credulity,” the board ruled.

Basing its decision on Google search results and entries in Urban Dictionary, the board rejected Mr. Brunetti’s application, calling his brand name a “phonetic twin” of the curse word.

A federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., agreed that the term was scandalous. But it said the law barring scandalous trademarks ran afoul of the First Amendment.

“The trademark at issue is vulgar,” Judge Kimberly A. Moore wrote for a divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, a specialized court in Washington.

“The First Amendment, however,” Judge Moore wrote, “protects private expression, even private expression which is offensive to a substantial composite of the general public.”

That conclusion was bolstered by a 2017 Supreme Court decision striking down a neighboring clause in the same part of the trademark law. That one denied federal trademark protection to terms that disparage people, living or dead, along with “institutions, beliefs or national symbols.”

Mr. Brunetti’s lawyers said that the 2017 decision, Matal v. Tam, made his case an easy one. “Disparaging marks are refused because they are offensive,” they told the appeals court. “Scandalous marks are refused because they are offensive.”

If one clause is unconstitutional, they argued, then so is the other.

The Supreme Court apparently thinks the question is more complicated, as it agreed this month to hear the government’s appeal. If nothing else, the court can use Mr. Brunetti’s case to sort out just what it meant to say in the 2017 decision, which ruled for an Asian-American dance-rock band called the Slants. (The decision also effectively allowed the Washington Redskins football team to register its trademarks.)

The justices were unanimous in ruling that the prohibition on disparaging trademarks violated the First Amendment. But they managed to split 4 to 4 in most of their reasoning, making it hard to analyze how the decision applies in the context of the ban on scandalous terms.

Still, the two blocs of justices did appear to agree that a central flaw in the ban on disparagement was that it took sides or, in legal language, was not viewpoint neutral. Criticism was forbidden; praise was not.

The first battleground in the new case, then, will be whether a ban on vulgar words and the like is viewpoint neutral.

The government, defending the law, said it barred entire categories of speech — “vulgar terms and graphic sexual images” — but did not discriminate against particular viewpoints within those categories.

Mr. Brunetti’s lawyers disagreed. “Marks favorable to religion are allowed, but marks critical of religion or likely to cause religious controversy are prohibited,” they wrote. “Marks about input into the digestive system are approved, while marks about output are rejected. Polite humor is fine, raunchy humor is scandalous. Raising babies is sweet, making babies is disgusting.”

The trademark appeals board, moreover, took account of the views expressed on Mr. Brunetti’s website and products, saying they “contain strong, and often explicit, sexual imagery that objectifies women and offers degrading examples of extreme misogyny.” That sounded like viewpoint discrimination, Mr. Brunetti’s lawyers wrote.

In urging the Supreme Court to hear its appeal, the federal government argued that Mr. Brunetti remained free to use and protect his trademark and had lost only the benefits of federal trademark registration, including some advantages in litigation over the validity of the mark.

“The scandalous-marks provision simply reflects Congress’s judgment that the federal government should not affirmatively promote the use of graphic sexual images and vulgar terms by granting them the benefits of registration,” the government’s brief said. The trademark Mr. Brunetti sought to register, the brief said, was “equivalent to the vulgar word for which it is a homonym.”

Some of the marks the office has turned down are pretty vile. “Although we are hesitant to reproduce these marks in a public brief,” the government told the appeals court, “we think it is important that the court have the context that only concrete examples can provide.”

The government has not yet provided the Supreme Court with those examples, probably because the justices try to keep their distance from vulgar terms and images.

In 2008 and 2012, when the Supreme Court heard arguments over the use of curse words on broadcast television, the court’s clerk sent word to the lawyers that they were not to use them. When the justices hear Mr. Brunetti’s case this spring, it is likely that the trademark he seeks to register will go unmentioned.


U.S. Policy on Russia? Trump and His Team Might Give Different Answers

President Trump with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia during a joint news conference in Finland in July.CreditCreditDoug Mills/The New York Times


WASHINGTON — After Russian forces seized three Ukrainian ships in November and threatened to turn the Sea of Azov into a Russian lake, Trump administration officials outlined possible responses like imposing additional sanctions, sending ships to make port calls or deploying monitors.

Two months later, President Trump has not taken significant action despite widespread support within his administration, nor have the European allies. In Moscow, President Vladimir V. Putin’s Kremlin, rather than being deterred, has grown so emboldened that it is talking again about dismantling Ukraine as an independent state.

Mr. Trump’s approach toward Russia has attracted fresh attention with recent reports that the F.B.I. in 2017 opened a counterintelligence investigation into whether the president was acting on Russia’s behalf, that he has gone to unusual lengths to conceal the details of his meetings with Mr. Putin and that he threatened to pull out of NATO. The president’s lawyer revealed on Sunday that Mr. Trump’s proposed skyscraper in Moscow was under discussion all the way through the November 2016 election.

Mr. Trump has adamantly insisted that there was “no collusion” with Moscow during his campaign and that he has never worked for Russia. He regularly tries to dispel suspicions by declaring that he has done more to counter Russian aggression than other recent presidents have. “I have been FAR tougher on Russia than Obama, Bush or Clinton,” he wrote on Twitter a week ago.

He has a point. His administration has taken actions that went beyond those of his most recent predecessors, including sanctions, diplomatic expulsions and increased military support for Eastern Europe. His administration has supplied Ukraine with defensive weapons that President Barack Obama refused to provide and announced that it would scrap a nuclear arms treaty in retaliation for Russian cheating.

Yet in at least some of those cases, according to current and former administration officials, Mr. Trump has gone along with such actions only reluctantly or under pressure from advisers or Congress. He has left it to subordinates to publicly criticize Russian actions while personally expressing admiration for Mr. Putin and eagerness to be friends. His recent decision to pull out of Syria was seen as a victory for Russia. And as in the latest Ukraine confrontation, he has for now at least given Moscow a pass.

“You see a policy where the government is pursuing one policy and the president is not with that policy,” said Steven Pifer, a former ambassador to Ukraine now at Stanford University. “And although he’s claimed he’s done things that make him tougher than other presidents, my impression is that some of these things he’s done he may not even understand them.”

Seized Ukrainian military vessels in Kerch, Crimea, in November.Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Some analysts more sympathetic to Mr. Trump’s position said other presidents had also tried to maintain friendly relations with leaders of adversarial powers even as their administrations simultaneously applied pressure, a good-cop, bad-cop approach intended to preserve the possibility of improving relations.

“The administration’s policy on Russia — and on China and on North Korea and on Iran — has been tougher than many of his predecessors,” said Danielle Pletka, senior vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

She said Mr. Trump’s critics refused to give him credit for actions that he approved. “The double standard that everything bad that happens is Donald Trump’s fault and everything good that happens is not is not sustainable,” she said.

Mr. Trump came to office intent on improving relations with Moscow, which have deteriorated over the years with Russia’s invasions of Georgia and Ukraine and its annexation of Crimea. In the early days of Mr. Trump’s presidency, his team contemplated lifting some sanctions imposed by Mr. Obama.

But with intelligence reports about Russian interference in the 2016 election on Mr. Trump’s behalf, Republican lawmakers made clear to Mr. Trump that easing pressure was untenable. Indeed, worried that the president would not be tough enough on Russia, Congress passed legislation on nearly unanimous, bipartisan votes mandating further sanctions. Mr. Trump objected and signed the bill only when it was clear any veto would be overridden.

After Russian agents were determined to have poisoned a former Russian spy living in Britain last year, advisers urged Mr. Trump to retaliate. Since the targeted spy had been part of a 2010 spy swap that included others now living in the United States, advisers told Mr. Trump that Russian assassins might already be in America to kill them. Only by taking tough action, he was told, would they be deterred.

Mr. Trump went along and ordered 60 Russian diplomats and intelligence officers out of the country, roughly matching the total expelled by European countries. But afterward he grew angry that he had agreed when he learned that European powers were not each expelling the same number as the United States, only collectively.

Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, said of Mr. Trump, “The one person he’s never said a negative word about is Vladimir Putin.”Erin Schaff for The New York Times

Soon afterward, Mr. Trump’s advisers prepared additional sanctions to respond to Russia’s support for Syria following a chemical weapons attack on civilians. Nikki R. Haley, then the ambassador to the United Nations, even announced the sanctions on television.

But after launching a missile strike against Syrian targets, Mr. Trump opted against sanctions since Moscow did not escalate the conflict. Aides said at the time that he was convinced that Russia had gotten the message and therefore sanctions were unnecessary. Evidently no one told Ms. Haley.

Some veteran Russia policymakers said there was more continuity from Mr. Obama to Mr. Trump than the president’s own public statements might make it seem.

“On balance, I actually support the Trump administration policy toward Russia mostly,” said Michael A. McFaul, who was Mr. Obama’s ambassador to Moscow. “That’s the policy. The problem is, I don’t see any evidence that President Trump supports that policy. On the contrary, he seems to take the exact opposite view.”

Critics argue that Mr. Trump undercuts his administration’s actions by seeming to accept Mr. Putin’s denials of election interference over the reports of his own intelligence agencies. They say he effectively parrots Kremlin talking points by denigrating NATO and endorsing the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

“What is tough about any of the actions that Trump has taken vis-à-vis Vladimir Putin?” asked Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. “He’s an equal-opportunity abuser, Democrats and Republicans. The one person he’s never said a negative word about is Vladimir Putin.”

The White House rejected the criticism. “President Trump has repeatedly made clear he does not and will not tolerate Russian malign activity,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said in an email on Sunday. “He has taken decisive and strong actions against Russia to defend American interests and hold Russia accountable for its behavior, including significant sanctions.”

The Russian Embassy in Washington in March after Mr. Trump ordered 60 Russian diplomats and intelligence officers out of the country.Shawn Thew/EPA, via Shutterstock

A dispute over sanctions on Oleg V. Deripaska, a Russian oligarch close to Mr. Putin, underscores the president’s credibility problem when it comes to Russia. Sanctions on Mr. Deripaska’s aluminum interests generated an immense blowback from alarmed allies in Europe, who argued that the move would jeopardize more than 75,000 workers in Europe’s aluminum industry.

The Treasury Department agreed to ease the sanctions to avoid unintended consequences if Mr. Deripaska reduced his ownership interests. But many in Congress saw it as another nod to Mr. Putin and came close to overturning it with bipartisan votes in both houses last week.

“The big problem with Trump’s policy is that it doesn’t add up,” said Stephen Sestanovich, who served as ambassador to former Soviet republics in the 1990s. “If you have a policy that doesn’t add up, you won’t win support for it. And if nobody supports it, how tough can it really be?”

When it comes to Ukraine, Mr. Trump’s administration has gone further than Mr. Obama’s in some respects. Most prominently, it provided more than 200 Javelin anti-tank missiles plus three dozen launchers last year.

The Javelins, however, have been stored at a base in western Ukraine far from the front lines. The administration has insisted that they were meant as defensive weapons and could be deployed rapidly in case of a new Russian incursion.

The recent naval confrontation in the Kerch Strait has tested Mr. Trump. Nearly two months later, Russia has refused to release the ships or sailors. Mr. Trump canceled a meeting in Buenos Aires with Mr. Putin, then pulled him aside at a summit leaders’ dinner and told him the standoff needed to be solved, aides said.

Administration officials have developed possible responses, including enacting new sanctions, increasing NATO naval presence in the Black Sea, sending allied ships to make calls at Ukrainian ports, deploying NATO or European Union monitors into uncontested Ukrainian territory to serve as a deterrent, and stationing unarmed observers on Ukrainian ships as they transit the Kerch Strait.

So far, Mr. Trump has approved none of these, stymied in part by the Europeans, who have not agreed to a coordinated response. But administration officials said responses were still under consideration. And the American destroyer Donald Cook entered the Black Sea this weekend to make a point to Moscow.

In the meantime, analysts said, American policy remains bifurcated by the disparity of Mr. Trump’s statements and his administration’s actions. “I just see this dichotomy there,” Mr. Pifer said. “I don’t know how it gets resolved.”


Fuller Picture Emerges of Viral Video Between Native American Man and Catholic Students

A teenager and Nathan Phillips, a Native American activist, in Washington on Friday. After one video of their interaction went viral, new ones emerged on Sunday.CreditCreditSocial Media/Reuters


A fuller and more complicated picture emerged on Sunday of the videotaped encounter between a Native American man and a throng of high school boys wearing “Make America Great Again” gear outside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.

Interviews and additional video footage suggest that an explosive convergence of race, religion and ideological beliefs — against a national backdrop of political tension — set the stage for the viral moment. Early video excerpts from the encounter obscured the larger context, inflaming outrage.

Leading up to the encounter on Friday, a rally for Native Americans and other Indigenous people was wrapping up. Dozens of students from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky, who had been in Washington for the March for Life rally, were standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, many of them white and wearing apparel bearing the slogan of President Trump. There were also black men who identified themselves as Hebrew Israelites, preaching their beliefs and shouting racially combative comments at the Native Americans and the students, according to witnesses and video on social media.

Soon, the Native American man, Nathan Phillips, 64, was encircled by an animated group of high school boys. He beat a ceremonial drum as a boy wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat stood inches away. It was a provocative image that rocketed across social media, leading many — including the students’ own school — to condemn the boys’ behavior as disrespectful.

But on Sunday, Mr. Phillips clarified that it was he who had approached the crowd and that he had intervened because racial tensions — primarily between the white students and the black men — were “coming to a boiling point.”

“I stepped in between to pray,” he said.

The encounter became the latest touch point for racial and political tensions in America, with diverging views about what really had happened.

Conservatives and other supporters maintained that the students had been unfairly vilified out of context, while those affiliated with the Indigenous Peoples March said they perceived the combination of the group’s size, behavior and political apparel as threatening.

Mr. Phillips and other demonstrators opposing the Dakota Access oil pipeline near Cannon Ball, N.D., in 2017.Terray Sylvester/Reuters

For some, invoking the name of Mr. Trump — who has made inflammatory comments about Mexicans and Muslims — has become a racially charged taunt, inspiration for hateful graffiti and high school sports cheers alike. Mr. Trump also recently mocked Senator Elizabeth Warren, whom he called “Pocahontas,” with a reference to Wounded Knee and Little Bighorn, sacred ground for Native Americans whose ancestors fought and died there.

It did not go unnoticed that Friday’s episode took place at the same location where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his most famous address, calling for an end to racism in the United States.

But there was little resolution on Sunday.

By then, thousands of people had signed an online petition started by a graduate of the school to remove its principal, while in some circles Mr. Phillips was cast as a professional activist engaged in a publicity stunt. The principal, Bob Rowe, could not be reached on Sunday.

In a joint statement on Saturday, Covington Catholic High School and the Diocese of Covington apologized to Mr. Phillips and said they were investigating. “We will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion,” the statement said. A spokeswoman for the diocese did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

In a statement on Saturday, the president of the March for Life, Jeanne Mancini, distanced herself from the students, saying that “the pro-life movement at its core is a movement of love.”

“Such behavior is not welcome at the March for Life and never will be,” she said.

It was unclear who supervised the students from Covington Catholic High School or whether adult chaperones were present during the episode in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

In a lengthy video posted to YouTube, the Hebrew Israelites shouted insults at Native Americans and the high school students. One of the men, Shar Yaqataz Banyamyan, denied in a Facebook video that his group had been instigators.

On Sunday night, Mr. Banyamyan said that their words had been misconstrued as hateful and that they, in fact, were being mocked by the students.

“I know we seem aggressive reading the Bible, but the Bible states for us to cry aloud and don’t spare anybody’s feelings,” he said. “We’re not violent or ignorant.”

Students from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky were in Washington on a field trip to rally at the March for Life.Bryan Woolston/Associated Press

In a statement to a Cincinnati news station, Local 12, a Covington Catholic student, who was not identified, said that he and the other boys sang a school cheer “to pass time” while waiting for their buses. He said Mr. Phillips approached in what they thought was a “cultural display,” so they clapped along.

“We did not partake in any physical or verbal abuse,” the statement said.

A parent of a Covington Catholic sophomore, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of safety concerns for his family, said his son, who attended the event, said the students were shouting school chants to drown out harassment from the black men. When it worked, the students were “hyped up and high-fiving each other,” he said.

The parent and the student’s statement denied that the students chanted about building a wall at the border with Mexico, as Mr. Phillips has said. But in an interview on Sunday, Chase Iron Eyes, a spokesman for the Indigenous Peoples Movement, which organized the march, said he had also heard chants of “build that wall,” a rallying cry of supporters of Mr. Trump.

Marcus Frejo, an Indigenous hip-hop artist who is also known as Quese Imc, said he was standing with a friend near the black men when tensions flickered. He said he was worried “something ugly” was going to happen.

Around that time, he said, Mr. Phillips approached, asking to borrow a drum. Together, they headed into the center of the students, creating a sort of prayer circle. They sang what he said was a well-known spiritual song associated with the American Indian Movement of the 1960s and used for prayer and resistance.

In separate interviews, Mr. Frejo and Mr. Phillips said they heard the students making noises that seemed to mock Native American chanting. But Mr. Frejo also said he heard some of the students sing along. “Regardless of their ignorance and bigotry,” he said, the “spirits moved through them.”

Moments later, the group of students disbanded. But to many, the interaction — and the disparate way it was perceived — reflected the national mood.

Mr. Frejo, who works with youths to prevent suicide and alcohol abuse, saw this as “a teachable moment” to help show what can happen when you push past anger and hatred.

“We chose to go over there,” he said, “to sing a song to hopefully change something.”


In Business and Governing, Trump Seeks Victory in Chaos

Donald J. Trump at the Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City in 1990. People who worked with him before he was elected said they saw several parallels between Mr. Trump the businessman and Mr. Trump the steward of the country’s longest government shutdown.CreditCreditÁngel Franco/The New York Times


Three decades ago, Donald J. Trump waged a public battle with the talk show host Merv Griffin to take control of what would become Mr. Trump’s third Atlantic City casino. Executives at Mr. Trump’s company warned that the casino would siphon revenue from the others. Analysts predicted the associated debt would crush him.

The naysayers would be proved right, but throughout the turmoil Mr. Trump fixated on just one outcome: declaring himself a winner and Mr. Griffin a loser.

As president, Mr. Trump has displayed a similar fixation in his standoff with Congress over leveraging a government shutdown to gain funding for a wall on the Mexican border. As he did during decades in business, Mr. Trump has insulted adversaries, undermined his aides, repeatedly changed course, extolled his primacy as a negotiator and induced chaos.

“He hasn’t changed at all,” said Jack O’Donnell, who ran a casino for Mr. Trump in the 1980s and wrote a book about it. “And it’s only people who have been around him through the years who realize that.”

Mr. Trump briefly seemed to follow a more conventional approach for a president seeking consensus: encouraging his party leaders in Congress to negotiate a deal. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, shepherded a compromise in December that would have kept the government open and put off negotiations over a wall and other border security measures.

Mr. Trump was expected to sign off on the deal, but then came the suggestion from conservative critics that he had caved in to Democrats — that he was a loser. It was a perception Mr. Trump could not bear, and he quickly reversed course.

He also reverted to lifelong patterns in business. People who worked with him during those years say they see multiple parallels between Mr. Trump the businessman and Mr. Trump the steward of the country’s longest government shutdown.

His lack of public empathy for unpaid federal workers echoes his treatment of some construction workers, contractors and lawyers whom he refused to pay for their work on his real estate projects. The plight of the farmers and small-business owners wilting without the financial support pledged by his administration harks back to the multiple lenders and investors who financed Mr. Trump’s business ventures only to come up shortchanged.

And his ever-changing positions (I’ll own the shutdown; you own the shutdown; the wall could be steel; it must be concrete; then again, it could be steel) have left heads in both parties spinning. Even after his televised proposal on Saturday to break the deadlock, Mr. Trump has no progress to show.

“I think he was always a terrible negotiator,” said Tony Schwartz, co-author with Mr. Trump of “The Art of The Deal.”

That book, published in 1987, was intended to be an autobiography of Mr. Trump, who was 41 at the time. Mr. Schwartz said that he created the idea of Mr. Trump as a great deal maker as a literary device to give the book a unifying theme. He said he came to regret the contribution as he watched Mr. Trump seize on the label to sell himself as something he was not — a solver of complicated problems.

Federal employees and their supporters rallied outside the White House this month. President Trump’s lack of public empathy for unpaid federal workers echoes his treatment of some construction workers, contractors and lawyers whom he refused to pay for their work on his real estate projects.Leigh Vogel for The New York Times

Rather, Mr. Schwartz said, Mr. Trump’s “virtue” in negotiating was his relentlessness and lack of concern for anything but claiming victory.

“If you don’t care what the collateral damage you create is, then you have a potential advantage,” he said. “He used a hammer, deceit, relentlessness and an absence of conscience as a formula for getting what he wanted.”

In a brief telephone interview on Sunday, Mr. Trump was not specific in defending his tactics, but he described himself as successful in his chosen fields of real estate, entertainment and finally politics. “I ran for office once and I won,” Mr. Trump said.

The president’s supporters say he gets an unfair rap as a poor negotiator, saying that his style and unusual approach — and unwillingness to accept defeat even in the worst situations — have often had positive results. And in a Washington that doesn’t like outsiders, he has clearly forced his adversaries out of their comfort zones.

“President Trump’s success in business has translated into success as president,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said. “He’s ignited a booming economy with rising wages and historically low unemployment, negotiated better trade deals, persuaded our allies to contribute their fair share to NATO, and secured the release of American hostages around the world.”

Representative Peter King, Republican of Long Island, said that even as Mr. Trump’s personal popularity had taken a hit during the shutdown, public support for his stated ambition — the border wall — had grown.

“Having the bad hand that he dealt himself at the beginning, I think he’s making the best of it, better than anybody else could,” Mr. King said. “Only he would have the stamina, the determination to just keep going.”

One example of that stamina — seen by others as evidence of unreliability — recounted in Mr. O’Donnell’s book, “Trumped! The Inside Story of the Real Donald Trump — His Cunning Rise and Spectacular Fall,” written with James Rutherford, involved the construction of an exclusive lounge at the top of a casino.

Mr. Trump liked very high ceilings, according to the account. He screamed and cursed when he was told some ceilings had to be low to allow for pipes. He begrudgingly acquiesced. But he had forgotten by the time he next visited the construction site. He cursed again. Was reminded again. To the bewilderment of his executives, that cycle repeated itself several times.

Finally, toward the end of construction, Mr. Trump reamed an executive with vulgarities, leapt up and punched a hole in one of the low ceilings. “After that day,” Mr. O’Donnell wrote, “Donald never set foot inside it again if he could help it.”

In recent weeks, Mr. Trump has similarly laced into his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney.

Mr. Mulvaney pursued a rather standard tactic in ending the impasse over border security and a wall: He tried to find middle ground between the $1.3 billion to which Democrats had once agreed, and the president’s demand for $5.7 billion. But upon learning of Mr. Mulvaney’s efforts, Mr. Trump snarled in front of a crowded room that Mr. Mulvaney had messed “it all up” (using a vulgarity, according to two White House officials familiar with the remark.)

Ivana Trump in front of the Plaza Hotel in 1987. Jared Kushner, right, at the White House last year.Joe McNally/Getty Images; Doug Mills/The New York Times

“We are getting crushed!” Mr. Trump told Mr. Mulvaney, after watching television coverage of the shutdown.

During his years in business, Mr. Trump earned a reputation as someone whose word meant very little. When a commitment he made no longer made sense, he walked away, often blaming the other party with a fantastical line of reasoning.

To win financing from Deutsche Bank to build a Trump Hotel in Chicago, for example, Mr. Trump personally guaranteed $40 million of the debt. When he could not make his payments during the 2008 financial crisis, Deutsche Bank executives were open to granting him more time to repay the loan, a person briefed on negotiations later recalled.

But before a compromise could be reached, Mr. Trump flipped the script. He filed a lawsuit and argued that the bank had helped cause the worldwide financial meltdown that essentially rendered Mr. Trump unable to make his debt payments. At the time, Deutsche Bank called the lawsuit “classic Trump.”

The bank eventually settled with Mr. Trump, saving him from having to pay the $40 million. Mr. Trump expressed his gratitude to the lawyer who fought on his behalf by not fully paying his bill. “He left me with some costs,” said the lawyer, Steven Schlesinger.

From the time he built his first Manhattan apartment building, Mr. Trump left a string of unpaid tabs for the people who worked for him.

The undocumented Polish workers who did the demolition work for that first building, Trump Tower, eventually won a $1.375 million settlement. Since then, scores of lawyers, contractors, engineers and waiters have sued Mr. Trump for unpaid bills or pay. Typically, he responds by asserting that their work did not meet his standard.

That might sound familiar to furloughed federal workers. Mr. Trump recently retweeted an article, attributed to an anonymous senior official in his administration, arguing that 80 percent of federal workers do “nothing of external value” and that “furloughed employees should find other work, never return and not be paid.”

Mr. Trump has claimed, without evidence, that “maybe most” federal workers going without pay are “the biggest fan” of his use of the shutdown to fund a border wall. In ordering thousands back to work without pay, he has put the pain for the shutdown on them.

Mr. Trump has also embraced his business practice of giving the most latitude and trust to family members, no matter their prior experience.

He put his first wife, Ivana, a model, in charge of an Atlantic City casino and the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. He put his younger brother, Robert, who had some background in corporate finance, in senior positions at the casinos. Not long after three of his children graduated from college, he vested authority in them over golf courses, hotels and licensing deals.

Merv Griffin during the taping of his final show in Los Angeles in 1986. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, right, appearing on a television screen in the Capitol this month.Doug Pizac/Associated Press; Pete Marovich for The New York Times

In the White House, Mr. Trump has increasingly leaned on his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, for guidance on dealing with Congress amid the current stalemate. Mr. Kushner, who like Mr. Trump is the son of a wealthy real estate developer, has not always impressed old hands on Capitol Hill.

He began some early conversations by saying that Democrats would need to yield because his father-in-law would not budge, a statement that lawmakers found naïve, according to Democrats familiar with the remarks.

With Democrats now in charge of the House of Representatives, Mr. Trump also has a new set of adversaries, and other old habits from his years in business have re-emerged.

Through his Twitter feed, he has verbally pummeled Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, and tried to drive a wedge between Mr. Schumer and his fellow Democrat, Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Barbara Res, who said she enjoyed much about working for Mr. Trump as a construction executive in the 1980s and 1990s, sees in Ms. Pelosi a new challenge to Mr. Trump’s lifelong tactics. One blind spot she observed was that Mr. Trump “believes he’s better than anyone who ever lived” and saw even the most capable of women as easy to run over.

“But there was never a woman with power that he ran up against, until Pelosi,” she said. “And he doesn’t know what to do with it. He’s totally in a corner.”

In the interview, Mr. Trump described Ms. Res, Mr. O’Donnell and Mr. Schwartz as disgruntled workers whom he had shunted aside, who had experience with him for relatively brief periods and who were simply using his name for attention.

During his years in business, Mr. Trump rarely displayed an interest in details or expert opinions that might have informed whether his plans would actually work. That pattern has also emerged in the shutdown dispute.

Thirty years ago, his claimed defeat of Mr. Griffin turned out to be a Pyrrhic victory.

Within months of completing construction on his third casino, the Trump Taj Mahal, he could not pay interest to the bondholders who had financed the project. Having overpaid and overleveraged himself on other deals, banks forced him to turnover or sell almost everything.

His wealthy father helped bail him out. But Mr. Trump blamed everyone else. He fired nearly all his top executives and stopped paying contractors who had built the casino.

In describing the border wall, Mr. Trump has expressed unending confidence in its efficacy. Others, including Representative Will Hurd, a Republican whose Texas district includes part of the border with Mexico, have described it as a tall speed bump, nearly useless without technology to spot illegal crossings immediately and dispatch border agents to quickly respond.

Mr. O’Donnell, the casino manager, said long-term consequences never concerned Mr. Trump. He was always willing to pay too much in order to get a deal signed so he could declare victory, he said.

“He just wants to get the deal,” Mr. O’Donnell said.


Book by Former Staff Member Describes a White House ‘Out of Control’

Cliff Sims, a former communications staff member and Trump loyalist, is one of the few people to attach his name to descriptions of goings-on at the White House that are not always flattering to President Trump.CreditCreditDoug Mills/The New York Times


John F. Kelly, as White House chief of staff, presented himself as the man leading a charge of “country first, president second.” The attorney general suggested administering lie-detector tests to the small group of people with access to transcripts of the president’s calls with foreign leaders. And President Trump sought a list of “enemies” working in the White House communications shop.

Those are some of the portraits of the Trump White House sprinkled throughout “Team of Vipers,” an inside account of working there written by Cliff Sims, a former communications staff member and Trump loyalist who worked on the campaign.

A White House spokeswoman declined to comment on the book.

The book, which will be published at the end of January, describes a nest of back-stabbing and duplicity within the West Wing, a narrative by now familiar from other books and news media reports. But Mr. Sims, who left last year after clashing with Mr. Kelly, is one of the few people to attach his name to descriptions of goings-on at the White House that are not always flattering to Mr. Trump, and many of the scenes are not particularly flattering to anyone, including himself.

“It’s impossible to deny how absolutely out of control the White House staff — again, myself included — was at times,” Mr. Sims writes.

The president often comes across as unfamiliar with Washington and stymied by aspects of the job. According to Mr. Sims, Mr. Trump was unsettled by the condition of the West Wing, which he found dilapidated. He delighted in giving tours of the Oval Office, down to the private bathroom and the small study he converted to a dining room with a television on the wall. He explained in detail to aides how important the chyrons on television are, because so many people consume programs muted.

The book does not always present the president in a negative light, describing an emotional reaction by Mr. Trump to the first death of a service member during his presidency.

Its descriptions of Mr. Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, defy the public perception of their marriage. Mr. Sims paints Mrs. Trump as protective of her husband as it related to his staff. In the book, he recalls the first lady calling the president to complain about a Politico article about his first communications director and suggesting that Mr. Trump needed to try to get rid of him.

But Mr. Sims also describes painfully awkward interactions with Paul D. Ryan, the former speaker of the House, during efforts to repeal the health care law and after the Charlottesville white nationalist riots. During the legislative discussions, according to Mr. Sims, Mr. Trump abruptly left the Oval Office during a meeting with Mr. Ryan to watch television in the adjacent dining room, before returning some moments later.

When Mr. Ryan expressed displeasure with the president’s statements after the Charlottesville riots, Mr. Trump called Mr. Ryan, Mr. Sims writes.

“I remember being in Wisconsin and your own people were booing you,” Mr. Trump yelled, recalling Mr. Ryan distancing himself from Mr. Trump after the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape emerged in October 2016. “You were out there dying like a dog, Paul. Like a dog!”

Feuds and chaos among the staff occupy much of the book.

For instance, Mr. Sims describes his part in propelling Anthony Scaramucci to the role of communications director, suggesting in internal conversations that it was a wise idea.

Mr. Scaramucci ended up getting fired after 11 days, but not before he served the purpose that Mr. Trump’s family had hoped he would, Mr. Sims writes. Mr. Scaramucci helped accelerate the end of the tenure of Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff. In another scene, Mr. Sims describes the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, explaining to Mr. Trump that little could be done about a journalist he did not care for when he asked why the person could not be “suspended.”

In one scene, Mr. Sims describes Mr. Trump’s top policy adviser, Stephen Miller, openly undermining his onetime ally, Stephen K. Bannon, as Mr. Miller appealed to Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner. Mr. Miller described Mr. Bannon as “leaking” to reporters.

Some White House officials have expressed concern about the book, as they have with others that have been written. Those officials have suggested that Mr. Sims either was in meetings he did not belong in — a claim he addresses in the book — or was not in as many as he claimed to be.

But like other accounts of the Trump White House written by former staff members or journalists, the narrative and anecdotes support much of the real-time reporting about the administration. Mr. Sims also writes that leaks by various staff members have been in service of creating specific portraits of events or undermining rivals. They have not always portrayed the full truth, he suggests.


McConnell and Pelosi Have a Fraught Relationship. The Shutdown Hasn’t Helped.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi are ideological opposites but two of the capital’s most experienced deal makers.CreditCreditAl Drago for The New York Times


WASHINGTON — As the reality of divided government sank in the day after the midterm elections, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican who had just expanded his majority, held out hope that he and incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi would find a way to get things done despite their deep differences.

“We’re not unfamiliar with each other,” Mr. McConnell told reporters in November, recounting their time working together on spending bills, “and we’ll probably have a lot more dealings with each other in the future.”

Those dealings are off to a terrible start. A significant portion of the government remains shut down, angry accusations of irresponsibility are flying and the prospects of finding a quick solution to the crisis — or of coming together to pass significant legislation when it ends — remain grim.

Now, with Mr. McConnell making his first significant legislative overture to break the stalemate on Sunday, the outcome might rest on the capacity of Ms. Pelosi and Mr. McConnell to find a way to bridge the divide between them, their parties and the White House.

The two congressional leaders are ideological opposites who are two of the capital’s most experienced deal makers, yet to this point each has mainly called on the other to relent.

“They come from very different universes,” said Antonia Ferrier, a former top aide to Mr. McConnell who also worked in the House for the Republican leader John A. Boehner.

Ms. Pelosi says the Senate should allow votes on House-passed measures to reopen government agencies; Mr. McConnell says Democrats should support border-protection measures they have backed in the past — including those in the president’s offer on Saturday that would extend temporary protections for thousands of young immigrants at risk of deportation in exchange for wall funding. Mr. McConnell is intending toput on the Senate floor this week a plan that would immediately reopen the government, impose the deportation protections, provide the president’s wall money and offer other sweeteners for Democrats.

Mr. McConnell has tried to turn up the pressure on Ms. Pelosi in recent days — with little success — in a series of speeches on the Senate floor, accusing the “very distinguished congresswoman from San Francisco” of playing to her party’s left wing with her description of the wall as an immorality.

Ms. Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader. The shutdown has overshadowed Democrats’ legislative agenda.Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

“These days, it seems like Democrats are happy to take their cues from the gentle lady from San Francisco and her extreme, fringe position that walls have now become immoral,” Mr. McConnell said in a typical rebuke to the newly restored speaker.

In a phone call with the president before Saturday’s proposal announcement, Mr. McConnell encouraged Mr. Trump to extend the offer with temporary immigration protections as a way to reach out to Ms. Pelosi and other Democrats with a more appealing overture, according to a person familiar with the call who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a private conversation.

Ms. Pelosi has argued that it is Mr. Trump’s intransigence — and Mr. McConnell’s refusal to allow a vote on House bills that would reopen the government but not fund a border wall, despite the Senate’s passage of such a measure last month — that is putting the nation at risk.

“The president’s insistence on the wall is a luxury the country can no longer afford,” Ms. Pelosi said on Thursday.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, suggested that Mr. McConnell was “way out to lunch” in trying to place responsibility for the shutdown on Ms. Pelosi. Her allies in the House say the speaker is hardly the sort to wilt under Mr. McConnell’s attacks.

“The bottom line is Pelosi is showing some leadership over here,” Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts and chairman of the Rules Committee, said last week. “McConnell is behaving like a coward. He is afraid to take on Trump.”

As longtime party leaders, Ms. Pelosi and Mr. McConnell have history with each other, much of it not good given their divergent ideologies. Ms. Pelosi was a harsh critic of the 2017 tax law that Mr. McConnell championed. They have also clashed bitterly over the Affordable Care Act and the economic stimulus program enacted by Democrats under Ms. Pelosi’s stewardship during the first years of President Barack Obama’s administration despite Mr. McConnell rallying his party in near blanket opposition to the Democratic agenda.

Ms. Pelosi, in a television interview last year, characterized Mr. McConnell’s 2010 claim that his top priority was to make Mr. Obama a one-term president as a “racist statement.” The criticism irritated Mr. McConnell, who prides himself on his civil rights record and history. Ms. Pelosi’s office said she did not refer to Mr. McConnell himself as racist, but the comment still rankles the senator and his team.

As the parties clashed over the shutdown, Mr. McConnell threw more fuel on the fire last week with an op-ed article in The Washington Post assailing the ethics and election overhaul legislation that Democrats proudly designated H.R. 1 to emphasize its centrality to the party’s image and agenda. Mr. McConnell belittled the package as a power grab and “a naked attempt to change the rules of American politics to benefit one party.”

Ms. Pelosi and Mr. McConnell managed to work together in the past to produce spending measures covering foreign operations when they served as top members of the relevant appropriations subcommittees in the House and Senate nearly two decades ago. During the economic collapse of 2008, Mr. McConnell called Ms. Pelosi “extraordinary” in negotiating an economic recovery package embraced by both parties to calm the crisis, and she praised his leadership as well.

A spokesman for Ms. Pelosi said that the relationship between the two was strictly business and that much more of Ms. Pelosi’s time was dedicated to working with Mr. Schumer and Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House Republican leader.

Ms. Pelosi has ignored Mr. McConnell’s attacks, and Democrats do not believe they are doing much damage. She has instead focused her own efforts on pinning the shutdown on Mr. Trump, and suggested that he delay his State of the Union address scheduled for this month. He retaliated by canceling a military flight she intended to take to visit American troops in Afghanistan.

Democrats had planned to use their new power center on Capitol Hill to showcase their legislative priorities. But the shutdown fight is instead consuming Congress and putting in serious doubt any possibilities for initiatives on a new North American trade deal, a plan to lower drug prices and a long-sought public works bill, among other proposals with some bipartisan underpinning. Not to mention the fact that Congress needs to raise the federal debt limit this spring.

“I hope this is the low-water mark, and not the high-water mark,” said Representative Will Hurd of Texas, one of the few Republicans who have consistently joined Democrats in voting to reopen the government. “If this is an indication of how every particular issue is going to be, then divided government is going to be pretty rough on both sides.”

While Democrats are not advancing their planned agenda at the moment, they believe the shutdown is significantly harming Mr. Trump, with public opinion polls showing him getting most of the blame. Senate Republicans also take solace in the fact that polls show they are not being held accountable, one of the reasons Mr. McConnell has kept his distance from the fight.

Despite the lack of legislative activity, members of both parties still hope they can get back on track once the shutdown is resolved, with a public works bill considered the top bipartisan possibility.

“Infrastructure is not and should not be a partisan issue,” said Representative Peter A. DeFazio, Democrat of Oregon and chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “There is substantial agreement that it needs to be done. Once we can put this behind us, we can apply ourselves to doing a real infrastructure bill.”

Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, said common ground could be reached. “I mean, we’ll figure something out — we always do,” he said. “We passed the criminal justice reform bill that got, what, 80-plus votes in the midst of all this polarization, so we’ll figure something out. Don’t despair.”


Fate of Confederate Monuments Stalled by Competing Legal Battles

Protesters rallied in support of a Confederate statue in Winston-Salem, N.C.CreditCreditAllison Lee Isley/The Winston-Salem Journal, via Associated Press


Randall L. Woodfin, the 37-year-old mayor of Birmingham, Ala., made an unlikely sales pitch the other day after glancing toward some black-and-white photos of his city’s segregated past.

A 52-foot-tall Confederate monument, a sandstone obelisk erected in 1905 and within sight of City Hall, is available, he said. For free.

“Any Confederate museum that wants this thing can have it,” Mr. Woodfin said in an interview at City Hall. “I’ll give it to them right now. Hell, I’m even willing to give them whatever they need to get it to them.”

But Mr. Woodfin, and the State of Alabama, know such a transfer would not be without political and legal consequences. Almost 154 years after the end of the Civil War, the country is still quarreling — in state capitols and courtrooms, on college campuses and around town squares — over how, or whether, to commemorate the side that lost.

Those stubborn debates bubbled up again this month in Winston-Salem and Chapel Hill, N.C., and in Birmingham, among the most progressive parts of a region that has struggled to reconcile its history with its modern ambitions.

“This is one of America’s most important conversations. In many ways, we have only begun to talk critically about the landscape that has existed in this country for a very long time that romanticizes the era of the slavery and the role of the Confederacy,” said Bryan Stevenson, the leading force behind the newly built National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Ala.

Critics of Confederate monuments have won dramatic victories that were almost inconceivable a decade ago: the lowering of the battle flag outside the South Carolina State House, the removals of four of New Orleans’s towering statues, the renaming of city streets in Atlanta and Hollywood, Fla.

But some states have rushed to shield Confederate tributes from removal. More than 1,700 “publicly sponsored symbols” of the Confederacy remain, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. A new protection proposal, brought by Mike Hill, a Republican state representative in Florida, is pending in the Legislature there.

And even as dozens of Confederate statues have been unearthed and hauled away from parks and other public grounds, many others are being quietly discovered. The list of Confederate symbols newly identified or counted now outnumbers the ones that have been removed, a S.P.L.C. study shows.

In Florida, Mr. Hill among the leaders of a rally in Pensacola against the proposed removal of a cross on public grounds in June 2017 when he made the decision: if elected to the state House of Representatives, he would work to strengthen memorial protections.

Two months later, after the mayor called for the removal of a 50-foot Confederate monument on Lee Square, Mr. Hill said his mission grew more urgent. So in his first act after his 2018 election victory, Mr. Hill filed a bill making it illegal to remove “remembrances” on public property erected on or after 1822 except for repairs — or relocation to an equally prominent place.

The third-generation veteran said the bill is designed to protect the monuments, memorials and flags that honor soldiers and veterans — including those that fought in the Civil War.

As an African-American, Mr. Hill knows he is at odds with the traditional argument for removing Confederate symbols from public spaces, personally rejecting the idea they are hurtful.

“Our history is what makes us up as a people. We can learn from the ugly parts so that it can never happen again,” said Mr. Hill, who founded one of Florida’s Tea Party chapters. “Tearing down a monument does not create unity; it actually creates more division.”

In North Carolina, yet another chapter of the Confederate monuments battle is exploding, in a booming city and on a picturesque college campus some 75 miles apart.

On Monday, the chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ordered the removal of the remains of the toppled “Silent Sam” Confederate monument off the college grounds for community safety — and, announced her resignation. Chancellor Carol L. Folt, who just months ago officially apologized of behalf of the university for the “profound injustices of slavery,” planned to retire in the spring after graduation.

The base for a Confederate statue known as “Silent Sam” was removed from the campus of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., on Tuesday.Julia Wall/The News & Observer, via Associated Press

Shocked by the surprise announcement, the U.N.C. System Board of Governors, pushed her leave up to the end of January. Ms. Folt had requested the removal of the statue’s base, which included plaques memorializing university students who fought for the Confederacy.

The final resting place for “Silent Sam,” whose status has been complicated by state law, remains unsettled, but officials hope to announce a plan by March. The bronze soldier, unveiled in 1913, was toppled by protesters last summer.

And in December, the city of Winston-Salem ordered the removal of a statue of a Confederate soldier in the city’s downtown to a nearby cemetery where 36 Confederate soldiers are buried. In a letter to the North Carolina Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the owners of the statue, the city attorney cast the move as in public safety issue based on recent vandalism and the potential for violent confrontations.

The city is considering legal action if the statue is not moved by Jan. 31. The United Daughters of the Confederacy has vowed to fight back, calling the city’s demand “heavy-handed” and “dishonorable” in a statement. The statue was erected in 1905 on the old courthouse grounds, property now privately owned. The current landowner also wants the statue removed.

“I know there are strong issues on both sides of this issue, people who want it there because of history,’” Mayor Allen Joines said. “On the other hand, this monument represents oppression and the subjugation of a people and I know that’s hurtful.”

North Carolina’s struggle has not yet devolved into a legal battle, but Birmingham’s Confederate obelisk, shunned by the mayor, has. In 2017, Alabama enacted a law that forbade memorials to be “relocated, removed, altered, renamed or otherwise disturbed” if they had stood on public property for at least 40 years.

Then came the violence in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, and Mr. Woodfin’s predecessor as mayor, William A. Bell Sr., ordered that the base of the towering Confederate monument be shrouded in plywood. The state promptly sued to protect it, and asked that Birmingham be fined $25,000 a day.

Last Monday night, Judge Michael G. Graffeo, of the Circuit Court in Jefferson County, struck down the statute. Under the law, Judge Graffeo wrote, “the people of Birmingham cannot win.”

“No matter how much they lobby city officials, the state has placed a thumb on the scale for a pro-Confederacy message, and the people, acting through their city, will never be able to dissociate themselves from that message entirely,” the judge wrote.

The judge’s order, which the state is expected to appeal, sparked a refreshed furor in Alabama over what should come of monuments.

The sponsor of the embattled legislation, Senator Gerald Allen, a Republican from Tuscaloosa County, said in a statement that the law was “meant to thoughtfully preserve the entire story of Alabama’s history for future generations.” And he harshly criticized Judge Graffeo.

“Judges are not kings, and judicial activism is no substitute for the democratic process,” said Mr. Allen, who, in a 2016 interview with The New York Times, argued that it was “important that we tell the story of what has happened in this country because that’s what shaped and molded us as a nation.”

A spokesman for Attorney General Steven T. Marshall, whose office brought the case against Birmingham in August 2017, did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Woodfin, who defeated Mr. Bell within months of the Charlottesville attack and the Alabama lawsuit, is weary of a broader fight that he argued should have been settled long ago. A deepening legal battle with the state, he suggested, was unhelpful and disappointing.

“In my mind, this is the opposite of moving forward,” he said. “The statue was erected well post-Civil War, in a city that was founded after the Civil War. To me, it seemed like it was intentionally sending a signal to the public about revisionist history, and a message to what did exist, even if it was wrong.”

The monument, which was originally dedicated by a Birmingham area chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, is hardly the only challenge.

On Monday, state offices will be closed throughout Alabama. The government will be marking the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

And Robert E. Lee.


Trump’s Deal Meets With Skepticism Among Immigrants in Texas

Marcos Valdez, 3, gets his hair cut on Saturday at the D & H Beauty Salon, a favorite among immigrants in San Antonio. His mother is covered by the DACA program for immigrants who entered the country illegally as children.CreditCreditIlana Panich-Linsman for The New York Times


SAN ANTONIO — Donald J. Trump got Brenda Hernandez’s hopes up in 2016 when he indicated that he had a heart for young undocumented immigrants like her, who were brought into the country by their parents. But her hopes were dashed when Mr. Trump became president and ordered an end to the federal program known as DACA that shields her from deportation.

After the president’s latest announcement on Saturday — that he was proposing to end the standoff over the partial government shutdown by, among other things, temporarily extending that shield — Ms. Hernandez just shrugged.

“I don’t trust Trump — I don’t believe him,” she said as she hoisted her 3-year-old son onto a swivel chair at the H & D Beauty Salon in San Antonio. The blue-collar shop, with rows of wooden chairs in the waiting area, is a favorite among immigrants in the city. But in the hours after Mr. Trump’s White House address, his latest offer of an immigration deal was finding little support.

In exchange for $5.7 billion to erect a barrier along the border with Mexico, Mr. Trump said he would agree to extend protection for three years for the roughly 800,000 immigrants who benefit from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which covers people brought into the country illegally as children. The president held out the hope of similar relief for 300,000 immigrants living in the United States with temporary protected status, known as T.P.S., after fleeing earthquakes and other disasters in their own countries.

“I am here today to break the logjam and provide Congress with a path forward to end the government shutdown and solve the crisis along the southern border,” Mr. Trump said, calling his offer “a common-sense compromise both parties can embrace.”

But many of the clients waiting their turn for a $6 haircut or shave at the H & D salon, in a strip mall in the northern part of the city, greeted Mr. Trump’s announcement with skepticism, if not downright indifference. Most expressed deep reservations about a border wall, deeming it a waste of money.

Eliseo Castillo, 60, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, said an extension of DACA’s protections from deportation, and its offer of work permits, could benefit his 26-year-old son. He said his son had relied on the program for years to get a driver’s license and a job and to live without the fear that even a minor misstep, like driving with a broken taillight, could land him in deportation proceedings.

But Mr. Castillo, a construction contractor who relies on a steady flow of workers from Latin America, said he wondered what would happen to his business if a reinforced border wall halted the flow of workers. He said he is already having trouble hiring enough laborers.

“The fact is, there is not an American who wants to mix cement, do carpentry and heavy work,” said Mr. Castillo, who employs 18 people to lay down foundations for houses in San Antonio’s expansive subdivisions.

Mr. Castillo, who wears cowboy boots and bluejeans and keeps his silver hair in a braid, has called Texas home since the 1980s. But he harbors no illusions about legalizing his status, at least as long as Mr. Trump holds the highest office in the land.

Waiting his turn for a haircut in paint-splattered trousers that gave away how he earns his living, Jose Ramos, 63, a naturalized American born in Mexico, said he had no faith that Mr. Trump, whose “favorite sport is blaming immigrants for everything, which is not right,” would ever keep his word.

“This isn’t a deal,” Mr. Ramos said. “Trump is just offering to give back what he already took away.”

President Trump offered on Saturday to extend temporary protection for about one million immigrants at risk of deportation if Congress would agree to provide money for a border wall.Tom Brenner for The New York Times

Democrats in Washington have criticized the president for offering to extend DACA and T.P.S. protections, when it was he who had ordered those protections revoked. Some have called the offer a nonstarter because it did not include any long-term solutions, like a path to permanent legal status or citizenship for DACA recipients, who are known as Dreamers.

But many people in San Antonio never had much faith that such solutions were even possible with Mr. Trump as president.

Indeed, some in the city wonder how much the president knows about the border.

Speaking with reporters on Saturday, Mr. Trump cited the city as a place that had benefited from building a border barrier. “You look at San Antonio, you look at so many different places, they go from one of the most unsafe cities in the country to one of the safest cities, immediately, immediately,” he said.

But San Antonio is 150 miles from the border, and has no wall.

Alicia Alaniz, 47, the stylist working at station 7 in the salon, rolled her eyes and said that the only thing she could agree with in Mr. Trump’s statement was the notion that the immigration system was “broken.”

“We need immigration reform — it would benefit the country and everyone who lives here,” said Ms. Alaniz, a legal permanent resident who emigrated from Mexico. People just want to work the right way, and support this country that has brought them many blessings.”

President Obama introduced DACA in June 2012 as a temporary reprieve for young unauthorized immigrants, at a time when Congress was in a stalemate over immigration policy. To qualify for DACA protection, immigrants must have lived in the United States for much of their lives and meet certain other requirements, like passing a background check and completing high school.

On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump vowed to eliminate any program that Mr. Obama had created by executive action, including DACA, a stance that generated deep anxiety among the Dreamers.

But in December 2016, shortly after winning election, Mr. Trump softened his position.

“We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud,” he told Time magazine. “They got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here. Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs. And they’re in never-never land because they don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Once in office, however, Mr. Trump appointed one of the fiercest opponents of the DACA program, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, as his attorney general. Mr. Sessions rescinded DACA in September 2017, but the action was challenged in court and has yet to take full effect, while the courts decide the program’s fate.

Without work permits provided under the program, young immigrants would face cascading, and possibly dire, consequences: They would lose their jobs, driver’s licenses and the chance to attend college at in-state tuition rates.

Friday was the last day the Supreme Court could accept an appeal and schedule any arguments on the DACA litigation in its current session, and the court let the day pass without addressing the Trump administration’s bid to kill the program. That ensures that DACA will survive at least until the court’s next session, which begins in October.

When the administration made its bid to end the program, “I worried about what I would do; I was so sad,” said Ms Hernandez, who works these days for a casual dining chain known as Zoe’s Kitchen. But with the issue tied up in the courts, she said she has simply had to get on with her life. “Now, I don’t even think about it,” she said.

Her DACA permit expires in a year.