TheStreet will be publishing this column every Sunday in August.
Welcome back! You've taken that August week off that you've been looking forward to all summer, and now it's time to catch up on emails that you probably don't need to reply to and TPS reports. Unlike you, Republican candidate Donald Trump has been busy. And before you hit the ol' office water cooler, you're going to need to know about what everyone is talking about: all the wild stuff Trump did last week.
A whole week of political campaigning -- especially in the weirdest campaign ever -- can be a lot, so below are the basics of what you missed so you can be astounded, outraged or, ironically, speechless, along with the rest of your coworkers.
1. The Khizr Khan saga dragged on.
What it is: This controversy started the week prior so, first, a primer.
At the Democratic National Convention on July 28, the parents of Humayan Khan, a U.S. Muslim Army captain who was killed in Iraq in 2004 protecting his fellow soldiers from a suicide bomber, drew one of the loudest cheers of the convention when he ad libbed a question to Trump, "Have you even read the United States Constitution?" He then pulled out his own pocket copy and said that Trump could borrow it.
Trump spent much of his time the rest of that week attacking the father, Khizr Khan. He questioned whether Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's speechwriters wrote the speech (Khan wrote it himself). He suggested that Khizr's wife, Ghazala, who stood next to him silently on stage, was not allowed to speak (that wasn't the case -- she was too overcome with emotion on seeing her son's picture to talk). He also said Khizr had "no right" to make his statement, which critics said proved that Trump had not read the Constitution since the first amendment guarantees the right to free speech.
Sen. Lindsay Graham, who battled Trump in the GOP primary, said, "Unacceptable doesn't even begin to describe it." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also used the word "unacceptable" in reference to the comments.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who also was dispatched by Trump in the primary, said the comments were "incredibly disrespectful."
Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman, who was a Marine, said, "Having served in Iraq, I'm deeply offended when Donald Trump fails to honor the sacrifices of all our brave soldiers who were lost in that war."
Khan gave his initial speech on July 28. Four days later, on Aug. 1, Trump was still tweeting about it rather than spending time talking about issues or attacking his rival, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Mr. Khan, who does not know me, viciously attacked me from the stage of the DNC and is now all over T.V. doing the same - Nice!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 1, 2016
On Aug. 2, Trump tried to find some cover when he accepted a Purple Heart award from a veteran at a rally. The maneuver backfired when Trump quipped, "I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier," reminding voters that Trump had five draft deferments and never served in the armed forces.
Why it's important: The controversy has further fractured an already-reeling GOP at a time when the Democrats are signaling unity (this editorial in Friday's Los Angeles Times is an appeal from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to his voters, urging them to vote for Clinton in November).
Some in the GOP have condemned Trump's handling of the situation but are still supporting him (Paul Ryan, John McCain and Mitch McConnell). Others have said flat out they're not voting for Trump (Virginia Rep. Scott Rigell and New York Rep. Richard Hanna).
Many are blaming the episode for Trump's recent swoon in the polls. Election prediction site FiveThirtyEight.com now gives Trump about a 17% chance to win in November, versus about 46% when the Khan saga started.
The latest: The episode seems to be finally ending, with the media moving on to more recent Trump controversies.
What it is: On August 1 at a rally in Ohio, Trump said, "I'm afraid the election's going to be rigged. I have to be honest."
That night, on Fox News he strengthened the claim, saying "on Nov. 8 we better be careful because that election's gonna be rigged." (It's at the very end of this clip.)
In this latest tack, he seems to be taking the advice of former Richard Nixon henchman Roger Stone, who on a July 29 YouTube teaser for that week's episode of the Milo Yiannopoulos show said that Trump should, given his position in the polls, start talking about how the election is rigged and that there will be a "bloodbath" if he doesn't win.
Why it's important: In 2000, after the Bush v. Gore Supreme Court decision essentially gave the election to George W. Bush, Al Gore said that he disagreed with the decision but, for the sake of democracy, would concede to Bush. In every election, there is a pivotal moment where the loser concedes to the winner, ensuring a peaceful transition of power.
In suggesting that the election will be rigged, Trump is threatening that peaceful transition, leaving commentators to worry about both the negative consequences of a Trump loss in November as well as a victory. (If Trump loses, a challenge to American democracy; if he wins, it could be bad for the economy, according to an analysis from Moody's Analytics, among others.)
The latest: Trump has repeated the claim all week on the campaign trail. While he continues to take criticism for it, at least some of his supporters believe him.
3. Trump reportedly asked, "Why can't we use our nukes?"
What it is: MSNBC's Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough reported on August 8 that during a foreign policy meeting, "three times [Trump] asked about the use of nuclear weapons. Three times he asked at one point if we had them why can't we use them." Trump has denied it.
Despite the denial, the report brought a fresh round of condemnation, again from both Republicans and Democrats. The most striking of which was from former nuclear missile officer and Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney national security adviser John Noonan, who went on a tirade on Twitter.
9. Because Trump would be undoing 6 decades of proven deterrence theory. The purpose of nukes is that they are never used. Trump disagrees?— John Noonan (@noonanjo) August 3, 2016
Why it's important: Aside from conjuring horrifying images of a modern-day Hiroshima, the controversy plays well into Clinton's strategy. She is seeking to portray Trump as too dangerous and temperamental to have the awesome responsibility of controlling the nuclear launch codes.
Even prior to this week, it was a talking point Clinton has tried to hammer home. At the DNC, she said, "a man you can bait with a Tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons."
Trump and nuclear weapons has been an often repeated attack line against him on the campaign trail, a matter he hasn't helped by speculating about using nuclear weapons in Europe or even Chicago.saying in a rally in New Hampshire on August 6, "I'll be the last one to use nuclear."
Still, it's unlikely Clinton's campaign will back off this issue.
4. It looked like Trump wasn't going to endorse Paul Ryan, John McCain and Kelly Ayotte.
What it is: On August 3, Trump caused Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to be reportedly "apoplectic" over his apparent refusal to endorse Republicans Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and Sens. John McCain and Kelly Ayotte in their respective congressional races. All three are facing primary challenges.
Worse, it seemed as if Trump might be moving in support of Ryan's primary challenger Paul Nehlen.
Thanks to @pnehlen for your kind words, very much appreciated.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 1, 2016
On Friday, Trump endorsed all three incumbents.
Why it's important: Before Trump put doubts to rest and made the endorsements, the conflict was seen as further proof of a Trump-led fracturing of the GOP.
At the same time, there are now Republicans running for election that are actively distancing themselves from Trump. Not McCain, however, who Trump insulted in July 2015 when he said that the Arizona senator wasn't a war hero because he had been captured. Despite the conflict, expecting to need Trump's anti-immigration voters to win in November, McCain has endorsed Trump for president.
The latest: Trump's failure to quickly embrace key Republicans isn't one-sided. Several prominent members of the party have said they are voting for Clinton, including Reps. Rigell and Hanna, Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman, senior Jeb Bush adviser Sally Bradshaw, and George W. Bush Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson.
5. Trump apparently kicked a baby out of one of his rallies.
What it is: What do you do when a crying baby is upstaging your speech?
If you're this Jerusalem professor, you bring the baby to the lectern and calm it down as you continue your class.
He took flak this week for kicking a crying baby out of his rally August 3 rally in Ashburn, Va. If you listen to the actual incident, it's clear that he was joking but when you're having one of the worst weeks ever, it's probably best not to attack a baby, even as a joke.
Why it's important: At the end of the day, it doesn't mean much, but perhaps Trump should have taken a page out of Bobby Kennedy's playbook.
During his 1968 presidential bid, the younger brother of President John F. Kennedy had earned a reputation for being ruthless. Fighting this reputation, he had a special way of handling crying babies he encountered at his rallies. According to Theodore H. White's The Making of the President -- 1968, Kennedy "might say, 'Are you competing with me?' Then, after the baby continued crying and the mother would rise to leave, he would say, 'Don't leave. Please don't leave. People will say I'm ruthless.' "
The latest: Trump has set the record straight on August 5, saying, "I don't throw babies out." He's also used the incident to his advantage, attacking the media on Twitter on Sunday for distorting the event.
The media is going crazy. They totally distort so many things on purpose. Crimea, nuclear, "the baby" and so much more. Very dishonest!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2016
Need more? Here's the week in lesser Trump news:
-- Obama said Trump is "unfit" for the presidency
-- New data showed that Trump's campaign may be hurting his business interests
-- It was announced that the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City will close after Labor Day
-- There have been calls from his own party for Trump to step aside and let someone else run
-- He was called a bad name on CNN: