The Past 24 Hours or So – Protests/Race Relations and Trump Administration Update

Read TIme: 6 Minutes

Protests/Race Relations

  • The city council of Aurora, Colo., unanimously passed a resolution that approved an “independent, unbiased” investigation into the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who died while in police custody in August of 2019.

McClain’s last words were documented on police body camera footage: “I’m an introvert. I’m just different. That’s all. I’m so sorry. I have no gun. I don’t do that stuff. I don’t do any fighting. Why are you attacking me? I don’t even kill flies! I don’t eat meat! But I don’t judge people, I don’t judge people who do eat meat. Forgive me … I’m so sorry.”

  • Activists who led an effort to paint “Black Lives Matter” on a Redwood City, CA street say that the words were removed after a conservative resident emailed officials demanding the right to paint a mural in support of President Trump on the same street.
  • Current and former employees at Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire described a culture of sexism and bullying that stemmed from the leader of Hearst Magazines, Troy Young. Some former employees also said that Cosmopolitan discriminated against women of color under its top editor, Jessica Pels.
  • Tom Ridge, a former GOP governor and the country’s first Secretary of Homeland Security, insisted that the department was not created “to be the president’s personal militia” after the Trump administration deployed federal officers to Portland.

“Had I been governor even now, I would welcome the opportunity to work with any federal agency to reduce crime or lawlessness in any of the cities. But … it would be a cold day in hell before I would consent to an unilateral uninvited intervention into one of my cities.”

  • A group of 14 mayors called on the Trump administration to stop deploying federal officers to major cities that have seen large protests in recent months.

In a letter to Attorney General William Barr and acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf Tuesday, the mayors voiced their “deep concern and objection to the deployment of federal forces in U.S. cities.”

“The unilateral deployment of these forces into American cities is unprecedented and violates fundamental constitutional protections and tenets of federalism,” the mayors wrote. “Deployment of federal forces in the streets of our communities has not been requested nor is it acceptable.”

  • Attorneys for Oregon argued for a restraining order against federal agents deployed to quell protests in Portland, in a standoff that some legal experts have warned could lead to a constitutional crisis in an election year.

A federal judge heard the state’s and the U.S. government’s arguments in a lawsuit filed by Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, who accuses federal agents of arresting protesters without probable cause, whisking them away in unmarked cars and using excessive force to quell the unrest.

  • Portland will immediately ban all police bureau members from cooperating with federal law enforcement or intentionally using force on or arresting journalists and legal observers, under new policies the City Council passed Wednesday.
  • Protesters in at least 22 cities and states across the U.S. have organized their own Wall of Moms chapters in the wake of the movement’s success in Portland, Oregon.
  • Demonstrators took to the streets of downtown Portland Wednesday night to demand change in policing and racial injustice.

More than a thousand people gathered downtown outside the Justice Center and Federal Courthouse. Protests in Portland have been ongoing since late May following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

  • Just after 12:30 a.m., Portland police declared a riot “due to the violent conduct of the large group creating a grave risk of public alarm.” According to police, after the riot was declared, people remained outside the Federal Courthouse for several hours.

Police said Molotov Cocktails were thrown at the federal building, along with hundreds of projectiles. Meanwhile, multiple fires were lit in the area surrounding the courthouse, which included heavily wooded areas in the parks and trash receptacles on neighboring blocks.

  • Demonstrators’ defense tactics were recorded in a video. It shows a group gathered outside of Portland’s barricaded federal courthouse. When authorities toss tear gas canisters over a recently constructed fence surrounding the building, one protester uses the lacrosse stick to launch them back over the barrier.

The video shows additional protesters approaching the fence with masks and leaf blowers to disperse tear gas already released from the canisters.

  • A pile of debris burned outside the federal courthouse late Wednesday night as Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) attended a nearby protest.

Tear gas was deployed at around that time and fireworks exploded near the courthouse and the Justice Center.

  • Wheeler was affected by the tear gas, according to video and posts on Twitter from a New York Times journalist.

The video shows Wheeler, wearing goggles and a face mask amid a crowd of people, hold his nose and close his eyes in distress as a cloud of tear gas drifts by him.

  • NY Gov. Cuomo (D) said Trump agreed that no federal action will be taken to address rising crime rates in NYC. The move comes after the president threatened to send federal agents to NYC.
  • Retired Four-Star Gen. Wesley Clark tweeted: “Now America has secret police? Deployed against the wishes of local government! No names, no badges, look like military! One of the worst offenses against our democracy in American history. Please, America, turn this back.”
  • President Trump and Attorney General Barr announced that federal agents will surge into Chicago and Albuquerque to help combat rising crime

“The Department of Justice will immediately surge federal law enforcement to the city of Chicago. The FBI, ATF, DEA, US Marshals Service, and Homeland Security will together be sending hundreds of skilled law enforcement officers to Chicago to help drive down violent crime.” Trump continued, “We must remember that the job of policing a neighborhood falls on the shoulders of local elected leadership. When they abdicate their duty, the results are catastrophic.”

  • Robert Wood “Woody” Johnson, the billionaire NFL owner of the NY Jets who serves as President Donald Trump’s ambassador to the UK, was investigated by the State Department watchdog after allegations that he made racist and sexist comments to staff and sought to use his government position to benefit the President’s personal business in the UK, multiple sources told CNN.

Johnson made racist generalizations about Black men and questioned why the Black community celebrates Black History Month, according to three sources and a diplomat familiar with the complaints.

His comments about women’s looks have been “cringeworthy,” a source with knowledge of the situation said, and two sources said it was a struggle to get him on board for an event for International Women’s Day.

“He’s said some pretty sexist, racist [things],”the diplomat with knowledge of the complaints said. 

  • The House voted to approve legislation to remove statues in the Capitol of people who served the Confederacy or otherwise worked to defend slavery.
  • The Boston Red Sox are showing their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

The phrase “Black Lives Matter” — written in the baseball team’s font — has been placed on the massive billboard that runs alongside the Massachusetts Turnpike by Fenway Park.

  • A bipartisan effort to make Juneteenth a federal holiday failed in the Senate on Wednesday after Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) blocked it from advancing. Johnson objected to giving “federal workers a paid day off that the rest of America has to pay for.”

Trump Administration

  • The US military conducted an airstrike in Somalia on Tuesday targeting ISIS fighters that had attacked US-backed local forces that were being advised by US troops. The “airstrike killed seven (7) ISIS-Somalia terrorists,” the statement from Africa Command said. 
  • The Trump administration told China to close its diplomatic consulate in Houston “in order to protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus confirmed. Chinese media reported that the consulate had been given 72 hours to close.
  • A Canadian court ruled a pact that compels asylum seekers trying to enter Canada via the American border to seek sanctuary first in the United States invalid, saying their detention in the US violates their human rights.

Under the Safe Third Country Agreement between the two neighbors, asylum seekers at a formal border crossing traveling in either direction are turned back and told to apply for asylum in the country in which they first arrived.

  • The Sierra Club and other petitioners asked the Supreme Court to halt the Trump administration’s construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall after a federal appeals court ruled last month that its use of Pentagon funding for the project is illegal.

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, Independent, NBC News, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

The Past 24 Hours or So – Protest/Race Relations, Trump Administration, and Presidential Campaign Updates

Read Time: 3 Minutes

Protest/Race Relations

  • Defense Secretary Mark Esper has expressed concern within the administration about federal agents dressing up like active-duty troops in U.S. cities, a Pentagon spokesperson said.
  • Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said federal agents in Portland “will not retreat” as law enforcement grapples with demonstrations and violent protests in Oregon’s biggest city.
  • Planned Parenthood of Greater New York announced it will remove the name of Margaret Sanger, who founded the national organization, because of her racist legacy and her connections to the eugenics movement — which pushed a discredited, racist theory that states that the human race can be “improved” through selective breeding of those with “desirable” traits.

Trump Administration

  • President Trump signed a memo that aims to omit undocumented immigrants from 2020 census count. The move is likely to prompt legal challenges.
  • President Trump is planning to send federal agents to Chicago and Mayor Lori Lightfoot pushed back against the plan in a letter to the president.

Officials with The Department of Justice said the plan to send federal agents there would not involve engaging with protesters. It would mainly be in response to shootings and street violence.

  • The American ambassador to Britain, Robert “Woody” Johnson IV, told multiple colleagues that President Trump had asked him to see if the British government could help steer the world-famous and lucrative British Open golf tournament to the Trump Turnberry resort in Scotland.
  • President Trump offered sympathetic words to Ghislaine Maxwell, who has been accused of child sex trafficking in connection to her late friend Jeffrey Epstein.

“I just wish her well, frankly,” Trump said

  • Top business groups representing multiple industries filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration over newly issued limits on work visas.
  • White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters that President Trump is committed to including a payroll-tax cut in the next coronavirus relief bill despite firm opposition from Senate Republicans.
  • The Commerce Department has unveiled sanctions against 11 Chinese companies over concerns that the firms were assisting China’s government with the oppression of Uighur minorities in the northwestern Xinjiang province.
  • The White House threatened to veto annual defense policy legislation in part because it includes a provision that would direct the Pentagon to rename military bases currently named after Confederate leaders.

Presidential Campaign

  • President Trump, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Sen. Lindsey Graham were seen in video footage at a Washington, DC fundraiser on Monday night without wearing masks — just hours after Trump tweeted that it’s “patriotic” to wear one.
  • Joe Biden said four Black women were in consideration to be his running mate, and he has been receiving extensive vetting briefings about each potential candidate.

“I am not committed to naming any (of the potential candidates), but the people I’ve named, and among them there are four Black women,” Biden told MSNBC’s Joy Reid.

  • Joe Biden on Tuesday proposed new tax credits for those who care for children, seniors and disabled people and said he would build tens of thousands of new child-care facilities as part of a plan to bolster what his campaign called the “caregiving economy.”
  • President Trump’s reelection campaign on Tuesday raked in $20 million in its first virtual fundraiser.
  • The mayor of Jacksonville, FL, on Tuesday backed up Duval County Sheriff Mike Williams’s assessment that the security plans for the Republican National Convention are inadequate, saying that he needed reassurance that law enforcement would have the necessary resources to secure the convention.
  • Joe Biden is preparing to ramp up his ad spending in the coming weeks, taking advantage of a recent fundraising surge that has helped him nearly close the financial gap between himself and President Trump. 

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee is poised to drop more than $15 million on paid media in the coming week alone, Biden’s campaign announced.

  • Joe Biden pledged to overturn President Trump’s travel ban that targeted majority Muslim countries on his first day in office if elected president.

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, Independent, NBC News, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

The Past 24 Hours or So – Protests/Race Relations, Trump Administration, and Presidential Campaign Updates

Read Time: 5 Minutes

Protests/Race Relations

  • In a Fox News interview, Mr. Trump refused to back down from supporting people who were against abolishing the Confederate flag, even as Chris Wallace pointed out that they had used it in defense of slavery. The president equated the movement to pull down the flags and Confederate monuments to “cancel culture,” a term more commonly used to describe a boycott against a person, often a celebrity, who says or does something culturally offensive.

“And you know, the whole thing with cancel culture, we can’t cancel our whole history,” Mr. Trump said. “We can’t forget that the North and the South fought. We have to remember that. Otherwise we’ll end up fighting again.”

  • Top Homeland Security officials said on Monday they had no intention of pulling back in Portland, Oregon, and defended the federal crackdown on anti-racism protests, including the use of unmarked cars and unidentified officers in camouflage.

Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf reacted to the pushback on their crackdown in Portland, Oregon, “I don’t need invitations by the state, state mayors, or state governors to do our job. We’re going to do that, whether they like us there or not.” 

  • Trader Joe’s will remove ‘racist branding and packaging’ from some of its international food items.

The grocery store chain said it will change product branding on some of its international food products, following an online petition that called for the elimination of the labels “Trader Ming’s,” “Trader José,” and “Trader Giotto’s.”

  • Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the couple that drew national attention earlier this month after footage of them pointing guns at protesters outside their home went viral, have been charged with felony unlawful use of a weapon.
  • The Department of Homeland Security expanded the authority of personnel to collect information on people they say are threatening to harm or destroy public monuments
  • Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a four-star general who served under former President George W. Bush, said Sunday he supports the push to rename Army bases named after Confederate leaders.

Trump Administration

  • A whistleblower complaint from a State Department employee about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s conduct, made public for the first time through a lawsuit, reveals that eyewitnesses made repeated attempts to inform executive leadership and legal advisers about his “questionable activities.”

The whistleblower said they had additional evidence to back up their allegations against Pompeo, according to a redacted complaint to the State Department inspector general’s hotline. The complainant said concerned parties were “blocked” from reporting the activity to the department’s Office of Legal Affairs.

  • White house Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said the Trump administration is readying a new executive order to expand the federal takeover of cities based on alleged lawlessness: “Attorney General Barr is weighing in on that with Secretary Wolf, and you’ll see something rolled out on that this week.”
  • Homeland Security officials said they are making preparations to deploy federal agents to Chicago, while President Trump threatened to send U.S. law enforcement personnel to other Democratic-led cities experiencing spates of crime.

Trump made the pronouncement as he defended his administration’s use of force in Portland, where agents have clashed nightly with protesters and made arrests from unmarked cars. Calling the unrest in Portland “worse than Afghanistan.” 

Trump’s rhetoric escalated tensions with Democratic mayors and governors who have criticized the presence of federal agents on U.S. streets, telling reporters at the White House that he would send forces into jurisdictions with or without the cooperation of their elected leaders.

“We’re looking at Chicago too. We’re looking at New York,” he said. “All run by very liberal Democrats. All run, really, by the radical left.”

“This is worse than anything anyone’s ever seen,” Trump continued. “And you know what? If Biden got in, that would be true for the country. The whole country would go to hell.”

  • A coalition of 20 states, several cities and a county are suing the EPA over a regulation that undermines the justification for certain clean air standards. 

The states sued over changes to the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule, which regulates pollution from power plants.

Presidential Campaign

  • “I understand you still have more than 100 days to this election, but at this point you’re losing,” Mr. Wallace told Mr. Trump after detailing a new Fox News poll that showed Mr. Biden leading the president by eight points, 49 percent to 41 percent, among registered voters.

“First of all, I’m not losing,” Mr. Trump replied, “because those are fake polls. They were fake in 2016, and now they’re even more fake. The polls were much worse in 2016.”

  • In an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, President Trump wouldn’t commit to honoring the results of the November election. 

TRUMP: “I think mail-in voting is going to rig the election.”

WALLACE: “Are you suggesting that you might not accept the results?”

TRUMP: “I have to see.”

WALLACE: “Can you give a direct answer that you will accept the election?

TRUMP: “I have to see.”

  • Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) is expected to speak on behalf of former Vice President Joe Biden at the Democratic National Convention next month. Kasich has been fiercely critical of President Trump, going as far as to call for his impeachment last year. Kasich’s expected speech on Biden’s behalf could also give the former vice president a boost in Ohio, a longtime swing state that has increasingly moved in Republicans’ favor in recent years.
  • With the Republican National Convention just over one month away, Jacksonville, Florida, Sheriff Mike Williams issued a statement Monday questioning whether the event can still be held safely in his city.

“I am compelled to express my significant concerns with the viability of this event,” Williams said in the statement. “It is my sole responsibility to provide safety and security for our city and more importantly, for the citizens who I serve. With a growing list of challenges — be it finances, communication and timeline, I cannot say with confidence that this event and our community will not be at risk.”

  • Democratic leaders in the House and Senate wrote to FBI Director Chris Wray requesting a “defensive counterintelligence briefing” for all members about Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2020 presidential election, according to a copy of the letter released Monday.

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, Independent, NBC News, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 6 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID 19 Update

  • The CDC reported 74,710 cases, and 918 new deaths on Saturday.
  • The number of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. is up 19.7% from last week and the national death count is up 19%.
  • National fatality rate is now 3.8% and the test-positivity rate saw a slight increase to 10.1% from 9.8% the previous week.
  • 13% of COVID-19 inpatients are on a ventilator.
  • 32% of in-use ventilators across the U.S. are occupied by COVID-19 patients. At the coronavirus peak in April, it was 45%. In early June, it was down to 17%.
  • There were 259,848 new Covid-19 cases reported worldwide to the World Health Organization in the last 24 hours. 
  • The FDA announced it has issued an emergency use authorization that allows Quest Diagnostics to pool samples from up to four individuals to test for Covid-19.

Pooling allows multiple people to be tested at once. The samples are collected and then tested in a pool or “batch” using just one test. If the pool tests positive, this means one of or more of the people tested in that pool may be infected with the virus. Each of the samples would then have to be tested again individually.

  • The Trump administration is reportedly attempting to block billions of dollars for contact tracing, funding for the CDC and other nationwide coronavirus efforts that could be included in Congress’ next coronavirus relief package.
  • The Brazilian Society of Infectious Diseases urged medical professionals to stop using hydroxychloroquine on patients to treat coronavirus, emphasizing that clinicians should focus on effective therapies.
  • Speaking at his first “Tele-Rally,” President Trump acknowledged to supporters in Wisconsin that the telephonic town hall will be replacing his large, in-person campaign rallies.

“Until [the coronavirus pandemic] gets solved it’s going to be tough to have those big massive rallies, so I’m doing telephonic rallies, and we’ll call them the Trump Rallies, but we’ll do it by telephone.”

  • Canada will not allow the Toronto Blue Jays to play in Toronto due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • West Virginia University announced 28 football players have tested positive for Covid-19.
  • Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Vermont are the only states that meet the basic criteria to reopen and stay safe.
  • Nineteen states set single-day records for the cases this week.

The states that set records this week were Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

  • New Jersey reported 309 new cases of Covid-19 and 16 additional deaths.
  • New York state added 754 Covid-19 cases and 11 new fatalities.
  • Florida’s health officials reported 10,328 new cases of Covid-19 and 90 new deaths on Saturday.
  • More than 9,100 Covid-19 patients are hospitalized in Florida, up over 2,000 in eight days. 
  • Florida has obtained more remdesivir and added self-swab tests as Covid-19 cases continue to climb in the state, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced.
  • Intensive care units in Miami-Dade County are at 122% capacity. Ventilator use increased by 64%.
  • Indiana recorded 854 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, its second highest daily increase.
  • Indianapolis Public Schools will push back the start date for public schools another two weeks to August 17.
  • Kentucky reported 583 new cases, the state’s second-highest single-day total. The state reported nine deaths.
  • For a fifth day in a row, Texas has reported more than 10,000 new cases, with 10,158 new cases registered on Saturday. 130 more deaths were reported.
  • Hospitalizations reached a new high for the state of Texas with 10,658.
  • Arizona teachers are pushing for Gov. Doug Ducey (R) to postpone in-person classes until at least October as coronavirus cases continue to spike in the state.

Protests/Race Relations

  • Federal officers, clad in unmarked military fatigues and driving unmarked vans, have reportedly been abruptly grabbing and detaining protesters in Portland, as the tension between the forces sent to protect federal property and demonstrators continues.
  • The mayor of Portland demanded Friday that President Donald Trump remove militarized federal agents he deployed to the city after some detained people on streets far from federal property they were sent to protect.
  • The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for deploying federal law enforcement to Portland, OR.
  • The US Attorney for the Oregon District on Friday requested an investigation into masked, camouflaged federal authorities without identification badges who are arresting protesters in Portland.

The request is aimed specifically at the Department of Homeland Security personnel who have been captured on various videos arresting protesters and putting them in unmarked SUVs.

  • Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar (D) is calling for the resignation of acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf after federal authorities reportedly used unmarked vehicles to detain protesters and deployed tear gas in Portland, Oregon.
  • The federal agents deployed to Portland amid nationwide protests over the police killing of George Floyd reportedly did not have riot and mass crowd control training.
  • The Pentagon released a new policy that would ban the display of the Confederate battle flag without explicitly mentioning it.
  • The three white men charged with the murder of a Black jogger in the U.S. state of Georgia pleaded not guilty on Friday in a case that led to a national outcry after a cellphone video of the shooting surfaced on the internet.
  • Two white men were charged with battery on Friday after an alleged attempted lynching that was caught on video at a southern Indiana lake over Independence Day weekend.
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection has fired four employees and suspended dozens of others as part of an investigation into their participation in Facebook groups full of racist and sexist content.
  • Eighty-seven protesters who were arrested earlier this week while calling for justice for Breonna Taylor have had felony charges against them dismissed, the Louisville Courier Journal reported on Friday. They do still, however, face misdemeanor charges.

The Louisville Metropolitan Police Department had arrested the protesters on Tuesday outside the home of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R), where they were calling for charges against the police officers who fatally shot Taylor. They were charged with intimidating a participant in the legal process, a felony that could result in up to five years in prison, as well as two misdemeanors.

  • In the wake of Rep. John Lewis’s death, social media users are renewing a call to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., after the civil rights icon instead of the Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan leader.

Trump Administration News

  • A watchdog group filed a complaint against White House adviser Ivanka Trump for a photo pushing products from Goya Foods, accusing the president’s eldest daughter of violating ethics laws that prohibit government employees from using their positions to endorse products.
  • Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson on Friday sued the Trump administration for its recent rollback of Obama-era health protections given to the LGBTQ community under the Affordable Care Act.
  • A federal judge on Friday upheld a California program that caps carbon emissions from the transportation sector after the Trump administration sued the state over it.

Presidential Campaign

  • Priorities USA, one of the most prominent Democratic groups supporting Joe Biden, raised $36.6 million from April through June and had its biggest fundraising quarter of the cycle.
  • President Trump’s reelection campaign is conducting an internal review of spending irregularities overseen by Brad Parscale, its recently demoted 2020 campaign manager.
  • The St. Louis couple who brandished an assault rifle and pistol as protesters marched through the streets of their neighborhood appeared as guest stars during a virtual Trump campaign event. 

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, Independent, NBC News, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

The Past 24 Hours or So – Protests/Race Relations, Trump Administration, and Presidential Campaign News

Read Time: 2 Minutes

Protests/Race Relations

  • The U.S. Army wants to remove any sort of divisive symbols from military bases, potentially including Confederate flags, the Army secretary said, suggesting that the Pentagon was close to a broader policy barring such symbols from all military installations.

A number of military services, including the Marine Corps, have already banned the display of Confederate flags even as President Donald Trump has said that flying the flag is “freedom of speech.”

  • The South Orange-Maplewood School District in NJ, which was accused of allowing racial segregation of schools and classrooms, has agreed to a settlement that will see its integration efforts overseen by a retired New Jersey Supreme Court justice.
  • Eighty-seven people were arrested and charged with a felony after a protest on the lawn of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, the Louisville Metro Police Department said in a statement. The protesters were demanding that charges be filed against the officers responsible for the March shooting death of Breonna Taylor. 
  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) introduced legislation that would cut federal aid to state and local governments if they do not protect statues, after protesters attacked monuments to people who owned slaves or fought for the Confederacy.
  • The parish school board agreed to rename a Baton Rouge high school bearing the name of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee to Liberty High School.

Trump Administration

  • A federal court has struck down a Trump administration rule that weakened restrictions on methane gas releases from drilling on public land, which would have allowed increased air pollution, restoring an Obama-era rule. The judge said Trump officials failed to explain the rollback and “failed to consider scientific findings and institutions relied upon by both prior Republican and Democratic administrations.”
  • CNN host Chris Cuomo railed against President Trump’s “pandemic priorities” on Wednesday evening after the president posed for an Oval Office photo with several Goya Foods products as the White House doubled down on its support of the company amid boycott calls after its CEO praised Trump. 

“You tell me how a president in the middle of a pandemic has got time for this bullshit,” Cuomo said on his nightly news program. “Are you kidding me?”

  • A new inspector general report out today finds that Trump’s Medicare chief Seema Verma broke federal rules when she spent $5M of taxpayer money on consultants who helped polish her image, including writing her tweets.⁣
  • The U.S. Space Force has chosen an initial batch of more than 2,400 airmen to transfer into the military’s newest branch.

Presidential Campaign

  • Republicans will significantly limit the number of attendees at the party’s August convention nominating President Donald Trump for a second White House term in Jacksonville, Florida, as coronavirus cases continue to spike sharply across the state.
  • Democratic officials are instructing members of the House and Senate and party delegates to skip their national convention this summer.

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, Independent, NBC News, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

The Past 24 Hours or So – Protests/Race Relations, Trump Administration, and Presidential Campaign News

Read Time: 4 Minutes

Protests/Race Relations 

  • Attorneys representing the family of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died earlier this year after a police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes, have filed a civil suit against the city of Minneapolis and the four officers involved.
  • Kimberly Gardner, the circuit attorney for St. Louis County ripped President Trump and her state’s governor in a statement after the two criticized her office’s investigation into a couple seen on a viral video threatening Black Lives Matter protesters at gunpoint.

“While they continue to play politics with the handling of this matter, spreading misinformation and distorting the truth, I refuse to do so,” Gardner said.

  • The Asheville City Council has apologized for the North Carolina city’s historic role in slavery, discrimination and denial of basic liberties to Black residents and voted to provide reparations to them and their descendants.

The measure calls for a plan to provide reparations to its Black residents in the form of investments in their community such as “increasing minority homeownership,” “increasing minority business ownership and career opportunities,” and “strategies to grow equity and generational wealth,” according to the resolution.

  • A Confederate flag banner was flown over the Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee on Wednesday ahead of NASCAR’s All-Star Race.

The banner flown over the Wednesday race also included the website “SCV.org,” a website operated by the organization The Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Trump Administration News

  • The Trump administration is escalating its fight against the Chinese telecom giant Huawei by placing unspecified restrictions on visas of company employees within U.S. borders, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced.
  • Senior adviser Ivanka Trump was accused of violating a federal ethics law that bans government employees from using their public office to endorse products when she posted a picture supporting Goya. The White House, however, blamed the media and the “cancel culture movement” for the criticism she received.
  • President Donald Trump said that he would welcome retired Gen. Michael Flynn back into his administration now that the former national security adviser’s legal troubles are on the verge of receding.
  • Nearly two dozen of the country’s Democratic attorneys general are suing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos over her rollback of Obama-era regulations that allowed students to seek student loan relief if they were scammed by their higher education institution.
  • President Trump has officially finalized the rollback to one of the nation’s bedrock environmental laws in a move critics say will be particularly harmful to minority communities. The change would undo the requirement for environmental reviews of major construction projects and pipelines, which some say will allow for increased pollution in non-white communities.
  • President Trump intends to fight a subpoena for his tax returns and financial records from the Manhattan district attorney after the Supreme Court rejected his claim that he’s immune to criminal investigation, the president’s lawyers told a judge
  • A report by the Government Accountability Office, Congress’s nonpartisan investigative arm, found the Trump administration set a rock-bottom price on the damages done by greenhouse gas emissions, enabling the government to justify the costs of repealing or weakening dozens of climate change regulations.

The report said the Trump administration estimated the harm that global warming will cause future generations to be seven times lower than previous federal estimates.

  • Last week, Lt. Col. Alex Vindman announced his retirement from the Army, with his attorney accusing Trump of “a campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation” since Vindman’s testimony. Now, the White House is accusing the former National Security Council member of creating a hostile work environment after testifying in the impeachment inquiry against President Trump.

An earlier review found no basis for the claim against Vindman.

  • The Supreme Court has cleared the way for a second federal execution to take place this week.
  • Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner has reportedly halted his plans to divest from a tech startup that he co-founded even after it was revealed that it had been partially fueled by foreign investors, which critics worry violates ethics rules and creates a conflict of interest.

Presidential Campaign

  • Joe Biden’s choice of a running mate is the talk of Washington, but a majority of American voters said Biden’s VP selection won’t affect their vote, according to a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll released Wednesday.

Fifty-four percent of respondents said that Biden’s running mate will have no impact on how they’ll cast their ballot. Only 16 percent said that it would have a “major impact” on their vote. Another 20 percent said it would have a “minor impact.”

  • President Trump is replacing his campaign manager less than four months from Election Day, removing Brad Parscale from the role and promoting another top political aide, Bill Stepien.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden has widened his lead over President Trump to 15 points in a new national Quinnipiac University poll.

The poll released Wednesday shows Biden with 52 percent of the vote to Trump’s 37 percent, the widest lead for the presumptive Democratic nominee recorded by a Quinnipiac survey to date.

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, Independent, NBC News, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

The Past 24 Hours or So – Protests/Race Relations, Trump Administration, and Presidential Campaign News

Read Time: 6 Minutes

Protests/Race Relations

  • A man who the authorities say drove into a group of Black people at a Southern California hotel, injuring one person, has been accused of a hate crime, prosecutors said on Monday.

The man, Dennis Wyman, 42, of Redondo Beach, struck an off-duty security guard after he yelled “racial insults” at the group last month, the Torrance Police Department said

  • Sgt. Janak Amin, a 21-year veteran with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Tampa has been fired and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after aiming his gun inches from a handcuffed black man’s head and threatening to kill him if the man did not give his name, according to the sheriff.

Employees at the Hillsborough County Jail had accidentally released the victim, “inadvertently” transferring him to a treatment facility for those with substance-abuse or mental-health issues, where he was not supposed to be. He then left the facility.

Once the sheriff’s office realized the mistake, they went looking for him. They found him hiding behind a trailer. When officers confronted the man and put him in a “prone position,” the handcuffed man would not give his name.

So Amin knelt down next to him. He drew his firearm and pointed it inches from the man’s head.

Then, he told the man that if he refused to give his name, he would “splatter his brains all over the concrete.” Other officers on site then intervened.

  • The House Appropriations Committee has approved a $694.6 billion defense spending bill that includes money for the Army to change Confederate base names and that seeks to block President Trump’s use of Pentagon funds for his border wall.
  • U.S. Forces Japan has joined U.S. Forces Korea in banning the display of the Confederate flag, the latest move by the military aimed at preventing racial division in the ranks.

“The Confederate Battle Flag does not represent the values of U.S. Forces assigned to serve in Japan,” Air Force Lt. Gen. Kevin Schneider, commander of U.S. Forces Japan, said Monday in announcing the ban.

  • The Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is calling for the immediate removal of a mural containing a depiction of Ku Klux Klan riders from the Baker County Courthouse in Macclenny.

The mural, located prominently inside the courthouse in Macclenny, was painted 19 years ago with the intention of illustrating significant events in the history of the small, rural county north of Jacksonville.

Three KKK riders in white robes and hoods on horseback are depicted in one section of the mural.

  • President Trump defended a St. Louis couple who went viral after they stood outside their home brandishing weapons as a group of protesters marched past them.

“They were going to be beat up badly if they were lucky, OK, if they were lucky,” Trump asserted in an interview at the White House with the conservative outlet Townhall.

“They were going to be beat up badly, and the house was going to be totally ransacked and probably burned down like they tried to burn down churches,” the president continued.

  • President Trump falsely asserted that “more” white Americans die at the hands of police than Black Americans and criticized a reporter for asking why African Americans are still dying in law enforcement custody.

“So are white people. So are white people. What a terrible question to ask,” Trump told CBS News’s Catherine Herridge when asked about the deaths of Black Americans at the hands of police. “So are white people. More white people, by the way. More white people.”

NOTE: A study published by Harvard University researchers in June that analyzed data from 2013 to 2017 found that Black Americans were more than three times more likely than white Americans to be killed by police.

Trump Administration News

  • The Trump administration carried out the first federal execution since 2003, following a series of court battles and a Supreme Court order, released shortly after 2 a.m., clearing the way for the lethal injection to take place. 

At a penitentiary in Terre Haute, IN, federal officials executed Daniel Lewis Lee, 47, who was convicted in 1999 of killing a family of three. Lee was pronounced dead at 8:07 a.m. Tuesday.

“I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, but I’m not a murderer,” Lee said when asked if he wanted to make a final statement, according to the pool report. His final words were: “You’re killing an innocent man.”

  • President Trump is expected to finalize a rollback to the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), one of the nation’s bedrock environmental laws. A move critics say will be particularly harmful to minority communities.

The changes to NEPA, which mandates environmental reviews of major construction projects and pipelines, are being pitched by the Trump administration as a way to cut regulations, expedite energy and infrastructure projects, and give a boost to the economy.

Critics argue that Trump’s erosion of 50-year-old protections will hit minority communities the hardest since polluting industries are disproportionately likely to be located in neighborhoods with large nonwhite populations.

“The Trump administration’s NEPA rollback will further endanger those bearing the greatest burden of legacy environmental injustice and structural racism,” said Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-Va.) on a press call.

  • The Trump administration is resisting calls — even from political allies — to withdraw a proposal to make it more difficult to bring discrimination claims under the Fair Housing Act.
  • President Trump said he signed legislation and an executive order ending Hong Kong’s preferential treatment as a punishment against China for what he called its “oppressive” actions against the people of Hong Kong.
  • President Trump said the immigration executive order his administration was planning would be “merit-based.”

“We’re going to take care of DACA because I’m going to be doing, in the not too distant future, pretty soon, I’m going to be signing a new immigration action – very, very big merit-based immigration action – that based on the DACA decision, I’ll be able to do.”

  • Trump said California’s two largest school districts were making a “terrible mistake” by making students stay home for the upcoming term in the face of the resurgent coronavirus pandemic.
  • The Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court to reinstate Medicaid work requirements in Arkansas. Over 18,000 people lost their Medicaid coverage in Arkansas in the five months the requirements were in effect before they were blocked by the court.
  • The Defense Department has announced that U.S. troops have withdrawn from five military bases and reduced the size of its forces in Afghanistan to the mid-8,000s as part of the agreement reached with Taliban in February.

Presidential Campaign

  • Roger Stone, who was convicted of charges stemming from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, said that he plans to start campaigning for President Trump’s reelection now that his prison sentence has been commuted, saying that he is prepared to “do anything necessary to elect my candidate, short of breaking the law.”
  • Biden told reporters that, although he supported the filibuster in the past and still harbors hopes for bipartisan compromise, the level of defiance from Senate Republicans could influence his thought process.
  • Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) said that polls showing President Trump trailing in the key battleground state of Pennsylvania do not accurately reflect the state of the race on the ground.

Speaking with reporters on a conference call, Kelly said the polls are not taking into account Trump’s support from those who turned out to vote for the first time ever in 2016.

  • Joe Biden released a plan Tuesday aimed at combating climate change and spurring economic growth in part by overhauling America’s energy industry, with a proposal to achieve entirely carbon pollution-free power by 2035.

Biden’s plan differs with the Progressive Green New Deal’s target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across the economy by 2030.

In the plan, Biden pledges to spend $2 trillion over four years to promote his energy proposals, a significant acceleration of the $1.7 trillion over 10 years he proposed spending in his climate plan during the primary.

Senior campaign officials who requested anonymity to discuss strategy said it would require a mix of tax increases on corporations and the wealthy and deficit spending aimed at stimulating the economy.

  • President Trump said he “could go on for days” as he railed against Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, the “radical left”, Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and others in a Rose Garden event that, to many, sounded like a campaign rally.

During the nearly hour long presser in 90-degree heat, Trump claimed Biden “never did anything, except make very bad decisions, especially on foreign policy” and declared he was not the underdog and has widespread support in the fall race.

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, Independent, NBC News, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

The Past 24 Hours or So – Protests/Race Relations and Trump Administration News

Read Time: 3 Minutes

Protests/Race Relations

  • Open Society Foundation, the philanthropic organization founded by billionaire George Soros, is investing $220 million in efforts to promote racial equality, including grants to Black-led organizations working to expand voting rights and advocate for police reform.
  • Residents in Norman, Oklahoma launched a petition this week to recall the city’s mayor and several members of its city council as they express outrage over its decision to vote to cut the police budget by over $800,000 in the wake of nationwide protests, accusing the city council of having “succumbed to an angry mob.”
  • In 1828, North Carolina Supreme Court Judge Thomas Ruffin wrote that a slave owner must have “uncontrolled authority over the body” of a slave to “render the submission … perfect.” Today Thomas Ruffin’s statue was removed from the NC Court of Appeals.
  • A man was recorded on video throwing red paint onto the Black Lives Matter mural that was recently painted on the street in front of Trump Tower, and which President Trump has sharply criticized as a “symbol of hate.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio later clapped back, tweeting: “To whoever vandalized our mural on 5th Avenue: nice try. [NYC Department of Transportation] has already fixed it. The #BlackLivesMatter movement is more than words, and it can’t be undone.”

Administration News

  • The Trump administration is moving forward with the end of a long-standing ban on the sale of gun silencers, also known as suppressors, to foreign buyers, handing a victory to firearm manufacturers after President Trump’s former deputy assistant and White House lawyer launched a campaign as a lobbyist for a gun silencer trade group.
  • President Donald Trump’s executive clemency to his longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone not only commuted the veteran Republican operative’s prison term but it also spared him a fine and two years of supervised release.

“I commute the entirety of the prison sentence imposed upon the said Roger Stone, Jr. to expire immediately,” according to Trump’s order.

“I also commute the entirety of the two-year term of supervised release with all its conditions, and finally, I remit any unpaid balance of the $20,000 fine imposed.”

  • A federal judge in Washington, D.C., again blocked the Trump administration from resuming executions just hours before the first federal death sentence since 2003 was scheduled to be carried out.
  • A private company that President Trump criticized over its efforts to construct a wall near the U.S.-Mexico border received $1.7 billion in federal contracts from the administration after lobbying the president personally on cable news, according to a new report.
  • More than 350 facilities nationwide have taken advantage of a temporary Environmental Protection Agency rule that lets companies forgo monitoring their water pollution during the coronavirus pandemic. The move is causing great concern among environmentalists: “Where facilities don’t monitor their own discharges and emissions, that can present significant environmental problems depending on what wasn’t reported that got into the environment.”
  • President Trump says the federal government may “take over cities” to combat rising crime: “Numbers are going to be coming down even if we have to go and take over cities.”
  • The United States budget deficit grew to a record $864 billion in June as the federal government continued pumping money into the economy to prop up workers and businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic
  • The Chinese government announced that it would impose sanctions on three American lawmakers and a diplomat in retaliation for similar moves last week by the Trump administration against four officials in China.

The sanctions targeted Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Representative Chris Smith of New Jersey, all of whom are Republicans. Also named was Trump’s ambassador at large for international religious freedom, Sam Brownback.

The Trump administration banned four Chinese officials and a Chinese government agency last Thursday from accessing American banks and other financial institutions. It also restricted them from obtaining visas to the United States.

The sanctions are mostly symbolic on both sides, as neither the Chinese officials nor the Americans are known to have assets in each other’s financial systems.

  • A federal appeals court has ruled that the Trump administration cannot withhold federal grants from California sanctuary cities, affirming previous rulings in the state.

Sources:  ABC News, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, Independent, NBC News, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

The Past 24 Hours or So – Coronavirus, Race Relations, and Trump Administration News

Read TIme: 7 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID 19 Update

  • The World Health Organization reported a record increase in global coronavirus cases on Sunday, with the total rising by 230,370 in 24 hours.
  • Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Sunday that she intends to have American schools open for in-person classes this fall, and insisted that this can be done safely despite concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

DeVos called on schools to reopen despite CDC guidelines that say children meeting in groups can put everyone at risk: “There is going to be the exception to the rule. But the rule should be that kids go back to school this fall.”

The Secretary also reiterated President Trump’s threat to withhold funding from schools that do not reopen.

“American investment in education is a promise to students and their families,” she said. “If schools aren’t going to reopen and not fulfill that promise, they shouldn’t get the funds.” ““There’s nothing in the data that suggests that kids being in school is in any way dangerous.”

  • The White House is seeking to discredit Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, as President Donald Trump works to marginalize him and his dire warnings about the shortcomings in the U.S. coronavirus response.

In a remarkable broadside by the Trump administration against one of its own, a White House official told NBC News on Sunday that “several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things.” To bolster the case, the official provided NBC News with a list of nearly a dozen past comments by Fauci earlier in the pandemic that the official said had ultimately proven erroneous.

  • According to initial data reported by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, there were zero new COVID-19 deaths on July 11 for the first time since the state’s first death was recorded on March 11.
  • New Jersey announced 16 more deaths attributed to COVID-19 and 349 additional positive tests.
  • Florida reports 15,300 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, the highest single-day increase for any US state, and 44 new deaths.

Floridians are testing positive every five and a half seconds. 

  • A 30-year-old man who believed the coronavirus was a hoax and attended a “Covid party” died after being infected with the virus, according to a Texas hospital.

The man had attended a gathering with an infected person to test whether the coronavirus was real, said Dr. Jane Appleby, chief medical officer at Methodist Hospital in San Antonio, where the man died.

  • Top officials in Houston are calling for the city to lock back down as hospitals strain to accommodate the onslaught of COVID-19 patients. Texas health officials reported 8,196 new cases statewide, 80 more deaths and a total 10,410 people hospitalized.
  • Some parts of the Midwest are beginning to look alarmingly like the South and West did just a month ago. Cases have been trending upward in every Midwestern state except Nebraska and South Dakota.
  • Minnesota announced its highest daily case totals since May on Sunday and Saturday.
  • Indiana was among the first states in the Midwest to begin reopening in early May. The state was on track to enter its final phase (Phase 5) of reopening by the Fourth of July but as cases began rising, Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) announced the state would instead enter an interim “Phase 4.5.” Mr. Holcomb’s amended executive order stops short of fully reopening but allows fairs and festivals, youth overnight camps and even conventions of up to 250 people to continue. Face coverings are “strongly recommended” but not required.
  • In Kansas, average daily case counts are at their highest levels and in Sedgwick County, which includes Wichita, cases have more than doubled since June 25. Local officials in Wichita have attempted to slow the spread by issuing a universal mask ordinance and banning gatherings of more than 45 people.
  • Parents and teachers discovered that one version of the reopening drafts for the Canyons School District in Utah included a recommendation that crisis communication employees have a “template letter” ready in case a student or teacher died of the virus.

The reference went viral on social media, but it’s not unusual at all for an organization to have a crisis plan in place in case someone dies. A newer draft of the district’s plans does not have that reference, as the reopening drafts are still in the planning phases.

  • The California Assembly is suspending its session until further notice following five confirmed COVID-19 cases among lawmakers and employees.

Assemblywoman Autumn Burke, D-Inglewood, has tested positive for COVID-19 and will remain in quarantine with her daughter until a doctor instructs her otherwise, she wrote on Twitter on Monday.

Burke had “mask to mask” exposure to the virus on June 26, she said — the same day that an Assembly employee was last in the Capitol before testing positive. That employee wore a face covering at all times, according to an Assembly Rules Committee email.

Protests/Race Relations

  • The federal government has denied Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’ request for aid to help rebuild and repair Twin Cities structures that were damaged in the unrest following George Floyd’s death.
  • Lewis Hamilton shows his support for the Black Lives Matter movement during his victory in the Styrian Grand Prix.

Hamilton secured his first win of the season in Sunday’s Styrian Grand Prix. Before and after the race, Hamilton made a more definitive statement by kneeling ahead of the anthem and raising his fist on the winner’s podium.

  • A man who was seen on video going off on a racist tirade against an Asian American family at a restaurant has resigned from his job as CEO of a tech company in California after drawing viral backlash.

Michael Lofthouse, the now-former CEO of San Francisco-based cloud computing firm Solid8, confirmed his resignation to Fox Business.

  • Protesters gathered outside the Allentown, PA police department Saturday night after a  39-second video showed a Pennsylvania police officer with his knee on a man’s neck and head.

The clip, shot outside a hospital in Allentown doesn’t show what prompted the confrontation, but three officers can be seen restraining a man lying face down on the ground and yelling.

One of the officers is seen thrusting his knee and elbow into the man’s head and neck. Earlier this month, the Allentown Police Department released a new excessive force policy. The policy bans neck restraints or chokeholds unless officers are preventing “imminent death or serious bodily injury” to a citizen or themselves.

The Lehigh County district attorney is investigating and in a statement said, “Although significant, the entirety of the interaction is being reviewed,” adding that witnesses were being interviewed and that other videos were being reviewed.

  • The NFL’s Washington franchise announced they are retiring the team’s name and logo. A new name has not yet been announced.

Administration News

  • Following an op-ed by former special counsel Robert Mueller published Saturday in The Washington Post, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says he will grant a request by Democrats to have  Mueller testify before the committee about his investigation. 
  • President Trump floated the idea of selling Puerto Rico as the territory struggled in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017, former acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke told The New York Times.

Duke, who served in the role for four months, told the Times on Friday that she was shocked when the president raised the suggestion of “divesting” or “selling” Puerto Rico.

  • President Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has told several White House staffers he’s fed specific nuggets of information to suspected leakers to see if they pass them on to reporters — a trap that would confirm his suspicions. “Meadows told me he was doing that,” said one former White House official. “I don’t know if it ever worked.”
  • Donald Trump has criticised a group of his supporters who privately financed and built a wall along the US-Mexico border in South Texas earlier this year because the wall is already deteriorating from erosion.

The privately-funded wall was “only done to make me look bad,” the president tweeted on Sunday – despite the group, “We Build the Wall,” raising $25million in two years to erect it, in a show of support for Trump’s immigration and border security initiatives.

The group first launched its fundraising effort during the government shutdown of December 2018 when Congress would not agree to fund Trump’s wall proposal.

  • Senate Democrats are demanding they be allowed to see any copies of intelligence briefs that were presented to President Trump regarding evidence that Russia was paying the Taliban bounties for attacks on U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan.

Presidential Campaign

  • After months of insisting that the Republican National Convention go off as scheduled despite the pandemic, President Donald Trump is slowly coming to accept that the late August event will not be the four-night infomercial for his reelection that he had anticipated.

After a venue change, spiking coronavirus cases and a sharp recession, Trump aides and allies are increasingly questioning whether it’s worth the trouble, and some are advocating that the convention be scrapped altogether. Conventions are meant to lay out a candidate’s vision for the coming four years, not spark months of intrigue over the health and safety of attendees, they have argued.

Aides are pushing Trump to move his acceptance speech outdoors to minimize risk of virus transmission. But Trump has expressed reservations about an outdoor venue, believing it would lack the same atmosphere as a charged arena.

  • The Trump campaign canceled the president’s planned rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire because of concerns that COVID-19 fears and a forecasted thunderstorm would lead to low attendance, people close to the campaign told NBC News. 

In its statement, the Trump campaign announcing the rally was being called off blamed a forecasted thunderstorm in the area and “safety reasons” for the decision. But officials told NBC that it was one of several factors that the campaign feared would lead to low attendance at the event, prompting the cancellation.

Sources:  ABC News, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, Independent, NBC News, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 7 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID 19 Update

  • Johns Hopkins University filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent the Trump administration from stripping international students of their visas and forcing them to leave the U.S. if they are not taking any in-person courses in the fall.
  • Internal documents from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that fully reopening K-12 schools and universities would be the “highest risk” for the spread of coronavirus, according to a New York Times report, as President Donald Trump and his administration push for students and teachers to return in-person to classrooms.

The 69-page document obtained by the Times marked “For Internal Use Only” was among materials for federal public health response teams deployed to coronavirus hotspots to help local public health officials handle the outbreak, the newspaper reported.

The document was circulated this week, the Times reported, as Trump slammed the CDC guidelines around reopening schools and he, Vice President Mike Pence and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos increased their pressure on schools to fully reopen by the fall.

  • A long-expected upturn in U.S. coronavirus deaths has begun, driven by fatalities in states in the South and West.

“It’s consistently picking up. And it’s picking up at the time you’d expect it to,” said William Hanage, a Harvard University infectious diseases researcher.

According to an Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day rolling average for daily reported deaths in the U.S. has increased from 578 two weeks ago to 664 on July 10 — still well below the heights hit in April.

  • Former President Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, are calling on the American people to “wear a mask to save lives” amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Carter Center, the Atlanta-based charity founded by the former president and first lady, shared an image of the couple with the caption “Please wear a mask to save lives.” The Carters can be seen wearing white masks featuring the organization’s logo.  

  • President Trump wore a mask during his visit to Walter Reed hospital on Saturday, marking the first time he has done so in front of cameras.
  • “If we just let drugs and vaccines go to the highest bidder, instead of to the people and the places where they are most needed, we’ll have a longer, more unjust, deadlier pandemic,” Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates cautioned, calling for a COVID-19 vaccine to first go to countries that have been hit hardest by the ongoing pandemic.
  • A few dozen U.S. Marines have tested positive for coronavirus in Okinawa, Japan, officials announced Saturday.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is warning that the spikes in coronavirus cases across the South and on the West Coast could lead to the virus finding a foothold in the Northeast once again.

“It is going to come back here. It’s like being on a merry-go-round. It’s totally predictable,” Cuomo said. “And we’re going to go through an increase. I can feel it coming. And it is so unnecessary and so cruel.”

  • North Carolina, Oregon, Arkansas, Hawaii and Alaska recorded single-day highs Saturday.
  • South Carolina announced its highest single-day total for coronavirus cases on Saturday, recording more than 2,200 infections; its previous record was set on July 4 with 1,854 new cases. More than 22 percent of tests in the state came back positive on Friday — the highest positivity rate for the state yet. 
  • Dozens of hospitals in Florida are at their ICU capacity as the state struggles to contain its massive spike of COVID-19 cases.

According to new data released by the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration, almost 85 percent of the state’s ICU beds are occupied, with just 933 ICU available beds remaining across the state.

WFLA reported that 435 were hospitalized overnight Friday, a new record. At least 52 hospitals in the state have no ICU capacity left at all.

  • Paul Waldron—the commissioner for St. Johns County just south of Jacksonville, Florida—has tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently in the hospital in critical condition. Last week, Waldron voted against a countywide order requiring all residents to wear face masks as a way to prevent coronavirus infections.
  • Florida will start getting shipments this weekend of an antiviral drug that has shown signs of helping severely ill Covid-19 patients — cargo senior aides scored in part from New York just as Gov. Ron DeSantis was publicly dismissing the state’s help.
  • “Star Wars” Stormtroopers enforced mask-wearing and Mickey Mouse waved from a distance on Saturday as Florida’s Walt Disney World opened to the public for the first time in four months amid a surge of coronavirus cases in the state.
  • Cuyahoga, Ohio County Executive Armond Budish announced the establishment of a hotline to report people who are defying state order by not wearing face masks amid the surge in coronavirus cases in the state.  
  • Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) on Saturday ordered bars to close and most residents to wear a mask outside. The state had an early outbreak that then receded, before a recent spike in cases and hospitalizations.
  • Louisiana has more cases per capita than all states but New York and New Jersey.
  • Texas lawmakers are asking Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to send federal resources to the region. The  bipartisan group has asked HHS to set up a field hospital in the region and provide additional financial resources as the area experiences a surge in coronavirus cases.
  • Brazil, the world’s No. 2 coronavirus hotspot after the United States, recorded 1,071 new deaths from the outbreak on Saturday, with a total of 1,839,850 confirmed cases, the Health Ministry said.

Brazil has now recorded a total of 71,469 deaths.

Protests/Race Relations

  • Vice President Pence said the decision to remove Confederate statues should be made at the local level and panned protesters who have dismantled the monuments themselves. 

In an interview with the Washington Examiner, Pence said he “wouldn’t begrudge any community or any state to determine what people ought to be remembered and memorialized.”

  • One of three former Wilmington Police Officers fired last month after unintentionally recorded conversations became public, revealing racist and violent language, has filed an appeal for reinstatement.

In a letter sent through his attorney to the Wilmington Civil Service Board on July 2, former WPD officer James B. Gilmore argued that his comments are protected by the First Amendment’s protection of free speech, claiming they were not racist but instead reflected a religious stance against idolatry.

Administration News

  • More than 140 companies and trade associations including Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Marriott, Target, Uber, Lyft, the National Retail Federation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that represent more than half of American private sector workers wrote to President Trump on Saturday urging him to leave the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in place. The letter cited public polling that found most Americans favor protecting Dreamers, the young immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children.

“As large American employers and employer organizations, we strongly urge you to leave the DACA program in place.”

  • Updating an earlier story, Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen’s, imprisonment wasn’t related to the NY Post photo of him at a restaurant. Probation officers asked him to sign a document that would have barred him from speaking to reporters or publishing a book during the rest of his sentence, his legal adviser said.

Mr. Cohen, believing the agreement violated his First Amendment rights, refused to sign it, the adviser, Lanny Davis, said. Less than two hours later, federal marshals stepped out of an elevator with handcuffs and took Mr. Cohen back into custody.

  • The Trump administration announced a 25 percent tariff on $1.3 billion worth of French handbags, cosmetics and soaps in retaliation for a digital services tax on U.S. internet giants.
  • U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr and and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows reportedly recommended that President Trump not grant associate Roger Stone clemency over concerns of political blowback.
  • Former special counsel Robert Mueller, the top lawyer who led the Russia investigation, defended his teams’ findings on President Trump’s associate Roger Stone on Saturday after Trump moved to commute his sentence. 

“[Stone] remains a convicted felon, and rightly so,” Mueller wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.

  • Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) sharply condemned President Trump’s commutation for longtime ally and political confidant Roger Stone, labeling it “historic corruption.”

“Unprecedented, historic corruption: an American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president,” Romney tweeted Saturday morning.

Presidential Campaign

  • President Trump on Saturday expressed confidence that rapper Kanye West — who recently announced that he plans to launch a late bid for the White House — could steal votes from Trump’s presumptive Democratic opponent in November, former Vice President Joe Biden.

“That shouldn’t be hard,” Trump tweeted, referring to West taking votes away from Biden. “Corrupt Joe has done nothing good for Black people!”

Sources:  ABC News, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, NBC News, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post