The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 9 Minutes

Protest News

  • Mourners gathered for a final public memorial to George Floyd in his hometown of Houston for a six-hour viewing at The Fountain of Praise Church. His killing has sparked global protests over police mistreatment of communities of color.
  • Bail has been set at $1.25 million for Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of murdering George Floyd.
  • Democrats unveiled a broad police reform bill, pledging to transform law enforcement. The Justice in Policing Act of 2020 would ban chokeholds, limit qualified immunity, establish a national database to track police misconduct, require body cams, and prohibit certain no-knock warrants.
  • The Minnesota Department of Public Safety has confirmed reports and viral video showing law enforcement officers in Minneapolis slashing the tires of parked cars during recent protests over the death of George Floyd. The department claimed this was done to stop vehicles “driving dangerously at high speeds in and around protesters and law enforcement.

One video from a journalist covering the protesters shows all four tires of his rental vehicle were slashed along with tires on cars surrounding his in the parking lot.

  • President Trump and his allies on Monday lashed out at activists and some Democrats for their support of the “defund the police” movement, seeking to draw a contrast with the administration’s embrace of law enforcement amid nationwide protests.

“There won’t be defunding. There won’t be dismantling of our police, and there’s not going to be any disbanding of our police. Our police have been letting us live in peace, and we want to make sure we don’t have any bad actors in there,” Trump said during a meeting with law enforcement officers and police chiefs at the White House, adding that he believes “99 percent” of officers are “great people.”

  • White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Monday that the White House has no regrets about how federal law enforcement forcibly cleared protesters from Lafayette Square the week prior.

“There’s no regrets on the part of this White House,” McEnany said at a briefing Monday afternoon. “I’d note that many of those decisions were not made here within the White House. It was [Attorney General William] Barr who made the decision to move the perimeter. Monday night Park Police had also made that decision independently when they saw all the violence in Lafayette Square.”

NOTE: According to all reports, the protest Monday night was peaceful.

  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer are demanding President Trump reopen Lafayette Square to the public, saying it currently resembles a “militarized zone.”

The two Democratic leaders sent Trump a letter on Monday, insisting he “tear down these walls, reopen Lafayette Square,” which is located across the street from the White House, so that the public can “gather there for you and all the world to hear their voices.”

  • A Virginia man who allegedly drove his truck into a crowd of peaceful protesters over the weekend is an “admitted leader” of the Ku Klux Klan, officials said Monday. 

Henrico Commonwealth Attorney Shannon Taylor described the man, Harry Rogers, 36, as “a propagandist of Confederate ideology.” A “cursory glance” at his social media and his own admissions to authorities revealed that he was a leader of the white supremacist group.

  • Contradicting the president’s claim that he only went to inspect the bunker earlier in the day, Attorney General Barr told Bret Baier that President Trump went to the bunker that Friday evening because of the protests outside the White House. “Things were so bad that the Secret Service recommended the president go down to the bunker. We can’t have that in our country.”

Administration News

  • The U.S. economy officially entered a recession in February, according to The National Bureau of Economic Research, which announced that a 128-month expansion officially ended then. The expansion, which had begun in June 2009 after a recession, was the longest on record.
  • U.S. plans to withdraw troops from Germany “shake the pillars of the transatlantic relationship”, Peter Beyer, the German coordinator for transatlantic ties, told Reuters on Monday.
  • Freddy Ford, a spokesman for former president G.W. Bush, told The Texas Tribune that Bush would steer clear of speaking publicly on his presidential vote and called The New York Times assertion false.

“This is completely made up,” Ford said in an email. “He is retired from presidential politics and has not indicated how he will vote.”

It is unclear whether Bush will instead be voting for Joe Biden, Trump’s Democratic rival. Both of the Bush brothers — and their parents, former President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush — said in 2016 they didn’t vote for Trump.

  • The President plans to resume campaign rallies within the next two weeks. The Trump team expects to face criticism for large crowds, but says the support of packed protests will make them easier to defend.
  • President Trump released an analysis from McLaughlin & Associates, a pollster allied with his campaign, seeking to knock down recent surveys showing him trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in the race for the White House. 

“I have retained highly respected pollster, McLaughlin & Associates, to analyze todays CNN Poll (and others), which I felt were FAKE based on the incredible enthusiasm we are receiving,” Trump tweeted. “Read analysis for yourself.”

“This is the same thing they and others did when we defeated Crooked Hillary Clinton in 2016. They are called SUPPRESSION POLLS, and are put out to dampen enthusiasm. Despite 3 ½ years of phony Witch Hunts, we are winning, and will close it out on November 3rd!”

  • Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy is now “open” to renaming the service’s 10 bases and facilities that are named after Confederate leaders, an Army official told POLITICO, in a reversal of his previous position.

“The Secretary of the Army is open to a bipartisan discussion on the topic,” said Army spokesperson Col. Sunset Belinsky Monday.

As recently as February, the Army said the service had no plans to rename the facilities

  • The Netflix original comedy “Space Force,” which is based on the new branch of the military launched by President Trump, reportedly obtained trademark rights for the name before the government.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the show secured trademark rights to “Space Force” in multiple places, including Europe, Australia and Mexico, while the Air Force owns only a pending application for registration in the United States. That means the show has more confirmed trademark rights than the U.S. military.

  • Over the past month, the Trump campaign has spent slightly more than $400,000 on cable news ads in the Washington, D.C., area. The Trump campaign said the ad buys were an attempt to reinvigorate and reassure the president’s supporters in the nation’s capital. However, two knowledgeable sources – one a Trump campaign adviser, the other an individual close to the president – said the ads had another purpose as well: to put the president himself at ease.

These sources also said the campaign is hoping to counter-program recent ads by the Lincoln Project, a super PAC run by a group of dissident conservatives, that have driven the president to public outbursts.

  • In an interview, retired Admiral Bill McRaven, the former commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command, best known as the Navy SEAL who oversaw the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, said, “This fall, it’s time for new leadership in this country — Republican, Democrat or independent.” He continued,  “President Trump has shown he doesn’t have the qualities necessary to be a good commander in chief.”

Coronavirus/COVID-19

  • Shutdown orders prevented about 60 million novel coronavirus infections in the United States and 285 million in China, according to a research study published Monday that examined how stay-at-home orders and other restrictions limited the spread of the contagion.

A separate study from epidemiologists at Imperial College London estimated the shutdowns saved about 3.1 million lives in 11 European countries, including 500,000 in the United Kingdom, and dropped infection rates by an average of 82 percent, sufficient to drive the contagion well below epidemic levels.

  • New research from the University of California, Berkeley finds that shutdowns and other interventions prevented 60 million coronavirus infections in the United States and that the policies had “large health benefits.”

The eye-popping numbers illustrate that the shutdowns, while controversial and onerous, were effective at slowing the spread of the virus, the study says.

  • The Trump administration has not disbursed over 75% of the $1.6 billion in Covid humanitarian aid approved by Congress back in March. 

In March, lawmakers approved $1.6 billion in pandemic assistance to be sent abroad through the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development.

As of last week, $386 million had been released to nations in need. Of that, only a meager $11.5 million in international disaster aid had been delivered to private relief groups, even though those funds are specifically meant to be rushed to distress zones.

  • A top World Health Organization official on Monday said that it appears “very rare,” for an asymptomatic person with coronavirus to transmit the virus to another person, a potential bit of good news in the fight against the virus. It marks a major turn from past warnings that suggested asymptomatic people were spreading the virus.
  • More than 136,000 people tested positive for the coronavirus across the globe on Sunday, a new apex that has officials at the World Health Organization (WHO) warning that the worst of the pandemic is still ahead.

Speaking to reporters in Geneva on Monday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the number of confirmed cases is rising rapidly in South America and South Asia, which accounted for three-quarters of Sunday’s new cases.

  • Exactly 100 days since its first case of coronavirus was confirmed, New York City, which weathered extensive hardship as an epicenter of the worldwide outbreak, is set to take the first tentative steps toward reopening its doors on Monday. As many as 400,000 workers could begin returning to construction jobs, manufacturing sites and retail stores in the city’s first phase of reopening.
  • Russia is partially reopening its borders for several kinds of trips, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced in a Monday meeting with the country’s coronavirus response council. Russians will be able to travel abroad to care for relatives, undergo medical treatment, to work or study. Foreigners will also be able to enter Russia for medical purposes.
  • Researchers at Harvard Medical School say that satellite data and internet search traffic indicate that the coronavirus pandemic may have begun in Wuhan, China, months before authorities alerted the World Health Organization.

Study authors told ABC News that analysis of data from as far back as October of last year indicated a surge in vehicle traffic around hospitals in the city, a spike that coincided with a rise in internet search traffic for “certain symptoms that would later be determined as closely associated with the novel coronavirus” from residents of the city.

“Something was happening in October,” Dr. John Brownstein, the study’s leader, told ABC. “Clearly, there was some level of social disruption taking place well before what was previously identified as the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic.”

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

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 4 Minutes

Protest News

  • Buffalo police officers Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski were charged with second-degree assault after they were seen in a viral video shoving and seriously injuring an elderly man during a protest this week. Martin Gugino, 75, fell backwards after being shoved and hit his head as the officers appeared to walk past him.
  • Top Pentagon officials ordered National Guard helicopters to use what they called “persistent presence” to disperse protests in the capital this week, according to military officials. The loosely worded order prompted a series of low-altitude maneuvers that human rights organizations quickly criticized as a show of force usually reserved for combat zones.

Military officials said that the National Guard’s aggressive approach to crowd control was prompted by a pointed threat from the Pentagon: If the Guard was unable to handle the situation, then active-duty military units, such as a rapid-reaction unit of the 82nd Airborne Division, would be sent into the city.

Senior Pentagon officials, including Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were trying to persuade President Trump that active-duty troops should not be sent into the streets to impose order.

  • As nationwide protests for justice-system reform enter the 12th day, anti-racism rallies and protests against police brutality are continuing on Saturday in cities across the US and around the world. 
  • The House Oversight Committee launched an investigation into the Trump administration’s surveillance of protesters.
  • The New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea announced in a statement two officers seen on video assaulting protesters have been suspended without pay. 

“These incidents … are disturbing and run counter to the principles of NYPD training, as well as our mission of public safety,” Shea said in the statement.

  • As of 5pm, DC Police reported there had been zero arrests related to Saturday’s  demonstrations with no major incidents to report. The largest protests seen so far in the nation’s capital have been remarkably calm.
  • A federal judge ordered police in Denver to temporarily stop using tear gas, rubber bullets and other “less-than-lethal” forces like flash grenades during protests. The order comes following a class-action lawsuit against the city of Denver and the Denver Police Department. 

The plaintiffs in the suit alleged the Denver police used excessive force against activists protesting police brutality in the city.

  • The Philadelphia Inquirer’s top editor, Stan Wischnowski, has resigned days after an article headlined “Buildings Matter, Too” led dozens of staff members to walk out.
  • President Trump reportedly called for deploying 10,000 troops to quell protests in Washington, DC this week, but Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint of Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley pushed back at the use of any active duty troops.

Administration News

  • Wichita State University and WSU Tech canceled plans for Ivanka Trump to give a virtual commencement speech to graduates because of criticism of President Trump’s response to protests over the death of George Floyd.

Administrators announced the decision late Thursday, just hours after they had said the president’s daughter would be speaking to WSU Tech graduates. 

Administrators of both universities, which are affiliated, said Saturday’s graduation for the technical university would be ‘refocused’ on students, with a nursing graduate as the only speaker.

  • Trump campaign senior adviser Mercedes Schlapp, boosted a tweet that lauded a man in Texas in a viral video as he yelled the n-word and wielded a chainsaw to chase away anti-racism demonstrators.
  • The U.S. Marine Corps on Friday issued detailed directives about removing and banning public displays of the Confederate battle flag at Marine installations, including on items such as mugs, posters and bumper stickers.
  • The Trump administration is rejecting requests from US embassies in Germany, Israel, Brazil, Latvia and others to fly the rainbow pride flag on embassy flagpoles during June, LGBTQ Pride Month.
  • President George W. Bush and Senator Mitt Romney will not support Mr. Trump’s re-election, and other GOP officials are considering a vote for Biden.

Coronavirus/COVID-19

  • Trump traveled to Maine Friday to tour a facility that makes medical swabs used for coronavirus testing, but the swabs manufactured in the background during his visit will ultimately be thrown in the trash because Trump refused to wear a mask.
  • Friday, Florida’s Department of Health reported a new single day record for coronavirus cases since the state began reopening.

According to the department, there were at least 1,495 new cases reported as of Friday, surpassing Wednesday’s record high of 1,317. Florida’s total number of cases is over 61,000. There were also at least 53 new deaths reported, increasing the state’s total number to at least 2,660.

  • The 50 wealthiest people in America have publicly donated about $1 billion for coronavirus relief — that’s a big number, but it adds up to a very small fraction of their combined net worth: less than 0.1%, according to a new survey from the Washington Post. 

The survey also found that nearly a third of these billionaires haven’t announced any donations, though some who haven’t contributed personally point to donations given through their corporations.

The median net worth of an American household, which registers at $97,300

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

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 8 Minutes

Protest News

  • Former Defense Secretary William Perry became the latest ex-defense chief to rip into President Trump, accusing the president of politicizing the country’s military.

“I support the right of protesters to demonstrate peacefully, and deplore the suggestion that our military should be used to suppress them,” Perry told Politico in a statement.

“The U.S. military is a powerful force that has served our nation well, in war and in peace. But it was never intended to be used against American citizens, and it was never intended to be used for partisan political purposes.”

  • “The idea that the president would take charge of the situation using the military was troubling to me,” former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey. “The idea that the military would be called in to dominate and to suppress what, for the most part, were peaceful protests — admittedly, where some had opportunistically turned them violent — and that the military would somehow come in and calm that situation was very dangerous to me.”
  • The White House is now surrounded by nearly two miles of fencing and barricades.
  • Minneapolis agreed Friday to ban chokeholds by police and to require officers to try to stop any other officers they see using improper force, in the first concrete steps to remake the city’s police department since George Floyd’s death.
  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a knee during a rally in Ottawa over the death of George Floyd.
  • President Trump said News Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees should not have apologized for statements he made hammering players who kneel during the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality in the United States. 

“I am a big fan of Drew Brees. I think he’s truly one of the greatest quarterbacks, but he should not have taken back his original stance on honoring our magnificent American Flag. OLD GLORY is to be revered, cherished, and flown high,” Trump tweeted.

“We should be standing up straight and tall, ideally with a salute, or a hand on heart. There are other things you can protest, but not our Great American Flag – NO KNEELING!” he continued.

  • Sen. Kamala Harris clapped back at President Trump invoked George Floyd while giving a speech praising a minor upturn in the economy which has slumped amid the coronavirus pandemic, suggesting Floyd was “looking down” from heaven on this “good day.”

“Keep George Floyd’s name out of your mouth until you can say Black Lives Matter,” Harris responded.

  • The entire Buffalo Police Department Emergency Response Team has resigned from the unit after the department suspended two officers without pay after a viral video surfaced showing them pushing over a 75-year-old protester to the ground and then passing him to arrest a peaceful protester while he laid on the ground bleeding from the ear.
  • The U.S. Park Police is suddenly hedging its earlier claims it did not use tear gas to clear crowds near the White House on Monday ahead of President Trump’s visit to a nearby historic church, saying in a new statement that it was a “mistake” to say no tear gas was used given that the chemical agents they did use cause similar eye and lung irritation.

“I’m not saying it’s not a tear gas, but I’m just saying we use a pepper ball that shoots a powder,” Park Police spokesman Sgt. Eduardo Delgado.

  • Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office said she wanted to honor peaceful demonstrators who were forcibly removed from Lafayette Square by law enforcement officers so the city commissioned painters to spell out the words “Black Lives Matter” along the major road leading to the White House.
  • Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has requested that President Trump “withdraw all extraordinary federal law enforcement and military presence,” from the nation’s capital after the president mobilized the forces to deal with protests over the police killing of George Floyd.

“The deployment of federal law enforcement personnel and equipment are inflaming demonstrators and adding to the grievances of those who, by and large, are peacefully protesting for change and reforms to the racist and broken systems that are killing Black Americans.”

  • President Trump continued his attacks on Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, calling her “incompetent” after she demanded he withdraw military personnel and federal law enforcement from the city amid ongoing protests against the police killing of George Floyd.

“If she doesn’t treat these men and women well, then we’ll bring in a different group of men and women!”

  • Several members of the Minneapolis City Council have vowed to “dismantle” the city’s police department following the death of George Floyd. They have called for drastic overhauls into the handling of law enforcement — ranging from defunding the department to sending social workers, medics or mental health professionals to some calls currently handled by police.
  • William McRaven, the retired Navy admiral who oversaw the team that killed terror leader Osama bin Laden in 2011, condemned federal law enforcement officials for forcefully clearing peaceful protesters out of a DC square before President Trump visited the local church.

“You’re not gonna use, whether it’s the military or the National Guard or law enforcement, to clear peaceful American citizens for the president of the U.S. to do a photo-op. There is nothing morally right about that.”

  • Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon condemned President Trump’s treatment of protesters demonstrating against police brutality, saying it is “hard to not conclude” that the US leader is racist.

“If you don’t want to be accused of racism, then don’t use racist language.”

  • NFL commissioner Roger Goodell called for peaceful protests against police brutality in a new video, reversing past opposition to protests and saying the NFL admits “we were wrong for not listening” to players earlier. The move comes after the league implemented and repealed a policy against kneeling protests after Trump and conservatives took issue with the demonstrations by Colin Kaepernick and others.
  • The CEO of the company behind fashion brands Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman dismissed stores being vandalized and looted during ongoing protests, saying the focus should be “on the cause.”

“We can replace our windows and handbags, but we cannot bring back George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Emmett Till, and too many others. Each of these black lives matter.”

  • An Ohio National Guardsman was removed from policing protests in Washington D.C. after the FBI found he expressed white supremacist ideology online. He’ll likely be ousted from the National Guard.
  • Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best has ordered a 30-day ban on the use of tear gas during protests, Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a news conference Friday.

Administration News

  • The Trump campaign removed an ad that violated NASA guidelines by featuring images of astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.
  • The U.S added 2.5 million jobs in May and unemployment dropped to 13.3 percent as businesses begin to reopen after coronavirus-related closures, according to data released by the Labor Department on Friday.

The numbers shattered economist expectations that there would be another steep rise in joblessness.

  • Black unemployment hit its highest rate in a decade in May, despite a better-than-expected jobs report across the economy following the coronavirus closures.

For black workers, last month’s unemployment rate ticked up to 16.8 percent. For white workers, May’s unemployment rate dropped to 12.4 percent from a record high of 14.2 percent in April.

  • The unemployment rate is likely about 16.3 percent — about 3 percent higher than listed in the May jobs report that came out today. The numbers weren’t rigged, say experts; the Bureau of Labor Statistics report itself included reference to a major misclassification error.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the agency that puts out the monthly jobs reports, said it was working to fix the problem.

  • President Trump on Friday declared it a “great day” for George Floyd after the monthly jobs report that showed unemployment falling — except for African Americans — and days of unrest sparked by Floyd’s killing.

“Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that’s happening for our country. This is a great day for him, it’s a great day for everybody. This is a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day in terms of equality.”

  • President Trump has directed the Pentagon to remove thousands of U.S. troops from Germany by September.
  • President Trump issued an order which would remove protections from the Northeast Canyon and Seamounts — the only marine monument in the U.S. Atlantic Ocean. This move that would jeopardize hundreds of species is likely to be contested in court.

Coronavirus/COVID-19

  • New York on Thursday reported the lowest number of COVID-19 deaths in the state since the pandemic began. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced 42 deaths were counted, an “amazing” improvement compared to 800 daily deaths two months ago.
  • President Trump signed legislation to extend the window for businesses to spend loans granted under coronavirus relief legislation, thanking Democrats for helping the measure pass almost unanimously through Congress: “I hope we can get along with the Democrats because it’s been a disaster for our relationship.”
  • The daily average for new coronavirus cases in the U.S. has been increasing slightly in recent days, with counts rising in the South and West.
  • Anders Tegnell, the epidemiologist who managed Sweden’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, said he should have implemented more restrictions to avoid the nation’s high coronavirus death toll. Sweden’s no-lockdown policy resulted in higher death tolls than neighboring countries like Denmark and Norway.

“If we were to encounter the same illness with the same knowledge that we have today, I think our response would land somewhere in between what Sweden did and what the rest of the world has done,” Tegnell said in an interview with Swedish Radio.

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

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 10 Minutes

Protest News

  • More new fencing and barriers were erected around the White House.
  • President Trump and some of his supporters are claiming authorities did not use tear gas against people in a crackdown outside the White House. Police canisters gathered by WUSA9 crews Monday night show federal police did use CS tear gas in addition to natural OC gas on Washington, D.C. protesters. 
  • Five senators knelt during a moment of silence for George Floyd during their caucus meeting on Thursday. Senators. Michael Bennet (CO), Sherrod Brown (OH), Martin Heinrich (NM), Tim Kaine (VA) and Chris Van Hollen (MD) all knelt as the caucus offered a moment of silence for Floyd.

The moment lasted for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time the bystander video footage showed former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck as Floyd said he couldn’t breathe and then became unresponsive.

  • Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser criticized fencing around White House: “That’s the People’s House. It’s a sad commentary that the house & its inhabitants have to be walled off… We should want the White House to be opened up for people to be able to access it from all sides.”
  • Attorney general Barr said there was “no correlation” between his decision to clear Lafayette Square and the president’s walk through the park a few minutes later. Barr defended his decision to use force to clear peaceful protesters from streets near the White House on Monday, claiming it was a necessary move to gain control following “very serious rioting” over the weekend.
  • NYC Mayor de Blasio appeared at a huge George Floyd rally in Cadman Park, Brooklyn—his first time in front of the protesters—and hundreds boo him & chant “Resign!” and “Fuck your curfew!” 
  • The leader of the Bexar County TX Republican Party Cynthia Brehm, in a since deleted Facebook post, said that the death of George Floyd was fabricated to create “racial tensions and drive a wedge in the growing group of anti deep state sentiment from common people, that have already been psychologically traumatized by Covid-19 fears.”

Texas GOP Chairman James Dickey is calling for her resignation. 

  • New York State Judge James Burke ruled the NYPD can keep anyone (peaceful protestors arrested for curfew and criminal looters) detained for over 24 hours given these are extraordinary times. “It’s a crisis within a crisis”, he said. “All writs are denied, Brooklyn, Bronx, and Manhattan”
  • The New York Police Department has launched an internal review after a video went viral of a uniformed officer appearing to make a white power symbol during a protest over the death of George Floyd.
  • Twitter removed a video tribute to George Floyd from President Trump’s reelection campaign this week, claiming that it violated the social media platform’s copyright policy. The nearly four-minute video features Trump calling Floyd’s death a “grave tragedy” and calling out “violence and anarchy” from “radical leftwing groups.”
  • Defense Secretary Mark Esper has ordered home several hundred active-duty troops from the 82nd Airborne Division who were brought to the national capital region to respond to protests if needed. This is the second time this week Esper has ordered the troops to head home.
  • Two Buffalo police officers have been suspended without pay following an incident in Niagara Square following a protest. Officers were filmed pushing a 75 year old man to the ground. The man struck his head and began bleeding from his ear. He is in stable but serious condition at Erie County Medical Center.
  • Just before New York’s 8 p.m. curfew Thursday, heavily armored New York Police Department officers on bicycles rushed a group of non-violent protesters in the Bronx who were demonstrating against police brutality. The officers charged with their batons out, Jake Offenhartz, a Gothamist reporter, tweeted. “Multiple people hit. Someone bleeding from the head,” he reported. Offenhartz jumped over a car and was able to escape because of his press badge, he said. “This wasn’t even a confrontation, it was a trap.” 

NYPD officers blocked exits on both sides of a block, New Yorker staff writer Emily Witt tweeted. “They are arresting literally everyone at this protest,” Witt reported, including medics and legal observers. 

“We are peaceful,” protesters chanted at the cops. “What the fuck are you?”

  • At least 10 protesters were also arrested on Manhattan’s Upper East Side around 8:30 p.m., as they attempted to attend a peaceful demonstration at Gracie Mansion, the official residence of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.
  • Los Angeles Police Department officers were seen Thursday hitting peaceful demonstrators with batons and firing rubber bullets at them in the city’s Fairfax district as they protested the death of George Floyd. 
  • Law enforcement agents have seized hundreds of cloth masks that read “Stop killing Black people” and “Defund police” that a Black Lives Matter-affiliated organization sent to cities around the country to protect demonstrators against the spread of COVID-19, a disease that has had a disparate impact on Black communities.

It’s not clear which law enforcement entity seized the masks or why. The U.S. Postal Service tracking numbers for the packages indicate they were “Seized by Law Enforcement” and urge the mailer to “contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for further information.”

  • A federal plan to contain continuing protests in Washington, D.C., currently allocates about 7,600 civilian law enforcement, National Guard and active-duty Army personnel, according to an internal document compiled for the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Thursday obtained by Bloomberg News.

The forces are reportedly stationed just outside the city, at Andrews Air Force Base, Fort Belvoir and Fort Myer.

Administration News

  • The RNC is planning site visits over the next 10 days to more than a half-dozen cities — across the South and into Texas and Arizona — as it scrambles for a new convention host. The cities under consideration include Jacksonville, Phoenix, Dallas, Nashville, Atlanta and possibly New Orleans and Savannah.
  • Unemployment claims for the last week of May totaled 1.9 million, a painfully high number, but the lowest since the novel coronavirus started spreading widely back in March, a sign the economy may no longer be in free fall.

The Department of Labor, which released the data, also noted gig and self-employed workers filed fewer initial claims last week — 620,000 compared with 1.2 million the previous week — under the expanded federal program that grants them benefits.

  • Iran has freed Michael R. White, a Navy veteran held in that country for nearly two years, and he was on his way home, his mother announced on Thursday in the United States.

White, a cancer patient who had been infected with the coronavirus while incarcerated in Iran, came a day after an Iranian scientist held in the United States was returned to Iran.

American officials had insisted the two cases were not linked. But Iranian officials had suggested last month that once the scientist, Sirous Asgari, was back in Iran,  they would look favorably at permitting Mr. White to go home.

  • Senator Lisa Murkwoski (R AK) praised Jim Mattis’s scathing rebuke of Trump as “true and honest and necessary” and admitted she’s “struggling” over whether to vote for Trump.

“I thought General Mattis’s words were true and honest and necessary and overdue.” She continued,  “When I saw Gen. Mattis’s comments yesterday I felt like perhaps we’re getting to the point where we can be more honest with the concerns we might hold internally and have the courage of our convictions and speak up.”

  • In a response to Murkowski’s comments, Thursday evening Trump Tweeted: “Few people know where they’ll be in two years from now, but I do, in the Great State of Alaska (which I love) campaigning against Senator Lisa Murkowski. She voted against HealthCare, Justice Kavanaugh, and much else…Unrelated, I gave Alaska ANWR, major highways, and more. Get any candidate ready, good or bad, I don’t care, I’m endorsing. If you have a pulse, I’m with you!”
  • John Kelly, President Trump’s former chief of staff, defended former Defense Secretary James Mattis after the president said that he had the “honor” of firing “world’s most overrated general.”

“The president did not fire him. He did not ask for his resignation,” Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, told The Washington Post on Thursday.

When Mattis resigned in 2018, he alluded to his disagreement with Trump’s decision to pull U.S. forces out of Syria. 

“Because you have a right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position,” Mattis wrote.

  • In another Tweet Thursday evening, Trump responded to Kelly’s comments. “John Kelly didn’t know I was going to fire James Mattis, nor did he have any knowledge of my asking for a letter of resignation. Why would I tell him, he was not…in my inner-circle, was totally exhausted by the job, and in the end just slinked away into obscurity. They all want to come back for a piece of the limelight!”
  • President Trump’s reelection efforts will switch back into live action next week for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown forced the campaign to go virtual in mid-March. Trump has said he misses his rallies and wants to get back to in-person events.
  • President Trump on Thursday tapped two staunch allies and former campaign advisers to serve on the Commission of Presidential Scholars.

The White House announced that Trump would appoint Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s first campaign chairman during the 2016 campaign before he was ousted, and David Bossie, a deputy campaign manager for Trump during the 2016 race, to serve among the commissioners who select the annual Presidential Scholars.

  • Trump claimed again in May that private equity CEO Steven Schwarzman told him it’s impossible for Hunter Biden to have secured Chinese investments without improper influence.

A Schwarzman spokesperson says, as she did in 2019, that he has never talked about any Biden with Trump.

  • Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said Thursday he is putting a hold on two presidential nominees until Donald Trump explains his recent firings of two inspectors general.
  • President Trump won’t make an expected trip to his resort in Bedminster, N.J., this weekend, as nationwide protests demanding justice for George Floyd are expected to continue.

Coronavirus/COVID-19

  • After 78 days of being shuttered amid the COVID-19 pandemic, casinos in Las Vegas and throughout Nevada were allowed to reopen at 12:01 am on Thursday.
  • Dr. Angela Dunn, Utah’s state epidemiologist known for measuring her words carefully, was blunt Wednesday: “We have increased the spread of COVID-19 in Utah.”

The continuing “sharp spike” — as the state reported another 295 confirmed coronavirus cases — is “not explained easily by a single outbreak or increase in testing,” Dunn said. “This is a statewide trend.”

Wednesday’s case count was the second largest one-day rise in cases since the pandemic began. The record, 343 cases, was set on Friday. The state has seen jumps of at least 200 cases each day for the last seven days — an increase of 1,791 cases statewide in a week.

  • Centers for Disease Control Director Robert Redfield apologized for his agency’s “inadequate” reporting on racial disparities in coronavirus patients, addressing criticism that the lack of data has hampered the public health response in communities of color disproportionately affected by the virus.
  • The medical journal Lancet published a statement from the authors of a study showing that hydroxychloroquine was dangerous for hospitalized covid-19 patients, saying they were unable to complete an independent audit of the hospital data underpinning their analysis. As a result, they concluded they “can no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources.”
  • Ten weeks after President Trump invoked wartime production powers to address deep medical supply shortages, only 15 percent of that funding has been placed under contract. The Pentagon also received $10.5 billion in Cares Act funding to address the crisis, and had spent about $2.65 billion as of Wednesday afternoon, a department spokesman said.

A document obtained by The Post shows that Pentagon plans for the Cares Act money include spending hundreds of millions of dollars on projects seemingly unrelated to the pandemic, including submarine missile tubes, space launch facilities, and golf course staffing.

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

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 10 Minutes

6/4

Protest News

  • Breaking with President Trump, Defense Secretary Esper says he doesn’t support using the military to quell protests triggered by the death of George Floyd. “The option to use active duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire situations,” Esper said.
  • Trump went ballistic in the White House today when he heard Defense Secretary Esper went publicly against his plan to invade states with U.S. military.
  • In an abrupt reversal, Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Wednesday overturned an earlier Pentagon decision to send a couple hundred active-duty soldiers home from the Washington, D.C., region, amid growing tensions with the White House over the military response to the protests.
  • Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told The Associated Press that he was told about the reversal after Esper attended a meeting at the White House
  • Florida Governor RonDeSantis said he is sending 500 members of the Florida National Guard to Washington to assist with the protests there.
  • A Denver police officer Thomas McClay, who posted a picture of himself and two colleagues in full riot gear with the caption “Let’s start a riot,” has been fired, officials said.
  • President Trump denied reports that he retreated to the underground bunker beneath the White House last Friday night as protests escalated, insisting he only visited the secure facility for a brief time during the day for the purposes of “inspection”
  • Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder on Wednesday in the death of George Floyd, and three other former officers who were present during the killing were charged with aiding and abetting murder.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced the upgraded charge against Chauvin

  • U.S. Park Police said Wednesday they are investigating two officers who allegedly attacked Australian reporters during Monday night’s protest near the White House. 

“As is consistent with our established practices and procedures, two U.S. Park Police officers have been assigned to administrative duties, while an investigation takes place regarding the incident with the Australian Press,” the park police tweeted Wednesday.

  • White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Wednesday compared President Trump’s photo opportunity in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church to former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s examination of World War II bombing damage in 1941.
  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday joined a crowd of demonstrators outside the Capitol protesting police brutality toward black Americans following the death of George Floyd.
  • Military personnel in Washington, D.C., some of whom were not wearing identifiers, extended the perimeter around the White House on Wednesday, blocking off access to LaFayette Square, where police clashed with protesters earlier this week. They were dressed in mixed riot gear, with helmets and face masks, shields and guns loaded with crowd control agents.
  • Asheville, NC Police surrounded a medic station created by protesters and stabbed water bottles with knives and tipped over tables of medical supplies and food. The medic team, made of EMTs and doctors, said the medical station was approved by the city.
  • Three Nevada men with ties to a right-wing extremists advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government have been arrested on terrorism-related charges in what authorities say was a conspiracy to spark violence during recent protests in Las Vegas.

Federal prosecutors say the three white men with U.S. military experience are accused of conspiring to carry out a plan that began in April in conjunction with protests to reopen businesses closed because of the coronavirus and later sought to capitalize on protests over George Floyd.

Administration News

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel “was so uncomfortable” with the thought of being with President Trump at the G-7 this summer, she told French President Emmanuel Macron, “I don’t want to be in the room with the guy.” According to sources, Merkel believed that proper diplomatic preparations had not been made; she did not want to be part of an anti-China display; and, she opposed Mr. Trump’s idea of inviting the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin.

Merkel “knows that any event, Trump will spin as if the others are implicitly endorsing him, and that’s the last thing she wants to do.”

  • France’s attitude “toward Trump is a mix of sadness and anger,” said Thomas Gomart, director of the French Institute of International Relations.

“Our main ally refused to exercise leadership during the corona crisis,” he said, “and is every day more provocative toward its allies and is creating divisions that are very actively exploited by China.”

“Mr. Trump has no diplomatic accomplishments,” Gomart said, listing failures on North Korea, the Middle East, a deterioration of relations with China and no improvement of relations with Russia. Instead, French President Macron believes that Mr. Trump has damaged European security through his unilateral abandonment of the Iran nuclear deal as well as nearly every arms control agreement with Russia.

  • President Trump returned to talk of an unfounded conspiracy theory about MSNBC “Morning Joe” host, Joe Scarborough.

“I’ve always felt that he got away with murder. That was my feeling, a very strong feeling, and I do feel it,” Trump said during a radio interview with Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade on Wednesday morning.

Trump also said that he spends time criticizing Scarborough and CNN anchor Chris Cuomo because he feels compelled to “hit back” at his critics.

“I just do it. People hit me, I hit back. I fight. I’ve always felt that about Scarborough,” Trump said.

Trump was widely criticized, including by some in his own party, for promoting this  baseless theory.

  • During the same interview, President Trump suggested that there are good Christians and bad Christians. The good ones support Donald Trump; the bad ones, like those who criticized his photo stunt, are the opposition.
  • Snapchat will no longer promote President Trump’s account. The president’s account will still be live on the app, and people can still search and subscribe to it. But it won’t show up in the tab that suggests new stories to watch or new people to follow.

“We will not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice by giving them free promotion on Discover,” Snap spokesperson Rachel Racusen said. “Racial violence and injustice have no place in our society and we stand together with all who seek peace, love, equality, and justice in America.”

  • Florida elections records show President Trump first tried to register to vote in Florida while claiming Washington, D.C., as his legal residence.

The first application, submitted in September, listed the White House as his legal residence despite a Florida law requiring voters to legally reside in the state, the Post reported. The president resubmitted his application with a Florida address the next month and voted by mail in the Sunshine State’s Republican primary in March.

The original application listing the Washington address is dated Sept. 27, the same day the president publicly announced he would change his legal residence from Manhattan to his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla. Trump, on two separate forms, listed both the White House as his legal residence and said that he was a “bona fide resident” of Palm Beach.

  • President Trump’s health is largely unchanged over the past year, according to a memo released by the White House physician on Wednesday that found he “remains healthy” after two separate exams in November and April.

Trump underwent a portion of his physical — the third of his presidency — at Walter Reed in November during an unannounced trip that prompted speculation about his health. He completed his physical during an April examination at the White House, according to the memo from Sean Conley.

  • President Trump on Wednesday defended his plans to invite Russia to the Group of Seven (G-7) summit this year despite its expulsion from the group in 2014, arguing that it’s “common sense” to do so.

“It’s not a question of what he’s done, it’s a question of common sense,” Trump said. “We have a G-7, he’s not there. Half of the meeting is devoted to Russia and he’s not there.”

  • A federal judge indicated late Tuesday he believes the EPA must update its plans for responding to offshore oil spills. 

Federal judge William Orrick said in a court decision that the law “strongly suggests that the duty to update and revise the [plan] ‘as advisable’  is not discretionary, but required.”

  • Trump’s former Secretary of Defense James Mattis on Wednesday castigated the president as “the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people,”  Mattis said in a statement.

“We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.”

  • State Department IG Steve Linick, who Trump fired, confirmed in an interview with members of Congress at the time of his firing:
    • there was an ongoing investigation into allegations of misuse of government resources by Secretary Pompeo and his wife. 
    • that his office sought documents related to this matter from the Secretary’s office through Executive Secretary Lisa Kenna, and that he had personally discussed this investigation with Under Secretary of State for Management Brian Bulatao and Deputy Secretary of State Biegun.
    • there was an ongoing investigation into Secretary Pompeo’s 2019 “emergency” declaration under the Arms Export Control Act, which was used to push through roughly $8 billion in weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and other countries

Coronavirus/COVID-19

  • New COVID-19 cases jumped by 25% in one day. June 1 saw 16,070 new cases diagnosed in the U.S. June 2 that number grew to 20,073.
  • Two weeks after Israel fully reopened schools, officials are again closing dozens of them after a COVID-19 outbreak. A new policy orders any school where a case emerges to close.
  • Senior officials at the World Health Organization said there is no evidence that the coronavirus circulating around the globe has mutated in ways that would make it more virulent or more easily transmissible.
  • Italy, once the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, became the first European nation to fully reopen its borders on Wednesday.

The nation ended the closure of regional and international borders and the end of a 14-day quarantine required for anyone entering the country, part of the final phase of its coronavirus lockdown.

  • Bipartisan members of Congress on Tuesday urged the Trump administration to distribute emergency COVID-19 funding to Medicaid providers as soon as possible, noting their “serious concerns” with the delay. 

While Congress appropriated funding more than two months ago to help health care providers weather the COVID-19 crisis, little of that assistance has gone to those who serve low-income patients, children, and people with disabilities.

  • The malaria drug hydroxychloroquine did not prevent Covid-19 in a rigorous study of 821 people who had been exposed to patients infected with the virus, researchers from the University of Minnesota and Canada reported on Wednesday.

The study was the first controlled clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine, a drug that President Trump has repeatedly promoted and recently taken himself.

  • On Wednesday, Florida saw its largest number of new cases of the coronavirus since mid-April. 

The Florida Department of Health announced the state has a total of 58,764 confirmed cases of the disease, a jump of 1,317 from the day before. Wednesday’s total is Florida’s largest since April 17, when it had a daily total of 1,413 cases.

  • Norway PM Erna Solberg rejected Donald Trump’s claim that the WHO is controlled by China and criticized the president’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the organization, calling it “the wrong answer.” Solberg is the first world leader to publicly rebuke Trump on the move.

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

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 6 Minutes

5/23

Administration News 

  • Donald Trump said he had spoken to the family of George Floyd. “I just expressed my sorrow,” Trump said, adding “that was a horrible thing to witness” and saying it “looked like there was no excuse” for Floyd’s death.

But according to Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, the conversation did not go well, as he said Trump gave him little chance to express his views and appeared to have no interest in what he was trying to say.

“He didn’t give me an opportunity to even speak,” Floyd told MSNBC on Saturday. “It was hard. I was trying to talk to him, but he just kept, like, pushing me off, like ‘I don’t want to hear what you’re talking about.’

  • As officials in Minnesota are investigating whether outsiders, including white supremacists, are inciting riots, the president Tweeted: “It’s ANTIFA and the Radical Left. Don’t lay the blame on others!”

Authorities have been monitoring alleged criminals online, including postings by suspected white supremacists trying to incite violence.

  • The president appeared to invite his supporters to oppose protestors outside the White House. Trump Tweeted: “The professionally managed so-called “protesters” at the White House had little to do with the memory of George Floyd. They were just there to cause trouble. The @SecretService handled them easily. Tonight, I understand, is MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE???”
  • Contrary to a Secret Service statement that D.C. police were very much part of a coordinated response with Secret Service and Park Police, Trump Tweeted: “As you saw last night, they [Secret Service] were very cool & very professional. Never let it get out of hand. Thank you! On the bad side, the D.C. Mayor, @MurielBowser, who is always looking for money & help, wouldn’t let the D.C. Police get involved. “Not their job.” Nice!”
  • Secret Service agents rushed President Donald Trump to a White House bunker on Friday night as hundreds of protesters gathered outside the executive mansion, some of them throwing rocks and tugging at police barricades.

Trump spent nearly an hour in the bunker, which was designed for use in emergencies like terrorist attacks,

  • “Big crowd, professionally organized, but nobody came close to breaching the fence. If they had they would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen” Trump Tweeted Saturday morning.
  • President Trump called out out-of-state protesters inciting violence in demonstrations in Minneapolis over the death of George Floyd, threatening to unleash the “unlimited power” of the US military.

Trump called for area elected officials to “get much tougher” as protests continue over the weekend.

  • Trump lashed out against the media on Twitter: “The Lamestream Media is doing everything within their power to foment hatred and anarchy. As long as everybody understands what they are doing, that they are FAKE NEWS and truly bad people with a sick agenda, we can easily work through them to GREATNESS!”
  • Attorney General William Barr announced on Saturday that he won’t wince at prosecuting protesters who cross state lines to participate in violent rioting over the death of George Floyd.
  • President Trump called the death of George Floyd a “grave tragedy” Saturday, slamming “violence and vandalism” at protests across the country and accusing “rioters, looters, and anarchists” of dishonoring the man’s memory.

“In America justice is never achieved at the hand of an angry mob. I will not allow angry mobs to dominate,” Trump said.

  • President Trump called for “law and order” as protests raged nationwide, urging local leaders to crack down against demonstrators while tensions remained high between them and law enforcement.

“Get tough Democrat Mayors and Governors. These people are ANARCHISTS. Call in our National Guard NOW,” Trump Tweeted. “The World is watching and laughing at you and Sleepy Joe. Is this what America wants? NO!!!”

  • President Trump announced that he will postpone the annual Group of Seven summit set to be held in Washington, D.C. until September and invite Russia, South Korea, Australia and India.

“I don’t feel that as a G-7 it properly represents what’s going on in the world. It’s a very outdated group of countries,” Trump explained.

  • President Trump Tweeted: “The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization.”

NOTE: Antifa is a vaguely defined movement of people who like direct-action protest, not an actual organization. Even if it were a real group, the law that lets the government deem entities as terrorists only applies to foreign organizations.

  • White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien dismissed charges that there is “systemic racism” inside law enforcement. O’Brien claimed that there are only a “few bad apples” to blame for issues of police brutality and that they are giving law enforcement a “terrible name.”
  • Some of Trump’s advisers, reportedly including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, don’t think there’s any political benefit in Trump addressing the nation from the Oval Office since the few times he’s done so haven’t turned out so great. But others, like White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, believe it’s a chance for Trump to show that he’s a strong leader and a unifier, in a similar fashion to former President George H.W. Bush during the 1992 Rodney King riots in Los Angeles.
  • The Trump administration has appointed a controversial Republican donor and businessman to head the U.S. consulate general in Bermuda, bypassing bipartisan opposition to his nomination to be a U.S. ambassador.

Lee Rizzuto, heir to the Conair Corporation fortune, was nominated by President Donald Trump in 2018 and 2019 to be the U.S. envoy to Barbados and other Caribbean island countries, but his nomination was sunk by Senate Republicans and Democrats after his controversial tweets promoting a conspiracy theory about Sen. Ted Cruz’s wife and trashing Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton, and others came to light.

His new appointment has sparked criticism for the message it sends America’s closest neighbors and the State Department’s rank and file, many of whom were upset with the decision.

  • On Sunday, in response to questions about what he was doing to address the tumult surrounding nationwide protests, Mr. Trump forwarded a reply through an aide that focused on the upcoming campaign.

“I’m going to win the election easily,” the president said. “The economy is going to start to get good and then great, better than ever before. I’m getting more judges appointed by the week, including two Supreme Court justices, and I’ll have close to 300 judges by the end of the year.”

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates

  • The White House announced that the U.S. will send 2 million doses of hydroxychloroquine and 1,000 ventilators to Brazil as the South American country confronts the coronavirus pandemic.

The president and his administration have been pushing for the use of hydroxychloroquine to fight and prevent coronavirus, despite it not being proven effective to treat the viral disease.

  • The European Union urged President Trump to rethink his decision to cut American funding for the World Health Organization. Leaders worldwide have criticized Trump’s move as spiking coronavirus infection rates in India and elsewhere served as a reminder the global pandemic is far from contained.
  • White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien repeatedly slammed the World Health Organization as “corrupt” on Sunday after the U.S. withdrew from the agency late last week.

O’Brien stressed in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the United States would continue to spend the same amount on public health but was opting to divert the funds to organizations that would better use them.

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

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 7 Minutes

5/21

Administration News 

  • The White House went into lockdown on Friday night as protests over the death of George Floyd raged nearby, according to reporters who said they were in the building at the time. Footage showed one person spray painting “fuck Trump” on the building adjacent to the White House and a large crowd of protesters nearby.
  • White House social media director Dan Scavino said that Twitter was “full of shit” for warning that one of President Trump’s tweets violated the company’s policies by glorifying violence.

“Twitter is targeting the President of the United States 24/7, while turning their heads to protest organizers who are planning, plotting, and communicating their next moves daily on this very platform.”

  • Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe announced that he has declassified the transcripts related to Michael Flynn’s conversations with a Russian diplomat during the presidential transition.

The newly declassified transcripts show that Michael Flynn urged a top Russian diplomat in late 2016 to make a “reciprocal” response to the Obama administration’s sanctions on the Kremlin for its interference in the recently completed presidential race, arguing against escalating matters.

  • President Trump on Friday announced his administration is preparing a slew of changes to the full range of U.S. agreements between the U.S. and Hong Kong, saying the territory no longer appeared autonomous from Beijing.
  • The Trump administration is ramping up efforts to secure land along the U.S.-Mexico border for construction of a wall by increasing the pace at which it brings lawsuits against private landowners, filing 13 such lawsuits in March alone, the highest since Trump took office. Acquisition of private land for Trump border wall construction is a particularly thorny issue in Texas, where a majority of land on the border is privately owned.
  • President Trump is doubling down on his claims that “looting leads to shooting,” as he faces widespread backlash for the comments, but says he’s not inciting any violence: “Looting leads to shooting, and that’s why a man was shot and killed in Minneapolis on Wednesday night,” Trump told reporters Friday. “It was spoken as a fact, not as a statement. It’s very simple, nobody should have any problem with this other than the haters.”
  • Vice President Mike Pence offered prayers for the families of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, two unarmed black men who were killed in high-profile incidents.

“We have no tolerance for racism in America. We have no tolerance for violence inspired by racism. And as President Trump said, justice will be served. We also believe in law and order in this country. We condemn violence against property or persons.”

  • First lady Melania Trump issued her first public comments on the violent demonstrations surrounding the death of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man who died in Minneapolis policy custody.

Mrs. Trump Tweeted: “Our country allows for peaceful protests, but there is no reason for violence. I’ve seen our citizens unify & take care of one another through COVID19 & we can’t stop now. My deepest condolences to the family of George Floyd. As a nation, let’s focus on peace, prayers & healing.”

  • President Trump early Friday morning lashed out at protesters demonstrating in Minneapolis against the police killing of George Floyd, threatening to send National Guard troops.

“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen … Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”

  • Twitter placed a warning on a tweet from the official White House account Friday that mirrored one it has placed on President Trump’s identical tweet threatening military action against protesters, reading “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

The label notes that that the language violated the platform’s policies on “the glorification of violence based on the historical context of the last line, its connection to violence, and the risk it could inspire similar actions today.”

  • President Trump accused Twitter of unfairly targeting him and other Republicans, just hours after the social media giant said his tweet threatening military action against “thugs” protesting in Minnesota violated the company’s policies by glorifying violence.
  • A top Trump official at the Interior Department, Assistant Interior Secretary Douglas Domenech, was found to have violated federal ethics rules by using his government connections to help a family member secure a job at the Environmental Protection Agency, according to an internal government watchdog.
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel has rebuffed Donald Trump’s invitation to attend a G7 summit, which the president is keen to portray as a symbol of a return to normality from the upheaval of the coronavirus crisis.
  • AG William Barr announced a federal civil rights investigation into the death of George Floyd while in custody of Minneapolis police this week.
  • President Trump has vetoed bipartisan legislation that would have overturned new regulations from the Education Department to restrict access to federal student loan forgiveness. The move is a victory for DeVos over veterans groups that said her rules, which rolled back Obama-era regulations, make it harder for veterans to get loans forgiven if they say were cheated by dishonest for-profit colleges.
  • At a White House event, a reporter asked Donald Trump about his concerns regarding border tensions between India and China. The president described a call he had with  Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi..

“They have a big conflict going with India and China. Two countries with 1.4 billion people. Two countries with very powerful militaries. And India is not happy, and probably China is not happy. But I can tell you, I did speak to Prime Minister Modi. He’s not — he’s not in a good mood about what’s going on with China.”

Reuters reported that this conversation apparently did not occur in reality.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not spoken with Trump about the nation’s military standoff with China. A government source said, “There has been no recent contact between PM Modi and President Trump,” a government source said. “The last conversation between them was on April 4, on the subject of hydroxychloroquine.”

A report in The Hindu added officials in India were particularly “taken by surprise” when Trump reflected publicly on Mondi’s “mood,” despite the fact that the two had not spoken.

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates

  • In the midst of a global pandemic, President Trump has announced that the United States is “terminating” its relationship with the World Health Organization over its response to the novel coronavirus.
  • Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said that he disagrees with President Trump’s decision to end U.S. membership in the World Health Organization, adding a prominent Republican voice to criticism of the move from health experts and Democrats. 

“I disagree with the president’s decision,” Alexander said in a statement.

“Certainly there needs to be a good, hard look at mistakes the World Health Organization might have made in connection with coronavirus, but the time to do that is after the crisis has been dealt with, not in the middle of it,” he said.

  • Texas on Thursday recorded 1,855 new coronavirus infections and 39 related deaths, the highest single-day tally for new cases that the state has seen as it continues to reopen its economy.
  • A troop of monkeys attacked a lab technician in India and stole blood samples of patients who tested positive for COVID-19, authorities confirmed on Friday.

According to Reuters, the eccentric attack happened this week after a laboratory technician was walking on the campus of a state-run medical college in Meerut near Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state.

  • A class-action lawsuit filed Friday accuses the Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin of illegally seizing student loan borrowers’ tax refunds even after Congress halted government debt collection during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • More than 11,000 cases of COVID-19 have been tied to plants of the three top U.S. meat processors, Tyson Foods, Smithfield Foods and JBS, according to a new analysis that follows President Trump’s executive order to compel meat processing plants to stay open after coronavirus outbreaks sparked closures and led to shortages at grocery stores and fast-food chains.
  • “Right now, we’re not in the second wave. We’re right in the middle of the first wave globally,” World Health Organization Mike Ryan said. “We’re still very much in a phase where the disease is actually on the way up.”
  • Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel claimed in a new letter to North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper that the GOP can adopt a set of safety protocols to hold a full, in-person convention in Charlotte later this year despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 3 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates

  • The Council of Economic Advisers, the internal White House economic team will not release an updated round of economic projections, as the U.S. faces its deepest downturn since the Great Depression. 

CEA will not release the typical midsummer review of its initial economic projections in July or August even as top Trump administration officials publicly predict a swift recovery from the crisis caused by COVID-19. The projections are typically produced jointly by the Office of Management and Budget, CEA and Treasury Department.

  • Over 2.1 million Americans filed new claims for jobless benefits as President Trump and governors push some states to loosen coronavirus-related restrictions, according to data released by the Labor Department on Thursday.

In the week ending May 23, a seasonally adjusted 2,123,000 Americans filed initial claims for unemployment benefits. The non-seasonally adjusted number totaled 1,914,958.

Other Administration News 

  • The Trump campaign on Thursday resurfaced a “Game of Thrones”-style meme previously used by the president to knock Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey ahead of an executive order pertaining to social media companies.

The @TeamTrump account shared an image of Trump with the phrase “Fairness Is Coming” and the date. Dorsey’s handle was also tagged in the tweet.

  • Attorney General William Barr has appointed a U.S. attorney to scrutinize episodes of the intelligence practice known as “unmasking” that took place “before and after” the 2016 election as part of the Justice Department’s broader review of the Russia investigation
  • The State Department inspector general fired by President Trump over alleged leaks to the media had been cleared of any wrongdoing earlier this year, long before his dismissal. Reports he was cleared of leaks come after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cited the issue as cause for his firing.

An investigation by the Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General found no evidence that Steve Linick or anyone from his office shared information with the media about an inquiry into the State Department that Linick’s office was working on.

  • President Donald Trump’s attempt to punish companies like Twitter, Google and Facebook for alleged anti-conservative bias takes aim at the online industry’s most-cherished legal protections — but the shot could ultimately be a glancing blow.

Trump announced the action Thursday, signing an executive order that he said would “defend free speech from one of the greatest dangers” — tech platforms that have amassed “unchecked power to censor, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter virtually any form of communication between private citizens or large public audiences.”

“My executive order calls for new regulations … to make it that social media companies that engage in censoring or any political conduct will not be able to keep their liability shield,” he said.

  • President Trump declared Twitter should be shut down over alleged anti-conservative bias.

Reporter: “How would you shut down an American company?”

Trump: “I don’t know, I’d have to ask the lawyers..If it were able to be legally shut down, I would do it”

  • The Trump administration is extending the federal deployment of over 40,000 National Guard troops aiding coronavirus relief efforts, reversing plans for an earlier cutoff following bipartisan backlash and pressure from top defense officials,
  • The U.S. government has charged 28 North Korean and five Chinese individuals with facilitating more than $2.5 billion in illegal payments for Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and missile program in what court papers describe as a clandestine global network operating from countries including China, Russia, Libya and Thailand.

In a 50-page federal indictment unsealed Thursday in Washington, D.C., the Justice Department accused the individuals of acting as agents of North Korea’s Foreign Trade Bank in what officials say is the largest North Korean sanctions violations case charged by the U.S.

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

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 5 minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates

  • Anthony Fauci said there is no evidence that shows the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine is effective at treating COVID-19. The sharp rebuke puts the nation’s top infectious disease doctor at odds with President Trump, who has embraced the drug as a “game changer” and a “miracle.”

Fauci said evidence also shows the likelihood that the drug can cause severe irregular heart rhythms.

  • Fauci said that a second wave of coronavirus infections is “not inevitable” if people are vigilant about proper mitigation efforts.
  • Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is vowing that she will make public schools share their federal coronavirus relief funds with private schools as they face financial ruin.
  • More than 100,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus, a staggering wave of death that has brought the world’s largest economy to its knees as the federal government struggles even now to mount a concerted, nationwide response.
  • A dire new report from the Federal Reserve found that economic activity across the United States dropped “sharply” in May, leaving businesses large and small “highly uncertain” about their futures and “pessimistic about the potential pace of recovery” as the coronavirus pandemic continues to send shockwaves through American industries.
  • A study of dozens of COVID-19 patients in China found that those who were asymptomatic were contagious for shorter periods of time than symptomatic patients.
  • A group of Republican senators is asking the Trump administration not to restrict temporary work-based visas amid the coronavirus pandemic. Some conservative lawmakers have called for the suspension of work visas amid widespread unemployment, but other Republicans warn: “The temporary and seasonal nature of the work, it is exceedingly difficult to find American workers, even now, who wish to work only on a temporary basis.”
  • Concerns about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic have led U.S. officials to accelerate the drawdown of troops in Afghanistan ahead of a deadline agreed upon by the U.S. and the Taliban earlier this year.

Reuters reported that a U.S. plan to reduce the number of troops in the country to around 8,600 by mid-July will now be completed in June, due mostly to concerns about spreading the virus among U.S. service members.

Other Administration News 

  • The Justice Department said that it opposes House-proposed changes to surveillance reform legislation and will urge President Trump to veto the bill if it reaches his desk. The threat is a marked shift from March when Attorney General Bill Barr helped negotiate the initial version of the bill with House leadership.
  • President Trump yet again raised a conspiracy theory about the death of an aide to former Rep. Joe Scarborough, despite a barrage of criticism about his earlier tweets from lawmakers, the media and the widower of the woman who died.

Trump tweeted about Scarborough minutes before today’s showing of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” concluded, underscoring how the topic is on his mind, and on his refusal to back down on the subject in the face of criticism. 

“Psycho Joe Scarborough is rattled, not only by his bad ratings but all of the things and facts that are coming out on the internet about opening a Cold Case,” the president tweeted. “He knows what is happening!”

  • President Trump on Wednesday morning ratcheted up his feud with social media platforms, threatening to “close them down” one day after Twitter fact-checked a pair of the president’s tweets on mail-in voting: “Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.”
  • A coalition of 23 states have sued the Trump administration over its rollback of a key Obama-era climate measure that required automakers to meet ambitious fuel efficiency standards. The new Trump standards are considered particularly vulnerable in court because they cost consumers some $13 billion more than they would save.
  • President Trump’s press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who has defended President Trump’s attacks on mail-in voting, has voted by mail 11 times since 2010. The information on her voting record comes as Trump has alleged mail-in voting leads to widespread fraud.
  • On the flight back from Florida, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters on Air Force One that Trump plans to sign an executive order aimed at social media companies. White House says the executive order will be signed Thursday.
  • In a related story, a federal appeals court is rejecting claims that tech companies like Facebook, Google, Twitter and Apple have conspired to suppress conservative viewpoints on their platforms.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Wednesday affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit that was filed by the conservative legal organization Freedom Watch and far-right activist Laura Loomer. Freedom Watch and Loomer alleged that the Silicon Valley giants were coordinating together to silence conservative viewpoints and that they were violating the First Amendment and antitrust policies.

  • President Trump is threatening to veto legislation reauthorizing expired government surveillance tools if it passes in the House, citing “massive abuse” of the government powers in the Russia investigation. Trump and conservatives have continued to allege wrongdoing by Obama officials in the wiretapping former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page as part of the bureau’s investigation into Russia’s interference.
  • President Trump says he asked the Justice Department and FBI to expedite an investigation into the death of George Floyd, who was killed in custody of Minneapolis police earlier this week.

“I have asked for this investigation to be expedited and greatly appreciate all of the work done by local law enforcement. My heart goes out to George’s family and friends. Justice will be served!”

  • The Trump administration is preparing to end the last remaining sanctions waivers enshrined in the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal, which President Trump has been working to withdraw from since 2018.
  • Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will testify next week as part of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s probe into the origins of the FBI’s Russia investigation, Sen. Lindsey Graham announced on Wednesday.

The hearing, scheduled for June 3, marks the first public hearing Graham will hold as part of his deep dive into “Crossfire Hurricane,” the name for the investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference and the Trump campaign.

  • The Trump administration is making it easier for renewable energy projects to take advantage of certain tax credits amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service issued a notice Wednesday that said it would give some companies that started construction in 2016 or 2017 an extra year before they have to put their projects in service.

Sources:  ABC News, Axios, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, NBC News, 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 Updates

  • White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said that he doesn’t think that the $600-per-week boost to unemployment benefits will be extended in subsequent coronavirus relief legislation, suggesting that a future package would instead include alternatives to encourage people to go back to work.
  • The Supreme Court said it will not block a federal judge’s order requiring a prison suffering from a coronavirus outbreak to begin moving at-risk inmates from the facility.

The court denied the Trump administration’s request for a stay of the order, but left open the possibility that the government could appeal again further along in the court proceedings.

  • Vice President Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller, returned to work on Tuesday, just more than two weeks after testing positive for the novel coronavirus. Miller said on Twitter that she had tested negative three times for COVID-19.
  • Scott Gottlieb, President Trump’s former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, pointed to the reopening of the economy as a link to an uptick in coronavirus hospitalizations.

“We now see a trend and an uptick in hospitalizations,” Gottlieb said in an appearance on CNBC. “It’s a small uptick, but it is an uptick and it’s unmistakable, and it is probably a result of reopening.”

Experts say they expect increases in cases and hospitalizations as stay-at-home orders end and people interact with each other more. The size of those increases is not yet clear.

  • An inside source speaking to Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman says President Trump spent his Memorial Day weekend “in a f*cking rage” over what he sees is his unfair treatment over his response to the coronavirus outbreak. Even as the death toll neared 100,000 and unemployment swelled to over 38 million, Trump still sees himself as the victim, Sherman writes.
  • When President Trump took office in 2017, his team stopped work on new federal regulations that would have forced the healthcare industry to prepare for an airborne infectious disease pandemic such as COVID-19. That decision is documented in federal records reviewed by NPR.

“If that rule had gone into effect, then every hospital, every nursing home would essentially have to have a plan where they made sure they had enough respirators and they were prepared for this sort of pandemic,” said David Michaels, who was head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration until January 2017.

  • President Trump said the governor of North Carolina must decide within a week whether the GOP can host its full convention in Charlotte as top Republican officials threaten to seek an alternative site otherwise.

Trump and Republican officials have pressured Gov. Roy Cooper (D) in recent days to inform them whether he will allow a full-scale convention to take place in August amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Health experts are growing alarmed after seeing photos and videos of big crowds over Memorial Day weekend. 

People are significantly less likely to get the coronavirus while outside, but the crowds of people in packed bars and pools in Missouri, boardwalks in Virginia and a race track in North Carolina are renewing concerns about whether safety measures to contain the virus are being taken seriously. 

As states lift coronavirus-related restrictions, experts are warning that people are still at risk of catching COVID-19.

Other Administration News 

  • Timothy Klausutis, the husband of a woman who died while working for former Rep. Joe Scarborough has asked Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to remove tweets posted by President Trump that suggest her death was a part of a conspiracy theory involving the MSNBC “Morning Joe” host.

In his letter to Dorsey, which was obtained by The New York Times, told the Twitter founder that his “wife deserves better.”

“These conspiracy theorists, including most recently the President of the United States, continue to spread their bile and misinformation on your platform disparaging the memory of my wife and our marriage.”

Twitter said that while it is sorry about the statements and the attention they are drawing, it would not be removing the tweets.

  • White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended President Trump’s promotion of the conspiracy theory about the 2001 death of a woman who worked for then-Rep. Joe Scarborough.

McEnany argued that the theory recently amplified by the president was not “an original Trump thought” and that reporters should direct their questions about the matter to Scarborough.

McEnany faced a barrage of questions during Tuesday’s briefing about Trump’s tweets promoting an unsubstantiated theory alleging Scarborough was at fault in the death of Lori Klausutis.

McEnany said Trump hadn’t seen a letter from Klausutis’ husband that accused the president of promoting “horrifying lies.”

  • President Trump dismissed the letter saying he believed the deceased aide’s family wanted to “get to the bottom” of her death.

“I’m sure that, ultimately, they want to get to the bottom of it, and it’s a very serious situation,” Trump told reporters Tuesday after saying he had read the letter written by Lori Klausutis’ widower.

  • The Pentagon’s former top watchdog, whom President Trump replaced last month, has resigned from the inspector general’s office, officials announced on Tuesday.

Glenn Fine submitted his resignation Tuesday morning as the Pentagon’s principal deputy inspector general, saying in a statement that he believes “the time has come for me to step down and allow others to perform this vital role”

  • President Trump is “displeased” with the Chinese government’s latest attempt to crack down on Hong Kong, the White House said Tuesday, adding to tensions between the U.S. and Beijing.

“He’s displeased with China’s efforts and that it’s hard to see how Hong Kong can remain a financial hub if China takes over,” press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters, relaying a message she said came from the president.

  • Most seniors on Medicare plans will pay no more than $35 for a month’s worth of insulin under a new agreement reached by insurers, drug manufacturers and the Trump administration. 

More than 1,750 Medicare Part D drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans will cap the cost of insulin copays at $35, saving enrollees an average of $446 per year, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

  • In a win to environmentalists and conservationists, a federal court has ruled that 440 oil and gas leases on public land sold by the Trump administration are invalid because officials did not properly follow rules that set aside land for a threatened bird species.

“It confirms that the Trump administration violated the law in bulldozing those commitments in its haste to sell off lands that are owned by all Americans to the oil and gas industry,” Earthjustice attorney Michael Freeman said.

The government will have to return millions of dollars for oil and gas contracts spread over some 336,000 acres.

  • President Trump railed against mail-in voting in California on Tuesday and claimed the general election would be “rigged” if Gov. Gavin Newsom mailed absentee ballots to every voter in the state.

In a series of Tweets, Trump wrote: “There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed. The Governor of California is sending Ballots to millions of people, anyone…..living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there, will get one. That will be followed up with professionals telling all of these people, many of whom have never even thought of voting before, how, and for whom, to vote. This will be a Rigged Election. No way!”

  • Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel said that “a lot of states” have offered to host the party’s convention in August after President Trump threatened to move it from North Carolina.
  • The Treasury Department and IRS have released new finalized rule changes under which certain tax-exempt groups, such as the NRA and ACLU, will no longer be required to provide the names and addresses of major donors on annual returns filed with the IRS, a move backed by Republicans but which Democrats worry raises the potential for so-called “dark money” from foreign countries to influence elections.
  • Twitter placed warnings on two posts from President Trump earlier in the day in which he railed against mail-in voting in California, claiming without evidence that the practice is full of fraud.
  • President Trump accused Twitter of “stifling FREE SPEECH” and interfering in the 2020 election by fact-checking one of his tweets on the issue of voting by mail.

The president Tweeted: “@Twitter is now interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election. They are saying my statement on Mail-In Ballots, which will lead to massive corruption and fraud, is incorrect, based on fact-checking by Fake News CNN and the Amazon Washington Post,”  the president tweeted Tuesday evening. “Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!”

  • Former House staffers to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are being asked to sign a letter offering him support after a “smear campaign” that he and his wife asked staffers to carry out trivial tasks such as bringing him lunch or getting his dry cleaning.

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