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

Read Time: 4 Minutes

Trump Administration

  • President Trump’s advisers were wary to talk to him about military options over fears he’d accidentally start a war, CNN’s Jim Sciutto reported Thursday.

Sciutto, CNN’s chief national security correspondent, said multiple former administration officials told him that as tensions rose with North Korea and Iran, Trump’s advisers told foreign officials that they did not know what the president would choose to do next.

  • President Trump said that he had reimposed aluminum tariffs on Canada, reigniting a point of contention that had been cleared up prior to the finalization of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which went into effect in July.
  • Vice President Pence told Christian Broadcast Network’s David Brody, “Look, we have great respect for the institution of the Supreme Court of the United States, but Chief Justice John Roberts has been a disappointment to conservatives.” – a rare direct rebuke of the top justice after he ruled against the Trump administration in a series of recent cases.
  • Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Wednesday said “most believe” the massive explosion that killed at least 100 people in Beirut was an accident, contradicting President Trump, who a day prior called the blast an “attack.”
  • The Pentagon is flying aid to Lebanon following the massive explosion that killed at least 150 people and injured thousands more in Beirut.
  • The Trump administration targeted eleven individuals with sanctions over China’s crackdown on Hong Kong, accusing the chief executive of the autonomous territory Carrie Lam of “implementing Beijing’s policies of suppression of freedom and democratic processes.”

Presidential Campaign

  • President Trump claimed Joe Biden, a practicing Catholic, is “against God” as he levied a stream of attacks on his likely opponent in the November election.

“Take away your guns, take away your Second Amendment. No religion, no anything,” Trump said, standing behind a podium with the presidential seal. “Hurt the Bible. Hurt God. He’s against God. He’s against guns. He’s against energy.”

  • Joe Biden said his faith is the “bedrock foundation of my life” after President Trump accused him of being “against God.”

In a statement released via email, Biden criticized Trump,  “It’s beneath the office he holds and it’s beneath the dignity the American people so rightly expect and deserve from their leaders.” 

“However, like the words of so many other insecure bullies, President Trump’s comments reveal more about him than they do about anyone else,” he added. “They show us a man willing to stoop to any low for political gain.”

  • As a result of the Committee to Defend the President, a pro-Trump super PAC’s repeated sharing of content determined by third-party fact-checkers to be false, Facebook is banning ads from the Committee to Defend the President.
  • The Commission on Presidential Debates rejected the Trump campaign’s request to modify the presidential debate schedule so the first debate occurs before states begin early voting.
  • Joe Biden was asked about his view toward normalizing relations with Cuba and pivoted into a comparison of diversity in African American and Latino communities.

“And by the way, what you all know but most people don’t know, unlike the African American community with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community with incredibly different attitudes about different things. You go to Florida you find a very different attitude about immigration in certain places than you do when you’re in Arizona. So it’s a very different, a very diverse community,” Biden told a panel of journalists. 

  • Joe Biden in a Thursday night tweet clarified his comments comparing African American and Latino communities.

“Earlier today, I made some comments about diversity in the African American and Latino communities that I want to clarify. In no way did I mean to suggest the African American community is a monolith—not by identity, not on issues, not at all.

Throughout my career I’ve witnessed the diversity of thought, background, and sentiment within the African American community. It’s this diversity that makes our workplaces, communities, and country a better place.”

  • The top US counterintelligence official publicly announced Friday a series of foreign threats facing the upcoming 2020 presidential election, warning in particular that Russia is using a range of measures to “primarily denigrate” former Vice President Joe Biden and that China prefers President Trump does not win reelection.
  • The State Department confirmed that it was behind text messages sent to Russians and Iranians promoting a multimillion-dollar bounty for information on foreign efforts to meddle in this year’s U.S. elections.

Protests/Racial and Social Justice

  • The U.S. Navy SEALs have reportedly cut ties with an independent Navy SEAL museum after a video surfaced over the weekend showing dogs participating in a demonstration in which they attacked a man in a Colin Kaepernick jersey.
  • Less than a year after being appointed, the now former Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales has been demoted to captain over the department’s recent use of tear gas during protests. 

“His conduct is unbecoming, filled with ethical lapses and flawed decisions,” said Commissioner Raymond Robakowski

  • Video released this week following a North Carolina judge’s order shows a Black man in apparent medical distress repeatedly telling officers, “I can’t breathe,” days before he died in a hospital. 

John Elliott Neville, 56, of Greensboro, also can be heard telling officers, “Let me go!” and “Help me!” and calling out, “Mama!” during the episode a day after his December 1 arrest. He became unresponsive during the incident and died later at a hospital.

The five corrections officers and the nurse who attended to Neville leading up to his death have been charged with involuntary manslaughter by Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill. They have been relieved of duty, the sheriff’s office said.

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

The Past 24 Hours or So – Trump Administration News

Read Time: 5 Minutes

  • The Supreme Court shielded a trove of President Trump’s financial records from Congress.

The justices in Trump v. Mazars declined to grant Congress access to financial documents subpoenaed by a trio of Democratic-led House committees.

  • The Supreme Court granted New York state prosecutors access to President Trump’s tax returns. The ruling in Trump v. Vance makes it more likely that Trump’s tax returns are eventually made public, though it’s unclear if they would be disclosed before the November general election.
  • Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. declared a “tremendous victory” after the Supreme Court upheld his office’s subpoena for President Trump’s tax returns, calling it a win for the “nation’s system of justice and its founding principle that no one – not even a president – is above the law.”
  • In what could be considered an unhinged rant, the president took to Twitter following the SCOTUS ruling.

“We have a totally corrupt previous Administration, including a President and Vice President who spied on my campaign, AND GOT CAUGHT…and nothing happens to them. This crime was taking place even before my election, everyone knows it, and yet all are frozen stiff with fear….”

“…Won all against the Federal Government and the Democrats send everything to politically corrupt New York, which is falling apart with everyone leaving, to give it a second, third and fourth try. Now the Supreme Court gives a delay ruling that they would never have given…”

“….for another President. This is about PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT. We catch the other side SPYING on my campaign, the biggest political crime and scandal in U.S. history, and NOTHING HAPPENS. But despite this, I have done more than any President in history in first 3 1/2 years!”

Courts in the past have given “broad deference”. BUT NOT ME!

“The Supreme Court sends case back to Lower Court, arguments to continue. This is all a political prosecution. I won the Mueller Witch Hunt, and others, and now I have to keep fighting in a politically corrupt New York. Not fair to this Presidency or Administration!”

  • President Trump, who is already more than a week late filing his annual financial disclosure, is being given 45 additional days to file the annual forms. A White House official said that Trump had requested an extension because the 2019 finances were “complicated” and he has “been focused on addressing the coronavirus crisis and other matters.”
  • Michael Cohen, the former personal lawyer for President Trump, was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals for violating the terms of his furlough. Cohen, who was supposed to be confined to his house, was photographed eating at a Manhattan restaurant weeks after being released from prison.
  • The Department of Justice said in a court filing that it’s “reasonable” for longtime Trump adviser and former Republican operative Roger Stone to begin his prison sentence next week, saying Stone failed to provide adequate reasoning as to why he should be treated differently from other convicted felons.
  • The judge hearing the criminal prosecution against U.S. President Donald Trump’s former adviser Michael Flynn asked an appeals court to reconsider a recent decision dismissing the case.
  • Attorney General William Barr persistently pressured Manhattan’s former top federal prosecutor to resign during a June 18 meeting at a New York hotel and in a subsequent phone call, the ousted prosecutor, Geoffrey Berman told lawmakers Thursday, detailing for the first time the series of events that led to his removal the next day.

Berman, in a written statement to the House Judiciary Committee, said Barr repeatedly attempted to coax Berman into resigning his post by suggesting he consider other positions in government, including the chairmanship of the Securities and Exchange Commission or the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.

“I said that there was no job offer that would entice me to resign from my position,” Berman told lawmakers in his opening statement

  • In contrast to efforts by the Trump administration to dismiss the C.I.A.’s judgment and to justify the White House’s failure to authorize any response to Moscow by downplaying the assessment of Russian bounties on U.S. troops as uncorroborated, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a Congressional hearing, “If in fact there’s bounties, I am an outraged general.” “If, in fact, there’s bounties directed by the government of Russia or any of their institutions to kill American soldiers, that’s a big deal. That’s a real big deal.”

He also said that while the government so far lacks proof that any caused specific military casualties, “we are still looking.”

“We’re not done,” he continued. “We’re going to run this thing to the ground.”

Intelligence that included accounts from interrogated detainees and electronic intercepts of data showing payments from a bank account linked to Russia’s military intelligence agency, the G.R.U., to the Taliban, the C.I.A. concluded that Russia had escalated its support to the Taliban to include financial incentives for killing Americans and other coalition troops.

  • Secretary of Defense Mark Esper confirmed that he had been briefed on information regarding Russian payments to the Taliban, seemingly acknowledging that Russia’s support for the militant group in Afghanistan is not a “hoax,” as President Donald Trump has claimed. However, Esper also made clear that he has not seen intelligence that corroborates claims that American troops were killed as a result of the “bounty” payments, walking a delicate line between acknowledging a well-known threat and potentially clashing with the President.
  • The Trump administration has sanctioned four Chinese officials and a regional security agency for the Chinese government’s repressive campaign against ethnic minorities.

The economic penalties and visa bans come on the same day that the White House confirmed it is finalizing a ban on federal contracts and contractors using five Chinese companies, some of which have ties to the campaign against Uighurs.

  • More than 100 Democratic House lawmakers are calling on the Trump administration to end its transgender military ban following a Supreme Court ruling barring discrimination against LGBT workers.
  • Michael Pack, the Trump-appointed CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, has reportedly signaled that he will not approve of visa renewals for foreign reporters who work for Voice of America and has fired the Radio Free Asia chief.
  • The White House pushed for a “correction” of a National Weather Service Tweet that contradicted President Trump during the “Sharpigate” scandal in 2019, according to a new internal watchdog report. The report from the Commerce Department inspector general also found that the White House was involved in an unsigned statement rebuking the tweet.

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

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