The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 8 Minutes

Protest News

  • The president took aim at Andrew and Chris Cuomo in a Tweet: “Yesterday was a bad day for the Cuomo Brothers. New York was lost to the looters, thugs, Radical Left, and all others forms of Lowlife & Scum. The Governor refuses to accept my offer of a dominating National Guard. NYC was ripped to pieces. Likewise, Fredo’s ratings are down 50%!”
  • The chief of staff for D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser, confirmed that federal officials, including at the White House, inquired about their powers to take control of the city’s police department. He said city officials objected and would mount a legal challenge if federal officials tried to do so.
  • Attorney General William Barr personally ordered the perimeter near the White House to be extended, pushing protesters away from Lafayette Park shortly before President Trump spoke in the area on Monday night. Law enforcement forced protesters out by using tear gas.

“He conferred with them to check on the status and basically said: ‘This needs to be done. Get it done,’” a Justice Department official said.

  • Australia’s prime minister called for an investigation into an attack on two Australian journalists by police officers that was broadcast live on-air as authorities in riot gear broke up a peaceful protest outside the White House on Monday

Correspondent Amelia Brace and cameraman Tim Myers of Australia’s 7NEWS were charged Monday by police officers and National Guard units who fired rubber bullets, deployed flash bangs and set off tear gas bombs to force protesters from Lafayette Square across from the White House.

  • The president and first lady visited the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in St. John’s Episcopal Church. After they paused for a photo-op with the media, they faced the statue of John Paul II for a few minutes. Then they looked at a wreath of red and white roses that held a card saying “Mr. President.”
  • In a sharp condemnation of Trump’s appearance in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory said, “I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people, even those with whom we might disagree.” 

“Saint Pope John Paul II was an ardent defender of the rights and dignity of human beings. His legacy bears vivid witness to that truth,” Gregory said. “He certainly would not condone the use of tear gas and other deterrents to silence, scatter or intimidate them for a photo opportunity in front of a place of worship and peace.”

  • The governors of Maryland and Virginia took different approaches to direct requests from Defense Secretary Mark Esper to send National Guard troops to help counter mostly peaceful protestors in Washington, D.C., with Maryland sending troops and Virginia declining to do so.
  • Police broke up a stand-off between residents in Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood after a self-proclaimed vigilante group of men wielding bats, hammers and shovels appeared to confront a group of unarmed protesters. The men claimed to be there to prevent looting, which was not taking place, and photos show they beat a local radio reporter who said they attacked him after he filmed them. Many asked why tear gas was used in other cases on peaceful protesters but not on the armed men who were mostly white.
  • A border fence was erected overnight at Lafayette Park to seal off the White House from protesters. Multiple Secret Service agents declined to discuss who ordered its installation or how long it would stay up.
  • In an interview, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo directed a message at Trump, “Let me just say this to the President of the United States, on behalf of the police chiefs of this country: please, if you don’t have something constructive to say, keep your mouth shut.”
  • Arrest warrants have been issued for 6 Atlanta police officers after video showed officers firing Tasers and dragging 2 college students, Taniyah Pilgrim and Messiah Young, from a car.
  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo criticized New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, “The NYPD and the Mayor did not do their job last night…It was a disgrace.”

Cuomo said de Blasio refused assistance from the state’s National Guard to thwart widespread looting as protests and riots rage over the death of George Floyd.

  • Mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota, Melvin Carter, says “We’re not gonna federalize our National Guard troops, and use them against our American people.”
  • Attorney for George Floyd’s family says authorities have told them the other 3 officers involved in the detainment that preceded Floyd’s death will be charged.
  • A Las Vegas Metro officer is in critical condition after a protester shot him Monday night.  Sheriff Joe Lombardo said officers were attempting to clear protesters from Las Vegas Boulevard near Circus Circus when the officer was shot sometime before midnight. The officer is currently on life support at University Medical Center in Las Vegas. 

A suspect in the shooting was arrested.

  • Retired police captain David Dorn, who served 38 years with the St. Louis P.D., was shot and killed while protecting a friend’s pawn shop from looters.
  • The aircraft flying over DC last night in a show of force against protesters were ordered by the president.
  • 700 members of the 82nd Airborne Immediate Response Force are at Joint Base Andrews and Fort Belvoir. 1,400 more soldiers are ready to be mobilized within an hour. Soldiers are armed and have riot gear. They also were issued bayonets.
  • James N. Miller, the former under-secretary of defense for policy, resigned from the Defense Science Board on Tuesday, citing President Donald Trump’s use of federal police to forcibly move peaceful protesters Monday night.

“If last night’s blatant violations do not cross the line for you, what will?” Miller wrote in his resignation letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, which was published in The Washington Post. “Unfortunately, it appears there may be few if any lines that President Trump is not willing to cross, so you will probably be faced with this terrible question again in the coming days.”

  • The Drug Enforcement Administration has been granted sweeping new authority to “conduct covert surveillance” and collect intelligence on people participating in protests over the police killing of George Floyd, according to a two-page memorandum obtained by BuzzFeed News.
  • The FBI’s Washington Field Office “has no intelligence indicating Antifa involvement/presence” in the violence that occurred on May 31 during the D.C.area protests according to an internal FBI situation report.

The FBI report states that “based on CHS [Confidential Human Source] canvassing, open source/social media partner engagement, and liaison, FBI WFO has no intelligence indicating Antifa involvement/presence.” The statement followed a list of violent acts like throwing bricks at police and the discovery of a backpack containing explosive materials, which were flagged by the FBI under a “Key Updates” section of the report.

  • Elizabeth Warren, her husband, and their dog Bailey joined protesters outside the White House.
  • More than 17,000 members of the National Guard are standing ready to support local law enforcement. That represents approximately the same number of active duty troops deployed in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

Other Administration News

  • North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper rejected the GOP’s plans for a full-fledged convention in Charlotte, telling Republican officials the only way the convention would move forward is with proper health protocols in place. Trump and Republicans want a 50,000-person event.
  • President Trump said that he will move the 2020 Republican National Convention out of North Carolina after the state and GOP clashed over restrictions that would possibly be enforced at the event due to the coronavirus.
  • The House Judiciary Committee has lined up whistleblowers to testify about alleged political interference inside the Justice Department, committee aides told POLITICO on Tuesday, as Attorney General William Barr continues to rebuff efforts by the panel to reschedule testimony he committed to in March.

The whistleblower hearing, which has yet to be formally scheduled, is part of a series of steps the panel intends to take in the coming weeks to push back against Barr, who they say has rejected renewed efforts to testify.

Coronavirus/COVID-19

  • Warmer weather is unlikely to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus, Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, said in a blog post Tuesday.

“Climate only would become an important seasonal factor in controlling COVID-19 once a large proportion of people within a given community are immune or resistant to infection,” Collins wrote, citing experts in infectious disease transmission and climate modeling.

“We’ll obviously have to wait a few months to get the data. But for now, many researchers have their doubts that the COVID-19 pandemic will enter a needed summertime lull,” he added.

  • Medical journal The Lancet acknowledged that a massive study on hydroxychloroquine that raised serious health concerns about the anti-malaria drug was potentially flawed.

The Lancet issued an “expression of concern” on a study it published last month of nearly 100,000 patients that tied hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to a higher risk of death in hospitalized patients with coronavirus.

Last week, the study’s research team corrected some of its data but said its conclusions remained the same.

  • An Illinois man faces several federal charges after he allegedly handed out explosive devices to rioters in Minneapolis demonstrating against the killing of George Floyd.

Officials charged Matthew Lee Rupert, 28, with civil disorder, carrying on a riot and possession of unregistered destructive devices after he allegedly handed out the explosives last week and encouraged people to throw them at law enforcement.

  • The Senate confirmed President Trump’s nominee to police the massive coronavirus economic rescue programs, filling a key oversight position Congress created as part of $2 trillion legislation in March.

The Senate voted to 51-40 to approve Brian Miller as Treasury Department special inspector general for pandemic recovery.

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

Protest News

  • Speaking to governors on a video teleconference with law enforcement and national security officials, President Donald Trump derided the nation’s governors as “weak” and demanded tougher crackdowns on protesters in the aftermath of another night of violent protests in dozens of American cities.

Trump called on them to step up enforcement: “You have to dominate, if you don’t dominate you’re wasting your time. They’re going to run over you, you’re going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate.”

Trump spoke to governors on a video teleconference with law enforcement and national security officials, telling the local leaders they “have to get much tougher” amid nationwide protests and criticizing their responses.

“Most of you are weak,” Trump said. “You have to arrest people.”

  • Attorney General William Barr is reportedly directing the Federal Bureau of Prisons to deploy riot teams to Washington, D.C.and Miami as part of the Trump administration’s response to escalating protests against police brutality in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
  • Secretary of Defense Mark Esper during White House call with governors: “I think the sooner that you mass and dominate the battlespace, the quicker this dissipates and we can get back to the right normal.”
  • Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, a former congressman and top Democratic National Committee official, said he has not seen any evidence that violence at demonstrations in Minnesota has been linked to antifa as President Trump has claimed, saying: “We don’t see what the president is talking about, I don’t think the president sees what he’s talking about.”
  • Flash bangs could be heard from the Rose Garden as law enforcement officials fired tear gas at demonstrators outside the White House at the same time that President Trump delivered remarks on his response to nationwide protests and violence in the wake of the death of George Floyd. Video from nearby showed officials trying to disperse protesters amid loud bangs as tear gas lingered in the air near the White House.
  • President Trump said he would mobilize “all available federal resources, civilian and military” to clamp down on protests across the country, declaring himself the “president of law and order.” Trump said he was dispatching the military across Washington, D.C., and urged governors nationwide to “dominate” their streets by deploying the National Guard. If they refused, he said, he would send in troops to American cities.
  • Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser condemned the use of tear gas on peaceful protesters outside the White House and called the move “shameful,” saying “federal police used munitions on peaceful protestors in front of the White House, an act that will make the job of @DCPoliceDept officers more difficult.”
  • Just moments after protesters were forcefully removed from the park directly outside the White House by law enforcement who fired tear gas into the crowd, President Trump walked down the street to a historic church that was set on fire by protesters on Sunday. At the church, he posed for a photo and told reporters he was going to keep the building “safe” while also declaring: “Greatest country in the world!”
  •  Rev. Mariann Budde, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, sharply criticized President Donald Trump for staging a visit to the historic St. John’s Church across from the White House, where he held up a Bible after authorities had cleared the area of peaceful protesters.

“I am outraged,” pausing between words to emphasize her anger as her voice slightly trembled.

She said she had not been given any notice that Trump would be visiting the church, and did not approve of the manner in which the area was secured for his appearance.

“I am the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and was not given even a courtesy call, that they would be clearing [the area] with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop.”

  • President Trump was angered by coverage that he was rushed to the underground bunker during protests Friday night and told aides he wanted to be seen outside the White House gates leading in part to his walk to St. John’s today.
  • A U.S. Army Blackhawk helicopter used a “show of force” maneuver on protesters in Washington, D.C. on Monday night. It’s a tactic often conducted by low-flying jets in combat zones to scare away insurgents.
  • Customs and Border Protection have deployed troops in Washington, D.C., officials announced, as President Trump mobilized the military in the capital city to address the protests.

Other Administration News

  • Any push by Trump to readmit Russia to the G7 would be vetoed by the U.K., Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson said.
  • Canada is opposed to Russia rejoining the G-7 meeting because Moscow continues to disregard international rules, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters.
  • The Taliban has maintained ties with al Qaeda despite signing an agreement with the United States the Trump administration has touted as a commitment from the insurgents to break from the terror group, according to a United Nations report.
  • Judge Emmet G. Sullivan should not be required to act as a “mere rubber stamp” for the government’s unusual move to undo the guilty plea of President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, the judge’s lawyers told a federal appeals court in Washington on Monday.

Sullivan’s attorneys asked the appeals court to stay on the sidelines to give the judge an opportunity to ensure the “integrity of the judicial process” and to rule on the Justice Department’s request to dismiss Flynn’s case.

  • The Trump administration gutted a key portion of the Clean Water Act, limiting states’ ability to block controversial pipeline projects that cross their waterways. The Trump administration is specifically targeting the section which lets states halt projects that risk hurting their water quality.
  • The Department of Justice has asked the Supreme Court to overturn a lower court decision granting House Democrats access to redacted grand jury materials from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

The filing serves as the Trump administration’s formal appeal of a March order to hand over secret transcripts and exhibits that Democratic leaders of the House Judiciary Committee initially sought as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

  • An early morning shooting at Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota has left two active-duty military members dead. The incident is under investigation.
  • In retaliation against President Trump for announcing he would strip Hong Kong of its special status, China has told state-owned firms to stop buying U.S. soybeans and pork, a move that would break a key provision of the phase one trade deal between the world’s two largest economies.

Coronavirus/COVID-19

  • Anthony Fauci said his meetings with President Trump have “dramatically decreased” in recent weeks. “We used to have task force meetings every single day, including Saturday and Sunday, and about 75 percent of the time after the task force meeting we’d meet with the president. So I was meeting with him four times a week back, a month or so ago,” Fauci said in an interview with STAT News published Monday.

“But as you probably noticed, that the task force meetings have not occurred as often lately. And certainly my meetings with the president have been dramatically decreased,” he added.

When asked whether the president has frequently discussed work on a coronavirus vaccine with him, Fauci bluntly responded, “No.”

  • Drug company, Eli Lilly, announced that it has administered the first doses of a possible new treatment for coronavirus patients as it begins a phase one clinical trial. The treatment uses an antibody that the body produces to fight coronavirus.
  • The Food and Drug Administration is reporting shortages of Zoloft and the generic version of the antidepressant as demand soars and supply chains for key ingredients are interrupted by the pandemic. Zoloft is commonly prescribed to treat depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses.
  • Adm. Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for health leading the COVID-19 testing efforts, will return to his regular duties in mid-June.

Giroir will return to his regular duties next month after spending the past several weeks working with FEMA to increase COVID-19 testing capacity.

  • According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, nearly 26,000 nursing home residents have died from COVID-19, the first public acknowledgement about the scope of the disease in the care facilities.
  • About 15 West Point cadets who returned to campus for graduation, during which President Trump is scheduled to deliver an address, have tested positive for the coronavirus, the Army said.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic will reduce the size of economic output by a combined $7.9 trillion over the next decade in real terms, or 3 percent of cumulative GDP, according to a report by the Congressional Budget Office.

The report compared economic and budgetary projections from before the pandemic to the most recent round of projections in May.

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