The Past 24 Hours or So – Protests/Racial & Social Justice, Trump Administration, and Presidential Campaign Updates

Read Time: 5 Minutes

Protests/Racial and Social Justice

  • Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best announced her resignation on Tuesday, one day after the Seattle City Council cut the police department’s budget, as part of reform efforts following mass protests against police violence.
  • The family of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who died in police custody in August of last year, is suing Aurora, Colorado police and medical officials over his death. McClain died after walking home from the grocery store as police responded to a suspicious person and he was injected with ketamine.

In the wake of the death of George Floyd, McClain’s death has drawn renewed national attention.

  • “This act of pillaging, robbing & looting in Chicago was humiliating, embarrassing and morally wrong. It must not be associated with our quest for social justice and equality,” The Rev. Jesse Jackson said, condemning the looting reported in Chicago and asserting it’s not related to the broader movement fighting for Black Lives Matter.
  • An Indiana man has been charged with a hate crime by the Justice Department, which says he displayed swastikas, burning crosses and signs with racial slurs in an attempt to intimidate his Black neighbor. He also allegedly egged the neighbor’s house and played “Dixie,” an unofficial anthem of the Confederacy, on repeat.
  • A Colorado police officer has been placed on temporary suspension after it was learned he posted online comments under a fake name saying “kill them all” about Black Lives Matter protesters on a livestream of protests. Sgt. Keith Wrede was handed a 40-hour suspension, which he noted amounted to more than $2,000 in lost pay.
  • Harry H. Rogers, a 36-year-old self-proclaimed KKK leader, was convicted of six misdemeanors and sentenced to 12 months in jail for each after he drove a car through a group of Black Lives Matter protesters. He still faces three felony charges of attempted malicious wounding.
  • “I would say this: If they don’t stand for the national anthem, I hope they don’t open,” President Trump said in a new interview expressing hopes that the NFL is able to open during the coronavirus pandemic with the caveat that he wants players to stop participating in kneeling protests against racial injustice during the national anthem.
  • A federal judge ruled that an Idaho law, signed by GOP Gov. Brad Little, banning transgender people from altering the gender on their birth certificates is unconstitutional.

Trump Administration

  • Most Department of Veterans Affairs prescriptions are fulfilled by mail. But as U.S. Postal Service delays mount, veterans are reporting long wait times to receive critical medication and VA staff says the problem is growing.

VA’s mail-order pharmacy system processes nearly half a million prescriptions daily and each day, more than 330,000 veterans receive a package of prescriptions in the mail. Veterans who live further from VA medical facilities, especially in rural and remote areas of the country, often depend on mail-order prescriptions.

The delays are a direct result of policies instituted by Trump’s newly appointed Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy.

  • President Trump’s interest in taking intelligence briefings has been declining steadily since his first months in office and has dropped to near zero in recent weeks, according to a review of all of his daily schedules.

Trump went from a high of 4.1 briefings per week on average in March 2017 to 0.7 per week since July 1, shortly after it became public that he had ignored intelligence reports about Russia offering bounties to the Taliban for each American soldier killed in Afghanistan.

Monday’s briefing, in fact, was the first in August and the first since July 22. That month had only three briefings scheduled.

  • A U.S. district court struck down the legal opinion used to justify the Trump administration’s coming rollback of protections for migratory birds late Monday, writing that the Department of the Interior memo was “contrary to law.”

The Trump administration had suggested a change that would only punish big oil and gas companies for killing birds on purpose, but not if it was accidental.

  • A government assessment recently obtained by an environmental group appears to link a well the group says is used in U.S.-Mexico border wall construction to low water levels in wildlife habitats at an Arizona refuge with endangered species.
  • A federal appeals court appeared unsympathetic to arguments that it should order a district court judge to dismiss criminal charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Presidential Campaign

  • The Democratic National Convention announced its speaker lineup. Notable speakers include: Barack and Michelle Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Chuck Schumer, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
  • Joe Biden announced Kamala Harris as his running mate. 
  • In 2011 and again in 2013, Trump donated a total of $6,000 to Harris’ campaign for California attorney general. His daughter, Ivanka, also gave Harris $2,000 in 2014
  • Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto fact-checked the Trump campaign’s assertion that Sen. Kamala Harris called Joe Biden a racist, noting that she “never did.”

The fact check followed Trump campaign senior adviser Katrina Pierson falsely claiming: “Not long ago, Kamala Harris called Joe Biden a racist and asked for an apology she never received.”

  • President Trump is claiming that Sen. Kamala Harris was his “number one pick” to be Joe Biden’s running mate, knocking her unsuccessful presidential bid and complaining at length that she was “nasty” to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh as well as Biden.

“She was extraordinarily nasty to Judge Kavanaugh… She was nasty to to a level that was just a horrible thing,” Trump said. “She was very very nasty, she was probably nastier than even Pocahontas to Joe Biden.”

  • President Trump and his campaign debuted their first video ad targeting Sen. Kamala Harris just minutes after presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden named her as his running mate on Tuesday, trying to brand her as “phony” and him as “slow.”
  • In a racially charged statement, President Trump claimed he had such good poll numbers before the pandemic that “George Washington would have had a hard time beating me before the plague came in, before the China plague. And then, you know, like every other nation, like other countries, when you get hit, it affects you, and we went down a little bit.”
  • President Trump on Tuesday defended his “reluctance to embrace” United States intelligence agencies as he continues to question the latest reports that Russia is meddling in the 2020 election.

“If the first people you met from so called American Intelligence were Dirty Cops who have now proven to be sleazebags at the highest level like James Comey, proven liar James Clapper, & perhaps the lowest of them all, Wacko John Brennan who headed the CIA, you could perhaps understand my reluctance to embrace!”

  • Attendees at the Republican National Convention will be required to wear masks and badges that allow them to be tracked through Bluetooth technology that will help contact trace people should anyone contract coronavirus.
  • The progressive Jewish group Bend the Arc Jewish Action PAC has endorsed Joe Biden for president.

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Chicago Tribune, 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