June 2020 News

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Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative June 2020 news and views

Note: Excerpts are from the authors' words except for subheads and occasional "Editor's notes" such as this.

June 30

Top Stories supreme court headshots 2019

ny times logoNew York Times,Supreme Court Strikes Down Louisiana Abortion Restrictions, Adam Liptak, June 30, 2020 (print ed.). First Abortion Ruling Since 2 New Conservatives Joined Court.The Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law that could have left the state with a single abortion clinic. The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., right, voting with the court’s liberal wing, saying respect for precedent compelled his vote.

john roberts oThe law’s supporters said the law protects the health and safety of women seeking abortions, and that the requirements for obtaining admitting privileges helps ensure the competence of doctors.

Opponents disputed that, saying that hospitalizations after abortions are rare, that women would receive medical care at hospitals whether their doctors had admitting privileges or not and that abortion providers are often unable to obtain admitting privileges for reasons unrelated to their competence.

The Louisiana law, which was enacted in 2014, requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Only two of the five doctors who provide abortions in Louisiana have obtained admitting privileges, one in New Orleans and one in Shreveport. But the Shreveport doctor testified that he could not handle the clinic’s work alone. If the law went into effect, a trial judge concluded, there would be a single doctor in a single clinic, in New Orleans, available to provide abortions in Louisiana.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Got Written Briefing in February on Possible Russian Bounties, Officials Say, Charlie Savage, Eric Schmitt, Nicholas Fandos and Adam Goldman, updated June 30, 2020. The investigation into the suspected Russian covert operation to incentivize such killings has focused in part on an April 2019 car bombing that killed three Marines as one such potential attack, according to multiple officials familiar with the matter.

Russian FlagThe new information emerged as the White House tried on Monday to play down the intelligence assessment that Russia sought to encourage and reward killings — including reiterating a claim that Mr. Trump was never briefed about the matter and portraying the conclusion as disputed and dubious.

But that stance clashed with the disclosure by two officials that the intelligence was included months ago in Mr. Trump’s President’s Daily Brief document — a compilation of the government’s latest secrets and best insights about foreign policy and national security that is prepared for him to read. One of the officials said the item appeared in Mr. Trump’s brief in late February; the other cited Feb. 27, specifically.

Virus Victims, Responses

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washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Reopenings grind to a halt as Sun Belt states witness surge in hospitalizations, Staff reports, June 30, 2020. All the ways the coronavirus will make this school year harder than the last, even if campuses reopen; Modi rebukes Indians for ‘negligence’ as virus cases surge.

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2As novel coronavirus cases continue to surge across the Sun Belt, the optimism surrounding ambitious reopening plans is swiftly dissipating. Arizona delayed plans to reopen public schools and ordered bars, gyms, movie theaters and water parks to close on Monday, as the state marked yet another day of record hospitalizations. In Los Angeles County, which is at risk of running out of hospital beds in the next two to three weeks, residents are being urged to “hunker down” in their homes and avoid all unnecessary trips.Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, is set to testify Tuesday alongside other senior officials before the Senate’s health committee.

A surge in new infections has jeopardized some school reopening plans. Prominent conservatives including Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, have called on schools to open their doors, even as case numbers rise in more than half the states. If schools and child-care centers do not reopen in the fall, American workers could face a child-care crisis.Nearly 10.3 million coronavirus cases have been detected worldwide, with roughly 2.6 million infections reported in the United States. At least 124,000 people have died of covid-19 in the United States, and the global death count is hovering near 505,000.

washington post logoWashington Post, Stimulus program nears its end with $130 billion left unused, Jonathan O'Connell, Erica Werner and Aaron Gregg, June 30, 2020. With the deadline to apply for the program coming just before midnight tonight, senators are considering how best to use the remaining funds to help small businesses.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden to escalate criticism of Trump on coronavirus as cases grow nationwide, Annie Linskey, June 30, 2020. As states report exploding numbers of coronavirus cases, Joe Biden joe biden 2020 button Customon Tuesday plans to escalate his criticism of President Trump’s handling of the pandemic and detail how he would stem the virus, which has killed at least 124,000 Americans.

Biden will tie together a raft of proposals he’s offered since January, including providing free testing and treatment for the disease and guaranteed paid leave for those who must stay home from work while sick, according to a campaign document outlining his themes that was obtained by The Washington Post.

The document, in the form of a scorecard that the campaign will push via social media, is intended to hammer home the areas where Biden’s campaign believes that Trump has fallen short. Broad categories include the president’s failure to “level with the American people”; his inability to provide testing and treatment; shortfalls in securing a supply chain for protective equipment; and failures to protect workers, older Americans and small businesses.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Obamacare Versus the G.O.P. Zombies, Paul Krugman, right, June 30, 2020 (print ed.). Ten years of failed promises to come up with something better. Covid-19 cases are paul krugmansurging in states that took Donald Trump’s advice and reopened for business too soon.

This new surge — is it OK now to call it a second wave? — is, on average, hitting people younger than the initial surge in the Northeast did. Perhaps as a result, rising infections haven’t been reflected in a comparable rise in deaths, although that may be only a matter of time.

There is, however, growing evidence that even those who survive Covid-19 can suffer long-term adverse effects: scarred lungs, damaged hearts and perhaps neurological disorders.

And if the Trump administration gets its way, there may be another source of long-term damage: permanent inability to get health insurance.

Remarkably, last week the administration reaffirmed its support for a lawsuit seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act, which would, among other things, eliminate protection for Americans with pre-existing medical conditions. If the suit were to succeed, having had Covid-19 would surely be one of the pre-existing conditions making health insurance hard, perhaps impossible, to get.

Not to worry, says the president. In tweets over the weekend he insisted that he would come up with an alternative to Obamacare that would be “FAR BETTER AND MUCH LESS EXPENSIVE” while protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions.

But he’s been claiming to have a much better alternative to Obamacare since he took office. Republicans in Congress, who voted to repeal Obamacare 70 times during the Obama years, have been making the same claim for more than a decade. Yet somehow the great alternative to the Affordable Care Act has never materialized. 

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump is projecting again, and he’s giving something away, Robert Harrington, June 30, 2020. Lately Donald Trump has spilled a lot of Twitter ink tweet-shaming Joe Biden for inadvertently referring to the deaths caused by Donald Trump in the coronavirus debacle as “120 million” instead of “120 thousand.”

I don’t know, maybe it’s a feature of the Dunning-Kruger Effect, but isn’t that a little like Hitler saying, “No, dummkopf, it’s 6 million Jews, not 6 billion!” You have to wonder, isn’t anyone in the Trump camp doing a giant face slap over this?

bill palmer report logo headerBesides the fact that Trump is broadcasting how many human beings he’s murdered, it is also the height of insensitivity. Think of it yourself, the loved ones, friends and relatives of the deceased aren’t going to want anyone turning a statistic about their dearly departed into a political excoriation of someone else. It really does beggar belief. 

But besides all that, there’s the fact that Donald Trump himself made a similar gaffe. On April 7th of this year, while he was bragging about the number of coronavirus tests he’d done, Trump said, thus far there had been “One point eight seven million tests to date so there’s one million, eight hundred and seventy thousand million tests.” Oops, that’s a million times too many, Donny. 

Remember, this is the guy who dared to try to educate the graduating class at West Point about Douglas Muh-Garther. Or who, during last year’s Fourth of July celebration, spoke of airports during the American Revolution. He once mistook 9/11 for the convenience store “7/11,” called John Bolton “Michael Bolton,” and spoke of Americans from “all walks of lice.” 

What comes across more than anything else is what a little man Trump is, a little man who dares to compare himself — favorably, if you can believe it — with Abraham Lincoln. We must unite to defeat him in November. Every moment he spends in the White House is an effrontery to the dignity of the office of the presidency.

washington post logoWashington Post, Millions track pandemic on Johns Hopkins’s dashboard. Its creators say some miss the real story, Kyle Swenson, June 30, 2020. Since launching in January, the university’s Coronavirus Resource Center has exploded in scope and popularity, garnering millions of page views and popping up in news coverage and daily conversation.

Through numbers, the tracker has told the story of what the virus is doing while the story is still unfolding, offering a nearly real-time picture of its silent march across the globe.

But even as data has jumped to the forefront of international discussions about the virus, the Johns Hopkins team wrestles with doubts about whether the numbers can truly capture the scope of the pandemic, and whether the public and policymakers are failing to absorb t

he big picture. They know what they are producing is not a high-resolution snapshot of the pandemic but a constantly shifting Etch a Sketch of the trail of covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

ny times logomichelle goldberg thumbNew York Times, Opinion: Remote School Is a Nightmare. Few in Power Care, Michelle Goldberg, right, June 30, 2020 (print ed.). Government should treat the need to reopen schools as an emergency. With expanded unemployment benefits set to expire at the end of July, many parents will have no choice but to return to work by September.

Even for parents who can work from home, home schooling is often a crushing burden that’s destroying careers, mental health and family relationships. And online school has had dismal results, especially for poor, black and Hispanic students.

washington post logoWashington Post, A hypervigilant mom followed every health guideline. She still caught the coronavirus, Caitlin Gibson, June 30, 2020. “You can do every single thing right and still wind up on the wrong side of the virus,” said the freelance photographer and Washington resident. Her experience, recounted in a recent interview, captures how even a mild case of covid-19 can still be a harrowing ordeal.

U.S. Law, Courts

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washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: With abortion ruling, Roberts reasserts his role and Supreme Court’s independence, Robert Barnes, June 30, 2020 (print ed.). Every Supreme Court decision seems to confirm Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.’s pivotal role at the center of the court, and Monday’s ruling on abortion showed that restrictions on a woman’s right to the procedure for now will go only as far as the chief justice allows.In a remarkable stretch of decisions over the past two weeks,

Roberts has dismayed conservatives and the Trump administration by finding that federal anti-discrimination law protects gay, bisexual and transgender workers and stopping the president from ending the federal program that protects undocumented immigrants brought here as children.In Monday’s decision, he said the court’s allegiance to honoring its past decisions meant striking down a Louisiana law almost identical to one from Texas that the court said in 2016 was unconstitutional. The twist is that Roberts was a dissenter then.

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: John Roberts Is No Pro-Choice Hero, Editorial Board, June 30, 2020 (print ed.). The latest Supreme Court decision sets the stage for further attacks on abortion rights. Chief Justice Roberts’s decision to concur with the four liberal justices may enrage cultural conservatives who thought that with the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, ending the right to an abortion was just a matter of time.

But the chief justice rarely takes the direct route, preferring incremental rulings that slowly chip away at the court’s longstanding precedents. So no one should be fooled this time around: The current court is as hostile to reproductive freedom as it ever was.

And Chief Justice Roberts left himself plenty of room to vote differently in any of the many cases now speeding toward the court, involving challenges to other state laws that make it difficult if not impossible for most women to obtain an abortion.

Reuters, Investigation: Objections Overruled: Thousands of U.S. judges who broke laws or oaths remained on the bench, Michael Berens and John Shiffman, June 30, 2020. In the past dozen years, state and local judges have repeatedly escaped public accountability for misdeeds that have victimized thousands. Nine of 10 kept their jobs, a Reuters investigation found – including an Alabama judge who unlawfully jailed hundreds of poor people, many of them Black, over traffic fines.

Judge Les Hayes once sentenced a single mother to 496 days behind bars for failing to pay traffic tickets. The sentence was so stiff it exceeded the jail time Alabama allows for negligent homicide.

Marquita Johnson, who was locked up in April 2012, says the impact of her time in jail endures today. Johnson’s three children were cast into foster care while she was incarcerated. One daughter was molested, state records show. Another was physically abused.

“Judge Hayes took away my life and didn’t care how my children suffered,” said Johnson, now 36. “My girls will never be the same.”

Fellow inmates found her sentence hard to believe. “They had a nickname for me: The Woman with All the Days,” Johnson said. “That’s what they called me: The Woman with All the Days. There were people who had committed real crimes who got out before me.”

In 2016, the state agency that oversees judges charged Hayes with violating Alabama’s code of judicial conduct. According to the Judicial Inquiry Commission, Hayes broke state and federal laws by jailing Johnson and hundreds of other Montgomery residents too poor to pay fines. Among those jailed: a plumber struggling to make rent, a mother who skipped meals to cover the medical bills of her disabled son, and a hotel housekeeper working her way through college.

Hayes, a judge since 2000, admitted in court documents to violating 10 different parts of the state’s judicial conduct code. One of the counts was a breach of a judge’s most essential duty: failing to “respect and comply with the law.”

Despite the severity of the ruling, Hayes wasn’t barred from serving as a judge. Instead, the judicial commission and Hayes reached a deal. The former Eagle Scout would serve an 11-month unpaid suspension. Then he could return to the bench.

Until he was disciplined, Hayes said in an interview with Reuters, “I never thought I was doing something wrong.”

This week, Hayes is set to retire after 20 years as a judge. In a statement to Reuters, Hayes said he was “very remorseful” for his misdeeds.

Community activists say his departure is long overdue. Yet the decision to leave, they say, should never have been his to make, given his record of misconduct.

“He should have been fired years ago,” said Willie Knight, pastor of North Montgomery Baptist Church. “He broke the law and wanted to get away with it. His sudden retirement is years too late.”

Hayes is among thousands of state and local judges across America who were allowed to keep positions of extraordinary power and prestige after violating judicial ethics rules or breaking laws they pledged to uphold, a Reuters investigation found.

Methodology and Q&A: How we examined misconduct

Judges have made racist statements, lied to state officials and forced defendants to languish in jail without a lawyer – and then returned to the bench, sometimes with little more than a rebuke from the state agencies overseeing their conduct.

Recent media reports have documented failures in judicial oversight in South Carolina, Louisiana and Illinois. Reuters went further.

In the first comprehensive accounting of judicial misconduct nationally, Reuters reviewed 1,509 cases from the last dozen years – 2008 through 2019 – in which judges resigned, retired or were publicly disciplined following accusations of misconduct. In addition, reporters identified another 3,613 cases from 2008 through 2018 in which states disciplined wayward judges but kept hidden from the public key details of their offenses – including the identities of the judges themselves.

All told, 9 of every 10 judges were allowed to return to the bench after they were sanctioned for misconduct, Reuters determined. They included a California judge who had sex in his courthouse chambers, once with his former law intern and separately with an attorney; a New York judge who berated domestic violence victims; and a Maryland judge who, after his arrest for driving drunk, was allowed to return to the bench provided he took a Breathalyzer test before each appearance.

The news agency’s findings reveal an “excessively” forgiving judicial disciplinary system, said Stephen Gillers, a law professor at New York University who writes about judicial ethics. Although punishment short of removal from the bench is appropriate for most misconduct cases, Gillers said, the public “would be appalled at some of the lenient treatment judges get” for substantial transgressions.

Among the cases from the past year alone...

More On Trump's New Russia Dispute

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP lawmakers confirm reports on Russian bounty operation but say material needs further review, Ellen Nakashima, Shane Harris, Karen DeYoung and Greg Miller, June 30, 2020 (print ed.). Leading Republican lawmakers on Monday confirmed that U.S. intelligence agencies have developed information about a Russian military operation targeting U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan.

But they said that any U.S. response should wait until intelligence agencies fully review the material, some of which was shared with members of Congress in a classified briefing at the White House.

Current and former intelligence officials familiar with the intelligence said it was less ambiguous than White House officials and some lawmakers have portrayed and indicated that Russian military intelligence had offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants who killed U.S. military personnel.The CIA in particular has been analyzing the intelligence for several months and has assessed that the Russian program is real, according to these people.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Chalabi's Ghost: Beware of low confidence intelligence, Wayne Madsen, June 30, 2020. The controversy about Donald Trump ignoring U.S. intelligence concerning the Russian military intelligence service, the GU -- Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation -- allegedly offering a bounty for every American and British military John Bolton hands up CSIS member killed by the Afghan Taliban serves as a reminder to be wary of human intelligence sources, particularly those who were given a high degree of credibility by fired Trump john bolton room where cover CustomNational Security Adviser John Bolton, left.

Bolton, the author of a book about his time as Trump's National Security Adviser, The Room Where It Happened: A Memoir, has been appearing on numerous cable news shows claiming that he briefed Trump on the Russian bounty offer in March 2019.

It should be remembered that Bolton was also part of the neo-conservative cabal in the George W. Bush administration that hyped the "intelligence" that Iraqi expat Ahmad Chalabi, a dubious banker with close links to both Israel and Iran, sold the Bush White House on Saddam Hussein possessing "weapons of mass destruction."

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s ignorance is total — and you can quote his press secretary on that, Dana Milbank, right, June 30, 2020 (print ed.). If things weren’t already bad enough for President dana milbank CustomTrump — economic collapse, botched pandemic response, mass unrest — U.S. intelligence believes Trump’s “friend” Vladimir Putin paid Taliban fighters bounties to kill U.S. troops.But the White House is ready with a defense: The president has no earthly idea what’s going on.

Totally in the dark. Not a clue!“

The CIA director, NSA, national security adviser, and the chief of staff can all confirm that neither the president nor the vice president were briefed on the alleged Russian bounty intelligence,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany declared at Monday afternoon’s briefing.

So, asked NBC’s Kristen Welker, Trump was kept “out of the loop by his own intelligence community?”“It would not be elevated to the president until it was verified,” the press secretary explained.

 U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump campaign scrambles to revive imperiled reelection bid, Ashley Parker, Robert Costa and Josh Dawsey, June 29, 2020. President Trump and his campaign team djt hands up mouth open Customare grappling with how to resuscitate his imperiled reelection effort amid a wave of polling that shows him badly trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden and losing traction even among core constituencies.

Donald Trump Logo Make America Great AgainSome Trump advisers and allies are privately pushing for sweeping changes to the campaign, including the idea of a major staff shake-up and trying to convince the president to be more disciplined in his message and behavior.

But so far, the campaign has settled only on incremental changes — such as hiring and elevating a handful of operatives who worked on Trump’s upset victory in 2016 — and has yet to settle on a clear message for his reelection.

More U.S. Supeme Court Rulings 

ny times logoNew York Times, Court Lifts Limits on Trump’s Power to Fire Consumer Watchdog, Adam Liptak, right, June 30, 2020 (print ed.). The case concerning the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was part of adam liptaka politically charged battle over presidential authority.

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the president is free to fire the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau without cause. The decision, rejecting a federal law that sought to place limits on presidential oversight of independent agencies, was a victory for the conservative movement to curb the administrative state.The vote was 5 to 4, with the court’s five more conservative justices in the majority.

ny times logoNew York Times, Federal executions can restart after the justices declined a case, Adam Liptak, June 30, 2020 (print ed.). The move clears the way for the executions of four men in the coming months after a 17-year gap during which no inmate on death row for federal crimes was put to death.

The Supreme Court on Monday let stand an appeals court ruling allowing the Trump administration to resume executions in federal death penalty cases after a 17-year hiatus. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor said they would have heard the case.

Attorney General William P. Barr announced last summer that the federal government would end what had amounted to a moratorium on capital punishment.

There are more than 60 prisoners on death row in federal prisons.Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, of the Federal District Court in Washington, blocked the executions in November, saying the protocol the government planned to use did not comply with the Federal Death Penalty Act of 1994, which requires executions to be carried out “in the manner prescribed by the law of the state in which the sentence is imposed.”

The central legal question in the case is whether the word “manner” in the 1994 law refers to the methods of execution authorized by the relevant states (like hanging, firing squad or lethal injection) or the protocols the states require (like the particular chemicals used in lethal injections, whether a doctor must be present or how a catheter is to be inserted).

U.S. Racial, Police Brutality Protests

Palmer Report, Michael Cohen: “Remember what I said” about Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, June 30, 2020. Michael Cohen is still under house arrest after having been released from prison early due to the bill palmer report logo headercoronavirus threat. But it’s becoming clear that Cohen has been given permission to use Twitter while at home, because he’s been doing precisely that, with increasing frequency.

After Donald Trump’s since-deleted “white power” tweet, Michael Cohen had this to say:

Remember what I said about @POTUS @realDonaldTrump during my live testimony before @OversightDems @GOPoversight committee. Mr. President, do the right thing and denounce the #offensive and #indefensible chant of “white power”!    — Michael Cohen (@MichaelCohen212) June 28, 2020

But Michael Cohen wasn’t done. After the NY Times reported that Bill Barr tried to sabotage in the Cohen criminal case on Donald Trump’s behalf, Cohen tweeted that “The article reveals only a part of the full story,” adding that he “will speak soon.” Rosie O’Donnell then added “speak out michael – hes going down” and Cohen retweeted it in apparent agreement.

washington post logoWashington Post, St. Louis couple point guns at peaceful crowd of protesters calling for mayor to resign, Teo Armus, June 30, 2020 (print ed.). The barefoot couple standing outside a five-story, marble mansion on St. Louis's ritzy Portland Place appeared to threaten protesters with a pistol and semi-automatic weapon.

  ny times logoNew York Times, What Do You Do When Extremism Comes for the Hawaiian Shirt? Nathan Taylor Pemberton, June 30, 2020 (print ed.). Worn by extremists toting assault rifles, the shirt has gone from dad symbol to battle flag. 

It’s one of the most discussed street styles of the spring: tactical body armor, customized assault rifles, maybe a sidearm and helmet, paired with the languid floral patterns of a Hawaiian shirt.While it’s not uncommon to see heavily armed white men toting military-grade gear on American streets, the addition of the Hawaiian shirt is a new twist.

It turned up in February at gun rights rallies in Virginia and Kentucky, then in late April at coronavirus lockdown protests in Michigan and Texas.Think of the shirts as a campy kind of uniform, but for members of extremist groups who adhere to the idea of the “boogaloo” — or, a second civil war in the United States.

If that sounds silly to you, consider that these groups settled on the Hawaiian shirt thanks to a string of message board in-jokes.

The joke, for the uninitiated, involves a farrago of convoluted references to the 1984 film “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo” and sound-alike terms like “big igloo” and “big luau.” Each is a reference to the movement’s insurrectionary appetites, which range from civil libertarian rebellion against the American government to full-fledged race war instigated by white nationalists, as reported by investigative journalism site Bellingcat. The boogaloo has taken to announcing itself with images of igloos and floral prints in memes, battle patches and flags — and by wearing old Hawaiian shirts. 

June 29

Top Stories 

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court strikes down restrictive Louisiana abortion law that would have closed clinics, June 29, 2020.  Robert Barnes, June 29, 2020.The Louisiana law was virtually identical to a Texas statute the Supreme Court struck down in 2016. But the court’s membership has grown more conservative since then, and partisans on both sides of the controversial issue saw the case as a test of whether the court is going to stand by its precedents on abortion rights.

washington post logoWashington Post, Russian bounties to Taliban-linked militants resulted in deaths of U.S. troops, intelligence assessments say, Ellen Nakashima, Karen DeYoung, Missy Ryan and John Hudson, June 29, 2020 (print ed.). The disturbing intelligence — which the CIA was tasked with reviewing, and later confirmed — emerged from U.S. military interrogations in recent months. The issue has generated disagreement within the Trump administration about how to confront the Russians.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says U.S. intelligence did not find reports of Russian bounties credible, John Wagner and Ellen Nakashima, June 29, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump said late President Donald Trump officialSunday that he was not told of intelligence that a Russian military spy unit offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to attack coalition forces in Afghanistan, including U.S. troops, because U.S. intelligence officials did not find it credible.

“Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or @VP,” Trump said in a tweet, referring to Vice President Pence. He added that he considers such reports “possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax” spread by the “Fake News ... wanting to make Republicans look bad!!!”Earlier Sunday,

Trump had tweeted that he had not been briefed about the intelligence, but he did little to clarify whether the administration was denying that the assessment existed or simply denying that he knew anything about it.

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Kayleigh McEnany holds disastrous press conference as Donald Trump’s Russia scandal explodesBill Palmer, June 29, 2020. Even as additional major news outlets confirm that Donald Trump knew all along about Russia paying the Taliban to murder U.S. soldiers, Trump continues to cower. He once again sent White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany to the podium to issue his denials for him, and it went just about as poorly as possible.

bill palmer report logo headerMcEnany was asked if Trump had a specific message for Moscow about the scandal. Her response: “No, because he has not been briefed on the matter.” Wait, he still hasn’t been briefed on the matter? This news broke on Friday. Today is Monday. Trump has found time to play multiple rounds of golf since then, but we’re supposed to believe that he hasn’t found time to be briefed on one of the ugliest scandals in American political history?

Kayleigh McEnany’s stupid answer gives away that Donald Trump is too afraid to stand up to Vladimir Putin, even verbally. Trump wants us to believe that he somehow didn’t know these murders were going on. If that were the case, then he would presumably be outraged to learn about it now, and demanding to know the real story, and insisting to Putin that it had better not be true.

We’re seeing none of that, of course, because as most of us have known for years, Donald Trump is Putin’s puppet. Trump is throwing away what little is left of his presidency for the sake of trying to protect Putin’s interests. 

Virus Victims, Responses

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washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: Global death toll from coronavirus surpasses half a million, Antonia Noori Farzan, Rick Noack, Meryl Kornfield, Lateshia Beachum, Brittany Shammas and Adam Taylor, June 29, 2020. Reported cases of covid-19 worldwide passed the 10 million milestone on June 28. India and Brazil accounted for more than a third of new cases in the past covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2week. (Reuters).

The global community marked yet another grim milestone on Sunday as the confirmed worldwide death count from the novel coronavirus surpassed 500,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

That tally is just the latest reminder of the pandemic’s brutal toll. Earlier in the day, the total number of coronavirus cases reported in the United States topped 2.5 million amid worsening outbreaks in Florida, Texas and Arizona. Over the weekend, the number of coronavirus cases reported worldwide soared past 10 million.

Ron De santis oHere are some significant developments: 

  • Anthony S. Fauci (shown above in a group file photo at a White House briefing), the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, told CNN on Sunday that an eventual vaccine for the coronavirus may not be enough to achieve herd immunity in the United States. 
  • In Florida, where the seven-day average of new cases has hit new highs for 21 days in a row, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), right, said that young people who ignore social distancing rules were largely to blame for the rise in infections.   
  • Vice President Pence, speaking Sunday in Dallas, urged Americans to wear face masks. During the same visit, he attended a rally where dozens of choir members performed without masks on.
  •  As new coronavirus cases continue to rise in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has shut down bars in some areas of the state, including Los Angeles.
  • A Chinese county southwest of Beijing has imposed a new lockdown amid concerns that an outbreak of the coronavirus linked to a major market in the capital may have spread more german flagwidely.
  • The German labor union Verdi said Sunday that employees at six Amazon locations in Germany would go on strike Monday for at least two days amid concerns that the company is not sufficiently addressing health safety concerns amid the pandemic.   

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Washington Post, This coronavirus mutation has taken over the world. Scientists are trying to understand why, Sarah Kaplan and Joel Achenbach, June 29, 2020. A mutation that seems trivial could be making the virus spread more easily and is associated with outbreaks in Europe and New York. 

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump campaign scrambles to revive imperiled reelection bid, Ashley Parker, Robert Costa and Josh Dawsey, June 29, 2020. President Trump and his campaign team djt hands up mouth open Customare grappling with how to resuscitate his imperiled reelection effort amid a wave of polling that shows him badly trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden and losing traction even among core constituencies.

Donald Trump Logo Make America Great AgainSome Trump advisers and allies are privately pushing for sweeping changes to the campaign, including the idea of a major staff shake-up and trying to convince the president to be more disciplined in his message and behavior.

But so far, the campaign has settled only on incremental changes — such as hiring and elevating a handful of operatives who worked on Trump’s upset victory in 2016 — and has yet to settle on a clear message for his reelection.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Biden could be the unlikely instrument of a new generational alignment, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, June 29, 2020. When Barack Obama won his sweeping victory in 2008 and carried ej dionne w open neckDemocrats to enlarged majorities in the House and Senate, progressive voices rang out in celebration of a new political majority empowered by a new generation.

joe biden 2020 button CustomObama’s triumph was seen not just as an individual success, but also as a realigning event. The Obama Coalition, its champions insisted, would set the tone for the coming decades, much as the New Deal Coalition had defined the parameters of American politics from 1932 to 1968.It didn’t quite work out that way. Republicans came roaring back to take control of the House in2010.

Far from adjusting themselves to a liberalism thought to be on the rise, the GOP moved even further right as the tea party became the new political vogue.But there is another way to look at those 2008 predictions: They were not wrong, they were just premature. As a result, a 77-year-old Democratic presidential nominee may be the unlikely instrument of a new generational alignment.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Let Biden be Biden, Jennifer Rubin, right, June 29, 2020. We know former vice president Joe Biden is in a solid position when his greatest fears — and they are significant — are that President Trump will suppress votes or that Trump will not recognize his own defeat.

jennifer rubin new headshotBy contrast, Trump’s faces a massive polling deficit nationally, in key battleground states and in key demographic groups (e.g., college-educated whites, women).

To take nothing away from Biden’s agenda and campaign organization, Biden’s biggest advantage is in being Biden and letting Trump be Trump.

Trump must now defend pleading for the Supreme Court to wipe out the Affordable Care Act in its entirety; failing to respond to a Russian security operation to reward militants for killing our troops in Afghanistan; the recent surge in coronavirus cases, especially in states with governors who followed Trump’s reckless advice to open prematurely; the corruption of the Justice Department (which increasingly resembles a mob boss’s law firm); 14 consecutive weeks with more than a million new unemployment claims filed; and a failure to respond to calls for racial justice from a supermajority of Americans in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. Even a skilled, likable and self-aware candidate would be daunted in responding to all that; for Trump, the task borders on impossible.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump has berserk meltdown about the “stupid people” who won’t vote for him, Bill Palmer, June 29, 2020. Like an insecure fragile narcissist, Donald Trump can’t bill palmer report logo headerhandle the fact that people are increasingly turning against him. His poll numbers and approval rating numbers keep getting uglier, but his own people keep feeding him fake poll numbers that tell him he’s doing well, and he keeps wanting to believe it.

For instance, Trump is once again insisting that he has a 95% approval rating within the Republican Party, a number he cites frequently, without ever saying where it republican elephant logosupposedly came from. But now Trump has decided that the 5% of Republicans who don’t approve of him are, well, stupid:

95% Approval Rating of President Trump in the Republican Party. I would imagine the 5% are the RINOS’ and stupid people who don’t want to see great Judges & Supreme Court Justice’s, a new & powerful Military, Choice for Vets, 2A Protection, big RegulationCuts, Life, & much more!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 29, 2020

Who’s going to be the one to break it to Donald Trump that his approval rating in the Republican Party is actually closer to 80% in an average of polls? This may sound like a high number, but it’s actually rather historically low. Trump’s failure to dominate within his own party helps explain why his numbers are so bad overall.

Trump Impeachment: Revisited 

djt impeachment graphic

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s articles of impeachment — updated, Fred Hiatt, June 29, 2020. As they acquitted President Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors nearly five months ago, several Republican senators cheerfully assured us that impeachment would chasten him.

“I believe that the president has learned from this case,” Sen. Susan Collins of Maine told CBS News. “The president has been impeached. That’s a pretty big lesson.”

Here’s a thought experiment to help test that prediction: Imagine that the Senate had simply postponed its impeachment vote — and that we had the opportunity now to update the articles of impeachment.Based on Trump’s behavior this year, and what we’ve learned of his prior actions, would we have anything to add?

U.S. Racial, Police Brutality Protests

 washington post logoWashington Post, Police unions and veteran officers resist call for change from chiefs and mayors, Kimberly Kindy and Mark Berman, June 29, 2020. When police departments push for new practices, rank-and-file officers and union leaders offer powerful resistance.

Police and city leaders have repeatedly adopted changes, only for these efforts to run headlong into two formidable and interconnected forces: veteran officers who resist these efforts and the powerful unions fighting discipline. This combination can make it difficult for departments to evolve, even after they publicly pledge increased training and greater accountability, former law enforcement officials and experts say.Minneapolis’s experience shows how difficult it can be to change a police department.

washington post logoWashington Post, Miss. lawmakers vote to remove Confederate icon from state flag, Brittany Shammas, June 29, 2020. The state House and Senate approved the measure Sunday to loud applause in both chambers. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) said he would sign such a bill if one reached his desk.

washington post logoWashington Post, Changing the state flag is not about forgetting Mississippi’s past. It’s about acknowledging it, Russell Moore, June 29, 2020. Russell Moore is president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and the author of “The Courage to Stand: Facing Your Fear Without Losing Your Soul,” to be published in October.

Until now, the only flag of my home state that I would display are scraps, barely holding together, lying on the shelf next to me right now.

This remnant of the Mississippi flag was a gift from a man who served in the National Guard patrolling my hometown of Biloxi in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He found the shredded flag clinging to the ground next to the lighthouse, and gave me what was left of it.

In time, it fell apart, and all I kept were the parts that held together — stripes of red, white and blue.For me, this tattered flag was a reminder of the fragility and resilience of my home state and its people, of the ties that hold it together and the winds that have torn it apart. But I love this particular symbol not just for what’s there — bits of red and blue and white holding together despite it all — but also for what’s missing. The part that fell away was the Confederate emblem: the ugly reminder of our state’s legacy of white supremacy and exclusion.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Suspect in custody after shooting at Louisville rally,  Josh Wood, Robert Klemko, Roman Stubbs and Ava Wallace, June 29, 2020. Police said the suspect had been arrested several times in recent weeks and had been asked to leave the park by other protesters because of his “disruptive behavior.”  

Media News

ny times logomartin baron at 2018 pulitzers wikimedia commonsNew York Times, Marty Baron Made The Post Great Again. Now, the News Is Changing, Ben Smith,  June 29, 2020 (print ed.). The ultimate old-school editor, right, is grappling with a moment of cultural reckoning, our columnist Ben Smith writes.At the heart of The Washington Post’s identity is Martin Baron, the paper’s executive editor since 2013.

washington post logoWashington Post,Trump and Biden both want to repeal this tech rule. They’re both wrong, Editorial Board, June 29, 2020. Section 230 does not need a revocation. It needs a revision. President Trump and Joe Biden both think Internet platforms have it too easy — but for very different reasons.

Neither really gets it right.“REVOKE 230!” the president tweeted late last month, the day after signing an executive order seeking to punish platforms for alleged systematic anti-conservative censorship that the evidence says doesn’t exist. “Section 230 . . . immediately should be revoked,” his Democratic rival told the New York Times. Mr. Biden is of the opposite opinion: that companies aren’t removing enough harmful material.

Proposals on the table today try to address both sets of concerns.Mr. Biden at least has a better handle than Mr. Trump on the purpose of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which was designed to encourage Internet sites to moderate content without worrying about being punished for anything illicit that got through.

The legislation, which shields companies from liability for content posted by third parties, has sometimes offered sites too free a pass — permitting them to refuse to remove illegal activity and even, at times, to solicit it. Yet wholesale repeal would certainly threaten the Web as we know it. 

World Freedoms, Attacks

maria ressa rappler

Journalist Maria Ressa

USA Today, Opinion: Why Maria Ressa's fight for free speech and a free press should be America's fight, too, Kathy Kiely, June 29, 2020. Americans should care because powerful US usa today logocompanies are aiding and abetting Ressa’s censors and our tax dollars are going to Duterte's government.

Americans should care because powerful US companies are aiding and abetting Ressa’s censors and our tax dollars are going to Duterte's government. In the middle of a worldwide pandemic and a paroxysm of racial resentments in the United States, it would be tempting to avoid hurting our heads even further with the details of a complicated legal battle now unfolding in a faraway place. 

But if we believe in democracy and want to preserve it, journalist Maria Ressa’s battle for freedom must be ours as well.

rodrigo duterte philippines presidentRessa’s legal team was back in a Philippine court Monday to appeal the libel verdict handed down this month against her. It’s the latest twist in a legal battle that rivals Charles Dickens' famous novel Bleak House, a powerful allegory in which, as in Ressa’s case, legal technicalities end up overriding basic human morality and common sense.

A former CNN reporter raised in New Jersey after her parents fled martial law in the Philippines, Ressa eventually returned to her home country and founded Rappler, an innovative online news outlet.

Its investigations have drawn the ire of Rodrigo Duterte, right, the unsavory but hugely popular president.

Duterte does not brook criticism. He has already locked up one Philippine senator who criticized him, and he recently shut down one of the country’s leading broadcast networks. Against Rappler, Duterte is engaged in what might be called censorship by trial: Over the past 15 months, 11 cases have been leveled against the news organization or its employees. Ressa herself has had to post bail eight times just to stay out of jail.

Strategic Culture Foundation, Opinion: Trump’s ‘Alternate History’ and Rejection of Facts, Wayne Madsen, right, wayne madsen screen shotJune 29, 2020. Future historians will scratch their heads when researching the annals strategic culture logoand archives of the Donald Trump administration. Trump’s denial of basic facts about history, science, and even the weather will undoubtedly result in his administration and the subsequent fall-out from it being called the “Age of Unreason.” Trump and his administration often seize on erroneous information and turn them into, in what is in their minds, irrefutable facts. One example has been Trump’s insistence that the 1918 influenza occurred in 1917. Trump and his advisers discount the fact that the “1918 flu” is thus named because it was first detected in 1918, not in 1917.

Trump eschews facts as often as he is able. The 1918 flu, incorrectly called the “Spanish flu” was first detected in the United States on March 4, 1918. “Patient zero” was identified as Albert Gitchell, a U.S. Army cook at Camp Funston in Kansas.

Facts matter, except for a select group of fascist and proto-fascist leaders who include Trump, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, right, Colombian President Ivan Duque, Philippines President jair bolsonaro brazilRodrigo Duterte, and a few other delusional presidents and prime ministers scattered around the globe.

Trump’s logic on the Covid-19 virus is as bizarre as his botching the time line of the 1918 flu. Trump repeatedly claimed the United States had more cases of Covid-19 because it was conducting more tests. Trump also admitted that he ordered less tests because that action would result in fewer cases. Of course, such a statement is that of a madman and is similar to someone claiming that if he or she was not tested for cancer, they would not contract cancer.

It is historical revisionism by Trump and his acolytes that presents the most danger for the United States and the world. George Orwell’s novel about a dystopian fascistic future, “1984,” introduced the quote, “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” That fascist precept, a canon of fictional Oceania’s “Ministry of Truth,” is dominant in Trump’s administration and Republican Party, the latter having become a personal political vehicle for would-be dictator Trump.

Alteration of American history lies at the heart of Trump’s attempt to re-brand the Old Confederacy. Trump has held up politicians and generals of the Confederate States of America, over which the United States was ultimately victorious in the U.S. Civil War, as part of the “heritage” of America. “Heritage” is a word that has become synonymous with adulation of the Confederacy, Jim Crow-era racism, plantation system slavery, and esteem for Confederate leaders. In order to re-write history, Trump and his Republicans have acted to develop fictional stories about the past.

In Mississippi, the Republicans opposed to removing the Confederate battle flag from the state flag have incorrectly stated that the flag was designed by “an African-American Confederate soldier.” State senator Kathy Chism, a Republican supporter of Trump, wrote on Facebook about the black Confederate soldier, who she failed to identify, “I can only imagine how proud he was that his art, his flag design was chosen to represent our State and now we want to strip him of his pride, his hard work. I’m sure he put a lot of thought into this design.” Chism made up the entire claim.

First, there were no black soldiers who fought for the Confederacy. Second, the current Mississippi flag was designed in 1894 by one of her predecessors in the state Senate, Edward Scudder, a white man who wanted to honor the Confederacy. Scudder’s wife actually sewed the flag as both she and her husband were ardent supporters of the segregationist South. What better way to both honor the Confederacy and send a strong message to Mississippi’s large black population than to place the flag of a defeated secessionist and racist confederation of states on the flag of Mississippi!

Another disturbing alteration of history can be linked directly to the neo-fascist global movement of former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon. The neo-fascist catechism holds forth that Adolf Hitler and his Nazis were not far-right-wingers but represented “left-wing socialism.” This false historical narrative, pushed by officials in both the Trump and Bolsonaro administrations, reasons that because “National Socialism,” the political tenet of the Nazis, contain the word “socialism,” that makes Hitler and his Nazis “socialists.” Those who believe such codswallop refuse to recognize that Germany’s true Socialists and Communists were either executed by Hitler’s paramilitary forces or sent to the death camps, where few survived. To Hitler, socialism represented Bolshevik Marxism, Socialism, and Communism. There was absolutely nothing “leftist” about Hitler and his Nazis.

Trump and his supporters’ entire campaign to paint the news as “fake” and history, as we know it, as false is an Orwellian attempt to own the past, dictate the present, and control the future. Trump has given more than one “wink and nod” to an extreme fringe of right-wingers, who call themselves “Qanon,” who believe that even more far-out fantasies are true. One is that John F. Kennedy, Jr., the son of the 35th president who died along with his wife and sister-in-law in a 1999 plane crash, faked his own death in order to re-emerge one day to join Trump in battling an international pedophile ring. Several Qanon followers have emerged to join Trump on the Republican ballot in several states for the November 3 election. Qanon has a major outlet for their bizarre views on a cable “news” network, One America News Network, which is based in San Diego, California.

June 28

Virus Victims, Responses

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Spies and Commandos Warned Months Ago of Russian Bounties on U.S. Troops, Eric Schmitt, Adam Goldman and Nicholas Fandos, June 28, 2020, updated June 29, 2020. The recovery of large amounts of American cash at a Taliban outpost in Afghanistan tipped off U.S. officials. 

United States intelligence officers and Special Operations forces in Afghanistan alerted their superiors as early as January to a suspected Russian plot to pay bounties to the Taliban to kill American troops in Afghanistan, according to officials briefed on the matter.

They believed at least one U.S. troop death was the result of the bounties, two of the officials said.

The crucial information that led the spies and commandos to focus on the bounties included the recovery of a large amount of American cash from a raid on a Taliban outpost that prompted suspicions. Interrogations of captured militants and criminals played a central role in making the intelligence community confident in its assessment that the Russians had offered and paid bounties in 2019, another official has said.

ny times logoNew York Times, How the World Missed Covid-19’s Silent Spread, Matt Apuzzo, Selam Gebrekidan and David D. Kirkpatrick, June 28, 2020 (print ed.). Symptomless transmission makes the coronavirus far harder to fight. But health officials dismissed the risk for months, pushing misleading and contradictory claims in the face of mounting evidence.

Interviews with doctors and public health officials in more than a dozen countries show that for two crucial months — and in the face of mounting genetic evidence — Western health officials and political leaders played down or denied the risk of symptomless spreading. Leading health agencies including the World Health Organization and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control provided contradictory and sometimes misleading advice. A crucial public health discussion devolved into a semantic debate over what to call infected people without clear symptoms.

 djt council to reopen america fox

 washington post logoWashington Post, With Trump leading the way, record surge in new infections exposes failures in U.S. response,Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey and Yasmeen Abutaleb, June 28, 2020. As case numbers rise, a virus that has killed at least 123,000 Americans has revealed a crisis in governance extending from the Oval Office to state capitals to local city councils.

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, How the Trump Campaign Is Drawing Barack Obama Out of Retirement, Glenn Thrush and Elaina Plott, June 28, 2020. More than three years after his exit, the 44th president of the United States is back on a political battlefield he longed to leave.Just after Donald J. Trump was elected president.

Barack Obama slumped in his chair in the Oval Office and addressed an aide standing near a conspicuously placed bowl of apples, emblem of a healthy-snacking policy soon to be swept aside, along with so much else.

“I am so done with all of this,” Mr. Obama said of his job, according to several people familiar with the exchange.

Yet he knew, even then, that a conventional White House retirement was not an option. Mr. Obama, 55 at the time, was stuck holding a baton he had wanted to pass to Hillary Clinton, and saddled with a successor whose fixation on him, he believed, was rooted in a bizarre personal animus and the politics of racial backlash exemplified by the birther lie.

“There is no model for my kind of post-presidency,” he told the aide. “I’m clearly renting space inside the guy’s head.”

Which is not to say that Mr. Obama was not committed to his pre-Trump retirement vision — a placid life that was to consist of writing, sun-flecked fairways, policy work through his foundation, producing documentaries with Netflix and family time aplenty at a new $11.7 million spread on Martha’s Vineyard.

Still, more than three years after his exit, the 44th president of the United States is back on a political battlefield he longed to leave, drawn into the fight by an enemy, Mr. Trump, who is hellbent on erasing him, and by a friend, Joseph R. Biden Jr., who is equally intent on embracing him.

Palmer Report, Opinion: “Pisses me off” – President Obama comes out swinging at Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, June 28, 2020. President Barack Obama promised that he’d come out swinging at the right time during the 2020 election cycle to make sure Donald Trump loses. With the pandemic going on, campaigning has been anything but traditional. That said, Obama has clearly decided that now is the time to start making his mark on the election.

bill palmer report logo headerPresident Barack Obama promised that he’d come out swinging at the right time during the 2020 election cycle to make sure Donald Trump loses. With the pandemic going on, campaigning has been anything but traditional. That said, Obama has clearly decided that now is the time to start making his mark on the election.

During a private fundraiser this week, President Obama lashed out at Trump for his use of racist phrases to describe the coronavirus, saying “I don’t want a country in which the president of the United States is actively trying to promote anti-Asian sentiment and thinks it’s funny. I don’t want that. That still shocks and pisses me off.”

U.S. Courts, Justice Dept. 

ny times logoNew York Times, The Obama administration tried to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Joe Biden says he shares the goal, Carol Rosenberg, June 28, 2020 (print ed.) (This article was produced in partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting). The Obama administration ran into a wall of political opposition when it tried. The former vice president rarely brings up the topic and has yet to draw up a strategy but says he shares the goal.

President Barack Obama vowed to close it, and failed. President Trump vowed to load it up with more “bad dudes,” and has not. Now Joseph R. Biden Jr. is saying that if elected president, he would support shutting down the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — but has declined to specify how he would do it or what he would do with the 40 men held there as wartime prisoners, including the men accused of plotting the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

In response to a question, his campaign said in a statement that Mr. Biden “continues to support closing the detention center.” Echoing Mr. Obama, the statement said the prison “undermines American national security by fueling terrorist recruitment and is at odds with our values as a country.”

But Mr. Biden rarely, if ever, brings up the topic, evidence of how politically toxic it remains after intense Republican efforts to cast Mr. Obama’s initiative as endangering Americans by transferring terrorists to U.S. soil or sending them without adequate safeguards to other countries.

June 27

Top Headlines

Virus Victims, Responses

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2

Russian Dead American Bounties?

Inside DC / Scandal

U.S. 2020 Politics, Elections

U.S. Courts, Justice Dept.

Media News

U.S. Anti-Brutality, Race Protests

U.S. Crime, Courts

World News

 

Top Stories

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Administration Asks Supreme Court to Strike Down Affordable Care Act, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, June 27, 2020 (print ed.). If successful, the move would end the health insurance program popularly known as Obamacare and wipe out coverage for as many as 23 million Americans.

President Donald Trump officialThe Trump administration asked the Supreme Court late Thursday to overturn the Affordable Care Act — a move that, if successful, would bring a permanent end to the health insurance program popularly known as Obamacare and wipe out coverage for as many as 23 million Americans.

In an 82-page brief submitted an hour before a midnight deadline, the administration joined Republican officials in Texas and 17 other states in arguing that in 2017, Congress, then controlled by Republicans, had rendered the law unconstitutional when it zeroed out the tax penalty for not buying insurance — the so-called individual mandate.

The administration’s argument, coming in the thick of an election season — as well as a pandemic that has devastated the economy and left millions of unemployed Americans without health coverage — is sure to reignite Washington’s bitter political debate over health care.

In his brief, Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco argued that the health law’s two remaining central provisions are now invalid because Congress intended that all three work together.

republican elephant logoThe court has not said when it will hear oral arguments, but they are most likely to take place in the fall, just as Americans are preparing to go to the polls in November.

Republicans have long said their goal is to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act but have yet to agree on an alternative. They are bracing for the possibility that the effort to overturn the health law will cost them. Joel White, a Republican strategist, said in a recent interview that he considered it “pretty dumb to be talking about how we need to repeal Obamacare in the middle of a pandemic.”

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. sets another single-day record for new coronavirus cases, surpassing 40,000 for first time, Staff reports, June 27, 2020 (print ed.). Philadelphia issues mandatory mask order as city considers delaying reopening plans, Five states set record number of new cases.

The United States has set a record for new covid-19 cases for the third time in three days, passing the 40,000 mark for the first time, according to tracking by The Washington Post. Eleven states set their own records for the average number of new cases reported over the past seven days: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

Five states set new single-day highs, led by Florida with 8,942 cases, more than 60 percent higher than its previous high set on Wednesday. Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah also set new single-day records.

Florida announced Friday morning that bars must close immediately, a move echoed by Texas, a state also dealing with a surge in cases and nearing its capacity to care for those suffering.dc statehood taxes chart Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, House approves D.C. statehood for the first time, Jenna Portnoy, June 27, 2020 (print ed.). Backers of the measure to make Washington, D.C. the 51st state say it would right historic wrongs. But the White House opposes the bill, which probably will not be approved by the Senate.

For the first time since the establishment of the District of Columbia 230 years ago, the House of Representatives voted to declare the city as the nation’s 51st state, a legislative milestone that supporters say begins to right historic wrongs.

U.S. House logoThe vote on Friday afternoon, which fell mostly along party lines, comes as the United States grapples with systemic racism that District officials say has led to the disenfranchisement of the 700,000 residents of the nation’s capital.

muriel bowser CustomD.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), right, who was watching the proceedings from a restaurant on the Southwest Waterfront, waved her hands above her head in celebration as the bill passed, according to a video tweeted by her office.

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. And statehood is our demand,” the fifth-generation Washingtonian said in a statement.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: The House casts a historic vote for D.C. statehood. Elect senators who will do the same, Editorial Board, June 27, 2020. It was a signature moment, the first time in history that a chamber of Congress has formally approved statehood for the District. Credit to the 232 Democratic House members who, in a largely party-line vote, dc statehood logo Customrecognized and acted on the injustice of more than 705,000 Americans long denied their rights as citizens.

The legislation — which would shrink the seat of the federal government to a two-square-mile enclave and designate the District’s other 66 square miles the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth — has no immediate prospects of enactment. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) won’t allow debate on the bill, and the White House vowed to veto it if given the chance. Even if it were enacted, a court challenge on constitutional grounds would be likely.

But Friday’s debate and vote on H.R. 51 demonstrated how far the issue has come in recent years. More and more Americans recognize that District residents should be represented in Congress and have local control. They see this for the civil rights issue it is. It will not go away until there is some resolution to the centuries-old problem.

washington post logoWashington Post, E.U. to leave Americans off list of foreign travelers allowed into Europe when it reopens next week, Michael Birnbaum and Quentin Ariès, June 27, 2020 (print ed.). Diplomats are poised to approve an agreement in which foreign travelers will be welcomed on July 1. But with the coronavirus raging in the United States, the possibility of allowing American tourists hasn’t entered the discussion, according to six officials familiar with the talks.

Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Texas and Florida walk back reopenings as cases spike, Arelis R. Hernández, Frances Stead Sellers and Ben Guarino, June 27, 2020. The governors ordered bars closed as some local officials and experts claimed the states reopened too soon.

Texas and Florida — whose leaders were praised by President Trump for being among the first to end coronavirus restrictions — abruptly reversed course Friday as virus infections Ron De santis osoared to record levels, slamming the door shut on bars and imposing other measures in a bid to contain the pandemic.

Both states are backtracking amid a crisis of rising hospitalizations and skyrocketing infection rates. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) ordered bars to close and restaurants to reduce occupancy, and he gave local governments authority to ban outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people. The changes came as statistics show 1 in 10 Texans tested is positive for the novel coronavirus and the state’s largest hospital is at capacity in its intensive care unit.

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), right, ordered bars to close immediately Friday because of “widespread noncompliance” with rules regarding capacity and social distancing. The surprise announcement came as state health officials reported a record 8,942 infections Friday. Average cases are up nearly 77 percent from a week ago.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Texas governor says he let bars reopen too early, June 27, 2020. A covid-free Italian town will soon reopen to visitors and coronavirus risk. Facing a surge of new coronavirus cases, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, right, expressed regret for allowing bars to reopen so early, saying Friday that he did not realize how fast the virus would Greg Abbott Customspread.

“If I could go back and redo anything, it probably would have been to slow down the opening of bars, now seeing the aftermath of how quickly the coronavirus spreads in the bar setting,” Abbott said in an evening interview with KVIA in El Paso.

For the third day in a row, the United States set a single-day record for new cases, with 44,702 reported Friday. Thirteen states set their own records for the average number of new cases reported over the past seven days. 

washington post logoWashington Post, Pence puts positive spin on surging cases in South, West, Anne Gearan and Yasmeen Abutaleb, June 27, 2020 (print ed). The Trump administration on Friday claimed “remarkable progress” in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, despite a surge of cases in the South and West and as several Republican governors allied with President Trump are under pressure to impose stricter public health restrictions to gain control of outbreaks in their states.

Mike PenceVice President Pence, right, held the first public briefing of the coronavirus task force in nearly two months and sought to deliver an upbeat message that is at odds with warnings from public health experts. The vice president also dodged the question of whether people should wear masks in public, as his own administration recommends, and said campaign rallies that pack people together in violation of public health guidance will continue.

Pence offered no new strategies to combat the rapidly spreading virus and minimized record daily case counts in several states as “outbreaks in specific counties.”

djt virus news conference nyt photo Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: New Virus Numbers Intrude on a White House in Denial, Michael D. Shear and Maggie Haberman, June 27, 2020 (print ed.). The Trump administration has insisted for weeks that the pandemic was winding down, but rising cases in Texas, Arizona and Florida indicate otherwise. New U.S. cases on June 26: 45,498, up 65% from 14 days ago.

In the past week, President Trump hosted an indoor campaign rally for thousands of cheering, unmasked supporters even as a deadly virus spread throughout the country. He began easing up on restrictions that had been in place at the White House since Washington instituted a stay-at-home order in response to the coronavirus in March, and he invited the president of Poland to a day of meetings. Then, on Thursday, he flew to Wisconsin to brag about an economic recovery that he said was just around the corner.

But by Friday, it was impossible to fully ignore the fact that the pandemic the White House has for weeks insisted was winding down has done just the opposite.

Russian Dead American Bounties?

ny times logoNew York Times, Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops, Intelligence Says, Charlie Savage, Eric Schmitt and Michael Schwirtz, June 27, 2020 (print ed.). The Trump administration has been deliberating for months about what to do about a stunning intelligence assessment. American intelligence officials have concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops — amid the peace talks to end the long-running war there, according to officials briefed on the matter.

American FlagThe United States concluded months ago that the Russian unit, which has been linked to assassination attempts and other covert operations in Europe intended to destabilize the West or take revenge on turncoats, had covertly offered rewards for successful attacks last year.

Islamist militants, or armed criminal elements closely associated with them, are believed to have collected some bounty money, the officials said. Twenty Americans were killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2019, but it was not clear which killings were under suspicion.

The intelligence finding was briefed to President Trump, and the White House’s National Security Council discussed the problem at an interagency meeting in late March, the officials said. Officials developed a menu of potential options — starting with making a diplomatic complaint to Moscow and a demand that it stop, along with an escalating series of sanctions and other possible responses, but the White House has yet to authorize any step, the officials said.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump tried to invite Putin to G7 summit AFTER he learned Russia was murdering U.S. soldiers, Bill Palmer, June 26, 2020. This afternoon Donald djt smiling fileTrump abruptly canceled his planned weekend golf resort trip, suggesting that something big was going on behind the scenes. This evening the New York Times dropped the bombshell: Trump has known for months that Russia had been paying the Taliban to take out U.S. soldiers. This is a horrifying storyline. Here’s the thing, though. The timing makes it even uglier.

bill palmer report logo headerThe NY Times article reveals that the Trump regime knew about the Russian plot for “months.” But less than a month ago, Donald Trump tried to invite Vladimir Putin and Russia to attend the G7 summit, only to get vetoed by other G7 members. This means Trump knew the Kremlin was paying Taliban terrorists to murder U.S. soldiers, and he still tried to invite the Kremlin to rejoin the G7. This is stunning, even for Trump.

Now come the inevitable questions about whether Donald Trump was trying to bring Vladimir Putin to the G7 summit so the two of them could discuss this scandal, and perhaps try to figure out how to keep it from coming to light. At some point Trump becomes an accessory after the fact in these murders of U.S. soldiers.

U.S. Courts, Justice Dept. 

  roger stone djt palmer Custom

Longtime Trump friend and Republican operative Roger Stone, seeking to avoid prison after conviction on seven felonies, is shown above at left and below at left.

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge orders Trump associate Roger Stone to report to prison on July 14, Spencer S. Hsu, June 27, 2020 (print ed.). The federal judge overseeing Stone’s case rejected his request for a two-month delay amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A federal judge has ordered Roger Stone to report to prison July 14, granting him a two-week delay because of the coronavirus pandemic, but not the two months that President Trump’s confidant had requested with prosecutors’ assent.

amy berman jacksonStone, 67, had been due to surrender June 30 to a federal prison in Jesup, Ga., while he appeals his November conviction for lying and witness tampering in a congressional investigation.

In an order and sealed opinion late Friday, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, right, granted a two-week delay. Prosecutors had not opposed Stone’s request for a delay until Sept. 3, saying the Justice Department’s policy during the pandemic has been to grant up to a 60-day extension upon defendants’ request “without respect to age, health, or other COVID-19 risk factors.”

roger stone hands waving no credit from stone cold CustomIn a short public notice, Jackson said she agreed to a two-week extension, with the reasoning explained in a sealed opinion; she asked whether both sides would agree to unseal that opinion next week.

“This affords the defendant seventy-five days beyond his original report date,” Jackson said in the notice, pointing out that she had originally ordered Stone to surrender to prison within two weeks after she denied his motion for a new trial in mid-April.

Stone, a longtime GOP operative and friend of Trump’s, was expected to seek a stay of his 40-month prison sentence since he appealed his case in April to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

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TheHill.com, Mueller investigation witness George Nader sentenced to a decade in prison in child sex case, Tal Axelrod, June 27, 2020. George Nader, a central witness in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and a former informal foreign policy adviser to the White House, was sentenced to 10 years in prison over his conviction on child sex charges.

Judge Leonie Brinkema handed down the decade-long sentence Friday after Nader pleaded guilty in January to two charges relating to sexual exploitation of children.

Nader, former high-profile adviser to top U.S. and Middle Eastern officials, had admitted to possessing child pornography that showed sexual abuse of minors and bringing an underage boy to the U.S. for sex. The crimes were committed prior to the 2016 race, during which he worked with President Trump’s transition team and was seen at high-level meetings.

The Justice Department had agreed as part of its plea deal with Nader to only seek the mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years.

jared kushner head shotNader was known to have interacted with Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, left, former chief strategist Steve Bannon and former national security adviser Michael Flynn and played a role in arranging Trump’s maiden foreign trip to Saudi Arabia in 2017.

The meetings with Trump’s campaign caught the eye of Mueller’s team, who stopped him for questioning in 2018 and discovered several explicitly sexual videos of minors on his phone. He was ultimately arrested in 2019.

Nader has long faced accusations of pedophilia. Charges were first dropped against him in 1984, but he later pleaded guilty in 1991 to transporting child pornography, according to CNN. He was later convicted in 2003 in the Czech Republic for sex with several underage boys.

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

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washington post logoWashington Post, GOP appointee resigns from Federal Election Commission, leaving it again without a quorum, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, June 27, 2020 (print ed.). In the face of a mounting backlog of complaints and requests for guidance in an election year, the commission will not have enough votes to do its official work.

Caroline Hunter, a long-serving Republican appointee to the Federal Election Commission, announced her resignation Friday, once again leaving the panel without a four-person quorum to conduct business just months before the November election.

The agency had just regained its voting quorum this month, with the swearing in of a new GOP commissioner after the longest period in the agency’s history without the four votes necessary to regulate and enforce federal campaign finance laws.

Now, in the face of a mounting backlog of complaints and requests for guidance in an election year, the commission will not have enough votes to do its official work.

Hunter, who has sided with her Republican colleagues on the panel in favor of less regulation on campaign finance, informed the White House that she plans to step down July 3, according to the letter. Her departure was first reported by Politico.

The White House announced its plans Friday to nominate campaign finance lawyer Allen Dickerson as FEC commissioner to replace Hunter. Dickerson is the legal director of the Institute for Free Speech, a nonprofit that opposes limits on political speech and advertising.

The Commission, which is ideologically split by design, is now left with one Republican, one Democrat and an independent who often caucuses with Democrats. It is unclear when the nomination will be formally sent to the Senate for confirmation.

Ellen Weintraub, the Democrat, and current vice chair Steven Walther, an independent, are both serving on the panel beyond their six-year terms. Weintraub’s term expired in 2007, and Walther’s in 2009. The seats formerly held by Democratic appointee Ann Ravel and Republican appointee Lee Goodman have remained vacant for years.

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court won’t force Texas to allow absentee ballots for all voters, Robert Barnes, June 27, 2020 (print ed.). The Supreme Court declined Friday to force Texas officials to offer mail-in ballots to all voters in the state because of the threat of the coronavirus, not just those over 65.

The justices, without comment, turned down a request from the Texas Democratic Party to reinstate a district judge’s order that would affect the primary runoff elections in July and the general election in November.

There were no noted dissents to the court’s order, but Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that the case raised “weighty but seemingly novel questions” regarding whether special conditions for those over a certain age violated the constitutional rights of younger voters.

She said an emergency request like the one before the Supreme Court was not the right time to consider them. But she added that she hoped the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit “will consider the merits of the legal issues in this case well in advance of the November election.”

The case has been part of a nationwide debate centered on the safety of in-person voting amid the coronavirus pandemic. President Trump, buoyed by conservative allies, has been critical of mail-in ballots, suggesting they could prove deleterious to Republicans’ chances in November and open the door to widespread voting fraud, a claim that lacks evidence.

All voters in every state but two — Mississippi and Texas — have the right to cast mail or absentee ballots for the midyear primaries after the pandemic led 14 states to relax their rules. Many states are considering extending those changes for the general election in November.

 

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Palmer Report, Opinion: GOP implodes as Chuck Grassley blames Sean Hannity for Donald Trump’s collapse, Bill Palmer, June 27, 2020. There’s no more sure sign that Donald Trump bill palmer report logo headerand the GOP are in 2020 trouble than when they start publicly blaming each other for what’s going wrong. When Fox News host Sean Hannity, above, asked Trump what his priorities are for a second term, Trump gave a babbling incoherent non-answer that was almost shockingly awful, even for him.

chuck grassley djt CustomNow Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, shown at right in file photos with Trump, is blaming Hannity of all people for not finding a way to bail Trump out of his failed answer:

ChuckGrassley

@ChuckGrassley

Does FOXNews want Trump Re-elected?Watched Hannity/Trump interview/KEY QUESTION”What goals in next term?Trump starts answer/gets off point and Hannity helps digress and that’s end of the most important Q to get FOUR MORE YEARS OF DRAINING THE SWAMP & Justices

Notably, Grassley is admitting that Donald Trump is so far gone in the cognitive department, he needs to be fed answers by dummies like Hannity in order to have any chance of sounding coherent. But when we’re at the point where GOP leaders are openly blaming Hannity for Trump’s inability to think or speak or function, let’s just say that things are unraveling rather quickly now.

Media News / Propaganda

washington post logoWashington Post, Facebook will label violating posts from public figures going forward, Rachel Lerman, June 27, 2020 (print ed.). Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook will start labeling posts it deems newsworthy but that also violates its policies, marking a major about-turn from the company’s previous hands-off stance.

facebook logoIn a town hall that was streamed live Friday, Zuckerberg said the company will also remove content that incites violence or attempts to suppress voting — no matter who says it.

“There are no exceptions for politicians in any of the policies that I’m announcing today,” he said.

Twitter labels Trump tweet on force

Social media companies are under an especially bright spotlight this year in the lead up to the 2020 presidential election, facing pressure to control hate speech and misinformation on their sites — something that still haunts them from rampant disinformation that spread online during the 2016 campaign.

 ny times logoNew York Times, ‘PizzaGate’ Conspiracy Theory Thrives Anew in the TikTok Era, Cecilia Kang and Sheera Frenkel, June 27, 2020. The false theory targeting Democrats, now fueled by QAnon and teenagers on TikTok, is entangling new targets like Justin Bieber.

Four minutes into a video that was posted on Instagram last month, Justin Bieber leaned into the camera and adjusted the front of his black knit beanie. For some of his 130 million followers, it was a signal.

tiktok logo square CustomIn the video, someone had posted a comment asking Mr. Bieber to touch his hat if he had been a victim of a child-trafficking ring known as PizzaGate. Thousands of comments were flooding in, and there was no evidence that Mr. Bieber had seen that message. But the pop star’s innocuous gesture set off a flurry of online activity, which highlighted the resurgence of one of social media’s early conspiracy theories.

Viewers quickly uploaded hundreds of videos online analyzing Mr. Bieber’s action. The videos were translated into Spanish, Portuguese and other languages, amassing millions of views. Fans then left thousands of comments on Mr. Bieber’s social media posts asking him if he was safe. Within days, searches for “Justin and PizzaGate” soared on Google, and the hashtag #savebieber started trending.

Four years ago, ahead of the 2016 presidential election, the baseless notion that Hillary Clinton and Democratic elites were running a child sex-trafficking ring out of a Washington pizzeria spread across the internet, illustrating how a crackpot idea with no truth to it could blossom on social media — and how dangerous it could be. In December 2016, a vigilante gunman showed up at the restaurant with an assault rifle and opened fire into a closet.

In the years afterward, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube managed to largely suppress PizzaGate. But now, just months before the next presidential election, the conspiracy theory is making a comeback on these platforms — and on new ones such as TikTok — underlining the limits of their efforts to stamp out dangerous speech online and how little has changed despite rising public frustration.

U.S. Anti-Brutality, Race Protests

washington post logoWashington Post, Violence rises in Minneapolis, as debate over role of police rages, Holly Bailey, June 27, 2020 (print ed). Minneapolis officials have described an unprecedented burst of violence following George Floyd’s Memorial Day death. The spike in violence has come as public confidence in the police department has deteriorated.

At first, it sounded like fireworks, a loud crackling noise that has become the daily soundtrack of the city in recent weeks. But when David Trueblood, a coach for the Minnesota Jays youth football team, felt a bullet go whizzing by his head and heard the rapid pings of metal spray across a fence in Jordan Park, he screamed for his players, 50 kids ages 5 to 14, to hit the ground.

“I thought somebody was going to die,” Trueblood said.

As gunfire rang out early Monday evening here on the city’s north side, Trueblood and six other coaches threw their bodies atop as many children as they could. Frantic parents took cover behind cars, desperate to crawl to their kids but caught in the middle of a gun battle between a nearby group and a car that circled the park, spraying bullets across the field where the Jays were playing.

Minneapolis officials have described an unprecedented burst of violence following George Floyd’s Memorial Day death, after an officer held him down with a knee to his neck, sparking worldwide fury and massive protests. At least 113 people have been shot since May 25, eight fatally, according to Minneapolis police, with hundreds of reports of gunfire across the city, including several shootings in broad daylight.

The spike in violence has come amid a raging debate over the role the Minneapolis Police Department should play in addressing crime in this city. Public confidence has so deteriorated that a majority of the City Council has pledged to dismantle the agency. Some residents have accused officers of purposefully curbing response to crime, which police deny. Others have decided to stop using the agency’s services altogether.

washington post logoWashington Post, Barr forms task force to counter ‘anti-government extremists,’ Matt Zapotosky, June 27, 2020 (print ed.). The attorney general’s move escalates the federal response to the violence that has sometimes erupted at protests over police brutality. Attorney General William P. Barr on Friday directed the formation of a task force that will be dedicated to countering “anti-government extremists,” escalating federal law enforcement’s response to the violence that has sometimes marked nationwide protests against police brutality and racism, according to a memo obtained by The Washington Post.

In the memo, Barr wrote that amid peaceful demonstrations, anti-government extremists had “engaged in indefensible acts of violence designed to undermine public order.”

“Among other lawless conduct, these extremists have violently attacked police officers and other government officials, destroyed public and private property, and threatened innocent people,” Barr wrote in a directive to all the Justice Department’s law enforcement components and U.S. attorneys. “Although these extremists profess a variety of ideologies, they are united in their opposition to the core constitutional values of a democratic society governed by law. . . . Some pretend to profess a message of freedom and progress, but they are in fact forces of anarchy, destruction, and coercion.”

U.S. Crime, Courts

washington post logoWashington Post, Foul play suspected in case of missing Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillén, Arelis R. Hernández, June 27, 2020. The family of the 20-year-old private, who was last seen on the morning of April 22 in the parking lot outside her regiment headquarters at the Texas base, said she had complained of sexual harassment.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Mexico City’s top security official injured in apparent assassination attempt, Kevin Sieff, June 27, 2020 (print ed.). At least a dozen armed men staged an attack Friday on Mexico City’s top security official, who narrowly escaped the apparent assassination attempt that left at least three people dead. The gunmen shot .50-caliber weapons at the SUV carrying Omar García Harfuch, Mexico City’s secretary of public security, in one of the capital’s most exclusive neighborhoods. García Harfuch was injured in the attack but was in stable condition. Two police officers and one passerby were killed, officials said. Twelve people were detained.

June 26

Top Headlines

Wars, Intrigue

Virus Victims, Responses

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Inside DC / Scandal

U.S. Courts, Justice Dept.

 U.S. 2020 Politics

U.S. Brutality, Race Protests

U.S. Crime, Probes, Punishment

 

Top Stories

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Cases Are Probably 10 Times Higher Than Reported, C.D.C. Says, Staff report, June 26, 2020 (print ed.). The White House coronavirus task force will reconvene on Friday for its first briefing in nearly two months. The number of Americans who have been infected with the coronavirus is most likely about 10 times higher than the 2.3 million cases that have been reported, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday.

cdc logo Customrobert redfieldWe probably recognized about 10 percent of the outbreak,” Dr. Robert Redfield, right, said on a call with reporters.

He added that between 5 percent and 8 percent of Americans have been infected to date.

The C.D.C. is basing those estimates on antibody test results from across the country. The tests detect whether an individual has ever had Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, as opposed to diagnostic tests, which detect current infections. Both types of tests have been plagued by accuracy problems, although the antibody tests, which are based on blood samples rather than nasal swabs, have had a higher rate of failures.

During the call, the C.D.C. also clarified some of its previous reports on who is at increased risk of getting severely ill from Covid-19. Older people do have a higher risk of severe cases, the agency said, but that is in part because they are more likely to have other underlying medical problems, such as chronic kidney disease, lung disease, serious heart conditions, sickle cell disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity.

washington post logoWashington Post, Another 1.48 million jobs lost last week as strain of pandemic persists, Eli Rosenberg, June 26, 2020 (print ed.). Another 1.48 million people applied for unemployment for the first time last week, a slight decrease from the week before and the 14th straight week that more than one million people have filed for unemployment.

american flag upside down distressWorkers continue to file for jobless claims at record numbers, due to the economic shutdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus. By contrast, in February the weekly claims were roughly 200,000 a week. The previous record was 695,000 jobless claims in 1982.

There are signs that some states are still dealing with the backlogs that plagued unemployment systems early in the crisis.

In Wisconsin, state officials have warned a backlog of unemployment claims could last until October. Kentucky’s state capitol has been flooded with laid off workers who said they had not been paid since the beginning of the pandemic.

The numbers were higher than analysts’ predictions, adding to a raft of bad news as the country struggles to rebound both economically and on a public health level from the coronavirus. As a slight glimmer of hope, the total number of people claiming unemployment last week sunk to 19.5 million, a drop of more than 750,000 from the week before.

ny times logoNew York Times, The House passed an expansive policing overhaul bill, but it is doomed in the Republican-led Senate, Catie Edmondson, June 26, 2020 (print ed.). Democrats’ legislation would institute significant changes to the rules that govern how police officers operate, but it is doomed in the Republican-led Senate.

The House on Thursday passed an expansive policing overhaul bill aimed at combating racial discrimination and excessive use of force in law enforcement, as Democrats sought to respond to a nationwide outcry for racial justice and pushed through legislation that is doomed in the Republican-controlled Senate.

The bipartisan vote was 236-181 to approve the measure, the most sweeping federal intervention into law enforcement in years. It would eliminate legal protections that shield police officers from lawsuits, make it easier to prosecute them for wrongdoing, impose a new set of restrictions on the use of deadly force, and effectively ban the use of chokeholds.

But passage of the legislation, introduced as a response to the killings of black Americans across the country and a wave of protests that have followed, only underscored the depth of the stalemate in Congress over how to bring about law enforcement changes that both parties say are needed. Republicans have said the bill is a federal overreach into policing that will never pass the Senate, and the White House has threatened a veto.

Its approval came the day after Senate Democrats blocked a Republican effort to advance a much narrower bill that would encourage police departments to revise their practices, but not mandate any changes. That move all but extinguished the hope that Congress will be able to pass legislation this year addressing systemic racism in law enforcement, almost certainly shifting the debate over race and policing to the campaign trail, where the two parties will blame each other for the demise of the effort.

Three moderate Republicans joined a united bloc of Democrats — including those facing difficult re-election fights in conservative-leaning districts — to support the legislation. The vote underscored just how quickly the politics of law enforcement have shifted during an election year amid a groundswell of public support for significant changes to the way that the police operate. Representatives Fred Upton of Michigan, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, and Will Hurd of Texas, the only African-American Republican in the chamber, voted in support of the bill.

Wars, Intrigue

charlotte dennett

The Independent, A daughter’s quest to find the truth about the death of her father, the CIA’s top spy in the Middle East, James Taylor, June 26, 2020. Charlotte Dennett, shown above, suspects the British or the Russians were responsible for her father's death. Charlotte Dennett was only six weeks old when her father died in a plane crash. In her new book, she investigates his death and how the CIA Logooil game influences politics across the Middle East.

In 1947, Daniel Dennett was sent to Saudi Arabia to study the route of the proposed trans-Arabian pipeline before heading to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to meet with Ethiopian and oil officials to discuss energy opportunities and airspace rights. The Cairo-based US petroleum attache and a communications specialist were also on board the ill-fated flight, which was also carrying 2,000lbs of secret radio equipment as well as an aerial camera.

Palmer Report, Opinion: No wonder Donald Trump abruptly called off his golf resort trip, Bill Palmer, June 26, 2020. When Donald Trump abruptly canceled his weekend golf resort trip to New Jersey earlier today, Palmer Report pointed out that something was obviously up. He doesn’t care about optics anymore, so this wasn’t in response to the worsening pandemic.

bill palmer report logo headerNow the news has broken that for months, the Trump regime has known that Russia offered bounties to Afghani operatives who were willing to take out U.S. soldiers. This is tantamount to an act of war on the part of the Kremlin, yet Donald Trump did nothing in response and kept it a secret, because he’s a Kremlin puppet.

No wonder Donald Trump abruptly canceled his trip. Considering how severely he’s in freefall, and how much of a Russian puppet he’s already seen as being, this is the kind of exploding scandal that could finish him off if he doesn’t manage the fallout properly.

Julian Assange IndicterJulian Assange (Photo by The Indicter Magazine).

Medium, Opinion: Demasking the Torture of Julian Assange; On the occasion of the International Day in Support of Torture Victims, Nils Melzer (UN Special Rapporteur on Torture), June 26, 2020. I know, you may think I am deluded. How could life in an Embassy with a cat and a skateboard ever amount to torture?

That’s exactly what I thought, too, when Assange first appealed to my office for protection. Like most of the public, I had been subconsciously poisoned by the relentless smear campaign, which had been disseminated over the years. So it took a second knock on my door to get my reluctant attention.

But once I looked into the facts of this case, what I found filled me with repulsion and disbelief.

Surely, I thought, Assange must be a rapist! But what I found is that he has never been charged with a sexual offence. True, soon after the United States had encouraged allies to Swedish flagfind reasons to prosecute Assange, Swedish prosecution informed the tabloid press that he was suspected of having raped two women.

Anna Ardin and Sofia WilenStrangely, however, the women themselves never claimed to have been raped, nor did they intend to report a criminal offence. Go figure.

Moreover, the forensic examination of a condom submitted as evidence, supposedly worn and torn during intercourse with Assange, revealed no DNA whatsoever — neither his, nor hers, nor anybody else’s. Go figure again. One woman even texted that she only wanted Assange to take an HIV test, but that the police were “keen on getting their hands on him.” Go figure, once more.

Ever since, both Sweden and Britain have done everything to prevent Assange from confronting these allegations without simultaneously having to expose himself to US extradition and, thus, to a show-trial followed by life in jail. His last refuge had been the Ecuadorian Embassy.

Alright, I thought, but surely Assange must be a hacker! But what I found is that all his disclosures had been freely leaked to him, and that no one accuses him of having hacked a single computer. In fact, the only arguable hacking-charge against him relates to his alleged unsuccessful attempt to help breaking a password which, had it been successful, might have helped his source to cover her tracks. In short: a rather isolated, speculative, and inconsequential chain of events; a bit like trying to prosecute a driver who unsuccessfully attempted to exceed the speed-limit, but failed because their car was too weak.

Well then, I thought, at least we know for sure that Assange is a Russian spy, has interfered with US elections, and negligently caused people’s deaths! But all I found is that he consistently published true information of inherent public interest without any breach of trust, duty or allegiance. Yes, he exposed war crimes, corruption and abuse, but let’s not confuse national security with governmental impunity.

Yes, the facts he disclosed empowered US voters to take more informed decisions, but isn’t that simply democracy? Yes, there are ethical discussions to be had regarding the legitimacy of unredacted disclosures. But if actual harm had really been caused, how come neither Assange nor Wikileaks ever faced related criminal charges or civil lawsuits for just compensation?

But surely, I found myself pleading, Assange must be a selfish narcissist, skateboarding through the Ecuadorian Embassy and smearing feces on the walls? Well, all I heard from Embassy staff is that the inevitable inconveniences of his accommodation at their offices were handled with mutual respect and consideration. This changed only after the election of President Moreno, when they were suddenly instructed to find smears against Assange and, when they didn’t, they were soon replaced. The President even took it upon himself to bless the world with his gossip, and to personally strip Assange of his asylum and citizenship without any due process of law.

In the end it finally dawned on me that I had been blinded by propaganda, and that Assange had been systematically slandered to divert attention from the crimes he exposed. Once he had been dehumanized through isolation, ridicule and shame, just like the witches we used to burn at the stake, it was easy to deprive him of his most fundamental rights without provoking public outrage worldwide.

And thus, a legal precedent is being set, through the backdoor of our own complacency, which in the future can and will be applied just as well to disclosures by The Guardian, the New York Times and ABC News.

Very well, you may say, but what does slander have to do with torture? Well, this is a slippery slope. What may look like mere «mudslinging» in public debate, quickly becomes “mobbing” when used against the defenseless, and even “persecution” once the State is involved. Now just add purposefulness and severe suffering, and what you get is full-fledged psychological torture.

Yes, living in an Embassy with a cat and a skateboard may seem like a sweet deal when you believe the rest of the lies. But when no one remembers the reason for the hate you endure, when no one even wants to hear the truth, when neither the courts nor the media hold the powerful to account, then your refuge really is but a rubber boat in a shark-pool, and neither your cat nor your skateboard will save your life.

Even so, you may say, why spend so much breath on Assange, when countless others are tortured worldwide? Because this is not only about protecting Assange, but about preventing a precedent likely to seal the fate of Western democracy. For once telling the truth has become a crime, while the powerful enjoy impunity, it will be too late to correct the course. We will have surrendered our voice to censorship and our fate to unrestrained tyranny.

This Op-Ed has been offered for publication to the Guardian, The Times, the Financial Times, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian, the Canberra Times, the Telegraph, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Thomson Reuters Foundation, and Newsweek. None responded positively.

Virus Victims, Responses

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: The Coronavirus Crisis Inside Prisons Won’t Stay Behind Bars, Editorial Board, June 26, 2020 (print ed.). Federal officials recognized the danger of the spread of coronavirus in prisons early, but have dragged their feet releasing at-risk inmates.

The situation inside the nation’s jails and prisons amid the Covid-19 pandemic has become the stuff of nightmares. Overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, shortages of personal protective equipment (not to mention soap) and restrictions on hygiene products such as hand sanitizer have turned detention facilities into a playground for the virus and a death trap for inmates — many of whom, because of age or pre-existing conditions, are at elevated risk for complications. And the threat extends far beyond the facilities themselves, endangering the families and communities that surround prison guards, nurses and other staff members.

Currently, the nation’s top five Covid-19 hot spots are all correctional facilities, according to data collected by The Times. The number of infected inmates and workers has topped 70,000 — the count doubled between mid-May and mid-June — and there have been at least 627 virus-related deaths.

Even these infection numbers are assumed to be an undercount, since testing for the virus remains inadequate and uneven. New York State has tested only about 3 percent of its 40,000 inmates, and more than 40 percent of those tested were confirmed infected. In Mississippi, Alabama and Illinois, fewer than 2.5 percent of state prison inmates have been checked. Some states, like Texas, have moved to ramp up testing, and their reported cases are soaring. Further complicating the count, some facilities do not make their testing numbers public.

Inmates are scared and desperate, and tensions occasionally boil over. In April, more than 100 inmates at a prison in Washington State protested after six inmates tested positive for the virus, and a smaller uprising occurred at a Kansas facility after more than two dozen inmates and staffers tested positive.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: America Didn’t Give Up on Covid-19. Republicans Did, Paul Krugman, right, June 26, 2020 (print ed.). Partisanship has crippled our response. Earlier this year much of paul krugmanAmerica went through hell as the nation struggled to deal with Covid-19. More than 120,000 Americans have now died; more than 20 million have lost their jobs.

But it’s looking as if all those sacrifices were in vain. We never really got the coronavirus under control, and now infections, while they have fallen to a quite low level in republican elephant logothe New York area, the pandemic’s original epicenter, are surging in much of the rest of the country.

And the bad news isn’t just a result of more testing. In new hot spots like Arizona — where testing capacity is being overwhelmed — and Houston the fraction of tests coming up positive is soaring, which shows that the disease is spreading rapidly.

It didn’t have to be this way.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Fauci Says U.S. Is Considering ‘Pool Testing,’ Staff reports, June 26, 2020. The pooled approach combines samples from multiple people at once, and would offer a way to minimize how many tests are needed.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the U.S., confirmed that officials are having “intense discussions” about the new strategy. With more than 40,000 new cases across the country, Florida and Texas paused their reopenings.

The pooled approach combines samples from multiple people at once, and would offer a way to minimize the number of tests needed. If the pooled sample tests negative for the coronavirus, all the individuals who provided samples are considered to be virus-free.

If a certain pool comes back with a positive result, each patient who provided a sample can be tested individually. The strategy can be particularly effective when the prevalence of infection in a population is less than 30 percent, according to some reports.
Here’s the latest.

ny times logoNew York Times, As Virus Surges, Younger People Account for ‘Disturbing’ Number of Cases, Julie Bosman and Sarah Mervosh, Updated June 26, 2020. Younger people are making up a growing percentage of new coronavirus cases in cities and states where the virus is now surging, a trend that has alarmed public health officials and prompted renewed pleas for masks and social distancing.

In Arizona, where drive-up sites are overwhelmed by people seeking coronavirus tests, people ages 20 to 44 account for nearly half of all cases. In Florida, which breaks records for new cases nearly every day, the median age of residents testing positive for the virus has
dropped to 35, down from 65 in March. The trend is raising fears that asymptomatic people in their 20s, 30s and 40s are helping to fuel the spread.

ny times logocovad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2New York Times, Arizona ‘Overwhelmed’ With Demand for Tests as U.S. System Shows Strain, Sarah Kliff, June 26, 2020 (print ed.). American coronavirus testing remains fragmented, as in the early days of the pandemic. The bottlenecks are the same ones, too.

People seeking drive-up coronavirus tests in Phoenix faced a three-mile-long car line last weekend. On Friday, Arizona’s largest laboratory received twice as many samples as it could process. The phone line for testing appointments at a large site on the state fairgrounds now opens at 7 a.m. with 800 callers already in the queue.

By 7:07 a.m., all 1,000 appointments for the day are typically taken.t in front of Trump Tower/Tiffany” and sought to play up animosity between the Black Lives Matter movement and the police in New York City.

Inside DC / Scandal 

washington post logoWashington Post, SBA exempted lawmakers, federal officials from ethics rules in $660 billion loan program, Jonathan O'Connell and Aaron Gregg, June 26, 2020. A “blanket approval” allows Congress, Small Business Administration officials, their families and others to receive small business loan funds without standard ethics review.

sba logo new Custom CustomA brief and barely noticed “blanket approval” issued by the Trump administration allows lawmakers, Small Business Administration staff, other federal officials and their families to bypass long-standing rules on conflicts of interest to seek funds for themselves, adding to concerns that coronavirus aid programs could be subject to fraud and abuse.

Under normal circumstances, lawmakers and some federal employees who apply for small business funds in some cases have to seek approval of a little-known SBA body called the Standards of Conduct Committee. The rule applies to officials who are business owners, officers, directors or shareholders with a more than 10 percent business interest, plus any “household members” of those officials.

But in a rule the administration issued April 13, the administration disclosed that the approval requirement had been suspended for all entities seeking funds from the $660 billion program “so that further action by the [ethics committee] is not necessary.”

Policy experts and government watchdogs said the blanket waiver could allow officials to write the rules to benefit themselves. Josh Gotbaum, a Brookings Institution scholar who has worked in economic policy under Democratic and Republican administrations, said he was “appalled” by the waiver.

“The idea that the Small Business Administration can, without any review or publicity, secretly let all of its employees arrange loans for their family members or associates is outrageous,” Gotbaum said.

Because the administration has not yet released any information about the individual borrowers, it is unknown how many members of Congress or SBA officials have benefited from the nearly $700 billion program, but several representatives did, according to media reports and financial records.Congress or SBA officials have benefited from the nearly $700 billion program, but several representatives did, according to media reports and financial records.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s use of military funds for border wall construction is illegal, 9th Circuit Court rules, Nick Miroff, June 26, 2020. President Trump’s transfer last year of $2.5 billion in military funds to pay for border barrier construction was an illegal overreach of executive authority, a three-judge panel in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday.

The 2-1 ruling was a setback to the president’s increasing reliance on the Pentagon to finance hundreds of miles of new barrier along the Mexico border. Its long-term implications were less certain, as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Trump’s favor in a similar case last year, and Friday’s decision only affects a portion of the funds the White House has budgeted for what has become one of the largest federal infrastructure projects in U.S. history.

The president, who ran for office in 2016 promising that Mexico would pay for the border barrier, has obtained more than $15 billion in U.S. federal funds for his signature project, including $5 billion provided by Congress through conventional appropriations. The president has tapped into Pentagon accounts for the remaining $10 billion, including the $2.5 billion transfer last year that the 9th Circuit said Friday was unlawful.

U.S. Courts, Justice Dept.

ny times logoNew York Times, Inside the Attorney General’s Effort to Undermine Prosecutors in N.Y., Benjamin Weiser, Ben Protess, Katie Benner and William K. Rashbaum, June 26, 2020 (print ed.). The firing of the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan was foreshadowed by a disagreement over a case linked to President.

Shortly after he became attorney general last year, William P. Barr set out to challenge a signature criminal case that touched President Trump’s inner circle directly, and even the michael cohen ap file croppedpresident’s own actions: the prosecution of Michael D. Cohen, right, Mr. Trump’s longtime fixer.

The debate between Mr. Barr and the federal prosecutors who brought the case against Mr. Cohen was one of the first signs of a tense relationship that culminated last weekend in the abrupt ouster of Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney in Manhattan. It also foreshadowed Mr. Barr’s intervention in the prosecutions of other associates of Mr. Trump.

By the time Mr. Barr was sworn into office in February, Mr. Cohen, who had paid hush money to an adult film star who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump, had already pleaded guilty and was set to begin a three-year prison sentence, all of which embarrassed and angered the president.

But Mr. Barr spent weeks in the spring of 2019 questioning the prosecutors over their decision to charge Mr. Cohen with violating campaign finance laws, according to people briefed on the matter.

william barr new oAt one point during the discussions, Mr. Barr instructed Justice Department officials in Washington to draft a memo outlining legal arguments that could have raised questions about Mr. Cohen’s conviction and undercut similar prosecutions in the future, according to the people briefed on the matter.

The prosecutors in New York resisted the effort, the people said, and a Justice Department official said Mr. Barr did not instruct them to withdraw the case. The department official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter, noted that Mr. Cohen was convicted and sentenced in December 2018, before Mr. Barr was sworn in, so there was little he could do to change the outcome of the case.

Still, Mr. Barr’s unexpected involvement in such a politically sensitive case suggested that he planned to exert influence over prosecutors in the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, long known for operating independently of Washington. Mr. Barr and other officials have told aides and other United States attorneys that the Southern District needs to be reined in. 

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court agrees with administration on limits on asylum seekers, Robert Barnes and Nick Miroff, June 26, 2020 (print ed.). The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that asylum seekers who are quickly turned down by U.S. immigration officials do not have a right to make their case in federal court, a win for the Trump administration and its desire to rapidly deport people who enter the United States illegally.

The ruling was 7 to 2, although the usual undercurrents of an ideological divide on the court were present. Two of the court’s liberals dissented, and the other two agreed only with the outcome in the specific case.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing for the majority, rejected a lower court’s ruling that the Constitution guarantees a “meaningful opportunity” for asylum seekers to make their case to a judge if they are turned down in an initial screening.

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nbc news logoNBC News via Yahoo News, Trump signs executive order to punish vandalism against federal monuments, Dartunorro Clark, June 26, 2020. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday to protect federal monuments after a rash of recent incidents involving the vandalism of statues memorializing the Confederacy and some of the nation's Founding Fathers.

"I just had the privilege of signing a very strong Executive Order protecting American Monuments, Memorials, and Statues - and combatting recent Criminal Violence. Long prison terms for these lawless acts against our Great Country!" Trump said in a tweet.

The order would "reinforce" existing federal law, which criminalizes the destruction of federal monuments. For instance, the Veterans’ Memorials Preservation and Recognition Act of 2003 imposes a fine and up to 10 years in prison on anyone who vandalizes a monument.

"Individuals and organizations have the right to peacefully advocate for either the removal or the construction of any monument," the order states. "But no individual or group has the right to damage, deface, or remove any monument by use of force."

It also threatens to withhold federal funding from state and local law enforcement agencies that "fail to protect monuments, memorials, and statues."
The protests against racism and police brutality prompted by the killing of George Floyd has reignited the debate around statues and other monuments honoring the Confederacy and slave-holding presidents, such as George Washington and Andrew Jackson. After violence prompted by white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, there was a public outcry to remove Confederate symbols across the country.

Earlier this week, protesters defaced a statue of President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square outside the White House and tried to topple it, but police pepper-sprayed demonstrators to protect the monument. Jackson was a slaveholder and oversaw the expulsion of Native Americans in which they were forcibly moved further west by the federal government. Roughly 4,000 Cherokees died on that journey, known as the "Trail of Tears."

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

 ny times logoNew York Times, Biden Is Getting a Lot of Advice on His V.P. Here’s What Voters Think, Alexander Burns and Katie Glueck, June 26, 2020. A large majority of voters say race should not be a factor in his decision, and none of the best-known candidates has emerged as a favorite.

Joseph R. Biden Jr. appears to face limited political pressure from voters about whom to choose as his running mate, with no contender emerging as a clear favorite and the great majority of people saying that race should not be a factor in his decision, according to polling conducted by The New York Times and Siena College.

Mr. Biden has pledged to select a woman as his nominee for vice president, and his advisers are vetting more than half a dozen people for the job. In recent weeks, amid ongoing demonstrations against racism and police violence, a number of prominent Democrats have pressed Mr. Biden to select an African-American woman. And his search committee has been reviewing at least five black women, one Latina and one Asian-American candidate.

In the Times poll, four in five registered voters said that race shouldn’t be a factor in Mr. Biden’s selection of a running mate. That group included three-quarters of the black voters polled, and more than 8 in 10 white and Hispanic voters.

washington post logoWashington Post, Rep. Karen Bass is being vetted as part of Joe Biden’s vice presidential search, Sean Sullivan, June 26, 2020 (print ed.). The California Democrat is the lead architect of the House police overhaul bill. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, is under consideration by Joe Biden’s campaign as a potential running mate amid pressure on him to put an African American woman on the ticket, according to people briefed on the process.

karen bass headshotBass, right, a former speaker of the California Assembly who has served in Congress since 2011, is the lead architect of a sweeping House Democratic police overhaul bill. She has emerged as one of the most prominent African American women in politics in the wake of several high-profile killings of unarmed black democratic donkey logopeople that sparked nationwide protests.

She is among multiple black women being considered. CBS News first reported that the Biden campaign was vetting Bass. Representatives for Biden and Bass declined to comment.

Asked on MSNBC on Tuesday about the vetting and her interest in the job, Bass said such questions should be directed to the Biden campaign and that she was focused on the police restructuring bill she is spearheading.

ny times logoNew York Times, Tammy Duckworth Is Battle Tested. Could She Help Joe Biden in His Biggest Mission? Jennifer Steinhauer, June 26, 2020 (print ed.). The Biden campaign is vetting Ms. Duckworth, a senator and a veteran with a compelling life story, as a potential running mate.  

Dan Milberg is a retired Army helicopter pilot who voted for Donald J. Trump in 2016, and does not wish to vote for him again. But before he can consider pulling the lever for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., he needs to know who his running mate will be.

“It might be someone too progressive,” said Mr. Milberg, who lives in Robertsville, Mo.

democratic donkey logoThe one person who would put him at ease, Mr. Milberg said, is the pilot whose seemingly lifeless body he lifted from a helicopter in 2004, her legs blown off by a rocket-­propelled grenade not far from Baghdad: Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois.

It is not so much the event that indelibly marked both of their lives and earned Ms. Duckworth a purple heart that draws him to her, Mr. Milberg said. Rather, he continued, she “is moderate enough that I think she can be appealing.”

tammy duckworth o CustomMs. Duckworth, right, is among more than one dozen women who have been considered by the Biden campaign to join his ticket, and she is among a smaller group asked to submit documents for vetting. But she is rarely talked up by Washington’s consultant class.

She is not one of the Democratic senators who ran for the top job this cycle and then became part of the vice-presidential search. She is not from a battleground state; vice-presidential candidates often are. She is not among the running-mate contenders who are black; many leading Democrats feel Mr. Biden should choose a black woman, in part because of the growing public attention to and support for fighting systemic racism. Her politics are in some ways abstruse; she largely votes with her party but she is not particularly identified with any progressive cause, other than an often bipartisan distaste for protracted foreign entanglements.

But presidential candidates generally try to find a running mate who can both complement and highlight their own political qualities, and in that sense, some experts say, Ms. Duckworth fits the bill.

Ms. Duckworth, who has two daughters, was the first senator to give birth while in office and the first to bring her newborn to the floor for a vote. Her mother is Thai of Chinese descent, and her father was a white veteran who fell on such hard times that Ms. Duckworth once helped support the family while growing up by selling flowers on the side of the road in Honolulu.

“I can push back against Trump in a way others can’t,” Ms. Duckworth said in a telephone interview from her car last week as she waited to attend a Juneteenth demonstration in Grant Park in Chicago.

“I can say, ‘Listen, that American flag is the same flag that would drape my father’s coffin, my coffin, my husband’s coffin and my brother’s.’ It has draped them for generations,” she said. “No one respects that flag more than I have. But I will respect the right to protest it, too.”

Two people with knowledge of the vetting process say that Ms Duckworth’s early interviews with the Biden campaign were impressive enough to make her a contender.

Ms. Duckworth, 52, was born Ladda Duckworth in Bangkok. Her father, who served two tours in Vietnam, moved the family around Asia as a program director for the United Nations and for the private sector. “I got to see America in many ways through the eyes of other nations,” she said. (She is fluent in Thai and Indonesian.)

He moved the family to Hawaii after losing his job, when Ms. Duckworth was in her last year of high school. The family was forced to live in a low-rent hotel in Waikiki with the financial help of a 90-year-old woman who volunteered at the local American Legion, making do with food stamps, school lunches and her odd jobs. “I learned about the kindness of people,” she said.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Lindsey Graham is in deep trouble, Bill Palmer, June 26, 2020. Over the past week, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has begun turning against Donald Trump. First, Graham helped sink Trump’s plan to take over the SDNY. Then, Graham announced that he disagrees with Trump’s assertion that President Obama committed “treason.” It’s clear that something has gotten into Graham; most likely he looked at his poll numbers and saw that he’s in danger of losing his own seat because he’s married himself to Trump’s sinking ship.

Democratic candidate Jaime Harrison tweeted an article from The State which confirms that his race against Lindsey Graham is indeed becoming a competitive one. Steve Schmidt from the Lincoln Project then chimed in, adding this:

This is a very interesting race and one where Lindsey Graham can go down. Lindsey’s problem is his cynicism. He believes that South Carolinians are stupid and easily manipulated. He thinks he can look them in the eye and say anything and that they will believe it no Matter how easily it is contradicted. His betrayal of his “best friend” for Trumps favor shows he can’t be trusted. No one likes being played for a fool and that is how Lindsey treats his voters. @ProjectLincoln likes @harrisonjaime. He is principled and tough, a Maverick.

washington post logoWashington Post, Delegates told to stay home for Joe Biden’s nominating convention in Milwaukee, Michael Scherer, June 26, 2020 (print ed.).  Democrats are planning a much smaller four-day event with satellite celebrations designed for television and online broadcast. Democrats announced Wednesday that Joe Biden will forgo big crowds, chaotic floor votes and dnc horizontal logomuch of the pomp of a traditional political convention when he accepts his party’s nomination over four nights of nationally televised celebrations in Milwaukee in August.

The decision to shift gears and shrink attendance, abandoning the city’s basketball arena for a nearby convention hall, is intended to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus and establish a clear contrast with President Trump, who wants a large and raucous event with thousands of cheering supporters to celebrate his nomination.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just made a startling admission, Bill Palmer, June 26, 2020. Donald Trump’s brain cells just keep betraying him. It’s not merely that he’s speaking semi-incoherently. It’s that he’s saying things he should know he’s supposed to keep to himself.

bill palmer report logo headerDuring his event on Thursday night, Trump said this about Joe Biden: “He’s gonna be your president because some people don’t love me, maybe, and all I’m doing is doing my job.”

Read this carefully. Trump is admitting that he now expects Biden to win. Of course the point he was trying to make is that he deserves to get reelected because he’s (supposedly) doing his job, and that it’s unfair to him that Biden is going to win. But still, Trump just admitted – four months before the election – that he expects to lose.

This is a big deal because it suggests that Trump is mentally giving up on his collapsing reelection bid. This creates an opening for us to continue putting in the hard work on things like voter registration and voter turnout, and really run up the score so that no last minute fluke can change the result.

U.S. Brutality, Race Protests

ny times logoNew York Times, Philadelphia Officials Announce Changes After Protest Response, Nilo Tabrizy, Christoph Koettl, Muyi Xiao, Natalie Reneau and Drew Jordan, June 26, 2020 (print ed.). Officials in Philadelphia on Thursday announced a moratorium on the use of tear gas in the city and apologized for their response to a June 1 protest against police brutality.

The announcement, by the mayor and the police commissioner, came hours after The New York Times published a visual investigation into the use of force by the police. During a confrontation with several hundred demonstrators who had entered Interstate 676 in the city center this month, SWAT officers used tear gas and pepper spray on a group of nonviolent protesters, some of whom were trapped as they tried to leave.

“I humbly apologize to those who were directly impacted as well as to our communities at large,” said Danielle Outlaw, the Philadelphia police commissioner. “As recently as today, I have viewed video posted by The New York Times by which I am extremely disturbed and, quite frankly, sickened beyond description.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Another Nightmare Video, and the Police in Tucson Go on the Defensive, Simon Romero, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, June 26, 2020 (print ed.). The city is grappling with a brutal death in police custody — and why it took so long to become public.

It was another gruesome video of policing in America — a naked Latino man, his face covered by a mesh spit guard, his hands cuffed behind him as he lay dying face down on the ground at his grandmother’s house. He pleaded for water more than a dozen times, saying he could not breathe as police officers restrained his legs and torso.

This time, the scene was a southern Arizona city with a politically moderate image, a large Latino population and a Police Department said to be relatively progressive.

The victim was Carlos Ingram Lopez, a 27-year-old cooking school graduate who prepared every meal from scratch for his 2-year-old daughter and watched YouTube videos to learn how to comb her hair. His death, as he was having a mental health crisis that led to a call for help, was a jarring reminder that Latinos as well as African-Americans have a troubled history with the police, even though Latinos’ struggles do not get the same attention.

Still unanswered is why it took the police two months to release the video taken by officers’ body cameras when Mr. Lopez’s family had almost immediately asked to see it. Regina Romero, Tucson’s first Latina mayor, said on Thursday that there had been a “breakdown” inside the Police Department and that she had not learned of Mr. Lopez’s death until last week, when the police chief called her. Even then, she said, the city’s lawyer warned her and the City Council not to say anything publicly because it could be seen as an effort to influence the internal investigation, which was still underway.

ny times logoNew York Times, Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered “Black Lives Matter” to be painted on the street outside Trump Tower, angering the president, Mihir Zaveri, June 26, 2020 (print ed.). Mayor de Blasio’s plan drew an inflammatory response from the president, who used it to try to stoke tensions between protesters and the police.

bill de blasio 11 2 2013Mayor Bill de Blasio, left, has ignited a new feud with President Trump by ordering the words “Black Lives Matter” to be painted in large yellow letters on the street outside of Trump Tower.

The words are expected to be painted in the coming week on Fifth Avenue, between 56th and 57th Streets, according to the city.

“The president is a disgrace to the values we cherish in New York City,” Julia Arredondo, a spokeswoman for Mr. de Blasio, said in a statement on Thursday. “He can’t run or deny the reality we are facing, and any time he wants to set foot in the place he claims is his hometown, he should be reminded Black Lives Matter.”

In a tweet in response, Mr. Trump referenced Mr. de Blasio’s plan to paint “the fabled & beautiful Fifth Avenue, righ

U.S. Crime, Probes, Punishment

jack abramoff coverBloomberg, Lobbyist Jack Abramoff Charged in Crypto-Currency Case, U.S. Says, Joel Rosenblatt, June 25, 2020. Investors allegedly deceived in offering of digital tokens; Abramoff to plead guilty, faces five years, prosecutor says. Jack Abramoff, the onetime Washington insider who went to prison in a lobbying scandal, was charged by the U.S. with illegally lobbying for a fraudulent cryptocurrency project.

Abramoff  (shown on the cover of his post-prison memoir) has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy and violating the Lobbying Disclosure Act and faces as long as five years in prison, according to a court filing and U.S. Attorney David Anderson in San Francisco.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Overhaul of Campus Sex Assault Rules Wins Surprising Support, Michael Powell, June 26, 2020 (print ed.). The new approach finds unlikely allies among some feminist scholars, who say the rights of men accused of sexual misconduct are not being protected.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos fired a shot last month in the nation’s culture wars, overhauling how colleges handle investigations of sexual assault and ending what she called Obama-era “kangaroo courts” on campus.

The new Education Department rules give more protections to the accused, primarily young men who face discipline or expulsion as a result of allegations of sexual misconduct.

The move set off a liberal uproar, denounced by unions representing teachers and college professors, by the National Organization for Women and by an array of Democratic senators. The Trump rules, they said, constitute a radical rollback of protections for victims who seek justice after sexual assaults.

But Ms. DeVos’s actions won praise from a surprising audience: an influential group of feminist legal scholars who applauded the administration for repairing what they viewed as unconscionable breaches in the rights of the accused.

June 25

Virus Victims, Responses

U.S. Prosecution, Court Politics

World News

 Police Brutality, Race Protests

U.S. 2020 Politics

Media News

U.S. Jobs, Economy

U.S. Crime, Probes, Punishment

 

Top Stories

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washington post logoWashington Post, Appeals court orders judge to dismiss criminal case against Flynn, Ann E. Marimow, June 25, 2020 (print ed.). The decision blocks U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan from holding a hearing to scrutinize the Justice Department’s decision to drop its long-running prosecution of Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser.michael flynn arms folded

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan cannot scrutinize the Justice Department’s decision to drop its long-running prosecution of President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn and must dismiss the case, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

In a 2-1 decision, the court (portrayed above in a building shared with the district court) said it is not within the judge’s power to prolong the prosecution or examine the government’s motives for its reversal in the politically charged case. Flynn, below left, twice pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about his pre-inauguration contacts with Russia’s ambassador before the Justice Department moved in May to dismiss the charges.

“This is not the unusual case where a more searching inquiry is justified,” wrote Judge Neomi Rao, a recent nominee of the president, who was joined by Judge Karen LeCraft emmet sullivan 2012Henderson (also a Republican nominee).

The ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit means Sullivan cannot hold a hearing set for July 16 to formally hear the government’s john gleeson Customrequest to dismiss Flynn’s case.

Sullivan, also a Repubican nominee and shown at left, refused to immediately sign off on the Justice Department’s plans, and instead appointed a former federal judge to argue against the government’s position and help him decide how to proceed.

John Gleeson, right, the former New York judge and mob prosecutor, characterized the government’s move as a “gross abuse of prosecutorial power” and “highly irregular conduct to benefit a political ally of the President.”

 roger stone djt palmer Custom

Longtime Trump friend and Republican operative Roger Stone, seeking to avoid prison after conviction on seven felonies, is shown above left.

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Officials Outline Claims of Politicization Under Barr, Nicholas Fandos, Katie Benner and Charlie Savage, June 25, 2020 (print ed.).Two Justice Department officials recounted to Congress in stinging detail on Wednesday how political appointees had intervened in criminal and antitrust cases to advance the personal interests of President Trump and Attorney General William P. Barr.

aaron zelinkskyAaron S.J. Zelinsky, right, a prosecutor who worked on the Russia investigation, told the House Judiciary Committee that senior law enforcement officials had john eliasstepped in to overrule career prosecutors and seek a more lenient prison sentence for Mr. Trump’s longtime friend Roger J. Stone Jr. “because of politics.”

“In the United States of America, we do not prosecute people based on politics, and we don’t cut them a break based on politics,” said Mr. Zelinsky, who testified by video because of the coronavirus pandemic. “But that wasn’t what happened here. Roger Stone was treated differently because of politics.”

John W. Elias, a senior career official in the antitrust division, charged (in testimony here) that his supervisors improperly used their powers to investigate the marijuana industry and a deal between California and four major automakers at the behest of Mr. Barr. He likened their efforts to burdensome harassment meant to punish companies for decisions the attorney general and the president opposed.

ny times logojoe biden 2020 button CustomNew York Times, Biden Takes Dominant Lead as Voters Reject Trump on Virus and Race, Alexander Burns, Jonathan Martin and Matt Steven, June 25, 2020 (print ed.). Joe Biden is ahead of President Trump by 14 points, with a wide advantage among women and nonwhite voters, a New York Times/Siena College poll found. Some traditionally Republican-leaning groups have shifted away from Mr. Trump, who now appears to be the underdog in his fight for a second term.

538.com, Biden Has A Historically Large Lead Over Trump, But It Could Disappear, Geoffrey Skelley, June 25, 2020. Just ask Michael Dukakis or George W. Bush. FiveThirtyEight’s general election polling averages debuted last week, showing that former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, holds a big lead over President Trump in national surveys — about 10 percentage points as of 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

So how does Biden’s lead stack up to those in previous cycles? We compared his standing at this point to previous presidential elections by applying our polling average methodology to polls from past cycles. And as you can see in the chart below, both Biden’s average support and margin over Trump are historically large — the largest of any contender since Bill Clinton in 1996.

Of course, there are still four months to go until Election Day, but the fact that Biden has such a sizable lead — already bigger than Hillary Clinton’s largest lead over Trump, which peaked at 7.5 points in 2016 — is notable. Heck, even Barack Obama never led by more than 8 points in our 2008 national average, and that wound up being a blowout.

It’s not just Biden’s margin that stands out, either; he’s also only one of three candidates to crack the 50 percent mark at this point in the cycle. (The other two were Richard Nixon in 1972 and Ronald Reagan in 1984, both of whom were incumbents who went on to win landslide victories by 23 and 18 points, respectively.)

It’s unlikely that Biden wins by that sort of margin, given our increasingly polarized politics, but it is a sign that there are fewer undecided or third-party voters for Trump to pick up to help improve his position. It also doesn’t bode well for Trump that he is in the worst position of any incumbent since Jimmy Carter in 1980.

washington post logoWashington Post, Coronavirus deaths trail surging infections but may catch up soon, Lenny Bernstein, Rachel Weiner and Joel Achenbach, June 25, 2020 (print ed.). Arizona, Texas and Florida — states that reopened early and now see runaway infection rates — probably will bury more dead in July, if experts are right.

With novel coronavirus infections setting a single-day national record Wednesday, health experts are taking little solace from one of the few bright spots in the current resurgence: Deaths are not rising in lockstep with caseloads.

But that may be just a matter of time.

“Deaths always lag considerably behind cases,” Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease specialist, told Congress at a hearing Tuesday. In the weeks to come, he and others said, the death toll is likely to rise commensurately.

Which means Arizona, Texas and Florida, states that reopened early and now are experiencing runaway infection rates, are likely to be burying more dead in July.

ny times logoNew York Times, With Unemployment Offices Busy, Recovery Seems a ‘Long Haul,’ Nelson D. Schwartz, June 25, 2020. As U.S. businesses reopen in fits and starts, and anxiety over new coronavirus hot spots increases, state unemployment offices have their hands full. An additional 728,000 filed for benefits from Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federally funded emergency program aimed at covering the self-employed, independent contractors and other workers who don’t qualify for traditional unemployment insurance.

To be sure, the weekly pace of new state filings is a fraction of the more than 6.5 million recorded in early April. As businesses have reopened, some employees have been called back. The total number of people collecting state unemployment insurance for the week ending June 13 was 19.5 million, seasonally adjusted, a decrease of 767,000 from the previous week and down from nearly 25 million in early May.

washington post logoWashington Post, Treasury sent more than 1 million coronavirus stimulus payments to dead people, congressional watchdog finds, Erica Werner, June 25, 2020. The checks sent to irs logodead people as of April 30 totaled nearly $1.4 billion, according to the Government Accountability Office.

U.S. House logoThe federal government sent coronavirus stimulus payments to almost 1.1 million dead people totaling nearly $1.4 billion, Congress’ independent watchdog reported Thursday.

The Washington Post previously reported that the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service disbursed some payments of up to $1,200 each to dead people. But the astonishing scope of the problem had not been known.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office, an independent investigative agency that reports to Congress, issued the finding as part of a comprehensive report on the nearly $3 steven mnuchin wtrillion in coronavirus relief spending approved by Congress in March and April. It said it had received the information from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration in an accounting as of April 30.

The revelation comes as President Trump and some members of his administration advocate for another round of stimulus checks. The news that so much money has gone to the dead could add to reluctance from some Republicans to agree to more direct relief payments.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Fox News poll says Donald Trump is now losing multiple red states to Joe Biden, Bill Palmer, June 25, 2020. Earlier today Donald Trump went nuts on Twitter because Fox News allowed an on-air commentator to make fun of his idiocy. Now Fox is doing something far worse to Trump: it’s telling the truth about just how badly he’s currently losing the 2020 election.

bill palmer report logo headerIt’s bad enough for Donald Trump that Fox News polling recently announced that he was twelve points behind Joe Biden. Now Fox is releasing updated state by state polls, and they’re even uglier for Trump. For instance, Fox says that Trump is now down an astounding nine points in the crucial swing state of Florida. But joe biden othe news gets even worse for Trump in the red states.

fox news logo SmallFox News has Trump two points behind Biden in Georgia, and Trump one point behind Biden in Texas. That’s not a typo; the Fox News poll currently has Biden winning Georgia and Texas. It’s by the slimmest of leads, and of course it’s within the margin of error.

But when the Republican nominee for president is even slightly behind in states that are this deep red, it means Donald Trump is in a heap of trouble – as are the Republican Senators who are up for reelection in the fall.

U.S. Prosecution, Court Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate confirms 200th judicial nominee from Trump, a legacy that will last well beyond November, John Wagner, June 25, 2020 (print ed.). A divided Senate on Wednesday confirmed President Trump’s 200th judicial nominee, a milestone that reflects the breakneck speed at which he and fellow Republicans have moved to create a legacy that will endure regardless of the outcome of this year’s elections.

On a largely party-line vote of 52 to 48, the Republican-led chamber approved the nomination of Cory Wilson of Mississippi to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, elevating yet another conservative judge to a lifetime appointment on the federal bench.

With Wilson’s confirmation, Republicans also reached a benchmark vigorously pursued by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): For the first time in more than four decades, there are no longer any vacancies on the nation’s appellate courts, the judicial level where most of the major rulings are handed down.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysts say Barr is eroding Justice Dept. independence, Matt Zapotosky and Karoun Demirjian, June 25, 2020 (print ed.). Tension over allegations of the attorney general’s malfeasance reached new heights Wednesday as the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony from two prosecutors, including one who had worked with former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Flynn decision doesn’t pass the smell test, E.J. Dionne, right, June 25, 2020 (print ed.). Shudder for the rule of law in our nation. Be ej dionne w open neckalarmed that a politicized Justice Department will be allowed to do whatever it wants in service to a sitting president. Be amazed that judges can spout errant nonsense to reach a result that just happens to square with the interests of a president who shares their partisan leanings.

Yes, the decision by two Court of Appeals judges to block efforts to scrutinize the Justice Department’s decision to drop its prosecution of Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, is that disturbing. Here’s hoping the entire U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit insists on reviewing this scandalous decision and overturns it.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: All the worrisome things happening at the DOJ could be just the tip of the iceberg, Ruth Marcus, right, June 25, 2020 (print ed.). It is becoming alarmingly ruth marcus twitter Customdifficult to keep track of all the reasons to worry about what’s happening at Justice under Barr — and increasingly clear that what we know that is worrisome may be the tip of the iceberg. And it is becoming absolutely imperative that Barr and other senior department officials testify about their activities.

Last Friday saw the botched massacre of Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. The episode was telling for those, myself included, who once had higher hopes for Barr’s second stewardship of the department.

For those who thought Barr might be an institutionalist, protecting the department from the predations of a president with little respect for it, consider: He backed installing a prosecutor in the flagship office with no — zero — prosecutorial experience.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Bill Barr is going to prison, Robert Harrington, June 25, 2020. Mark Tuesday, July 28th, 2020 on your calendars. That is the date that Barr is scheduled to go before Jerry Nadler’s House Judiciary Committee to show cause for his improper meddling in criminal cases and antitrust probes for political gain on behalf of Donald J. Trump. Barr is, in effect, to face questions of why he decided to abandon his distinguished career so late in life and agree to become Donald Trump’s fixer.

bill palmer report logo headerTo be sure, Barr won’t be the first United States Attorney General to go to prison. John N. Mitchell has that distinction. But Barr will be the first A.G. to go to prison because of actions he took while Attorney General. And he will go because when he appears before Mr. Nadler’s committee, he will do so under oath. As such he will be faced with two choices, either he tells the truth, at which point he will be criminally liable for his flagrantly unlawful behaviours while in office, or he will lie, at which point he will be criminally liable for perjury. And he will be criminally liable for his flagrantly unlawful behaviours while in office anyway.

william barr new oNeedless to say Barr, right, has a little over a month to back out. In fact, he did back out of appearing before Congress in 2019 during its probe into the impeachment of Donald Trump. This time is a little different, however. This time it’s about his showing cause as to why Congress should not impeach him. And if Congress should decide to draft articles of impeachment against Bill Barr, it would not be surprising if those articles are delivered to the Senate after January 3rd, 2021, when new Senators are sworn. By then it will almost certainly be a Democratic Senate deciding Barr’s fate.

Beyond that, of course, Barr will face the wrath of the next Attorney General, to be sworn after 20 January 2021, who will take his or her time preparing criminal indictments against Donald J. Trump, Mike Pence, Donald, Eric and Ivanka Trump, Kellyanne Conway, a host of Trump cabinet officers, former and current press secretaries and appointees and, last but not least, William P. Barr. It is going to be quite a circus and I, for one, intend having ringside seats.

The problems facing William Barr are legion. As Jerry Nadler puts it, “Mr. Barr’s work at the Department of Justice has nothing to do with correcting injustice. He is the president’s fixer. He has shown us that there is one set of rules for the president’s friends, and another set of rules for the rest of us.” Trump’s last fixer, Michael Cohen, also went to prison.

Everything Bill Barr says under oath at his hearing in July can and will be held against him in a court of law. When he goes to prison I plan to enjoy it. Barr is an awful, authoritarian, religious zealot who would happily turn America into a theocratic dictatorship if he had his way. So when we get rid of Donald Trump in November, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, we will also be getting rid of William Barr, and seeing them both safely in prison.

Virus Victims, Responses

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump Is Feeding America’s Coronavirus Nightmare, Nicholas Kristof, June 25, 2020 (print ed.). “It’s going away” only in the president’s delusion. President Trump says the coronavirus is “fading away” and pats himself on the back for “a great job on CoronaVirus” that saved “millions of U.S. lives.”

“It’s going away,” Trump said Tuesday at a packed megachurch in Phoenix where few people wore masks.

That’s what delusion sounds like. We need a Churchill to lead our nation against a deadly challenge; instead, we have a president who helps an enemy virus infiltrate our churches and homes. Churchill and Roosevelt worked to deceive the enemy; Trump is trying to deceive us.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: U.S. Sets Record for Daily New Cases as Virus Surges in South and West, Staff reports, June 25, 2020. Nearly 37,000 new infections were reported in the U.S., the largest one-day total since the start of the pandemic. Nearly 37,000 infections were reported as the virus surged in the South and West. Pregnant women who contract the illness wind up in hospitals and I.C.U.’s at higher rates, a federal study suggested.

The number of infections indicated that the country was not only failing to contain the virus, but also that the caseload was worsening — a path at odds with many other nations that have seen steady declines after an earlier peak. Cases in the United States had been on a downward trajectory after the previous high of 36,739 cases on April 24, but they have roared back in recent weeks.

ny times logoNew York Times, Arizona ‘Overwhelmed’ With Demand for Tests as U.S. System Shows Strain, Sarah Kliff, June 25, 2020. American coronavirus testing remains fragmented, as in the early days of the pandemic. The bottlenecks are the same ones, too.

People seeking drive-up coronavirus tests in Phoenix faced a three-mile-long car line last weekend. On Friday, Arizona’s largest laboratory received twice as many samples as it could process. The phone line for testing appointments at a large site on the state fairgrounds now opens at 7 a.m. with 800 callers already in the queue.

By 7:07 a.m., all 1,000 appointments for the day are typically taken.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The shift of the coronavirus to primarily red states is complete — but it’s not that simple, Philip Bump, June 25, 2020 (print ed.). More people have been confirmed infected with the coronavirus in New York state than anywhere else in the country. There’s some uncertainty to that figure, just in the sense that the slow ramping-up of testing for the virus means that many cases there and elsewhere went undetected. But New York was clearly the hardest-hit based on death toll alone; nearly 30,000 residents of the Empire State have died of covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2These days, though, New York is a success story. So, too, are New Jersey and Connecticut. While in early April, those three states were seeing about 16,000 new cases each day, they added only 1,000 on Tuesday. Now, most of the new cases are coming from Texas, Florida, California and Arizona. Arizona has been particularly worrisome, adding dozens of new cases per 100,000 residents each day, easily the highest per capita rate in the country.

So on Wednesday, the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut announced a new policy in which visitors from nine states would be encouraged to self-quarantine for two weeks upon arrival in their states. Those nine states — Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Washington — are largely red states and, between them, added more than 16,000 new cases on Tuesday. Those states added only slightly fewer new cases than the rest of the country, minus the three blue states imposing the new quarantine recommendation.

republican elephant logowashington post logoWashington Post, Pence urges GOP senators to focus on ‘encouraging signs’ as virus cases spike, Erica Werner, June 25, 2020 (print ed.). The vice president’s appearance on Capitol Hill comes as many states scramble to contain a surge in infections, while Washington sits back.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: State officials, companies delay reopening measures after record high in new infections, Staff reports, June 25, 2020. Analysis: Research explores how conservative media misinformation may have intensified coronavirus; Coronavirus sweeps through Afghanistan’s security forces.

As new coronavirus cases in the United States reached their highest single-day level yet on Wednesday, companies and state officials appeared to be taking matters into their own hands. Nevada and North Carolina ordered residents to wear masks in public, and Virginia moved to implement new workplace safety rules that would force companies to protect workers from infection. Disneyland delayed plans to reopen, and the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut announced a mandatory 14-day quarantine for visitors from certain hard-hit states.

The 38,173 new infections reported by state health departments Wednesday underscored the changing geography of the U.S. outbreak. The bulk of the cases were posted in Texas, Florida and California, while Oklahoma also set a new statewide record in infections. Since the start of the pandemic, the United States has recorded more than 2.3 million coronavirus cases and at least 119,000 deaths, while the global number of cases has soared past 9 million.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump to send some troops he is withdrawing from Germany to Poland, Karen DeYoung and Michael Birnbaum, June 25, 2020. The president made the announcement during a Rose Garden appearance with Polish President President Andrzej Duda, who is heading into his country’s election Sunday.

washington post logoWashington Post, Coronavirus sweeps through Afghanistan’s security forces, Susannah George, Aziz Tassal and Sharif Hassan, June 25, 2020. The novel coronavirus is sweeping through Afghanistan's security forces, according to senior Afghan security officials from four provinces who report suspected infection rates of 60 to 90 percent among their units — reducing the number of forces available to conduct operations or take up duty at outposts.

Few have died, the officials say, but little to no testing capacity has forced many into weeks of isolation, leaving deployable forces stretched thin at a time when the country is under pressure from both increased Taliban violence and from the United States, where officials are eager to see the government and militants begin direct talks.

Afghanistan has extremely low coronavirus testing rates: Less than 0.2 percent of its population — 64,900 people out of an estimated 37.6 million Afghans — have been tested. As of Thursday, more than 30,000 people were confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus and over 600 had died. But the Health Ministry warns the true numbers are much higher and that as many as 26 million people in the country could be infected with the virus in coming months and the death toll could top 100,000.

washington post logoWashington Post, Kosovo leader indicted on war crimes charges ahead of White House summit, Michael Birnbaum, June 25, 2020 (print ed.). The announcement of the 10-count indictment threw the summit with Serbia into disarray.sovo President Hashim Thaci was indicted on a range of war crimes charges, including nearly 100 murders, a special prosecutor in The Hague announced Wednesday, just three days before the leader was due at the White House for a special summit with Serbia.

The announcement of the 10-count indictment threw the summit into disarray.

The special prosecutor’s office, which is investigating crimes against ethnic Serbs connected to Kosovo’s 1998-1999 war of independence, said Thaci and others had perpetrated “murder, enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture.” It added that “the crimes alleged in the indictment involve hundreds of known victims of Kosovo Albanian, Serb, Roma, and other ethnicities and include political opponents.”

Thaci was expected to visit the White House along with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Saturday. Serbia never recognized Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence, and the summit was intended to try to resolve the long-standing dispute between Belgrade and Pristina. 

ny times logoNew York Times, Hit Hard by Coronavirus, Russia Holds a Mostly Mask-Free Victory Parade, Andrew Higgins, June 25, 2020 (print ed.).Tens of thousands turned out for the delayed annual vladimir putin o wcelebration of Russia’s defeat of Nazi Germany but few, including veterans in their 80s and 90s, took precautions.

Putting to one side Russia’s unfinished battle against the coronavirus, President Vladimir V. Putin on Wednesday celebrated his country’s victory 75 years ago against Nazi Germany, presiding over an enormous military parade through Red Square that featured thousands of soldiers marching shoulder-to-shoulder without face masks.

The parade, the largest of several celebrations taking place nationwide, was originally scheduled for May 9, a joyous annual holiday known as Victory Day, but was delayed for six weeks by the coronavirus pandemic. The outbreak continues to grow in Russia — the world’s third hardest hit country, with nearly 600,000 cases — but at a slightly slower pace than before.

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Insurgent Wave Upends House Primaries in N.Y., Jesse McKinley, June 25, 2020 (print ed.).  Following the 2018 success of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, three progressive Democrats took commanding leads in their primaries.

Candidates from the Democratic Party’s left wing held significant leads in three marquee House primaries in New York after Tuesday’s machine ballot count, in a profound show of progressive political power.

One of the contests could lead to the unseating of an entrenched leader: Representative Eliot L. Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was badly trailing Jamaal Bowman, an insurgent candidate from Yonkers.

If Mr. Engel, who has served in Congress for more than 30 years, were to lose, it would echo a similar upset in 2018, when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated Joseph Crowley, then the No. 4 House Democrat.

But this year, the movement seemed to have more reach, as progressive Democrats led the way in contests for two open House seats held by retiring Democrats.

In the Bronx, Ritchie Torres, a city councilman, led a pack of contenders in the 15th Congressional District, where Representative José E. Serrano is retiring. Those trailing Mr. Torres included a political veteran, Rubén Díaz Sr., a conservative former state senator with a history of anti-gay remarks, who had been considered among the favorites.

And in the Hudson Valley district held by Representative Nita Lowey, who is also retiring, Mondaire Jones, a Harvard-educated lawyer, had pulled away from six other candidates in early returns.

Mr. Jones and Mr. Torres would become trailblazers if elected in November: Either would be the first openly gay black member of Congress. 

peggy noonan wsjwsj logoWall Street Journal, Opinion: The Week It Went South for Trump, Peggy Noonan, right, June 25, 2020. Something shifted this month. Donald Trump’s hold on history loosened, and may be breaking.

In some new way his limitations are being seen and acknowledged, and at a moment when people are worried about the continuance of their country and their own ability to continue within it. He hasn’t been equal to the multiple crises. Good news or bad, he rarely makes any situation better. And everyone kind of knows.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump is headlining a fireworks show at Mount Rushmore. Experts worry that coronavirus and wildfire could both spread, Juliet Eilperin, Darryl Fears and Josh djt 2020 hat CustomDawsey, June 25, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump is planning a massive fireworks display at Mount Rushmore on July 3, despite a decade-long ban on pyrotechnics at the iconic spot because of concerns about public health, environmental and safety risks.

Trump has wanted to stage fireworks at the national memorial in South Dakota’s Black Hills since 2018, according to two individuals familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. But the idea was scuttled or delayed by a number of his advisers, these individuals said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump sparks backlash over racist language — and a rallying cry, David Nakamura, June 25, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump’s appearance before thousands of young people in Phoenix showed how his casual use of a demeaning phrase has swiftly morphed into a staple of his reelection message as his poll numbers tumble.

washington post logoWashington Post, Black Americans say racism, policing top issues for November, favor Biden by huge margin, poll finds, Scott Clement, Dan Balz and Emily Guskin, June 25, 2020. Black Americans say racism and police conduct are the most important issues in their choice of candidates for president, are sharply critical of President Trump on both matters and see increasingly high stakes in the outcome of November’s election, a Washington Post-Ipsos poll finds.

Former vice president Joe Biden currently leads Trump by a not-unexpectedly lopsided margin among black registered voters, 92 percent to 5 percent. His supporters are about evenly split on whether they are casting an affirmative or negative vote, with roughly half saying they mainly “support Biden” and the other half saying they mainly “oppose Trump.”

washington post logosecret service logoWashington Post, Dozens of Secret Service officers and agents told to self-quarantine after Trump’s Tulsa rally, Carol D. Leonnig and Joshua Partlow, June 25, 2020. The move came after two Secret Service employees at the event tested positive for the coronavirus, along with six other advance staffers.

washington post logoWashington Post, Former GOP presidential aspirant Carly Fiorina says she plans to vote for Biden, John Wagner, June 25, 2020. The former Hewlett-Packard chief executive, who sought the 2016 Republican nomination, said she considers this year’s race a “binary choice” and cannot support Trump.

Carly Fiorina, the former chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard who sought the Republican presidential nomination four years ago, said in a new podcast that she plans to vote for Democrat Joe Biden in the fall.

Fiorina said she continues to be a registered Republican but considers the election a “binary choice” and has made clear she cannot support President Trump.

“I am encouraged that Joe Biden is a person of humility and empathy and character,” Fiorina said on an episode of “The Ticket” podcast released Wednesday. “I think he’s demonstrated that through his life.”

Fiorina was the Republican nominee for a U.S. Senate seat from California in 2010 before seeking the GOP presidential nomination in 2016. She briefly became the vice-presidential running mate of another Republican hopeful, Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.), before he suspended his campaign.

carly fiorina 2 Custom

Palmer Report, Opinion: Why it matters that Carly Fiorina of all people is endorsing Joe Biden, Bill Palmer, June 25, 2020. Here we have a Republican candidate for President just four years ago, now endorsing the Democratic nominee in an effort to oust the sitting Republican President.

There are plenty of Republicans and conservatives out there who have never loved Donald Trump, and have been looking for someone to essentially give them permission to vote Democrat this time. Colin Powell’s endorsement of Joe Biden is a bigger deal, because he’s more broadly influential and respected. But Powell is seen as less of a Republican and more of a military figure.

Everyone knows Carly Fiorina, shown above, is a hardcore Republican. If she’s announcing that she’s crossing party lines to stop Trump, it might help nudge some other Republicans in that direction. Good for her.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The quest for D.C. statehood can’t end after Friday’s vote, Colbert I. King, right, June 25, 2020. Friday’s expected successful House vote on D.C. statehood colbert king 2003will be a historic milestone. But it is just one step in a long journey toward the day when a D.C. mayor can issue a proclamation for the first elections to Congress of two U.S. senators and one House representative of the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth. The path to that day must eventually wind through the states, because only states that send senators and representatives to Washington can make that happen.

Friday’s House vote will likely mark statehood’s last congressional action for the year. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has made clear that D.C. statehood will be given the same treatment he afforded President Barack Obama’s judicial nominations, including Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. With McConnell controlling the calendar, D.C. statehood will not see the light of day in the Senate.

The only unanswered question this week is whether any House Republican will say yes to D.C. statehood. As they have amply demonstrated in the past, it matters not to Republicans in Congress that 700,000 Americans in the District have no say in debates over war, taxes or changes in the Constitution. Republicans know that District residents pay more federal income taxes per person than the residents of any state, and D.C. provides more tax revenue to the federal government than 22 other states. Neither are they ignorant of the fact that District residents have fought and died in every American war but have no voice in decisions that throw D.C. bodies into the fight.

Police Brutality, Race Protests

 washington post logoWashington Post, D.C. police clear out fledgling ‘autonomous zone’ near White House, Marissa J. Lang, Susan Svrluga, Joe Heim, Fredrick Kunkle and Justin Jouvenal, June 25, 2020 (print ed.). The move came after President Trump tweeted that protesters would be met with “serious force” if they tried to create an autonomous zone and that federal officials would seek long sentences against anyone who toppled statues or vandalized monuments.

The comments followed a day of chaotic demonstrations Monday during which protesters unsuccessfully tried to topple a statue of President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square and tried to cordon off a section of a street near the White House before

Media / Politics

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Sanders-Trotskyist - Neo-Nazi collusion in statue destruction? Wayne Madsen, left, June 25, 2020. The world has witnessed in the past collusion between ostensibly left-wing Trotskyists and right-wing fascists, including Nazis. One of the Trotskyist left figures who agitates for even more widespread destruction and removal of non-racist oriented statues is Shaun King, a darling of the Bernie Sanders left and a writer for Glenn Greenwald's "The Intercept," Daily Kos, and a supporter of Black Lives Matter. It is noteworthy that King's part-time employer, Greenwald, once represented in court convicted neo-Nazi terrorist Matthew Hale.

King jumped the shark on statue removal when he recently advocated tearing down statues of Jesus, claiming that his depiction as a white man represents "a form of white supremacy." Such extremism is the favorite tool of the so-called "far-left," including Trotskyists and anarcho-syndicalists.

A provocateur like King serves two purposes. One is moving the goal post to include other targets in a radicalized "cultural revolution." The other is to provide the extreme right with another cause célèbre to rally Trump's increasingly shrinking base. There are already reports of priceless stained glass windows in churches being smashed by either provocateurs of the extreme left or extreme right or both acting in concert.

King, who claims to be fully African-American but reportedly had a white father, knows full-well where his call to remove Jesus statues leads: vandalizing of churches and cemeteries of many sects, from Roman Catholics to Greek Orthodox. It also provides the religious right with a rallying cry to continue to fleece their congregations in drumming up more financial support for Trump's flagging re-election campaign.

 djt impeachment graphic

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Judge Tosses Trump Family Attempt to Block Mary Trump’s Tell-All, Lachlan Cartwright and Asawin Suebsaeng, June 25, 2020. A Queens County Surrogate Court Judge cited “several improprieties” in Robert Trump’s attempt to block niece Mary’s tell-all. A New York judge has tossed an application by President Donald Trump’s brother to try and halt the publication of his niece’s book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.

Queens County Surrogate Court Judge Peter Kelly cited “several improprieties” in Robert Trump’s filing that rendered it “fatally defective”—including that it was based on the official disposition of patriarch Fred Trump Sr.’s estate, which wrapped up in 2001 and is thus for legal purposes “nonexistent.” That settlement included a confidentiality clause that niece Mary Trump signed, and which the elder Trumps have argued prevents her from publishing the sort of titillating family secrets her memoir is set to contain.

But Kelly asserted that his court could not provide the declaratory judgment blocking the book that Robert sought, and recommended the Trump brother try his luck in the New York State Supreme Court, which oversees civil and criminal matters. The Surrogate Court strictly handles the wills and assets of the deceased.

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Trump Brother Was in ICU Just Before Suing Over Tell-All, Lachlan Cartwright and Asawin Suebsaeng, June 25, 2020. Robert Trump, Donald’s younger brother, spent at least 10 days in a neuro intensive care unit just before launching legal action to stop the publication of his niece’s book.

Robert, 72, had been at Mount Sinai hospital’s neurosciences intensive care unit (NSICU) in New York since at least June 11th, being treated for a serious condition. He was discharged on Sunday and, despite his stay in the hospital, he wasted no time in filing and signing complicated legal documents aided by his celebrity attorney Charles Harder and releasing a statement.

On its website Mount Sinai boasts that its 16-bed NSICU specializes in “state of the art, compassionate care of patients who suffer from subarachnoid hemorrhage, acute ischemic stroke, intracerebral hemorrhage, subdural hematomas, coma, tumors of the brain and spine, severe or prolonged seizures, neuro-infections, [and] spinal cord injury among others.”

Robert did not respond to multiple requests for comment Wednesday and his attorney, Harder, declined to comment.

Mary Trump’s high-powered legal team, which includes the renowned First Amendment attorney Theodore Boutrous of the law firm Gibson Dunn, are expected to file their response in the coming days.

U.S. Crime, Probes, Punishment

jack abramoff coverBloomberg, Lobbyist Jack Abramoff Charged in Crypto-Currency Case, U.S. Says, Joel Rosenblatt, June 25, 2020. Investors allegedly deceived in offering of digital tokens; Abramoff to plead guilty, faces five years, prosecutor says. Jack Abramoff, the onetime Washington insider who went to prison in a lobbying scandal, was charged by the U.S. with illegally lobbying for a fraudulent cryptocurrency project.

Abramoff  (shown on the cover of his post-prison memoir) has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy and violating the Lobbying Disclosure Act and faces as long as five years in prison, according to a court filing and U.S. Attorney David Anderson in San Francisco.

June 24

Virus Victims, Responses

U.S. Prosecution, Court Politics

 Trump Watch

World News

 Police Brutality, Race Protests

More On U.S. 2020 Politics

Media News

U.S. Jobs, Economy

 

Top Stories

June 24

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: N.Y. N.J. and Conn. order quarantine for travelers from Florida, other states hit hard by coronavirus, Teo Armus, Katie Shepherd, Jennifer Hassan, Rick Noack, Lateshia Beachum, Hannah Knowles, Miriam Berger, Hamza Shaban and Kim Bellware, June 24, 2020. The governors of the tri-state area jointly announced the travel advisory, which requires a 14-day quarantine for visitors from states whose infection rates meet certain thresholds indicating “significant community spread,” according to New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D). Nine states currently meeting that threshold, Cuomo said: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, Utah and Texas.

New coronavirus cases continued to rise in many parts of the United States, as seven states — Arizona, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas — reported record-high numbers of hospitalizations since the pandemic began. Thirty-three states and U.S. territories reported a higher rolling average than last week.

Even as case numbers climb, reports circulated that the federal government is poised to stop providing federal aid to testing sites in some hard-hit states, including Texas, prompting a top federal official to respond that testing was on the rise.

Since the start of the pandemic, the United States has recorded more than 2.3 million coronavirus cases and at least 119,000 deaths, while the global number of cases has soared past 9 million.

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate Democrats block GOP policing bill, stalling efforts to change practices, Seung Min Kim, June 24, 2020. Democrats said the bill fell far short of addressing racism in policing and responding to the national outcry for change.

dnc square logoSenate Democrats on Wednesday blocked a Republican-drafted bill aimed at overhauling the nation’s policing practices amid a national outcry for a systematic transformation of law enforcement — spelling a potential death knell to efforts at revisions at the federal level in an election year.

On a 55-to-45 vote, the legislation written primarily by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) failed to advance in the Senate, where it needed 60 votes to proceed. Most Democratic senators said the bill fell far short of what was needed to meaningfully change policing tactics and was beyond the point of salvageable.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Trump Pushes Anew to Divide Americans by Race, Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Martin, June 24, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump is leaning hard into his decades-long habit of falsely portraying some black Americans as dangerous or lawless. And he is doing it during one of the most tumultuous periods in decades.

President Trump, trying to appeal to his predominantly white base, has repeatedly pushed inflammatory language, material and policies.

President Trump has repeatedly pushed inflammatory language, material and policies in recent days that seek to divide Americans by race as he tries to appeal to his predominantly white base of voters four months before Election Day rather than try to broaden his support.

Trailing in national polls and surveys of crucial battleground states, and stricken by a disappointing return to the campaign trail, Mr. Trump has leaned hard into his decades-long habit of falsely portraying some black Americans as dangerous or lawless. And he has chosen to do so at one of the most tumultuous periods in decades as Americans protest recent episodes of police brutality against black people that have highlighted the nation’s long history of racial injustice.

ny times logoNew York Times, E.U. May Exclude U.S. as It Reopens Borders, Citing Failures on Virus, Matina Stevis-Gridneff, June 24, 2020 (print ed.). European Union countries rushing to revive their economies and reopen their borders after months of coronavirus restrictions are prepared to block Americans from entering because the United States has failed to control the scourge, according to draft lists of acceptable travelers seen by The New York Times.

european union logo rectangleThat prospect, which would lump American visitors in with Russians and Brazilians as unwelcome, is a stinging blow to American prestige in the world and a repudiation of President Trump’s handling of the virus in the United States, which has more than 2.3 million cases and upward of 120,000 deaths, more than any other country.

European nations are currently haggling over two potential lists of acceptable visitors based on how countries are faring with the coronavirus pandemic. Both include China, as well as developing nations like Uganda, Cuba and Vietnam.

Travelers from the United States and the rest of the world have been excluded from visiting the European Union — with few exceptions mostly for repatriations or “essential travel” —- since mid-March. But a final decision on reopening the borders is expected early next week, before the bloc reopens on July 1.

U.S. Prosecution, Court Politics

Palmer Report, Opinion: Turns out SDNY is targeting Rudy Giuliani after all, Bill Palmer, June 24, 2020. When Donald Trump and Bill Barr made an urgent and desperate (failed) attempt rudy giuliani recentat taking control of the SDNY, it was pretty clear that they were trying to derail one or more existing criminal cases that Trump didn’t like. We still don’t know which criminal cases had Trump so panicked. But now we do have confirmation that the SDNY is in fact still targeting Trump’s pal Rudy Giuliani, right.

bill palmer report logo headerThe SDNY has now broadened its probe into Giuliani, expanding it to include his interactions with Ukrainian oligarch Pavel Fuks, according to Scott Stedman of Forensic News. We think the timing here is fascinating. Just a few days after Trump tried and failed to overthrow the SDNY leadership, we’re now seeing the SDNY letting it be known that it is indeed targeting Giuliani, and that the case is still ongoing and expanding.

Given the timing, this feels like a message is being sent. SDNY has likely already told Rudy Giuliani the timeframe of his expected indictment and arrest, thus giving him an opportunity to cut a plea deal before his arrest. Now SNDY appears to be signaling to Rudy that this past weekend’s shenanigans didn’t get him off the hook at all, and that he should consider cutting a deal while he still can.

roger stone hands waving no credit from stone cold Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: Prosecutor testifies on alleged politicization inside Barr’s Justice Department, Felicia Sonmez, Karoun Demirjian, Matt Zapotosky and Colby Itkowitz, June 24, 2020. The House Judiciary Committee is hearing testimony Wednesday from a federal prosecutor and another witness who have accused Attorney General William P. Barr and his top deputies of acting “based on political considerations” and a desire to appease President Trump.

Aaron Zelinsky, an assistant U.S. attorney in Maryland formerly detailed to the Russia investigation by special prosecutor Robert S. Mueller III, told the panel that prosecutors involved in the criminal trial of Trump’s friend Roger Stone (shown above in a file photo) experienced “heavy pressure from the highest levels of the Department of Justice” to give Stone “a break” by requesting a lighter sentence.

Zelinsky was joined by John Elias, an official in the Justice Department’s antitrust division, who said that Barr ordered staff to investigate marijuana company mergers simply because of his “personal dislike” of the nature of their underlying business.

Also appearing are former U.S. attorney general Michael B. Mukasey and former deputy attorney general Donald Ayer, who has publicly called on Barr to step down.

In his testimony, Ayer said Barr “poses the greatest threat in my lifetime to our rule of law,” while Mukasey dismissed allegations that the Justice Department has become politicized under Barr.

Meanwhile, Barr has accepted an invitation from the panel’s chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), to appear for a “general oversight hearing” on July 28, Barr’s spokeswoman, Kerri Kupec, said in a tweet Wednesday. According to a Judiciary Committee spokesman, the Justice Department contacted the panel on Tuesday regarding a date for Barr’s testimony to avoid a subpoena for the attorney general.

Yahoo News, House hearing on William Barr quickly descends into chaos, Dylan Stableford, June 24, 2020. A House Judiciary Committee hearing quickly descended into chaos Wednesday moments after the first witness, former Deputy Attorney General Donald Ayer, called current Attorney General William Barr “the greatest threat in my lifetime to our rule of law.”

william barr new oWhen Ayer exceeded the five minutes allotted for his opening statement, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, began loudly tapping his desk as Ayer was attempting to conclude his remarks.

Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler called for “regular order” to allow Ayer to finish his statement.

“We’re way beyond regular order,” Gohmert snapped.

Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., urged Nadler to call for the sergeant at arms to “stop the disruption of this meeting.”

“I can’t hear this witness,” Johnson said. “This is a very important witness.”

“Well, he’s way beyond his time,” Gohmert said. “And if there’s no rules about when you can talk, there’s no rules about when you can noise.”

The Republican congressman resumed tapping his desk as Democrats asked Nadler to have Gohmert removed from the panel.

Nadler did not, and Ayer concluded his remarks over the sound of Gohmert’s tapping.

Tuesday’s hearing was convened to examine Barr’s actions as attorney general, including his handling of the Mueller report as well as his role in forcing out Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who had been conducting separate investigations that could yield unfavorable results for the President Trump.

 supreme court headshots 2019

Los Angeles Times, Analysis of Supreme Court 2020: Major rulings on abortion, Trump’s tax returns still to come, David G. Savage, June 24, 2020. The Supreme Court is nearing the end of its term and ready to release major decisions on abortion, religion and the separation of powers between the president and Congress — specifically, whether House Democrats or a New York grand jury can obtain President Trump’s tax returns.

The court has already handed down a pair of surprises by extending the 1964 Civil Rights Act to protect LGBTQ employees and by blocking President Trump’s repeal of the Obama-era program that protects the so-called Dreamers, the young immigrants who were brought to this country as children. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. voted with the four liberals in both cases, triggering dismay and dissent among his colleagues on the right.

The chief justice also figures to hold the deciding vote in the biggest cases yet to be decided. A Louisiana dispute over doctors who perform abortions has taken on added significance because it will be the first abortion ruling since Trump’s two appointees took their seats and because it will signal whether the more conservative court will stick with its precedents on abortion.

Trump is counting on the court to protect him from subpoenas issued by three House committees and a New York grand jury that seek financial records held by his accountant or by Deutsche Bank, which made large loans to Trump’s properties. Trump sued to block the subpoenas but lost in three lower courts.

Usually, the court hands down its final decisions by the end of June and goes on recess for the summer. But the coronavirus shutdown delayed the arguments in several cases, including the dispute over Trump’s taxes, which in turn could push the last decisions into early July.

Here’s a look at the major cases still pending, and the significant rulings so far.

Virus Victims, Responses

The Street, President Trump Will End Funding for Covid-19 Testing Sites, Tony Owusu, June 24, 2020. The Trump administration will stop funding the 13 testing sites it has around the country and will instead rely on public-private partnerships to test people.

The Trump administration plans to end federal funding and support for coronavirus testing sites, NBC News reported Wednesday, even as new cases continue to spike around the country as states start to reopen their economies.

The stock market is down across each index today, as Wall Street is selling off shares after several U.S. states, including Florida, Texas, and California, see spikes in new coronavirus cases.

The White House says that the move is an effort to "broaden community testing," according to the report, which would put more emphasis on public-private partnerships with companies like CVS Health (CVS) - Get Report and Walgreens (WBA) - Get Report.

washington post logoWashington Post, New York City Marathon canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, Cindy Boren, June 24, 2020. The decision to scrap the 50th edition of the race, which runs through the city’s five boroughs and draws more than 50,000 runners, 10,000 volunteers and around one million fans, was “incredibly disappointing,” the chief executive of New York Road Runners said in a statement.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Federal government to scale back testing support even as hospitalizations reach new highs, Staff reports, June 24, 2020. Hospitalizations in Houston have tripled since Memorial Day, hospital CEO says; Megan Rapinoe, two other USWNT players opt out of NWSL tournament; Returning to school this fall may be ‘extremely difficult,’ South Carolina official says.

New coronavirus cases continued to rise in many parts of the United States, as seven states — Arizona, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas — reported record-high numbers of hospitalizations since the pandemic began. Thirty-three states and U.S. territories reported a higher rolling average than last week. Even as case numbers climb, the federal government is poised to stop providing federal aid to testing sites in some hard-hit states, including Texas, where new cases have spiked sharply in recent weeks.

President Trump said Saturday he told officials to “slow down” testing to lower the number of newly reported coronavirus cases in the country. While his team initially claimed that the statement was a joke, Trump contradicted that claim Tuesday, saying, “I don’t kid.” But top public health experts testifying before Congress on Tuesday denied having been told to scale back testing and reiterated the importance of continuing widespread screenings to hamper the spread of the virus.

washington post logoWashington Post, Virginia to create first pandemic workplace safety mandates in nation, Eli Rosenberg, June 24, 2020. The governor's office said the rules were prompted in large part by the lack of enforcement by OSHA, the federal agency tasked with upholding workplace safety.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Analysis: Them that die'll be the lucky ones," Wayne Madsen, June 24, 2020. "Them that die'll be the lucky ones," boasted Long John Silver in Robert wayne madesen report logoLouis Stevenson's epic, "Treasure Island." And that quote brings us to our present reality.

There is no cure for the Covid-19 global plague nor is a useful vaccine for the deadly virus anywhere close to being widely administered. A recent Chinese study indicates that those who recover from Covid-19 and possess antibodies that give them immunity lose those antibodies after only a few months. Which means, those who survive one bout of Covid-19, may not be so lucky with repeat infections.

OpEdNews, Hotels give a "Wink and a Nod" When Millions of Young Girls' Lives at Stake, Robert Weiner and Zach Filtz, June 24, 2020. Las Vegas could shine its image and lead the nation in fighting human trafficking, a situation made even worse with Coronavirus (Covid-19).

Hotel chains have shown that a wink and a nod are just fine with them, enabling of the destruction of young girls' lives. Ignoring the need to contain it, they are not revealing information regarding their customers and clients interacting with COVID-19-positive people. Now, researchers in China according to WebMD had found that Coronavirus can be prevalent in semen in men who are still infected or recovering from COVID-19, with findings published in the medical journal JAMA Network Open.

While Las Vegas already makes prostitution unlawful, the state of Nevada lets the counties choose to outlaw it. Currently, there are six counties and a city where prostitution is not legal at all: Clark County (which contains Las Vegas), Douglas, Eureka, Lincoln, Pershing, Washoe (contains Reno) and the independent city of Carson City (the state capitol). However, Elko, Humboldt, Lyon, and White Pine Counties all allow brothels in at least parts of their counties. We need sunlight shown on this dark issue, nad question why this is not a statewide prohibition.

Legal sex worker and brothel employee Sandi Benks said to the Reno Gazette Journal that the COVID-19 illness caused her enough worry to stop working in the industry since Nevada shut down brothels on March 19 in the Covid regulations. "I had a gut feeling and I just packed up and left," Benks said. "I bailed on it. I wasn't comfortable. I knew nationally we weren't supposed to be in groups over 10 and I was like this is a group over 10 - I'm outta here. I'm a stickler on that. I'd rather play safe than sorry."

The implications for this legal sex worker is that she, as a legal sex worker, has a choice in the matter is as different as night and day, as it is still believed that illegal traffickers are still forcing their "property" to continue performing sexual services to their black-market customers, are a very different story. Those people -- the unseen victims kept by a force in a clandestine industry -- can't say no unless they safely get help.

For those who are struggling to grasp the experiences of human trafficking survivors, Reno NBC News Channel 4's website encapsulates this horror with "Lisa" (her identity kept a secret). She explains that she was homeless at 12, stripping at 16, and was forced into trafficking soon after that. Lisa says one night she was asked to a friend's house, and that's where five men met her, drugged and beat her and held her for four days. That is where her sex trafficking started in the Reno, Nevada area.

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: Trump faced a moment of truth in Tulsa. He chose the low road, Editorial Board, June 24, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump faced a moment of truth as his reelection campaign kicked into high gear. He could double down on the politics of division, hoping to energize the minority of Americans who reliably support him and prevent or discourage as many others as possible from voting. Alternatively, he could, with modest efforts at conciliation and healing, expand the pool of voters willing to vote for him.

Political self-interest seemed to dictate the second choice. Unfortunately, in his opening campaign rally in Tulsa on Saturday, he chose the low road instead. Whether by calculation, or because by character he is incapable of any other way, he opted for bigotry, division and mean-spiritedness.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Saudi Arabia announces drastic curbs to numbers for annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Sarah Dadouc, June 24, 2020 (print ed.). Fewer than 10,000 people will be allowed to perform the 2020 hajj pilgrimage, which included about 2.5 million last year. The announcement did not explain how the pilgrims will be chosen.

Police Brutality, Race Protests  ahmaud arbery

Yahoo News, 3 men indicted on murder charges in killing of Ahmaud Arbery, Wire reports, June 24, 2020. Arbery was slain Feb. 23 when the Greg and Travis McMichael armed themselves and pursued the 25-year-old Black man running in their neighborhood. A prosecutor on Wednesday announced that three men have been indicted on murder charges in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in coastal Georgia.

Prosecutor Joyette Holmes said a Glynn County grand jury has indicted Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. on charges including malice and felony murder in the death of the African American man. Arbery was slain Feb. 23 when the Greg and Travis McMichael, a white father and son, armed themselves and pursued the 25-year-old Black man running in their neighborhood. Greg McMichael told police he suspected Arbery was a burglar and that Arbery attacked his son before being shot.

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate teeters on cusp of failure in police reform push, Seung Min Kim and Holly Bailey, June 24, 2020 (print ed.). Republicans and Democrats struggled to find consensus on how to address race and policing and answer a public demand to overhaul law enforcement tactics.

The Senate appeared on the cusp of failure Tuesday as Republicans and Democrats struggled to find consensus on how to address a national crisis over race and policing and answer the public demand to overhaul law enforcement tactics.

Democrats criticized a Senate Republican plan as inadequate, arguing that it falls far short of a substantive transformation of controversial policing practices, and they laid the groundwork to stall the measure. Republicans countered that their proposal was a viable starting point for legislation and said Democratic resistance was a sign that the party was interested only in scoring political points months ahead of the elections.

The gridlock on Capitol Hill stood in contrast to the growing public support for policing reforms in the four weeks since the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody, galvanized the nation with demands for racial justice. Three states have already enacted new policing laws that restrict controversial practices such as chokeholds and aim to make law enforcement more accountable. Dozens more are moving aggressively to change police practices.

ny times logoNew York Times,  9 Departments and Multiple Infractions for One New Jersey Police Officer, Rukmini Callimachi, June 24, 2020. With no licenses that can be revoked and no database tracking their misconduct, officers are able to jump from agency to agency, even after they are fired.

This month, the white officer was charged with assault for pepper-spraying a group of black youths after a complaint that they were loitering, but only after cellphone footage captured by one of them was uploaded to YouTube. A look back over the young officer’s career; a review of police records; and interviews with more than a dozen law enforcement officials, witnesses and community leaders indicate that he had a history of interactions that policing experts say should have raised red flags.

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Insurgent Wave Upends House Primaries in N.Y., Jesse McKinley, June 24, 2020. Following the 2018 success of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, three progressive Democrats took commanding leads in their primaries.

Candidates from the Democratic Party’s left wing held significant leads in three marquee House primaries in New York after Tuesday’s machine ballot count, in a profound show of progressive political power.

One of the contests could lead to the unseating of an entrenched leader: Representative Eliot L. Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was badly trailing Jamaal Bowman, an insurgent candidate from Yonkers.

If Mr. Engel, who has served in Congress for more than 30 years, were to lose, it would echo a similar upset in 2018, when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated Joseph Crowley, then the No. 4 House Democrat.

But this year, the movement seemed to have more reach, as progressive Democrats led the way in contests for two open House seats held by retiring Democrats.

In the Bronx, Ritchie Torres, a city councilman, led a pack of contenders in the 15th Congressional District, where Representative José E. Serrano is retiring. Those trailing Mr. Torres included a political veteran, Rubén Díaz Sr., a conservative former state senator with a history of anti-gay remarks, who had been considered among the favorites.

And in the Hudson Valley district held by Representative Nita Lowey, who is also retiring, Mondaire Jones, a Harvard-educated lawyer, had pulled away from six other candidates in early returns.

Mr. Jones and Mr. Torres would become trailblazers if elected in November: Either would be the first openly gay black member of Congress. 

washington post logoWashington Post, A second senior economist is abruptly leaving the White House amid the ongoing economic crisis, Robert Costa, Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey, June 24, 2020. Tomas Philipson, acting chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, announced he is stepping down two days after his predecessor said he would leave. It is unusual for two senior White House officials to leave in the middle of an economic crisis.

One of President Trump’s senior economic officials has abruptly left the White House in the middle of the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. He becomes the second senior White House economic official whose departure was announced this month.

Tomas J. Philipson, acting chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, will leave his post by the end of June, White House spokesman Judd Deere said in an email. The announcement comes two days after Kevin Hassett, a senior White House economic official and Philipson’s predecessor as chair of CEA, announced he would also be stepping down. Hassett was brought back to the administration this winter but is preparing to step away again.

washington post logoWashington Post, Gade wins GOP Senate primary in Virginia, Webb gets 5th District nomination, Jenna Portnoy, Emily Davies and Antonio Olivo, June 24, 2020 (print ed.). Establishment favorite Daniel Gade, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, will challenge Sen. Mark Warner (D) in the fall. Cameron Webb — a physician, former White House fellow and health policy researcher — is the Democratic nominee to face Bob Good, a self-described “biblical” conservative, in November.

washington post logoWashington Post, Wall Street spent heavily to take down Ocasio-Cortez. It was a bad investment, Tory Newmyer, June 24, 2020. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fended off a primary challenge from former CNBC anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, who raised $2 million.

By one measure, Caruso-Cabrera made the race competitive, raising an impressive war chest of more than $2 million for her bid, most of it in big checks from the financiers whom Ocasio-Cortez has made a point of targeting. That haul paled in comparison to the roughly $10.5 million Ocasio-Cortez raised mostly in small donations.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump visits border barrier in push of immigration message amid pandemic and civil unrest, Anne Gearan, Nick Miroff and Toluse Olorunnipa, June 24, 2020 (print ed.).  The president and his aides continued to flout public health guidelines in Arizona while top administration officials were testifying before Congress about the growing threat of covid-19.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Things just got even uglier with Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions, James Sullivan, June 24, 2020. It’s a particularly important year for Democrats to retake the Senate – and they need to flip at least four seats if they’re going to. One of the more problematic seats that they’re protecting this year is Doug Jones’ seat, who replaced Jeff Sessions in djt jeff sessions Customa special election against Roy Moore – two names that represent the worst of what the modern day GOP has to offer. While it’s a relief that Roy Moore is no longer vying for the Senate seat, Sessions is back and facing the candidate picked by Donald Trump in a July Republican primary runoff.

bill palmer report logo headerFor a time, it looked like Tommy Tuberville was a clear favorite to win the nomination in a state where Trump enjoys above average favorability, but it’s not exactly a great sign that the GOP primary election was close enough to be a runoff between Trump’s endorsed candidate and the guy Trump openly despises. Now, Tuberville has a whole new problem – and it could really throw a wrench into the race however things turn out after the July runoff.

While he ran on solving the opioid crisis as one of his top priorities when he gets to Washington, it turns out that Tuberville and his wife have five-figure holdings in stocks of the same companies that have profited from opioids – AmerisourceBergen and Johnson & Johnson, and Teva Pharmaceuticals, all of which have paid out settlements with state and local governments over their role in the opioid crisis, an issue that even Donald Trump has tried to be on the right side of.

This could skew things in Sessions’ favor, and if he does come out the winner in the runoff, we can expect a lot of ugly Republican clashing between Sessions and Trump. If Tuberville manages to prevail, you can expect this to come up again in the fall. With a roughly 45% approval rating, it just became a little easier for Doug Jones to win re-election in November.

washington post logomark meadows SmallWashington Post, A 24-year-old novice beat a Trump-endorsed candidate in primary race for Mark Meadows’s seat in Congress, Meagan Flynn, June 24, 2020. A 24-year-old real estate investor and motivational speaker in western North Carolina has defeated the candidate endorsed by President Trump in a Republican runoff to vie for White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’s (shown at right) seat in Congress, marking another race this election cycle that has bucked the president’s influence.

Madison Cawthorn, who turns 25 in August, was the surprise victor in North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District runoff against real estate agent Lynda Bennett with nearly two-thirds of the vote, according to the Associated Press. Bennett, 62, had endorsements not only from Trump but also from Meadows, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio.) Meadows vacated the seat in March to join the White House.

washington post logoWashington Post, Candidates in N.Y. and Ky. seize momentum of racial justice protests in bids for Democratic primary wins, Colby Itkowitz, Joe DePaolo and Josh Wood, June 23, 2020. Charles Booker, a state legislator, hopes to claim the nomination and the chance to challenge Sen. Mitch McConnell (R). Jamaal Bowman is looking to oust longtime Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D).

ny times logoNew York Times, There’s a Reason Trump Is Fighting Hard for Arizona, Jennifer Medina, June 24, 2020 (print ed.). Joe Biden’s path to the White House could be through fed-up suburbanites and young Latinos.

joe biden oMr. Trump is scheduled to campaign here on Tuesday, in a state whose 11 electoral votes he badly needs to hold to be re-elected, especially if he loses any of the three Midwestern states he flipped in 2016.

Democratic officials believe that frustrations over Mr. Trump’s immigration policies and his handling of the pandemic, as well as polling trends, indicate that Joseph R. Biden Jr. has the best shot of any Democratic presidential candidate to win Arizona since Bill Clinton carried the state in 1996. And the Biden campaign sees winning Arizona as not just a path to victory, but also a confirmation that Latino and immigrant voters are a strong and dependable part of the party. 

Media News

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump family seeks to block book by niece that calls him ‘world’s most dangerous man,’ Michael Kranish, June 24, 2020 (print ed.). Presales of the book, slated for a July 28 publication, have soared on the basis of a description from publisher Simon & Schuster that says it will reveal decades of family secrets, including a “nightmare of traumas” that explain President Trump’s psychology.

President Trump’s brother on Tuesday petitioned a New York court to block the publication of a book by Mary L. Trump that describes the president, her uncle, as the “world’s most dangerous man.”

Presales of the book, slated for publication on July 28, have soared to the top of bestseller lists on the basis of a description from publisher Simon & Schuster that it will reveal decades of family secrets, including a “nightmare of traumas” that explain the psychology of the man who is now president.

President Trump told the Axios news service earlier this week that Mary Trump is “not allowed” to write the book, because she signed a nondisclosure agreement in 2001 that settled her suit against him and his siblings over her inheritance from her grandfather Fred Trump Sr., the president’s father. President Trump said the agreement was a “very powerful one” that “covers everything.”

Yahoo News, Devin Nunes can’t sue Twitter over statements by fake cow, judge rules, Kate Irby, June 24, 2020. A judge has ruled that Rep. Devin Nunes has no right to sue Twitter over statements made by a fake Internet cow, someone parodying his mother and a Republican strategist.

devin nunes file flagJudge John Marshall said in a decision Friday that Twitter was “immune from the defamation claims of” Nunes, R-Tulare, due to federal law that says social media companies are not liable for what people post on their platforms.

Nunes, right, “seeks to have the court treat Twitter as the publisher or speaker of the content provided by others based on its allowing or not allowing certain content to be on its internet platform,” Marshall wrote. “The court refuses to do so.”

twitter bird CustomNunes sued Twitter, the two parody accounts known as Deivn Nunes’ Cow and Deivn Nunes’ Mom and strategist Liz Mair in March 2019. He alleged the latter three had defamed him online, ruining his reputation and causing him to win his 2018 election by a narrower margin than normal. He accused Twitter of being negligent for allowing the alleged defamation.

Twitter’s lawyers, in their motion to dismiss the suit, argued that Twitter was immune from the lawsuit due to federal law. The law, known as Section 230, says that social media companies like Twitter are not liable for what third parties post on their platform. The only exception is if Twitter personally helped develop or create the content. Both Twitter and Nunes agreed the company did not do that in this case.

Nunes’ lawyer, Steven Biss, argued that Twitter’s actions in allegedly favoring more liberal content over conservation content and allegedly promoting tweets that made fun of Nunes meant that Section 230 protections should not apply.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House correspondents’ dinner canceled over coronavirus concerns, Nina Zafar, June 24, 2020 (print ed.). The White House Correspondents’ Association canceled its annual dinner after consulting “with medical experts, government authorities and our own members.”

U.S. Jobs, Economy

washington post logoWashington Post, More than 13,000 federal workers face a possible furlough of 30 days or longer, Eric Yoder, June 24, 2020 (print ed.). Fees from visa and citizenship applications and other services provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services are down sharply in the wake of the pandemic.

ny times logoNew York Times, Economy Updates: I.M.F. Predicts Deeper Global Downturn, Staff reports, June 24, 2020. The I.M.F said the global economy would shrink 4.9 percent this year and recover more slowly than expected. Stocks stumbled. Here’s the latest.

ny times logoNew York Times, Americans Face New Limbo as Some Reopenings Are Halted, Jack Healy, Mitch Smith and Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, June 24, 2020. Some states and counties are delaying and even reversing reopenings as virus cases mount. Experts say this could go on for months.

June 23

Top Stories

U.S. 2020 Elections

Trump Watch

Virus Victims, Responses

 Police Brutality, Race Protests

U.S. Economy, Jobs, Sports

U.S. Prosecutors, Courts, Crime

World News

Media News

 

Top Stories

CNN, Keilar confronts Trump campaign official: Is this funny to you? Brianna Keilar, June 23, 2020. CNN's Brianna Keilar confronts Trump 2020 campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh about President Donald Trump's recent comments about coronavirus testing that he made at a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

washington post logoWashington Post, Prosecutor to tell Congress that Barr, top aides sought to cut Roger Stone ‘a break,’ Karoun Demirjian, Matt Zapotosky and Rachael Bade, June 24, 2020 (print ed.). House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler wants Attorney General William P. Barr to testify in the Democrats’ investigation into what they warn is dangerous politicization at the Justice Department.

Justice Department log circularA federal prosecutor and another Justice Department official plan to tell Congress on Wednesday that Attorney General William P. Barr and his top deputies issued inappropriate orders amid investigations and trials “based on political considerations” and a desire to cater to President Trump.

Aaron Zelinsky, an assistant U.S. attorney in Maryland formerly detailed to Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation, will tell the House Judiciary Committee that prosecutors involved in the criminal trial of Trump’s friend Roger Stone (shown above left) experienced “heavy pressure from the highest levels of the Department of Justice to cut Stone a break” by requesting a lighter sentence, according to Zelinsky’s prepared remarks. The expectation, he intends to testify, was that Stone should be treated “differently and more leniently” because of his “relationship with the President.”

Zelinsky will be joined by John Elias, an official in the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, who will say that Barr ordered staff to investigate marijuana company mergers simply because he “did not like the nature of their underlying business,” according to his prepared testimony.

ny times logoNew York Times, Virus Gains Steam Across Latin America, Azam Ahmed, Anatoly Kurmanaev, Daniel Politi and Ernesto Londoño, June 23, 2020. Inequality, densely packed cities, legions of informal workers and weak health care systems have undermined efforts to fight the pandemic. By late March, the Mexican government calmly predicted that its coronavirus outbreak would peak in April.

Mexico, like the rest of Latin America, has quickly become a focal point of the pandemic, a worrisome frontier for a virus that has claimed the lives of more than 460,000 people and infected more than nine million worldwide.

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Arizona Mega-Church Set to Host Trump Rally Falsely Claims Its Air Filter Zaps COVID-19 ‘KILLS 99.9 PERCENT,’ David Axe, June 23, 2020. Dream City Church’s claim that it has technology to kill the coronavirus and protect rallygoers “is absurd,” says one epidemiologist. An Arizona mega-church where President Donald Trump is set to hold a rally on Tuesday claimed it possesses technology to clear the air of the novel coronavirus.

The church is wrong, multiple scientists told The Daily Beast. The air filters that Dream City Church said it installed in its 3,000-seat Phoenix-area auditorium can’t protect churchgoers—or the president—from SARS-CoV-2.

“When you come into our auditorium, 99.9 percent of COVID is gone—if it was there in the first place,” Brendon Zastrow, the church’s chief operating officer, claimed in a video that TMZ obtained.

Luke Barnett, Dream City Church’s pastor, said in the same video that the mega-church has installed CleanAir EXP filter units. “It was technology developed by some members of our church,” Barnett said. “And it kills 99.9 percent of COVID within 10 minutes.”

“This is absurd and will not protect you,” Matthew Scotch, an Arizona State University epidemiologist, told The Daily Beast. Dream City Church didn’t respond to an email requesting comment.

The CleanAir EXP system, built by a Phoenix-based company of the same name, is a combination filter unit and sensor that works with a building’s existing air-conditioning. Clean Air EXP claims on its website that its product can “clean indoor air of allergens, pathogens, odors, smoke, mold, ozone and harmful chemicals.”

ny times logoNew York Times, G.O.P. Faces Risk From Push to Repeal Health Law During Pandemic, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, June 23, 2020 (print ed). Republicans and the Trump administration continue to press to end the Affordable Care Act even as more Americans are worried about health care coverage.

President Donald Trump officialRepublicans are increasingly worried that their decade-long push to repeal the Affordable Care Act will hurt them in the November elections, as coronavirus cases spike around the country and millions of Americans who have lost jobs during the pandemic lose their health coverage as well.

The issue will come into sharp focus this week, when the White House is expected to file legal briefs asking the Supreme Court to put an end to the program, popularly known as Obamacare. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, seizing on the moment, will unveil a Democratic bill to lower the cost of health care, with a vote scheduled for next week in the House.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoRepublicans have long said their goal is to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act but have yet to agree on an alternative. This week’s back-to-back developments — Ms. Pelosi’s bill announcement on Wednesday, followed on Thursday by the administration’s legal filing — has put Republicans in a difficult spot, strategists say.

“Politically, it’s pretty dumb to be talking about how we need to repeal Obamacare in the middle of a pandemic,” said Joel White, a Republican strategist who specializes in health policy and has presented legislative proposals to House and Senate Republicans and the White House. “We need quick solutions here; we need stuff that we can do tomorrow, because our countrymen are hurting.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: As Outbreak Spreads, Some States Roll Back Plans to Reopen, Staff Reports, June 23, 2020. Some state officials are slowing the anthony fauci Customreturn-to-work plans and in some cases, reimposing earlier restrictions. Dr. Anthony Fauci, right, the top infectious disease expert, and Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the C.D.C., are speaking before Congress. Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 men’s tennis player, said he has tested positive for the coronavirus. Here’s the latest.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just confessed, Bill Palmer, June 23, 2020.  Donald Trump’s poorly attended Tulsa rally was controversial enough for him, before he opened his bill palmer report logo headermouth during his speech and admitted that he had instructed his White House advisers to slow down coronavirus testing in order to reduce the number of confirmed cases.

Taken at face value, this was a confession to negligent homicide. Naturally, Trump’s White House quickly began insisting that Trump was merely kidding. But just a few minutes ago, respected CBS News White House correspondent Weijia Jiang tweeted this:

Weijia Jiang: Just now I asked the President if he was kidding when he said he told his people to slow down testing, which is how White House officials explained the comment. He said, “I don’t kid.” He also said again testing is a double-edged sword, and praised the job the U.S. has done.

Wait a minute here. Donald Trump is confirming that he really did mean it when he claimed to have instructed the White House to slow down coronavirus testing. He’s confirming that his confession is indeed a confession. Joe Biden and anti-Trump groups are already using Trump’s “slow down the testing” soundbite in advertising, as it makes clear that Trump really did take dishonest steps to make himself look good that directly resulted in large numbers of Americans dying.

It’s also worth noting that if Donald Trump loses the election, he’ll end up on trial for a wide variety of criminal charges. His confession about deliberately slowing down the testing, coupled with his confirmation today that he really did mean it when he confessed, will be used as evidence against him by the prosecution. By slowing down the testing, he ensured that sick people remained unaware they were sick, and continued infecting other people.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Suspends Visas Allowing Foreigners to Work in the U.S., Michael D. Shear and Miriam Jordan, June 23, 2020 (print ed). The move is fiercely opposed by business leaders, who say it will block their ability to recruit critically needed workers from countries overseas. President Trump on Monday temporarily suspended new work visas and barred hundreds of thousands of foreigners from seeking employment in the United States, part of a broad effort to limit the entry of immigrants into the country.

Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore portrait)In a sweeping order, which will be in place at least until the end of the year, Mr. Trump blocked visas for a wide variety of jobs, including those for computer programmers and other skilled workers who enter the country under the H-1B visa, as well as those for seasonal workers in the hospitality industry, students on work-study summer programs and au pairs who arrive under other auspices.

The order also restricts the ability of American companies with global operations and international companies with U.S. branches to transfer foreign executives and other employees to the United States for months or yearslong stints. And it blocks the spouses of foreigners who are employed at companies in the United States.

Officials said the ban on worker visas, combined with extending restrictions on the issuance of new green cards, would keep as many as 525,000 foreign workers out of the country for the rest of the year.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump tells aides he backs new round of stimulus, but some in GOP disagree, Jeff Stein and Josh Dawsey, June 23, 2020. President Trump has told aides he is largely supportive of sending Americans another round of stimulus checks, believing the payments will boost the economy and help his chances at reelection in November, according to three people aware of internal administration deliberations.

However, leading congressional Republicans and some senior White House officials remain skeptical of sending more checks, creating a rift within conservative circles that could have significant consequences for the stimulus package set to be

Trump Watch

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump, without evidence, accuses Obama of ‘treason,’ Felicia Sonmez, June 23, 2020 (print ed.). In an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network, the president did not offer any evidence or details to back up his accusation against his predecessor. The president has frequently accused others of “treason,” but Monday marked the first time that he has leveled that claim against the man who preceded him in the Oval Office.

“On Obama and the spying situation, this idea that they were spying on your campaign — you’ve been asked before about what crime would have been potentially been committed,” Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody said.

“Treason,” Trump responded. He added: “It’s treason. Look, when I came out a long time ago, I said they’ve been spying on our campaign. ... It turns out I was right. Let’s see what happens to them now.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump fixated on defending his physical and mental health, Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey, June 23, 2020 (print ed.). After months attacking Democratic opponent Joe Biden’s acuity and strength, the president finds himself being mocked by critics for incidents including “the ramp and the water” at West Point.

ny times logoNew York Times, Roger Stone Sentencing Was Politicized, Ex-Prosecutor Plans to Testify, Nicholas Fandos, Charlie Savage and Katie Benner, June 23, 2020.  The prosecutor’s supervisor said that the case was being treated differently because of the defendant’s relationship with the president, according to planned testimony.

Senior law enforcement officials intervened to seek a more lenient prison sentence for President Trump’s friend and ally Roger J. Stone Jr. for political reasons, a former prosecutor on the case is expected to testify before Congress on Wednesday, citing his immediate supervisor’s account of the matter.

“What I heard — repeatedly — was that Roger Stone was being treated differently from any other defendant because of his relationship to the president,” the prosecutor, Aaron S.J. Zelinsky, said in a written opening statement submitted on Tuesday to the House Judiciary Committee ahead of Wednesday’s hearing. A copy was obtained by The New York Times.

Mr. Zelinsky will say that a supervisor working on the case told him there were “political reasons” to shorten prosecutors’ initial sentencing guidelines and that the supervisor agreed that doing so “was unethical and wrong.” Mr. Zelinsky said he and his fellow prosecutors raised concerns in writing and in conversation, but his “objections were not heeded.”

Mr. Zelinsky did not say in his written statement whom he was referring to. Attorney General William P. Barr directed the intervention days after he maneuvered the Senate-confirmed U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, Jessie K. Liu, out of her role and installed in her place as acting U.S. attorney a close aide from his own office, Timothy Shea.

U.S. 2020 Elections

538.com, The Debate Over Biden’s VP Pick Is Full Of Half-Truths And Misleading Arguments, Perry Bacon Jr., June 23, 2020. Almost every case for or against a particular vice presidential candidate comes with an electoral argument. But most of these electoral claims are highly contestable, at best.

It’s not that they should be dismissed out of hand. They matter. But as people in the Democratic Party advance their preferred candidates, they’re also doing a bit of hiding the ball. Electoral claims — “Person X will help win Michigan” — are often seen as objective and fact-based, even when they’re flimsy. But there are more obvious, non-electoral, cases for running mates that tend not to be voiced outright.

washington post logoWashington Post, Candidates in N.Y. and Ky. seize momentum of racial justice protests in bids for Democratic primary wins, Colby Itkowitz, Joe DePaolo and Josh Wood, June 23, 2020. Charles Booker, a state legislator, hopes to claim the nomination and the chance to challenge Sen. Mitch McConnell (R). Jamaal Bowman is looking to oust longtime Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D).

washington post logoWashington Post, Barring a landslide, election night might not yield a result in White House race, Amy Gardner, June 23, 2020 (print ed.). An expected surge in voting by mail during the pandemic means that close counts in key states could take days — even weeks — to resolve.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Voters head to the polls in Kentucky and N.Y.; officials contend with dearth of poll workers due to pandemic, Amy Gardner, Elise Viebeck and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, June 23, 2020. Voters in Kentucky and New York headed to the polls Tuesday amid concerns that the coronavirus could cause delays or health risks and as election officials contended with an influx of mail ballots and a dearth of poll workers.

An hour after polls had opened, voting appeared to be moving smoothly at the lone polling locations for the state’s two largest cities, Louisville and Lexington. Statewide, counties were expected to open fewer than 200 polling locations instead of the usual 3,700.

Election officials said mail-in balloting and in-person early voting have been so strong that they expected less demand for in-person voting locations.

Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Income, race emerge as major predictors of coronavirus infections, Amy Goldstein, June 23, 2020 (print ed.). Lower-income seniors are substantially more likely to develop the disease, a federal report finds.

Income is a potent force along with race in determining who among the nation’s vulnerable, older population has been infected with the novel coronavirus, according to a federal analysis that lays bare stark disparities in the pandemic’s toll.

The findings released Monday are based on billing records for people on Medicare who have contracted the virus. They echo the commonly understood pattern that black Americans are more likely to test positive for the virus and to be hospitalized for covid-19, the disease it causes, than other racial and ethnic groups. But they also point to the role of poverty as the pandemic has sped through U.S. communities in the winter and spring.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Coronavirus cases are rising in most states, but many leaders still insist on lifting restrictions, Staff reports, June 23, 2020. Second presidential debate moved from Ann Arbor, Mich., to Miami amid coronavirus concerns; Following virus flare-ups, Australia closes two schools again; LAX is testing fever-detecting cameras as passengers depart and arrive

washington post logoWashington Post, Hundreds of cash-strapped cities halt plans to repair roads, water systems, Tony Romm, June 23, 2020. The coronavirus has forced many municipalities to halt or cancel major purchases and infrastructure improvements, according to new data from the National League of Cities.

ny times logoNew York Times, Health Officials Had to Face a Pandemic. Then Came the Death Threats, Julie Bosman, Updated June 23, 2020. State and local health officials have found themselves at the center of regular news briefings, making them targets for harassment and threats.

michelle goldberg thumbny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: America Is Too Broken to Fight the Coronavirus, Michelle Goldberg, right, June 23, 2020 (print ed). No other developed country is doing so badly.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fauci, other health officials expected to caution at hearing that coronavirus could continue for ‘some time,’ June 23, 2020. Anthony S. Fauci and other Trump administration health officials are expected to caution that coronavirus activity could continue for “some time”as they testify at a high-profile congressional hearing Tuesday at a key juncture in the country’s response to the pandemic.

With cases rising in nearly half of the states and a White House eager to return to normal, Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, and three other key officials are scheduled to appear before a House panel overseeing the administration’s response.

The testimony will be Fauci’s first since a highly anticipated appearance a month ago, and it comes on the heels of President Trump’s comments at a controversial campaign rally over the weekend that he asked officials to slow testing to show fewer cases. Aides later said the comment was made in jest, but it prompted a fresh round of criticism that Trump is seeking to minimize the challenges that loom in recovering from the virus.

In a joint statement submitted on behalf of the four witnesses, the Department of Health and Human Services says “while it remains unclear how long the pandemic will last, COVID-19 activity will likely continue for some time.”

Police Brutality, Race Protests

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: There is no earthly reason this nation should be defiled by Confederate statues, Eugene Robinson, right, June 23, 2020 (print ed.). The solution to the problem colbert king 2003of Confederate memorials is simple: Tear them down, all of them. If a few must be left standing for practical reasons — the gigantic carvings on Stone Mountain outside Atlanta come to mind — authorities should allow them to be appropriately defaced, like the graffiti-scrawled remnants of the Berlin Wall.

The question of monuments to other white supremacists is more complicated, but it’s still not rocket science. As a society, we’re perfectly capable of deciding together which must go and which can stay. This supposed “slippery slope” isn’t really slippery at all.

There is no earthly reason any of this nation’s public spaces should be defiled by statuary honoring generals, soldiers and politicians who were traitors, who took up arms against their country, who did so to perpetuate slavery, and who — this is an important point — were losers.

There is an obvious difference between George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who founded our union, and, say, Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson, who tried to destroy it. The fact that Washington, Jefferson and other early presidents owned slaves should temper our admiration for them but not erase it entirely. They gave us a nation grotesquely disfigured by slavery, but they also gave us the constitutional tools, and the high-minded ideals, with which to heal that original, near-fatal flaw.

washington post logoWashington Post, Police thwart attempt by protesters to topple statue of Andrew Jackson near White House, Fredrick Kunkle, Susan Svrluga and Justin Jouvenal, June 23, 2020. As the protest unfolded Monday, someone spray-painted “BHAZ,” or Black House Autonomous Zone, on the columns of the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church.

U.S. Economy, Jobs, Sports

ny times logoNew York Times, Owners Vote to Hold M.L.B. Season After Players Reject Latest Offer, Tyler Kepner, June 23, 2020 (print ed). After months of failed negotiations, M.L.B. announced it would impose a season on their own, with length to be determined, provided the players accept health and safety protocols.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: A Plague of Willful Ignorance, Paul Krugman, right, June 23, 2020 (print ed). Trump has empowered America’s anti-rational streak. We’ve known for months paul krugmanwhat it takes to bring Covid-19 under control. You need a period of severe lockdown to reduce the disease’s prevalence. Only then can you reopen the economy — while maintaining social distancing as needed — and even then you need a regime of widespread testing, tracing and isolation of potentially infected individuals to keep the virus suppressed.

Most advanced countries have gone down this route. A few countries, like New Zealand and South Korea, have largely or completely defeated the coronavirus. The European Union, comparable in population and diversity to the United States, continues to record new cases of Covid-19, but at a far slower rate than at the pandemic’s peak in late March and early April.

U.S. Prosecutors, Courts, Crime

washington post logogeoffrey berman sdnyWashington Post, Before his ouster, U.S. attorney refused to join Justice Dept. rebuke of New York mayor, Shayna Jacobs, June 23, 2020 (print ed.). Geoffrey Berman, right, who was fired by President Trump on Saturday, had refused to support an initiative last week urging New York’s mayor to ease certain coronavirus restrictions.

washington post logoWashington Post, Chrystul Kizer, accused of killing her alleged sex trafficker, freed on bail after two years, Jessica Contrera, June 23, 2020 (print ed.).  A fund for arrested George Floyd protesters was used to pay $400,000 for the release of the 19-year-old black woman.

daily beast logoDaily Beast, Barr Gives Dems the Finger and They’re Unsure How to React, Sam Brodey and Erin Banco, June 23, 2020.  A faction of the party believes all remedies need to be on the table. Another doesn’t want a standoff bleeding into the presidential election. Attempting to navigate this dilemma yet again is Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), the Judiciary Chairman tasked most directly with overseeing the Department of Justice.

Appearing on CNN on Sunday, Nadler dismissed the notion of impeaching the attorney general — an idea championed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and entertained by william barr new omembers of his own committee — as a “waste of time” because the “corrupt” GOP-held Senate wouldn’t remove Barr from office. Nadler told Jake Tapper that the committee would pursue other tactics, like advancing legislation that aims to decrease funding to his office. And on Monday, Axios reported that the chairman would move to subpoena Barr, left, for testimony on July 2.

But Nadler’s dismissal of impeachment landed poorly among some members of his own party, including members of Judiciary, who have said they would like to see the entire oversight toolbox on the table. Impeachment is a power Congress retains, though one it has used exceedingly rarely. But, these members argue, the times call for extraordinary reactions.

Deep State /  History

jacob hornberger newFuture of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: Fear in the JFK Assassination, Part 2 (of 2), Jacob G. Hornberger, right, June 23, 2020. Let’s now move to the autopsy that the U.S. military conducted on the President John F. Kennedy’s body on the evening of the assassination, November 22, 1963.

Texas law required the autopsy to be conducted in Texas. Dr. Earl Rose, the Dallas Medical Examiner, insisted on conducting the autopsy immediately upon Kennedy’s death. An armed team of Secret Service agents, brandishing their guns, refused to permit that to happen and forced their way out of Parkland Hospital. Operating on orders, their objective was to get the president’s body to the airport, where Vice President Lyndon Johnson was waiting for it. His objective: to put the autopsy in the hands of the U.S. military.

In the 1970s, the U.S. House of Representatives opened up a new investigation into Kennedy’s assassination. During and after those hearings, a group of Navy enlisted men came forward with a remarkable story. They stated that they had secretly carried Kennedy’s body into the morgue at Bethesda Naval Medical Center in Maryland about an hour-and-a-half before the body was officially brought into the morgue.

They also stated that they had all been sworn to secrecy immediately after the autopsy and had been threatened with severe punishment, including criminal prosecution, if they ever revealed to anyone the classified secrets about the autopsy that they had acquired.
The Boyajian Report

In the 1990s, the Assassination Records Review Board, which was formed to enforce the JFK Records Act, uncovered an official document that had been kept secret for more than 30 years. It became known as the Boyajian Report. It had been created by Marine Sergeant Roger Boyajian immediately after the autopsy. Boyajian gave a copy of the report to the ARRB. Boyajian and his report confirmed that his team carried the president’s body into the morgue in a cheap military-style shipping casket at 6:35 p.m., about 1 and 1/2 hours before 8 p.m., the time that the body was officially brought into the morgue in the expensive, ornate casket into which it had been placed in Dallas.

On the night of the autopsy, one of the autopsy physicians, Admiral James Humes, telephoned U.S. Army Colonel Pierre Finck asking him to come to the morgue and assist with the autopsy. That phone call was made at 8 p.m. During the conversation, Humes told Finck that they already had some x-rays made of the president’s head. Yet, how could they have x-rays of the president’s head, given that the president’s body was being officially brought into the morgue at 8 p.m.? Humes’s testimony inadvertently confirmed the accuracy of the Boyajian Report and the statements of the enlisted men who had secretly carried the president’s body into the morgue an hour-and-a-half before the official 8 p.m. time that the body was brought into the morgue.

The Magic Bullet

During the autopsy, Finck began to “dissect” the president’s neck wound, a wound that later became embroiled in what became known as the “magic bullet” controversy. As Finck began the procedure, he was ordered by some unknown figure to cease and desist and to leave the wound alone. Finck complied with the order. The order showed that the three autopsy physicians were not in charge of the autopsy and that there was a higher force within the deep state that was orchestrating and directing the overall operation.
The brain examinations

It’s worth mentioning the brain examinations that took place as part of the autopsy. In an autopsy, there is only one brain examination. In the Kennedy autopsy, there were two, the second of which involved a brain that could not possibly have belonged to the president. Rather than detail the circumstances surrounding that unusual occurrence, I’ll simply link to the following two articles that the mainstream press published about it for those who might be interested in that aspect of the autopsy:

  • Newly Released JFK Documents Raise Questions About Medical Evidence by Deb Riechmann in the November 9, 1998, issue of the Washington Post.
  • Archive Photos Not of JFK’s Brain, Concludes Aides to Review Board by George Lardner Jr. in the November 10, 1998, issue of the Washington Post.

It is also worth noting that when Congress enacted the JFK Records Act mandating that federal agencies had to release their long-secret records relating to the assassination, the law that brought the ARRB into existence to enforce the law expressly prohibited the ARRB from investigating any aspect of the assassination. It was a provision that the ARRB board strictly enforced on the ARRB staff, which thereby prevented the staff from investigating the two separate brain examinations once they were discovered or, for that matter, anything else.

It’s is also worth noting that there are still thousands of assassination-related records that the National Archives is keeping secret, owing to a request by the CIA to President Trump early in his administration to continue keeping them secret, a request that Trump granted. The CIA’s reason for the continued secrecy? The CIA told Trump that the disclosure of the 56-year-old records to the American people would endanger “national security.”

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, South Korea calls Bolton’s account of Trump-Kim summit distorted, Min Joo Kim and John Hudson, June 23, 2020 (print ed.). South Korea’s national security adviser called the book a betrayal of trust and said it should be suppressed.

Former national security adviser John Bolton's account of nuclear talks between the United States and the two Koreas is incorrect and distorted, Seoul's Presidential Office said North Korean flagMonday, echoing the Trump administration's accusations against the soon-to-be-published exposé by the former top aide.

In his new memoir giving a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Washington’s dealings on foreign affairs, Bolton describes how President Trump’s engagement with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un failed to achieve its goal of getting North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

Bolton’s tell-all account of the 17 months he served as Trump’s national security adviser has made waves not only in Washington but also among diplomatic partners of the United States, as excerpts from the book were released in media reports over the past few days.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump backtracks on a meeting with Venezuela’s Maduro after criticism, John Wagner, June 23, 2020 (print ed.). The president had suggested he would consider sitting down with the dictator, a move that would be at odds with his administration's tough posture. President Trump backtracked Monday from comments made in an interview over the weekend in which he refused to rule out meeting with Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro, a move that would be at odds with his administration's hard-line policy toward the dictator.

After a backlash from Democrats and some Republicans, Trump tweeted that he only would meet with Maduro, who has clung to power since a disputed 2018 election, to discuss “a peaceful exit.”

“Unlike the radical left, I will ALWAYS stand against socialism and with the people of Venezuela,” Trump wrote. “My Admin has always stood on the side of FREEDOM and LIBERTY and against the oppressive Maduro regime! I would only meet with Maduro to discuss one thing: a peaceful exit from power!”

AFP via Yahoo News, Macaque attack: humans try to take back Thai city from monkeys, Stéphane Delfour and Pitcha Dangprasith, June 23, 2020. Welcome to Lopburi, an ancient Thai city overrun by monkeys super-charged on junk food, whose population is growing out of control.

Pointing to the overhead netting covering her terrace, Kuljira Taechawattanawanna bemoans the monkey menace across the heart of the 13th-century city in the central province of the same name.

"We live in a cage but the monkeys live outside," she tells AFP. "Their excrement is everywhere, the smell is unbearable especially when it rains."

Their growing numbers -- doubling in three years to 6,000 -- have made an uneasy coexistence with their human peers almost intolerable. Some areas of the city have simply been surrendered to the monkeys.

Media News

 Ron Jeremy, center, with attorney Stuart Goldfarb at right in Los Angeles Superior Court (LA Times pool photo distributed via AP on in Los Angeles Superior Court June  23, 2020).

  Porn star Ron Jeremy, center, with attorney Stuart Goldfarb at right in Los Angeles Superior Court (LA Times pool photo distributed via AP on June 23, 2020).

Forbes, Adult Film Star Ron Jeremy Charged With Sexually Assaulting Four Women, Lisette Voytko, June 23, 2020. Adult film star Ron Jeremy, 67, was charged Tuesday with sexually assaulting four women in 2014, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, and could face 90 years in prison if convicted as charged.

Jeremy, whose full given name is Ronald Jeremy Hyatt, was charged with “three counts each of forcible rape and forcible penetration by a foreign object and one count each of forcible oral copulation and sexual battery,” according to the district attorney’s statement.

He is accused of raping a 25-year-old woman in West Hollywood in May 2014 and raping a 30-year-old woman at a local bar in July 2019.

Jeremy (shown above in a Los Angeles Times pool photo on June 23 in Los Angeles Superior Court with his attorney) is also accused of sexually assaulting two more women, ages 33 and 46, at that same bar in separate 2017 incidents.

Jeremy has faced accusations of sexual assault in the past. He told Rolling Stone in 2017 that he denies all allegations, calling them “pure lies or buyer’s remorse,” and added “I have never and would never rape anyone.” At the time, Jeremy also expressed support for women and men coming forward about being sexually assaulted, saying, “These real predators need to be taken down.” Jeremy, a prolific adult film star, reportedly made the Guinness Book of World Records for having made the most appearances in adult films.

June 19

ny times logoNew York Times, Tennessee Newspaper Fires Advertising Manager After Anti-Muslim Ad, Staff Report, Aimee Ortiz, June 23, 2020 (print ed.). The Tennessean apologized for the ad on Sunday in a statement that said its advertising standards forbid hate speech. The Tennessean newspaper and Gannett, its parent company, fired an advertising manager on Monday, a day after the newspaper published a full-page ad from a biblical prophecy group claiming “Islam” would detonate a bomb in Nashville.

The manager who was fired “agreed to proceed with the ad without fully reviewing the content” after it had been flagged by a sales executive, Kathy Jack-Romero, the president of local sales for Gannett, said in a Tennessean article published on Monday.

An internal investigation found that three advertising staff members had the opportunity to review the ad before it published, she said, adding that “the sales and design teams did not fully read the context of the ad content in its entirety and subsequently approved it.”

June 22

Top Stories

U.S. Virus Victims, Responses

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

U.S. Police, Cultural, Protests

More On U.S. Prosecutors, Courts

World News

U.S. Economy, Business

Media News

 

Top Stories  djt tulsa rally 6 20 20 crowd shot 1 Custom

Photo via Twitter of President Trump's campaign rally in Tulsa on June 20, showing empty blue seats in upper decks. Tulsa's fire marshall announced attendance at 6,200 for the 19,000 seat area, far below Trump estimates of up to a million attendees and also substantially below estimates of many cable pundits Saturday night who estimated the area was two-thirds or half-filled.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump leans on racial grievances as he seeks a campaign reset, Jose A. Del Real, June 22, 2020 (print ed.). The strategy helped him win the White House in Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore portrait)2016 but is out of step with public opinion.

He referred to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus as the “kung flu.” He called racial justice demonstrators “thugs.” He attacked efforts to take down Confederate statues as an assault on “our heritage.” And in an ominous hypothetical, he described a “very tough hombre” breaking into a young woman’s home while her husband is away.

President Trump has long used his raucous rallies to road test potential campaign themes and attack lines. And while much attention on his Saturday night appearance in Tulsa focused on the sparse turnout for his first rally since the pandemic ended mass gatherings, Trump’s litany of racially offensive stereotypes sent a clear signal about how he plans to try to revive his flagging reelection effort.

john bolton djt palmer images Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘I’m not going to vote for him’: John Bolton calls Trump a ‘danger for the republic,’ Allyson Chiu, June 22, 2020. Former national security adviser John Bolton, above left, a self-described “lifelong conservative,” said he will not vote for President Trump in November, calling Trump a “danger for the republic” during a televised interview with john bolton room where cover CustomABC News that aired Sunday night.

“I hope [history] will remember him as a one-term president who didn’t plunge the country irretrievably into a downward spiral we can’t recall from,” Bolton told ABC News’s Martha Raddatz. “We can get over one term. I have absolute confidence. … Two terms, I’m more troubled about.”

Bolton’s public excoriation of his former boss comes as part of a media tour to promote his new book, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, which has drawn intense criticism from both Democrats and Republicans since excerpts and advance copies began circulating earlier this month.U.S. Prosecutors, Courts, Crime

washington post logoWashington Post, Acting U.S. attorney in N.Y. will advance politically sensitive cases, colleagues say, Shayna Jacobs, June 22, 2020 (print ed.). Audrey Strauss became head of the Manhattan-based prosecutor office after a standoff between her predecessor Geoffrey Berman and Attorney General William P. Barr.

geoffrey berman sdnyWhen Attorney General William P. Barr announced Friday night that Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, right, would step down and the post would be filled on an interim basis by the sitting chief prosecutor in neighboring New Jersey, Justice Department veterans and legal observers were baffled.

audrey straus bloomberg CustomWhy would Barr not promote Berman's second-in-command, Audrey Strauss, left, as is customary while a president's new nominee awaits Senate confirmation?

Among the attorney general's critics, an answer soon became evident: Berman's departure was neither planned nor voluntary but driven by long simmering frustrations over his office's pursuit of investigations targeting President Trump's interests and members of his inner circle.

Berman’s refusal to leave quietly — he indicated a desire to ensure that “important cases continue unimpeded” — forced Barr’s hand. On Saturday the attorney general announced that plans had changed and Strauss, 72, would take charge instead while the nomination of Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton is pending.

ny times logoNew York Times, Roosevelt Statue to Be Removed From Museum of Natural History, Robin Pogrebin, Updated June 22, 2020. The equestrian memorial to Theodore Roosevelt has long prompted objections as a symbol of colonialism and racism. The bronze statue of Theodore Roosevelt, on horseback and flanked by a Native American man and an African man, which has presided over the entrance to the American Museum of Natural History in New York since 1940, is coming down.

The decision, proposed by the museum and agreed to by New York City, which owns the building and property, came after years of objections from activists and at a time when the killing of George Floyd has initiated an urgent nationwide conversation about racism.

For many, the equestrian statue at the museum’s Central Park West entrance has come to symbolize a painful legacy of colonial expansion and racial discrimination.

“Over the last few weeks, our museum community has been profoundly moved by the ever-widening movement for racial justice that has emerged after the killing of George Floyd,” the museum’s president, Ellen V. Futter, said in an interview. “We have watched as the attention of the world and the country has increasingly turned to statues as powerful and hurtful symbols of systemic racism.”

Ms. Futter made clear that the museum’s decision was based on the statue itself — namely its “hierarchical composition”—- and not on Roosevelt, whom the museum continues to honor as “a pioneering conservationist.”

“Simply put,” she added, “the time has come to move it.”

The museum took action amid a heated national debate over the appropriateness of statues or monuments that first focused on Confederate symbols like Robert E. Lee and has now moved on to a wider arc of figures, from Christopher Columbus to Winston Churchill.

June 2020 update: The Museum has requested that the Equestrian Statue be moved.

American Museum of Natural History video documentary and commentary via YouTube, Meaning of the Monument, Director and Producer Reniqua Allen / Editor Rebecca Sherwood, June 2020 (15:55 min. video). The Equestrian Statue of Theodore Roosevelt was commissioned in 1925 to stand on the steps of the Museum, on city-owned property. It was unveiled to the public in 1940, as part of a larger New York State memorial to former N.Y. governor and U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt.

As part of a national conversation about problematic public monuments, and following the report of the Mayor’s Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers, the Museum is providing new context and perspectives, presenting the history and rationale for the statue while explicitly acknowledging its troubling aspects.

To understand the statue, we must recognize our country’s enduring legacy of racial discrimination—as well as Roosevelt’s troubling views on race. We must also acknowledge the Museum’s own imperfect history. Such an effort does not excuse the past but it can create a foundation for honest, respectful, open dialogue.

We hope this exhibition, together with other efforts to address cultural representation at the Museum, will inspire such discussion.

U.S. Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump faces backlash after saying he asked officials to slow down testing, Yasmeen Abutaleb, Taylor Telford and Josh Dawsey, June 22, 2020 (print ed.). The president’s remark drew criticism from congressional Democrats and public health officials — and it frustrated members of his administration.

President Trump’s Saturday night remark that he asked officials to “slow the [coronavirus] testing down” sparked harsh rebukes from experts and frustration from his own staffers, who say it undercuts their efforts to reassure Americans as the disease surges around the country.

The president’s comment, which came on the same day that eight states reported their highest-ever single-day case counts, drew a chorus of criticism from congressional Democrats and public health officials, who worry the president is more concerned with saving face than combating the pandemic.

“Looking at it as a scoreboard is the wrong way to think about it,” said Amesh Adalja, an infectious-disease expert at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “To think of it as something you can manipulate or slow down based on what the numbers look like speaks to a complete misunderstanding of what an infectious-disease response should be.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: More than two dozen states report coronavirus surges as Trump administration prepares for possible second wave, Staff reports, June 22, 2020. A White House adviser said Sunday that the Trump administration is preparing for a possible second wave in the novel coronavirus pandemic this fall, as 29 states and U.S. territories logged an increase in their seven-day average of new reported cases after many lifted restrictions in recent weeks.

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro disclosed the preparations for the possible second wave but rejected the suggestion that a second wave had already taken hold.

washington post logoWashington Post, Voices From The Pandemic: On the front lines and in the background, a New York paramedic speaks out, As told to Eli Saslow, June 22, 2020 (print ed.). Anthony Almojera has seen too many of his colleagues struggling emotionally and physically during the pandemic.

Nobody wants to know about what I do. People might pay us lip service and say we’re heroes, but our stories aren’t the kind anyone actually wants to hear about. Kids in this country grow up with toy firetrucks, or maybe playing cops and robbers, but who dreams of becoming a paramedic? That’s ambulances. That’s death and vulnerability — the scary stuff. We’re taught in this culture to shun illness like it’s something shameful. We’d rather pretend everything’s fine. We look the other way.

That’s what’s happening now in New York. We just had 20,000-some people die in this city, and already the crowds are lining back up outside restaurants and jamming into bars. This virus is still out there. We respond to 911 calls for covid every day. I’ve been on the scene at more than 200 of these deaths — trying to revive people, consoling their families — but you can’t even be bothered to stay six feet apart and wear a mask, because why? You’re a tough guy? It makes you look weak? You’d rather ignore the whole thing and pretend you’re invincible?

Do you know how much EMTs make in New York City? We start at $35,000. We top out at $48,000 after five years. That’s nothing. That’s a middle finger. It’s about 40 percent less than fire, police and corrections — and those guys deserve what they get. But we have three times the call volume of fire. There are EMTs on my team who’ve been pulling double shifts in a pandemic and performing life support for 16 hours, and then they go home and they have to drive Uber to pay their rent. I’m more than 15 years on the job, and I still work two side gigs. One of my guys does part-time at a grocery store. 

ny times logoNew York Times, Coronavirus Attacks the Lungs. A Federal Agency Just Halted Funding for New Lung Treatments, Katie Thomas, June 22, 2020 (print ed.). The shift, quietly disclosed on a government website, highlights how the Trump administration is favoring development of vaccines over treatments for the sickest patients.

When the coronavirus kills, it attacks the lungs, filling them with fluid and robbing the body of oxygen. In chest X-rays, clear lungs turn white, a sign of how dangerously sick patients are.

But earlier this month, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, a federal health agency, abruptly notified companies and researchers that it was halting funding for treatments for this severe form of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

The new policy highlights how staunchly the Trump administration has placed its bet on vaccines as the way to return American society and the economy to normal in a presidential election year. BARDA has pledged more than $2.2 billion in deals with five vaccine manufacturers for the coronavirus, compared with about $359 million toward potential Covid-19 treatments.

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, For Biden and Democrats, confidence comes with a chaser: Fear, Matt Viser, June 22, 2020. Democrats worry their party still does not fully understand what led voters to Trump in the first place, and they are terrified that overconfidence, like some of them enjoyed four years ago, will lead to complacency.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s problem in Tulsa wasn’t just empty seats. It was empty rhetoric, Ruth Marcus, June 22, 2020. In his first campaign rally since the pandemic lockdowns began and Joe Biden clinched the Democratic presidential nomination, President Trump made clear — as clear as a stream-of-consciousness Trump speech can — how he plans to run against Biden: He won’t, not directly.

Instead, Trump will run against dual, intertwined caricatures.

joe biden 2020 button CustomFirst, against Biden as a doddering facsimile of his former self — someone who, as Trump suggested in Tulsa on Saturday night, confuses his wife with his sister, who doesn’t comprehend the talking points written for him by the “great students in English lit” who now work for Biden.

Second, against “the extremism and destruction and violence of the radical left” and against the Democratic Party as a “left-wing mob” to which the supposedly feeble Biden “has surrendered.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Did TikTok users and K-pop fans really foil Trump’s Tulsa rally? Travis M. Andrews, June 22, 2020. On June 15, Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale tweeted that they had received more than a million “requests” to attend the rally. And members of the campaign, including the president himself, repeated the potential “million” number in several media appearances during the lead-up to Saturday.

tiktok logo square CustomBut according to the Tulsa Fire Marshal’s Office, fewer than 6,200 people actually showed up. The New York Times and CNN both ran stories largely crediting TikTokers and K-pop fans for the disparity in expectations.

The common refrain shifted from “TikTokers and K-pop fans lead Trump to overestimate his crowd” to “TikTokers and K-pop fans are the reason fewer than 6,200 people showed up to the event.” The former assertion is almost certainly true to some degree, but the latter is not only unlikely but probably false.

“People didn’t attend the rally because people decided not to attend the rally. It had nothing to do with TikTok kids or HR Pufnstuf shenanigans,” tweeted “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough. “Enthusiasm for Trump is down and pandemic cases are up. The campaign raised expectations too high and embarrassed themselves.”

Roll Call, As Tom Cotton courts controversy, he runs unopposed in Arkansas, Herb Jackson, June 22, 2020. Senator’s critics had no opponent to give cash to after outrage over op-ed.  New York Times opinion piece by Arkansas senator and presidential-candidate-in-waiting Tom Cotton advocating the use of military force to put down rioters and looters in American cities caused a meltdown on liberal social media and an uproar at the Times. In the end, editorial page editor James Bennet, the brother of former presidential candidate and Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, resigned.

tom cotton o CustomWhat did not happen: an outrage-fueled flood of campaign donations to Cotton’s Democratic opponent in this year’s Arkansas Senate race. That’s because Cotton, right, doesn’t have a Democratic challenger. Neither does Rep. Rick Crawford, one of the four Republican House members in Arkansas.

Democrats thought they had a Senate candidate lined up, but he dropped out after the deadline had passed to put someone else on the ballot. And unlike other states where even the safest candidates seem to face perennial challengers, no other Democrat in Arkansas had filed. Indeed, other than the presidential ballot, where President Donald Trump got 97 percent against two challengers and former Vice President Joe Biden got 41 percent against 17 opponents, none of the federal offices in Arkansas’ March 3 primary was contested.

Six years ago, Cotton’s victory over Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor marked the first time since Reconstruction that the GOP held both Senate seats. Two years before that, Cotton won an open seat in the 4th District given up by Democrat Mike Ross, and the GOP has held a monopoly in the House since then. A decade ago, Rep. John Boozman, now a senator, was the only Republican in the delegation.

Nationalizing Arkansas: Southern Democrats were becoming endangered for a long time before that.

But Janine A. Parry, a University of Arkansas political scientist, said the tea party movement, the election of Barack Obama and the relaxation of campaign finance laws changed state politics. The focus on building personal connections — shaking hands and kissing babies — gave way to attacks based on talking points from cable news.

“Suddenly glossy-packaged appeals were pinning every Democrat, down to county legislators and justices of the peace, to Obamacare,” she said. “Tom Cotton skipped the Warren Pink Tomato Festival and was at a Koch brothers event in 2014. It was the full-on nationalization of Arkansas politics.”

Some of that is happening everywhere, especially as local news outlets decline. And the effect on fundraising in races that might otherwise get little attention can be profound.

During the fourth quarter of last year, as New York GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik grabbed the spotlight defending Trump at impeachment hearings, her reelection campaign raised $3.2 million, including $1.7 million in amounts of $200 or less. During the same period, her Democratic opponent, Tedra Cobb, raised more than $2 million, including $1.4 million in amounts of $200 or less. Cobb received more than $209,000, and Stefanik more than $403,000, in the week after Trump retweeted a video clip from a hearing with the comment, “A new Republican Star is Born. Good going, @EliseStefanik!”

Stefanik carried the 21st District with 57 percent of the vote two years ago, and the race is rated Solid Republican by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. But Cobb can at least give Stefanik a challenge, and who knows what the fall will bring?

Police, Cultural Protests

washington post logoWashington Post, Fact Checker Analysis: Who caused the violence at protests? It wasn’t antifa, Meg Kelly and Elyse Samuels, June 22, 2020. On May 30 — five days after George Floyd was killed and four after protests erupted across Minneapolis — President Trump first said antifa forces were behind the violence that swept across the country. He has repeated this claim nearly 20 times since. Online activists and prominent right-wing Twitter personalities promoted the theory. And the nation’s top law enforcement officials — including FBI Director Christopher A. Wray and Attorney General William P. Barr — appeared to confirm it, echoing Trump’s claim.

The Fact Checker video team spoke to witnesses and reviewed arrest records, federal charges, intelligence reports, online conversations and dozens of videos and photos of violent incidents from the early days of protests in Minneapolis to determine whether a coordinated antifa campaign was responsible for the violence.

The Facts: Antifa is a moniker, not a single group with a clear organizational structure or leader. It is a decentralized network of activists who don’t coordinate. Their common ground is opposing anything that they think is racist or fascist. In recent years, antifa activists appeared whenever there was a large gathering of white nationalists.

And white nationalists, as counterintuitive as it might seem, have been known to attend Black Lives Matter rallies. That is what could then draw attention from antifa forces, according to Seth G. Jones, director of the transnational threats project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

washington post logoWashington Post, Minnesota jail that held Derek Chauvin is accused of bias, Holly Bailey, June 22, 2020 (print ed.). Discrimination complaints allege that only white officers were allowed to guard Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in George Floyd's death, while he was at the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center in St. Paul.

Eight minority correctional officers at a Minnesota county jail say they were segregated from the area where Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in George Floyd's death, was being held, and only white officers were allowed to guard or communicate with him, according to discrimination charges with the state.

One corrections officer, who described herself as a mixed-race woman, also suggested that Chauvin, who was filmed with his knee on Floyd’s throat, had been given special treatment at the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center in St. Paul. In a statement, she recalled watching security footage of a white female lieutenant, who was granted “special access” to Chauvin’s cell on May 30, sit on Chauvin’s bed and allow him to use her cellphone — a major policy violation.

washington post logoWashington Post, Teacher arrested at Trump rally plans to fight charge, Ziva Branstetter, June 22, 2020 (print ed.). The 62-year-old grandmother hoped to take a stand against the president and police brutality. The Trump campaign told police to arrest her.

When Sheila Buck left her apartment two blocks from President Trump’s rally Saturday, she knew she might provoke some people with her black “I can’t breathe” T-shirt. She wound up handcuffed in a jail cell for hours, as video of her arrest played on television.

Buck had reserved a ticket to Trump’s rally days earlier. She planned to attend to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement, despite the risk to her health and safety.

A little after noon on Saturday, she showed her ticket to police and stepped into the outdoor area cordoned off for the event. When she knelt down to pray, she was asked to leave. When she refused, she was arrested at the request of the Trump campaign.

Five takeaways from Trump’s Tulsa rally

“There are some things worth dying for, and I’m tired of seeing what’s happening and what’s being done to black lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, specifically, but in this country,” Buck told The Washington Post in an interview after she was released from jail Saturday evening.

washington post logoWashington Post, NASCAR has the biggest story in a barren sports world — and it is as ugly and inflaming as it gets, Jerry Brewer, June 22, 2020.  This is an important sports moment amid all the protests. Consider it evidence of how symbols and institutions are often used to keep black people down.

More On Prosecutors, Courts

ny times logoNew York Times, For Barr, Standoff With Prosecutor Adds to String of Miscues, Katie Benner and Sharon LaFraniere, June 22, 2020 (print ed.). The attorney general has found himself at odds with the White House on high-profile issues in recent weeks.

william barr new oFrom the onset of his tenure, William P. Barr, left, has been billed as the attorney general that President Trump was looking for. And Mr. Barr has taken some pride in this role, telling Fox News this past weekend that he speaks with the president “very regularly.”

But for a man who projects unswerving confidence in his political and legal skills, his efforts this month to play presidential intimate have backfired, embarrassing both him and his boss.

The month has brought a string of unusually high-profile miscues for the attorney general. He has been at odds with the White House at critical moments, showing how even top administration officials known for their loyalty can fall out of sync with a president laser-focused on his own political popularity.

msnbc logo CustomMSNBC,

,’ Lawrence O'Donnell, June 22, 2020. Rep. Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Intel. Committee, joins Lawrence O’Donnell to discuss why some senators voted against subpoenaing John Bolton: because they were “afraid of what John Bolton would say” that would be damning to President Trump.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Bill Barr goes completely off the rails, Daniel Cotter, June 22, 2020. President Donald Trump recently claimed that he has done more for black people than any other president in history aside from Abraham Lincoln, and even in Lincoln’s case the outcome was questionable. This was not the first time that Trump has made such claims, and he’s often stated he is the worst treated president in history, even more so than Lincoln. Never mind that Lincoln was assassinated, as have been several other presidents.

bill palmer report logo headerNow, Trump’s personal attorney and defender at all costs, Barr, has made similar claims. Barr, the street sweeper behind the GOP elephant in the shitshow circus, in an interview on Fox with host Maria Bartiromo on “Sunday Morning Futures,” agreed with her assertion that the Trump-Russia investigation “was the closest the United States ever came to a coup to take down a president since the assassination of Lincoln.” The exchange that took place:

Bartiromo: “A source said to me a couple of years ago, speaking of the Russia collusion story, that this was the closest the United States ever came to a coup to take down a president since the assassination of Lincoln. Is that an appropriate statement?”

Justice Department log circularBarr: “In this sense, I think it is the closest we have come to an organized effort to push a president out of office. I’m not reaching a judgment to what the motivations there were.”

That is absurd. Andrew Johnson was impeached for violations of a congressional act. Several others were assassinated. Clinton was impeached. But to somehow to claim the treatment of Trump is similar to the assassination of Lincoln is just wrong and this administration continues to trample history and portray Trump as the poor victim. What we have here is the great Lincoln projection, trying to convey notions of greatness on the great pretender.

World News

 ny times logoNew York Times, Political Grip Shaky, Belarus Leader Blames Longtime Ally: Russia, Andrew Higgins, June 22, 2020. Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, who used to call his political foes stooges of the West, is now trying to play on anti-Russian sentiment at home and abroad.

washington post logoWashington Post, South Korea calls Bolton’s account of Trump-Kim summit distorted, Min Joo Kim and John Hudson, June 22, 2020. South Korea’s national security adviser called the book a betrayal of trust and said it should be suppressed.

Former national security adviser John Bolton's account of nuclear talks between the United States and the two Koreas is incorrect and distorted, Seoul's Presidential Office said North Korean flagMonday, echoing the Trump administration's accusations against the soon-to-be-published exposé by the former top aide.

In his new memoir giving a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Washington’s dealings on foreign affairs, Bolton describes how President Trump’s engagement with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un failed to achieve its goal of getting North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

Bolton’s tell-all account of the 17 months he served as Trump’s national security adviser has made waves not only in Washington but also among diplomatic partners of the United States, as excerpts from the book were released in media reports over the past few days.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: In 2016, Putin didn't expect Trump to win. Now, he needs him to, Jackson Diehl, June 22, 2020 (print ed.). Vladimir Putin is suffering through his worst year in two decades in power. 

Vladimir PutinThe coronavirus is raging across Russia, which has reported more than half a million cases and 8,100 deaths and is suspected of hiding many more. The economy is crashing so steeply that the government failed to issue a monthly gross domestic product report in May for the first time in 15 years. Putin’s foolish launching of an oil price war with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made a bad recession worse.

Putin needs help. He badly needs a win. He needs, specifically, the reelection of President Trump. In ways both more blatant and more subtle than in 2016, he is trying to make it happen.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Lapses That Let a Saudi Extremist Shoot Up a U.S. Navy Base, Michael LaForgia and Eric Schmitt, June 22, 2020 (print ed.). The gunman who killed three in Florida was not directed by Al Qaeda, nor inspired solely by online ideology. He was a new kind of terrorist, harder to spot: an extremely enterprising freelancer.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump backtracks on a meeting with Venezuela’s Maduro after criticism, John Wagner, June 22, 2020. The president had suggested he would consider sitting down with the dictator, a move that would be at odds with his administration's tough posture. President Trump backtracked Monday from comments made in an interview over the weekend in which he refused to rule out meeting with Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro, a move that would be at odds with his administration's hard-line policy toward the dictator.

After a backlash from Democrats and some Republicans, Trump tweeted that he only would meet with Maduro, who has clung to power since a disputed 2018 election, to discuss “a peaceful exit.”

“Unlike the radical left, I will ALWAYS stand against socialism and with the people of Venezuela,” Trump wrote. “My Admin has always stood on the side of FREEDOM and LIBERTY and against the oppressive Maduro regime! I would only meet with Maduro to discuss one thing: a peaceful exit from power!”

U.S. Economy, Business

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: Why Is OSHA AWOL? Editorial Board, June 22, 2020. Worker protections are critical during the pandemic — yet the Trump administration has issued only voluntary guidance instead of enforceable rules.

As states and municipalities relax shelter-in-place orders, the nation seems to be racing to get the economy back to something resembling the pre-pandemic era. Restaurants, malls, cinemas, day care centers and retail stores are reopening sooner than most medical professionals think is wise.

The risk is obvious to many businesses that stayed open as the coronavirus swept the country. Meat processing plants, for instance, have had among the highest rates of infection. Employees continued to show up to work at many such facilities, even as thousands of their colleagues tested positive for the virus. By one estimate, more than 27,000 workers in meatpacking have tested positive for the coronavirus, up sharply from 17,000 just last month.

Yet the federal agency meant to protect America’s workers continues to sit on the sidelines. Even as state after state reopens, and the number of infections continues to climb, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has so far refused to give employers clear rules to follow, allowing those that neglect worker safety to operate without fear of government penalty.

For months now, OSHA has relied on general guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, without making them mandatory, meaning businesses face no threat of enforcement action for noncompliance.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Tidal Wave of Bankruptcies Is Coming, Mary Williams Walsh, June 22, 2020 (print ed.). Experts foresee so many filings in the coming months that the courts could struggle to salvage the businesses that are worth saving.

Media News

washington post logoWashington Post Magazine, The Stars and Stripes newspaper has long supported the troops. Now it needs Congress’s support, Graham Vyse, June 22, 2020 (June 28 print ed.). By mid-March, coronavirus response efforts were underway worldwide. President Trump had declared a national emergency. France was in lockdown. And Japanese public schools were closed.

stars strips logo CustomBut schools on American military bases in Japan planned to remain open, much to the dismay of nervous parents. Then the news appeared in Stars and Stripes, the Pentagon-subsidized but editorially independent newspaper that covers the U.S. armed forces at home and abroad. “School is such an easy place for viruses and germs to spread,” one Navy spouse fretted to the publication, “and it seems like too much of a risk.” A day later, closures were announced.

Stars and Stripes has been chronicling the military angle of the covid-19 crisis for months now: sailors infected on Navy ships, face masks purchased for the Department of Defense workforce, stimulus checks cut for veterans. But in the midst of the pandemic, the newspaper faces an unprecedented threat all its own: In February, the Trump administration proposed eliminating all of the publication’s federal support in 2021. That’s more than $15 million a year, about half its budget. “I can’t think of a graver threat to its independence,” the paper’s ombudsman, Ernie Gates, told me recently. “That’s a fatal cut.”

mark esperDefense Secretary Mark Esper justifies the cut by saying the publication’s money should be spent on “higher-priority issues,” including space and nuclear programs. But considering that Stars and Stripes represents a minuscule fraction of the department’s $705 billion budget — “decimal dust,” as editorial director Terry Leonard puts it — critics see the proposal as consistent with the president’s broader war on journalism. “It’s another obnoxious assault by the Trump administration on freedom of the press,” says Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), a Marine veteran and member of the House Armed Services Committee, who blasts the defunding plan as “un-American.”

Now Moulton’s committee — and ultimately the rest of Congress — must decide whether to support the appropriation by the fall, preserving a news organization with a unique civic role. This deliberation comes as the coronavirus economic crisis exacerbates the news industry’s financial woes, adding to what The Washington Post recently described as a “tsunami of layoffs, cutbacks, furloughs and closures” washing over American newsrooms.

Stars and Stripes, which dates back to the Civil War, has published continuously since World War II.

ny times logoNew York Times, What’s Facebook’s Deal With Donald Trump? Ben Smith, June 22, 2020 (print ed.). Mark Zuckerberg has forged an uneasy alliance with the Trump administration. He may have gotten too close. Last Nov. 20, NBC News broke the news that Mark Zuckerberg, Donald Trump and a Facebook board member, Peter Thiel, had dined together at the White House the previous month. “It is unclear why the meeting was not made public or what Trump, Zuckerberg and Thiel discussed,” the report said.

facebook logoThat was it. Nothing else has emerged since. Not the date, not who arranged the menu, the venue, the seating, not the full guest list. And not whether some kind of deal got done between two of the most powerful men in the world. The news cycle moved on, and the dinner became one of the unsolved mysteries of American power.

But I was able to pry some of those details loose last week from White House officials along with current and former senior Facebook employees and people they speak to. Most said they would only talk on the condition their names not be used, since the company is not eager to call attention to Mr. Zuckerberg’s relationship with the president.

ny times logoNew York Times, Tennessee Newspaper Apologizes for ‘Utterly Indefensible’ Anti-Muslim Ad, Bryan Pietsch, Updated June 22, 2020. The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville is investigating how it came to publish a full-page ad on Sunday by a biblical prophecy group claiming “Islam” would detonate a bomb in the city.

The ad, which included a photo collage of President Trump, Pope Francis and burning American flags, urged readers to visit a website offering more details. The ad was credited to the group Ministry of Future for America, which says its mission is to “proclaim the final warning message” from the Bible.

Addressed to “Dear Citizen of Nashville,” the eight-paragraph ad spanned the full length of the newspaper page, and discussed Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Democratic Party and Sept. 11. It claimed Trump’s presidency was part of a prophecy, warned of “another civil war,” and said that “Islam is going to detonate a nuclear device” in Nashville.

The full-page ad, which appeared in Sunday’s editions of The Tennessean and claimed “Islam” would detonate a nuclear device in Nashville, “should have never been published,” the editor said.

Historical Retrospective

Future of Freedom Foundation, Analysis: What Americans Fear Most In The JFK Assassination, Part 1, Jacob Hornberger, right (author, publisher and Libertarian) think tank president), June 22, 2020. One of the fascinating phenomena in the JFK jacob hornberger newassassination is the fear of some Americans to consider the possibility that the assassination was actually a regime-change operation carried out by the U.S. national-security establishment rather than simply a murder carried out by a supposed lone-nut assassin.

The mountain of evidence that has surfaced, especially since the 1990s, when the JFK Records Act mandated the release of top-secret assassination-related records within the national-security establishment, has been in the nature of circumstantial evidence, as compared to direct evidence. Thus, I can understand that someone who places little faith in the power of circumstantial evidence might study and review that evidence and decide to embrace the “lone-nut theory” of the case.

But many of the people who have embraced the lone-nut theory have never spent any time studying the evidence in the case and yet have embraced the lone-nut theory.

john f kennedy smilingWhy? My hunch is that the reason is that they have a deep fear of being labeled a “conspiracy theorist,” which is the term the CIA many years ago advised its assets in the mainstream press to employ to discredit those who were questioning the official narrative in the case.

Like many others, I have studied the evidence in the case. After doing that, I concluded that the circumstantial evidence pointing toward a regime-change operation has reached critical mass. Based on that evidence, for me the Kennedy assassination is not a conspiracy theory but rather the fact of a national-security state regime-change operation, no different in principle than other regime-change operations, including through assassination, carried out by the U.S. national-security establishment, especially through the CIA.

Interestingly, there are those who have shown no reluctance to study the facts and circumstances surrounding foreign regime-change operations carried out by the CIA and the Pentagon. But when it comes to the Kennedy assassination, they run for the hills, exclaiming that they don’t want to be pulled down the “rabbit hole,” meaning that they don’t want to take any chances of being labeled a “conspiracy theorist.”

For those who have never delved into the Kennedy assassination but have interest in the matter, let me set forth just a few of the reasons that the circumstantial evidence points to a U.S. national-security state regime-change operation. Then, at the end of this article, I’ll point out some books and videos for those who wish to explore the matter more deeply.

lee harvey oswald in dallas custodyI start out with a basic thesis: Lee Harvey Oswald (shown in custoday in Dallas) was an intelligence agent for the U.S. deep state. Now, that thesis undoubtedly shocks people who have always believed in the lone-nut theory of the assassination. They just cannot imagine that Oswald could have really been working for the U.S. government at the time of the assassination.

Yet, when one examines the evidence in the case objectively, the lone-theory doesn’t make any sense. The only thesis that is consistent with the evidence and, well, common sense, is that Oswald was an intelligence agent.

Ask yourself: How many communist Marines have you ever encountered or even heard of? My hunch is none. Not one single communist Marine. Why would a communist join the Marines? Communists hate the U.S. Marine Corps. In fact, the U.S. Marine Corps hates communists. It kills communists. It tortures them. It invades communist countries. It bombs them. It destroys them.

What are the chances that the Marine Corps would permit an openly avowed communist to serve in its ranks? None! There is no such chance. And yet, here was Oswald, whose Marine friends were calling “Oswaldovitch,” being assigned to the Atsugi naval base in Japan, where the U.S. Air Force was basing its top-secret U-2 spy plane, one that it was using to secretly fly over the Soviet Union. Why would the Navy and the Air Force permit a self-avowed communist even near the U-2? Does that make any sense?

While Oswald was serving in the Marine Corps, he became fluent in the Russian language. How is that possible? How many people have you known who have become fluent in a foreign langue all on their own, especially when they have a full-time job? Even if they are able to study a foreign language from books, they have to practice conversing with people in that language to become proficient in speaking it. How did Oswald do that? There is but one reasonable possibility: Language lessons provided by U.S. military-suppled tutors.

After leaving the Marine Corps, Oswald traveled to the Soviet Union, walked into the U.S. embassy, renounced his citizenship, and stated that he intended to give any secrets he learned while serving in the military to the Soviet Union. Later, when he stated his desire to return to the United States, with a wife with family connections to Soviet intelligence, Oswald was given the red-carpet treatment on his return. No grand jury summons. No grand-jury indictment. No FBI interrogation. No congressional summons to testify.

 June 21

Top Headlines

 Virus Victims, Responses

Prosecutors, Courts, Injustice

Media News

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

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Top Stories

djt coming home from tulsa ap june 20 2020 Small

Shaken, not stirred. Donald Trump returns to the White House following disastrous attendance for his campaign launch in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20, 2020 (AP Photo).

bill palmerPalmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump suffered a humiliatingly senile moment during his Tusa rally, Bill Palmer, right, June 21, 2020. Between the hilariously small crowd, the lengthy monologue about not being able to walk down a ramp, and the ugly racial slurs, you might be tempted to overlook a certain moment during Donald Trump’s Tulsa rally which revealed just how far gone he truly is in the cognitive department.

bill palmer report logo headerAs Donald Trump’s cognitive abilities have gradually failed him over the past several months, he’s begun losing his ability to understand what it is that he can or can’t say out loud. That may seem like an odd thing to say about a guy who has spent his entire political career blurting out horrible, offensive, random, and stupid things.

But there are plenty of things that Trump makes a point of not telling us about. It’s not like he’s ever bragged during one of his rally speeches about how he cheats on his taxes, or what Vladimir Putin tells him during their secret phone conversations.

Yet during Trump’s rally speech, he flat out admitted that he asked his advisers to slow down coronavirus testing in the United States, so that the number of confirmed cases would remain low. Of course Trump told his advisers this; it’s not a surprise. But this is one of those things that Trump absolutely could not afford to admit out loud, because it’s literally a murder confession. Yet Trump just blurted it out anyway. His White House now says he was just joking. Yeah, right.

To give you an idea of how serious this is, if Donald Trump loses the election and ends up on criminal trial, and the charges include negligent homicide for the coronavirus tests, his “slow the testing down” remark will be entered as evidence against him. This is the kind of mistake that a mentally and cognitively competent person doesn’t make.

  • TheHill.com, Tulsa Fire Department says Trump rally attendance was about 6,200, Justin Wise, June 21, 2020. (Total reportedly includes campaign workers, White House personnel, security, etc.).

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump campaign, Democrats joust over turnout at Tulsa rally, Felicia Sonmez and Taylor Telford, June 21, 2020. The Trump campaign sought to blame concerns about protesters for the smaller-than-expected crowd Saturday night, even though the campaign itself had touted the number of people who signed up for tickets online.

There were just under 6,200 people in the arena, the Tulsa Fire Marshal’s Office said Sunday. Trump’s campaign rallies have typically attracted more than 10,000 people, and some djt maga hathave drawn two or three times that many — although the president has a habit of inflating his crowd numbers to cast his popularity as even greater.

In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” campaign adviser Mercedes Schlapp argued that turnout was lower than expected because Trump supporters were afraid of protests outside the venue turning violent.

People were concerned about the demonstrations, Schlapp said, “and so, we saw that have an impact in terms of people coming to the rally.” Pressed by host Chris Wallace on the fact that the Trump campaign itself had raised expectations about high attendance numbers, Schlapp replied: “There were people and families that couldn’t bring their children because of concerns of the protesters.”

Axios Sneak Peek, Exclusive: Trump held off Xinjiang sanctions for trade deal, Jonathan Swan, right, June 21, 2020. In an Oval Office interview on Friday afternoon, President Trump told me jonathan swan twitterthat he held off on imposing Treasury sanctions against Chinese officials involved with the Xinjiang mass detention camps because doing so would have interfered with his trade deal with Beijing.

Driving the news: Asked why he hadn't yet enacted Treasury sanctions against Chinese Communist Party officials or entities tied to the camps where the Chinese government detains Uighurs and other Muslim minorities, Trump replied, "Well, we were in the middle of a major trade deal. And I made a great deal, $250 billion potentially worth of purchases. And by the way, they're buying a lot, you probably have seen."

2. Trump: "What's good for the country is also good for an election." I also asked President Trump whether — as Bolton charges — he asked President Xi to increase China's farm purchases from the U.S. to help Trump win in 2020. Bolton claims Trump made the request when the leaders met in Buenos Aires in December 2018.

"No, not at all," Trump said. "What I told everybody we deal with — not just President Xi — I want them to do business with this country. I want them to do a lot more business with this country."

"By the way, what's good for the country is good for me," Trump continued. "What's good for the country is also good for an election."

Forbes, Trump Cancels Second Tulsa Speech Due To Low Turnout, Blames Protesters And The Media, Andrew Solender, June 21, 2020 (print ed.). The Trump campaign announced Saturday evening that they were cancelling a planned second speech at the president’s Tulsa rally due to low turnout, blaming the turnout on protesters and the media.

The campaign anticipated a crowd too large for Tulsa’s BOK Center, a stadium with a capacity of 19,200, claiming to have received over a million ticket requests.

"There was so much response, over a million ticket requests, that we decided that the BOK Center was just not big enough,” Trump campaign Communications Director Tim Murtaugh said on Friday, announcing the president would “speak in both locations."

But as the crowd filed in Saturday evening, it looked as though there wouldn’t be enough people to fill the stadium, let alone necessitate a second speech.

In a statement, Murtaugh announced the campaign was canceling the speech, insisting that the president’s supporters were energized and blaming the low turnout on protesters and the media.

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge rejects Justice Dept. request to block release of John Bolton’s book, Spencer S. Hsu and Tom Hamburger, June 21, 2020 (print ed.).  A federal judge on Saturday rejected the Justice Department’s emergency request to block publication of John Bolton’s White House memoir but said the former Trump national security adviser “likely jeopardized national security” and exposed himself to criminal prosecution.

royce lamberth CustomU.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth, right, of the District of Columbia denied the Trump administration’s request for a restraining order on the book, set for publication Tuesday, citing his publisher’s declaration that more than 200,000 copies have already shipped for sale.

John Bolton hands up CSIS But Lamberth noted that it appeared Bolton, left, failed to complete a pre-publication government review and get written authority that his manuscript contained no classified information before publishing.

“While Bolton’s unilateral conduct raises grave national security concerns, the government has not established that an injunction is an appropriate remedy,” Lamberth wrote. “For reasons that hardly need to be stated, the Court will not order nationwide seizure and destruction of a political memoir.”

The Room Where It Happened recounts Bolton’s 17 months as Trump’s top national security official and offers a withering portrait of the president as an “erratic” and “stunningly uninformed” leader. Bolton called Trump incompetent and “unfit for office” in promotional interviews.

 Virus Victims, Responses 

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Trump says he told officials to slow testing to find fewer cases, Staff reports, June 21, 2020. Pelosi says remarks on testing show Trump is ‘ethically unfit and intellectually unprepared’ to lead during pandemic; Masks should have been recommended from the beginning, former FDA commissioner says; Trump’s Tulsa rally could be a ‘superspreader’ event, Johns Hopkins expert says.

Amid surging coronavirus infections nationwide, President Trump said at his campaign rally in Tulsa Saturday night that he told officials to administer fewer coronavirus tests to keep case numbers down.

The comments drew a chorus of criticism from congressional Democrats, who said it validated fears that the president was more focused on saving face amid the pandemic than on protecting public health. A White House official told The Washington Post that Trump was joking, a common defense from Trump’s aides when he says something controversial.

Eight states on Saturday reported their highest single-day case counts since the pandemic began, and daily new infections nationwide exceeded 30,000 on both Friday and Saturday. The country has not seen daily totals that high in more than seven weeks.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: 12 States Hit Daily Virus Records; White House Is Preparing for Possible Fall Wave, Staff reports, June 21, 2020. Cases in the U.S. are up 15 percent over the last two weeks. Seven states hit single-day case records Saturday, and five others hit a record earlier in the week. A top adviser said that the White House was preparing for a second wave of the virus, though he said it wouldn’t necessarily come. Here’s the latest.

ny times logoNew York Times, Nursing Homes Evict Residents to Make Way for Lucrative Coronavirus Patients, Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Amy Julia Harris, June 21, 2020. Nursing homes across the country are kicking out old and disabled residents and sending them to homeless shelters and rundown motels.

On a chilly afternoon in April, Los Angeles police found an old, disoriented man crumpled on a Koreatown sidewalk. Several days earlier, RC Kendrick, an 88-year-old with dementia, was living at Lakeview Terrace, a nursing home with a history of regulatory problems. His family had placed him there to make sure he got round-the-clock care after his condition deteriorated and he began disappearing for days at a time.

But on April 6, the nursing home deposited Mr. Kendrick at an unregulated boardinghouse — without bothering to inform his family. Less than 24 hours later, Mr. Kendrick was wandering the city alone.

According to three Lakeview employees, Mr. Kendrick’s ouster came as the nursing home was telling staff members to try to clear out less-profitable residents to make room for a new class of customers who would generate more revenue: patients with Covid-19.

ny times logoNew York Times, New York City Hired 3,000 Workers for Contact Tracing. It’s Not Going Well, Sharon Otterman, June 21, 2020. The program is crucial to the next phase of reopening, which begins on Monday. But workers have not had much success in getting information from people.

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, TikTok Teens and K-Pop Stans Say They Sank Trump Rally, Taylor Lorenz, Kellen Browning and Sheera Frenkel, June 21, 2020. Did a successful prank inflate attendance expectations for the president’s rally? TikTok users and fans of Korean pop music groups claimed to have registered potentially hundreds of thousands of tickets for Mr. Trump’s campaign rally as a prank. After the Trump campaign’s official account @TeamTrump posted a tweet asking supporters to register for free tickets using their phones on June 11, K-pop fan accounts began sharing the information with followers, encouraging them to register for the rally — and then not show.

The trend quickly spread on TikTok, where videos with millions of views instructed viewers to do the same, as CNN reported on Tuesday. “Oh no, I signed up for a Trump rally, and I can’t go,” one woman joked, along with a fake cough, in a TikTok posted on June 15.

tiktok logo square CustomThousands of other users posted similar tweets and videos to TikTok that racked up millions of views. Representatives for TikTok did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“It spread mostly through Alt TikTok — we kept it on the quiet side where people do pranks and a lot of activism,” said the YouTuber Elijah Daniel, 26, who participated alexandria ocasio cortezin the social media campaign. “K-pop Twitter and Alt TikTok have a good alliance where they spread information amongst each other very quickly. They all know the algorithms and how they can boost videos to get where they want.”

Many users deleted their posts after 24 to 48 hours in order to conceal their plan and keep it from spreading into the mainstream internet. “The majority of people who made them deleted them after the first day because we didn’t want the Trump campaign to catch wind,” Mr. Daniel said. “These kids are smart and they thought of everything.”

Twitter users on Saturday night were quick to declare the social media campaign’s victory. “Actually you just got ROCKED by teens on TikTok,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, left, tweeted in response to Mr. Parscale, who had tweeted that “radical protestors” had “interfered” with attendance.

Prosecutors, Courts, Injustice

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Fires U.S. Attorney in New York Who Investigated His Inner Circle, Alan Feuer, Katie Benner, Ben Protess, Maggie Haberman, William K. Rashbaum, Nicole Hong and Benjamin Weiser, Updated June 21, 2020. The president’s move deepened a crisis over the independence of law enforcement and the president’s purge of officials he views as disloyal.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: A Friday night massacre that backfired, Jennifer Rubin, right, June 20, 2020. Barr announced Saturday afternoon that, at his request, President Trump had jennifer rubin new headshotfired Berman. At the same time, Trump told reporters, “I’m not involved.” So what’s the truth here?

It is telling that we do not know which of many possible investigations may have triggered Barr’s ire. There are so many to choose from. AP reports, “The move to oust Berman also comes days after allegations surfaced from former Trump national security adviser John Bolton that the president sought to interfere in an Southern District of New York investigation into the state-owned Turkish bank in an effort to cut deals with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.”

There are also the original investigations into campaign finance violations for which Michael Cohen was prosecuted, the alleged insurance and tax irregularities that Cohen alluded to in testimony to Congress, and the investigations into Rudolph W. Giuliani’s nefarious activities in Ukraine. You need a scorecard to keep track of Trump’s legal vulnerabilities.

The latest turn of events is more embarrassment for self-deluded Republicans like Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) who voted to acquit Trump during his impeachment trial and who thought Trump had learned his lesson. This is one of many efforts to fire investigators, including five inspectors general, at least three of whom were looking into Trump administration wrongdoing. (Let’s not forget Barr’s attempt to un-prosecute Michael Flynn after the latter pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.)

In this dizzying display of contempt for the Constitution and obstruction of legitimate investigations into the Trump administration, we see a level of lawlessness that puts Richard M. Nixon to shame.

washington post logoWashington Post, Barr’s botched effort to remove prosecutor who probed Trump allies, Aaron Blake, June 21, 2020. The attorney general ’s effort to remove the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman, appears to have reached its conclusion, after a series of apparent missteps.

Whatever one thinks of Attorney General William P. Barr, even his detractors have generally agreed on something: He’s a shrewd, calculating political operator.

The events of this weekend would sure seem to undermine that image.

Barr’s halting, problematic effort to remove the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman, appears to have reached its conclusion. Berman signaled Saturday that he will step aside after Barr notified him that President Trump had fired him. But getting to that point required a series of missteps — and the outcome is apparently far from what Barr desired.

So while Barr said Friday night that he was installing another U.S. attorney, Craig Carpenito, as the acting head of SDNY, it now automatically falls to Berman’s deputy, Audrey djt lindsey graham CustomStrauss.

Second, it’s not clear when Barr will even be able to eventually replace Strauss. He had announced Friday night that the full-time replacement would be Jay Clayton, the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

But Clayton drew apprehension even from Republicans, given his dearth of experience as a prosecutor. And then Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), right, said in a statement Saturday that he would abide by the tradition of allowing home-state senators to veto a U.S. attorney nominee, which is something Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) quickly did with Clayton.

Igor Fruman, top left, and Lev Parnas, two Soviet-born associates of Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney at bottom of a Wall Street Journal graphic above by Laura Kammermann, appear to be deeply involved in the Ukraine scandal.

Trump Counsel Rudolph Giuliani, center is portrayed with businessmen Igor Fruman, top left, and Lev Parnas, who were arrested last year while boarding a flight to Vienna from Dulles International Airport.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Barr Tries to Fire U.S. Attorney in Trump-Related Cases, but He Won’t Go, Benjamin Weiser, William K. Rashbaum, Nicole Hong, Maggie Haberman and Katie Benner, June 20, 2020 (print ed.). The United States attorney in Manhattan, Geoffrey Berman, had been leading the inquiry into Rudolph Giuliani. The clash sets up a crisis in the Justice Department.

Mr. Trump’s purge of officials has intensified in the months since the Republican-led Senate acquitted him in the impeachment trial. He has fired or forced out inspectors general with independent oversight over executive branch agencies and other key figures from the trial.

 Justice Department log circularSeveral dismissals have come late on Friday nights, a time that many White Houses have used to disclose news that they would prefer receive little attention.

Mr. Berman’s office has taken an aggressive approach in a number of cases that have vexed the Trump administration, from the prosecution and guilty plea obtained from Mr. Cohen to a broader investigation, growing out of that inquiry, which focused on Mr. Trump’s private company and others close to him.

Over the last year, Mr. Berman’s office brought indictments against two close associates of the president’s current lawyer, Mr. Giuliani, and began an investigation into Mr. Giuliani himself, focusing on whether his efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine on the president’s political rivals violated laws on lobbying for foreign entities.

Read New York Times profile of Geoffrey Berman from 2017: "A Canny Mind With Humor." 

Mr. Berman’s office also conducted an investigation into Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee, subpoenaing financial and other records as part of a broad inquiry into possible illegal contributions from foreigners.

The United States attorney’s office in Manhattan is perhaps the most famous federal prosecutor’s post in the country. The office, through Democratic and Republican administrations, has long prized a tradition of independence from the Justice Department and Washington. It has even been nicknamed the “Sovereign District of New York.”

Mr. Berman worked there in the 1990s as a prosecutor, but he took over the office under unusual circumstances.

A Republican who contributed to the president’s campaign and worked at the same law firm as Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Berman was never formally nominated for the position by Mr. Trump or confirmed by the Senate, as is normal protocol for United States attorneys.

Mr. Barr also announced that on his recommendation, Mr. Trump had appointed Craig Carpenito, the current U.S. attorney for New Jersey, to serve as acting U.S. attorney in Manhattan while the Senate considers Mr. Clayton’s nomination. Mr. Barr said Mr. Carpenito’s appointment would be effective July 3.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Who Can Fire a Court-Appointed U.S. Attorney? A New Legal Fight, Explained, Charlie Savage, right, June 20, 2020. No definitive precedent exists, but the charlie savagepresident dismissed the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan after he announced he was refusing to resign.

The declaration by the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan on Friday night that he would stay in his job despite Attorney General William P. Barr’s attempt to fire him raised not just the mystery of what was behind Mr. Barr’s move, but also a legal question: Who has the authority to remove him?

No definitive and settled Supreme Court precedent exists to look to for guidance, and federal statutes appear to conflict on the question. That sets up the possibility of a protracted fight in court if Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, continues to resist after Mr. Barr told him on Saturday that the president had fired him.

But legal experts pointed to a 1979 Justice Department opinion to suggest that the ultimate result of any courtroom confrontation will likely be that Mr. Trump — though not Mr. Barr — does have the authority to fire Mr. Berman.

“It’s probably the case that Trump, but not Barr, would have to remove Berman and take the political responsibility for doing so,” said Martin S. Lederman, a Georgetown University law professor who served in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in the Obama administration.

Normally, under the Constitution, the power to remove government officials rests with whomever appointed them, except in instances where Congress set up an alternative mechanism. At issue is how that framework applies to the position of a U.S. attorney who was appointed by a court, as Mr. Berman was in 2018.

In his statement on Friday night, Mr. Berman indicated that Mr. Barr could not fire him because he had been appointed by the court, and declared he intended to remain in office until the Senate confirms a successor.

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

Atlantic, Where Was the ‘Silent Majority’? Russell Berman, June 21, 2020. The president planned an arena rally in Tulsa to show that life was “back to normal.” Oklahomans failed to fill the venue.

Rarely has a single campaign rally drawn as much hype as the one President Donald Trump held Saturday night at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma—a relaunch of his reelection bid that, according to the president himself, more than 1 million people had requested tickets to attend. Rarely has a presidential event endangered the public health of the atlantic logo horizontalcommunity it was held in. And rarely has a spotty crowd made such a statement.

It turns out Oklahomans might care more about their own health than the president does.

Trump had hailed this rally as something more than a return to the campaign trail. His insistence on speaking to a packed, indoor arena full of cheering, maskless supporters—19,000 expected inside, tens of thousands more in an outdoor overflow area—in defiance of public-health experts, in spite of a spike in coronavirus cases in Tulsa itself, was supposed to be a signal to the country that American life was getting back to normal, pandemic be damned.

And yet the arena the president addressed Saturday wasn’t packed. Thousands of seats were empty. Trump didn’t speak to the overflow crowd outside, because there was no overflow.

 

Tulsa Trump 2020 Presidential Campaign Lunch in Oklahoma's BOK Center (New York Times photo by Doug Mills)

Tulsa Trump 2020 Presidential Campaign Lunch in Oklahoma's BOK Center (New York Times photo by Doug Mills)

brad parscale djt Custom

Palmer Report, Opinion: Brad Parscale is in deep trouble tonight, Bill Palmer, June 20, 2020. Imagine throwing a party for your boss, and no one shows up. Now imagine throwing a party for your boss, getting him all excited about how many people are attending in his honor, and then no one shows up. Now imagine throwing a party for your malignantly narcissistic boss, telling the entire world that a million people have RSVP’d for the party, and then no one shows up – at a time when your boss is in danger of getting fired, and if he does, he’s going to prison.

bill palmer report logo headerAs absurd of a scenario as that may be, it’s precisely what Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale did to Donald Trump tonight. Parscale bet big that if he held a rally in a deep red state like Oklahoma, he could get enough Trump fanatics to show up in the middle of a pandemic, just so Trump’s ego could be stroked. After all, if Trump saw an arena full of cheering idiots, maybe he’d believe it when his campaign tells him that his bad poll numbers are somehow fake.

tiktok logo CustomBut that didn’t happen, did it? Sure, Parscale is insisting that Trump’s speech to the crowd on the overflow stage was only canceled because protesters overran the place. But we all saw Air Force One fly over the arena. Trump could see that there was no one in the overflow space to begin with. Trump could surely also see that at least one-third of the blue seats in the arena were empty while he was speaking.

World News

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: On Foreign Policy, John Bolton Sees ‘Split Between Trump and Trump,’ David E. Sanger, June 21, 2020. In his memoir, the hawkish national security adviser describes a president who wanted to sound tough and strike a deal that could be portrayed as a victory.

President Trump knew exactly what he was getting when he hired John Bolton in the spring of 2018 to be his national security adviser: An uber-hawk who made no secret of his john bolton room where cover Custombelief that Iran and North Korea could be driven over the brink by extreme sanctions, and who told the president that attacking nuclear facilities “might be the only lasting solution.”

So far, the sanctions experiment has failed: North Korea came to the negotiating table but, by some estimates, has doubled its arsenal during the Trump presidency, and the Iranians reacted to Mr. Trump’s pullout from a 2015 agreement by resuming nuclear fuel production and barring inspectors.

Yet Mr. Bolton’s memoir, which a judge ruled over the weekend can be released this week despite the government’s allegation that it contains classified information, provides the first inside glimpse of what went wrong on both fronts — and why force was never used.

The answer, he argues, lies in a president who wanted to be perceived as tough but changed his mind day-to-day, his top priority “making a deal he could characterize as a huge success, even if it was badly flawed.”

June 20

Top Headlines

Courts, Crime, Injustice

Racial Injustice Protests

 2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

.be">Political video: Female reporters have held Donald Trump accountable

Virus Victims, Responses

World News

 

Top Stories

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump administration in standoff with Manhattan U.S. attorney, Devlin Barrett, June 20, 2020. geoffrey berman sdnyThe Trump administration announced late Friday that Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, right, who has overseen a number of investigations involving the president and his political campaign, will be leaving that job, though Berman fired back that he had not resigned and intends to stay in the job to ensure the cases continue unimpeded.

The surreal Friday night standoff marks the latest battle over the Trump administration’s management of the Justice Department. Democrats have decried what they charge has been the politicization of the department under President Trump and his attorney general, William P. Barr.

william barr at dojBarr, left, announced the personnel change in a statement, saying the president plans to nominate the current chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Jay Clayton, for the job.

Berman’s office has been conducting a criminal investigation of President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, in a campaign finance case that has already led to charges against two of Giuliani’s associates.

djt 2020 hat Custom

 ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Rallies Are Back, as Is His ‘What Do You Have to Lose?’ Candidacy, Matt Flegenheimer, June 20, 2020. President Trump will speak to a crowd tonight. To summarize his worldview, some ex-associates say, look to the waiver: “guests voluntarily assume all risks.”

Supporting President Trump — or even taking him at his word — has always been an exercise in risk tolerance.

djt maga hat“What do you have to lose?” he asked black voters in 2016, suggesting their lives were so bleak that he was worth the gamble.

“What do you have to lose?” he asked coronavirus patients this spring, suggesting their options were so few that an unproven treatment, hydroxychloroquine, probably couldn’t hurt.

And now, as the nation grapples with the dual menaces of racism and a relentless virus, the once-rhetorical questions of Trump-branded risk management have given way to fine-print legal disclaimers about what might happen if people listen to him.

djt maga hat speech uncredited CustomOn Saturday, Mr. Trump is scheduled to rally at a packed indoor arena in Tulsa, Okla. Many health authorities say it is a terrible idea. And what attendees have to lose, the campaign claims, is any right to hold the host responsible.

“By clicking register below,” reads a message on the Trump 2020 website, directed at those planning to be there, “you are acknowledging that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. By attending the Rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.”

As an encapsulation of the Trumpian worldview, some former associates say, there is perhaps no beating “guests voluntarily assume all risks.”

But then, an air of danger has been embedded in Mr. Trump’s appeal from the start, the risk its own kind of reward for many supporters in his first whirring slot machine of a presidential campaign.

brad parscale walmart hiring

Palmer Report, Opinion: Somebody’s getting fired over this, Bill Palmer, June 20, 2020. Donald Trump said a million people were planning to attend his Tulsa rally tonight. In reality, sofew people showed up, large chunks of the indoor arena are still empty, and the overflow stage outside has no crowd at all. It’s difficult to say how much of this is due to coronavirus fears, and how much of it is due to Trump’s collapsing popularity. But one thing is for sure: somebody’s getting fired.

bill palmer report logo headerThe Trump campaign took a huge risk by putting on this rally during a pandemic. The campaign had to know that Donald Trump would end up looking foolish if a small-ish crowd showed up. Yet the campaign was clearly desperate to sell Trump on the notion that he’s still hugely popular, and that he can draw a massive crowd no matter what.

The truly weird part is that Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale, shown above in a joke graphic on Twitter, bragged about how a million people had supposedly said they planned to attend, thus raising expectations even further. By the time Parscale resorted to making these claims, he had to have already been seeing weak signup numbers, meaning he made things even worse by creating false expectations.

So now the question is whether Donald Trump fires Parscale for this debacle, or if he decides to scapegoat someone else instead.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Six members of Trump advance team test positive for virus ahead of rally, Robert Klemko, Arelis R. Hernández and Isaac Stanley-Becker, June 21, 2020 (print ed.). The announcement, made as supporters and protesters gathered for the event in Tulsa, underscored concerns about holding a massive indoor rally in a city where coronavirus cases are spiking.

The campaign made that announcement, saying quarantine procedures had gone into effect for the infected staff members and those in “immediate contact" with them, as hundreds of supporters filled downtown streets in anticipation of the president’s evening rally — his first since the virus brought much of public life to a standstill in March.

secret service logoUpon entering the rally grounds, attendees were handed blue face coverings and directed through a maze of metal fencing, which led to a touchless temperature screening conducted by volunteers in purple smocks.

City police erected black fencing and other barriers around the 19,000-seat BOK Center, a private venue leased by the Trump campaign. Shortly before noon, the campaign directed officers to arrest a protester who had sat down within the barricaded zone, according to the police department.

The protester, Sheila Buck of Tulsa, said she had a ticket to the event. She was wearing a shirt that read, “I can’t breathe," among the final words uttered by George Floyd as a police officer in Minneapolis knelt on his neck.

Adding to the fortified atmosphere, about 250 National Guard soldiers were on hand to assist local authorities. Some were armed in response to an elevation of the threat level, said Lt. Col. Geoff Legler, a spokesman for the Guard. Initially, the plan was to equip them only with batons, shields and pepper spray.

Most police officers, National Guard soldiers, food vendors and the vast majority of people in line chose not to wear face coverings, though Trump-branded masks dotted the crowd. The Confederate flag also appeared — all the more striking because Oklahoma was not a state at the time of the Civil War.brad parscale fox

daily beast logoDaily Beast, The Tulsa Rally is the First Big Beta Test of the Trump 2020 App, Which Knows Where You Are and Who You Know, Anne Nelson, Published June 20, 2020. When the virus forced Trump to suspend his rallies, he lost access to the “juggernaut” that’s supposed to keep Trumpists hooked, and help the campaign find more of them.

This month Trump decided to resume his mass rallies starting in Tulsa, less than a mile from the site of the infamous 1919 race massacre there—and originally scheduled it for Juneteenth. The venue is an enclosed arena, although the spike in COVID cases there raised questions about his motivations. We know he misses the energy of his crowds, and that Oklahoma is one of the reddest states in the union. But there’s another strategic reason for propelling the rallies forward.

Trump needs them to propel the “juggernaut” 2020 Trump mobile app that campaign manager Brad Parscale, shown above, has boasted about, that uses a service called geofencing to send messages to smartphone users in a given location, then track their locations and access their address books.

The plan is to harness the enthusiasm of the rally to get thousands of attendees to download the app, which requires them to enter their phone numbers and zip codes, and urges them to provide their email and home addresses as well.

Parscale explained to CNN that once this information is provided, the campaign can combine it with the voter file from the Republican National Committee. This enhances the campaign’s ability to microtarget voters—that is, engage them on multiple communications platforms with tailored messages based on their specific concerns.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Daily U.S. cases top 30,000 for first time in seven weeks, Staff reports, June 20, 2020. New daily coronavirus cases in the United States on Friday exceeded 30,000 for the first time in seven weeks as states in the South and West continued to report alarming spikes in new infections.

The country tallied 31,630 new confirmed cases Friday, according to tracking by The Washington Post. The last time new daily cases in the United States topped 30,000 was on May 1, when 33,263 new infections were reported.

In Tulsa — where President Trump plans to hold a campaign rally Saturday — cases hit a new high on Friday.

washington post logoWashington Post, In reversal, government to disclose many business-loan recipients, Aaron Gregg and Jeff Stein, June 20, 2020 (print ed.). Facing bipartisan pressure, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, below left, agreed to release details on loans of $150,000 or more from the Paycheck Protection Program.

steven mnuchin wThe U.S. Small Business Administration and Treasury Department announced Friday that they would release a data set showing which businesses received many taxpayer-funded Paycheck Protection Program loans, walking back an earlier stance that all of the business names would remain hidden because the Trump administration considered them proprietary.

sba logo new Custom CustomThe disclosures will include the names of recipients who received loans of more than $150,000 and it will also reveal a dollar range for each loan, such as whether it was between $1 million and $2 million. Precise dollar amounts will not be disclosed, the Trump administration said. Borrowers who obtained loans of less than $150,000 will not have their identities disclosed. The administration said nearly 75 percent of all loans were for $150,000 or more, so most borrowers would be revealed.

The announcement came after several weeks of tense negotiations with congressional leadership, in which members of both parties pressed for some form of disclosure. The plan announced Friday amounts to an attempted compromise in which most loan recipients will be made public while specific details would be obscured.

Courts, Crime, Injustice

Palmer Report, Opinion: The real reason Donald Trump just ousted U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman from the SDNY, Bill Palmer, June 19, 2020. When you count up all the people who have been fired, the people who have resigned amid scandal, and the people who have resigned in protest, the Donald Trump administration has been hemorrhaging even more key personnel than usual lately. Tonight a key player is resigning: Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the SDNY. So what’s this about?

bill palmer report logo headerFirst, let’s be clear: this doesn’t look like a legitimate resignation. It came too abruptly. The Trump regime has already picked out a replacement too quickly. And because Berman’s tenure likely would have ended in January anyway, there has to be a specific reason he’s not simply finishing his term.

There are only two reasons for Trump to oust Berman from the SDNY and replace him with someone more friendly to Trump. The first is that Trump wants to have the SDNY bring a phony criminal case against one of his adversaries. The second is that Trump is trying to stop an existing criminal case against one of his friends from proceeding.

It’s worth keeping in mind that the SDNY, which has federal jurisdiction in Manhattan, was responsible for the arrests of Lev and Igor, and is expected to arrest Rudy Giuliani eventually. In addition, if the Feds were to bring criminal charges against the Trump Organization, or members of Donald Trump’s family, it would likely happen through the SDNY. John Bolton’s new book also reveals that Trump meddled in an SDNY case against a Turkish firm as a political favor. In any case, something corrupt is likely playing out here.

Because confusion always arises whenever the SDNY is mentioned, it’s worth keeping mind that the SDNY is part of the federal government, and has nothing at all to do with any state-level charges that would come from the State of New York.

washington post logorobert mueller full face fileWashington Post, Mueller’s team wondered whether Trump lied to them, newly disclosed parts of report show, Devlin Barrett, June 20, 2020 (print ed.). Robert S. Mueller III’s staff noted how President Trump’s answer on a key point differed from the testimony of his former campaign aides.

Racial Injustice Protests

ny times logoNew York Times, Black Tulsans, With a Defiant Juneteenth Celebration, Send a Message to Trump, Astead W. Herndon, June 20, 2020 (print ed.). The president arrives in a city that is in the midst of addressing long-ignored racist history. People there believe the country as a whole could learn a lot from them.

washington post logocolbert king 2003Washington Post, Opinion: From Rodney King to Rayshard Brooks, police have been killing black people for years, Colbert I. King, right, June 20, 2020. The cops beat Rodney King with their nightsticks more than 50 times. The brutal event on March 3, 1991, in Los Angeles was caught on amateur videotape. After four policemen were acquitted, the City of Angels went up in flames.

Decades earlier, in the summer of 1967, civil disorder erupted in Newark, Detroit and more than 100 communities across the country, some of it brought on and inflamed by police actions.

So here we are in 2020, confronted with the death in Atlanta of an unarmed black man, Rayshard Brooks, when confronted by white police officer Garrett Rolfe . . . and the killing in Minneapolis of George Floyd, an unarmed black man whose neck was pinned on the ground by a white officer’s knee . . . and the shooting death in Louisville of Breonna Taylor, a black woman and aspiring nurse shot eight times in her own home by white police.

washington post logoWashington Post, Retropolis: ‘Racial Hate’: A famed folk singer, Trump’s dad and angry lyrics at a Tulsa landmark, Petula Dvorak, June 20, 2020. In 1950, Fred Trump was Woody Guthrie's landlord in Brooklyn. Guthrie accused “Old Man Trump” of racism in unpublished lyrics found at Tulsa’s Woody Guthrie Center.

One of the signs that will greet President Trump on Saturday in Tulsa reads “This Machine Kills Fascists.”

It’s affixed to a guitar on a huge mural painted on the side of the Woody Guthrie Center, just six blocks from the arena where Trump is holding his first campaign rally during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Woody Guthrie Center is dedicated to the work of one of the nation’s greatest folk singers and most influential songwriters. Born in Oklahoma, Woody Guthrie is best known for the ballad, “This Land Is Your Land,” which some people consider an alternative national anthem. But Guthrie penned hundreds of other songs, too, and one of them was about Trump’s father, Fred Trump.

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s SDNY stunt “may have just flipped the Senate,” Bill Palmer, June 20, 2020. Bill Barr’s Department of Justice announced that SDNY U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman had resigned. But now Berman says he has not resigned, and he’s refusing to be fired unless and until the Senate confirms a replacement. This sets up a potential legal battle in court over whether Berman can keep his job in the meantime. But it also sets up a fascinating Senate battle.

bill palmer report logo headerIf Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tries to quickly ram through the nomination of Trump’s replacement for Berman, nearly every other Republican Senator will have to vote “yes” in order for that person to be confirmed (there are 52 of them, and 50 would need to vote “yes”).

But some of them are very vulnerable in their reelection bids, and could be hesitant to stick their necks out even further for Trump, as his poll numbers continue to drop and their numbers drop accordingly. Then again, McConnell could force them to go along with it, because he controls the Republican Senate campaign purse strings.

Former Senator Claire McCaskill put it this way on Twitter: “Berman may have just flipped the Senate. Will Mitch risk losing the Senate by trying to force Rep Senators to confirm someone clearly being chosen to protect Rudy and Trump?” She makes a good point. This is the last thing Mitch McConnell wants to have to deal with right now, and it’s the last thing vulnerable GOP Senators want to have to vote on. This mess really could end up costing the GOP its Senate majority in November.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump is in for the biggest letdown of his life, Robert Harrington, June 20, 2020. Everything has always been too easy for Trump, so much so that he’s never learned discipline. From birth Trump has never known anything but privilege. When he wanted money he went to his father, who gave him, by some estimates, over $400 million in increments large and small over time. When he wanted out of serving in Vietnam his father arranged that too. When daddy’s money ran out after he died, Trump went to the mob for funding, both the domestic and Russian mob, agreeing to launder their money in exchange for a cut. Throughout he counterfeited the role of the high profile, celebrity businessman and real estate developer.

bill palmer report logo headerTrump cannot even discipline himself in what he eats. Trump eats like a teenager left alone by his parents on a Saturday night. Most adults learn that you can’t sustain a remotely healthy life on food almost exclusively from McDonald’s and KFC. That’s a lesson Trump never learned, and he’s held his older self perpetually hostage to his younger, undisciplined self’s choices. Those choices are coming home to roost in poor coordination and poorer mental cognition.

djt apprenticeTrump fooled a lot of people, particularly non-New Yorkers, but he couldn’t fool reality. He was a spectacular failure as a businessman by any metric, bankrupting just about everything he undertook and going a billion dollars in debt for a decade in the 80s and 90s. It was with his hit TV series, “The Apprentice,” that he slowly climbed out of the economic hole he’d dug for himself. He was able to parlay his sullied but sufficiently deceiving reputation into reality TV stardom. It was from that reboot that he was able to remake himself.

Trump’s run for the presidency was a publicity stunt that he didn’t expect to pull off. He envisioned the celebrity capital he could eke from it by playing the role he always ultimately plays, the whiny, misunderstood victim. As stunned as we all were when he won, no one was more surprised than Donald J. Trump.

Now that his unquenchable ego has had a taste of the presidency, Trump is in for the biggest letdown of his life. Donald Trump is headed for a major loss in November and he lacks the imagination to know how it will affect him. He believes he will command the same respect and deference he’s enjoyed as is the automatic due of the man himself, mistaking the deference afforded an occupant of the office of the presidency with respect for Donald Trump. It’s going to be an eye-opening 78 days for a lame duck president who is arguably the most despised human being in modern history.

Meidas Touch,

.be">Political video: Female reporters have held Donald Trump accountable, Staff  production, June 20, 2020. Trump is terrified.

Virus Victims, Responses

ny times logoNew York Times, W.H.O. Warns of ‘Dangerous Phase’ of Pandemic as Outbreaks Widen, Julie Bosman, June 20, 2020 (print ed.). Beijing and Seoul have had a recent surge in coronavirus cases, and businesses are recoiling in America as infections sharply increase in Southern and Western states.

world health organization logo CustomThe world has entered a “new and dangerous phase” of the coronavirus pandemic, a top official from the World Health Organization said on Friday, a stark warning that came as the United States struggled to control spiraling outbreaks and as business leaders signaled growing unease with the country’s ability to effectively contend with the virus.

Coronavirus cases spiked sharply across the American South and West, particularly in states that loosened restrictions on businesses several weeks ago.

In Florida, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Arizona, daily counts of new coronavirus cases reached their highest levels of the pandemic this week. Texas, which has seen known cases double in the past month, became the sixth state to surpass 100,000 cases, according to a New York Times database of cases in the United States.

Around the country, there were indications that major companies and sports teams were changing their own plans as the new surges emerged.

washington post logoWashington Post, Experts say Pence’s approach ignores chance of dark days, Ashley Parker and Yasmeen Abutaleb, June 20, 2020. The vice president has been a happy warrior mike pence oon behalf of President Trump, amplifying and supporting his boss in his even-keeled way.

The vice president has long been a happy warrior on behalf of President Trump, amplifying and supporting his boss in his more phlegmatic, even-keel way.

But for many public health experts, including some close to the administration, Pence’s Tuesday op-ed in the Wall Street Journal was cause for alarm — a 420-word opinion piece that, they fear, presents an overly rosy vision of a pandemic that has already killed at least 117,000 Americans — and indicative of the administration’s approach.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: As cases surge across South and West, Texas mayors plead with residents to wear masks, Derek Hawkins, Brittany Shammas, Meryl Kornfield and Miriam Berger, June 20, 2020.  Greta Thunberg: Handling of coronavirus offers lessons for climate change; The battle over masks in a pandemic: An all-American story.

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Face mask requirements are taking hold across the country as states throughout the South and West continue to report record highs in new daily coronavirus cases.

Officials in some of the biggest cities in Arizona and Florida have ordered people to wear masks in public, and California’s governor has mandated them statewide. On Friday, nine Texas mayors wrote a letter to the states’ residents, urging them to wear masks as the number of hospital patients swells.

In Tulsa — where President Trump plans to hold a campaign rally Saturday — cases hit a new high on Friday. The state’s Supreme Court rejected a last-minute appeal of a lawsuit Friday seeking to block the president from holding the event, which local officials and residents fear could worsen the spread of the coronavirus in the city.

ny times logoNew York Times, Latin America’s Virus Villains: Corrupt Officials, Colluding With Price Gougers, Natalie Kitroeff and Mitra Taj, June 20, 2020. The coronavirus has devastated Latin America, and it has only been worsened by a wave of graft and profiteering, prosecutors say. 

Brett Crozier Thomas Modly NAVY AP

Washington Post, Navy upholds firing of aircraft carrier captain who pleaded for help with coronavirus, Dan Lamothe, Missy Ryan and Paul Sonne, washington post logoJune 20, 2020 (print ed.). Navy leaders have upheld the firing of an aircraft carrier captain whose handling of a coronavirus outbreak raised concerns about the military’s vulnerability to the highly contagious disease and generated a personnel crisis for the Navy.

A two-month naval investigation concluded that the dismissal of Capt. Brett Crozier, above leftt, who was fired in early April after a letter in which he warned of the risk the virus posed to his crew abroad the USS Theodore Roosevelt was made public, should not be reversed, Adm. Michael Gilday, the chief of Naval Operations, told reporters at the Pentagon on Friday.

Gilday said the investigation had found Crozier made poor decisions as the number of crew members infected with the virus accelerated, saying that Crozier would not be eligible for future command but would face no further disciplinary action. Reuters first reported the result of the investigation.

Gilday said that while he initially recommended that Crozier be reinstated, a deeper investigation by the Navy found that both Crozier and Rear Adm. Stuart Baker, commander of the carrier strike group of which the Roosevelt is part, fell “well short of what we expect of those in command.”

Crozier’s firing, and the Navy’s handling of a major outbreak that temporarily sidelined the Roosevelt, was followed by the resignation of acting Navy secretary Thomas Modly, above right, over his handling of the incident. Modly relieved Crozier of command after his emotional request for greater assistance with the outbreak — in a letter in which he said that “sailors do not need to die” — was obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Hundreds of sailors on the Roosevelt eventually tested positive for the coronavirus, the largest single outbreak of the virus the military has experienced.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, China indicts two Canadians, escalating dispute over Huawei case, Gerry Shih, June 19, 2020. Chinese prosecutors said Friday they would formally bring espionage charges against two Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, in cases widely seen as retribution for Canada’s role in helping U.S. law enforcement pursue a senior Huawei executive.

huawei meng wanzhouThe announcement by the Supreme People’s Procuratorate almost certainly foreshadows lengthy prison sentences for Spavor, a businessman on the China-North Korea border, and Kovrig, a former diplomat who worked as a researcher in Beijing for the International Crisis Group.

With conviction rates of roughly 99.9 percent, Chinese prosecutors are nearly guaranteed to win once they bring charges in a court system that is controlled by the ruling Communist Party. The two Canadians were arrested in December 2018, days after Canadian authorities detained Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, right, during a layover in Vancouver at the behest of the United States, which is seeking her extradition to face fraud charges.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Knock, Then Gone: Venezuela Secretly Detains Hundreds to Silence Critics, Julie Turkewitz and Anatoly Kurmanaev, June 20, 2020 (print ed.). “Forced disappearances” are playing a critical role in the Venezuelan government’s efforts to muzzle opponents and instill fear, according to a new report.

Secret detentions, known under international law as “forced disappearances,” are playing a critical role in the Venezuelan government’s increasingly authoritarian efforts to control its population, discourage dissent and punish opponents, according to a new report by two human rights groups, provided exclusively to The New York Times.

The report, made public on Friday, documents 200 such cases in 2018 and 524 last year, a jump it attributed to increased protests as Venezuela endured successive political and economic crises, and the government’s repressive responses. It was produced by Foro Penal, a Venezuelan group that meticulously tracks the cases, and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C.

June 19

Top Headlines

Racial Injustice Protests

U.S. Virus Victims, Responses

Bolton Book Reactions

World News

U.S. Courts, Crime, Injustice

Inside DC

jean kennedy smith jfk

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

 

Top Stories

djt john bolton Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, White House analysis: Seizing the Presidency to Suit His Own Needs, Peter Baker, right, June 19, 2020 (updated). In a new book, John R. Bolton portrays Donald Trump peter baker twitteras a president who sees his office as an instrument to advance his own personal and political interests over those of the nation.

One day in the summer of 2018, John R. Bolton commiserated with John F. Kelly over the burdens of working for President Trump. Mr. Kelly, then the White House chief of staff, had just had another argument with the president in trying to stop him from using the power of his office to punish a political foe. It did not go well.

“Has there ever been a presidency like this?” Mr. Kelly asked plaintively.

john bolton room where cover Custom“I assured him there had not,” Mr. Bolton recalls in his new book.

That is self-evidently true and yet it bears repeating every once in a while. After more than three years of the Trump presidency, it has become easy to forget at times just how out of the ordinary it really is. The normalization of Mr. Trump’s norm-busting, line-crossing, envelope-pushing administration has meant that what was once shocking now seems like just another day.

Which is why Mr. Bolton’s damning book stands out even among the proliferation of volumes about this president. In 494 pages, the former national security adviser becomes the first person with daily access to Mr. Trump’s Oval Office to catalog the various ways that he has seized the presidency to suit his own needs, much to the consternation of not just liberal critics but a lifelong, left-bashing, conservative stalwart like Mr. Bolton.

djt ivanka rnc photo

Palmer Report, Opinion: John Bolton’s book reveals extent of Ivanka Trump scandal, Robert Harrington, June 19, 2020. Of the Bolton disclosures being reported in the press, an intriguing one is that Trump defended Mohammed bin Salman, right, the suspected mastermind behind the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in a deliberate effort to distract attention away from his daughter Ivanka’s email scandal.

Mohammed Bin Salman Al-SaudIt turns out a contemporaneous story about Ivanka using her personal email account for government business before she was actually working for the government was circulating at the time. As you may recall, during the 2016 presidential campaign, it emerged that Hillary Clinton used her personal email account to conduct State Department business from home. This caused a great deal of counterfeit horror and screeching, histrionic pearl-clutching among Republican criminals at the bill palmer report logo headertime.

Many pretended to believe she should go to prison for it, which caused Trump’s drooling, low-information, low-IQ base to actually believe it. It’s little wonder that Trump, who was among the idiots calling for Hillary’s imprisonment for an offense so minor he would have laughed at it privately, was the biggest proponent of the movement to “lock her up” for it.

So when his daughter committed a similar (admittedly) minor offense, one that realistically should merit nothing stronger than a rebuke from the State Department, Trump naturally wanted to create a diversion.

Perhaps he was unaware that such hypocrisies don’t get noticed any longer, or that the real crime was the conflict of interest represented by the 18 trademarks Ivanka received from China while Donald Trump was conducting trade negotiations with that country. Appearance is what matters. But even Ivanka’s trademark conflict of interest came to nothing, because the Trumps get away with everything — in case you haven’t noticed.

supreme court headshots 2019

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Can’t Immediately End DACA, Supreme Court Rules, Adam Liptak and Michael D. Shear, June 19, 2020. (print ed.). Blow to Trump, Who Vowed to End Program to Shield Young Immigrants. The program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, protects people brought to the United States as children by shielding them from deportation and letting them work. 

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Trump administration may not immediately proceed with its plan to end a program protecting about 700,000 young immigrants known as Dreamers from deportation.

The court’s ruling was a blow to one of President Trump’s central campaign promises — that as president he would “immediately terminate” an executive order by former President ICE logoBarack Obama that Mr. Trump had called an illegal executive amnesty for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote the majority opinion, joined by the court’s four more liberal members in upholding the program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

“We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies,” the chief justice wrote. “We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action.”

washington post logoWashington Post, 1.5 million workers filed for unemployment insurance last week, Eli Rosenberg, June 19, 2020 (print ed.). The rate of joblessness of this recession remains one of the worst in decades. Another 1.5 million workers filed for unemployment insurance for the first time last week, as the coronavirus pandemic continued to weigh on the economy.

us labor department logoThe numbers remained at historic levels: the previous record before the coronavirus was 695,000 in 1982. Since the coronavirus began earlier this year, there have been 13 straight weeks where more than a million people have filed for unemployment for the first time.

The numbers come as the country’s reopening is in nearly full swing in many states across the country. Yet the reopenings are complicated by continuing coronavirus outbreaks across the country; more than 20 states are currently seeing their number of cases rise, week by week.

The unemployment rate remains the highest its been since the Great Depression. The official rate for May was 13.3 percent, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics said that it would have been closer to 16.3 if not for an error its workers are making in the data collection process.Washington Post, Perspective: The debate over Confederate symbols isn’t about preserving or erasing history. It’s about our values, Theresa Vargas, June 18, 2020. Do we care more about statues standing than people falling?

Racial Injustice Protests

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washington post logoWashington Post, A top State Dept. official resigns over Trump’s response to racial tensions, Seung Min Kim, June 19, 2020. The resignation letter submitted by the assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs served as an indictment of President Trump’s stewardship from one of the administration’s highest-ranking African Americans and an aide who was viewed as loyal and effective in her job.

A senior State Department official who has served in the Trump administration since its first day is resigning over President Trump’s recent handling of racial tensions across the country — saying that the president’s actions “cut sharply against my core values and convictions.”

Mary Elizabeth Taylor, left, mary elizabeth taylor o Customassistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, submitted her resignation Thursday. Taylor’s five-paragraph resignation letter, obtained by The Washington Post, serves as an indictment of Trump’s stewardship at a time of national unrest from one of the administration’s highest-ranking African Americans and an aide who was viewed as loyal and effective in serving his presidency.

“Moments of upheaval can change you, shift the trajectory of your life, and mold your character. The President’s comments and actions surrounding racial mike pompeo portraitinjustice and Black Americans cut sharply against my core values and convictions,” Taylor wrote in her resignation letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right. “I must follow the dictates of my conscience and resign as Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs.”

Taylor, 30, was unanimously confirmed to her position in October 2018 and is the youngest assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs in history and the first black woman to serve in that post.

She has been a pivotal behind-the-scenes figure in the administration. Tapped for her legislative expertise and strong relationship with senators because of her work for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Taylor served as the White House’s deputy director for nominations before joining the State Department.

In her White House role, she helped shepherd more than 400 presidential appointments through the Senate, including those of Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, CIA Director Gina Haspel, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell and Pompeo.

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: Tulsa and the Many Sins of Racism, Paul Krugman, right, June 19, 2020 (print ed.).The ugly story didn’t end with the abolition of slavery. When Trump campaign officials scheduled a rally in Tulsa, Okla., on June 19, they sent what looked like a signal of approval to white supremacists. For June 19 is Juneteenth, a day celebrated by African-Americans to mark the end of slavery. And Tulsa was the site of the 1921 race massacre, one of the deadliest incidents in the long, violent offensive to deny blacks the fruits of their hard-won freedom.

It’s now being claimed that the Trump campaign didn’t understand the date’s significance, but I don’t believe that for a minute.

But let’s talk about Tulsa and how it fits into the broader story of racism in America.

Joe Biden has declared that slavery is America’s “original sin.” He’s right, of course. It’s important, however, to understand that the sinning didn’t stop when slavery was abolished. If America had treated former slaves and their descendants as true citizens, with full protection under the law, we would have expected the legacy of slavery to gradually fade away.

washington post logoWashington Post, Tulsa security guard’s deadly assault on hotel guest raises issues of race, oversight, Katie Mettler and Brittany Shammas.June 19, 2020. The former sheriff’s sergeant was charged with manslaughter after the fatal shooting of a black father of three. State officials say they lack authority to review allegations of racial discrimination in granting security-guard licenses.A former sheriff's office detention officer with a disciplinary record was charged with manslaughter after he pepper sprayed and fatally shot a father of three.

Carlos Carson was crossing the parking lot of the Tulsa motel where he had stayed the night when a shower of pepper spray hit him in the face, seemingly out of nowhere.

Overnight, the 36-year-old’s car had been vandalized, and he had exchanged words over the damage with the motel’s manager and later its armed private security guard, Christopher Straight. Carson was in the process of booking another night on June 6.

But as Carson walked outside the motel, a cup of coffee in his hand, Straight instigated an incident that police would later call an unprovoked attack, one that places the role of armed security guards — especially those with a checkered past in law enforcement — in the middle of the nation’s current conversation over police reform.

Surveillance footage obtained by The Washington Post shows Straight, who is white, fire a thick stream of pepper spray at Carson, who is black, from inside his pickup truck. Carson then throws his coffee at Straight and charges at him. Seconds later, Straight pulls a gun and shoots Carson in the head. The father of three, recently working to get back on his feet after time in prison and struggles with mental health, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Tulsa Police Department took Straight in for questioning and arrested him on a complaint of first-degree manslaughter the same day. Tulsa County prosecutors filed charges of first-degree manslaughter on June 10 against Straight, who did not respond to a request for comment from The Post.

Straight told detectives he was using the pepper spray to “deter” Carson from being aggressive so he could detain him for trespassing. But in the arrest affidavit, authorities said Straight’s behavior appeared unprovoked.

“You don’t get to pick a fight and then claim self-defense,” Lt. Brandon Watkins, who leads the Tulsa Police Department’s homicide unit, said in an interview with The Post.

To Carson’s family, including a brother who is in law enforcement, the shooting was the inevitable result of a system in Oklahoma that empowered Straight to use lethal force as an armed security guard despite allegations of misconduct stretching back to his years as a detention sergeant with the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office.

washington post logoWashington Post, Oklahoma Supreme Court rejects bid to stop Trump’s Tulsa rally; curfew canceled, Robert Klemko, Colby Itkowitz and Annie Gowen, June 19, 2020. Residents and businesses filed the lawsuit over concerns that the rally could worsen the pandemic. The ruling came as thousands of President Trump supporters and protesters poured into the city.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court Friday rejected an appeal of a lawsuit attempting to block President Trump from holding an indoor campaign rally Saturday in Tulsa that many feared could worsen the spread of coronavirus, paving the way for the event to go off as planned.

A lawsuit filed on behalf of local residents, business owners and a community center in the historically black neighborhood of Greenwood earlier this week had demanded that the arena adhere to social distancing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or that the event be canceled. The Trump campaign has said it will take temperatures of supporters entering the 19,000-seat BOK Center and hand out masks, but face coverings are not required.

The plaintiffs had sought a temporary injunction against the ASM Global, the parent company of the entity that manages the BOK Center, "to protect against a substantial, imminent, and deadly risk to the community," according to a copy of the complaint. Paul DeMuro, an attorney for the plaintiffs, had argued that it was "madness" to let the event proceed as new coronavirus cases in Tulsa are spiking.

The court said that the state's June 1 reopening plan allowed business owners to use discretion over social distancing measures, and they were not mandatory as the plaintiffs had asserted.

Trump had joined the fray, tweeting early Friday that “any protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes who are going to Oklahoma, please understand, you will not be treated like you have been in New York, Seattle or Minneapolis. It will be a much different scene!”

The president’s decision to hold his first campaign-style rally since the pandemic began in Tulsa on Juneteenth weekend has angered many across the country and in Tulsa, the site of one of the country’s worst race massacres, and it comes as the country is in the midst of a historic reckoning on race after the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis May 25.

Trump, who has used divisive language about race, originally planned the rally to be held on Juneteenth itself, but moved it a day after widespread outcry.

Rick Frazier, 64, said he arrived in Tulsa from Ohio Tuesday around noon with a friend who had been to 36 Trump rallies. Frazier said he was fifth in line for what he said will be his 21st Trump rally.

washington post logoWashington Post, As Trump warns of leftist violence, a threat emerges from right-wing boogaloo movement, Craig Timberg, June 19, 2020 (print ed.). There's little evidence of the president’s claims about leftist groups. Meanwhile, prosecutors have brought charges against boogaloo supporters whose arrests were often accompanied by the seizure of weapons.

ny times logoNew York Times, Air Force Investigates Military Planes That Monitored Protesters, Eric Schmitt and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, June 19, 2020 (print ed.). The inquiry was apparently prompted by lawmakers who expressed concerns to Pentagon officials that the use of military surveillance airplanes may have violated the civil liberties of the mostly peaceful protesters demonstrating against the police killings of African-Americans.

“Following discussions with the secretary of defense about shared concerns, the secretary of the Air Force is conducting an investigation into the use of Air National Guard RC-26 aircraft to support civil authorities during recent protest activity in U.S. cities,” Brig. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder, the chief Air Force spokesman, said in response to questions from the New York Times.

Bolton Book Reactions

ny times logoNew York Times, As Trump Targets China Crackdown, Bolton Revelations Muddle the Message, Steven Lee Myers, June 19, 2020. (print ed.). A new law aimed at punishing Chinese officials involved in mass internments of Uighurs and other minorities came as John Bolton accused President Trump of supporting Beijing’s crackdown. China lashed out at the United States on Thursday after President Trump signed into law a bill that would allow him to impose sanctions on Chinese officials involved in the mass incarceration of more than one million Uighurs and members of other largely Muslim minorities in the western region of Xinjiang.

USTR seal Custom 2The rebuke came after China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, held an unusual meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Hawaii that underscored the depth of discord between the two countries. The Trump administration has intensified its criticism of China on a variety of fronts, especially its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

China’s incarceration of members of minority groups in Xinjiang has become another increasingly contentious, if complicated, issue between the two countries. New accusations by John Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, have muddied the issue even further.

On Wednesday, the same day Mr. Trump signed the legislation, Mr. Bolton accused the president of once supporting Beijing’s crackdown in Xinjiang. In an excerpt from his forthcoming book, published in The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Bolton said Mr. Trump had questioned why the United States would impose sanctions on the Chinese officials involved.

In a private meeting with Mr. Xi at the Group of 20 meeting in Japan last year, Mr. Bolton wrote, the president even accepted the rationale of Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, for the creation of a vast system of camps and surveillance in Xinjiang.

“According to our interpreter, Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do,” Mr. Bolton wrote.

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge blasts John Bolton but doubts he can bar book, Spencer S. Hsu and Rachel Weiner, June 19, 2020. A federal judge Friday castigated former Trump aide John Bolton for publishing a White House memoir without formal government confirmation that it revealed no classified information but seemed doubtful he could block its imminent publication.

In a 90-minute hearing held by videoconference in Washington, U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth, left, grilled the Justice Department over how he could prevent the sale of hundreds of thousands of copies of Bolton’s book, which in advance of a Tuesday release has already been distributed around the world and heavily excerpted in the media.

john bolton room where cover Customroyce lamberth CustomThe Room Where It Happened recounts Bolton’s 17 months as Trump’s top national security official and offers a withering portrait of the president as an “erratic” and “stunningly uninformed” leader. Bolton called Trump incompetent and “unfit for office” in promotional interviews.

But the judge also blasted Bolton’s attorney for not waiting for the government to complete a pre-publication review for classified information before publishing, saying Bolton “didn’t get written authority.”

“Once he invoked that process, he can’t just walk away, and he didn’t tell the government he was walking away,” Lamberth said.

Lamberth said he would rule swiftly after reviewing sealed government submissions of alleged classified secrets in Bolton’s manuscript later Friday. Analysts predicted a split verdict in the legal and political showdown — Bolton may get to release his book but never reap the financial benefits and some publication activity might be barred or delayed.

John Bolton hands up CSIS

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: John Bolton Is the Model of a Trump Sellout, John Gans, June 19, 2020 (print ed.). He is a creature of the administration, not a critic of it. At a moment when everyone is looking for heroes, Mr. Bolton’s lonely, self-interested crusade against Mr. Trump says volumes about where Washington finds itself.

I spent the last few years researching and writing a book about the National Security Council, and I have had a lot of time to think about what makes John Bolton tick. Like many others, I wondered whether he’d testify in the impeachment hearing into Mr. Trump’s misconduct with Ukraine; whether his book would ever come out; why he was seen randomly walking around Doha, Qatar; and what each of his cryptic tweets (and retweets) meant.

Dr. John Gans, the director of communications and research at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perry World House, is the author of “White House Warriors: How the National Security Council Transformed the American Way of War.” John Bolton is shown in a file photo speaking at a Washington, DC. think tank.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Saudi Arabia’s crown prince uses travel restrictions to consolidate power, David Ignatius, June 19, 2020 (print ed.). The practical effect of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s policy of restricting journeys abroad by what appear to be thousands of Saudis is to intimidate those he regards as political threats.

Mohammed Bin Salman Al-Saud“This is hostage-taking as a tool of governing,” argued Khalid Aljabri, a Saudi cardiologist who lives in Toronto. Two of his younger siblings, Omar and Sarah, now both in their early 20s, were banned from travel in June 2017 shortly after MBS, as he’s known, right, became crown prince. MBS wanted leverage against their father, a former Saudi intelligence official named Saad Aljabri, hoping to force him home to face corruption allegations that Khalid says are false.

An investigation shows that this practice of restricting foreign travel is much broader than generally recognized and is part of a larger system of organized repression in the kingdom. MBS has used these tools to consolidate power as he moves toward what some U.S. officials believe may be an attempt, perhaps this year, to seize the full powers of government from his ailing father, King Salman.

U.S. Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: U.S. Mask requirements meet with resistance as infections surge, Antonia Noori Farzan, Jennifer Hassan and, Rick Noack, June 19, 2020. In countries keeping the coronavirus at bay, experts watch U.S. case numbers with alarm; Coronavirus traces found in northern Italian wastewater collected in December 2019; Stockpile of emergency medical supplies moving back to health officials’ control.

Fears of a new wave of coronavirus infections are spurring officials in many states, such as California, to require that people wear face coverings outside the home. But mandatory mask-wearing continues to be controversial, particularly among conservatives. The sheriff of Orange County, Calif., says he won’t enforce the statewide mandate, while Nebraska’s Republican governor has threatened to withhold funding from any communities that require masks to be worn in official buildings.

Several studies this month support wearing masks to curb coronavirus transmission, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends their use as a protective measure.

Case numbers continue to surge across the South and West — notably in Oklahoma, where President Trump plans to hold a campaign rally Saturday. Records were also reported in California, Arizona and Florida on Thursday.

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: Why Is the United States Exporting Coronavirus? Editorial Board, June 19, 2020 (print ed.). Holding asylum seekers, immigrants and others in facilities where the virus easily spreads only to later send them to other nations is a public health hazard — here and abroad.

washington post logoWashington Post, Tulsa imposes curfew ahead of Trump rally after police say ‘individuals from organized groups’ plan to cause unrest, Colby Itkowitz, June 19, 2020. The city of Tulsa announced a last-minute curfew that began Thursday night and will continue Friday and Saturday, restricting people from a large area surrounding the arena where President Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore portrait)Trump will hold his first campaign rally in months.

An executive order signed by Mayor G.T. Bynum (R) says the curfew, which begins at 10 p.m. and lifts at 6 a.m. all three nights, is intended to quell potential overnight violence as thousands intend to pour into the city to protest the president’s visit.

djt maga hatIt’s unclear whether the Trump supporters who have camped out for days to secure a prime spot to see the president on Saturday will be cleared out as well, but some videos posted on social media appeared to show people leaving the area carrying tents and lawn chairs .

Bynum declared a “civil emergency” after law enforcement informed the mayor that “individuals from organized groups who have been involved in destructive and violent behavior in other states are planning to travel to the City of Tulsa for purposes of causing unrest in and around the rally,” the order reads.

People who refuse to leave the area risk arrest, the Tulsa Police Department warned on Twitter.

“This is an unprecedented event for the City of Tulsa and has hundreds of moving parts, we are asking for everyone’s help in making this a safe event for all citizens,” the department tweeted.

Trump’s rally, his first since the coronavirus crisis shut down public gatherings, has angered some residents who worry the event could cause a large scale outbreak. They have sued the venue manager, demanding that the arena adhere to social distancing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or be canceled.

Courts, Crime, Injustice

 ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: What the Country Needs, on DACA and So Much More, Qian Julie Wang (lawyer, former federal court law clerk and author of the forthcoming book “Beautiful Country: A Memoir of An Undocumented Childhood”), June 19, 2020 (print ed.). Dreamers, and all Americans, deserve more stability than they are getting under Donald Trump.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled, by a narrow majority, that the Trump administration could not immediately shut down Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that protects about 700,000 young immigrants known as Dreamers from deportation.

The ruling sits at the discomfiting intersection of my professional practice and my long-hidden personal history. But for the grace of luck, I would be among Thursday’s beneficiaries of DACA. I am lucky: I became a citizen four years ago, nearly 22 years after I first arrived here from China. I also clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the very court that later issued the DACA decision that the Supreme Court ruled upon on Thursday.

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elizabeth vosConsortium News, Analysis: Epstein Case Documentaries Won’t Touch Tales of Intel Ties, Elizabeth Vos, right, June 19, 2020. Two new documentaries on the Jeffery Epstein affair delve into lurid details & give voice to his victims, but both scratch the surface of the political & intelligence dimensions of the scandal.

Investigation Discovery premiered a three-hour special, “Who Killed Jeffrey Epstein?” on May 31, the first segment in a three-part series, that focused on Epstein’s August 2019 death in federal custody. The series addresses Epstein’s alleged co-conspirator Ghislaine Maxwell, his links with billionaire Leslie Wexner, founder of the Victoria Secrets clothing line, and others, as well as the non-prosecution deal he was given.

The special followed on the heels of Netflix’s release of “Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich,” a mini-series that draws on a book of the same name by James Patterson.

Promotional material for “Who Killed Jeffery Epstein?” promises that: “… exclusive interviews and in-depth investigations reveal new clues about his seedy underworld, privileged life and controversial death. The three-hour special looks to answer the questions surrounding the death of this enigmatic figure.” Netflix billed its series this way: “Stories from survivors fuel this docuseries examining how convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein used his wealth and power to carry out his abuses.”

Neither documentary however deals at all with Epstein’s suspected ties to the world of intelligence.

robert maxwell with papers fileAbsent from both are Maxwell’s reported links to Israeli intelligence through her father, Robert Maxwell, former owner of The New York Daily News and The Mirror newspaper in London. Maxwell essentially received a state funeral in Israel and was buried on the Mount of Olives after he mysteriously fell off his yacht in 1991 in the Atlantic Ocean.

In an interview with Consortium News, former Israeli intelligence officer Ari Ben-Menashe said Epstein did not work with Mossad. “Military intelligence was who he was working with,” said Ben-Menashe. “Big difference,” he said. “He never worked with Mossad, and Robert Maxwell never did, either. It was military intelligence.”

In Epstein: Dead Men Tell No Tales, a book published in December, Ben-Menashe is quoted as saying he worked with Robert Maxwell who introduced his daughter and Epstein to Israeli intelligence, after which they engaged in a blackmail operation for Israel. “[Epstein] was taking photos of politicians f**king fourteen-year-old girls — if you want to get it straight. They [Epstein and Maxwell] would just blackmail people, they would just blackmail people like that,” he says in the book.

Victims’ Voices

alexander acosta o cropped CustomThe Netflix and Investigation Discovery productions allow survivors to recount their experiences in interviews as well as taped police recordings and focus on the sweetheart plea deal provided to Epstein by former Trump Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, right, during Acosta’s tenure as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

Each series outlines Epstein’s relationships with Wexner (below left), Maxwell, and a variety of elite figures. Investigation Discovery focuses on the controversy surrounding Epstein’s death while Netflix’s “Filthy Rich” examines the second attempt to prosecute Epstein in the context of the Me Too movement.

leslie wexner youtube cropped screenshot american academy of achievementOmitting the intelligence aspect of Epstein’s history allows the Establishment media to portray his case as a mysterious and unsolvable aberration, rather than perhaps a continuation of business-as-usual amongst those in power.

The glaring refusal to address Epstein’s intelligence involvement becomes clear when Investigation Discovery and Netflix’s programs discuss the role of Acosta in securing Epstein’s “sweetheart” plea deal, but do not reference Acosta’s widely reported explanation as to why Acosta agreed to the deal. As reported by The Daily Beast, Acosta claimed that he cut the non-prosecution deal because he had been told that “Epstein ‘belonged to intelligence’ and to leave it alone.”

Independent journalist Whitney Webb has reported on Epstein’s many ties with intelligence, telling CNLive! in August last year that there is evidence this included with the CIA.

“I think that one of the goals of this [Netflix] documentary is to basically imply that Epstein was the head of the operation and that now that he is dead, all of that activity has ceased,” Webb said. “If they had actually bothered to explore the intelligence angle, in some of the more obvious facts about the case, like Leslie Wexner’s role, for example, it becomes clear that Epstein was really just more of a manager of this type of operation, [and] that these activities continue.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Thousands are serving life sentences in Louisiana. A new case could give them the chance to appeal, Richard A. Webster, June 19, 2020. (print ed.). Louisiana’s so-called lifers number nearly 4,700, more than Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas combined, according to the Sentencing Project.

Three years ago, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law a major criminal justice package designed to reduce the state’s overflowing prison population. The bill, which Edwards said would make Louisiana’s title as the most incarcerated state a thing of the past, has resulted in a 6 percent overall decrease.

One part of the prison population, though, remains high: those serving life without parole. Louisiana’s so-called lifers number nearly 4,700, more than Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas combined, according to the Sentencing Project. Experts blame draconian sentencing standards and ineffective counsel. And unlike most states, Louisiana prohibits inmates from challenging their convictions on either of those grounds, permanently cementing their status.

That could change, however, as the Louisiana Supreme Court considers the case of Derek Harris, a 1991 Gulf War veteran who was prosecuted as a habitual offender after selling $30 worth of marijuana to an undercover police officer in Abbeville, La., in 2008. Harris, whose previous offenses included theft and dealing cocaine, was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, though he had no record of violent crime. Currently serving his sentence at Angola, Harris is asking the court to reinstate the ability of inmates to contest their sentences on the grounds that they are excessive and the result of inadequate legal representation.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ex-Pentagon Analyst Sentenced to 30 Months in Leak Case, Adam Goldman, June 19, 2020 (print ed.). The former counterterrorism analyst had pleaded guilty to sharing classified information with reporters about foreign weapon systems. A former Pentagon counterterrorism analyst was sentenced by a federal judge on Thursday to more than two years in prison for sharing national security secrets with a pair of reporters and a consultant.

The former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst, Henry Kyle Frese, 32, had pleaded guilty this year in federal court in Alexandria, Va., to willful transmission of top-secret national henry frese amanda macias combo Customdefense information, namely about foreign countries’ weapons systems. He had faced up to 10 years in prison.

“Frese repeatedly passed classified information to a reporter, sometimes in response to her requests, all for personal gain,” John C. Demers, the top national security official at the Justice Department, said in a statement.

The arrest of Mr. Frese was part of the Trump administration’s effort to crack down on illegal leaks of classified information, a push that dates to the second half of the George W. Bush administration and intensified under former President Barack Obama.

Mr. Frese, shown at right in a mug shot, admitted to sharing information from April 2018 to September 2019 with the two journalists, identified as Journalist 1 and Journalist 2 in court documents.

cnbc logoAccording to court documents and social media posts, Journalist 1 was Amanda Macias, shown above right, a national security reporter at CNBC, who was Mr. Frese’s girlfriend and shared a home with him.

Ms. Macias published eight articles that contained classified information related to those weapons systems, prosecutors said. The articles contained sensitive material taken from classified intelligence reports, they said.

In May 2018, Ms. Macias reported that China had installed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile system in the South China Sea. Mr. Frese shared a link to the article that she had posted on Twitter.

Prosecutors said that at least 30 times in 2018, Mr. Frese searched classified government systems for information he discussed with the reporters.

And from early 2018 to October 2019, Mr. Frese communicated with an employee of an overseas consulting group using social media, according to court papers. On at least two FBI logooccasions, prosecutors said, Mr. Frese transmitted classified information to the consultant, who was not named.

As part of its investigation, the F.B.I. wiretapped Mr. Frese’s cellphone and intercepted some of his text messages and phone calls. The government also obtained data from Twitter, where he communicated with one of the reporters.

Mr. Frese’s lawyers had argued in a court filing shortly before he was sentenced that he did not deserve more than 12 months and one day, noting that his disclosures included no sources or methods of intelligence-gathering, which are among the government’s most closely held secrets.

In April 2018, prosecutors said, Ms. Macias introduced Mr. Frese to Journalist 2, who has been identified as Courtney Kube, a reporter for NBC News covering the Pentagon. Mr. nbc logoFrese said that he was “down” to help Ms. Kube if it helped Ms. Macias’s career “progress.” Note: Both CNBC and NBC are owned by Comcast. Neither reporter was accused of any wrongdoing. Neither has reportedly commented on the case. 

The lawyers said Mr. Frese met Ms. Macias after a traumatic breakup with a long-term girlfriend. His lawyers said Ms. Macias’s “career was stalling, and she would ask Mr. Frese to share information.” They said he was a “dedicated patriot” who was “particularly susceptible to pressure and influence.”

“Mr. Frese engaged in his regrettable behavior at a time of clouded judgment and in a misguided effort to salvage a relationship that was not worth saving,” his lawyers wrote in a court document filed on Wednesday. “For that he will always be sorry.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Supreme Court shows its independence, Michael Scherer, June 19, 2020 (print ed.). As candidates of both parties pledge to name justices who will carry out their agenda, this week’s decisions by the high court underscore the shakiness of such promises.

Inside DC

jean kennedy smith jfk

Jean Kennedy Smith and her brother, President John F. Kennedy, at a Washington Senators baseball game in 1961 (Associated Press photo).

washington post logoWashington Post, Jean Kennedy Smith: 1928–2020; Kennedy sister and architect of peace in Northern Ireland dies at 92, Vincent P. Bzdek, June 19, 2020. (print ed.). She was the last of a generation of overachieving, tragedy-stalked siblings whose influence on American political life and culture has surpassed that of most any other single family.

Jean Kennedy Smith, a former U.S. ambassador to Ireland and the last of a generation of overachieving, tragedy-stalked siblings whose influence on American political life and culture has surpassed that of most any other single family, died June 17 at her home in Manhattan. She was 92.

Mrs. Smith was often described as the quiet Kennedy. She kept a lower profile than her kin, but it was hard not to when her siblings included President John F. Kennedy (shown with her above); Senators Edward and Robert Kennedy, both of whom ran for president themselves; a sister, Patricia, who wed and later divorced movie actor Peter Lawford; Joseph, a naval aviator killed in World War II; and Eunice, the founder of the Special Olympics.

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Facebook removes Trump ads with symbol once used by Nazis to designate political prisoners, Isaac Stanley-Becker, June 19, 2020. (print ed.). The red inverted triangle was first used to identify communists, and applied as well to members of other opposition parties. Facebook on Thursday deactivated dozens of ads placed by President Trump’s reelection campaign that included a symbol once used by the Nazis to designate political prisoners in concentration camps.

The marking appeared as part of the campaign’s online salvo against antifa and “far-left groups."

facebook logoA red inverted triangle was used in the 1930s to identify Communists, and was applied as well to Social Democrats, liberals, Freemasons and other members of opposition parties incarcerated by the Nazis. The badge forced on Jewish political prisoners, by contrast, featured a yellow triangle overlaid by a red triangle so as to resemble a Star of David.

The red triangle appeared in paid posts sponsored by Trump and Vice President Pence, as well as by the “Team Trump” campaign page. It was featured alongside text warning of “Dangerous MOBS” and asking users to sign a petition about antifa, a loose collection of anti-fascist activists whom the Trump administration has sought to link to recent violence, despite arrest records that show their involvement is trivial. 

Facebook removed the material following queries from The Washington Post, saying ads and organic posts with the inverted triangle violated its policy against organized hate.

“Our policy prohibits using a banned hate group’s symbol to identify political prisoners without the context that condemns or discusses the symbol,” said Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesman.

But the ads on the president’s page alone — which began running on Wednesday — gained as many as 950,000 impressions by Thursday morning. Identical ads on Pence’s page gained as many as 500,000 impressions.

Eighty-eight ads with the inverted red triangle ran in total — across pages for Trump, Pence and the official “Team Trump” page on the social network. They targeted all 50 states.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of security policy, faced questions about the ads from Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) during a Thursday hearing before the House Intelligence Committee.

“We obviously want to be careful to allow someone to put up a symbol to condemn it or to discuss it,” Gleicher told the lawmakers. “But in a situation where we don’t see either of those, we don’t allow it on the platform and we’ll remove it. That’s what we saw in this case with this ad, and anywhere that symbol is used, we would take the same action.”

Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, said, “The red triangle is an antifa symbol,” pointing to examples of iPhone cases and water bottles branded with the insignia. A more common emblem for the anti-fascist movement includes two flags, one red and one black, enclosed in a circle.

ny times logoNew York Times, Klobuchar Drops Out of Biden’s V.P. Search and Backs Picking a Woman of Color, Reid J. Epstein, Updated June 19, 2020. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota was considered a strong contender to be Joe Biden’s running mate until protests over racial justice prompted renewed scrutiny of her former role as a prosecutor.

Palmer Report, Failing Donald Trump campaign makes bizarre desperate last ditch move, Bill Palmer, June 19, 2020. Just how badly is Donald Trump currently losing the 2020 election? Even today’s new Fox News poll says that Joe Biden is ahead of Trump by double digits nationwide. With every poll showing Biden winning nationally, and most polls showing Biden winning most swing states, Trump is in deep trouble. So are the people running his failing campaign.

bill palmer report logo headerSo now the Trump campaign is trying the bizarre desperate last ditch move of demanding that Joe Biden agree to more than the three customary debates. When you consider Donald Trump’s visibly worsening physical health and collapsing cognitive abilities, sending him out there for any debates at all is a risky move. Sending him out there for additional debates is an extremely low percentage play that’s likely to backfire.

The only hope Trump has of making this work is if Biden refuses additional debates, thus allowing Trump to campaign on the notion that Biden is somehow afraid of it. This is a foolish strategy to say the least. But Trump is losing so badly, and thus has so little to lose, his campaign is trying it anyway.

June 18

Top Headlines

U.S.Virus Victims, Responses

Police Brutality Protests

World News

U.S. Economy / Jobs

Bolton Book Reactions

U.S. Courts, Crime, Injustice

Inside DC

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

 

Top Stories

djt xi

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump asked China’s Xi to help him win reelection, according to Bolton book, Josh Dawsey, June 18, 2020 (print ed.). The memoir by former national security adviser John Bolton portrays an “erratic” and “stunningly uninformed” commander in chief.

President Trump asked Chinese President Xi Jinping (shown above in a file photo) to help him win the 2020 U.S. election, telling Xi during a summit dinner last year that increased agricultural purchases by Beijing from American farmers would aid his electoral prospects, according to a damning new account of life inside the Trump administration by former john bolton room where cover Customnational security adviser John Bolton.

During a one-on-one meeting at the June 2019 Group of 20 summit in Japan, Xi complained to Trump about China critics in the United States. But Bolton writes in a book scheduled to be released next week that “Trump immediately assumed Xi meant the Democrats. Trump said approvingly that there was great hostility among the Democrats.

“He then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win,” Bolton writes. “He stressed the importance of farmers, and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome. I would print Trump’s exact words but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise.”

john bolton martha raddatz abc june 17 2020 Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump ‘unfit for office,’ lacks ‘competence,’ Bolton says in TV interview, John Wagner, June 18, 2020. Former national security adviser John Bolton says in a television interview that President Trump is “unfit for office” and lacks the “competence to carry out the job.”

Bolton made the comments to ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz (shown with Bolton above) as the former administration insider sought to promote a new book that Trump claimed in a tweet early Thursday is “made up of lies & fake stories.” Excerpts of the interview aired Thursday.

ny times logoNew York Times, China Is Collecting DNA From Tens of Millions of Men and Boys, Using U.S. Equipment, Sui-Lee Wee, June 18, 2020 (print ed.). Even children are pressed into giving blood samples to build a sweeping genetic database that will add to Beijing’s growing surveillance capabilities, raising questions about abuse and privacy.

The police in China are collecting blood samples from men and boys from across the country to build a genetic map of its roughly 700 million males, giving the authorities a powerful new tool for their emerging high-tech surveillance state.

djt xi close upsThey have swept across the country since late 2017 to collect enough samples to build a vast DNA database, according to a new study published on Wednesday by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a research organization, based on documents also reviewed by The New York Times. With this database, the authorities would be able to track down a man’s male relatives using only that man’s blood, saliva or other genetic material.

An American company, Thermo Fisher, is helping: The Massachusetts company has sold testing kits to the Chinese police tailored to their specifications. American lawmakers have criticized Thermo Fisher for selling equipment to the Chinese authorities, but the company has defended its business.

The project is a major escalation of China’s efforts to use genetics to control its people, which had been focused on tracking ethnic minorities and other, more targeted groups. It would add to a growing, sophisticated surveillance net that the police are deploying across the country, one that increasingly includes advanced cameras, facial recognition systems and artificial intelligence.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live U.S. Updates: States Face Rising Cases as Trump Says Virus Is ‘Fading Away,’ Staff reports, June 18, 2020. Oklahoma, where President Trump is planning a djt 2020 hat Customrally on Saturday, reported a record number of new coronavirus cases. Lacking guidance from the federal government, Arizona and Texas reversed course over masks. Here’s the latest.

      • U.S. states struggle with a shifting pandemic as federal guidance falls silent.
      • Stocks on Wall Street fall as the weekly tally of U.S. jobless claims again exceeds a million.
      • Antibodies may last only two months, especially in people who didn’t show symptoms, a new study finds.
      • Beijing’s outbreak prompts a backlash against salmon.
      • Reversing course, Arizona and Texas allow some local governments to require masks.
      • ‘We can’t stay inside forever’: Here’s how New Yorkers are stretching the rules. 

ny times logogarrett rolfe rashard brooks CustomNew York Times, Former Atlanta Officer Is Charged With Murder in Shooting of Rayshard Brooks, Rick Rojas and Richard Fausset, June 18, 2020 (print ed.). The charges come after Mr. Brooks was fatally shot during a confrontation outside of a fast-food restaurant. His family said prosecuting the officer, Garrett Rolfe (shown in photos with the dead man), was “the only way to heal some of these wounds.”

wayne madesen report logo

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Exclusive investigation and commentary: Last laugh -- Donald Trump as 45th President of the United States, Wayne Madsen, left, June 18, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Small2020. Thanks to some well-placed sources in the Philadelphia German-American community, WMR has been successful in discovering important details concerning the pre-World War II and wartime activities of Fred Trump, Sr.

The biography of Donald Trump's father is almost non-existent in the years between the elder Trump's arrest at a Ku Klux Klan march on Memorial Day in 1927 and his landing contracts with the U.S. Navy to build barracks and other Navy housing at key U.S. and Canadian troop embarkation ports in Chester, Pennsylvania; Boston, Massachusetts; the Brooklyn Army Base at 58th Street; Staten Island, New York; Charleston, South Carolina; and Newport News, Hampton Roads, and Norfolk, Virginia.

Police Brutality Protests

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Some Atlanta Officers Stay Home After Rayshard Brooks Charges, Staff reports, June 18, 2020. After two officers were charged in the killing of Mr. Brooks, an unusually high number of officers did not show up to work their shifts. Prosecutors say the officer who shot Mr. Brooks declared, ‘I got him.’

An attempt in Portland, Ore., to create an “autonomous zone” similar to the one in Seattle is cleared away by the police within hours.

Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Before pandemic, U.S. paid contractor billions to help prepare for biowarfare, Robert O'Harrow Jr., Jon Swaine and Aaron C. Davis, June 18, 2020 covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2(print ed.). Emergent BioSolutions is the only maker of multiple drugs the government deems crucial for the Strategic National Stockpile. But Emergent’s dominance has fueled new risks for national health preparedness, according to documents and former government officials.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates Surging cases lead to new wave of mask requirements, Staff reports, June 18, 2020. Fallen on the front lines: Hundreds of health-care workers lost their lives battling the coronavirus; A GOP sheriff vowed not to enforce Arizona’s lockdown. Now he’s tested positive for coronavirus.

U.S. Economy / Jobs

ny times logoNew York Times, Business updates: For the 13th straight week, more than a million people filed for unemployment benefits, Staff reports, June 18, 2020. Businesses are reopening, but the layoffs won’t quit.

Another 1.5 million people applied for state unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday.  It was the 13th straight week that state filings topped one million. Until the coronavirus crisis, the most new claims in a single week had been 695,000, in 1982. Claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal program for self-employed workers, independent contractors and others ineligible for standard benefits, added 760,000 to the total.

“It’s a sustained hemorrhaging of jobs unlike anything we’ve seen,” said Heidi Shierholz, director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute, a progressive think tank.

ny times logoNew York Times, M.L.B. and Union Chiefs Meet, and New Plan Offers Hope of a Season, Tyler Kepner, June 18, 2020 (print ed.). Teams would play 60 games starting in mid-July under a framework Commissioner Rob Manfred said he had reached with Tony Clark, the union head.

After weeks of acrimony and brinkmanship tactics that threatened to cancel the Major League Baseball season, Commissioner Rob Manfred said Wednesday that he had reached an understanding with Tony Clark, the head of the players’ union, on a framework to play in 2020.

Clark still must get the players’ approval to make the plan official, but Manfred said in a statement that he would encourage the league’s 30 teams to accept the terms. After requesting an in-person meeting, Manfred flew to Phoenix and held discussions with Clark for several hours on Tuesday.

ny times logoNew York Times, For-Profit Colleges, Long Troubled, See Surge Amid Pandemic, Sarah Butrymowicz and Meredith Kolodner, June 18, 2020 (print ed.). The coronavirus shutdowns have made online learning more attractive. But students at some schools say they have been taken advantage of.

ny times logoaunt jemima new logo CustomNew York Times, Aunt Jemima Brand to Change Name and Image Over ‘Racial Stereotype,’ Tiffany Hsu, June 18, 2020 (print ed.). Quaker Oats, the owner of the 131-year-old brand, said it would retire the name as it worked “to make progress toward racial equality.”

ny times logoNew York Times, With the Federal Health Megaphone Silent, States Struggle With a Shifting Pandemic, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Noah Weiland, Sarah Mervosh and David E. Sanger, June 18, 2020 (print ed.). As state and local governments confront a new wave of coronavirus infections, President Trump is sending mixed messages and Washington’s public health bully pulpit has gone silent.

Courts, Crime, Injustice

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: What Does ‘Sex’ Mean? The Supreme Court Answers, Linda Greenhouse (shown at right on the cover of her linda greenhouse cover just a journalistmemoir), June 18, 2020. We’ll soon find out whether the court inflames the culture wars or cools them as its term winds down.

Monday’s momentous Supreme Court decision protecting L.G.B.T.Q. people against workplace discrimination was so big that it crashed the court’s computer system. For nearly half an hour, those of us at home, anxiously refreshing our browsers, knew that the decision had come down but could upload only the first page of the headnote, the official summary: “Held: An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII.”

But who wrote the opinion? And what was the vote? Eventually, of course, the surprises were revealed: Justice Neil Gorsuch and 6 to 3.

In the few days since then, I’ve been pondering: What do people need to know about Bostock v. Clayton County beyond its bottom line? And where, in this mammoth set of opinions — a modest 33 pages for Justice Gorsuch but an indigestible 135 pages for the dissents — does the decision’s beating heart lie?

TheHill.com, Arizona sheriff tests positive for coronavirus ahead of meeting with Trump, Justin Wise, June 18, 2020. An Arizona sheriff who in May said that he wouldn't enforce a stay-at-home order imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic has tested positive for COVID-19.

mark lambMark Lamb, right, the sheriff of Pinal County, Ariz., revealed in a statement shared on Facebook on Wednesday that he received a positive test result after getting an invitation to meet with President Trump at the White House. Lamb was one of several officials invited to attend a White House meeting on law enforcement and the signing of Trump's executive action on policing.

Lamb said that he received a mandatory screening from the White House and that the test came back positive.

"On Saturday, I held a campaign event, where it is likely I came into contact with an infected individual," Lamb said, adding that he continued to be asymptomatic and would self-quarantine for two weeks.

Lamb added that as "a law enforcement official and elected leader," he does "not have the luxury of staying home."

"This line of work is inherently dangerous, and that is a risk we take when we sign up for the job," he said. "Today, that risk is the COVID-19 virus."

Palmer Report, Opinion: Well that just blew up in Donald Trump’s face, Ron Leshnower, June 18, 2020. By appointing Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, Trump aimed to cement conservative policies into law while relishing how he can use his appointment power as leverage against Republicans who question whether they should tolerate the cretin. This week, however, as the Supreme Court achieved a civil rights milestone, Trump lost control of his judicial appointments power game in spectacular fashion.

Gorsuch authored the majority opinion in Bostock v. Clayton County on Monday, siding with liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan as well as Chief Justice John Roberts. Noting that we live in a “society of written laws,” Gorsuch claimed that justices cannot “overlook plain statutory commands on the strength of nothing more than suppositions about intentions or guesswork about expectations.” As a result, he proclaimed: “An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.”

bill palmer report logo headerBy contrast, Kavanaugh authored a dissenting opinion, adding another bulleted item to the lengthy “On the Wrong Side of History” section of his resume. In doing so, Kavanaugh nevertheless delivered a different type of surprise. Kavanaugh first made clear that a desire to adhere to what he believes is the ordinary meaning of “discriminate because of sex” in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was his sole motivation. He then offered an unexpected and wholehearted embrace of gay rights.

brett kavanaughKavanaugh, right, called the outcome an “important victory achieved today by gay and lesbian Americans.” He also praised their “extraordinary vision, tenacity, and grit” in the battle for equality, suggesting they “can take pride in today’s result.” In a strange and almost apologetic tone, Kavanaugh signed off by reiterating that his opinion merely reflects his belief that “it was Congress’s role, not this Court’s, to amend Title VII.”

Kavanaugh’s statement is remarkable. In July 2018, days after Kavanaugh’s nomination, the National Center for Transgender Equality wrote that although Kavanaugh is a “reliable arch-conservative to the right of Justices Scalia and Gorsuch… there is a great deal we still don’t know.” The Center also cautioned that “as far as anyone can tell, in his long career he has never ruled on or written about legal issues related to LGBTQ people.”

Gorsuch’s historic opinion and Kavanaugh’s gratuitous declaration of support for the LGBTQ community do not convert these justices into liberal ones nor crown them as civil rights heroes. However, their actions should serve as a one-two punch against Trump, deflating conservative enthusiasm for his unreliable picks while shining a bright light on the fact that Trump managed to bungle this too.

Bolton Book Reactions

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Department seeks emergency order to block publication of Bolton’s book, Tom Hamburger, Rosalind S. Helderman, Devlin Barrett and Spencer S. Hsu, June 18, 2020 (print ed.). The Justice Department on Wednesday sought an emergency order from a judge to block the publication of former national security adviser John Bolton’s forthcoming White House memoir, escalating a legal battle against the former Trump aide even after many of his book’s most explosive details had spilled out into public view.

john bolton room where cover CustomThe move came after the administration filed a civil suit against Bolton on Tuesday, targeting the proceeds of the book and asking a court to order him to delay its scheduled June 23 release. Less than 24 hours later, the Wall Street Journal released an excerpt of the memoir, and lengthy accounts were published by other news organizations.

Justice Department log circularWednesday’s move sought to formally enjoin Bolton from allowing his book to be published, a legal strategy experts said was unlikely to succeed, particularly given that the book has already been printed and shipped to warehouses and copies distributed to the media for review.

In a statement, Bolton’s publisher called the court filing “a frivolous, politically motivated exercise in futility. Hundreds of thousands of copies of John Bolton’s The Room Where It Happened have already been distributed around the country and the world. The injunction as requested by the government would accomplish nothing.’’

Still, the legal show of force could satisfy President Trump, who urged aides Wednesday to seek to block the publication of the book, despite warnings that the prospects of victory in such a suit would not be strong, according to people familiar with his remarks, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations. 

 ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Five Takeaways From John Bolton’s Memoir, Peter Baker, June 19, 2020. (print ed.). The Room Where It Happened describes Mr. Bolton’s 17 turbulent months at President Trump’s side through crises and foreign policy challenges.

john bolton china allegation graphic CustomMr. Bolton, who did not testify during House proceedings and whose offer to testify in the Senate trial was blocked by Republicans, confirms many crucial elements of the Ukraine scheme that got Mr. Trump impeached in December.

He also asserts that the president was willing to intervene in criminal investigations to curry favor with foreign dictators. And he says that Mr. Trump pleaded with China’s president to help him win re-election by buying American crops grown in key farm states.

Here are some of the highlights:

1) An offer of firsthand evidence on the Ukraine matter. The book offers firsthand evidence that Mr. Trump linked his suspension of $391 million in security aid for Ukraine to his demands that Ukraine publicly announce investigations into supposed wrongdoing by Democrats, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. — the heart of the impeachment case against the president.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The Lincoln Project just seized the moment and destroyed Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, June 18, 2020. On Wednesday, the widely-hated John Bolton revealed that Donald Trump privately begged the Chinese government to help him alter the outcome of the 2020 election. While no one wants to hear from Bolton right now, his new book is bill palmer report logo headernonetheless helping to confirm the evidence we’ve seen all along that China owns Trump from top to bottom.

Now the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump Republican group that keeps finding ways to get under Donald Trump’s skin, has seized the moment. Hours after the latest Trump-China bombshell surfaced, the group released this new ad (if the video below won’t load on your device, go here instead).

MeidasTouch, Political Video: “Quid Pro Trump,” Staff report and video (Principals: Ben Meiselas, Brett Meiselas and Jordan Meiselas), June 18, 2020. The new MeidasTouch video “Quid Pro Trump,” hashtag #QuidProTrump (and available for free via YouTube here, was inspired by news concerning former United States national security advisor John Bolton’s new book.

In the book, Bolton described how Donald Trump personally asked his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, to help him win the 2020 US presidential election.

China FlagOn almost every issue from trade to national security, Trump has talked a big game when it comes to China but ultimately he has caved to the demands and will of China at each turn. We now learn from John Bolton, who has served at the highest levels of previous Republican administrations, that Trump was yet again seeking quid pro quos for himself at the expense of the country, this time from China.

While the video focuses on the recent breaking news relating to China, the hashtag #QuidProTrump is intended to emphasize that at all turns Trump has placed his own interests above the interests of this country. Trump does not negotiated or represent the United States. He represents Donald Trump and the failing enterprise know as Trump Inc. From Russia, to Ukraine, to China, Trump has turned our country into a pinata for foreign countries to whack around and take what it wishes so that Trump can seek out things for his own personal gain. Donald Trump is Quid Pro Trump! #QuidProTrump.

john bolton djt palmer images Custom

Palmer Report, Opinion: We’re way beyond impeachment now, Bill Palmer, June 18, 2020. Over the past few weeks we’ve seen Donald Trump’s approval rating plunge, thus proving that at least some Trump supporters are indeed capable of giving up on him once they’ve finally had enough of his antics. This suggests that if John Bolton had testified during the impeachment process, it could have driven Trump’s approval rating down, and prompted Republican Senators to selfishly decide to oust Trump in the hope of keeping their own political prospects alive.

bill palmer report logo headerBut that was a lifetime ago. We’re now just four and a half months away from election day. Even if John Bolton’s belated revelations do end up driving Donald Trump’s approval rating all the way into the kind of gutter that might have prompted Senate Republicans to oust him last year, it’s all but impossible to imagine them ousting him at this late date. Even if impeachment were fast tracked, the Republicans would be ousting a sitting Republican President sometime after their own party’s convention.

john bolton china allegation graphic CustomSo this raises the question of what these Republicans in the Senate and House will do if Donald Trump’s numbers keep dropping, and putting the Republicans’ election prospects in danger. Will we see Mitch McConnell privately use the threat of ouster to try to pressure Trump into announcing that he’s not running again? Will a demoralized Trump be willing to give up on the presidency and take his chances with a jury? Will we see some Republicans in moderate states and districts try to opportunistically turn against Trump as part of their reelection efforts? Is there a chance that would work?

The concern for now is that a lot of these House and Senate Republicans are so married to Donald Trump, with so little time to try to figure out how to divorce themselves before the election, they’re just going to decide they’re stuck with him. And in that case, how far will they go to try to prop up Trump’s failing candidacy? In any case, at this point, impeachment isn’t the remedy for Trump’s crimes. Prison is. If Trump loses the election, there’s little doubt left that he’ll end up behind bars. That merely makes the stakes even higher.

Inside DC

 ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Urges Rolling Back Legal Shield for Tech Companies, Cecilia Kang, June 18, 2020 (print ed.). The agency said that Congress should repeal parts of a law that has been crucial for the growth of companies like Facebook and Twitter.

facebook logoThe Justice Department released recommendations on Wednesday to pare back the legal shield for online platforms that has been crucial to their growth since the earliest days of the internet, taking a direct shot at companies like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube that have come into the cross hairs of the Trump administration.

In a 25-page recommendation, the agency called on lawmakers to repeal parts of a law that has given sites broad immunity from lawsuits for words, images and videos people have posted on their services.

washington post logoWashington Post, After departure of VOA editors, official fires heads of sister organizations, Paul Farhi, June 18, 2020. Michael Pack, a controversial Trump appointee, dismissed the director of Radio Free Europe and three other government-funded but otherwise independent news broadcasting operations.

voice of america logoThe directors of four federally funded agencies that produce news and information for international audiences have been fired by a new chief executive appointed by President Trump, in a purge that has raised concerns among Democrats about editorial meddling.

michael packCombined with the resignation of the director and deputy director of Voice of America on Monday, the firings ordered by Michael Pack, left, the new head of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, represents a clean sweep of top officials who manage government-funded but otherwise independent news broadcasting operations.

The speed and sweep of the firings — Pack began work only Monday after a bruising Senate confirmation battle — raised fears that Trump was trying to exert greater control over the output of such venerable organizations as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Middle East Broadcasting and the Open Technology Fund, the agencies whose heads Pack removed via a brief letter late Wednesday.

washington post logoWashington Post, Army officer’s role in Trump’s impeachment casts shadow over promotion, Shane Harris, Missy Ryan, Josh Dawsey and Greg Miller, June 18, 2020 (print ed.). An alexander vindman cropped oct 29 2019Army officer’s promotion is in jeopardy over what some officials fear could be White House retaliation for his role in last year’s impeachment inquiry, raising the possibility that President Trump might again intervene in military affairs, according to officials familiar with the matter.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, right, who received a Purple Heart for his actions in Iraq and later served as a White House aide on European affairs, is among hundreds of officers selected to be promoted to full colonel this year. Such promotions are typically signed off on by Army and then Pentagon leaders before moving to the White House and the Senate for a confirmation vote. The list is now with a Pentagon personnel office.

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Does Trump Want to Fight for a Second Term? His Self-Sabotage Worries Aides, Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni, June 18, 2020 (print ed.).  Advisers and allies say the president’s repeated acts of self-destruction have significantly damaged his re-election prospects, and yet he appears mostly unable, or unwilling, to curtail them.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump calls for violence after Supreme Court rules against him on DACA, Bill Palmer, June 18, 2020. This morning the Supreme Court ruled against bill palmer report logo headerDonald Trump yet again, this time in a 5-4 vote upholding DACA, a major victory for the rule of law and for immigrants. No one was expecting Trump to be happy about the ruling. But his response was so explicitly violent in nature, it’s raising eyebrows to say the least.

Here’s what Trump tweeted about the ruling:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

These horrible & politically charged decisions coming out of the Supreme Court are shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives. We need more Justices or we will lose our 2nd. Amendment & everything else. Vote Trump 2020!

It can’t be coincidence that Donald Trump is accusing the Supreme Court of firing “shotgun blasts into the face” of his supporters, while also mentioning the Second Amendment. Trump is encouraging his deranged supporters to carry out violent attacks on Supreme Court Justices. Trump should be impeached, convicted, and removed from office for this tweet alone.

huffington post logoHuffPost, Former White House Ethics Chief Reveals ‘Disturbing’ Ivanka Trump Emails, Ed Mazza, June 18, 2020. Old messages by the president’s daughter come back to haunt her in the wake of John Bolton’s book.

Ivanka Trump, President Donald Trump’s daughter and adviser, was conducting government business from a private email account before she was employed by the government, according to records getting new attention this week.

Walter Shaub, former head of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, highlighted two messages uncovered by the nonpartisan watchdog group American Oversight. He served in the ethics office for six months under then-President Barack Obama and resigned six months into the Trump presidency.

One of the messages Shaub shared on Twitter appeared to show Ivanka Trump conducting business with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos almost a month before she had an official role:

"Well now, this is disturbing. Ivanka Trump didn't become a government employee until March 29, 2017. This email is dated four weeks earlier than that. Why is she appearing to conduct government business in this email she sent while still a private citizen? 

washington post logoWashington Post, Tulsa rally site asks Trump campaign for health plan as top Okla. court considers lawsuit to stop event, Joshua Partlow, Colby Itkowitz and Annie Gowen, June 19, 2020 (print ed.). If the lawsuit prevails, it could require the venue manager to postpone the event or dramatically reduce the number of people allowed inside, to keep people some distance apart. But the specifics remain unclear.

Palmer Report, Opinion: CNN exposes Donald Trump for posting fake story that he falsely claimed was from CNN, Bill Palmer, June 18, 2020. On Thursday evening Donald Trump tweeted a video that was problematic on several levels. First, it falsely claimed that CNN had aired a story about a “racist baby” on the loose. Second, it ruined what had been a popular feel-good meme. And for good measure, the fake video somehow misspelled “toddler.”

bill palmer report logo headerTwitter responded by slapping a “Manipulated Media” warning label on Donald Trump’s tweet. CNN piled on, using its @CNNPR account to post this response: “CNN did cover this story – exactly as it happened. Just as we reported your positions on race (and poll numbers). We’ll continue working with facts rather than tweeting fake videos that exploit innocent children. We invite you to do the same. Be better.” CNN then linked to its original story from last September, which accurately reported on the two toddlers in question.

Both CNBC and NBC are owned by Comcast. Neither reporter was accused of any wrongdoing. Neither has commented on the case.

June 17

Top Stories

Virus Victims, Responses

U.S. Police Brutality Protests

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

 U.S. Law, Courts

World News

  

Top Stories

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: In reversal, red states are now adding virus cases faster than blue states, Philip Bump, June 17, 2020. If current trends hold, it is hard to see how Florida will be able to present Trump with the event he wants to hold. In fact, several states central to his reelection chances, including Florida and Arizona, have recently seen sharp increases in new coronavirus cases — increases that, despite the Trump administration’s insistences, are not obviously a function of increased testing for the virus.

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Texas, Florida and Arizona all saw highs in the number of new daily cases this week. Since June 1, the seven-day average of new cases in Texas is up more than 50 percent. In Arizona and Florida, it is up around 150 percent, more than double.

North Carolina’s rate of new cases has increased, too, but at the same rate that testing in the state has expanded. In Oklahoma, where Trump is holding a rally Saturday, the number of new cases each day has climbed 150 percent since June 1, while the number of tests being conducted has dropped.

washington post logoWashington Post, The ultimate covid-19 mystery: Why does it spare some and kill others? Joel Achenbach, Karin Brulliard and Ariana Eunjung Cha, June 17, 2020. Scientists are exploring genetic factors, including a person’s blood type, how the virus is transmitted and whether particular strains might be more lethal.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: How the Supreme Court Is Quietly Enabling Trump, Stephen I. Vladeck (professor at the University of Texas School of Law), June 17, 2020. Using emergency relief at the court, the administration has imposed controversial policies without a final determination of their legality.

In the coming weeks, the Supreme Court is expected to clear its docket of current term cases, with potential major decisions on DACA, abortion, President Trump’s financial records and public funding for religious schools. Like Monday’s ruling on L.G.B.T. discrimination, it’s a safe bet that they will generate outsize attention — and that the decisions will be deeply controversial in some quarters.

But for all of the attention that we pay to these “merits” cases on the court’s docket, the Trump administration, with a majority of the justices’ acquiescence, has quietly racked up a series of less visible — but no less important — victories by repeatedly seeking (and often obtaining) stays of lower-court losses.

Such stay orders are generally unsigned and provide no substantive analysis. But they nevertheless have the effect of allowing challenged government programs to go into full effect even though lower courts have struck them down — and often when no court has ever held them to be lawful in the first place.

Until the Trump administration, they were exceptionally rare. But they have become almost commonplace in the past three years, clearing the way for the president to proceed with many of his most controversial policies without a final determination of their legality.

The idea, at least historically, was that such emergency relief from the Supreme Court was warranted only in “extraordinary” cases — where the government would be irreparably harmed by allowing the lower-court ruling to take effect and where such harm outweighed the harm to the public of allowing a potentially unlawful program to continue operating.

washington post logogarrett rolfe mug CustomWashington Post, Ex-officer faces felony murder charge in Rayshard Brooks killing, Derek Hawkins, Matt Zapotosky and Fenit Nirappil, June 17, 2020. Former Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe, right, faces 11 charges in the shooting of the 27-year-old black man Friday, which sparked new protests in a city beset by demonstrations for weeks.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Joe Biden knocks it out of the park with impassioned speech, as Fox News sticks it to Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, June 17, 2020. Donald Trump hasn’t tweeted anything in fifteen hours, prompting people across social media to quip that perhaps the wifi has gone out in the underground bunker. Meanwhile, Joe Biden traveled to Pennsylvania to give a speech about the current state of the coronavirus crisis and economic crisis.

bill palmer report logo headerJoe Biden’s speech was impassioned, and a clear clarion call for the change in leadership that this nation desperately needs. Biden touched on Donald Trump’s failures, negligence, lies, and corrupt antics throughout the coronavirus crisis, including his deranged plan to hold a rally this weekend. But the speech itself wasn’t the biggest problem for Trump.

fox news logo SmallAll three cable news networks are increasingly shying away from Donald Trump’s press briefings, often cutting away from them long before they’re over or not airing them at all. But Joe Biden’s speech was aired nearly in full by all three networks (CNN joined late after coming back from a commercial break). That’s right, even Fox News essentially gave Biden free advertising by airing his anti-Trump speech.

Sure, Fox News then went on to bizarrely ask “where was the fire” in Joe Biden’s speech. But the point is that Fox gave Biden the opportunity to explain to Donald Trump’s own fans how Trump has been lying to them and blowing this from the start. Considering how far ahead Biden is in the polls, Fox had to air this speech in order to maintain the appearance of credibility – but Fox stuck it to Trump in the process.

 Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump pushes officials for even faster vaccine timeline, Yasmeen Abutaleb, Josh Dawsey, Laurie McGinley and Carolyn Y. Johnson, June 17, 2020. Some scientists fear regulators could come under pressure to clear a vaccine before it is fully vetted for safety and effectiveness.

washington post logoWashington Post, Hundreds of health-care workers have lost their lives battling the coronavirus, Kent Babb, Brittany Shammas and Ariana Eunjung Cha, June 17, 2020. There is no official tally of these deaths — and co-workers wonder if some of them could have been averted.

washington post logoWashington Post, Restaurants that had opened are closing again after workers test positive for coronavirus, Emily Heil, June 17, 2020.  As the virus continues to spread and diners return, restaurant workers are getting sick.

In St. Petersburg, Fla., Pete Boland spent last weekend trying to secure scarce slots for his 60 employees to get tested for covid-19. On Friday night, he had shut down his popular downtown restaurant, the Galley, after he learned several workers tested positive for the virus.

When it became clear that there was a problem — which happened to be in the middle of dinner service — he went from table to table, informing guests that it was last call and that the restaurant would be closing for safety reasons. “We weren’t trying to cover anything up,” he says.

U.S. Police Brutality Protests

 ny times logoNew York Times, Here Are the 97 U.S. Cities Where Protesters Were Tear-Gassed, K.K. Rebecca Lai, Bill Marsh and Anjali Singhvi, June 17, 2020 (print ed.). The deployment of tear gas against civilians has not been this widespread since the period of unrest in the 1960s and ‘70s, according to a New York Times analysis.

At least 97 law enforcement agencies — many in large cities — used some form of tear gas against civilians protesting police brutality and racism in recent weeks, according to an analysis by The New York Times. This brief period has seen the most widespread domestic use of tear gas against demonstrators since the long years of unrest in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, according to Stuart Schrader of Johns Hopkins University, who studies race and policing.

“Thousands and thousands of utterly ordinary people who thought they were going to an ordinary protest event are finding themselves receiving a really aggressive police response,” he said. “That itself is a bit horrifying. The police have actually succeeded in making people more angry.”

The Times reached out to police departments, and reviewed photos, videos, press briefings and police statements from hundreds of incidents across the country since May 26, when the first protests began in Minneapolis.

Guardian, Revealed: officer who killed Rayshard Brooks accused of covering up 2015 shooting, Justin Miller and Justin Glawe, June 17, 2020. The Atlanta police officer who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks was accused of covering up an earlier shooting he and other officers participated in, according to a judge who reviewed the case.

garrett rolfe mug CustomGarrett Rolfe, right, was fired by the Atlanta police department following what officials called the “unjustified” killing of Brooks on Friday. Rolfe shot Brooks twice in the back as Brooks ran away after a scuffle with officers when they attempted to arrest him. It was among a recent spate of killings of black men by white police officers, which have ignited a national uprising against police brutality and racism.

In August 2015, Rolfe and two other officers opened fire on Jackie Jermaine Harris, who they chased after he was caught driving a stolen truck, the Guardian can reveal after reviewing court documents on the incident.

However, the shooting was not reported by the police involved. Harris, like Brooks, is African American.

Harris rammed a police vehicle and officers shot at him several times inside the truck, striking Harris once and collapsing his lung. Harris survived and later pleaded guilty to charges including theft, property damage, fleeing arrest and damaging a police vehicle.

Judge Doris L Downs, during a 2016 court hearing, called the case a “disaster” and said “it’s the wildest case I’ve seen in my 34 years here.”

Downs said she was so troubled by officers failing to report the shooting that she wanted the matter investigated.

“None of the police put in the report that they shot the man – none of them. And they sent him to Grady [Memorial Hospital] with collapsed lungs and everything, and the report doesn’t mention it,” Downs said.

“I am ethically going to be required to turn all of them in.” Downs even suggested state and federal authorities get involved. She said: “What the police did was wrong, and they will have to answer for what they did.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Retropolis, The Past, Rediscovered: At least 2,000 more blacks were lynched by white mobs than previously reported, new research finds, Michael S. Rosenwald, June 17, 2020 (print ed.). The Equal Justice Initiative said its researchers have documented 6,500 lynchings between 1865 and 1950, including 2,000 attacks during Reconstruction that weren’t tallied in its previous reports.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump signs police reform that focuses on training, Felicia Sonmez, Mike DeBonis and David Nakamura, June 17, 2020 (print ed.). The president’s proposal falls short of the more sweeping policy changes activists have called for following the death of George Floyd.

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump plots a comeback based on the economy. Biden seeks to block him, Sean Sullivan and Ashley Parker, June 17, 2020 (print ed.). By almost every indicator, President Trump’s reelection bid is in peril. But the economy is a rare bright spot for him in the polls against presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

President Trump’s advisers are plotting a political turnaround centered on his stewardship of the economy, seeking to exploit a rare bright spot in the polls against Joe Biden and vowing to usher in the “great American comeback” after the country plunged into a financial free fall on his watch.

Biden, under growing pressure from Democratic allies to wage a more aggressive rebuttal, plans to sharpen his economic focus in coming weeks with the rollout of new proposals to stimulate job creation, according to a senior campaign adviser. The campaign also plans to intensify its drive to remind voters of Trump’s sluggish response to the novel coronavirus and the unemployment spike that followed.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Tulsa mayor calls Trump’s visit an ‘honor’ despite requests to cancel or postpone campaign rally, Joshua Partlow, Annie Gowen and DeNeen L. Brown, June 17, 2020. Many residents say the event will exacerbate racial tensions and the spread of the novel coronavirus as the president’s supporters and protesters convene on Saturday.

U.S. Law, Courtsjohn bolton djt palmer images Custom

 ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Administration Sues to Try to Delay Publication of Bolton’s Book, Maggie Haberman and Katie Benner, June 17, 2020 (print ed.). The Trump administration sued theformer national security adviser John R. Bolton, above, on Tuesday to try to delay the publication of his highly anticipated memoir about his time in the White House, saying it contained classified information that would compromise national security if it became public.

The book, The Room Where It Happened, is set for release on June 23. Administration officials have repeatedly warned Mr. Bolton against publishing the book.

Mr. Bolton “had negotiated a book deal allegedly worth about $2 million and had drafted a 500-plus-page manuscript rife with classified information, which he proposed to release to the world,” the Justice Department said in a lawsuit against Mr. Bolton filed in federal court in Washington.

Mr. Bolton’s lawyer, Charles Cooper, has said that his client acted in good faith and that the Trump administration is abusing a standard review process to prevent Mr. Bolton from revealing information that is merely embarrassing to President Trump, but not a threat to national security.

On Monday, Mr. Trump accused Mr. Bolton of violating policies related to classified information by moving ahead with the book.

But the book has already been printed and bound and has shipped to warehouses, which could make it more difficult for the administration to stop Mr. Bolton’s account from becoming public.

Mr. Bolton submitted the manuscript to the administration for review in January. At the time, the impeachment inquiry was underway into whether Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine constituted an abuse of power.

Democrats asked Mr. Bolton to testify voluntarily in the House impeachment inquiry, but he declined, and they never sought a subpoena, fearing a protracted court fight. Mr. Bolton offered to testify in the impeachment trial in the Senate, where Republicans control the majority. They declined to call him.

ABA Journal, Judicial Watch founder Larry Klayman is suspended for switching sides after leaving the group, Debra Cassens Weiss, June 17, 2020. Judicial Watch founder Larry Klayman has been suspended for 90 days and ordered to take a continuing legal education course on conflicts of interest.

larry klayman file circa 2012The District of Columbia Court of Appeals suspended Klayman, left, in a June 11 opinion. The court cited three instances of alleged misconduct in which Klayman switched sides in Judicial Watch matters after leaving the conservative watchdog group, in which he was general counsel.

Klayman is frequently in the news. He filed a $20 trillion lawsuit in March against China that alleged that the novel coronavirus was a bioweapon that was recklessly or accidentally released.

He also represents former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore in three lawsuits, AL.com reports. Two of the suits relate to Moore’s Senate campaign, and the third is a defamation suit against comedian and actor Sacha Baron Cohen.

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals cited these factual findings:

• While at Judicial Watch, Klayman provided legal advice to the organization when an employee complained that she was subject to a hostile work environment for several weeks in 2003. After Klayman and the woman both left Judicial Watch, the woman sued in Florida state court over the alleged hostile environment. After a trial court tossed the case, Klayman entered an appearance for the woman, filed a motion to vacate, and filed an appellate brief after the motion was denied.

• While employed at Judicial Watch, in 2002, Klayman solicited a donation as part of a campaign to raise funds to purchase a building for Judicial Watch. A woman paid $15,000 out of a $50,000 pledge. Judicial Watch did not buy a building. After Klayman left Judicial Watch, he and the donor sued Judicial Watch. The woman’s suit was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds, and she refiled in Washington, D.C., superior court. Klayman entered an appearance as co-counsel for the donor. The parties eventually stipulated to dismissal of the case.

• While at Judicial Watch, in 2001, the group agreed to represent a person to evaluate legal issues stemming from his fundraising activities during an election campaign for the New York state Senate in 2000. Klayman drafted the representation agreement and a later modification. Judicial Watch withdrew from the representation after Klayman’s departure. The person later sued Judicial Watch for allegedly breaching the representation agreement, and Klayman entered an appearance on his behalf.
Larry Klayman Larry Klayman. Image from Shutterstock.com.

The federal judge presiding in the breach of representation litigation disqualified Klayman but said the plaintiff was “a needy client who could not otherwise have afforded legal services,” and there was “a legitimate debate” about Klayman’s conduct.

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals said the disciplinary counsel had proven that Klayman “flagrantly violated” the ethics rule on duties to former clients on three occasions.

“His misconduct was not isolated, and, it appears, he acted vindictively and ‘motivated by animus toward Judicial Watch’ (with which he had developed an acrimonious relationship),” the court said.

The court said it agreed that Klayman’s misconduct, which involved switching sides, was intentional, and it deserved “the serious sanction” of a 90-day suspension.

But the appeals court said it thought that Klayman can practice law ethically, and he won’t have to show fitness to practice law before being reinstated.

Klayman told the ABA Journal in an email that he plans to seek a rehearing. “The order is not final, and I am petitioning for rehearing before the three-judge panel and en banc, if necessary,” Klayman said. “I have 14 and 30 days from the date of the order to do so.

“Thus, the three-month suspension is not currently in effect and will not affect my ongoing cases at this time.

“As the three-month suspension is relatively short, it will not affect my ongoing cases, if and when the order or a modified order becomes final.

“In any event, there was no showing of dishonesty, and I was only trying to protect a former client, my surrogate mother, who had her donation misappropriated to buy a building to house Judicial Watch, but which 17 years later, it still has not bought despite raising $1.4 million, and a Miami office manager who was harassed by Judicial Watch after I left. I thought I was doing the right thing at the time.”

Klayman said he represented the donor, the office manager and the third person pro bono because they could not afford to retain counsel. He also emphasized that he switched sides with regard to Judicial Watch, not with regard to other clients.

New South Books, Book Announcement: Don Siegelman exposes the corruption of a politicized judicial system in his powerful book 'Stealing Our Democracy,' Staff Report, June 17, 2020. In a searing political memoir, former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman explodes the myth of an impartial U.S. justice system.

don siegelman stealing our democracy CustomHe should know. Arguably the most successful and promising politician in modern Alabama history, his three-decade career in public service ran afoul of Republican opponents who used the federal judicial system to take him out of contention in Alabama and nationally. Siegelman was sentenced to 88 months in federal prison and served five years. With long stretches in solitary confinement, he was a literal political prisoner, cut off from media interviews and outside contact.

Stealing Our Democracy reveals how Siegelman’s political enemies — including politicized prosecutors and a corrupt judge — stripped him of his freedom and his career, and more importantly brought an era of progressive Democratic populism in Alabama to an end. Don Siegelman is the only politician in Alabama history to hold all the state’s top constitutional offices.

He narrowly lost a bid for reelection in 2002 when the vote total changed overnight after the polls had closed in a Republican-controlled county. However, Siegelman remained widely popular in Alabama and was given good odds of regaining the governor’s office in 2006.

But as that campaign was getting underway, he was indicted — wrongfully, according to scores of attorneys general from states across the nation — convicted, and given a harsh prison sentence by a prosecutor and judge with links to GOP operative Karl Rove. Now 73, Siegelman has devoted himself to promoting judicial and prison reform.

"Stealing Our Democracy is every bit as compelling as Kafka's The Trial. The governor's book reveals how the Department of Justice, used as a political weapon, is threatening America's democracy. Siegelman’s story is astonishing, compelling, and infuriating."

Thom Hartmann, America's #1 progressive talk show host, bestselling author

World News

India map flag

washington post logoWashington Post, 20 Indian soldiers die in first deadly clashes with China in 45 years, Joanna Slater, Gerry Shih and Niha Masih, June 17, 2020 (print ed.). India and China have China Flagbeen embroiled in tensions at several spots along the border since May.

ny times logoNew York Times, In China-India Clash, Two Nationalist Leaders With Little Room to Give, Steven Lee Myers, Maria Abi-Habib and Jeffrey Gettleman, June 17, 2020.  Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi have sought to project a muscular global profile despite their countries’ problems. Backing down could hurt their efforts.

Xi Jinping of China and Narendra Modi of India probably did not intend to ignite a clash on their border on Monday, high in the Himalayas, that killed 20 Indian troops and may have resulted in Chinese casualties, too. Yet the leaders of the two nuclear-equipped countries now confront a military crisis that could spin dangerously out of control.

“The sovereignty and integrity of India is supreme, and nobody can stop us in defending that,” Mr. Modi said on Wednesday in a short televised speech, breaking his public silence over the incident. He vowed that “the sacrifice of our soldiers will not be in vain.”

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: China's Trojan horse inside the Trump administration and family, Wayne Madsen, left, June 17, 2020. Donald Trump's constant bluster and saber-Wayne Madsenrattling against China may be a smoke screen to hide a close business relationship between the government and business sector of the People's Republic of China and Blackwater mercenary company founder Erik Prince, the brother of Trump Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and close friend of Donald Trump Jr.

Prince is a former Navy SEAL, whose original Blackwater seed money came from contracts with the U.S. Navy, CIA, and State Department. Prince is also reportedly close to Trump's other son, Eric Trump. On November 9, 2019, Prince attended a major GOP gala event at the Yale Club New York.

Prince, the owner of the Abu Dhabi-based mercenary firm Reflex Responses (R2) and a principal stakeholder in the Hong Kong-based Frontier Services Group (FSG) holding company, which was incorporated in Bermuda, has become the security "muscle" behind the operations of the Chinese state-owned China Nonferrous Metal Mining (Group) Co., Ltd. (CNMC) in Africa.

Africa.

strategic culture logoStrategic Culture Foundation via OpEdNews, Why U.S. Is a Major Human Rights Violator, Wayne Madsen, June 17, 2020. Under Donald Trump the United States has graduated from systemic human rights violator to human rights pariah as witnessed by recent murders and assaults by police of innocent people on the streets of America

The U.S. State Department annually publishes an extremely biased report on human rights around the world. Conveniently, the report omits one of the most systemic violators of human rights on the planet. Under Donald Trump, the United States has graduated from systemic human rights violator to human rights pariah, as witnessed by recent murders and assaults by police of innocent people on the streets of America. Although the United States has historically been more than willing to criticize the human rights policies of other countries, including in the venue of the United Nations, it has bristled at attempts to have brought forth in the international body its own human rights outrages.

The latest attempt to point to the abject failure of America's abiding by the precepts of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a project overseen by Eleanor Roosevelt, has come in the form of a June 8 petition for the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to "swiftly convene a special session to investigate the escalating situation of police violence and repression of protests in the United States." The letter was signed by the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown, and Philando Castile - African-Americans murdered by American police forces - along with 600 human rights groups in the United States and abroad.

The plea to the UN was led by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the U.S. Human Rights Network and included as signatories hundreds of groups representing Black, Brown, and Indigenous Peoples in the United States and around the world. The letter to the Human Rights Council states: "We are deeply concerned about the escalation in violent police responses to largely peaceful protests in the United States, which included the use of rubber bullets, tear gas, pepper spray, and in some cases live ammunition, in violation of international standards on the use of force and management of assemblies including recent UN Guidance on Less Lethal Weapons. Additionally, we are greatly concerned that rather than using his position to serve as a force for calm and unity, President Trump has chosen to weaponize the tensions through his rhetoric, evidenced by his promise to seize authority from Governors who fail to take the most extreme tactics against protestors and to deploy federal armed forces against protestors (an action which would be of questionable legality).

June 16

Top Stories

U.S. Police Brutality Protests

Virus Victims, Solutions

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

U.S. Economy

 U.S. Law, Courts

World News

Inside DC

 

Top Stories

supreme court headshots 2019

ny times logoNew York Times, Civil Rights Law Protects L.G.B.T. Workers, Supreme Court Rules, Adam Liptak, June 16, 2020 (print ed.). Landmark Decision on Workplace Discrimination Law. The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a landmark civil rights law protects gay and transgender workers from workplace discrimination, handing the movement for L.G.B.T. equality a stunning victory.

supreme court CustomThe vote was 6 to 3, with Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, below right, writing the majority opinion. He was joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

neil gorsuch february 2017The case concerned Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars employment discrimination based on race, religion, national origin and sex. The question for the justices was whether that last prohibition — discrimination “because of sex”— applies to many millions of gay and transgender workers.

The decision, covering two cases, was the court’s first on L.G.B.T. rights since the retirement in 2018 of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinions in all four of the court’s major gay rights decisions.

Those decisions were grounded in constitutional law. The new cases, by contrast, concerned statutory interpretation.

Lawyers for employers and the Trump administration argued that the common understanding of sex discrimination in 1964 was bias against women or men and did not encompass discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. If Congress wanted to protect gay and transgender workers, they said, it could pass a new law.

The court considered two sets of cases. The first concerned a pair of lawsuits from gay men who said they were fired because of their sexual orientation. The second was about a suit from a transgender woman, Aimee Stephens, who said her employer fired her when she announced that she would embrace her gender identity at work.

Lawyers for the workers responded that discrimination against employees based on sexual orientation or transgender status must as a matter of logic take account of sex.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Low-Cost Steroid Is First Drug Shown to Reduce Virus Deaths, Study Says, Staff reports, June 16, 2020. Scientists at the University of Oxford said a 6,000-patient trial showed a low-cost steroid could reduce deaths significantly for hospitalized patients.

Scientists at the University of Oxford said on Tuesday that they have identified what they called the first drug proven to reduce coronavirus-related deaths, after a 6,000-patient trial of the drug in Britain showed that a low-cost steroid could reduce deaths significantly for hospitalized patients.

The steroid, dexamethasone, reduced deaths by a third in patients receiving ventilation, and by a fifth in patients receiving only oxygen treatment, the scientists said. They found no benefit from the drug in patients who did not need respiratory support.

Matt Hancock, Britain’s health secretary, said National Health Service doctors would begin treating patients with the drug on Tuesday afternoon.

The number of prison inmates known to be infected across the United States has doubled during the past month, to more than 65,000. Here’s the latest.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s health scandal just got even uglier for him, Bill Palmer, June 16, 2020. In the past six months since he was mysteriously taken to Walter Reed Medical Center, we’ve seen a marked decline in Donald Trump’s physical health and cognitive abilities. Yet Trump and his White House have gone to great lengths to cover up whatever is wrong with him – even going so far as to blame a ramp after Trump couldn’t walk down it.

If Trump would simply be honest about his health problems, it could turn out to be something that’s not even disqualifying. But his ongoing insistence on lying to the American people about his serious health issues is 100% disqualifying. Trump keeps trying to make the scandal go away by obsessively talking about it, which never works. Now it’s gotten even uglier for him.

The Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump republican group famous for being a thorn in Donald Trump’s side, just released this devastating new ad about Trump’s health scandal (if the video below doesn’t load on your device, go here instead):

Again, the real story here isn’t that Donald Trump has a health issue. If he’s merely become physically disabled in some way, who cares? He can still do the job just fine. But whatever is wrong with him, he’s lying about it. That becomes even more problematic when you consider that his physical health problems appear to be accompanied by cognitive health problems – which could be disqualifying. Americans deserve answers, and if we keep up the pressure, Trump is going to have to deliver answers, or resign to avoid providing those answers.

voice of america logo

 washington post logoWashington Post, Top Voice of America editors resign amid strife with White House, Paul Farhi and Elahe Izadi, June 16, 2020 (print ed.). The White House in April accused the international news service of promoting Chinese propaganda in its coronavirus reporting.

The top two editors at Voice of America resigned Monday amid White House criticism of the government-funded but editorially independent news agency and as a new overseer loyal to President Trump was about to take office.

amanda bennett 2017It wasn’t immediately clear why VOA Director Amanda Bennett, right, and Deputy Director Sandy Sugawara submitted their resignations. In a memo to staff on Monday, they jointly wrote, “It is time for us to leave,” but cited no specific reason other than the arrival of Michael Pack, a Trump appointee who will head the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which oversees VOA. Pack, below at left, is an ally of Stephen K. Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist.

They added, “As the Senate-confirmed C.E.O., he has the right to replace us with his own VOA leadership.”

Their departure comes amid concerns within the agency that the Trump administration is seeking to exert greater control over what and how VOA reports.

michael packThe organization’s relationship with the Trump administration was already fraught, but over the weekend, a new rift developed. After news emerged that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had instructed its communications staff to deny interviews to VOA reporters — a policy prompted by the White House’s criticism of the agency — Bennett issued a strongly worded statement condemning the policy.

“Efforts such as those outlined in the CDC memo can result in the kind of chilling effect on our journalism that we regularly see in the markets we broadcast to that have no free press,” she wrote.

The White House in April launched an extraordinary public attack on VOA, accusing it of promoting Chinese government propaganda in its reporting on the coronavirus outbreak. It also said VOA advanced the views of regimes of countries hostile toward the United States, such as Iran.

U.S. Police Brutality Protests

 ny times logoNew York Times, Here Are the 97 U.S. Cities Where Protesters Were Tear-Gassed, K.K. Rebecca Lai, Bill Marsh and Anjali Singhvi, June 16, 2020. The deployment of tear gas against civilians has not been this widespread since the period of unrest in the 1960s and ‘70s, according to a New York Times analysis.

At least 97 law enforcement agencies — many in large cities — used some form of tear gas against civilians protesting police brutality and racism in recent weeks, according to an analysis by The New York Times. This brief period has seen the most widespread domestic use of tear gas against demonstrators since the long years of unrest in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, according to Stuart Schrader of Johns Hopkins University, who studies race and policing.

“Thousands and thousands of utterly ordinary people who thought they were going to an ordinary protest event are finding themselves receiving a really aggressive police response,” he said. “That itself is a bit horrifying. The police have actually succeeded in making people more angry.”

The Times reached out to police departments, and reviewed photos, videos, press briefings and police statements from hundreds of incidents across the country since May 26, when the first protests began in Minneapolis.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Retropolis, The Past, Rediscovered: At least 2,000 more blacks were lynched by white mobs than previously reported, new research finds, Michael S. Rosenwald, June 16, 2020. The Equal Justice Initiative said its researchers have documented 6,500 lynchings between 1865 and 1950, including 2,000 attacks during Reconstruction that weren’t tallied in its previous reports.

washington post logoWashington Post, Police detain armed militia members after man is shot at Albuquerque protest, Katie Shepherd, June 16, 2020 (print ed.). Gunfire left one man in critical condition and set off a public outcry denouncing the presence of the New Mexico Civil Guard, an unregulated militia.

Protesters in Albuquerque wrapped a chain around the neck of a bronze statue and began tugging, chanting “Tear it down,” shortly before sunset on Monday. Their efforts to pull down a monument of Spanish conquistador Juan de Oñate suddenly stopped as four shots rang out.

Most people instinctively turned toward the noise, videos from the scene show. A few screamed. Just yards away, a group of militia men sporting militarylike garb and carrying semiautomatic rifles formed a protective circle around the gunman.

The gunshots, which left one man in critical but stable condition, have set off a cascade of public outcry denouncing the unregulated militia’s presence and the shooting, although police have yet to announce an arrest or describe exactly what happened. The victim is also unidentified.

“The heavily armed individuals who flaunted themselves at the protest, calling themselves a ‘civil guard,’ were there for one reason: To menace protesters, to present an unsanctioned show of unregulated force,” New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) said in a statement. “To menace the people of New Mexico with weaponry — with an implicit threat of violence — is on its face unacceptable; that violence did indeed occur is unspeakable.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Vehicles striking protesters raise echoes of 2017 Charlottesville attack, Neena Satija, Emily Davies and Dalton Bennett, June 16, 2020 (print ed.). In at least 19 cases in the past few weeks, witnesses or police say civilian vehicles were driven through crowds of protesters after the death of George Floyd.

In at least eight of the events, a driver faces charges for what prosecutors described as a deliberate act, according to arrest and court filings.

That includes the event in Richmond, where prosecutors say the driver sought to intimidate protesters with his truck and hit one demonstrator’s bicycle, running over the cyclist’s foot. According to court documents, the driver told police he is a high-ranking official of the Ku Klux Klan.

In Illinois, a motorcyclist was charged with hate crimes and aggravated battery after police said he plowed into a demonstration in Bloomington.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump signs police reform that focuses on training, Felicia Sonmez, Mike DeBonis and David Nakamura, June 16, 2020. The president’s proposal falls short of the more sweeping policy changes activists have called for following the death of George Floyd.Virus Victims, Solutions

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: A president who promised to put ‘America First’ instead turned us into this, Dana Milbank, right, June 16, 2020 (print ed.). We just regained our worldwide lead dana milbank Customin reported new cases, passing Brazil, with nearly 24,000 per day. USA! USA! We have had a world-leading 2.1 million infected and 116,000 dead. Much of the world doesn’t want America’s infected hordes traveling there.

Who can blame them? Other governments took the pandemic seriously and responded competently. Ours didn’t, and doesn’t. The willy-nilly reopening here, with safety requirements ignored and inadequate contact tracing, has allowed the virus to spread in much of the country, particularly in states that were most reckless in their reopenings.

And President Trump undermines what few restraints there are, scheduling mass rallies, beginning with an indoor event this week in Tulsa against the pleading of the local health director. Trump won’t “give the press the pleasure” of wearing a mask (one of the most important factors in safe reopening), which ensures many of his supporters won’t, either.

The effects of the careless reopening are now becoming clear. Health-care investment-research firm Nephron, in a report Sunday, finds that the quartile of states that opened earliest has seen a 26 percent increase in cases, while the second-fastest quartile has seen a 7 percent increase. The third and fourth quartiles went down, 31 percent and 9 percent, respectively. “It is patently obvious that states that removed stay-at-home restrictions earlier are seeing worse trends in case growth this month,” Nephron concluded.

Among the 14 earliest states, many of which ignored public health recommendations, nine have seen increases: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, Missouri, Montana, Idaho and Alaska. In the second group, Arizona, California and North Carolina are particularly alarming.

It didn’t have to be this way. Japan, where subways are busy and nightclubs are hopping, benefits from a culture that embraces mask-wearing. Virus-free New Zealand, with back-to-normal sporting events and concerts, benefits from being an island nation. But what about Tunisia, Morocco, Chad, Dominica, Barbados, Uruguay, Cambodia, Thailand, Montenegro, Croatia, Fiji, Iceland and Australia? They’re also on the list of the 15 countries that a German data analysis company, Iunera, identified as being “on a successful path to recovery.” South Korea, the Czech Republic and others have also done well. Is America not as “great” as them?

“It’s just political will,” Andy Slavitt, a top health-care official in the Obama administration, told me Monday. “Are you willing to suffer short-term pain for a lot of long-term gain? Obviously, the president wasn’t.” The behavior of Trump, and of like-minded governors operating with his encouragement, is self-defeating, for it delays the restoration of commerce and the return to normal that countries around the world are now savoring..

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

washington post logojennifer rubin new headshotWashington Post, Opinion: If Republicans are struggling in Iowa, they are in deep trouble, Jennifer Rubin, right, June 16, 2020. If Republicans are struggling in Iowa, they are in deep trouble. In the latest Des Moines Register poll, Trump is ahead by a point (a statistical tie) over former vice president Joe Biden. Trump won Iowa in 2016 by about 10 points. If a nine-point shift occurs nationwide, Biden would win not only North Carolina, Arizona, Florida, Minnesota, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania but also Texas and Ohio. In other words, Trump would be thrashed, and Republicans in down-ballot races would suffer huge losses.

washington post logoWashington Post, Liberal groups slam Biden’s response to police protest movement, Annie Linskey, June 16, 2020 (print ed.). More than 50 liberal groups signed a letter Monday to presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden criticizing his response to the emerging protest movement against police brutality, warning that failing to embrace a more joe biden 2020 button Customaggressive agenda risks alienating the African American voters he needs to win the election.

The letter pointed to Biden’s recent promise to add $300 million for community policing programs, a plan that activists say would undermine their efforts to push for systemic changes, such as defunding police forces.

“It is a slap in the face to black folks,” said LaTosha Brown, the head of Black Voters Matter, an Atlanta-based civil rights group that signed on to the letter. “We’re in the middle of the largest uprising and protests against policing and unfair and unjust policing, and the biggest supporters to your campaign have been black people, and you come out and say you’re going to reward the police? What message does that send?”

ny times logoNew York Times, Covid-19 Changed How We Vote. It Could Also Change Who Votes, Michael Wines, June 16, 2020 (print ed.). In presidential election years, state driver licensing offices and registration drives generate a torrent of new voters. The pandemic has cut that to a trickle.

U.S. Economy

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Market Madness in the Pandemic, Paul Krugman, right, June 16, 2020 (print ed.). Why are investors rushing to buy junk? Encouraged by the Fed-induced paul krugmanrecovery of stocks from their March lows, some investors began buying. Their optimism became a self-fulfilling prophecy, as initial gains led more cautious investors to join in, driven by FOMO — fear of missing out. It looked a lot like the dot-com bubble of the 1990s, except on a vastly accelerated timetable.

Although there is some dispute about how important they were, most of the evidence suggests that a major role in this apparent bubble was played by small investors — “retail bros” — pursuing get-rich-quick dreams. Some of these exuberant investors were people who normally bet on sports and were looking for an alternative source of excitement. And as the Hertz example shows, they didn’t care much about quality.

U.S. Law, Courts

ny times logoNew York Times, Conservative Christians See ‘Seismic Implications’ in Court’s Ruling, Elizabeth Dias June 16, 2020. A decision that protects the rights of gay and transgender workers could impact how conservative groups operate their own institutions.

For conservative Christian groups, Monday’s Supreme Court ruling protecting the rights of gay and transgender workers was not only the latest sign that they are losing the American culture wars over sexuality. It also caused widespread concern that it could affect how they operate their own institutions.

Many faith-based organizations, like schools or nonprofits, do not allow L.G.B.T. people to work there, citing religious beliefs that sex should only be between a man and a woman who are married.

“No question it is going to make it harder to defend our religious freedom, as far as an organization being able to hire people of like mind,” said Franklin Graham, who leads Samaritan’s Purse, a large evangelical relief group.

“I find this to be a very sad day,” he said. “I don’t know how this is going to protect us.”

The employment of L.G.B.T. workers in religious institutions has been an issue across the country. In recent high-profile cases, teachers at Catholic schools in Washington State and Indiana have said they were forced to leave because of their sexual identity.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Surprise! Justice on L.G.B.T.Q. Rights From a Trump Judge, Michelle Goldberg, right, June 16, 2020 (print ed.). So much for “But Gorsuch.” The Supreme Court michelle goldberg thumbruled on Monday that gay and transgender people are protected from workplace discrimination by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the decision.live4m ago87 comments

Before Monday, you could legally be fired for being gay, bisexual or transgender in 26 states. Now the court has ruled that gay and transgender people are protected by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sex. The decision has extra cultural force because it was written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, a Trump appointee, and joined by the conservative chief justice John Roberts.

 washington post logoWashington Post, A judge’s all-courthouse email sparks debate over removal of Confederate symbols, Ann E. Marimow, June 16, 2020. Judge Laurence H. Silberman, a senior judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, described in the message his “opposition to the madness proposed by Senator Warren: the desecration of Confederate graves” and noted that his ancestors had fought on opposite sides of the Civil War.

ABA Journal, Many would-be lawyers are allowed to practice law without exam in Washington state, Debra Cassens Weiss, June 16, 2020. Graduates of ABA-accredited law schools who are registered for the July or September bar exam in Washington state can skip the test and still practice law.

According to a Washington Supreme Court order, those would-be lawyers can practice under the diploma privilege if they are registered to take the test for the first time or for a repeated time.

The June 12 order also allows those registered to take the July exam to become a limited license legal technician to practice their craft without taking the test.

The Utah Supreme Court was the first to announce it is allowing some would-be lawyers to practice law without taking the bar exam during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those allowed to practice must have been registered to take the July bar exam and must have graduated from ABA-accredited law schools with first-time bar passage rates of at least 86%.

Those who have failed a bar exam and don’t have a law license elsewhere are not eligible for diploma privilege practice in Utah. The state also requires 360 hours of supervised practice by a lawyer who has practiced law at least seven years, including at least two years in Utah.

Both Utah and Washington say the diploma privilege option is a temporary accommodation.

Wisconsin has long allowed in-state law graduates to practice law in the state without taking the bar exam.

The Washington Supreme Court had initially rejected a diploma privilege proposal, Law.com reports. The publication spoke with Seattle University Law Dean Annette Clark, who had asked the court to reconsider.

“I think what really tipped it was the killing of George Floyd and the unrest that happened after that,” Clark told Law.com. “You take everything the graduates had already been experiencing, then you throw that into the mix. We — the faculty and administration — were hearing from our graduates of the physical and emotional toll that all of this was taking.”

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump administration nominates American to head Inter-American Development Bank, breaking with tradition, Karen DeYoung, June 16, 2020. A Latin American has led the bank since its founding in 1959, and some countries may oppose the move.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.N. Human Rights Council to turn attention to ‘systemic’ racism in United States, Adam Taylor, June 16, 2020. A draft resolution calls for a high-level investigation into U.S. racism and police violence.

washington post logoWashington Post, Hong Kong families, fearing a reign of terror, prepare to flee the city, Shibani Mahtani and Rachel Cheung, June 16, 2020 (print ed.). A new law approved by the Communist Party to take effect this summer will allow China’s powerful state security agencies to operate in the territory, paving the way for political purges and intimidation of government critics by secret police. Officials are pushing to impose party propaganda in schools.

With their political freedoms deteriorating, nurses, lawyers, business people and other skilled workers are rushing to renew documents that could provide a pathway to residency in Britain, or finding ways to emigrate to Taiwan, Canada or Australia.

Applications for police certificates required to emigrate soared almost 80 percent to nearly 21,000 in the latter half of 2019 from a year earlier, even before the advent of the security law, coinciding with a crackdown on pro-democracy protests. Animal rescue groups have reported an increase in surrendered dogs as their owners leave Hong Kong. Protesters fearing persecution have sought refuge in Germany, the Netherlands and United States.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, NOAA leaders violated agency’s scientific integrity policy, ‘Sharpiegate’ probe finds, Andrew Freedman and Jason Samenow, June 16, 2020 (print ed.). No punishments have been proposed, despite the violations.

An investigation conducted on behalf of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has found that agency leadership violated its scientific integrity policy through actions that led to the release of a statement that backed President Trump’s false statement about the path of Hurricane Dorian, according a new report.

The NOAA statement, issued Sept. 6, 2019, contradicted its own meteorologists at a weather forecast office in Birmingham, Ala.

The scandal over the forecast for Hurricane Dorian has come to be known as “Sharpiegate,” after President Trump displayed a modified NOAA forecast map during an Oval Office briefing to depict the storm threatening Alabama.

June 15

Top Stories

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

U.S. Prisons

U.S. Police Brutality Protests

Inside DC

World News

Virus Victims, Responses

Media News

 

Top Stories

ny times logoNew York Times, Virus Live Updates: F.D.A. Withdraws Approval of Malaria Drugs Promoted by Trump, Staff reports, June 15, 2020. The United States Tennis Association plans to hold the 2020 U.S. Open as originally scheduled in New York, but without spectators; A swath of Beijing was locked down as the government rushed to contain a new outbreak. Here’s the latest.

fda logoThe Food and Drug Administration said Monday that it was revoking emergency authorization of two malaria drugs to treat Covid-19, saying that they are “unlikely to be effective.”

The drugs, hydroxychloroquine and a related drug, chloroquine, were heavily promoted by President Trump after a handful of small, poorly controlled studies showed that they could work in treating the disease.

Mr. Trump even took hydroxychloroquine after he was exposed to two people who had tested positive for the coronavirus. The agency said that after reviewing some data, it had determined that the drugs, particularly hydroxychloroquine, did not demonstrate benefits that outweighed their risks. Earlier this year, the F.D.A. issued a warning that the drugs could cause alarming heart arrhythmias.

In March, the F.D.A. authorized stockpiles of the drugs to be used in hospitals to treat patients with the virus. But in a letter Monday revoking the authorization, the agency said that further studies have shown that the two drugs were unlikely to be effective in stopping the virus, and that current national treatment guidelines don’t recommend using them outside of clinical trials.

anthony fauci graphic Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: As cases rise, Fauci says some ‘normality’ could be a year away, Staff reports, June 15, 2020 (print ed.). It has quelled outbreaks of Ebola, allowed smallpox to be corralled before being vanquished by a vaccine, and helped turn HIV into a survivable illness. And whenever a new infectious disease emerges, contact tracing is public health’s most powerful weapon for tracking transmission and figuring out how best to protect the population.

But now, as coronavirus cases are surging in hot spots across the country, the proven strategy’s efficacy is in doubt: Contact tracing failed to stanch the first wave of coronavirus infections, and today’s far more extensive undertaking will require 100,000 or more trained tracers to delve into strangers’ personal lives and persuade even some without symptoms to stay home. Health departments in many of the worst-affected communities are way behind in hiring and training those people. The effort may also be hobbled by the long-standing distrust among minorities of public health officials, as well as worries about promising new technologies that pit privacy against the public good.Contact tracing is ‘best’ tool we have until there’s a vaccine, say health experts

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2With coronavirus cases rising in states across the country, Anthony S. Fauci, the top U.S. infectious-disease expert (shown above in a file photo), warned waves of infection could come “back and forth” for months and said it could be about a year before things return to normal.

New infections are trending upward in at least 21 states across the South and West, prompting some governors to rethink reopening plans and renewing concerns that the country could be a long way from containing the pandemic. Alabama, Oregon and South Carolina are among the states with the biggest increases. Alabama saw a 92 percent change in its seven-day average, while Oregon’s seven-day average was up 83.8 percent and South Carolina’s was up 60.3 percent.

Here are some significant developments:

      • As states relax restrictions, public health experts say wide-scale contact tracing is the price that must be paid to reopen safely. And time is of the essence.
      • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has put in place a review of the country’s two-meter (six-foot) social distancing policy as businesses are desperate to reopen.
      • Chile’s health minister resigned Saturday as the country’s daily coronavirus fatalities continue to spike.
      • Beijing reported 36 cases on Sunday, the largest number of new daily cases announced in the city since the outbreak began.
      • Tulsa’s top health official voiced concerns Saturday about the coronavirus spreading at President Trump’s planned rally in the city on June 20.
      • Washington state health officials warned Saturday that coronavirus transmission is increasing in the eastern part of the state.

ny times logoNew York Times, Slowing the Coronavirus Is Speeding the Spread of Other Diseases, Jan Hoffman and Ruth Maclean, June 15, 2020 (print ed.). Many mass immunization efforts worldwide were halted this spring to prevent spread of the virus at crowded inoculation sites. The consequences have been alarming. This spring, after the World Health Organization and UNICEF warned that the pandemic could spread swiftly when children gathered for shots, many countries suspended their inoculation programs. Even in countries that tried to keep them going, cargo flights with vaccine supplies were halted by the pandemic and health workers diverted to fight it.

Now, diphtheria is appearing in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. Cholera is in South Sudan, Cameroon, Mozambique, Yemen and Bangladesh. A mutated strain of poliovirus has been reported in more than 30 countries.

And measles is flaring around the globe, including in Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Nigeria and Uzbekistan.

washington post logoWashington Post, Contact tracing is public health’s most powerful weapon right now, Frances Stead Sellers and Ben Guarino, June 15, 2020 (print ed.). But as virus cases surge, the proven strategy is in doubt.

It has quelled outbreaks of Ebola, allowed smallpox to be corralled before being vanquished by a vaccine, and helped turn HIV into a survivable illness. And whenever a new infectious disease emerges, contact tracing is public health’s most powerful weapon for tracking transmission and figuring out how best to protect the population.

But now, as coronavirus cases are surging in hot spots across the country, the proven strategy’s efficacy is in doubt: Contact tracing failed to stanch the first wave of coronavirus infections, and today’s far more extensive undertaking will require 100,000 or more trained tracers to delve into strangers’ personal lives and persuade even some without symptoms to stay home. Health departments in many of the worst-affected communities are way behind in hiring and training those people. The effort may also be hobbled by the long-standing distrust among minorities of public health officials, as well as worries about promising new technologies that pit privacy against the public good.

Contact tracing failed to stanch the first wave of coronavirus infections, and today’s far more extensive undertaking will require 100,000 or more trained tracers to delve into strangers’ personal lives.  ICE logo

Reuters via MSN, U.S. Supreme Court snubs Trump on challenge to California 'sanctuary' laws, Ted Hesson and Jan Wolfe, June 15, 2020. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed President Donald Trump a defeat in his legal showdown with the most-populous U.S. state, declining to hear his administration's challenge to "sanctuary" laws in California that protect immigrants from deportation.

The justices left in place a lower court ruling that upheld the bulk of three laws in the Democratic-governed state that limit cooperation with federal immigration enforcement authorities. The Trump administration had appealed that ruling to the high court.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Supreme Court rules against Donald Trump three times in one morning, Bill Palmer, June 15, 2020. Most of the headlines right now are focused on the Supreme Court’s surprise landmark 6-3 ruling that LGBT employees are protected under the Civil Rights Act. This is a huge deal, and something that we’ve long been fighting for. But it’s not the only major SCOTUS ruling today that’s gone against Donald Trump.

bill palmer report logo headerThe LGBT ruling is a clear (and well deserved) slap in Trump’s face, because just a few days ago, he moved to eliminate LGBT patient rights. But the Supreme Court also made a de facto ruling this morning when it announced that it was refusing to hear a case that Trump’s DOJ was pursuing over sanctuary cities. In so doing, the court confirmed that cities are not legally obligated to help Trump with his pursuit of undocumented immigrants. SCOTUS also refused to hear a case john roberts head shoulderstoday from the gun lobby.

All three of these Supreme Court moves are blows to Donald Trump and his agenda. It’s a reminder that you never know what John Roberts, right, is up to, because his rulings are based on whatever he thinks will make him the power broker on the court. It’s also becoming difficult to predict how Neil Gorsuch will vote, as he appears to be trying to play a watered down version of Roberts’ game.

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Why the Republicans’ 2020 strategy is to keep as many people as possible from voting, Fred Hiatt, June 15, 2020. What does it say about a political party when its chief strategy is to prevent as many people as possible from voting — and its leader admits as much?  That is where Republicans find themselves heading into the 2020 election.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosFor the latest, breathtaking example of this pathology, look at Iowa. On June 2, Iowa held a highly successful primary, with record turnout — and Republicans in the state legislature immediately initiated action to ensure the success is not repeated in the fall.

Yes, not repeated. For many Republicans, a high-turnout, no-chaos election is a result to be avoided at all costs.

When they bother to justify this extraordinarily destructive campaign, Republicans generally pretend they are fighting election fraud. Fraud does exist — most recently, committed by Republicans in a North Carolina congressional race — but it is rare. Absentee voting would not greatly increase the risk, particularly if Congress adequately funded state election offices for the emergency — which, in another chaos-enhancing move, Republican senators are refusing to do.

Then in March, as he is wont to do, Trump gave the game away. Referring to a Democratic proposal to allow more vote-by-mail, he said, “They had things — levels of voting that, if you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

whowhatwhy logoWhoWhatWhy, Record Turnout for Georgia Primary Despite Tech Problems, Darlena Cunha, June 15, 2020. Democratic turnout on June 9 was three times higher than in the 2016 primary, but activists worry that the computerized voting system can be hacked in November. Nearly a million Democrats turned out last Tuesday to vote in Georgia’s primary election. That is triple the number that cast a vote in 2016. The process came under fire after it was plagued by machine breakdowns, confusion, and hours-long wait times — in addition to health concerns due to the coronavirus.

While Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said he would launch an investigation into the primary day problems — which occurred disproportionately in minority counties — his office is blaming local elections officials. Those officials in turn have criticized the state, insisting that it is Georgia’s responsibility to train staff to deal with the new election equipment, recently introduced simultaneously throughout the entire state.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosEven without the machines breaking down, activists say the vote is not secure with this new system, in which Georgia invested hundreds of millions of dollars. Three different stages of the voting process are now computerized, but the new system creates no permanent records. As a result, there is no backup for comparison, should a recount be necessary. Voters sign in via computerized pollbooks, then use touchscreens to input their ballot choices. A paper is printed out with a code that records the actual vote, but this code can only be read by a machine. The paper is, in the end, fed into a scanner that reads the code and counts the vote.

Besides the fact that it is impossible for any human being to read the actual vote for verification, a myriad of other problems and security concerns arise when voters face this complicated, multi-step system. If the machines are hacked, for instance, the entire system can go down, since the votes are recorded as encrypted QR codes. If those codes are re-rigged with negative instructions, a malfunction might occur, losing or miscalculating all the votes.

U.S. Police Brutality Protests

washington post logoWashington Post, Vehicles striking protesters raise echoes of 2017 Charlottesville attack, Neena Satija, Emily Davies and Dalton Bennett, June 15, 2020. In at least 19 cases in the past few weeks, witnesses or police say civilian vehicles were driven through crowds of protesters after the death of George Floyd.

In at least eight of the events, a driver faces charges for what prosecutors described as a deliberate act, according to arrest and court filings.

That includes the event in Richmond, where prosecutors say the driver sought to intimidate protesters with his truck and hit one demonstrator’s bicycle, running over the cyclist’s foot. According to court documents, the driver told police he is a high-ranking official of the Ku Klux Klan.

In Illinois, a motorcyclist was charged with hate crimes and aggravated battery after police said he plowed into a demonstration in Bloomington.

NBC News, Police killing of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta ruled a homicide, Tim Stelloh, Updated June 15, 2020. Authorities in Georgia ruled Sunday that the fatal police shooting of Rayshard Brooks outside an Atlanta Wendy's was a homicide. Brooks, 27, died after he was shot twice in the back on Friday, the Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office said in a statement. Brooks was shot after a confrontation with two Atlanta police officers in the parking lot.

Police had been summoned there on a report of a man sleeping in his car in the drive-through.

rayshard brooks CustomBrooks, shown in a file photo at right, struggled with the officers after they administered a field sobriety test and tried to take him into custody. Surveillance video appears to show Brooks running away from the officers with a stun gun that he'd taken from one of them, said Vic Reynolds, director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

While running, Brooks appeared to turn around and point the weapon at police, Reynolds said. "At that point, the Atlanta officer reaches down and retrieves his weapon from his holster, discharges it, strikes Mr. Brooks there on the parking lot, and he goes down."

L. Chris Stewart, an attorney for Brooks' family, said Brooks shouldn't have faced deadly force because he appeared to have a stun gun.

"Of extreme concern in the murder of Rayshard Brooks is the fact that he was shot in the back multiple times while fleeing," Stewart and law partner Justin Miller said in a statement Saturday.

washington post logoWashington Post, Killing of black man in Atlanta spurs fresh outrage, Felicia Sonmez, Hannah Dreier, Brittany Shammas and Haisten Willis, June 15, 2020 (print ed.). The Fulton keisha lance bottoms cnn CustomCounty district attorney said he will decide this week whether to press charges in the death of Rayshard Brooks on Friday night. Atlanta's mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, is shown at right in a file photo from a CNN interview.

Atlanta’s top prosecutor said his office will decide this week whether to bring charges against the police officer who shot Rayshard Brooks, a black man whose killing outside a Wendy’s on Friday sparked a fresh wave of protests against police violence in the Southern city and added fuel to nationwide anger over racial injustice.

Family members on Sunday recalled Brooks as a good father who was getting his life back together when he was shot and killed in a confrontation with Garrett Rolfe and another Atlanta police officer after a DUI stop.

Public outrage mounted across the country over the weekend, as demonstrators in New York, Los Angeles and other cities and towns took to the streets for the latest in a wave of protests prompted by last month’s killing of another black man, George Floyd, in the custody of Minneapolis police.

The Independent via Yahoo, ‘I just don’t understand how any of them can sleep’: Parents of seven-year-old allegedly maced at Seattle protest speak out against police, Louise Hall, June 15, 2020. The parents of a seven-year-old child who was allegedly sprayed with mace by police at a peaceful protest in Seattle have spoken out about the traumatising incident.

Footage of the protest that showed the boy screaming in pain while protesters attempt to help by using a milk-like substance to wash the child’s eyes went viral online at the beginning of June. The video also shows protesters confronting the officers allegedly involved in spraying the child and asking for their badge numbers. One officer allegedly refused to give the protesters his badge number.

Mando Avery, the father of the seven-year-old, told The Guardian that he and his son had just finished praying with members of their church as part of a peaceful anti-racism protest when a police officer fired mace at the group which hit his son in the face.

When asked by the newspaper what he would say to police about the alleged incident he said: “I would say that you were targeting my boy.”

“I don’t know if you were trying to set an example and strike fear into him. You did a great job,” Mr Avery said.

The boy’s father also claimed that officers and a group of emergency medical technicians standing about a block away did not try to assist his son.

“No officer, who’s paid to protect, chose to stand up, break the ranks, go help this child,” he told the outlet.

“I just don’t understand how any of them can sleep.”

The child’s name is being withheld to protect his privacy.

The Guardian contacted the Seattle police department for comment, and was referred to the city’s Office of Police Accountability (OPA), which said it was expediting its investigation into the incident.

The OPA reportedly said the “child pepper spray case” was “currently being investigated. We should have a public update on the progress soon.”

The department reported at least 12,000 complaints, of which a majority were related to Mr Avery’s son, the newspaper reported.

U.S. Prisons

New Yorker, Punishment by pandemic, Rachel Aviv, June 15, 2020 (June 22 print ed.). 'Cruel and unusual punishment’ in Arkansas’ prison system.

In a penitentiary with one of the U.S.’s largest coronavirus outbreaks, prison terms become death sentences. After inmates complained, an official argued that their conditions were not “ones that today’s society does not tolerate.”

Every morning, more than a hundred men at Cummins Unit go to work on the Hoe Squad. Dressed in white, they pile into an open trailer, and a tractor pulls them deep into the prison’s fields. Cummins sits on nearly eighteen thousand acres of land and has a hundred and ten thousand chickens, two thousand cattle, and forty-one horses. The men on the Hoe Squad pull weeds, dig ditches, and pick cotton, cucumbers, and watermelons.

Arkansas is one of only a few states where prison labor is free. (Other states pay a nominal wage, such as ten cents an hour.) A dozen “field riders”—officers on horseback, wearing cowboy hats—patrol the inmates, and, if anyone lags, they threaten to “call the truck”: a major will drive the inmate to a group of isolation cells known as the Hole.

In late March, the men at Cummins began questioning the logic of going into the fields during the pandemic. Raynor, whose mother had been a corrections officer at another prison in Arkansas, said, “I counselled the men that they were endangering their health by continuing to squish into a trailer, shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip.”

Inside DC

ny times logoNew York Times, A War Against Climate Science, Waged by Washington’s Rank and File, Lisa Friedman, June 15, 2020. Efforts to block research on climate change don’t just come from the Trump political appointees on top. Lower managers in government are taking their cues, and running with them.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump ally takes over crisis-ridden Postal Service, Jacob Bogage, June 15, 2020. The Senate’s top Democrat late Sunday asked the U.S. Postal Service’s governing board to turn over communication with the White House about the appointment of new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a sign that Democrats plan to press the Trump administration on its plans to consolidate control of the nation’s mail service.

us mail logoMinority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote to Postal Service board of governors chairman Robert M. Duncan questioning whether DeJoy, a seasoned businessman and top fundraiser for President Trump who took office Monday, was “selected for reasons of politics or patronage” and how he’ll distance himself from the GOP and his vast financial portfolio.

The letter is the latest salvo in a growing political battle over the future of the USPS. As the Trump administration has sought to leverage the agency’s deteriorating finances to exert more control over its operations, congressional Democrats have pushed back to keep the USPS independent. DeJoy is an unusual selection as postmaster general because of his business and political ties — he ran a former Postal Service contractor that processed mail and maintained postal infrastructure — but it remains to be seen how he’ll run the agency.

U.S. Law and Courts

Preet Bharara, right, President Obama's U. S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, with U.S. Attorney Gen. Eric Holder (2011 Department of Justice Photo).

Preet Bharara, right, President Obama's U. S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, with U.S. Attorney Gen. Eric Holder (2011 Department of Justice Photo).

OpEdNews, Opinion: I Did What I Believe Was Best for America, Preet Bharara, June 15, 2020. My name is Preet Bharara, I had the honor of serving as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 2009 to 2017. Recently, I have received dozens of calls from journalists and read a number of articles claiming I was the lynch pin, the center of gravity, in a long running Mafia-style government protection racket.

Many of these young journalists do not remember the magnitude of the crisis this country faced with the 2008 financial crisis. Two of this nation's largest financial institutions, Lehman Brothers and Bear Sterns, had just collapsed. The nation was reeling from the discovery that there were trillions of dollars in near worthless mortgage backed, bonds floating through our financial markets. The country was facing a liquidity crisis and the real possibility that all our major banks could fail.

It was a terrible time for all American's, including myself. Our Southern District Office was getting inundated with hundreds of criminal complaints regarding securities fraud. Many of the complaints came into us without any evidence but many more, presented compelling evidence of criminal wrongdoing. As an Officer of the Court and an employee of the Department of Justice, my job was to enforce the laws of the United States fairly, regardless of a person's wealth, race, religion or political connections.

Back in 2009, I shared my belief that we were suffering this historic financial crisis due to the criminal activities of about a dozen Wall Street firms and less than one hundred Wall Street executives. I shared this with President Obama, Attorney General Holder, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Senator Chuck Schumer, Senator Mitch McConnell and the current and former SEC Chairmen. They all came back to me and said that this was not the time to punish those responsible. It was a time for everyone to focus on a solution. I was told over and over again, punishing the Wall Street executives and their firms would only multiply the damage done by their activities.

I was torn. We had this relatively small group of companies and their executives committing massive financial fraud. Fraud on such a scale that it almost destroyed our fragile democracy and they were untouchable. They would not be held to the same laws as the rest of the country. They were special and had a get out of jail card not available to anyone else. In 2009, I believed the argument that prosecuting these individuals and their companies could push America off the cliff it was now hanging on to. I believed my commitment to what was best for America should supersede my obligations as a United States Attorney. So, I acted accordingly. No American firm was properly investigated or prosecuted by the Department of Justice.

It wasn't until a few years later that I started to read about the immense amount of political donations made to key politicians by the very same firms that committed this fraud. I started to wonder if I did what was best for this country or was it the best solution for our Senators and Congressmen. I had an uneasy feeling, but still clung to the belief that I did what was best for America.

Justice Department log circularIn 2012, we started to receive criminal complaints about securities fraud related to Detroit municipal bonds. As had happened in 2008, many were just unsupported complaints, but many were well documented and compelling. What concerned me the most, was that the complaints were nearly identical to the 2008 mortgage backed, bond crisis. The offering documents were fraudulent. The credit ratings on the bonds were wholly misleading. Claims were made that the banks knew the bonds were no good but sold the municipal bonds to their best customers anyway. It was the same core group of Wall Street financial institutions and executives. I spoke to the President, the Attorney General, the Treasury Secretary and the SEC Chairman. They all reminded me of Eric Holder's, directive, not to prosecute Wall Street firms.

We recommended that those responsible for the Detroit bankruptcy be charged. Holder overruled an internal recommendation by a Justice Department prosecutor due to concerns that prosecuting the banks and rating agencies would have adverse consequences on the financial system. Now I was truly frustrated. I was clearly executing two types of justice. One for the politically connected and another for everyone else. This time, I followed the money. Sure enough, the firms involved in this criminal activity flooded the Senate and the Congress with record breaking, political donations. I pointed this out to Attorney General, Eric Holder and he reminded me that I serve at his pleasure and the pleasure of the President. It was my job to follow the Administration's policies. Once again, I did not act. I understood that I was a lawyer and not an Investment Banker, maybe others in the Administration knew better. I reasoned, that if I went along with the Administration, I would have many more opportunities to serve this country.

Before we were able to get a handle on the Detroit bankruptcy, we started to get flooded with credible claims of securities fraud taking place in Puerto Rico. Before long, it was clear the island was teetering on bankruptcy, as well. This time the numbers were staggering. The complainants identified the same three Wall Street credit rating agencies and many of the same banks involved with the Detroit bankruptcy and the 2008 financial crisis. The evidence of criminal wrongdoing was overwhelming. It was our determination that the likely cause of the Puerto Rico bankruptcy was securities fraud, not the island's tax policy or shipping restrictions claimed by many journalists.

jack lew oThis time Eric Holder and later, Loretta Lynch instructed me to leave it alone. I was told that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, right, would head an Administrative effort to find a solution. Record amounts of money flowed to Senators and Congressmen and no one was criminally charged. The vast majority of that money came from firms involved in this municipal bond fraud. Firms and individuals that were never prosecuted. I later found out Secretary Lew was the COO of one of the major banks involved in all of this fraud. Now Secretary Lew was constructing a solution that would insulate his former bank from prosecutions and fines. When Eric Holder left his position, he went to work for one of the law firms that represented the banks involved in the 2008 mortgage bond crisis, the Detroit bankruptcy and the Puerto Rico bankruptcy

People say hindsight is 20/20. But in 2008 I suspected nothing was going on. If you were to ask me in 2008 if our political leaders were funding their campaigns by selling protection from prosecution and regulatory action, I would have given you a resounding no. If you were to ask me today, I would suggest that a Special Prosecutor be appointed to look at the evidence and make an independent determination.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Hong Kong families, fearing a reign of terror, prepare to flee the city, Shibani Mahtani and Rachel Cheung, June 15, 2020. A new law approved by the Communist Party to take effect this summer will allow China’s powerful state security agencies to operate in the territory, paving the way for political purges and intimidation of government critics by secret police. Officials are pushing to impose party propaganda in schools.

With their political freedoms deteriorating, nurses, lawyers, business people and other skilled workers are rushing to renew documents that could provide a pathway to residency in Britain, or finding ways to emigrate to Taiwan, Canada or Australia.

Applications for police certificates required to emigrate soared almost 80 percent to nearly 21,000 in the latter half of 2019 from a year earlier, even before the advent of the security law, coinciding with a crackdown on pro-democracy protests. Animal rescue groups have reported an increase in surrendered dogs as their owners leave Hong Kong. Protesters fearing persecution have sought refuge in Germany, the Netherlands and United States.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Boris Johnson still promising to get Brexit done, even amid pandemic and economic collapse, William Booth, Quentin Aries and Karla Adam, June 15, 2020. U.K. and E.U. leaders met virtually on Monday for their first high-level talks in months.

washington post logoWashington Post, American Paul Whelan convicted of spying by Russia, Isabelle Khurshudyan, June 15, 2020. The former Marine was sentenced to 16 years of hard labor in a Russian prison. Former Marine Paul Whelan was sentenced to 16 years of hard labor in a Russian prison for espionage Monday, the conclusion to a case that has added tension to already strained relations between the United States and Russia.

Whelan, 50, said throughout the trial that he was framed. His lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, said his client was unwittingly handed a flash drive containing “state secrets” while visiting Russia for a wedding in late 2018. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Whelan was caught “red-handed.”

Whelan has said he thought the flash drive that he received from an acquaintance contained holiday photos. He said Monday that he plans to appeal the court’s decision.

Now that Whelan has been convicted, speculation is rife about a possible prisoner exchange with the United States. Zherebenkov, Whelan’s attorney, said Monday that “Paul expected this decision because even when he was detained, he was told [by Russian security service agents] that he would be exchanged.”

Without revealing his source, Zherebenkov said he was told Konstantin Yaroshenko, a pilot who was arrested in 2010 for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the United States, and Viktor Bout, a gun runner who inspired the 2005 Hollywood film “Lord of War,” are the people the Kremlin is focused on as possible trades for Whelan’s release.

Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Inspectors general warn Congress that Trump administration is blocking scrutiny of bailout programs, Tom Hamburger, Jeff Stein, Jonathan O'Connell and Aaron Gregg, June 15, 2020. Two officials warned lawmakers last week of previously undisclosed administration legal opinions that aim to shield parts of the $2 trillion Cares Act from oversight. The White House has also taken steps to block the identities of small business borrowers.

The Trump administration’s intensifying efforts to block oversight of its coronavirus-related rescue programs are raising new alarms with government watchdogs and lawmakers from both parties amid concerns about the anonymity of companies receiving unprecedented levels of taxpayer funds.

Government watchdogs warned members of Congress last week that previously unknown Trump administration legal decisions could substantially block their ability to oversee more than $1 trillion in spending related to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter to four congressional committee chairs Thursday, two officials in charge of a new government watchdog entity revealed that the Trump administration had issued legal rulings curtailing independent oversight of Cares Act funding.

The letter surfaced amid growing bipartisan outrage over the administration’s decision not to disclose how it is spending hundreds of billions in aid for businesses. On Monday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin appeared to bow to that pressure, saying he would work with Congress on new oversight measures. But some Democrats have said the White House is not taking disclosure requests seriously enough.

      •  Washington Post, Live Updates: Roughly 50,000 businesses have permanently closed since March, Yelp data shows, Staff reports

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), Analysis: COVID-19 Projections for Total U.S. Deaths by Oct. 1,  2020: 201,129 deaths, Staff report, June 15, 2020. 
projected by October 1, 2020. Current total: 114,000 deaths. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) is an independent global health research center at the University of Washington.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Come on, this can’t be real, Bill Palmer, June 15, 2020. The coronavirus never really went away in the United States; Donald Trump just pretended it did, and a bunch of states started “reopening” without any valid reason for doing so. Now we’re seeing record numbers of new cases in various states, even multiple NFL teams now say their players have begun testing positive.

bill palmer report logo headerBut don’t tell any of this to Donald Trump, who is trying to convince us that the numbers are only going up because we’re doing so much testing, and that if we would just stop testing people, our numbers would go down.

Wait, this tweet can’t be real, can it? Trump is pushing the notion that if weren’t testing people, they wouldn’t have even have coronavirus. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this line of rhetoric from him – but it’s the most blatant. It’s like the guy’s brain has dissolved completely into jello.

ny times logoNew York Times, She Survived the Coronavirus. Then She Got a $400,000 Medical Bill, Joseph Goldstein, June 15, 2020. Patients who were treated for the virus are largely supposed to be exempt from receiving large bills. Janet Mendez started receiving bills soon after returning in April to her mother’s home from Mount Sinai Morningside hospital, where she nearly died of Covid-19. First, there was one for $31,165. Unable to work and finding it difficult to walk, Ms. Mendez decided to put the bill out of her mind and focus on her recovery.

The next one was impossible to ignore: an invoice for $401,885.57, although it noted that the hospital would reduce the bill by $326,851.63 as a “financial assistance benefit.” But that still left a tab of more than $75,000.

“Oh my God, how am I going to pay all this money?” Ms. Mendez, 33, recalled thinking. The answer came to her in about a second: “I’m not going to be able to pay all this.”

Ms. Mendez is optimistic that her insurance company will cover a large part of the costs, but only after receiving a series of harassing phone calls from the hospital about payment.

A spokesman for the hospital told The Times that Ms. Mendez erroneously received a bill that should have gone directly to her insurance company or the government. Coronavirus patients, through a series of federal aid packages, are supposed to be largely exempt from paying for the bulk of their care.

But mistakes are likely to occur, particularly given the number of people who have recently lost their health insurance amid an economic downturn and widespread job loss. And when they do happen, patients like Ms. Mendez will be the ones to have to sort out the complicated billing process at a time when they are still recovering from Covid-19.

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, The Pandemic Claims New Victims: Prestigious Medical Journals, Roni Caryn Rabin, June 15, 2020. Two major study retractions in one month have left researchers wondering if the peer review process is broken. One study promised that popular blood-pressure drugs were safe for people infected with the coronavirus. Another paper warned that anti-malaria drugs endorsed by President Trump actually were dangerous to these patients.

The studies, published in the New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet, were retracted shortly after publication, following an outcry from researchers who saw obvious flaws.

The hasty retractions, on the same day this month, have alarmed scientists worldwide who fear that the rush for research on the coronavirus has overwhelmed the peer review process and opened the door to fraud, threatening the credibility of respected medical journals just when they are needed most.

Peer review is supposed to safeguard the quality of scientific research. When a journal receives a manuscript, the editors ask three or more experts in the field for comments. The reviewers’ written assessments may force revisions in a paper or prompt the journal to reject the work altogether. The system, widely adopted by medical journals in the middle of the 20th century, undergirds scientific discourse around the world.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: John Bolton made a tragic mistake. It’s not the one you might think, George T. Conway III, right, June 15, 2020 (print ed.). John Bolton made a mistake. It’s not george conway postthe one you may think it is.

The former national security adviser’s memoir about his experiences working for President Trump will arrive on June 23. For months, the book has triggered criticism that Bolton put commercial profit over country by saving his depiction of Trump for the book, instead of providing it under oath during Trump’s impeachment proceedings last winter. A new wave of such criticism hit Bolton on Friday, when his publisher revealed more about what’s in the book.

In short: Trump is as bad as we thought, perhaps worse. According to the publisher, Bolton will describe Trump as “a president for whom getting reelected was the only thing that mattered, even if it meant endangering or weakening the nation.” Bolton even “argues that the House committed impeachment malpractice by keeping their prosecution focused narrowly on Ukraine when Trump’s Ukraine-like transgressions existed across the full range of his foreign policy.”

The only way to make sense of Bolton’s behavior is to recognize that he actually did intend and expect to testify. He wanted to testify, but wanted to appear to be forced to do it. Perhaps he thought that, as a reluctant witness, he’d be less open to being caricatured as a disgruntled, discharged adviser, and his credibility would have been enhanced. So he insisted on a court order to appear before the House.

When that didn’t happen, Bolton began virtually begging to testify: But Bolton made one fateful misjudgment. 

maria ressa rappler

National Press Club, Club and its Journalism Institute speak out against wrongful conviction of journalist Maria Ressa, Lindsay Underwood, June 15, 2020. The following is a statement national  press club logofrom National Press Club President Michael Freedman and National Press Club Journalism Institute President Angela Greiling Keane on the conviction yesterday in a Manila Court of Maria Ressa, right, Executive Editor of Rappler:

We are deeply concerned and disappointed to learn of the conviction of crusading journalist Maria Ressa on charges of cyber libel. The Government of the Philippines has repeatedly charged Ms. Ressa over the last several years with a variety of bogus counts trying very hard to get something to stick.

Make no mistake they are looking to silence her outspoken and fearless voice, which is often in opposition to many of the restrictive and illegal policies of the npc journalism institute logogovernment. The people of the Philippines lose an important voice if Ms. Ressa is silenced -- as does the world. It was not long ago in January of 2019 that Maria Ressa was named among the group honored as “Persons of the Year” in Time magazine's issue on Press Freedom. Time was right to place a spotlight on her courage and remarkable achievements as a journalist. We must all stand up for Maria Ressa at this critical time.

We invite her to come to the National Press Club right now if she will be allowed to make the trip. We are anxious to hear from her.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Ted Cruz completely humiliates himself and takes “Gym Jordan” down with him, Bill Palmer, June 15, 2020. Yesterday, actor and activist Ron Perlman got into an hours-long Twitter feud with Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz. Suffice it to say that Perlman won handily. Perlman then turned his sights on Republican Congressman Jim Jordan, who didn’t seem interested in feuding. But then Republican Senator Ted Cruz, of all people, stepped in and tried to begin fighting on Jordan’s behalf. It didn’t go well.

bill palmer report logo headerTed Cruz tweeted this at Ron Perlman: “Listen Hellboy. You talk good game when you’ve got Hollywood makeup & stuntmen. But I’ll bet $10k—to the nonpolitical charity of your choice—that you couldn’t last 5 min in the wrestling ring w/@Jim_Jordan w/o getting pinned. You up for it? Or does your publicist say too risky?”

This tweet is so unbecoming of someone in Ted Cruz’s position, the words “United States Senator” began trending as everyone pointed out the inappropriateness. In addition, Cruz isn’t exactly helping Jordan’s case by reminding everyone of how Jordan allegedly worked to cover up a sexual abuse scandal when he worked at Ohio State.

Ron Perlman quickly put Ted Cruz in his place: “I tell you what teddy boy, since mentioning jim jordan and wrestling is… problematic, why don’t we say ... you & me. I’ll give 50k to Black Lives Matter and you can keep all the tax payer money you were thinking of spending.”

June 14

Top Stories

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President Trump shown on June 1 outside the parish rectory of St. John’s Episcopal Church, which was damaged during a night of unrest near the White House (Photo Credit: Doug Mills/The New York Times). “He did not pray,” said Mariann E. Budde, the Episcopal bishop of Washington. “He did not mention George Floyd, he did not mention the agony of people who have been subjected to this kind of horrific expression of racism and white supremacy for hundreds of years.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Lafayette Square clash, still reverberating, becomes an iconic episode in Trump’s presidency, Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker, June 14, 2020 (print ed.). With his triumphal stride to historical St. John’s Episcopal Church, made after federal authorities forcibly removed peaceful protesters, he had hoped to dispel the narrative of him hiding in the secured White House bunker. The results have been politically calamitous.

President Trump, besieged by a long season of crisis, wanted to create an iconic moment.

Less than one hour after federal authorities forcibly removed peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square, the president emerged with military leaders from the fortified White House — the air still thick with the acrid smell of tear gas — to pose for pictures holding a Bible in front of a historical church.

The moment was indeed iconic. But it spawned yet another crisis for the president.

The succession of images from Lafayette Square on June 1 has reverberated for nearly two weeks — a harrowing cable news split-screen that now has enduring consequences for Trump and outsize symbolism for a nation broken after yet another black man died in the custody of police.

Axios Sneak Peek, 1 big thing: Scoop—Trump's loyalty cop clashes with agency heads,Jonathan Swan, June 14, 2020. President Trump, in a highly unusual new effort, has begun making significant staffing changes inside top federal agencies without the consent — and, in at least one case, without even the knowledge — of the agency head, according to officials familiar with the effort.

This campaign — helmed by Trump's loyalty enforcer, a 30-year-old former body man who now runs hiring for the government — is part of the systematic purging or reassigning of those deemed insufficiently supportive of Trump.

us dhs big eagle logo4The effort's pace has alarmed top officials, according to 11 current and former officials with direct knowledge of the situation.
Behind the scenes: Trump has empowered John McEntee, director of the Presidential Personnel Office, in a way his predecessors never were. In his short time on the job, McEntee has flexed this power, steamrolling Cabinet officials and agency heads to install his chosen candidates.

An extraordinary scene played out late in the morning on March 26, according to two administration officials with direct knowledge of the events, when Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of Homeland Security, learned he would have a new head of public affairs at his agency.

 A crucial position such as this would normally be appointed only with the agency head's support. But Wolf learned about his new public affairs chief, Alexei Woltornist, by reading the White House's public press release.

Wolf was furious, according to these sources. He called the White House Situation Room to try to reach McEntee to find out how this could happen without his knowledge, let alone consent. And he complained privately to colleagues about how PPO treated him.

McEntee's new team has clashed with multiple other agencies, including the Pentagon. McEntee has overruled Defense Secretary Mark Esper on a number of important appointments, which we detail in this story.

In response to this reporting, White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews said in a statement: "John McEntee is an invaluable member of the White House and he's been doing an excellent job leading the critical Presidential Personnel Office which is responsible for staffing up hundreds of political jobs across the federal agencies."

U.S. Police Brutality Protests

washington post logoWashington Post, Scant evidence of antifa shows how sweeping the protests for racial justice have become, Isaac Stanley-Becker, June 14, 2020 (print ed.). The group of anti-fascist protesters the Trump administration has labeled a menace has mostly been nonexistent, experts and law enforcement officials say, amid largely peaceful protests.

In the two weeks that saw an uprising against racial injustice and police brutality spread from the streets of Minneapolis to cities across America, the specter of violent, left-wing militants invoked by President Trump and a chorus of conservative voices has yet to materialize.

djt profile balding big head palmerInstead, multiracial crowds have appeared in every corner of the United States, as the president sent more than a dozen tweets blaming clashes with police on antifa, the label associated with anti-fascist protesters who infamously sparred with far-right figures after his election in 2016. He went so far as to say he would designate antifa as a “terrorist organization,” though he does not have the legal authority to apply that label to a domestic group.

christopher wray cropped SmallThe nation’s top law enforcement officials joined the president’s attacks. FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, right, directed blame for violence tinging the protests over the killing of George Floyd at “anarchists like antifa and other agitators.” Attorney General William P. Barr claimed, but did not offer, “evidence that antifa and other similar extremist groups, as well as actors of a variety of different political persuasions, have been involved in instigating and participating in the violent activity.”

But the group the Trump administration has labeled a menace has mostly been nonexistent, experts and law enforcement officials say, and certainly has not been orchestrating what have been largely peaceful protests. Despite warnings of antifa incursions in scores of cities, there is no evidence linking outbursts of violence to an organized left-wing effort. And those associated with the autonomous groups that went up against far-right figureheads four years ago — and whose roots go back to earlier left-wing causes — say there is no such centralized organization.

ny times logoNew York Times, Updates: Atlanta Police Chief Resigns After Officer Shoots Black Man, Staff reports, June 14, 2020. The police chief stepped down less than 24 hours after a police officer shot and killed Rayshard Brooks at a Wendy’s drive-through. The officer was fired. New video offers details of the shooting, which set off new protests and fears of destructive flare-ups. Here’s the latest.

      • Videos detail the shooting of Rayshard Brooks by the Atlanta police.
      • Democrats in Congress say ‘defunding’ the police means rebuilding departments, not ending them.
      • Use of force in the Brooks shooting is debated.
      • Minnesota lawmakers hear emotional pleas on overhauling policing.
      • Little has changed since the last major effort to overhaul policing in Minneapolis or elsewhere.
      • A rift opens among Asian-Americans over a statement on racism.
      • Juneteenth should be a national holiday, a Republican senator says.

james williams show promo CustomFormer Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and Alabama congressional candidate Rick Neighbors appear on The James Williams Show on Birmingham radio station 987KISS-AM at 10 p.m. (Central time) on June 14 to discuss prison reform and police brutality issues. Several guests, including Justice Integrity Project editor Andrew Kreig (shown at lower right above), have been invited to call in to the "Talk Back" edition with comments and questions.

A special focus of the show will be the plight of Alabama native Robert Evans, who has been serving a life sentence since 2006 despite being a paraplegic suffering from a painful infected sore on his buttock for more than a decade that prison authorities cannot heal. An expert physician has certified that the prison system has shown it cannot heal him but authorities insist the incapacitated man must serve life.

Siegelman is a Democrat who served more than six years in federal prison after have being framed on hoked-up corruption charges by Republican opponents stemming from his creating a foundation to advocate for better K-12 school funding in Alabama, according to Justice Integrity Project and other research. He will discuss prison reform in the context of his experiences and his forthcoming memoir/call to action, Stealing Our Democracy.

Neighbors, a Democrat, is running on a reform agenda for Alabama's rural Fourth District seat held by incumbent Republican Robert Aderholt. The show is the first segment of a three-part series organized by 987KISS-AM and the Miami Southern Christian Leadership Council. To listen, visit 987KISS.com or Alexa (launch 987TodaysKiss).

Virus Victims, Responses  anthony fauci graphic Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: As cases rise, Fauci says some ‘normality’ could be a year away, Staff reports, June 14, 2020. It has quelled outbreaks of Ebola, allowed smallpox to be corralled before being vanquished by a vaccine, and helped turn HIV into a survivable illness. And whenever a new infectious disease emerges, contact tracing is public health’s most powerful weapon for tracking transmission and figuring out how best to protect the population.

But now, as coronavirus cases are surging in hot spots across the country, the proven strategy’s efficacy is in doubt: Contact tracing failed to stanch the first wave of coronavirus infections, and today’s far more extensive undertaking will require 100,000 or more trained tracers to delve into strangers’ personal lives and persuade even some without symptoms to stay home. Health departments in many of the worst-affected communities are way behind in hiring and training those people. The effort may also be hobbled by the long-standing distrust among minorities of public health officials, as well as worries about promising new technologies that pit privacy against the public good.Contact tracing is ‘best’ tool we have until there’s a vaccine, say health experts

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2With coronavirus cases rising in states across the country, Anthony S. Fauci, the top U.S. infectious-disease expert (shown above in a file photo), warned waves of infection could come “back and forth” for months and said it could be about a year before things return to normal.

New infections are trending upward in at least 21 states across the South and West, prompting some governors to rethink reopening plans and renewing concerns that the country could be a long way from containing the pandemic. Alabama, Oregon and South Carolina are among the states with the biggest increases. Alabama saw a 92 percent change in its seven-day average, while Oregon’s seven-day average was up 83.8 percent and South Carolina’s was up 60.3 percent.

Here are some significant developments:

      • As states relax restrictions, public health experts say wide-scale contact tracing is the price that must be paid to reopen safely. And time is of the essence.
      • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has put in place a review of the country’s two-meter (six-foot) social distancing policy as businesses are desperate to reopen.
      • Chile’s health minister resigned Saturday as the country’s daily coronavirus fatalities continue to spike.
      • Beijing reported 36 cases on Sunday, the largest number of new daily cases announced in the city since the outbreak began.
      • Tulsa’s top health official voiced concerns Saturday about the coronavirus spreading at President Trump’s planned rally in the city on June 20.
      • Washington state health officials warned Saturday that coronavirus transmission is increasing in the eastern part of the state.

washington post logoWashington Post, Contact tracing is public health’s most powerful weapon right now, Frances Stead Sellers and Ben Guarino, June 14, 2020. But as virus cases surge, the proven strategy is in doubt.

It has quelled outbreaks of Ebola, allowed smallpox to be corralled before being vanquished by a vaccine, and helped turn HIV into a survivable illness. And whenever a new infectious disease emerges, contact tracing is public health’s most powerful weapon for tracking transmission and figuring out how best to protect the population.

But now, as coronavirus cases are surging in hot spots across the country, the proven strategy’s efficacy is in doubt: Contact tracing failed to stanch the first wave of coronavirus infections, and today’s far more extensive undertaking will require 100,000 or more trained tracers to delve into strangers’ personal lives and persuade even some without symptoms to stay home. Health departments in many of the worst-affected communities are way behind in hiring and training those people. The effort may also be hobbled by the long-standing distrust among minorities of public health officials, as well as worries about promising new technologies that pit privacy against the public good.

Contact tracing failed to stanch the first wave of coronavirus infections, and today’s far more extensive undertaking will require 100,000 or more trained tracers to delve into strangers’ personal lives.

      • New York Times, Coronavirus Cases Spike Across Sun Belt as Economy Lurches into Motion, Staff reports, June 13, 2020. Arizona, Texas and Florida are reporting their highest case numbers yet. As of Saturday, coronavirus cases were climbing in 22 states amid reopenings.

New York Post, Cuomo threatens Manhattan, Hamptons shutdown over lack of social distancing, Kate Sheehy, June 14, 2020. Cuomo warns Manhattan, Hamptons he'll roll back reopenings if social distancing isn't maintained; De Blasio fires back at Cuomo's threat.

andrew cuomoGov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday threatened to shut down Manhattan and the Hamptons again if residents don’t adhere to the state’s social distancing rules.

“We’re not going to go back to that dark place because local governments didn’t do their job” and people don’t take the proper precautions amid the coronavirus, said Cuomo, right.

He said the state has received 25,000 complaints about health-safety violations since the start of the pandemic — an “alarming” figure that mainly involves bars and restaurants.

“Manhattan and the Hamptons are the leading areas in the state with violations,” Cuomo said.

“These are not hard-to-spot violations. People send videos of these violations,” the governor said — two days after at least 200 people were caught on video partying together, many without masks, around St. Marks Place in the East Village in Manhattan.

“They are rampant, and there’s not enough enforcement,” he said of violators.

“I’m not going to allow situations to exist, that we know have a high likelihood of causing an increase in the virus,” Cuomo said. “Local governments, do your job.

bill de blasio 11 2 2013If “local governments are not monitoring policing, doing the compliance, yes, there is a very real possibility that we would roll back the reopening of those areas.”

The governor said he has personally phoned “a couple of bars and restaurants myself when I saw pictures of their situations. … And I said to them, ‘You’re playing with your [liquor] license.’ ”

New York City is currently in Phase One of the state’s four-stage reopening plan, meaning curbside retail is allowed, as well as the restart of general construction and manufacturing. Mayor Bill de Blasio, left, has said he expects the city to enter Phase Two hopefully by early July, which would permit such things as outdoor seated dining at restaurants.

Long Island, where the Hamptons are, entered Phase Two last week. Regions must see their low coronavirus figures — including deaths, hospitalizations and positive-test rate — stay at least steady for two weeks before they can be considered for moving on to the next phase.

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

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daily beast logoDaily Beast, Revealed: The Family Member Who Turned on Trump, Lachlan Cartwright, June 14, 2020. The president’s niece Mary Trump is set to publish a tell-all this summer—and to reveal that she was a primary source for The New York Times’ investigation into Trump’s taxes. Donald Trump’s niece, his deceased brother’s daughter, is set to publish a tell-all book this summer that will detail “harrowing and salacious” stories about the president, according to people with knowledge of the project.

Mary Trump, 55, the daughter of Fred Trump Jr. and Fred Trump Sr.’s eldest grandchild, is scheduled to release Too Much And Never Enough on August 11th, just weeks before the Republican National Convention.

One of the most explosive revelations Mary will detail in the book, according to people familiar with the matter, is how she played a critical role helping The New York Times print startling revelations about Trump’s taxes, including how he was involved in “fraudulent” tax schemes and had received more than $400 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real-estate empire.

As she is set to outline in her book, Mary was a primary source for the paper's Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation, supplying Fred Trump Sr.’s tax returns and other highly confidential family financial documentation to the paper.

Details of the book are being closely guarded by its publisher, Simon & Schuster, but The Daily Beast has learned that Mary plans to include conversations with Trump’s sister, retired federal judge Maryanne Trump Barry, that contain intimate and damning thoughts about her brother, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Mary Trump has kept out of the public eye and has not spoken publicly in decades—but in 2000, amidst a bitter family court battle over Fred Trump Sr.’s will, she told the New York Daily News, "Given this family, it would be utterly naive to say it has nothing to do with money. But for both me and my brother, it has much more to do with that our father [Fred Jr.] be recognized," she said.

Fred Trump Jr., the firstborn son and once the heir apparent to his father’s real estate empire, worked for Trans World Airlines after turning his back on the family business.

He died in 1981 aged just 42 from a heart attack owing to complications from his alcoholism, leaving behind a son, Fred the 3rd, and daughter Mary, who has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.

washington post logojoe biden oWashington Post, Biden running mate search focuses on 4 black women, Sean Sullivan, June 14, 2020 (print ed.). The candidates who continue to be under consideration by the campaign reflect in part the growing prominence of African American women amid a national uproar over police violence and racism that has sparked protests around the country.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: A black man now heads the Air Force. It’s progress, but military brass remains starkly white, Editorial Board, June 14, 2020 (print ed.). Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., who was unanimously confirmed by the Senate this week as Air Force chief of staff — thereby becoming the first African American service chief in U.S. history — has already demonstrated why his promotion was so important, and so overdue. In a June 5 video address about his reaction to the police killing of George Floyd, Gen. Brown spelled out how his “own experiences” in the military “didn’t always sing of liberty and equality.”

As an Air Force pilot, “I was often the only African American in my squadron, or as a senior officer, the only African American in the room,” Gen. Brown said. That led to questions about whether he was really a pilot, even though he wore the same flight suit and wings as his peers. It meant having his comments “perceived to represent the African American perspective, when it’s just my perspective, informed by being African American.” And it meant rarely having “a mentor that looked like me” — a handicap that has crippled the careers of many other servicemen of color.

Gen. Brown’s statement offered a corrective to a nearly all-white Pentagon leadership that, until very recently, complacently regarded the armed forces as ahead of the rest of the country in addressing racial inequality. It ought to inspire reflection and debate about how the military can address the persistent racism and structural problems that have led to a stunning lack of diversity in its senior ranks.

washington post logoWashington Post, New activists resist Democratic calls to focus on political races, Cleve R. Wootson Jr., June 14, 2020 (print ed.). Many of the newly empowered organizers leading protests view traditional politics with skepticism and distrust the Democratic Party.

Roll Call, Rep. Denver Riggleman blames fraud at GOP convention after losing nod for second term, Stephanie Akin, June 14, 2020. Trump-backed Virginia freshman says he’s ‘evaluating all our options.’

Virginia Rep. Denver Riggleman became the third House member rejected by his party for another term this year, losing the 5th District Republican convention Saturday to Bob Good, a former Liberty University athletics director who says he is “committed to the country’s founding Judeo-Christian values.”

Good said he captured 58 percent of the vote at the drive-thru convention, which was held in the parking lot of a church in Campbell County, where he once served as supervisor. Delegates cast votes from their cars to avoid exposure to the coronavirus, but after the convention ended at 7 p.m., counting was done behind closed doors and results were not announced until after 1 a.m Sunday. At one point, a Riggleman consultant said the campaign was challenging votes cast from Campbell County.

Shortly after midnight, Riggleman tweeted that “voting irregularities and ballot stuffing” were reported in multiple counties, that fraud was “a hallmark of this nomination process,” and that his campaign was “evaluating all our options at this time.”

“That’s what losers say,” Good told reporters early Sunday in a news conference carried on Facebook Live. “We won by a convincing margin, so I think that makes that ring particularly hollow.”

Riggleman’s ouster comes after infighting between powerful religious conservatives in the sprawling Virginia district — some angered by Riggleman’s decision to officiate a gay wedding last summer — and those who say the party needs to diversify and move to the center to survive in a purple state.

The dispute has also attracted the attention of Democrats who have said a loss by Riggleman could help swing the district their way in November.

Trump’s reelection campaign had sent out a news release earlier this month saying his congressional endorsements had a “perfect record of 64-0,” so Riggleman’s loss would break that streak.

Liberty University, an evangelical institution in Lynchburg, is deeply connected to Christian conservatives. Good worked there for 14 years, where he served as the executive director of the Flames Club, the athletics department’s fundraising program.

U.S. Economy, Trends

washington post logoWashington Post, After marginalizing black employees and customers, corporations say ‘black lives matter,’ Tracy Jan, Jena McGregor, Renae Merle and Nitasha Tiku, June 14, 2020 (print ed.). Wall Street, tech and retail giants are rushing to convey support for the movement, but their corporate track records over the years raise skepticism.

Corporate America — including Wall Street and Silicon Valley giants — is now pledging to play a bigger role in combating systemic racism across the United States, but an examination of companies’ track records shows that they have repeatedly stopped short of major overhauls during prior opportunities for change.

colin kaepernick nike ad CustomThe new corporate posture has spread across firms from nearly every industry in the past few weeks as companies rushed to respond to nationwide protests. One of the most provocative statements came from Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, kneeling with staff at a branch of the United States’ largest bank. Dimon, wearing shorts, sneakers and a mask, was adopting the once-controversial protest pose of former quarterback Colin Kaepernick, right, still blacklisted from the NFL for calling attention to police brutality against African Americans.

Finance, tech and retail firms are proclaiming support for a protest movement that has galvanized the American public amid a pandemic that has disproportionately claimed black lives and livelihoods.

World News

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washington post logoWashington Post, Ukraine’s political wars get nastier — and could worsen as U.S. election nears, David L. Stern and Robyn Dixon, June 14, 2020 (print ed.). Two presidents, in the United States and Ukraine, wanted to go after their rivals. Here’s what happened when their interests coincided.

ukraine flagUkraine’s politics has always been a bare-knuckle affair with smears, low blows and, at times, threats of criminal prosecution or even violence. But it’s getting even messier and more unpredictable.

President Volodymyr Zelensky (shown above with President Trump) faces declining ratings, a vast economic crisis, the continuing pandemic and stalling reform efforts after losing his control over the parliament. The last thing he needed is more pressure on Ukrainian politics as the U.S. election in November draws nearer.

Trump Watch

Business Insider, Trump blames 'very slippery' ramp with 'no handrail' after videos showed him walking unsteadily after his West Point speech, Michelle Mark, June 14, 2020. President Donald Trump tweeted indignantly on Saturday in reaction to videos that showed him unsteadily walking down a ramp after giving a speech to the graduating class at West Point earlier that day.

The tweet, sent just before 11 p.m. EST on Saturday night, explained that the ramp had been slippery and that Trump didn't want to fall while descending.

"The ramp that I descended after my West Point Commencement speech was very long & steep, had no handrail and, most importantly, was very slippery," he tweeted. "The last thing I was going to do is 'fall' for the Fake News to have fun with. Final ten feet I ran down to level ground. Momentum!"

Videos posted online showed him walking slowly and carefully down the ramp. Other videos had showed him struggling to lift a glass of water to his mouth. 

The incidents provoked a strong reaction on social media, including mockery and speculation about his health. The hashtags #TRUMPstroke and #TrumpIsNotWell trended in the US on Saturday evening.

Earlier this month, the White House released the results of Trump's annual physical and said he "remains healthy."

Palmer Report, Opinion: What if Donald Trump’s collapsing health really does finish him off? Bill Palmer, June 14, 2020. Donald Trump’s arm doesn’t work right. He’s struggling to walk. He looks startlingly frail. He can barely give a speech off a teleprompter anymore. It’s raising all kinds of questions about whether he’s suffering from a stroke or a neurological disorder – and it almost has to be something along those general lines. There’s another question we’re going to have to consider: what if Trump’s collapsing health finishes him off before voters can?

bill palmer report logo headerI’m not saying Trump is going to croak before the election. Because he’s gone to such severe lengths to cover up his health, we don’t even know specifically what’s wrong with him, or what the prognosis is. All we know, from observing him during his public appearances, is that it’s severe and it’s getting worse.

Trump has never been a particularly functional president at any point. He’s always done the bare minimum. On some level he’s always faked being president. But if he keeps declining like this, there will come a point where he and his babysitters won’t be able to fake it anymore. Trump is already polling so badly, he’s on track to cost the Republicans the Senate. How much worse will his numbers get if he keeps coming off as senile and dying in public?

Mitch McConnell surely has a threshold at which he’ll decide to pressure Donald Trump into not seeking reelection. Mike Pence surely has a threshold at which he’ll decide to pull the plug with the 25th Amendment. We don’t have any way of knowing if either of those thresholds will be reached before election day. But if Trump keeps behaving like this in public, we just might find out.

Even as we continue to work hard to finish Donald Trump off in November, we now have to consider at least the remote possibility that Trump’s collapsing health will have taken him out of the 2020 race by then, and that we’ll be facing Pence or some other Republican in November. It’s too early to start game planning for that scenario just yet. But it’s something to keep in the backs of our minds if Trump keeps coming off a like senile dying man in public.

June 13

Top Stories

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washington post logoWashington Post, Biden says Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic was ‘almost criminal,’ Matt Viser, June 13, 2020. At a union forum, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee also attacked the president’s economic policies and his response to the killing of George Floyd.

Joe Biden ratcheted up some of his criticism of President Trump on Friday, saying that his handling of the coronavirus was “almost criminal,” that he has “bungled” the economic fallout, and that he has exacerbated racial tensions in the country.

During an hour-long town hall with the labor union AFSCME, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee warned that the U.S. will likely see a resurgence of the coronavirus and that Trump isn’t doing enough to prepare.

“This is almost criminal, the way he’s handled this,” Biden said of Trump’s leadership on the coronavirus. “There’s going to be some form of second wave, I hate to tell you this,” he added later.

Biden said Trump’s approach has led to more Americans deaths and a slower economic recovery.

“Donald Trump has bungled everything,” he said. “He’s bungled us into the worst job crisis in over a century.”

Biden also attacked the president for his focus on reopening.

“You have Trump saying, ‘Open up, open up, open up.’ Why do you want to open up?” Biden said. “He does not care about the public health. He wants to open up because he wants to say the economy’s growing and the stock market’s going up.”

Trump’s campaign defended him from the criticism, saying, “Biden has been lobbing ineffective partisan bombs from his basement, trying to undermine confidence in the federal response, and has sought relevance where there is none.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Businesses Want Virus Legal Protection. Workers Are Worried, Ana Swanson and Alan Rappeport, June 13, 2020 (print ed.). Businesses are lobbying Congress for protections against coronavirus-related lawsuits, but unions and Democrats fear a liability shield would encourage reckless behavior.

When Jonathan Corpina, a senior managing partner at Meridian Equity Partners, returned to work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in late May, he was met with temperature screenings, hand sanitizer stations, plexiglass barriers — and a liability waiver.

The stock exchange required Mr. Corpina and others who work there to acknowledge that returning to work could expose them to the coronavirus, and to promise not to sue if they were infected. Mr. Corpina said that he felt comfortable with that risk, and that he believed other companies would most likely follow suit.

“This is not something that is going to be unique to this building, in my opinion,” he said of the waiver.

Whether companies are liable if their workers and customers catch the coronavirus has become a key question as businesses seek to reopen around the country. Companies and universities — and the groups that represent them — say they are vulnerable to a wave of lawsuits if they reopen while the coronavirus continues to circulate widely, and they are pushing Congress for temporary legal protections they say will help get the economy running again.

But that idea has engendered stiff opposition, particularly among congressional Democrats and labor unions, who say some businesses are doing too little to protect vulnerable workers, and that such a liability shield would only encourage reckless behavior.

For the moment, states and companies are taking matters into their own hands. States like Alabama, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Utah have issued executive orders or passed legislation to give businesses more protection if their workers or customers get the coronavirus.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says he’ll ‘go on and do other things’ if he loses in November, Colby Itkowitz, June 13, 2020. The president was responding to an accusation by Joe Biden that he would try to “steal” the election. President Trump shrugged off an accusation from Joe Biden that he would try to steal the election, saying if he doesn’t win he’ll “go on and do other things.”

“Certainly if I don’t win, I don’t win. I mean, you know, go on and do other things,” Trump said during a Fox News interview that aired Friday afternoon.

“I think that would be a very sad thing for our country,” he added.

Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, predicted during an interview on “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” on Wednesday that Trump “is going to try to steal this election.” Biden called it his “single greatest concern.”

Flynn Russian-Influence Perjury Case

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ny times logoNew York Times, Court Seems Open to Allowing Judge to Scrutinize Bid to Drop Flynn Case, Charlie Savage, June 13, 2020 (print ed.). A federal appeals court panel appeared inclined on Friday to permit a trial judge to complete his review of the Justice Department’s attempt to drop a criminal case against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, as all three judges asked skeptical questions about a request that they intervene and order the case dismissed.

michael flynn arms foldedThe nearly two hours of oral arguments, conducted by telephone because of the coronavirus pandemic and live-streamed over YouTube, were the latest step in an extraordinary and politically charged case against Mr. Flynn, left. He had twice pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about his conversations in 2016 with the Russian ambassador before Attorney General William P. Barr decided last month to try to drop the case, a highly unusual intervention.

Rather than immediately granting the government’s request, the federal judge overseeing the matter, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, began a review of its legitimacy. He appointed John Gleeson, right, a former mafia prosecutor and retired federal judge, to argue against it and set arguments on the matter for July 16.

john gleeson CustomIf the appeals court panel permits that process to play out, the Justice Department will have to respond to a scathing brief Mr. Gleeson submitted this week to Judge Sullivan that portrayed Mr. Barr’s decision as a “gross abuse” of power. The move undermined the rule of law by giving special favor to a presidential ally, offering a dubious rationale as a “pretext,” Mr. Gleeson wrote.

Last month, on the same day that Judge Sullivan appointed Mr. Gleeson to critique the Justice Department’s new position about the case, Mr. Flynn’s defense lawyer, Sidney Powell, asked the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to issue a so-called writ of mandamus that would order Judge Sullivan to immediately end the case.

beth wilkinsonBut Beth Wilkinson, left, a lawyer representing Judge Sullivan, told the appeals court that short-circuiting the trial court’s review of the motion would be premature. And on Friday, all three judges asked questions that suggested they may agree.

Judge Robert L. Wilkins, a 2014 appointee of President Barack Obama, stressed that the federal rule of criminal procedure under which the Justice Department asked Judge Sullivan to dismiss the case says prosecutors may make such a request “with leave of the court,” meaning the judge’s approval. He asked how those words could mean anything if judges had to rubber-stamp requests without review.

Judge Karen L. Henderson, a 1990 appointee of President George Bush, repeatedly said Judge Sullivan might disagree with Mr. Gleeson’s view and dismiss the case. She suggested that “regular order” would be to let that process play out, noting that Ms. Powell and the Justice Department could come back to the appeals court if Judge Sullivan decided instead to sentence Mr. Flynn.

And Judge Neomi Rao, a 2019 appointee of Mr. Trump, pointed out that one of Ms. Powell’s arguments conflicted with Supreme Court precedent. She also asked a Justice Department lawyer whether he could come up with a more concrete reason for why letting Judge Sullivan’s review play out would harm the executive branch — noting that mandamus orders are supposed to be extraordinary and abstract notions of harms are most likely insufficient.

  anthony fauci graphic Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, CDC’s advice on large gatherings could be hurdle for rallies, Lena H. Sun, Chelsea Janes and Toluse Olorunnipa, June 13, 2020. The agency announced new guidelines to help Americans navigate a changed country. Anthony S. Fauci, above, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, said that it is a “danger” for people to be gathering in large groups — whether at a rally or a protest.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new coronavirus guidelines Friday to help Americans navigate a changed country, as they face mass protests, spiking cases in many states and President Trump’s plans to return to holding big rallies.

cdc logo CustomThe CDC guidance includes a recommendation that organizers of large events that involve shouting, chanting or singing “strongly encourage” the use of cloth face coverings. That is complicated by a push to reopen the country even as more than 2 million Americans have now been infected by the coronavirus.

Federal health officials on Friday said their guidance was aimed at keeping people safe as states reopen and communities plan and hold gatherings, such as concerts, festivals, conferences, parades, weddings and sporting events. Jay Butler, the CDC’s deputy director of infectious diseases, sidestepped questions about whether the agency’s new guidance for large gatherings applies to campaign rallies, saying the recommendations speak for themselves.

Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Beijing goes into ‘wartime mode’ as virus emerges at market in Chinese capital, Anna Fifield and Lyric Li, June 13, 2020. A district in central Beijing has gone into “wartime mode” after discovering a cluster of coronavirus cases around the biggest meat and vegetable market in the city, raising the prospect of a second wave of infections in the sensitive capital, the seat of the Chinese Communist Party.

The discovery of dozens of infections, both symptomatic and asymptomatic, underscores the perniciousness of the virus and its propensity to spread despite tight social controls.

“We would like to warn everyone not to drop their guard even for a second in epidemic prevention control: we must be prepared for a prolonged fight with the virus,” Xu Hejian, a spokesman for the Beijing municipal government, said at a news conference Saturday. “We have to stay alert to the risks of imported cases and to the fact that epidemic control in our city is complicated and serious, and will be here for a long time,” he said.

washington post logocovad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Washington Post, Update: Guide to the pandemic: There have been more than 7.3 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide, Staff reports, June 13, 2020. The virus has killed more than 410,000. Access to the following stories is free.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Brazil’s Virus Death Toll Surpasses Britain’s to Become World’s 2nd Highest, Staff reports, June 13, 2013. President Jair Bolsonaro’s promotion of unproven remedies, including hydroxychloroquine, was cited as a factor that led to the crisis in Brazil.

New York’s deaths hit a record low, while Texas and Florida recently reported their highest daily totals of new infections. Here’s the latest.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Florida fired its coronavirus data scientist. Now she’s publishing the statistics on her own, Marisa Iati, June 12, 2020 (print ed.). Tension built for days between Florida Department of Health supervisors and the department’s geographic information systems manager before officials showed her the door, she says, permanently pulling her off the coronavirus dashboard that she operated for weeks.

Managers had wanted Rebekah Jones to make certain changes to the public-facing portal, she says. Jones had objected to — and sometimes refused to comply with — what she saw as unethical requests. She says the department offered to let her resign. Jones declined.

Weeks after she was fired in mid-May, Jones has now found a way to present the state’s coronavirus data exactly the way she wants it: She created a dashboard of her own.

“I wanted to build an application that delivered data and helped people get tested and helped them get resources that they need from their community,” Jones, 30, said of the site that launched Thursday. “And that’s what I ended up building with this new dashboard.”

Police Brutality Protests, Reactions

ny times logoNew York Times, N.Y. Bans Chokeholds and Approves Other Measures to Restrict Police, Luis Ferré-Sadurní and Jesse McKinley, June 13, 2020 (print ed.). New York on Friday became one of the first states to take meaningful action to restrict police forces after the killing of George Floyd, banning the use of chokeholds by law enforcement and repealing a half-century-old law that has kept police disciplinary records secret in the state.

andrew cuomoGov. Andrew M. Cuomo, right, signed the expansive package of bills less than three weeks after Mr. Floyd’s death at the hands of the police in Minneapolis, which has since sparked widespread civil unrest and demonstrations against police brutality and racism.

New York City also took tentative steps toward meeting protesters’ calls to “defund the police.” On Friday, the City Council speaker, Corey Johnson, said the Council had identified $1 billion in cuts to the Police Department’s $6 billion budget, and would urge Mayor Bill de Blasio to agree in advance of the July 1 budget deadline.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘You’re Exposed Now’: Why Black Supporters Are Deserting de Blasio, Jeffery C. Mays, June 13, 2020 (print ed.). They say the mayor has benefited politically from his pledges to overhaul the Police Department, but has failed to deliver meaningful actions.

bill de blasio 11 2 2013Mayor Bill de Blasio, left, looked out into a sea of protesters at a memorial with George Floyd’s brother in Brooklyn last week and delivered a bold promise: He would transform the New York Police Department. “Change that you can see and believe, because you will see it with your own eyes,” he declared.

The response from many of the black protesters was withering.

Obscenities and chants of “resign” and “I can’t breathe” filled the air, drowning out Mr. de Blasio. Some demonstrators turned their backs on him as he spoke. After 90 seconds, he turned the microphone over.

Mr. de Blasio took the helm of New York City as a white mayor who tied his fortunes to black constituents, perhaps more than any big-city mayor in the nation. He vowed to attack the inequities that left blacks and Latinos behind, and promised to rethink police tactics — using his biracial son, Dante, to star in a viral ad about stop and frisk.

But now, with the city in tumult after more than two weeks of protests, many of Mr. de Blasio’s longtime black advisers and supporters have abandoned him — a blow to the mayor’s core political identity, one that threatens to taint his legacy and erode his last and most faithful constituency.

ny times logoNew York Times, Atlanta Police Chief Resigns After Officer Shoots and Kills Black Man, Johnny Diaz and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, June 13, 2020. Rayshard Brooks had fallen asleep in his vehicle at a Wendy’s drive-through. He was shot after a struggle involving a Taser, the authorities said.

Atlanta’s police chief resigned on Saturday, less than 24 hours after a police officer shot and killed a man at a Wendy’s drive-through who had run from the police after failing a sobriety check and taking an officer’s Taser, the authorities said.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta,keisha lance bottoms cnn Custom right, said that security footage appeared to show that the man, Rayshard Brooks, 27, who is black, had fired the Taser toward the officer, who was chasing him before he was killed.

“While there may be debate as to whether this was an appropriate use of deadly force, I firmly believe that there is a clear distinction between what you can do and what you should do,” Ms. Bottoms said. “I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force.”

In addition to the resignation of the police chief, Erika Shields, who just weeks earlier had engaged with demonstrators protesting the killing of George Floyd, Ms. Bottoms said that she had also called for the immediate firing of the police officer who killed Mr. Brooks.

Ms. Shields, who is white and took over the department in 2017, will be replaced by Rodney Bryant, a black man who has served as a top police deputy and recently took over as the interim head of the city’s jails, Ms. Bottoms said, adding that the city will launch a national search for a permanent replacement.

Ms. Bottoms said that Ms. Shields had made the choice to resign and would continue to work for the city, but her role was not yet determined.

The encounter in the Wendy’s drive-through began on Friday night when police officers arrived on the scene and found that Mr. Brooks had fallen asleep in his vehicle, causing other customers to drive around him, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is investigating the shooting.

Mr. Brooks failed a sobriety test, the bureau said, and then struggled with officers as he was being arrested. Videos posted on social media showed him grappling with the two officers who were trying to arrest him. One officer appeared to try to stun him after Mr. Brooks threw a punch at him.

As Mr. Brooks ran away, appearing to hold the Taser, one officer chased after him, holding another stun gun. Then, in one of the videos, several gunshots can be heard.

Inside DC

washington post logomelania trump twitterWashington Post, How Melania Trump blocked Ivanka Trump from encroaching on the her domain, Mary Jordan​, June 13, 2020. As the first lady, right, delayed moving to Washington, the president's daughter suggested renaming the "First Lady's Office" the "First Family Office" and enjoyed White House perks, according to a new book by a Post reporter.

washington post logoWashington Post, Pandemic deepens economic pain at Trump’s company, already suffering from a tarnished brand, Joshua Partlow, David A. Fahrenthold and Jonathan O'Connell, June 13, 2020. The whiplash at Trump’s D.C. hotel is emblematic of the problems faced by his company, which was already suffering from a tarnished brand before the novel coronavirus hit. The fresh wave of political anger directed toward Trump complicates an already difficult recovery for the company.

Interviews with current and former Trump Organization employees and tenants, and emails obtained by The Washington Post, show the pandemic in particular has rattled operations at the company. With thousands of Trump’s hotel rooms empty, the company laid off or furloughed more than 2,800 employees and scoured for even the smallest savings. It eliminated flowers, chocolates and newspapers at its New York hotel and turned off lights in common areas in its Chicago hotel to save on electricity, according to letters that hotel management sent to investors.

“This was not just a step down,” Eric Danziger, the chief executive of Trump Hotels, told board members of Trump’s Chicago hotel on April 22, according to an account of his phone call obtained by The Post. “This was a steep dive.”

• Washington Post, HUD to change transgender rules for single-sex homeless shelters

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump reschedules Juneteenth rally in Tulsa amid criticism, John Wagner​, June 13, 2020.The president said he responded to the wishes of “many of my African American friends and supporters” by changing the date of the event from Juneteenth, the observance of the end of slavery in the United States.

President Trump announced Friday that he is rescheduling his first campaign rally in months following criticism that it was set for set for Juneteenth, the observance of the end of slavery in the United States, in a city that experienced one of the country’s worst episodes of racial violence in U.S. history.

In a late-night tweet, Trump said he is pushing the “Make America Great Again” rally in Tulsa back a day, to June 20, in response to “many of my African American friends and supporters.”

“We had previously scheduled our #MAGA Rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for June 19th – a big deal,” Trump wrote. “Unfortunately, however, this would fall on the Juneteenth Holiday. Many of my African American friends and supporters have reached out to suggest that we consider changing the date out of respect for this Holiday, and in observance of this important occasion and all that it represents.”

In a television interview recorded Thursday, Trump said the date had not been chosen deliberately but dismissed concerns about the timing.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updatees: At West Point, Trump praises military for fighting coronavirus, protecting 'rule of law,' Derek Hawkins, Miriam Berger,Meryl Kornfield, Brittany Shammas and Karla Adam, June 13, 2020. President Trump on Saturday morning delivered the commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy in a socially distanced ceremony, as health officials caution that mass gatherings of any type could worsen the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The warning comes as the 2020 election heats up and nationwide protests against racism and police brutality stretch into their third week. Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in the South and West have spiked, with several states, including Texas and North Carolina, reporting record numbers of new infections in recent days.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s West Point speech today was a complete disaster, Daniel Cotter, June 13, 2020. Donald Trump insisted on having a live commencement at West Point, requiring cadets who graduated to return to the campus and quarantine in the process. The cadets are spread out on the field instead of in the bleachers.

This could have been done virtually. There is no point to having the cadets show up to hear this lifeless, lusterless speech by Trump. He is rattling on about all kinds of stuff, including his bill palmer report logo headertypical nonsense of how much money his administration has provided to the military, and other inane statements. When the cadets clap, you can barely hear them. It is a publicity stunt by an attention hungry president who shows no compassion or care for the health and welfare of his fellow Americans. Among the things they heard while sitting in a place, far removed from their families:

• Coronavirus, the invisible enemy, that came to our shores from a place far away, a country called China
• America is not the policemen of the world
• Football team beat Navy.

We don’t know what was the (west) point of this commencement address. Maybe a precursor to his rallies starting in a week. As the New York Times wrote about what this required: “Graduating cadets…at West Point have lived in Covid-19 quarantine for the past two weeks…ordered back to campus after the president abruptly announced…that he wanted to go through with his previously planned commencement address.”

Trump also told the cadets that we will only engage when we can win. Col. Lawrence Wilkerson observed on MSNBC that someone must have gotten to him and given him a ton of valium and demanded he stick to the teleprompter and that he adhered to the script. Trump also regaled the cadets with his own overstated record. Again, endangering 1,100 cadets for this lethargic speech for an unknown purpose makes no sense.

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden’s Vice-Presidential Search: Who’s on the List and Where It Stands, Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin, June 13, 2020. The search committee is conducting interviews and seeking private documents, and prospects like Val Demings and Keisha Lance Bottoms are getting a closer look as political currents influence the search.

Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s advisers have conducted several rounds of interviews with a select group of vice-presidential candidates and are beginning to gather private val demings o Customdocuments from some of them, as they attempt to winnow a field that features the most diverse set of vice-presidential contenders in history.

The search committee has been in touch with roughly a dozen women, and some eight or nine are already being vetted more intensively.

keisha lance bottoms w CustomAmong that group are two contenders who have recently grown in prominence, Representative Val Demings of Florida, left, and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta, below right.

One well-known candidate, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, has lost her perch as a front-runner. And some lower-profile candidates, like Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, are advancing steadily in the search process.

The New York Times spoke to an array of people who are familiar with the vice-presidential search and the activities of the Biden team, and the interviews yielded the fullest picture yet of the list of candidates Mr. Biden is considering, who is advancing and who may be fading, and the dynamics at play.

joe biden 2020 button CustomMr. Biden’s vice-presidential search has taken a bifurcated course so far, with one path unfolding in the open — joint appearances on television or in virtual events with potential running mates — and another in an environment of strict discretion. People involved in the confidential part described it on condition of anonymity, because they were not authorized to discuss a process that is designed to shield Mr. Biden’s thinking and the participants’ privacy.

Some of the contenders who have advanced furthest in the process are well known, including Senators Kamala Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. But The Times confirmed that several other women — whose names have been repeatedly floated but who have not publicly confirmed that they agreed to be vetted for the job — are under active consideration as well.

Ms. Harris and Ms. Warren have been interviewed at length by Mr. Biden’s team, as has Ms. Baldwin, who was the first openly gay candidate ever elected to the Senate.

Two women with distinctive national-defense credentials have also been interviewed and asked for documents: Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, an Iraq war combat veteran who is Asian-American, and Susan Rice, the former national security adviser to President Barack Obama and the first black woman to serve as ambassador to the United Nations.

As the vetting process advances to a newly intense phase, the political currents of the last few weeks are also leaving a mark on the Biden team’s deliberations. The wave of demonstrations touched off by the killing in Minneapolis of George Floyd, a black man, at the hands of a white police officer there, has elevated a pair of black women long regarded as intriguing long-shot candidates: Ms. Demings and Ms. Bottoms.

Though Ms. Demings and Ms. Bottoms are far less known to the national electorate than other figures on Mr. Biden’s list, they have played crucial roles in a cascading civil rights crisis: Ms. Demings, a former police chief in Orlando, Fla., has become a major figure in the law-enforcement debate, while Ms. Bottoms’s handling of chaotic demonstrations in her dnc horizontal logocity earned her national acclaim.

Both women have spoken with the vetting team, and Biden advisers have reached out to their allies to seek information about them.

Representative Charlie Crist of Florida, a supporter of Ms. Demings, said he had recently spoken about her with former Senator Christopher J. Dodd, a member of Mr. Biden’s search committee. Mr. Crist — a former Republican who was vetted for vice president by John McCain in 2008 — predicted that if Mr. Biden made Ms. Demings his running mate, it would lock down Florida and its 29 Electoral College votes.

“She is ready for the task,” Mr. Crist said of Ms. Demings, adding, “It would make a huge difference if you actually had a Floridian on the ticket.”

Mr. Biden insisted in an interview with CBS this past week that the last few tumultuous weeks had not meaningfully changed his thinking about the vice presidency, except to put “greater focus and urgency on the need to get someone who is totally simpatico with where I am.”

“I want someone strong,” he said, “and someone who is ready to be president on Day 1.”

Representative Dina Titus of Nevada, a prominent early supporter of Mr. Biden, counseled him to not be caught up in a momentary news cycle but rather make a sober-minded governing choice, someone to help him steer through turbulent years ahead.

“He needs to pick somebody who’s serious, respected and has some policy chops,” Ms. Titus said, “not just somebody who’s a personality.”

gretchen whitmer o smile CustomSeveral state executives have also had conversations with members of the vetting team, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, right, who clashed with President Trump over his handling of the coronavirus, and Gov. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island, a leader of her party’s centrist wing. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham michelle lujan grisham 2018 Customof New Mexico, left, a former chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, is one of the candidates from whom Biden advisers have requested private documents, a signal that she is regarded as a serious contender.

It is not clear precisely where Stacey Abrams, the former Georgia candidate for governor, stands in the process. In an appearance Wednesday on Stephen Colbert’s CBS show, Ms. Abrams appeared to say she had not been contacted by the search committee, though several people insisted she was still in the mix.

Ms. Harris, who was already a leading prospect, appears to have lifted herself further in recent weeks with her advocacy for policing reform. But three Democrats in regular contact with top Biden officials said they still frequently expressed unease about Ms. Harris because of her rocky turn as a presidential candidate and her blistering attack on Mr. Biden in the first debate last year.

Ms. Klobuchar (shown below left on a button from her presidential campaign that ended in March) is also still under consideration, but she has receded amid criticism that she did not take on police misconduct as a district attorney in Hennepin County, home to Minneapolis. That may leave Ms. Warren as the most formidable white candidate in the running, in large part because of her popularity with liberals and her credibility as a messenger on the economy.

amy klobucher button croppedMr. Biden’s decision has taken on outsize importance as the country faces an overlapping set of crises that are all but certain to last beyond Inauguration Day.

At 77, Mr. Biden would be the oldest person ever elected to the White House, a distinction with actuarial implications that cannot be discounted. A moderate white man in a party fueled by the political energy of women, young liberals and people of color, Mr. Biden is facing demands from numerous quarters to complete his ticket with someone who represents racial, geographic, generational or ideological balance — imperatives that no one running mate could satisfy in full.

If Mr. Biden wins the November election, he might well take office under the darkest conditions of any president in half a century, with economic stagnation and a deadly pandemic shadowing his new administration.

That unsettling reality has bolstered the view among many Democrats that Mr. Biden must choose a running mate who could be a full partner in governing rather than someone who is useful chiefly for tactical purposes in an election season.

The selection process by now has become so delicate that some of Mr. Biden’s senior aides are stepping gingerly. Steve Ricchetti, one of Mr. Biden’s closest advisers, has told people he is trying to avoid contact with any of the prospects because he does not want to be seen as tipping his hand.

The fact that someone has been interviewed for vice president does not necessarily mean she is among the top candidates, and it is somewhat customary for presidential candidates to put a few close allies on their short list as a kind of reward for their support. People briefed on the search also said it would be premature to assume anyone has been eliminated as a candidate simply because she may not have moved as far in the process as others.

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

 huffington post logoHuffPost, Lindsey Graham In New Ad: ‘Joe Biden Is As Good A Man As God Ever Created,’ Mary Papenfuss, June 13, 2020. Senator’s old comments come back to haunt latest video by Republican Voters Against Trump. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) gushes in a new Republican ad that former Vice President Joe Biden is “as good a man as God ever created” — while President Donald Trump is a “xenophobic, race-baiting, religious bigot.”

What a difference an administration makes. The comments were pulled from Graham’s past, “before he lost his conscience” and became one of the president’s staunchest defenders, noted a statement from the Republican Voters Against Trump.

“You want to know how to make America great again?” Graham asked in 2015. “Tell Donald Trump to go to hell.”

The ad backing Trump’s Democratic presidential rival features a very different Graham. It will run on Fox News in the Charlotte and Greenville markets, reaching both South Carolina and the swing state of North Carolina. It will also air on Fox News in Washington, D.C.

The old Graham “lays out in explicit terms just how clear the choice is in this election, and why Joe Biden is suited to unite the country,” said RVAT spokesperson Sarah Longwell. “Joe Biden has the empathy and proven experience to reach across the aisle and work with people” — even Lindsey Graham.

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, Fox News Removes a Digitally Altered Image of Seattle Protests, Jesse Drucker, June 13, 2020. Fox News acknowledged that one photo was a combination of several images, and a second was taken in a different city. Fox News removed photos accompanying its coverage of Seattle’s demonstrations from its website on Friday after acknowledging that one was a combination of several different images and a second photo was of a fiery scene in a different city.

fox news logo SmallOn Seattle’s Capitol Hill, protesters of the police killing of George Floyd have claimed a series of city blocks, now known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. The police there have boarded up their precinct and given protesters free rein in the area. In recent days, the zone has featured speeches, music and a screening of a film on the criminal justice system.

On Friday, Fox posted on its site a photo of a man armed with a rifle standing in front of the shattered glass of a storefront. The Seattle Times noted that it was a combination of several different photos from Getty Images taken over nearly two weeks.

Also on the website, Fox also posted a nighttime photo of a burning storefront and car, accompanied by the headline “Crazy Town” and a list of articles on the unrest in Seattle. But that image was taken in St. Paul, Minn.

ny times logoNew York Times, Fox News Host Tucker Carlson Loses More Advertisers, Tiffany Hsu, June 12, 2020. Disney, Papa John’s, Poshmark and T-Mobile backed away from “Tucker Carlson Tonight” after the host’s comments about Black Lives Matter protests.

On Monday’s segment of his prime-time show, the Fox News host Tucker Carlson cast doubt on the reasons behind the worldwide unrest prompted by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month.

“This may be a lot of things, this moment we are living through,” Mr. Carlson said. “But it is definitely not about black lives, and remember that when they come for you. And at this rate, they will.”

Since he made those statements and others, prominent companies including the Walt Disney Company, Papa John’s, Poshmark and T-Mobile have distanced themselves from “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” joining other businesses that have backed away from the show in recent years.

The flight of advertisers accelerated on Tuesday, when the watchdog group Sleeping Giants tagged T-Mobile in a Twitter post, saying that Fox News had aired what amounted to an “extremely racist segment scaremongering about the Black community.”

tucker carlson djt

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Forgive Tucker Carlson for his panicky desperation. His world is collapsing, Erik Wemple, June 13, 2020. Two nights after George Floyd died under theknee of a Minneapolis police officer, Fox News host Tucker Carlson turned his attention to a certain city in Minnesota. “We’ll have the latest on those riots in Minneapolis last night,” Carlson said at the top of his show on Wednesday, May 27. “And yes, they were in fact riots, no matter what they’re telling you on the other channels — that’s a fact and we have the tape.”

Again: This was how Carlson launched the first show in which he addressed Floyd’s death.

So many questions merited answers on that edition of “Tucker Carlson Tonight”: How does the Floyd case align with the Minneapolis police department’s record on the use of force? What justification could there possibly be for the treatment of Floyd?

But, no, Carlson went right to broken windows. “Rioters cut a path of destruction through Minneapolis last night after a video went viral that showed a man dying in police custody,” he said. Then came a live shot from Fox News correspondent Mike Tobin, who was in the midst of a confrontation between protesters and police. There were flash-bangs and pepper spray from the police, and Tobin began coughing. Carlson pulled away, saying, “We’re getting reports that there’s looting in other parts of the city. So, I think we’re going to come back to you a little bit from now.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Robert Alden, Washington Post news and design editor, dies at 87, Bart Barnes, June 13, 2020. Robert A. Alden, a Washington Post news and layout editor for 48 years who helped design the inside pages of the newspaper’s first section, died June 7 at his home in McLean, Va. He was 87.

The cause was complication from Alzheimer’s disease, his wife, Diane Alden, said.

Mr. Alden retired from The Post in 2000. His career included the design and layout of newspaper pages containing stories, photographs and headlines about happenings that ranged from routine procedures of local governing boards to airplane crashes, natural disasters and historic events including the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon in 1974.

On busy nights, the page designs and layouts had to be changed several times to keep up with fast-breaking events.

Mr. Alden was also president of the National Press Club in 1976, and he was a co-founder of the National Press Foundation, which supports educational programs for journalists. He was among the early advocates of the admission of women to press-club membership, which came about in the 1970s.

Mr. Alden had lived in McLean since 1953 and saw it evolve from a rural community of dairy cows and farms into a bustling suburb of shops and expensive houses. He was a longtime civic activist who helped plan McLean’s downtown, including a park and community center. The 386-seat community theater is named in his honor.

Robert Ames Alden was born in Washington on Feb. 5, 1933, and he spent part of his childhood in Rocky River, Ohio. As a high school student, he worked part-time at the Cleveland Press from 1947 to 1951 as a writer and reporter.

Returning to Washington after high school, he was a statistician at the Office of Price Stabilization before joining The Post news staff in 1952.

While working at the paper, he attended George Washington University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in 1965 and a master’s degree in history in 1968. 

In 1958, he married Diane Heidkamp. In addition to his wife, of McLean, survivors include four children, William Alden of Princeton, N.J., Thomas Alden of Manchester, Vt., Jennifer Alden of Chesterfield, Va., and Martha Alden of Reston, Va.; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

June 12

Top Stories

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Power Up: Rep. Clyburn to today’s activists: Don’t let ’defund the police’ hijack new momentum for reform, Jacqueline Alemany with Brent D. Griffiths, June 12, 2020 (print ed.). House Majority Whip Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), the highest-ranking black member in Congress and a veteran of the civil rights movement, has some advice for today's protesters and activists: Don't let the “defund the police” movement hijack the momentum to make serious police reforms in the wake of George Floyd's death.

Clyburn, right, james clyburnwho grew up in the Jim Crow South and has been a civil rights advocate since he was 12 years old, urged activists calling to overhaul policing and end systemic racism find a clearer and more united message.

“When you allow people to use incendiary terms, we create a climate within which we can’t get much done,” Clyburn told Power Up in an interview on Wednesday.

• ‘Defund the police’ is unnecessarily confusing, Clyburn said: “I think all of us know that sound bites tend to get interpreted in all kinds of ways and if you've got to explain the sound bite, you're losing the whole issue.”

• The movement to slash funding for police departments or disband them entirely — and redirect money to social programs — has been gaining traction among liberal activists and academics who believe that police reform alone is not enough. But it's raised a lot of questions about what it would actually mean in practice.

• “For me, the word defund means what Merriam-Webster says that it means,” Clyburn said. “So if you’re talking about reallocating resources, say that. If you mean reimagining policing, say that. If you’re going to reform policing, say that. Don’t tell me you’re going to use a term that you know is charged — and tell me that it doesn’t mean what it says.”

Clyburn, who has called the mass demonstrations “a defining moment in this country's history,” urged activists and protesters across the country to avoid violence and keep their eyes on the end goal of change. He argued that they owe it to Floyd's family.

Police Brutality Protests

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump pushes fights over racist legacy as much of U.S. takes different course, Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey, June 12, 2020. The president’s positions on policing and Confederate symbols have left some in his orbit uneasy, and Democrats hope to capitalize.

New York Post, Ex-fed who trained Buffalo cops says shoved activist ‘got away lightly,’ Craig McCarthy, June 12, 2020. A former fed who trained the police in Buffalo believes the elderly protester who was hospitalized after a cop pushed him to the ground “got away lightly” and “took a dive,” according to a report.

washington post logoWashington Post, Fox News host tries to educate Trump on ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts,’ Allyson Chiu, June 12, 2020. Harris Faulkner pressed the president on his widely criticized tweet, which many interpreted to be a racist threat of violence.

Virus Victims, Responses

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump wants you to clap, vote and die, Robert Harrington, June 12, 2020. I’m talking to those out there who see nothing to choose between Trump and Joe Biden. I’m talking to the self-proclaimed “progressives” who lack the courage to admit when they’re wrong. I’m talking to the Bernie burn-outs who are bitter they didn’t get their way and want to punish the world for it. Well, the last train to Sanityville is pulling out of the station, and you just might want to be on it this time.

bill palmer report logo headerOne of the most horrific tragedies ever to befall the American people is about to happen in the next month or two, and Donald Trump is going to be exclusively responsible for it. It’s not being reported by the press very much because, frankly, the ladies and gentlemen of the press can’t believe it themselves, even though it’s as obvious as the mask-covered noses in front of their faces. America is about to see a spike in COVID-19 cases and deaths so massive it will make the last one seem tame by comparison.

If you think otherwise then ask yourself this. How did America go from a starting point of practically no cases and fewer deaths to over two million cases and over 116,000 deaths in three months? Answer, by ignoring the doleful proclamations of the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control, that’s how. And now, with Donald Trump’s invaluable impetus, America is about to do it again, only this time from a starting point of two million cases. America is reopening at the very peak of the pandemic.

Oh, and by the way, two million confirmed cases probably means something more like six to twenty million actual cases. That is, there are probably, at the very least, four million extra asymptomatic COVID-19 cases than we officially know about, cases walking around out there ready to unwittingly infect everyone they meet. And, in a staggering lack of caution, America in particular and the world in general is about to walk into the greatest human calamity since World War II.

Do Trump and his people know about this? You bet they do. That’s why they are rushing headlong with frantic desperation and working night and day to protect their most precious resource: their money. In a cynical prelude to his next desperately anticipated Nuremberg-style rally, Donald Trump’s lawyers will be making every attendee sign this liability disclaimer:

By attending the Rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; BOK Center; ASM Global; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors, or volunteers liable for any illness or injury.

That is the price Donald Trump wants his people to pay for the sake of his ego, and no price is too high. Oh, and by the way, since this rally is going to be in Oklahoma, the state Trump carried by thirty-five points over Hillary Clinton in 2016, a state where Trump is holding a whopping twenty point lead over Joe Biden right now, this rally is not about reelection.

This rally is about a malignantly narcissistic man’s desperate need for approval. As far as Trump is concerned, the people in the rally can clap, vote and die. Donald Trump’s ego has gone three months without its favorite food, it’s famished and it doesn’t give a crap if you die feeding it.

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump administration won’t say who got $511 billion in taxpayer-backed coronavirus loans, Aaron Gregg, June 12, 2020 (print ed.). Federal officials responsible for spending $660 billion in taxpayer-backed small-business assistance said Wednesday that they will not disclose amounts or recipients of subsidized loans, backtracking on an earlier commitment to release individual loan data.

The Small Business Administration has previously released detailed loan information dating to 1991 for the federal 7(a) program, a long-standing small-business loan program on which the larger Paycheck Protection Program is based.

The SBA initially intended to publish similar information for the new coronavirus-related loans. An SBA spokesman told The Washington Post in an April 16 email that the agency “intend[s] to post individual loan data in accordance with the information presently on the SBA.gov website after the loan process has been completed,” and it made a similar commitment in response to an April 17 open records request.

washington post logocovad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Washington Post, Live U.S. Updates: Oregon delays reopening plans as cases hit new high, Staff reports, June 12, 2020. Florida fired its top coronavirus data scientist. She started publishing the statistics on her own; Airlines are suing U.K. to lift self-isolation rules for travelers.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Florida and Texas Report Record High Daily Coronavirus Cases, Staff reports, June 12, 2020. The two states both reported their highest daily totals of new infections, a concerning sign as the country begins to ease social distancing restrictions.
Counties that include Houston and Dallas have logged some of the nation’s largest single-day rises.

Two of the nation’s most populous states, Texas and Florida, both reported this week their highest daily totals of new virus infections, a concerning sign as all 50 states move to ease social distancing restrictions and allow more businesses to reopen.

The nation’s most populous state, California, hit a new daily high last week, when it recorded 3,593 new cases, a record it nearly matched it again this week.

The rise in cases helps explain why the nation continues to record more than 20,000 new cases a day even as some of the original hot spots, including New York, have seen dramatic declines. While some officials in states seeing increases attribute the rise to increased testing, and the number of cases per capita in Texas and Florida remains low, some health experts see worrying signs that the virus continues to make inroads.

washington post logoWashington Post, Unemployed workers face new delays and paused payments as states race to stamp out massive nationwide scam, Tony Romm, June 12, 2020. Some states have ramped up their efforts to investigate fraud, leaving innocent Americans caught in the fray.

State and federal investigators are scrambling to stop scammers from stealing millions of dollars in unemployment benefits, imposing a raft of new restrictions that have inadvertently deprived some out-of-work Americans from receiving much-needed payments for weeks.

The broad, national crackdowns began in May, following reports that organized criminals had set their sights on local labor agencies at a moment when they’re trying to manage the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. States including Maine, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Washington each have reviewed scores of past applications, while halting some current unemployment payments, hoping to thwart fraudsters before they could sap any more funds.

New York Post, Ex-fed who trained Buffalo cops says shoved activist ‘got away lightly,’ Craig McCarthy, June 12, 2020. A former fed who trained the police in Buffalo believes the elderly protester who was hospitalized after a cop pushed him to the ground “got away lightly” and “took a dive,” according to a report.

Gary DiLauraThe retired FBI agent, Gary DiLaura, right, told the Sun he thinks there’s no chance Buffalo officers will be convicted of assault over the now-viral video showing longtime peace activist Martin Gugino fall and police leave him bleeding on the ground.

“I can’t believe that they didn’t deck him. If that would have been a 40-year-old guy going up there, I guarantee you they’d have been all over him,” DiLaura said.

“He absolutely got away lightly. He got a light push and in my humble opinion, he took a dive and the dive backfired because he hit his head. Maybe it’ll knock a little bit of sense into him,” added the former fed, who trained Buffalo police on firearms and defensive tactics, according to the report.

“These cops were acting how they have been trained to act. There’s no way they are going to be convicted of assault.”

Gugino’s lawyer said Thursday the 75-year-old activist suffered a brain injury. His friends previously described him as a “gentle person.”

U.S. Virus Impacts

ny times logoNew York Times, As Money Squabbles Delay M.L.B., Many Workers ‘Just Get Steam-Rolled,’ James Wagner, June 12, 2020. Without a union or safety net, scores of minor league players, stadium workers and club employees have borne the financial pain of the suspended baseball season.

Like thousands of minor league baseball players, Zack Kelly knew May 31 was an important date. With professional baseball on pause because of the pandemic, M.L.B. had ensured minor leaguers would be paid $400 a week through the end of the month — and Kelly had a hunch that some players would be released as that expiration date approached.

He just didn’t think he would be one of them. Kelly, a right-handed pitcher, wasn’t a first-round pick or a notable prospect, but he was progressing steadily through the Los Angeles Angels’ farm system. Last season, at 24, he performed solidly at Class AA Mobile, a level where players typically earn about $9,300 a season. An elbow injury during spring training slowed him and he was awaiting surgery, but Kelly was looking forward to returning to the mound.

Then came the news on May 29 that he was among the 39 minor league players released by the Angels.

“It’s kind of frustrating because I felt like I had a career that wasn’t worthy of getting released at this point,” he said.

Much of the baseball world has been focused on the bitter back-and-forth between M.L.B. and the major-league players’ union as they try to hash out their differences on pay in order to play some semblance of a season in 2020. But as M.L.B.’s revenue has dried up significantly with the game on pause, much of the financial pain has also been felt by the vast constellation of club employees, minor league players and stadium workers who depend on the sport for their livelihood.

U.S. Law Enforcement, Crime

ny times logoNew York Times, Amazon Said to Be Under Scrutiny in 2 States for Abuse of Power, Karen Weise and David McCabe, June 12, 2020. State investigators in California and Washington have been looking into whether Amazon abuses its power over sellers on the tech giant’s site, according to people involved with the inquiry.

amazon logo smallIn the last several months, California has asked about the company’s private label products and whether it uses data from sellers to inform which products it sells, according to two people, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of retribution by the company.

The Washington attorney general’s office has also been interested in whether Amazon makes it harder for sellers to list their products on other websites, according to correspondence viewed by The New York Times.

The people said that the inquiries did not appear to be in advanced stages.

ny times logoNew York Times, William S. Sessions, F.B.I. Director at a Turbulent Time, Dies at 90, Robert D. McFadden, June 12, 2020. He was applauded for broadening the bureau’s ranks to include more black, Hispanic and female agents. But many of his other actions drew severe criticism.

william sessionsWilliam S. Sessions, right, a director of the F.B.I. under three presidents, from 1987 to 1993, who challenged racial and gender bias in his agency but struggled to redefine its mission in a time of domestic turmoil, and who was fired after being accused of ethical lapses, died on Friday in San Antonio. He was 90.

His daughter Sara Sessions Naughton confirmed the death, at the home of one of Mr. Sessions’s sons. Mr. Sessions had lived in San Antonio as well.

Mr. Sessions arrived in Washington as a figure of stern probity, a Republican hailed by Democrats and Republicans as a scrupulously fair federal judge from West Texas. Nominated by President Ronald Reagan, he sailed through Senate confirmation, 90-0, for what was supposed to be a 10-year term at the helm of 10,000 agents, 56 field offices and the traditions of a storied Federal Bureau of Investigation.

FBI logoBut in a tenure crowded with troubles and stumbling responses, Mr. Sessions presided for less than six years over an agency that mounted much-criticized deadly sieges at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas; tried to enlist American librarians to catch Soviet spies; and was forced to concede that agents in the past had overzealously spied on Americans protesting government policies in Central America.

Mr. Sessions was applauded for broadening the F.B.I. ranks to include more black, Hispanic and female agents. Facing complaints and lawsuits alleging bias in an agency that had long been overwhelmingly male and white, he acknowledged serious problems and ordered reforms in its affirmative action programs. He streamlined procedures for bias complaints, reached settlements with black and Hispanic agents, and was credited with hiring and promoting scores of women and members of minority groups.

“The F.B.I. is a proud organization,” he told a congressional hearing in 1989. “It has sometimes been difficult for us to recognize that there is the potential for injustice in our own ranks.”

william websterMr. Sessions had to face further accusations that F.B.I. agents under his predecessor, William H. Webster, left, had violated the rights of groups opposed to administration policies in El Salvador. Civil liberties lawyers produced evidence that agents had infiltrated protest groups, photographed peace rallies and compiled dossiers on thousands of dissidents.

At first Mr. Sessions defended the surveillance, saying that it had not been politically motivated and that it had been halted after it found no evidence that terrorists had been aided. But after further inquiry he conceded that spying on opposition groups, like the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, from 1983 to 1985 had been too broad. He disciplined six F.B.I. supervisors and ordered that the files on dissidents be purged.

In another concession, Mr. Sessions in 1988 curtailed a program that encouraged librarians to report people whose reading materials might suggest that they were Soviet spies. After outcries from Congress and library associations, he ordered that the initiative be made strictly voluntary and that it be confined to the New York area.

The first of the sieges under his watch occurred in 1992, when for 11 days the F.B.I.'s hostage rescue team surrounded a fugitive white separatist and others holed up in an isolated cabin on Ruby Ridge, near the Canadian border. After a United States marshal and the fugitive’s wife and son were killed by gunfire, a public furor arose questioning that use of deadly force. Mr. Sessions was not directly involved in the episode or accused of any wrongdoing, but the F.B.I.’s reputation was tarnished.

His agency again faced heavy criticism in 1993 over another violent standoff. This one began when four agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and six members of a cult called the Branch Davidians were killed in a gun battle at their compound near Waco, Texas. After a 51-day F.B.I. siege, President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno, fearing mass suicide, authorized a tear-gas assault on April 19. The compound caught fire. At least 75 people died, including many children.

By then, F.B.I. morale was abysmal and Mr. Sessions, a Republican stranded in a Democratic limbo, was under pressure to resign. His critics said he had failed to redefine the F.B.I.’s crime-fighting and domestic counterintelligence missions after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 during the administration of President George Bush. Some associates called him disengaged, a director who relished the trappings of high office but not the grind of bureau business.

But most damaging to Mr. Sessions was an internal Justice Department report — issued late in the Bush administration but pursued by the Clinton administration — accusing him of ethical violations, including using F.B.I. planes to visit relatives and friends around the country, often taking his wife; using agents to run personal errands; and having a $10,000 fence built around his Washington home at federal expense.

bill clinton w“It is because I believe in the principle of an independent F.B.I. that I have refused to voluntarily resign,” he said.

For Mr. Clinton, right, it was a vexing personnel problem. Mr. Sessions’s term still had four and a half years to run. Ten-year terms, subject only to presidential cancellation, were begun after J. Edgar Hoover’s death in 1972 to insulate directors from politics and limit their service in the wake of Hoover’s 48-year reign.

After rejecting a final presidential ultimatum to resign, Mr. Sessions was dismissed by Mr. Clinton on July 19, 1993.

“We cannot have a leadership vacuum at an agency as important to the United States as the F.B.I.,” Mr. Clinton said at the time. “It is time that this difficult chapter in the agency’s history is brought to a close.”

Judge Louis J. Freeh of Federal District Court in Manhattan, a former F.B.I. agent and federal prosecutor, became director on Sept. 1.

Mr. Sessions was the first director to be fired in the F.B.I.’s history; the second was James Comey, dismissed almost 24 years later, in May 2017, by President Trump.

In 1971, President Richard M. Nixon named him United States attorney for the Western District of Texas. In 1974, President Gerald R. Ford appointed him a federal district judge in El Paso. He later became chief district judge in San Antonio.

In 1982 Mr. Sessions drew national attention in presiding over trials that convicted four people in the 1979 assassination of Judge John H. Wood Jr., his predecessor as chief district judge.

After leaving the F.B.I., Mr. Sessions served on Texas commissions on crime, judicial efficiency and homeland security. In 2000, he became a partner in the international law firm Holland & Knight in Washington; he retired in 2016.

During his years at the firm, he often gave pro bono legal counseling in death row and international human rights cases.

His defenders called the complaints trivial. He denied wrongdoing, insisting that his trips had been for legitimate F.B.I. business and that the fence was necessary for his family’s security. For six months, he resisted requests for his resignation.

U.S. 2020 Elections

Palmer Report, Opinion: James Carville just revealed that Donald Trump has a whole new problem, Bill Palmer, June 12, 2020. General Mark Milley, right, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of mark milley army chief of staffStaff, did something remarkable on Thursday: he apologized to the American people for having participated in Donald Trump’s infamous church photo op. With so any military leaders openly turning against Trump, now including one who works in the White House, it raises the question of just how much of a military problem Trump has.

bill palmer report logo headerOn Thursday night, political operative James Carville appeared on the Brian Williams show on MSNBC to discuss the development. Carville is nothing if not connected, and he said that he’s discussed things with a number of flag officers within the U.S. military. They all said the same thing: they’re sick of Trump’s antics and they can’t wait until he’s gone.

That doesn’t mean everyone in the military is now against Trump. But it means Trump has two problems. First, military members – and military minded voters – tend to vote Republican. With Trump’s poll numbers already in the garbage, he can’t afford to lose even a fraction of military voters, yet that’s clearly happening.

Second, if Donald Trump loses the election, he’ll surely threaten to refuse to leave the White House until he gets concessions on the criminal charges he’s going to face at the federal and state level. That’ll be an empty threat; Trump can’t just magically remain in power after Joe Biden is sworn in. But for Trump to deceive people into believing he can pull it off, he’ll need to sell the notion that the military would back him. Yet as Carville just revealed, the military is continuing to turn against Trump just the same as the rest of the country.

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘I Can’t Support the Man’: Trump’s Actions Rattle the Military World, Jennifer Steinhauer, June 12, 2020. The president’s threat to use troops against largely peaceful protesters have unsettled a number of current and former service members.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Reactionaries Are Having a Bad Month, Paul Krugman, right, June 12, 2020 (print ed.). But they’ll be dangerous in the months ahead. It was always strange (and paul krugmanoutrageous) to have U.S. military bases named for traitors — for Confederate generals who rebelled against the Union to defend slavery. And military leaders seem willing to change those bases’ names. But Trump says no.

Why would he take that position at a time when white Americans finally seem to be acknowledging the injustice African-Americans routinely face, leading to surging public support for Black Lives Matter? The smart thing, surely, would be to emulate much of corporate America: Make a few cheap gestures on behalf of social justice while changing nothing fundamental. I mean, even NASCAR has announced that it will ban the Confederate flag at events. And renaming military bases would be very cheap.

But Trump evidently can’t bring himself to make even a symbolic show of sympathy. And trying to understand his incapacity helps explain what Trumpism — and, indeed, modern conservatism as a whole — is all about.

Trump himself says that it’s about honoring “a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom.” Really?

These bases honor men who stood for slavery, the opposite of freedom; and as it happens, two of the biggest bases are named for generals famed not for victories but for defeats. Bragg, whose army suffered an epic rout at Chattanooga, was one of the Civil War’s worst-regarded generals. John Bell Hood squandered his men’s lives in futile attacks at Atlanta and Franklin, then led what was left of his army to annihilation at Nashville.

Trump obviously doesn’t know about any of that. But why should a guy who grew up in Queens care about Confederate tradition in the first place?

The answer is that Trump, and most of his party, are reactionaries. That is, as the political theorist Corey Robin puts it, they are motivated above all by “a desire to resist the liberation of marginal or powerless people.” And Confederate iconography has become a symbol of reaction in America. world health organization logo Custom

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. reaffirms commitment to withdrawing troops from Iraq, Louisa Loveluck, June 12, 2020. The countries began talks Thursday on the future of their strategic relationship.

U.S. Flynn Case

washington post logoWashington Post, Court appears reluctant to order judge to drop Flynn conviction, Ann E. Marimow and Spencer S. Hsu, June 12, 2020. The majority of the three-judge panel suggests a July 16 hearing go forward on the Justice Department's reversal in the case of President Trump’s former national security adviser.A federal appeals court in Washington on Friday appeared reluctant to order a judge to immediately dismiss the guilty plea of President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, suggesting courts have the authority to review whether Justice Department moves to drop a prosecution are “in the public interest.”

michael flynn arms foldedFlynn, left, joined by the Justice Department, had asked the appeals court to force U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan to quickly close the case and put a stop to Sullivan’s examination of the government’s unusual decision to drop the charges against the retired three-star general.

But Judges Karen Henderson and Robert Wilkins of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit expressed skepticism of Flynn’s argument that Sullivan cannot conduct an independent evaluation or name an outside party to argue against the Justice Department’s May 7 motion.

“If Judge Sullivan had just kept this motion waiting and languishing, that’s one thing,” Henderson told Flynn attorney Sidney Powell. “But he has set a hearing for mid-July. For all we know, by the end of July he will have granted the motion. You also know courts have said he’s not a ‘mere rubber stamp’ either. There’s nothing wrong with him holding a hearing — there’s no authority I know of that says he can’t hold a hearing.”

Wilkins agreed, citing two cases in which he said the Supreme Court upheld the authority of federal judges “to perform an independent evaluation” before granting a government motion to drop a prosecution.

Trump Watch / Media

john bolton youtube guardian

Palmer Report, Opinion: John Bolton just royally blew it, Bill Palmer, June 12, 2020. John Bolton, above, managed to alienate pro-Trump people by leaking to the media several months ago that he witnessed Donald Trump commit crimes in the Ukraine scandal. Bolton then managed to alienate anti-Trump people by refusing to testify during the impeachment process, because his tell-all book wasn’t ready for publication yet. Then after Bolton forfeited his leverage, the Trump regime managed to get Bolton’s book repeatedly deleted.

bill palmer report logo headerNow that everyone on both sides hates John Bolton, and no one is interested in buying his book, he’s finally decided to release it over the objection of the Trump regime. He’ll still make some money from the book, but probably not nearly as much as he could have made. So by doing the wrong thing, he cost himself. What’s remarkable is that Bolton’s press release today about the book reveals just how badly he blew it.

Bolton has announced that he witnessed Donald Trump doing a wide swath of inappropriate things which went way beyond the Ukraine scandal. Bolton didn’t specify what those things were, but considering Trump’s consistently corrupt and frequently psychotic nature, Bolton has probably been sitting on a mother lode of Trump dirt.

If John Bolton had simply testified back when he was supposed to, and he had used his testimony to reveal even half the things he saw Donald Trump do wrong, he could still have saved the other half for his book. But Bolton greedily did the wrong thing, and he blew it for himself. Now he’s trying to blame the House impeachment process for not being comprehensive enough. No really, the guy who refused to testify is now saying that not enough witnesses were called. Bolton is an idiot. No wonder everything he touches turns to crap.

Inside DC

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washington post logoWashington Post, Melania Trump was in no rush to move into the White House. That’s when she renegotiated her prenup, a new book says, Jada Yuan, June 12, 2020 (print  ed.). When Melania Trump stayed behind in New York after her husband’s presidential inauguration, she said it was because she didn’t want to interrupt their then-10-year-old son Barron’s school year. News stories at the time concentrated on an apparent frostiness between the first couple and on the exorbitant taxpayer costs to protect Melania and Barron away from Washington.

Those stories are true, but Washington Post reporter Mary Jordan reveals in a new book that the first lady was also using her delayed arrival to the White House as leverage for renegotiating her prenuptial agreement with President Trump.

The campaign had been full of harsh news about Trump’s alleged sexual indiscretions and infidelities, from the “grab them by the p---y” Access Hollywood tape to an affair with Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal; Melania Trump learned new details from the media coverage, Jordan writes.

This article is adapted from The Art of Her Deal: The Untold Story of Melania Trump, which will be published on June 16 by Simon and Schuster.

Melania Trump did not even like to be called by her new title at first. “She said, ‘Stop calling me first lady,’ ” recalled one of the people who worked with Melania after the election.

The New York City mother known for sending emoji-filled texts was now being invited to give speeches around the country. For years, she and her husband had a bodyguard, but now she was being protected 24 hours a day by Secret Service agents. There was always someone standing guard outside her door, and the animosity directed at her husband worried her.

“At the core, I think she’s a private person who’s spent a lot of time adjusting to public life,” said one person who worked with Trump on the campaign and has remained close to the family.

Press Freedom News

PBS via WGBH Radio (Boston), Frontline, Maria Ressa, Duterte & the Fight for the Free Press, Max Green and James Edwards, June 12, 2020.  Ahead of the expected verdict in her trial, Philippine journalist Maria Ressa speaks out about reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte's brutal drug war — and -- then becoming a high-profile target of his government's crackdown on the press.  

As she faces potential prison time on cyber libel charges, the co-founder and CEO of the independent Philippine news site Rappler tells Frontline how she’s preparing, discusses her reporting on Duterte, and says that her conviction about what she does is undaunted: “All it has done is to make us stronger in our intent to continue to hold government to account…”

For more on Duterte’s drug war, watch Frontline's "On the President’s Orders." And for more from Ressa, read Frontline's interview with her for The Facebook Dilemma, in which she discusses her reporting on how Duterte weaponized the platform to target his critics and spread disinformation. Plus: Stay tuned for the forthcoming documentary A Thousand Cuts, featuring Ressa’s story, which will see a summer theatrical release and a fall Frontline broadcast.

June 11

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

Palmer Report, Opinion: What really happens if Donald Trump tries to refuse to leave office after he loses, Ron Leshnower, June 11, 2020. No matter how heated an election season becomes, we normally don’t panic over the idea of a losing incumbent refusing to let the winning party take over. The question is, if Biden wins this November, should we panic that Trump won’t leave?

bill palmer report logo headerGiven Trump’s maniacal obsession with winning, his insistence on declaring his losses as rigged, and his bleak future fighting criminal charges once he is out of power, this is a question well worth asking. Joe Biden addressed it for the first time last night on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.” His comments, though brief, were both newsworthy and comforting.

When Biden brought up the possibility that we might not know who wins Pennsylvania until a month after the election, Noah asked if he has thought about what would happen if Trump refuses to leave if Biden wins. Biden’s answer, “Yes, I have,” confirms that we aren’t crazy to be concerned about such a possibility. More importantly, the quickness and confidence of Biden’s reply tells us his team is taking such a disturbing possibility seriously and planning accordingly.

joe biden 2020 button CustomAs for what those plans may entail, Biden appears certain that the U.S. military will step in, if necessary, to ensure a peaceful transition of power in January. Biden assured Noah, “I promise you—I’m absolutely convinced—they will escort him from the White House with great dispatch.” Without mincing words, Biden also expressed how proud he was of four Chiefs of Staff “coming out and ripping the skin off of Trump” along with “so many rank-and-file military personnel” refuting the idea that we are a military state in the wake of protests following George Floyd’s murder.

democratic donkey logoLending even more support for Biden’s words, the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff apologized this morning for participating in Trump’s shameless photo op at Lafayette Square. Gen. Mark Milley told graduates at National Defense University’s commencement that his “presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics,” as reported by the New York Times. Milley called his appearance “a mistake that I have learned from” and added that “I sincerely hope we all can learn from it.”

President Clinton did not try to block George W. Bush from taking office after the hanging chad debacle. President Obama and his staff graciously helped the Trump team transition into power, despite Hillary Clinton’s popular vote win and mounting allegations of Russian interference. When it is time for President Biden to move in on January 20, Trump should think twice about relying on the military to help him stick around and avoid answering for his crimes. Better yet, he can do the country a favor and leave today.

washington post logoWashington Post, Pentagon leaders outline military role in recent unrest, Missy Ryan, June 11, 2020. A letter from Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Gen. Mark A. Milley, mark milley army chief of staffchairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, comes amid a showdown with House Democrats who are pushing them to testify about the military’s role.

National Guard troops remained in a supporting role during recent civil unrest in Washington and steps to prepare active-duty forces to deploy into the nation’s capital proved to be a precautionary measure, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Gen. Mark A. Milley, right, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a letter to Congress on Wednesday.

The Pentagon leaders addressed questions from Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, in a letter on Wednesday, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump’s Grotesque Tulsa Trip, Michelle Goldberg, right, June 11, 2020. A racist president trolls his enemies with a rally on Juneteenth. Most people — or, michelle goldberg thumbat any rate, most readers of The New York Times — remember Donald Trump’s response to the white nationalist riot in Charlottesville, Va., as a particularly low point in a presidency full of them. After a rambling, aggrieved news conference in which he defended some of those marching with neo-Nazis as “very fine people,” Trump’s already dismal approval rating hovered below 38 percent. Staffers voiced shame and disgust to journalists (anonymously, of course). Senator Susan Collins was “concerned.”

What’s been forgotten in the almost three years that followed is what came next. For his first post-Charlottesville rally, Trump chose not a blood-red exurb, but Phoenix, a blue city with a large Hispanic population whose Democratic mayor implored the president to stay away.

As The Washington Post reported at the time, Trump’s inflammatory event was part of a pattern: “When he finds himself under attack or slipping in popularity, he often holds a rally in a place like this: a diverse blue city that’s home to liberal protesters but surrounded by red suburbs and rural towns filled with Trump supporters who will turn out in droves.” His first rally after Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry was in the Minneapolis district held by Representative Ilhan Omar, whom Trump has repeatedly demonized.

It’s important to keep Trump’s instinct for escalation in mind when considering his decision to hold his first post-shutdown rally in Tulsa, Okla., next Friday — which is Juneteenth, the holiday that celebrates the end of American slavery. Tulsa was the site, 99 years ago, of a white rampage in the thriving commercial district known as Black Wall Street; with as many as 300 people killed, it was one of the worst incidents of racist violence in American history.

“The president’s speech there on Juneteenth is a message to every black American: more of the same,” tweeted Representative Val Demings, a Florida Democrat reported to be on Joe Biden’s vice-presidential shortlist.

Police Brutality Protests

washington post logoWashington Post, Seattle protesters struggle with what’s next for ‘autonomous zone’ as Trump lobs threats, Kim Bellware, Tim Elfrink, Marisa Iati and Derek Hawkins, June 11, 2020. The largely peaceful demonstration has forced activists and city officials to grapple with questions of accountability and leadership as a larger conversation plays out nationally over changing the policing model.

washington post logoWashington Post, In Lafayette Square, visitors return to a park changed by protests, Hannah Natanson, June 11, 2020. Where law enforcement had lined up behind riot shields, there now stood seven trash cans, overflowing with the pungent residue of a historic week of protests.

A trickle of tourists, power walkers and joggers averted their eyes or wrinkled their noses as they walked or ran past the garbage, entering Lafayette Square across from the White House through two openings made early Thursday morning in the tall metal fence that surrounded the park. The wall had been in place for more than a week, designed to insulate President Trump from the thousands who had descended daily on the nation’s capital to protest George Floyd’s death.

Now, instead of clouds of eye-burning smoke and Black Lives Matter signs, there were a dozen or so people strolling down brick paths through a drizzle of rain. Some stopped to survey a crew waxing a statue of President Andrew Jackson. Others ducked beneath trees to avoid intermittent downpours. And some made a beeline for the front of the park, as close to the White House as they could get.

World News

Reuters via New York Times, ‘It’s Clear That the Pandemic Is Accelerating,’ W.H.O. Official Says, Staff report, June 11, 2020. Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization’s regional director for Africa, said the pace of the coronavirus spread there is quickening.

U.S. Crime, Courts

Associated Press, White nationalist’s lawyer wants out of rally violence case, Michael Kunzelman, June 11, 2020.  A leading white nationalist told a judge on Thursday that his notoriety has made it difficult for him to raise money for his defense against a “financially crippling” lawsuit that names him as an organizer of a rally in Virginia that erupted into violence in 2017.

Richard Spencer’s attorney has asked for the court’s permission to withdraw from representing him in the civil case. The lawyer, John DiNucci, said Spencer owes him a significant amount of money in legal fees and hasn’t been cooperating adequately.

Spencer told U.S. Magistrate Judge Joel Hoppe that the lawsuit over the “Unite the Right” white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017 has been “extremely expensive” and a “huge burden” for him.

“This case has been financially crippling for a long time,” said Spencer, who popularized the term “alt-right” to describe a loosely connected fringe movement of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other far-right extremists.

Lawyers for victims of the Charlottesville rally violence sued several far-right extremist groups and individuals who participated in the event, which was organized in part to protest the city’s planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The lawsuit names Spencer as one of the organizers of the Aug. 12, 2017, rally. Spencer was scheduled to speak at the gathering but has denied that he helped organize it.

Spencer said getting banned from mainstream internet platforms has made it difficult for him raise and accept donations from supporters.

“That’s something that I have proven to be able to do in the past, fairly easily to be honest, but it’s something that I cannot do now,” he said. “When I attempt to raise money, there are various groups that make it their life’s mission to get me kicked off the platform.”

Violent street clashes broke out in Charlottesville on Aug 12, 2017, before a man fascinated with Adolf Hitler plowed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing a woman. On the eve of the rally, Spencer and others marched through the University of Virginia’s campus, shouting racist and anti-Semitic slogans.

Spencer has operated an Alexandria, Virginia-based nonprofit called the National Policy Institute, which raised $442,482 in tax-deductible contributions from 2007 through 2012, according to an Associated Press review of IRS tax records. William H. Regnery II, a wealthy publisher, founded the nonprofit in 2005.

Media News

washington post logoalden global capital logoWashington Post, Heath Freeman is the hedge fund guy who says he wants to save local news. Somehow, no one’s buying it, Sarah Ellison, June 11, 2020. The former Duke place kicker got into an industry whose purpose is enshrined in the Constitution and whose workers are well-versed in questioning authority and defining a narrative — and started cutting their jobs.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump campaign seeks apology, retraction of CNN poll showing Biden leading, John Wagner and Felicia Sonmez, June 11, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump’s reelection campaign is asking CNN for an apology and demanding a retraction of a poll this week that shows presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden with a sizable lead, claiming it was designed “to manufacture an anti-Trump narrative.”

cnn logoCNN said Wednesday that it stands by the poll, which showed Trump trailing the former vice president, 41 percent to 55 percent, or by 14 points, among registered voters in a November matchup.

donald trump twitterIn a letter to CNN President Jeff Zucker, representatives of the Trump campaign questioned the methodology and timing of the poll, noting that it was largely conducted before better-than-expected unemployment numbers were released Friday.

“Media polls such as these are designed to manufacture an anti-Trump narrative and misinform and mislead actual voters,” the letter, dated Tuesday, said. “It’s a stunt and a phony poll to cause voter suppression, stifle momentum and enthusiasm for the President, and present a false view generally of the actual support across America for the President.”

While Trump has complained about polling dating back to the 2016 election, this is the first known time that he or his campaign have threatened legal action to suppress results.

The Trump campaign asked CNN to retract the poll “by publishing a full, fair, and conspicuous retraction, apology, and clarification to correct its misleading conclusions.” The letter also puts CNN “on notice” that it should preserve documents related to the production of the poll, which was conducted for the network by SSRS and released Monday.

CNN executive vice president and general counsel David Vigilante responded Wednesday afternoon with a letter to the Trump campaign. Vigilante said the Trump campaign’s letter marked what he believed to be the first time that the network has been threatened over polling results in its 40-year history.

john bolton youtube guardian

washington post logoWashington Post, Bolton plans to move forward with book despite new White House warning that it contains classified material, Tom Hamburger and Josh Dawsey, June 11, 2020 (print ed.). Former national security adviser John Bolton, above, plans to move ahead with publication of his memoir about working in the Trump White House despite a new warning from the administration that it contains classified material and needs to be further revised, his lawyer said.

The letter Wednesday from a White House lawyer arrived just two weeks before “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir” is set to go on sale and as Bolton is negotiating media appearances to promote the book.

The letter said Bolton would be provided with a redacted manuscript by June 19, four days before the book is to go on sale.

In response, Bolton’s lawyer, Charles Cooper, said he has scrupulously complied with national security requirements and expects his book will be available to the public as planned on June 23.

The book’s publisher, Simon & Schuster, has already shipped copies to warehouses around the country in preparation.

June 10

Top Stories

washington post logocovad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Washington Post, States wrestle with how to expand testing, with little federal guidance, Rachel Weiner and Rosalind S. Helderman, June 10, 2020. The lack of a unified national strategy has left Americans uncertain about whether and how to be tested, has hampered reopening plans, and could jeopardize efforts to restart the economy, experts warn.

washington post logoWashington Post, Flynn committed perjury, court-appointed counsel finds, Spencer S. Hsu, June 10, 2020. A former U.S. judge appointed to oppose the Justice Dept. request to dismiss the prosecution of President Trump’s former national security adviser said that Michael Flynn’s guilty plea to lying to the FBI should stand.

michael flynn arms folded​Michael Flynn, left, committed perjury and his guilty plea of lying to the FBI should not be dismissed, a court-appointed counsel told a federal judge Wednesday, calling the Justice Department’s attempt to undo the conviction “a gross abuse of prosecutorial power.”

In a formal briefing to the judge overseeing Flynn’s case, former New York federal judge John Gleeson argued that though Flynn committed perjury by first admitting under oath to lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts and then seeking to rescind his guilty plea, Trump’s former national security adviser should not face a contempt hearing but instead be punished as part of his sentence.

john gleeson Custom“Flynn has indeed committed perjury in these proceedings, for which he deserves punishment, and the Court has the authority to initiate a prosecution for that crime,” Gleeson, right, wrote in an 82-page opinion. “I respectfully recommend, however, that the Court not exercise that authority. Rather, it should take Flynn’s perjury into account in sentencing him on the offense to which he has already admitted guilt. This approach — rather than a separate prosecution for perjury or contempt — aligns with the Court’s intent to treat this case, and this Defendant, in the same way it would any other.”

emmet sullivan 2012U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, left, had paused Flynn’s case to hear from outside groups and appointed Gleeson to argue against the Justice Department’s May 7 motion to immediately drop its prosecution of the retired three-star general. Flynn was the highest-ranking Trump adviser convicted in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections.

Gleeson’s response came ahead of a July 16 hearing that Sullivan has scheduled to weigh the unusual request, which came after Attorney General William P. Barr ordered a review of Flynn’s case.

In its motion, which is supported by Flynn and which prompted a career department prosecutor to quit the case, the department said it had concluded that Flynn’s January 2017 FBI interview was unjustified and “conducted without any legitimate investigative basis,” so any lies he told about his contacts with Russia and other foreign governments were immaterial to any crime.

In his argument, Gleeson said the government’s “ostensible grounds” for seeking dismissal were “conclusively disproven” by its own earlier briefs; contradict the court’s prior orders and Justice Department positions taken in other cases; and “are riddled with inexplicable and elementary errors of law and fact.”

A former federal prosecutor and judge for 22 years in Brooklyn — best known for putting the late mob boss John Gotti behind bars and presiding over the trial of “Wolf of Wall Street” stockbroker Jordan Belfort — Gleeson wrote that judges are empowered to protect their court’s integrity “from prosecutors who undertake corrupt, politically motivated dismissals. That is what has happened here. The Government has engaged in highly irregular conduct to benefit a political ally of the President.” Excerpt continued below.

djt i dont take responsibility at all

ny times logocovad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2New York Times, How the Coronavirus Compares With 100 Years of Deadly Events, Allison McCann, Jin Wu and Josh Katz, June 10, 2020. Only the worst disasters completely upend normal patterns of death. This is how the pandemic’s toll in 25 cities and regions compares with hurricanes, heat waves and the Spanish flu.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: The Race to Develop a Vaccine Aims for Next Year, Staff reports, June 10, 2020. Researchers around the world are developing more than 125 vaccines against the coronavirus. Vaccines typically require years of research and testing before reaching the clinic, but scientists are hoping to produce a safe and effective vaccine by next year.

There are three phases before a vaccine is approved for use, but some projects have combined early phase trials to speed up the process. Some coronavirus vaccines are now in Phase I/II trials, for example, in which they are tested for the first time on hundreds of people.

Additionally, the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed program has selected five vaccine projects to receive billions of dollars in federal funding and support before there’s proof that the vaccines work. Other news:

The virus is increasing in many states, with new virus cases in Arizona, Florida, North Carolina and more. The number of cases is increasing in parts of the country, as Americans try to return to their normal routines. And at least 15 cases nationally have been linked to protests, including five National Guard members and one police officer in Nebraska.

ny times logoNew York Times, Economic live updates: The world faces the worst recession in a century. Investors are awaiting a Fed forecast, Staff reports, June 10, 2020. Follow business updates here.

The world economy is facing the most severe recession in a century and could experience a halting recovery as policymakers brace for a potential second wave of the coronavirus and as countries embrace protectionist policies, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned in a new report.

A grim economic outlook released by the O.E.C.D. on Wednesday depicted a world economy that is walking on a “tightrope” as countries seek to reopen after three months of lockdowns. Considerable uncertainty remains, however, as the prospects and timing of a vaccine remain unknown. Health experts fear that the spread of the virus could accelerate again later this year.

“Extraordinary policies will be needed to walk the tightrope towards recovery,” said Laurence Boone, the O.E.C.D.’s chief economist.

The O.E.C.D., which comprises 37 of the world’s leading economies, predicts that the global economy will contract 6 percent this year if a second wave of the virus is avoided. If a second wave does occur, world economic output would fall 7.6 percent, before rebounding by 2.8 percent in 2021. The two scenarios are viewed as equally plausible.

World News

ny times logoNew York Times, Brazil Rattled by Talk of Military Action to Bolster Bolsonaro, Simon Romero, Letícia Casado and Manuela Andreoni, June 10, 2020. As coronavirus deaths surge in Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro, right, is using jair bolsonaro brazilthe threat of military intervention to protect his grip on power.

The threats are swirling around the president: Deaths from the virus in Brazil each day are now the highest in the world. Investors are fleeing the country. The president, his sons and his allies brazil flag wavingare under investigation. His election could even be overturned.

The crisis has grown so intense that some of the most powerful military figures in Brazil are warning of instability — sending shudders that they could take over and dismantle Latin America’s largest democracy.

OpEdNews, Commentary: COVID-19 Will Devastate Indonesia Which Is Already Collapsing Under Brutal System, Andre Vltchek, June 10, 2020. In Jakarta, doctors are dying, while common people do not know which data to believe, anymore. It appears that even some government officials do not trust government statistics.

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2People in the slums are attacking ambulances, preventing patients infected with COVID-19 from being taken to hospitals. The novel coronavirus is a stigma. Tests are resisted, death certificates falsified. Social distancing, even basing norms of it, is ignored.

At the beginning of the pandemic, for weeks, the Indonesian government was pretending that there is no problem whatsoever, insisting that number of cases was zero, thanks to prayers and divine intervention.

While talking about God and prayers, the President was advising to drink traditional herbal medicine as prevention. Well, at least he was not pitching detergent or disinfectant, for oral consumption.

In February, after I finished filming in Borneo (Indonesian part of the third largest island on earth where it