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Obama Urges Protesters to Use Momentum to Participate in Local Politics

Former U.S. President Barack Obama said Americans protesting the death of George Floyd must use momentum from the demonstrations to achieve real change by participating in local politics. “I’ve heard some suggest that the recurrent problem of racial bias in our criminal and justice system proves that only protests and direct action can bring about change,” Obama wrote in an article published Monday on the website Medium. “I couldn’t disagree more,” he said.  Obama said, “eventually, aspirations have to be translated into specific laws and institutional practices – and in a democracy, that only happens when we elect government officials who are responsive to our demands.” While the former president argued that it is important to elect a president, Congress and federal judiciary that recognize the “ongoing, corrosive role that racism plays in our society,” he said, “the elected officials who matter most in reforming police departments and the criminal justice system work at the state and local levels.” He noted that voter turnout in local races is usually “pitifully low, especially among young people” which, he said, “makes no sense given the direct impact these offices have on social justice issues.” Police use pepper spray against protesters in Portland, Oregon, May 31, 2020, in this still image taken from video obtained by Reuters.Obama criticized protesters who turn to violence, echoing other politicians. Protests have spread across the country after the death of a black man, George Floyd, in police custody in Minneapolis last week. Video footage shows a white officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes before he died. Many of the larger protests often begin peacefully but later turn into rioting. In his article, Obama did not mention U.S. President Donald Trump, who has been criticized by some officials for his response to the demonstrations.  Trump has not made a major public statement to address the protests but has expressed sympathy for Floyd’s family and issued a series of tweets demanding a crackdown on protesters. One of his tweets, calling the Minneapolis protesters “thugs” and saying, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” was flagged by Twitter for inciting violence. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden spoke to black community leaders in Delaware Monday, promising if elected to “deal with institutional racism” and to set up a police oversight body in his first 100 days in office. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, called Monday for citizens to use this moment of unrest to push politicians to make changes. He called for a national ban on chokeholds and excessive force by police as well as independent investigations of police abuse. Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday the latest cases of police brutality in Minneapolis and Louisville are “absolutely horrendous.” He also urged protesters in both cities to remain peaceful, saying violence “is not helpful to anyone.”  



Protests Aside, Trump Focuses on Election

U.S. President Donald Trump’s focus Monday remained on the reelection contest five months from now, even as dozens of American cities cleaned up from a sixth night of chaos protesting the death of a black man in the Midwestern city of Minneapolis. “NOVEMBER 3RD,” Trump tweeted, referring to Election Day, when he is running for a second four-year term in the White House against former Vice President Joe Biden.  With Biden, a Democrat, leading Republican Trump in all 40 national polls of U.S. voters in May, the president unleashed a string of Twitter attacks. “Sleepy Joe Biden’s people are so Radical Left that they are working to get the Anarchists out of jail, and probably more,” Trump tweeted about protesters arrested in the past week. “Joe doesn’t know anything about it, he is clueless, but they will be the real power, not Joe. They will be calling the shots! Big tax increases for all, Plus!” Trump said. Sleepy Joe Biden’s people are so Radical Left that they are working to get the Anarchists out of jail, and probably more. Joe doesn’t know anything about it, he is clueless, but they will be the real power, not Joe. They will be calling the shots! Big tax increases for all, Plus!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 1, 2020Countering Trump, Biden, speaking in Wilmington, Delaware, vowed to address “institutional racism” in his first 100 days in office if he is elected and create a police oversight body. Biden, staying at his home in Delaware during the coronavirus crisis, has struggled to be heard above the din of the public debate in Washington. But he has called the upcoming election a fight for the soul of the nation, hoping to contrast his quieter approach to public discourse with Trump’s more incendiary attacks on his foes.  With the significant racial overtones of the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man who was pinned to the ground by a white police officer as he gasped to breathe, Biden left his home to meet with about a dozen local black leaders in his hometown. Later, he planned a virtual meeting with mayors from Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago and St. Paul, Minnesota. “Hate just hides,” Biden said, speaking of race relations in the U.S. “It doesn’t go away, and when you have somebody in power who breathes oxygen into the hate under the rocks, it comes out from under the rocks.” Biden’s aides noted that while he did not appear on television over the weekend, he spoke about Floyd’s death before Trump did and has voiced compassion for the protesters. Trump linked Biden, who served eight years as former President Barack Obama’s second in command, to the more radical elements in the protests against the police action a week ago that killed Floyd. Floyd was held face down on a Minneapolis street by police officer Derek Chauvin, who pushed a knee against his neck for more than eight minutes even as he repeatedly said he could not breathe. Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and second degree manslaughter in the case. “Get tough Democrat Mayors and Governors. These people are ANARCHISTS,” Trump tweeted about the protesters. “Call in our National Guard NOW. The World is watching and laughing at you and Sleepy Joe. Is this what America wants? NO!!!” Get tough Democrat Mayors and Governors. These people are ANARCHISTS. Call in our National Guard NOW. The World is watching and laughing at you and Sleepy Joe. Is this what America wants? NO!!!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2020In another tweet Sunday, Trump said, “Law & Order in Philadelphia, NOW! They are looting stores. Call in our great National Guard like they FINALLY did (thank you President Trump) last night in Minneapolis. Is this what voters want with Sleepy Joe? All Dems!” Law & Order in Philadelphia, NOW! They are looting stores. Call in our great National Guard like they FINALLY did (thank you President Trump) last night in Minneapolis. Is this what voters want with Sleepy Joe? All Dems!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2020Trump also blamed another of his favorite targets, the national news media, for allegedly promoting civil unrest in the U.S. “The Lamestream Media is doing everything within their power to foment hatred and anarchy,” he said. “As long as everybody understands what they are doing, that they are FAKE NEWS and truly bad people with a sick agenda, we can easily work through them to GREATNESS!” The Lamestream Media is doing everything within their power to foment hatred and anarchy. As long as everybody understands what they are doing, that they are FAKE NEWS and truly bad people with a sick agenda, we can easily work through them to GREATNESS!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2020“Much more ‘disinformation’ coming out of CNN, MSDNC, @nytimes and @washingtonpost, by far, than coming out of any foreign country, even combined,” Trump alleged. “Fake News is the Enemy of the People!” Much more “disinformation” coming out of CNN, MSDNC, @nytimes and @washingtonpost, by far, than coming out of any foreign country, even combined. Fake News is the Enemy of the People!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2020 



Civil Unrest Could Influence Biden’s Search for Running Mate

Joe Biden’s search for a running mate could be reshaped by the police killing of George Floyd and the unrest it has ignited across the country, raising questions about contenders with law-and-order backgrounds and intensifying pressure on the presumptive Democratic nominee to select a black woman.
Biden, who has already pledged to pick a woman, has cast a wide net in his search. Some of the women on his list have drawn national praise amid the protests over Floyd’s death, including Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who delivered an impassioned appeal for calm in her city on Friday night. But the outcry over police brutality against minorities has complicated the prospects of Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who had a controversial record addressing police violence as a prosecutor in the city where Floyd died.
Biden’s choice of a running mate will be among the most consequential decisions he makes in the campaign, particularly given that the 77-year-old is already talking about himself as a “transition” candidate to a new generation of Democratic leaders. His pick will also be viewed as a signal both of his values and who he believes should have representation at the highest level of the American government.
Even before the outcry over Floyd’s death, some Biden allies were already urging him to put a black woman on the ticket given the critical role African Americans played in his path to the Democratic nomination. Those calls have gotten louder in recent days.
“The more we see this level of hatred, the more I think it’s important to confront it with symbolic acts, including potentially the selection of an African American woman as vice president,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers and one of the labor leaders who’s been asked for input by Biden’s team on the selection process.
Bottoms is one of several black women under consideration by Biden’s campaign. Others Biden is believed to be considering include California Sen. Kamala Harris, Florida Rep. Val Demings and Stacey Abrams, the Georgia Democrat and voting rights activist.
Demings didn’t answer directly when asked if the events of the past week increased pressure on Biden to choose a black woman in an interview with The Associated Press on Sunday.
“Well, we’ve never seen a black woman selected as a vice presidential candidate. But I think the American people want someone who cares about their issues and are willing to move the ball forward,”
Asked if she believes race should be left out of the conversation, she was careful to defer to Biden.  
“It doesn’t really matter what I think,” she said. “What matters is what Americans think, and what Joe Biden thinks.”
Demings, a former Orlando police chief, wrote a high-profile editorial on Friday challenging her former colleagues in law enforcement.
“As a former woman in blue, let me begin with my brothers and sisters in blue: What in the hell are you doing?” Demings wrote in The Washington Post.  
Politicians with law-and-order backgrounds have been viewed skeptically by some in the Democratic Party given the high-profile instances of police brutality against minorities and other inequities in the criminal justice system. In an interview Sunday, Demings defended herself and other potential contenders with such backgrounds, declaring “you’re either gonna be part of the problem or part of the solution.”
“And I think the community wants people who understand the system from the inside out in order to bring real life necessary reforms,” she said.
Harris faced criticism throughout her Democratic primary campaign for her record as a prosecutor and attorney general in California, when she resisted reforms that would have required her office to investigate killings by police and established statewide standards for body cameras.
Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid suggested a resume as a prosecutor could be problematic for potential contenders.
“Prosecutors are not very popular, especially among young people now,” he said. “I’ve got a granddaughter who is graduating from law school and she wants to be a public defender. She doesn’t want to be a prosecutor. And I think a lot of younger people feel the same.”
Klobuchar, who also sought the Democratic nomination, has faced questions about her eight years as prosecutor for Minnesota’s largest county during the primary. Most of the more than two dozen people who died during police encounters in her tenure were people of color, according to data compiled by Communities United Against Police Brutality and news articles reviewed by the AP.
An officer involved in one of those past fatal incidents was Derek Chauvin, who was arrested and charged Friday with Floyd’s murder.
Since ending her campaign, Klobuchar has emerged as a key Biden surrogate and some Democrats see her as a running mate who could help him appeal to some of the white, working-class voters who turned against the party in the 2016 election. Yet some Democrats say the renewed focus on police brutality could complicate her path.
“This is very tough timing for her,” said Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., a top Biden ally.
Klobuchar has said that she is confident Biden will make the right choice and that she’s not thinking about politics right now.
Biden has said he will announce a running mate by Aug. 1, a timeline that leaves plenty of time for the national mood to shift again, particularly as the coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic collapse pressed on.
Those twin crises have already led to increased scrutiny for others in the mix to become Biden’s running mate.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a frequent Trump target during the pandemic for her resistance to lifting stay at home orders, faced questions after her husband allegedly tried to skip the line with a dock company and get his boat in the water ahead of other patrons over Memorial Day weekend.
And Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico was criticized by Republicans in her state following a report that she purchased jewelry from a local business just days after she ordered non-essential businesses to shut down and told residents to stay home.
Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who was vetted as a potential vice presidential pick in 2004, said the scrutiny contenders are facing now has “proliferated.”
“The scrutiny compared to when I was vetted is so much more intense and potentially troublesome for a VP candidate,” he said.
Biden’s search process is still in a relatively early phase. A search committee has been meeting with power players on the left, with special attention to Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill and across organized labor. Biden, who has largely been cloistered at his home in Delaware during the pandemic, would also like to conduct in person meetings with finalists.
“It’s important for him to see the candidate, talk to the candidate, get body language from the candidate. And I don’t mean one time. I think it needs to be several times,” said Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana congressman and campaign co-chair.



US Heads Into A New Week Shaken by Violence and Pandemic

With cities wounded by days of violent unrest, America headed into a new week with neighborhoods in shambles, urban streets on lockdown and shaken confidence about when leaders would find the answers to control the mayhem amid unrelenting raw emotion over police killings of black people.
All of it smashed into a nation already bludgeoned by a death toll from the coronavirus pandemic surging past 100,000 and unemployment that soared to levels not seen since the Great Depression.
Sunday capped a tumultuous weekend and month that saw city and state officials deploy thousands of National Guard soldiers, enact strict curfews and shut down mass transit systems. Even with those efforts, many demonstrations erupted into violence as protesters hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails at police in Philadelphia, set a fire near the White House and were hit with tear gas and pepper spray in Austin and other cities. Seven Boston police officers were hospitalized.
In some cities, thieves smashed their way into stores and ran off with as much as they could carry, leaving shop owners, many of them just ramping up their business again after coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, to clean up their shattered storefronts.
In others, police tried to calm tensions by kneeling in solidarity with demonstrators, while still maintaining a strong presence for security.
The demonstrations were sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man who pleaded for air as an officer pressed a knee into his neck. Floyd’s death in Minneapolis came after tensions had already flared after two white men were arrested in May for the February shooting death of black jogger Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, and the Louisville police shooting death of Breonna Taylor in her home in March.
The scale of the coast-to-coast protests rivaled the historic demonstrations of the civil rights and Vietnam War eras.
“They keep killing our people. I’m so sick and tired of it,” said Mahira Louis, 15, who was at a Boston protest with her mother Sunday, leading chants of “George Floyd, say his name.”Scenes from Sunday’s George Floyd Protests Around US, WorldFires, vandalism, looting and violence – much of it aimed at police – have flared over the last five nights.Tensions rose Sunday outside the White House, the scene of three days of demonstrations, where police fired tear gas and stun grenades into a crowd of more than 1,000 chanting protesters across the street in Lafayette Park. The crowd ran, piling up road signs and plastic barriers to light a raging fire in a nearby street. Some pulled an American flag from a building and threw it into the blaze. A building in the park with bathrooms and a maintenance office went up in flames.  
The district’s entire National Guard — roughly 1,700 soldiers — was called in to help control the protests, according to two Defense Department officials who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.
As the protests grew, President Donald Trump retweeted conservative commentator Buck Sexton who called for “overwhelming force” against violent demonstrators.  
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, visited the site of protests in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, and talked to demonstrators. He also wrote a post on Medium expressing empathy for those despairing about Floyd’s killing.
At least 4,400 people have been arrested over days of protests, according to a tally compiled by The Associated Press. Arrests ranged from stealing and blocking highways to breaking curfew.  
In Salt Lake City, an activist leader condemned the destruction of property but said broken buildings shouldn’t be mourned on the same level as black men like Floyd.  
“Maybe this country will get the memo that we are sick of police murdering unarmed black men,” said Lex Scott, founder of Black Lives Matter Utah. “Maybe the next time a white police officer decides to pull the trigger, he will picture cities burning.”
Yet thousands still marched peacefully in Phoenix, Albuquerque and other cities, with some calling for an end to the fires, vandalism and theft, saying it weakened calls for justice and reform.
In downtown Atlanta, authorities fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of demonstrators. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said t wo officers had been fired and three placed on desk duty after video showed police surrounding a car Saturday, and using stun guns on the man and woman inside.
In Los Angeles, a police SUV accelerated into several protesters in a street, knocking two people to the ground. Nearby in Santa Monica, not far from a peaceful demonstration, groups broke into stores, walking out with boxes of shoes and folding chairs, among other items. A fire broke out at a restaurant across the street. Scores swarmed into nearby outlet stores in Long Beach. Some hauled armloads of clothing from a Forever 21 store away in garbage bags.  
In Minneapolis, the officer who pressed his knee onto Floyd’s neck has been charged with murder, but protesters are demanding the other three officers at the scene be prosecuted. All four were fired.  
“We’re not done,” said Darnella Wade, an organizer for Black Lives Matter in neighboring St. Paul, where thousands gathered peacefully in front of the state Capitol. “They sent us the military, and we only asked them for arrests.”  
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz brought in thousands of National Guard soldiers on Saturday to help quell violence that had damaged or destroyed hundreds of buildings in Minneapolis over days of protests. That appeared to help minimize unrest, but thousands marching on a closed freeway were shaken when a semitrailer rolled  into their midst.  
Disgust over generations of racism in a country founded by slaveholders combined with a string of recent racially charged killings to stoke the anger. Adding to that was angst from lockdowns brought on by the pandemic, which has disproportionately hurt communities of color, not only in terms of infections but in job losses and economic stress.
The droves of people congregating for demonstrations threatened to trigger new outbreaks, a fact overshadowed by the boiling tensions.
In Indianapolis, two people were reported dead in bursts of downtown violence this weekend, adding to deaths reported in Detroit and Minneapolis.
In tweets Sunday, Trump blamed anarchists and the media for fueling violence. Attorney General William Barr pointed a finger at “far left extremist” groups. Police chiefs and politicians accused outsiders of causing the problems.
At the Minneapolis intersection where Floyd was killed, people gathered with brooms and flowers, saying it was important to protect what they called a “sacred space.”
Among those in Minneapolis was Michael Brown Sr., the father of Michael Brown, whose killing by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, set off unrest in 2014.
“I understand what this family is feeling. I understand what this community is feeling,” he said.



Joe Biden Likely to Clinch Democratic Party Nomination Tuesday

June 2nd was supposed to be the finish line for what seemed like an endless 2020 US presidential primary campaign, but the coronavirus pandemic changed all of that. Steve Redisch tells us more.



Transcripts Released of Flynn’s Calls With Russian Diplomat

The Trump administration’s new national intelligence director waded into political waters in his first week on the job, declassifying documents that allies of the president say bolster their contention that former national security adviser Michael Flynn was wrongly pursued.The extraordinary decision to release transcripts of Flynn’s calls with a foreign country’s ambassador, a closely guarded secret for more than three years, is part of an ongoing Trump administration effort to disclose information from the Russia investigation in hopes of suggesting that Obama-era officials acted improperly.The transcripts of calls with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador at the time, provide opportunities for partisans on both sides to advance their perspectives of the investigation.They appear to show, as prosecutors have alleged, that Flynn urged Kislyak to refrain from escalating tensions with the U.S. in response to newly imposed sanctions against Russia. Flynn pleaded guilty of lying to the FBI about that call.But Republicans who maintain that Flynn was simply trying to avoid aggravating the situation with the Kremlin quickly pointed to the transcripts to say the calls were proper. Trump’s Justice Department dismissed the case this month, saying the FBI didn’t have a basis to question Flynn in the first place.FILE – Then-U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee nomination hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 5, 2020.The documents were released Friday by Senate Republicans after being declassified by John Ratcliffe, a former Texas congressman and loyalist of President Donald Trump who was sworn into the job earlier this week.Ratcliffe’s predecessor as intelligence director, Richard Grenell, this month declassified a list of names of intelligence and Obama administration officials who in late 2016 and early 2017 requested to see the identity of an American citizen that was concealed in classified intelligence reports. That name was revealed to be Flynn.There is nothing unusual about that process, known as unmasking, and it’s been more prevalent at the beginning of the Trump administration than it was at the end of the Obama administration. But supporters of the president have suggested that the requests were made for political reasons.



White House Punts Economic Update as Election Draws Near

The White House has taken the unusual step of deciding not to release an updated economic forecast as planned this year, a fresh sign of the administration’s anxiety about how the coronavirus has ravaged the nation just months before the election.
The decision, which was confirmed Thursday by a senior administration official who was not authorized to publicly comment on the plan, came amid intensifying signals of the pandemic’s grim economic toll.  
The U.S. economy shrank at a faster-than-expected annual rate of 5% during the first quarter, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. At least 2.1 million Americans lost their jobs last week, meaning an astonishing 41 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits since shutdowns intended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus began in mid-March.  
Trump argues that the economy will rebound later this year or in 2021 and that voters should give him another term in office to oversee the expansion. But the delay of the updated midyear economic forecast, typically released in July or August, was an indication that the administration doesn’t want to bring attention to the pandemic’s impact anytime soon.  
“It’s a sign that the White House does not anticipate a major recovery in employment and growth prior to the election and that it has essentially punted economic policy over to the Fed and the Congress,” said Joe Brusuelas, chief economist for the consultant RSM.
 
The senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, maintained that the underlying economic data would be too uncertain to convey a meaningful picture about the recovery.  
But the political stakes of a weakening economy are hard to overstate, especially in states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin that are critical to the president’s reelection.
According to an AP-NORC poll conducted in May, 49% of Americans approve of how the president is handling the economy. That has dipped over the last two months, from 56% who said so in March.
 
Still, the economy remains a particular strong point for Trump. Before the outbreak began, and even as the virus started sending shock waves through the economy, approval of how he had handled the issue was the highest it’s been over the course of his presidency.
Since then, views on the economy have reversed dramatically.  
The May poll found that 70% of Americans call the nation’s economy poor, while just 29% say it’s good. In January, 67% called the economy good.  
Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and liberal economists swiftly seized on the report’s delay to argue that Trump is seeking to avoid putting his administration’s imprint on bad economic news in the months before the Nov. 3 vote.
“This desperate attempt to keep the American people in the dark about the economy’s performance is not only an acknowledgement that Trump knows he’s responsible for some of the most catastrophic economic damage in American history, but also a sign of how stunningly out of touch he is with hard working Americans,” said Andrew Bates, a Biden campaign spokesman.
While the economic forecast is being delayed, updated information about the nation’s budgetary situation will still be released as expected this summer, the senior administration official said. A significant decline in tax receipts, as well as outlays from almost $3 trillion in coronavirus-related aid bills, is sure to produce a multitrillion-dollar government deficit for the budget year ending Sept. 30.  
Paul Winfree, a former Trump White House director of budget policy, doubted that the holdup on the economic update was on Trump’s radar.
“Honestly, I don’t think the president thinks about the publication of the mid-session review and the politics around it,” Winfree said.
Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, noted that the law requires the White House to update its budget forecast. That responsibility is even more important given the uncertainty in the economy and the trillions of dollars in aid that have already changed the trajectory of government spending, she said.  
“By staying silent on how to reallocate those federal dollars under an unprecedented economic downturn, the executive branch is doing a disservice to taxpayers and avoiding tough discussions we need to have about the new fiscal reality,” she said.
Jason Furman, who led the White House Council of Economic Advisers during the Obama administration, said the Trump administration pointing to economic uncertainty as the reason to put off the forecast doesn’t hold weight.  
Trump has repeatedly predicted improvement in the third and fourth quarters of this year, and the president just this week predicted 2021 is going to be “one of the best years we’ve ever had.” White House senior adviser Kevin Hassett said earlier this week that a double-digit unemployment rate was possible in November.
“You have to make decisions on incredibly uncertain information right now,” Furman said. “They are out on TV every day making economic forecasts and predictions about what’s going to happen in the economy.”
The Trump team’s economic projections, like those from earlier administrations, have tended to be overly optimistic. Last year’s review estimated that the economy would grow more than 3% last year, but the actual gains were a far more lukewarm 2.3%.  
It similarly claimed that growth under Trump would cause the budget deficit to fall as a share of the economy. That estimate could never have anticipated the outbreak of the coronavirus that forced more than $3 trillion in aid as the deficit is on course to reach new highs.
In 2017, the Trump administration criticized the Obama administration for rosy expectations of growth during the Great Recession more than a decade ago. An updated forecast in the mid-session review could make the Trump White House a similar target for criticism.
Jared Bernstein, a former economic adviser to Biden, said a timely update on the state of the economy is more important than ever.
“The idea that you’d abrogate that responsibility now is pretty serious fiscal malpractice,” Bernstein said. “They don’t like the numbers they’d have to write down. This is a White House that is in denial about the trajectory of the economy.”



North Carolina Governor: RNC Hasn’t Submitted Safety Plan

North Carolina’s governor said Thursday that his administration hasn’t received the written safety plan for the upcoming Republican National Convention requested by his health secretary in response to President Donald Trump’s demands for a full-scale event.  
Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, said during a media briefing that RNC organizers have yet to turn over written plans for how they envision safely holding the convention in Charlotte in August amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Top GOP officials countered in a letter that they need more guidance and assurances from Cooper.  
North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen sent a letter Monday to the top RNC organizer asking for the written plans after Trump demanded in a tweet that North Carolina guarantee a full-scale, in-person convention will be held. Cooper and Cohen say that they had discussed various scenarios with convention organizers but want their plan in writing.  
“We’re ready to hold the RNC convention in North Carolina in a safe way. And for weeks and months, the health experts in our office have had conversations with the people organizing the RNC about how to have it in a safe way,” he said.  
But despite the request Monday, Cooper said: “We’ve yet to see” a written safety plan from RNC organizers.
Cooper said his administration required a similar written plan from NASCAR ahead of its recent race in the Charlotte area that was held without fans. He said he’s in similar discussions with sports teams including Charlotte’s NFL and NBA teams.  
Top GOP officials later released a letter they sent to Cooper on Thursday saying they need further direction and assurances from him to move forward. The letter also offers several proposed steps to screen and protect convention attendees’ health.  
“We still do not have solid guidelines from the state and cannot in good faith ask thousands of visitors to begin paying deposits and making travel plans without knowing the full commitment of the governor, elected officials and other stakeholders in supporting the convention,” said the letter.
It was signed by Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and Republican National Convention President Marcia Lee Kelly.  
The letter, which doesn’t represent a finalized safety plan, proposes steps including apps asking attendees daily health questions, taking attendees’ temperature before they board transportation, health checks again at the NBA arena serving as the center of the convention and aggressive cleaning and sanitizing of public areas.  
Trump threatened in a tweet Monday to move the convention unless Cooper guarantees a full-capacity gathering. Then on Tuesday, Trump reiterated the idea by saying he wanted an answer from Cooper within a week, or he’d be forced to consider moving the convention somewhere else.
Florida and Georgia’s governors have said they’re interested in hosting.
Asked about Trump’s demand for an answer within a week, Cooper told reporters: “We’re not on any timeline here.”
Cooper has gradually eased business restrictions, with restaurants now allowed to offer limited indoor dining. But entertainment venues, bars and gyms remain closed under his current order that also caps indoor mass gatherings at 10 people.
Local Republican officials have noted that Trump isn’t a party to the convention contract and doesn’t appear to have the power to unilaterally move the event, which is scheduled to start in 90 days after two years of planning.
The county surrounding Charlotte has had the most virus cases of any in North Carolina, and the state is experiencing an upward trend in cases. 



Twitter Adds ‘Glorifying Violence’ Warning to Trump Tweet

Twitter has added a warning to one of President Donald J. Trump’s tweets about protests in Minneapolis, saying it violated the platform’s rules about “glorifying violence.”
Trump, a prolific Twitter user, has been at war with the company since earlier this week, when it applied fact checks to two of his tweets about mail-in ballots.
The third tweet to be flagged started as a message of support for the governor of Minnesota, where there have been three days of violent protests over the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer kneeled on his neck.
Trump added at the end of his tweet, “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”  
Twitter did not remove the tweet, saying it had determined it might be in the public interest to have it remain accessible. It does that only for tweets by elected and government officials. A user looking at Trump’s timeline would have to click to see the original tweet.
On Thursday, Trump targeted Twitter and other social media companies by signing an executive order challenging the lawsuit protections that have served as a bedrock for online free speech.




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