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By Kim Hjelmgaard USA TODAY

North Korea on Friday said it was abandoning attempts to pursue a diplomatic relationship with the White House because two years after a historic handshake between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un "even a slim ray of optimism" for peace and prosperity on the Korean peninsula had "faded away into a dark nightmare." The statement by North Korea's Foreign Minister Ri Son Gwon, published on state media, represented the clearest indication yet that Pyongyang appears to have all but given up on improving ties with the Trump administration and working toward "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula." The phrase formed the basis of a vaguely worded accord between Trump and Kim Jong Un when the two leaders shook hands during a carefully choreographed summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018. Trump broke with diplomatic norms and protocol when he became the first sitting American president to hold a face-to-face meeting with a leader of North Korea. A year later, he made another unconventional move by diplomatic standards by briefly stepping on to North Korean soil as he met with North Korea's dictator at the Demilitarized Zone, the heavily fortified and guarded border area that separates the two Koreas. A third meeting, in Vietnam, ended in stalemate after Kim insisted that all the sanctions the U.S. has imposed on Pyongyang be lifted before North Korea committed to eliminate its nuclear arsenal.

By Ryan Nobles, CNN

(CNN) Attendees of President Donald Trump's upcoming rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, must agree not to sue the campaign if they contract coronavirus.
Rallygoers are asked to RSVP to gain admission to the event and by registering, they must agree to a disclaimer that states they acknowledge the "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 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," the disclaimer reads. Trump's campaign officially announced plans on Wednesday for the President's first campaign rally since most of the country shut down to prevent the spread of the virus. He will appear at an indoor venue, the BOK Center, in Tulsa on Friday, June 19. The rally announcement comes as coronavirus cases are on the rise in some parts of the US. Cases are still increasing in several states, even as others show a downward trend or are holding steady. Nationally, more than 2 million people have been infected by the virus and more than 112,000 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Catherine Sharkey, a law professor at New York University School of Law, said waivers like the Trump campaign's are likely to become a regular part of American life as the country reopens and the coronavirus remains a threat. However, the waivers offer only a base-level protection against liability.

By Allison Quinn

President Trump’s planned convention speech in Jacksonville, Florida, on Aug. 27 falls on the city’s 60th anniversary of a brutal KKK-orchestrated attack on black activists known as “Ax Handle Saturday.” According to the Florida Historical Society, hundreds of members of a white mob chased the activists throughout downtown Jacksonville and beat them with bats and ax handles. In confirming Jacksonville as the location of the Republican National Convention on Thursday, RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said the state of Florida holds a “special place” in Trump’s heart, but it wasn’t clear if Republican officials were aware of the historical significance of the date.

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
By Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Carrie Dann and Melissa Holzberg

WASHINGTON — For someone who’s been prone to deliver mixed messages on policy and take multiple positions on issues, President Trump has almost always been on the same consistent side when it comes to race. This week alone, he defended military bases named after Confederate generals, and he announced he would restart his campaign rallies in Tulsa — the site of a 1921 massacre of black citizens by a white mob — on Juneteenth. In the past month, when the protests over George Floyd’s death first began, he tweeted about “THUGS” and warned that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Earlier as president, he attacked Colin Kaepernick and protesting NFL players ("Get that son of a bitch off the field right now”); he referred to the Baltimore-area district represented by the late Rep. Elijah Cummings as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess”; he did pretty much the same to Rep. John Lewis’ Atlanta district; and he talked about Haiti and African nations as “sh--hole countries.” And before he became president, Trump led the “birther” crusade against Barack Obama; he began his 2016 campaign assailing Mexican “rapists”; he retweeted fake statistics spread by white supremacists falsely claiming that black criminals disproportionately prey on whites; and he called for the death penalty for the Central Park Five — five African-American and Latino men who, as teenagers, were wrongly convicted of raping a jogger. So not only is Trump currently bucking much of the shifting corporate and cultural views on race, as the New York Times writes this morning. This is who he is — and has always been.


In Ep. 16 of The New Abnormal, former DOJ prosecutor Glenn Kirschner takes down Bill Barr. Plus, Rick and Molly chat election predictions, Confederate flag truthers and more.
The Daily Beast

Attorney General Bill Barr was in on Trump’s scheme to bribe and lean on Ukraine’s president. He let his boss’ criminal cronies off the hook. But the worst part, former DOJ prosecutor Glenn Kirschner says, was Barr’s crackdown in Lafayette Square on people just expressing their First Amendment rights. And if Barr isn’t under criminal investigation in 2021 for that, he tells Rick Wilson and Molly Jong-Fast, then “shame on us.” It’s all part of a jam-packed episode of The New Abnormal in which Kirschner crucifies the AG and the Trump administration: “I would say under Donald Trump—first to Jeff Sessions, then to Matt Whitaker, and then to Bill Barr—it has gone from bad to worse to criminal.” Then, Rachel Bitecofer of the Niskansen Center for Public Policy, joined Molly and Rick to present her forecast for this November—and she has some promising news for Democrats.

The two leaders first met at a breakthrough summit in Singapore in June 2018, but talks have made little progress.

North Korea sees little use in maintaining a personal relationship between leader Kim Jong Un and United States President Donald Trump if Washington sticks to hostile policies, state media reported on Friday - two years after the two men held their first summit. Policies from the US prove Washington remains a long-term threat to the North Korean state, and its people and North Korea will develop more reliable military forces to counter that threat, Foreign Minister Ri Son Gwon said in a statement carried by state news agency KCNA. Trump and Kim exchanged insults and threats in 2017 as North Korea made large advances in its nuclear and missile programme, and the US responded by leading an international effort to tighten sanctions. Relations improved significantly around the Singapore summit in June 2018, the first time a sitting US president had met a North Korean leader, but the statement that came out of the meeting was light on specifics.

By Ledyard King USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – Not every Republican on Capitol Hill is joining President Donald Trump's call to preserve Confederate heritage. While the president this week decried efforts to rechristen U.S. military bases named for Confederate generals, the Senate Armed Services Committee Wednesday decided to add a bipartisan provision to the Pentagon's annual spending bill that would begin the process of renaming those installations. "If we're going to have bases throughout the United States, I think it should be with the names of individuals who fought for our country," South Dakota GOP Sen. Mike Rounds, a senior member of the committee, told reporters Thursday on Capitol Hill. "This is the right time for it. And I think it sends the right message." In addition, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday called for the removal of 11 Confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol Building. The request was made in a letter addressed to a special panel created to oversee the 100 statues states send for display in the Capitol. Each states gets two statues. "The statues in the Capitol should embody our highest ideals as Americans, expressing who we are and who we aspire to be as a nation," she wrote. "Monuments to men who advocated cruelty and barbarism to achieve such a plainly racist end are a grotesque affront to these ideals." Several Republican lawmakers asked about Pelosi's request said any decision to remove the statues should either come from the states or by changing the law that permits their display. But a few said they would not object to such a change. "Not opposed to it," said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

Trump's "poorly educated" line sparked much reaction, including smirking and shock.
By David Mikkelson

In February 2016, when Donald Trump was merely one of several contenders for the Republican U.S. presidential nomination (and still considered something of a longshot), he surprised many pundits by winning the preponderance of delegates in three straight contests: the New Hampshire primary, the South Carolina primary, and the Nevada caucus. Contemporaneous reporting of the latter contest noted that Trump did particularly well among “less educated voters”: Trump did well across the board in Nevada, garnering 45.9% of the vote, but he did even better among voters with a high school education or less. Fifty-seven percent of those voters supported him, according to entrance polls. The next closest candidate among high-school-or-less voters was Ted Cruz, who had 20%. That’s a sizable gap of 37 percentage points. Trump didn’t just win with less educated voters … he crushed it. Afterwards, in a speech to supporters, Trump touted how many different demographic groups he won in Nevada, declaring that “We won the evangelicals. We won with young. We won with old. We won with highly educated. We won with poorly educated,” before exclaiming “I love the poorly educated!”:

Critics called the president racist for planning a campaign event on the date marking slavery's end and doing it in Tulsa, where African Americans were murdered in 1921.
By Rebecca Shabad

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump was hit with strong backlash Thursday over his decision to hold a campaign rally next week on Juneteenth, a holiday marking the end of slavery, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the site of one of the deadliest race riots in American history, in 1921. Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said the decision to hold a rally there on June 19 "is disrespectful to the lives and community that was lost during the Tulsa race riot." "This was a massacre of innocent Black inhabitants by White supremacists in a span of 24 hours," Bass said in a statement to NBC News. "This was the worst act of racial violence to date," she added, "and yet this is the place that the president, who has pursued nothing but a hostile and oppressive agenda for black people since his inauguration, has chosen to celebrate." "To make matters worse, he has chosen Juneteenth, a day of our emancipation. This is ridiculous and yet another slap in the face to black people," Bass added. Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, a member of the caucus, tweeted that a Trump campaign rally with "rebel flags" on Juneteenth "is overt racism from the highest office in the land."

Congressman Al Green @RepAlGreen
A Trump rally with rebel flags (a symbol of slavery and racism) in Tulsa, OK (the place of #TulsaMassacre) on Juneteenth (a day of emancipation recognition) is more than a slap in the face to African Americans; it is overt racism from the highest office in the land. #RejectRacism

Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., called it "a message to every Black American: more of the same." Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass., tweeted: "99 years ago a white mob massacred hundreds of Black people in the Greenwood District of Tulsa. The most racist President of my lifetime knows exactly what message he’s sending when he goes there on Juneteenth."

Critics called the president racist for planning a campaign event on the date marking slavery's end and doing it in Tulsa, where African Americans were murdered in 1921.
By Rebecca Shabad

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump was hit with strong backlash Thursday over his decision to hold a campaign rally next week on Juneteenth, a holiday marking the end of slavery, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the site of one of the deadliest race riots in American history, in 1921. Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said the decision to hold a rally there on June 19 "is disrespectful to the lives and community that was lost during the Tulsa race riot." "This was a massacre of innocent Black inhabitants by White supremacists in a span of 24 hours," Bass said in a statement to NBC News. "This was the worst act of racial violence to date," she added, "and yet this is the place that the president, who has pursued nothing but a hostile and oppressive agenda for black people since his inauguration, has chosen to celebrate." "To make matters worse, he has chosen Juneteenth, a day of our emancipation. This is ridiculous and yet another slap in the face to black people," Bass added. Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, a member of the caucus, tweeted that a Trump campaign rally with "rebel flags" on Juneteenth "is overt racism from the highest office in the land."

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House said on Wednesday it was putting the finishing touches on proposals to reform the police following George Floyd’s killing while in police custody, but warned that reducing immunity for officers was a non-starter. Speaking at a White House briefing, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said administration plans to address protester concerns about police brutality were reaching “final edits,” adding she hoped the proposals could be made public in the “coming days.” “The president has spent the last 10 days quietly and diligently working on proposals to address the issues that the protesters raised across the country, legitimate issues,” McEnany said.

By Alex Horton

President Trump said on Twitter he was against a growing effort to rename Army installations bearing names of Confederate commanders, two days after Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper signaled he was open to the idea. “These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom,” Trump said, adding that the administration “will not even consider” renaming them. Esper and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said Monday that they were open to “bipartisan discussion” of the issue, which was first reported by Politico. Defense officials declined to comment on plans for the installation names after Trump’s remarks. The GOP-led Senate Armed Services Committee adopted an amendment for the Pentagon to strip the names from the installations within three years, CNN reported Thursday.

What is the controversy?
Ten Army installations in the United States were named after senior Confederate commanders who fought against U.S. troops during the Civil War to preserve the institution of slavery. Calls to rename the bases escalated after a white supremacist and Confederate sympathizer killed nine worshipers in a South Carolina church in 2015, and two years later when a counterprotester was killed in Charlottesville during a white-nationalist rally. Efforts to rename the bases intensified again following the death of George Floyd, amid another struggle over the nation’s identity and centuries of racism.

Who are the bases named after?
The bases, all in former Confederate states, were named with input from locals in the Jim Crow era. The Army courted their buy-in because it needed large swaths of land to build sprawling bases in the early 20th century up through World War II.

By Ryan Browne, Barbara Starr and Zachary Cohen, CNN

Washington (CNN) America's top general is apologizing for appearing in a photo-op with President Donald Trump after the forceful dispersal of protesters outside the White House last week, saying the move was a "mistake." Gen. Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff also said that he was "outraged" by the killing of George Floyd and added that the protests it sparked spoke to "centuries of injustice toward African Americans." "As senior leaders, everything you do will be closely watched. And I am not immune. As many of you saw, the result of the photograph of me at Lafayette Square last week. That sparked a national debate about the role of the military in civil society," Milley, said in a pre-recorded speech to a group of graduates from the National Defense University released on Thursday. "I should not have been there. My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics. As a commissioned uniformed officer, it was a mistake that I have learned from, and I sincerely hope we all can learn from it," he added. While he did not pose for photographs with Trump upon arriving at St. John's Church, Milley, dressed in his combat fatigues, was captured on camera walking behind Trump as he moved from the White House to the church. Both Milley and Defense Secretary Mark Esper have told colleagues they are distressed with the criticism about the walk to St. John's because it became a photo-op with political overtones. When asked if they regret being on the walk, one administration official close to both men recently told CNN, "Of course they do."

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Thursday issued an executive order authorizing U.S. sanctions against International Criminal Court employees involved in an investigation into whether American forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan. A senior Trump administration official, without providing details, said the investigation is “being pushed forward by an organization of dubious integrity” - referring to the Hague-based ICC - and accused Russia of having a role. The order authorizes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in consultation with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, to block assets in the United States of ICC employees involved in the probe, according to a letter sent by Trump to U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi accompanying the order. It also authorizes Pompeo to block entry into the United States of these individuals. ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda wants to investigate possible crimes committed between 2003 and 2014 including alleged mass killings of civilians by the Taliban, as well as the alleged torture of prisoners by Afghan authorities and, to a lesser extent, by U.S. forces and the CIA. Trump has assailed the ICC, which was established in 2002 by the international community to prosecute war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. It has jurisdiction only if a member state is unable or unwilling to prosecute atrocities itself.

By Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

(CNN) The mayor of Seattle on Wednesday told President Donald Trump to "go back to your bunker," after Trump appeared to suggest he would intervene in the city's growing protests and called for law and order. "Take back your city NOW. If you don't do it, I will," the President warned Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan on Wednesday. "This is not a game. These ugly Anarchists must be stooped [sic] IMMEDIATELY. MOVE FAST!" Trump also claimed that the protesters, who he called "domestic terrorists," have taken over Seattle. The President has threatened to use active military to tamp down protests and has encouraged governors to deploy the National Guard to help assist with demonstrations. The two Democrats, Inslee and Durkan, responded to the President on Wednesday, ratcheting up the Twitter spat during dual health and economic crises and nationwide civil unrest over racial injustice. "Make us all safe. Go back to your bunker," Durkan wrote, referring to Trump being moved to the White House bunker for nearly an hour amid intense protests last month. "A man who is totally incapable of governing should stay out of Washington state's business. 'Stoop' tweeting," Inslee wrote. Hundreds of protesters marched into Seattle's City Hall late Tuesday, calling for Durkan to step down after police continued to use chemical irritants to disperse crowds -- despite the mayor's 30-day ban on tear gas that she announced Friday. Led by city council member Kshama Sawant, the protesters peacefully marched from Capitol Hill to City Hall, where Sawant allowed the protesters inside the building, CNN's affiliate KOMO reported. Protesters left the building around 10:30 p.m. local time, and Seattle police did not report any arrests. Durkan's office responded late Tuesday in a statement to KOMO, saying the mayor "will not be distracted from the critical work that needs to be done at a moment that Seattle is facing its most challenging time in its history. "As the person who originally investigated the Seattle Police Department for the unconstitutional use of force, Mayor Durkan believes that SPD can lead the nation on continued reforms and accountability, but knows this week has eroded trust at a time when trust is most crucial," the statement read.

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) filed an amicus brief on behalf of all Democratic Members of the Committee in the case of United States v. Michael Flynn in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Following the Department of Justice’s motion to dismiss the government’s criminal charges against Michael Flynn, which set off numerous protests within the Department and across the legal community, the Committee’s filing argues that the Department’s motion represents the most overt demonstration of the rule of law being corroded for political purposes—in this case, to serve the demands of President Trump. Today’s filing is part of a series of actions Chairman Nadler announced last week to counter Attorney General William Barr's continued defiance of Congress and politicization of the Department of Justice.

Chairman Nadler released the following statement on the filing:

“Few things are more corrosive to the rule of law—and the public’s confidence in the criminal justice system—than the injection of partisanship, favoritism, or corruption into prosecutorial decisions. In this case, the impropriety is barely concealed. Attorney General Barr has stonewalled congressional oversight at every turn, depriving the House Judiciary Committee of any opportunity to question him about his mischaracterization of the Mueller Report, his role in the sentencing of Roger Stone, or the policies he has put in place to facilitate the improper politicization of prosecutorial decision making. Now, he seeks to stonewall the judicial branch as well, and that must not be tolerated. Today’s filing makes this argument in the starkest terms, and lays out exactly what is at stake if the Department of Justice, the Attorney General, and the President of the United States is allowed to pervert justice for their own political purposes. ” A PDF of the amicus brief is available here.


He’d rather focus on what happened in Buffalo than on the outrage of Bill Barr’s hodgepodge army attacking citizens in a public park to clear the way for his limp-dick photo-op.
By Rick Wilson

It’s become a cliché to stare in mute horror at Donald Trump’s endless stream of Twitter vomit, wondering what chthonic god finds pleasure in watching us writhe as Trump brings out the very worst in his followers and new levels of willful ignorance from Republicans determined to see no evil, no matter how in their face that evil is. It’s not as if the last few weeks haven’t been particularly lunatic, but Trump hit a home run in the shitbird derby Tuesday morning with his amplification of the truly bugfuck conspiracy theory that Martin Gugino of Buffalo, New York, a 75-year-old man now famous for being shoved to the ground by cops and left in serious condition, was—wait for it—an antifa supersoldier. Trump’s life right now is an endless slough of despond, a polling wasteland where decent numbers are as rare as Jared displaying a human emotion. This was the kind of off-the-wall tweet that says more about his trouble than it does about anything else. You can’t be too careful with those Soros-funded antifa supersoldiers using imaginary science-fiction-style technology to “black out the equipment” of the cops and conspiring to make Trump look bad with their physics-defying ability to fall “harder than they were pushed”—particularly when they’re disguised as elderly Catholic social justice advocates. Trump sees himself as the center of the media universe, the sun to which all eyes turn. This week, it’s the American people in the spotlight, a massive national movement speaking out for justice in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd.

By David Shortell, CNN

(CNN) More than 1,250 former Justice Department employees have asked the agency's internal watchdog to investigate Attorney General William Barr for his role in the forcible clearing of peaceful protesters outside the White House earlier this month ahead of a staged photo opportunity by the President. In a letter released Wednesday, the former officials, who served in career and politically appointed positions under Democratic and Republican leadership, said they were "disturbed" by the episode and that Barr may have trampled protesters' constitutional rights when he ordered the move. They asked Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz to review the attorney general's involvement. "If the Attorney General or any other DOJ employee has directly participated in actions that have deprived Americans of their constitutional rights or that physically injured Americans lawfully exercising their rights, that would be misconduct of the utmost seriousness, the details of which must be shared with the American people," the former officials wrote. As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, 1,264 former Justice Department employees had signed their names to the letter. Spokeswomen for Barr and Horowitz declined to comment to CNN on the letter.

By Nikki Carvajal

(CNN) President Donald Trump said Wednesday he opposes any effort by the US military to rename the nearly one dozen major bases and installations that bear the names of Confederate military commanders. US Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and Defense Secretary Mark Esper are said to be open to holding a "bipartisan conversation" about renaming nearly a dozen major bases and installations that bear the names of Confederate military commanders, according to an Army official. But Trump tweeted: "These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a... ....history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom. The United States of America trained and deployed our HEROES on these Hallowed Grounds, and won two World Wars. Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations." Army installations named after Confederate leaders include Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Hood in Texas and Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia. Army bases across the country have continued to bear the names of Confederate military commanders even amid intense external pressure to rename them.

By Greg Sargent Opinion writer

When President Trump floated the despicable conspiracy theory that a 75-year-old man who got brutalized by police might be linked to “antifa,” it dominated an entire news cycle. That’s perhaps understandable. But let’s not lose sight of this: It’s also a huge deal that Trump and his top law enforcement officials have all said repeatedly that the civil unrest has been infiltrated by antifa, not just as a throwaway bit of political theater, but to help sustain the claim that we’re under attack from “domestic terror.” Not only that, Trump has said this to justify floating what would be an enormously consequential policy move — that is, invoking the Insurrection Act of 1807 to send in troops to quell the unrest. Trump’s antifa bluster, however, has just taken another hit. ABC News reports:

POLITICO spoke to 10 National Guardsmen who have taken part in the protest response across the country since the killing of George Floyd while in police custody.

Pvt. Si’Kenya Lynch, a member of the D.C. National Guard, was on duty at Lafayette Square near the White House last Monday when U.S. Park Police cleared the area of protesters ahead of President Donald Trump’s now-infamous photo op. Lynch said she supports the protests, and that her brother was among the demonstrators on the other side of the line, adding that “he coughed a lot” due to the tear gas fired into the crowd. “I was happy to see him out there ... to walk for me when I couldn’t,” she said, adding that if she hadn’t been activated as a citizen-soldier, she would have been among the protesters “to support the people, and I wanted to support what was right.” POLITICO spoke to 10 National Guardsmen who have taken part in the protest response across the country since the killing of George Floyd while in police custody. Many Guardsmen said they felt uncomfortable with the way they were used to handle the unrest because demonstrators lumped them in with the police. They felt that while they swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, their presence at times intimidated Americans from expressing their opinions and even escalated the tension. And in the case of Guardsmen involved in the Lafayette incident, some felt used. “As a military officer, what I saw was more or less really f---ed up,” said one D.C. Guardsman who was deployed to Lafayette Square last Monday and who, like some others, spoke on condition of anonymity to speak freely. The official line from the White House that the protesters had turned violent, he said, is false. “The crowd was loud but peaceful, and at no point did I feel in danger, and I was standing right there in the front of the line,” he said. “A lot of us are still struggling to process this, but in a lot of ways, I believe I saw civil rights being violated in order for a photo op.

Trump campaign demands CNN apologize for poll that shows Biden leading
By Veronica Stracqualursi and Harry Enten, CNN

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump's campaign is demanding CNN retract and apologize for a recent poll that showed him well behind presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. The demand, coming in the form of a cease and desist letter to CNN President Jeff Zucker that contained numerous incorrect and misleading claims, was immediately rejected by the network. "We stand by our poll," said Matt Dornic, a CNN spokesman. The CNN poll conducted by SSRS and released on Monday shows Trump trailing the former vice president by 14 points, 55%-41%, among registered voters. It also finds the President's approval rating at 38% -- his worst mark since January 2019, and roughly on par with approval ratings for one-term Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush at this point in their reelection years -- and his disapproval rating at 57%. In the letter to Zucker, the Trump campaign argued that the CNN poll is "designed to mislead American voters through a biased questionnaire and skewed sampling." "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," read the letter, signed by the Trump campaign's senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis and chief operating officer Michael Glassner. The campaign formally requested that CNN retract the poll and publish a "full, fair, and conspicuous retraction, apology, and clarification to correct its misleading conclusions." David Vigilante, CNN's executive vice president and general counsel, told the campaign that its "allegations and demands are rejected in their entirety." "To my knowledge, this is the first time in its 40-year history that CNN had been threatened with legal action because an American politician or campaign did not like CNN's polling results," Vigilante wrote in his response. "To the extent we have received legal threats from political leaders in the past, they have typically come from countries like Venezuela or other regimes where there is little or no respect for a free and independent media."

Justice Department dropping Flynn case is 'a gross abuse of prosecutorial power,' court-appointed lawyer says
By Katelyn Polantz, CNN

(CNN) The Justice Department's handling of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn's case is a "gross abuse of prosecutorial power," a court-appointed attorney and former judge wrote in a searing 82-page analysis on Wednesday. The court-appointed lawyer John Gleeson also argued that Flynn should be sentenced for lying, including for perjuring himself in court for admitting his crimes then disavowing them. Gleeson, looking at Flynn's full case record, reasoned that the Justice Department's recent support of Flynn is so politically advantageous to President Donald Trump and atypical for prosecutors, it's undermined the public's trust in the rule of law. "The facts surrounding the filing of the Government's motion constitute clear evidence of gross prosecutorial abuse. They reveal an unconvincing effort to disguise as legitimate a decision to dismiss that is based solely on the fact that Flynn is a political ally of President Trump," Gleeson wrote to US District Judge Emmet Sullivan on Wednesday. The Justice Department "abdicated that responsibility" to prosecute defendants without fear or favor, Gleeson wrote, by "attempting to provide special treatment to a favored friend and political ally of the President of the United States," capturing what many critics of Attorney General William Barr and Trump, especially in the legal community, have alleged. "It has treated the case like no other, and in doing so has undermined the public's confidence in the rule of law," he wrote.

Unusual territory
Gleeson made the argument on Wednesday after Sullivan requested his analysis on Flynn's statements under oath, and asked him to argue against the Justice Department's request to drop Flynn's case. Gleeson's filing highlights the unusual territory the Flynn court case has waded into and the legal questions Sullivan is now weighing. Flynn is also trying to short-circuit Sullivan's consideration of the case, prompting the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to also consider the questions of whether Gleeson can weigh in on the case and whether the case must be dismissed immediately. Flynn pleaded guilty before two federal judges to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador in late 2016, when he asked Russia not to retaliate for Obama administration sanctions for election interference and to split from the Obama administration on an upcoming UN vote on Israel. He cooperated for a year in interviews with the special counsel's office and a federal grand jury about his interactions with Russia and about his work in 2016 lobbying for Turkey, before renouncing his admissions. Barr then decided last month to drop Flynn's charge. The Justice Department has argued Flynn's lies weren't "material" to an investigation, because Flynn should never have been under investigation for his interactions with Russian officials.

Claims made by AG Barr's Justice Department "are not credible," the retired judge wrote, adding, "Everything about this is irregular.".
By Pete Williams

WASHINGTON — The retired judge appointed to act as a friend of the court in the Michael Flynn case strongly urged the court Wednesday not to let the Justice Department abandon the prosecution. In a scorching 83-page submission, John Gleeson said the government's move to drop the case was "riddled with inexplicable and elementary errors of law and fact," which were contradicted by the positions it has taken in other false statement cases and by its own previous court filings about Flynn's conduct as well as his decisions to plead guilty twice. "Even recognizing that the Government is entitled to deference in assessing the strength of its case, these claims are not credible," the retired judge wrote. "Indeed, they are preposterous. For starters — and most unusually — they are directly and decisively disproven by the Government's own briefs filed just months ago in this very proceeding." Gleeson said judges must ordinarily defer to the wishes of the Justice Department about whether to pursue a prosecution, but not when the motives of the government are suspect. In Flynn's case, the government's move to dismiss the case "is based solely on the fact that Flynn is an ally of President Trump."

By Gordon Lubold

Esper, Trump’s fourth defense secretary, reportedly was making plans to offer his resignation simultaneously. President Trump last week was on the brink of firing Defense Secretary Mark Esper over their differing views of domestic use of active-duty military, before advisers and allies on Capitol Hill talked him out of it, according to several officials. Don’t miss:Violent clearing of Lafayette Square and a frustrated president’s controversial photo-op — how one of Trump’s most consequential days in the White House came about. The officials said Trump was furious with Esper for not supporting his inclination to use active-duty troops to quell protests in Washington, D.C., Minneapolis and elsewhere following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. The president consulted several advisers to ask their opinion of the disagreement, intent that day on removing Esper, his fourth defense secretary since taking office in January 2017, according to the officials. After talks with the advisers, who cautioned against the move, Trump set aside the plans to immediately fire Esper.

By Jeremy Diamond, Kevin Liptak and Jim Acosta, CNN
(CNN) In the two weeks since George Floyd's death, President Donald Trump's advisers have worked to prepare him to meet the national moment. Some have shared stories with him about their own or their friends' experiences with racism, encouraging Trump to be more empathetic. A group of White House officials solicited ideas from criminal justice reform advocates about policing reforms and proposed the President meet with African American leaders. And this week, White House officials put the President in a room with law enforcement officials who argued certain aspects of policing could change. But as Trump now considers backing some of those reforms and addressing issues of race and policing in a prominent speech, his message on the subject remains muddled and -- in the view of some advisers -- tinged by a hardline stance he adopted at the start of nationwide protests that some view as difficult to walk back. In the two weeks since national protests began, Trump has sought to stamp out unrest using overwhelming police and military force, shown little interest in addressing questions of systemic racism at the heart of the protests and renewed his criticism of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem as a form of peaceful protest. Even as he considers unveiling police reform proposals as early as this week, Trump and many of his top lieutenants have denied systemic racism is a problem in policing at all. On Tuesday morning, as his aides prepared to present him with potential police reforms, Trump seized on an incident of police force that had been widely condemned, accusing a 75-year-old Buffalo protester who was seriously injured after police pushed him to the ground of being part of an Antifa "set up."

By Rebecca Klar

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said President Trump should “go back to hiding in the bunker” after the president tweeted an unfounded conspiracy theory suggesting a 75-year-old protester who was pushed by police in Buffalo, N.Y., could be part of a “set up.” “Pres. Trump should go back to hiding in the bunker instead of tweeting baseless conspiracies about peaceful protestors and further dividing America,” Schumer tweeted Tuesday. Schumer also said he is praying for a speedy recovery for Martin Gugino, the man who fell in a viral video showing police officers shoving Gugino before he staggered and fell backward.

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

(CNN) The footage is striking. An elderly man approaches a police line in Buffalo, New York. He is pushed backward by police, stumbles and falls, hitting his head on the pavement. Blood immediately begins to pour from his ear. None of the officers stop to help him. In a country on high alert for incidents of unnecessary use of force by police against those protesting in the wake of the death of George Floyd, the video sparked outrage. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the episode "wholly unjustified and utterly disgraceful." The two officers involved in the incident were suspended. But on Tuesday morning, the President of the United States suggested -- without offering a shred of evidence -- that the entire episode was the result of a broad scam involving Antifa, a protest organization "whose political beliefs lean toward the left -- often the far left -- but do not conform with the Democratic Party platform."

By Yelena Dzhanova

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ripped into President Donald Trump on Tuesday for tweeting the unsupported notion that an injured Buffalo, New York, protester was involved with antifa. Early Tuesday Trump said the elderly man who had been pushed down by police officers while protesting against the death of unarmed black man George Floyd was part of the group. “Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment,” Trump tweeted. ”@OANN I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?

By Yelena Dzhanova

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ripped into President Donald Trump on Tuesday for tweeting the unsupported notion that an injured Buffalo, New York, protester was involved with antifa. Early Tuesday Trump said the elderly man who had been pushed down by police officers while protesting against the death of unarmed black man George Floyd was part of the group. “Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment,” Trump tweeted. ”@OANN I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?

The Meidas Touch is a progressive PAC founded in April by attorney Ben Meiselas and his two brothers
By Danielle Zoellner

A new political action committee, which was founded by Colin Kaepernick's attorney, has released a scathing ad against Ivanka Trump. In the video, the committee compiled Ms Trump's commencement speech she prepared for Wichita State University with statements from Donald Trump, and news footage of police brutality against protesters. Ms Trump was initially supposed to give the commencement speech to the 2020 graduates, but the Kansas school dropped her speech following a backlash from students. In response, the president's daughter shared her video on Twitter.

By Yaron Steinbuch

President Trump said Tuesday that the elderly man caught in a viral video being pushed to the ground by Buffalo cops “could be an ANTIFA provocateur,” suggesting the incident was a “set up” by the band of far-left militants. “Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment,” the president said in a tweet. “I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?” Trump added. Gugino’s attorney Kelly Zarbone responded to the president’s tweet by saying, “No one from law enforcement has even suggested” what Trump said, according to CNN.

The president’s conspiratorial tweet comes after a video of the encounter between Martin Gugino and two police officers went viral online.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday suggested without evidence that the 75-year-old man whose head was cracked open by Buffalo law enforcement last week was an “ANTIFA provocateur,” alleging the protester was seeking to “set up” the police officers who assaulted him. “Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment. @OANN,” Trump wrote on Twitter, citing the conservative cable channel One America News Network. Trump added: “I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?” The president’s conspiratorial social media post comes after a video of the encounter last Thursday between Martin Gugino and Buffalo, New York, police — shot by local NPR affiliate WBFO — went viral online amid nationwide protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, by Minneapolis police. The footage shows Gugino approach two officers outfitted in tactical gear who were part of a larger group of police enforcing the city’s 8 p.m. curfew in Buffalo’s Niagara Square, in front of city hall. After a brief interaction, the officers forcefully push Gugino, and he falls backward onto the pavement. Officers can then be seen walking past Gugino’s body as he bleeds from his head.

By Lori Robertson

The national semantics exercise over “pepper balls” and “tear gas” has continued. On CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Attorney General William Barr was asked if it was appropriate for the U.S. Park Police “to use smoke bombs, tear gas, pepper balls, projectiles at what appeared to be peaceful protesters” outside the White House on June 1. Barr objected to the description of “pepper spray” as a “chemical irritant,” saying, “It’s not chemical.” But Barr is contradicted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the Department of Justice, as Dr. Ranit Mishori, senior medical adviser for Physicians for Human Rights and a Georgetown University professor of family medicine, told us. “Barr should know better and perhaps brush up on his high school chemistry lessons,” Mishori said. “Pepper spray is a chemical irritant. Period. The CDC classifies it as a chemical irritant, as does his own Department of Justice.” On its website, the CDC says pepper spray is a “riot control agent,” and such agents “(sometimes referred to as ‘tear gas’) are chemical compounds that temporarily make people unable to function by causing irritation to the eyes, mouth, throat, lungs, and skin.” Mishori referred us to a 2009 DOJ Office of Inspector General report on “less-lethal weapons” that describes pepper spray, and the brand name PepperBall system, as “chemical agents.” (It’s worth noting the report also lists “CS Gas (Tear Gas)” in that category.) As we’ve written, President Donald Trump objected to media descriptions of the use of “tear gas” to disperse protesters near the White House before the president walked to St. John’s Episcopal Church to pose for photos with a Bible. The U.S. Park Police acting chief said in a statement, “No tear gas was used by USPP officers or other assisting law enforcement partners” that night, but said “smoke canisters and pepper balls” were used. Pepper balls contain a pepper spray-like irritant. We found some sources — including the Scientific American — consider pepper spray a type of tear gas, while others say both chemicals have the same effect on people.

By Maegan Vazquez, CNN

Washington (CNN) Attorney General William Barr said Monday that the US Secret Service recommended moving President Donald Trump to the underground White House bunker during late May protests, contradicting the President's earlier assertion that his visit to the bunker was for "inspection." Barr told Fox News that the June 1 action to expand the perimeter around the White House and Lafayette Square was a reaction "to three days of extremely violent demonstrations right across from the White House -- a lot of injuries to police officers, arson." "Things were so bad that the Secret Service recommended that the President go down to the bunker," Barr said, referencing protests on May 29. "We can't have that in our country. And so the decision was made. We had to move the perimeter one block. And that was what we were doing (on June 1)." Last week, Trump sought to explain his time in the bunker during clashes outside the residence on May 29 as an "inspection," rather than a retreat for his own safety, telling Fox News Radio's Brian Kilmeade he was only in the safe room for a "tiny" amount of time. "I went down during the day, and I was there for a tiny little short period of time, and it was much more for an inspection, there was no problem during the day," Trump said. "They said it would be a good time to go down and take a look because maybe sometime you're going to need it," Trump added. "I looked at it. It was during the day. It was not a problem ... There was never a problem." Trump also told Kilmeade he'd been to the bunker before, what he said was "two and a half times," also to get a sense of the space rather than to protect himself from harm. But last week, multiple people familiar with the matter described a different scenario to CNN, saying Trump was rushed to the bunker for nearly an hour amid intense protests on the evening of May 29.

By Maegan Vazquez, CNN

Washington (CNN) It's been two weeks since George Floyd was killed while in the custody of Minneapolis police officers, sparking demonstrations calling for widespread policing reform across the country. But President Donald Trump has yet to meet with black advocates calling for those changes or travel to Minneapolis to speak with the community reeling in the wake of Floyd's death. A visit to the site of a national tragedy is something a US president is often called to do -- listening to Americans impacted by an event that has captured the country's attention and calling for national unity. Trump has expressed his sympathies from within the heavily fortified White House gates, and invoked Floyd's name during an event focused on American jobs. He's posed for a photo at a church damaged by looters after peaceful demonstrators were cleared from the area with anti-riot deterrents, such as pepper balls. And he's held a roundtable with representatives of national law enforcement organizations, a Republican sheriff and two Republican attorneys general, to hear their side of the issue. But Trump's efforts to address the demonstrations have, in many ways, garnered criticism and sown division.

By Paul LeBlanc, CNN

(CNN) Acting Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli said Sunday that he does not believe that George Floyd's life would have been spared if he were white. Floyd, a black man, was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis last month. His death has sparked nationwide protests against racism and police violence. Asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer if he thought Floyd would still be alive if he were white, Cuccinelli said, "No, I don't think he would." "What I heard in that eight-and-a-half minute clip was someone who was a bully, who is abusing his position of authority and power in the law," Cuccinelli said in reference to the police officer who kept his knee on Floyd's neck. "And I have a funny feeling, I don't know anything about his professional history, but I have a feeling that we're going to find that he wasn't necessarily that well thought of as a role model among law enforcement through the time of his career, to say the least." His comments provide a vastly different view of America than that of the thousands of protesters who are demanding justice for Floyd and seeking to call attention to decades of police abuse toward black Americans as a result of what they say is institutionalized racism in law enforcement agencies. Cuccinelli, however, joined other Trump officials who claimed Sunday that systemic racism is not an issue in US law enforcement.

Amid the crisis, some are worried about Trump's discussion of "total" authority.
By Matthew Mosk and Katherine Faulders

Thousands of soldiers and law enforcement officers descended on the nation's capital. Steel fences encircled the White House. Heavily armed officers met protesters with flash-bang grenades and chemical agents. The bleak new look for the seat of American democracy last week came matched with rhetoric from President Donald Trump, who began publicly flirting with the idea of using active duty military to "dominate" and reclaim the streets from what he described as chaotic crowds in places not willing or able to contain the unrest. In response to the president's threats to deploy military assets in a domestic setting, former military brass and departed Trump aides leveled a succession of pointed warnings. And lawmakers have sought reassurances that any future spike in violence or disease won't bring a military crackdown. Even though Trump has been prone to using fiery language for spectacle, and appears to have retreated from flexing about using more force, his critics maintain there are fresh reasons to worry. He could seek to further expand the boundaries of his power, they told ABC News, with several adding ominously that there are two words they fear most: martial law. "This president has indicated no respect for limitations on his authority," U.S. Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent, told ABC News on Friday. "What is he capable of? I think the answer is, pretty much anything."

By Devan Cole, CNN

Washington (CNN) Former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday that President Donald Trump has "drifted away" from the Constitution, adding to a growing list of former top military officials who have strongly criticized the President's response to the nationwide protests surrounding the police killing of George Floyd. "We have a Constitution. And we have to follow that Constitution. And the President has drifted away from it," Powell, a retired general who served under President George W. Bush, told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union." The comments from Powell, the first African American secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, add to a growing list of rebukes made in recent days by former top officials who have expressed discontent with Trump's strongman approach to the protests sparked by the death of Floyd, a black man who was killed in late May by a white police officer in Minneapolis. Powell said he's "proud" of what a number of former generals, admirals and diplomats have said about Trump's response last week to the widespread protests, adding that he hadn't released a public statement denouncing Trump's response because he felt he had demonstrated his displeasure with Trump in 2016 when he voted against him. "I think what we're seeing now, is (the most) massive protest movement I have ever seen in my life, I think it suggests the country is getting wise to this and we're not going to put up with it anymore," the retired general told Tapper. In contrast, he called out Republican lawmakers for largely staying silent on Trump's response last week to the national unrest. "I watched the senators heading into the chamber the other day after all this broke, with the reporters saying, 'What do you have to say? What do they you to say?'" he said. "They had nothing to say. They would not react."

Will the military allow the President to use it for political advantage?
By Dexter Filkins

The image of Donald Trump leading his advisers to St. John’s Church may prove to be a defining one of his Presidency: Trump, passing through streets that had been cleared of protesters by tear gas, to pose with a Bible while fires burned all over the country. For many members of the military, the image contained an especially discordant note. Amid the political aides in blue suits was a barrel-chested Army officer wearing combat fatigues: General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and America’s highest-ranking soldier. A former senior defense official described to me his disgust with that moment and the de-facto endorsement that it represented. “Walking the streets of D.C. in your combat fatigues—are you kidding me?” he said. Milley’s appearance breached the long-standing Washington norm that senior officers don’t visit the White House dressed for combat. More important, it violated one of the oldest traditions of the American constitutional order: soldiers stay out of politics. With relatively few exceptions—including the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act, the Civil War, and Reconstruction—the armed forces have hewed to the rule that they should never be deployed against American citizens. This helps to explain why the military is among the few national institutions that still enjoy broad public confidence. But Trump has shown himself willing to trash any institution—the press, the F.B.I., the State Department—that he can’t bend to his will. This week, Milley and Mark Esper, the Secretary of Defense, allowed the armed forces to be drawn into Trump’s protest response—and allowed themselves to be used for Trump’s political gain.

Attorney General Barr is too dangerous to democracy and to the well-being of Americans to be left in place. He must be removed from office.
By Noah Bookbinder and Donald K. Sherman - Opinion contributors

It’s been evident since he assumed the role of attorney general that William Barr was more concerned with advancing the political interests of President Donald Trump than with serving the cause of justice in America. But when Barr this week ordered the dispersal of peaceful protesters gathered in opposition to racial injustice, who were hit with pepper balls and rubber bullets, in order to make way for the president’s appalling photo op, it became undeniable that he presents a clear and present danger. An attorney general who undermines an independent Department of Justice is dangerous to our democracy, but under the direction of a corrupt president who coddles white supremacists and befriends dictators, Barr’s conduct threatens the lives and safety of American citizens. We are in the midst of a much needed reckoning about the government's role in practicing and enabling violence against black and brown people like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others and the systemic racism that allows perpetrators to escape accountability. Barr has repeatedly demonstrated that he is unfit to lead any national effort to bring about government accountability, or even our nation’s criminal prosecutions. Now, his role in attacking protesters peacefully opposing state-sanctioned racism warrants a more urgent response.

Criticizing Obama was like calling fouls in a basketball game. Criticizing Trump is like calling 911 to report a crime spree. There's no comparison.
By John J. Pitney Jr. Opinion contributor

The contrast between the 44th and 45th presidents in a single day could not have been more dramatic. Barack Obama on Monday published a carefully reasoned article about police violence and mob violence, advising his fellow Americans how to restore peace and justice. Donald Trump, meanwhile, ranted at the nation’s governors by phone. He said most of them were “weak” and urged them to use the military to “dominate” the protesters. Like other conservatives, I voted for John McCain and Mitt Romney and I criticized President Obama. But if I had to choose between him and his successor, I’d take Obama in a nanosecond. The two presidencies are not even in the same category. Criticizing Obama was like calling fouls in a basketball game. Criticizing Trump is like calling 911 to report a crime spree. I did fault Obama for raising expectations that he could not meet. Early in the 2008 campaign, he buttressed his support for campaign reform by pledging to stay within the public financing system for the general election. He then backtracked and instead relied on private contributions. The reversal was mildly embarrassing but totally lawful.

Trump horror show is unfolding now
By contrast, Robert Mueller’s report found that Trump’s 2016 campaign “expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.” In preparation for the 2020 campaign, Trump pressured the government of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden — the offense for which the House impeached him. When  Obama took office, his first major initiative was an economic stimulus package that would purportedly support “shovel-ready projects.” After the results fell short, he acknowledged, “there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects.” He also promised that the Affordable Care Act would enable all Americans to keep the doctors and insurance plans that they liked. It did not work out that way. On these issues and others, there was plenty of room for legitimate fault-finding. But  Obama was hardly the first politician to over-promise and under-deliver. His policies did not amount to a revolution, but they were not a horror show, either. The horror show is unfolding before us. Despite repeated warnings from his own administration and outside experts, Trump wasted precious time dismissing the coronavirus pandemic. “And again, when you have 15 people,” he said Feb. 26, "and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that's a pretty good job we've done.” He said the next day: “It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.” More than 100,000 deaths later, these false assurances sound ghastly.

Analysis by Zachary B. Wolf, CNN

(CNN) The past week and its showcase of President Donald Trump's erratic behavior offered a window into how he would deal with defeat. Surely he would offer excuses and question the results. But would he do something more drastic? For that matter, how would he act after a victory? I reached out to Kate Andersen Brower, the journalist, CNN contributor and author of a number of books about presidents and the presidency, most recently "Team of Five: The Presidents' Club in the Age of Trump," about the most recent presidents and their relationships with each other. Our Q-and-A, lightly edited, is below.

Al Sharpton delivered a powerful eulogy at George Floyd’s memorial as peaceful protests went on. Plus, the Trump-loving cop blocking reform in Minneapolis
By Tim Walker

Good morning, Curfews were lifted from Los Angeles to Washington DC on Thursday as peaceful protests against police violence continued for another day in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by officers in Minneapolis. Floyd’s family led the mourners at a memorial service in the Minnesota city – the first of three such events planned across the country – where the Rev Al Sharpton gave voice to the passion, anger and hope of the protesters in a moving eulogy: What happened to Floyd happens every day in this country in education and health services and in every area of American life. It’s time for us to stand up in George’s name and say get your knee off our necks. Amid the widespread unrest over Floyd’s death, several fresh incidents of police violence stand out. Two police officers in Buffalo, New York, have been suspended following the emergence of a video in which they shoved a 75-year-old man to the ground. In Vallejo, California, police shot dead an unarmed 22-year-old who was on his knees with his hands up. In Austin, Texas, a black college student is in critical condition after suffering brain damage from a police beanbag round during a protest. The nephew of David McAtee, shot dead by law enforcement in Louisville this week, says the police “need to apologize and say ‘we was wrong’.” The death of Manuel Ellis, who suffered a respiratory arrest in police custody in Washington state in March, has been ruled a homicide. Rather than reform policing in America, we ought to defund it and use public spending in more publicly responsible ways, says the laywer and activist Malaika Jabali, arguing that police were never really created to protect and serve the masses:

The police are supposed to protect free speech, not suppress it.
By The Editorial Board

When George Floyd died under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, the scourge of police violence, festering for generations, became a rallying point for Americans yearning for the fulfillment of this country’s founding aspiration to promote life, liberty and happiness. Yet as they turned out to exercise their most basic rights as citizens, these Americans have often encountered only more contempt for those rights from the people who are supposed to protect them. Some protesters crossed the line into violence. Some people took advantage of the chaos to loot. But all too often, facing peaceful demonstrations against police violence, the police responded with more violence — against protesters, journalists and bystanders. In a handful of cities, local leaders recognized what was at stake, and their response can point the way forward for the country. In Houston, the police chief, Art Acevedo, told protesters: “We will march as a department with everybody in this community. I will march until I can’t stand no more. But I will not allow anyone to tear down this city.” He had the sense to recognize that a vast majority of demonstrators wanted what he wanted, a better city. And he clearly saw that the responsibility of the police was not to abridge but to safeguard the First Amendment, which protects freedom of speech, assembly, the press and religion. In many places, the country is experiencing a communal breakdown so complete that mayors have thrown up their hands and ordered curfews or called in the National Guard. Unable to maintain urban life, they have tried to suspend it, just as they had done in response to the spread of the coronavirus. - Trump and Barr do not care about our 1st amendment rights.

By Nick Miroff

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has asked contractors for help making President Trump’s border wall more difficult to climb over and cut through, an acknowledgment that the design currently being installed along hundreds of miles of the U.S.-Mexico boundary remains vulnerable. The notice of the request for information that CBP posted gives federal contractors until June 12 to suggest new anti-breaching and anti-climbing technology and tools, while also inviting proposals for “private party construction” that would allow investors and activists to acquire land, build a barrier on it and sell the whole thing to the government. Trump continues to campaign for reelection on a promise to complete nearly 500 miles of new barrier along the border with Mexico by the end of 2020, but administration officials have scaled back that goal in recent weeks. The president has ceased promoting the $15 billion barrier as “impenetrable” in the months since The Washington Post reported that smuggling crews have been cutting through new sections of the structure using inexpensive power tools. In a statement, CBP officials said their request for information — first reported by the KJZZ Fronteras Desk in Arizona — does not amount to an admission that the current design is inadequate or flawed. “We have an adaptive adversary; regardless of materials, nothing is impenetrable if given unlimited time and tools,” the agency said. “Walls provide the U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) the ability to slow and stop potential crossings. That means building wall will deter some people from attempting to cross, while slowing the efforts of those who still try.”

Park Police spokesperson said it was a mistake to deny tear gas was used to clear Lafayette Square. The acting chief then again denied using tear gas.
By Katelyn Polantz and Kelly Mena, CNN

(CNN) A spokesperson for the US Park Police said Friday afternoon that the department had made a mistake by denying use of tear gas to clear peaceful protesters from a public park outside the White House earlier this week. Not long after, the department's acting chief once again denied using tear gas. Sgt. Eduardo Delgado, a spokesperson for the Park Police, told CNN on Friday he now realized the department could have called the pepper balls it used "tear gas," reiterating what he had first told Vox, that it was a "mistake" to say the force hadn't used tear gas on Monday. "The point is we admitted to using what we used," Delgado first told Vox. "I think the term 'tear gas' doesn't even matter anymore. It was a mistake on our part for using 'tear gas' because we just assumed people would think CS or CN." CS and CN are two substances widely referred to as tear gas. The semantics debate over what to call the particular chemical irritants police used to disperse protesters began when the department released a statement on Tuesday saying that it "did not use tear gas" to clear dozens of protesters from Lafayette Square on Monday evening in a chaotic scene of gas and force. The protesters were cleared so that President Donald Trump could walk to the nearby St. John's Episcopal Church for a photo op. Trump and conservatives cited the Park Police's statement in attacks on media coverage of the event -- even though the police acknowledged using chemical irritants. Delgado said on Friday that the force still stood behind its statement from Tuesday, which explained that it had used smoke bombs and pepper balls to clear the crowd. The force has never said it used CS gas, a chemical irritant that the Park Police claimed they commonly refer to as tear gas, and stands by that still.

Zuckerberg says Facebook will revisit policies in wake of Trump backlash
The announcement comes after the tech giant's inaction on the president's posts sparked uproar, in and out of the company.

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg said Friday the social media giant will reexamine its policies against violent threats and voter suppression after facing intense backlash over its recent handling of incendiary posts by President Donald Trump, particularly from its own employees. In a lengthy Facebook post, Zuckerberg said he wanted to “acknowledge the real pain expressed by members of our community” over the company’s decision not to take any action on a Trump post that appeared to threaten protesters with violence. The move has sparked unrest at the tech behemoth, with scores of staffers publicly denouncing the decision and skipping work in protest. In response, the tech mogul said Friday the company will be revisiting its policies against “threats of state use of force” and voter suppression efforts, as well as its current “binary” standard of either taking down or leaving up posts that may incite violence. “We're going to review potential options for handling violating or partially-violating content aside from the binary leave-it-up or take-it-down decisions,” he wrote. “I know many of you think we should have labeled the President's posts in some way last week.”

By Heather Long, The Washington Post

When the U.S. government's official jobs report for May came out on Friday, it included a note at the bottom saying there had been a major "error" and the unemployment rate likely should be higher than the widely report 13.3 percent rate. The special note said that if this misclassification error had not occurred, the "overall unemployment rate would have been about 3 percentage points higher than reported," meaning the unemployment rate would be about 16.3 percent for May.

Barr now has "federal troops" on the street in D.C. with no badges or insignia. There's a word for that
By Heather Digby Parton

Since becoming Donald Trump's attorney general, Bill Barr has given several speeches to police organizations. This is not unusual for someone in his position, but Barr's comments have often been controversial. Last December he made the outrageous comment that "communities" have to "start showing more than they do the respect and support that law enforcement deserves and if communities don't give that respect, they might find themselves without the protection they need." It was bad enough that it hit the evening news: Barr's overtly partisan behavior as attorney general has been well documented. He is the president's No. 1 henchman, and the most openly political AG in American history. His far-right views on religion and morality are also well-known. But despite his speeches like the one above, until this week I don't think it was well understood just how fully authoritarian Barr's worldview really is. He appears to believe that the title "attorney general" is an actual military designation that gives him the authority to command troops on the streets of the United States. It isn't. (It's actually a very old term in common law, reflecting the idea that someone may hold a "general power of attorney" to represent the state.) In a call with state governors on Monday, when Trump demanded they "dominate" their citizens and put protesters in jail for 10 years, one of his many threats was that he would unleash Barr and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Later that day Milley was seen wandering around outside the White House in battle fatigues as if he were about to launch an attack on Fallujah, but he and the rest of the military brass have since balked at Trump's stated desire to send in active-duty troops to "dominate" American cities.


Attorney General Bill Barr says that forcibly dispersing a crowd of protesters near the White House had nothing to do with President Donald Trump photo-op in front of St. John's Episcopal Church. CNN's Anderson Cooper says the timeline of events shows otherwise.

The motley assortment of police currently occupying Washington, D.C., is a window into the vast, complicated, obscure world of federal law enforcement.

Few sights from the nation’s protests in recent days have seemed more dystopian than the appearance of rows of heavily-armed riot police around Washington in drab military-style uniforms with no insignia, identifying emblems or name badges. Many of the apparently federal agents have refused to identify which agency they work for. “Tell us who you are, identify yourselves!” protesters demanded, as they stared down the helmeted, sunglass-wearing mostly white men outside the White House. Eagle-eyed protesters have identified some of them as belonging to Bureau of Prisons’ riot police units from Texas, but others remain a mystery. The images of such military-style men in America’s capital are disconcerting, in part, because absent identifying signs of actual authority the rows of federal officers appear all-but indistinguishable from the open-carrying, white militia members cosplaying as survivalists who have gathered in other recent protests against pandemic stay-at-home orders. Some protesters have compared the anonymous armed officers to Russia’s “Little Green Men,” the soldiers-dressed-up-as-civilians who invaded and occupied eastern Ukraine. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to President Donald Trump Thursday demanding that federal officers identify themselves and their agency. To understand the police forces ringing Trump and the White House it helps to understand the dense and not-entirely-sensical thicket of agencies that make up the nation’s civilian federal law enforcement. With little public attention, notice and amid historically lax oversight, those ranks have surged since 9/11—growing by roughly 2,500 officers annually every year since 2000. To put it another way: Every year since the 2001 terrorist attacks, the federal government has added to its policing ranks a force larger than the entire Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Nearly all of these agencies are headquartered in and around the capital, making it easy for Attorney General William Barr to enlist them as part of his vast effort to “flood the zone” in D.C. this week with what amounts to a federal army of occupation, overseen from the FBI Washington area command post in Chinatown. Battalions of agents were mustered in the lobby of Customs and Border Protection’s D.C. headquarters—what in normal times is the path to a food court for federal workers. The Drug Enforcement Administration has been given special powers to enable it to surveil protesters. It is the heaviest show of force in the nation’s capital since the protests and riots of the Vietnam War.

The Trump administration has deployed phalanxes of officers in riot gear and no identifiable markings to police demonstrations in the capital. Democrats want to know who they are.
By Zolan Kanno-Youngs

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration’s aggressive deployment of officers donning riot gear with no identifiable markings has increased tensions with protesters, raised the specter of a “secret police” force and prompted Speaker Nancy Pelosi to demand that President Trump identify the federal forces he has put on the streets of the capital. Demonstrators in downtown Washington say federal officers in generic riot gear have refused to identify themselves or display identifying features, and the deployment of federal law enforcement is supposed to get even larger this weekend. Congressional Democrats say the administration’s use of ambiguous tactical teams is infringing on the rights of the protesters. Senators Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, and Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, introduced legislation mandating that law enforcement officers and members of the armed forces identify themselves and their agency. In a letter to Mr. Trump on Thursday, Ms. Pelosi asked for details identifying the law enforcement and military agencies that had been deployed across the capital to police the protests. “The practice of officers operating with full anonymity undermines accountability, ignites government distrust and suspicion, and is counter to the principle of procedural justice and legitimacy during this precarious moment in our nation’s history,” Ms. Pelosi wrote. The question over the federal law enforcement practices comes as Attorney General William P. Barr has flooded Washington with agents from the F.B.I., the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Department of Homeland Security and the Bureau of Prisons — an agency that House Democrats said in a letter to Mr. Barr was responsible for sending the unidentifiable officers. Mr. Barr on Wednesday night further empowered those teams from the Bureau of Prisons with the authority to make arrests at the demonstrations. Even as federal troops on Thursday retreated from the area in front of Lafayette Square, which is controlled by the federal government, and Mr. Barr said he could reduce the number of security checkpoints after “a sharp reduction in violent episodes,” officials familiar with the deployment said an even larger federal presence and aggressive crackdown was expected this weekend when thousands of additional protesters were anticipated to march on the nation’s capital. “The United States would normally condemn this tactic if used by dictators of other countries, and its use here directly threatens our democracy,” Mr. Murphy said. “Americans have a right to know who is patrolling their streets, and to have recourse if their massive power is misused.”

By Lori Robertson

Democratic politicians have criticized President Donald Trump for the use of “tear gas” to disperse protesters near the White House on June 1 before Trump walked to St. John’s Episcopal Church to pose for photos with a Bible. The president countered, “They didn’t use tear gas.” U.S. Park Police says officers used “pepper balls,” not “tear gas.” It’s true pepper balls, which contain a pepper spray-like irritant, have a different makeup than another chemical typical referred to as “tear gas” (and which USPP specifically says it didn’t use). But some sources consider pepper spray a type of tear gas, while others say both chemicals have the same effect on people. According to the Scientific American and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pepper spray is a type of “tear gas” or “riot control agent.” Dr. Ranit Mishori, senior medical adviser for Physicians for Human Rights and a Georgetown University professor of family medicine, told us in an email: “Tear gas and pepper spray both belong to a class of crowd-control weapons known as chemical irritants.” The chemical makeup is different, but the impact on people is similar. “During a protest, it is impossible to tell what chemical is being used as the clinical manifestations are the same.” Trump’s reelection campaign has claimed the media was “falsely reporting” that U.S. Park Police used “tear gas,” and in a Fox News Radio interview on June 3, Trump said the stories about clearing out the protesters with “tear gas” were “fake. They didn’t use tear gas. They didn’t use. They moved them out.” Trump didn’t mention the “pepper balls.” Both chemical irritants cause, according to Mishori, “sometimes severe irritation to mucous membranes (e.g eyes, mouth, nasal passages, lungs), causing people to experience burning sensations on the skin and in the eyes, tearing, coughing, sneezing, difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, disorientation.”

The letter from his former lawyer John Dowd appears addressed to former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who had called out Trump on using the military against demonstrators.

President Donald Trump tweeted out a letter Thursday that referred to a group of protesters as “terrorists,” following their violent ouster from a park near the White House earlier this week. The letter is signed by Trump's former lawyer John Dowd and addressed to “Jim” in a probable reference to former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. It lambasted the former Pentagon chief after he called out Trump on Wednesday for threatening a military response to protests that have engulfed cities across the country. In his letter, Dowd referred to a group of protesters who were violently forced out of Washington's Lafayette Square on Monday as “terrorists using idle hate … to burn and destroy.” “They were abusing and disrespecting the police when the police were preparing the area for the 1900 curfew,” the letter said. The White House did not immediately respond when asked whether Trump views the protesters as "terrorists.” Protesters had gathered in the park to express their outrage at the death of a black Minnesota man, George Floyd, at the hands of a white police officer, with video showing a largely peaceful — if tense — demonstration. Police charged into the protesters about 30 minutes before the city’s 7 p.m. curfew, throwing chemical irritants and hitting protesters and journalists with shields and rubber bullets. Trump later walked out of the White House through the cleared area for a photo-op in front of St. John’s Epsicopal Church across from the square. Mattis joined a symphony of condemnations, which came from both parties, characterizing the episode as a grotesque abuse of power.

The pledge from the president represents his latest intervention in the case of his longtime political adviser.

President Donald Trump on Thursday promised his longtime informal political adviser Roger Stone would not serve time in prison, revealing the convicted Republican provocateur “can sleep well at night” and reprising his fiery criticisms of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. The pledge from the president came on Twitter, after Charlie Kirk, the founder of the conservative group Turning Point USA, wrote Tuesday that Stone “will serve more time in prison than 99% of these rioters destroying America” — referring to the ongoing nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, by a Minneapolis police officer. “This isn’t justice,” Kirk added. “RT for a full pardon of Roger Stone!” Trump went on to share the tweet Thursday morning, writing in his own accompanying message: “No. Roger was a victim of a corrupt and illegal Witch Hunt, one which will go down as the greatest political crime in history. He can sleep well at night!” The president’s social media post represents his latest intervention in Stone’s case and comes after Trump and Attorney General William Barr were widely rebuked by congressional Democrats and career Justice Department officials for involving themselves in the federal law enforcement matter just a few months ago.

Sen. Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, said she was struggling with whether to back the president's re-election.
By Dareh Gregorian, Kasie Hunt and Julie Tsirkin

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska on Thursday praised former Defense Secretary James Mattis' blistering critique of President Donald Trump as "true and honest and necessary and overdue." Murkowski said: "When I saw Gen. Mattis' comments yesterday I felt like perhaps we are getting to a point where we can be more honest with the concerns that we might hold internally and have the courage of our own convictions to speak up. And so I'm working as one individual to form the right words, knowing that these words really matter so I appreciate General Mattis’ comments." In a statement in The Atlantic magazine on Wednesday, Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general, said Trump has abused his executive authority and used his presidency to further divide the country. "Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us," Mattis wrote. Asked if she'd support the re-election of the president, whom she voted to acquit at his impeachment trial despite behavior she said was "shameful," Murkowski said: "I am struggling with it. I have struggled with it for a long time." Murkowski said she'd continue to work with Trump and his administration in the meantime. "I think right now, as we are all struggling to find ways to express the words that need to be expressed appropriately, questions about who I'm going to vote for or not going to vote for, I think, are distracting at the moment. I know people might think that's a dodge, but I think there are important conversations that we need to have as an American people among ourselves about where we are right now," she said. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, called Mattis' statement "stunning and powerful." Without going into detail about the contents of his statement, Romney called him "an American patriot" and "an individual whose judgment I respect." Romney was the only Republican senator who voted to convict Trump on one of the two articles of impeachment.

By John Kruzel

The Washington, D.C., chapter of Black Lives Matter and several protestors sued the Trump administration Thursday over its use of chemical agents and rubber bullets earlier this week to scatter crowds gathered near the White House. The plaintiffs accused the administration and more than 100 law enforcement personnel of carrying out a conspiracy to violate their free speech and other constitutional rights while they peacefully protested the death of George Floyd, who was killed in Minneapolis police custody when a white police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes. “The President’s shameless, unconstitutional, unprovoked, and frankly criminal attack on protesters because he disagreed with their views shakes the foundation of our nation’s constitutional order,” said Scott Michelman, the legal director of the ACLU of the District of Columbia, one of the groups backing the legal challenge. The administration sparked a bipartisan backlash Monday when law enforcement used aggressive measures, including chemical agents, flash bombs and rubber bullets, to scatter a largely peaceful protest around Lafayette Square. Moments later, President Trump walked across the vacated street flanked by Cabinet members, a heavy security detail and senior staff to stand in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, where he hoisted a Bible and posed for photographs, in what critics viewed as a surreal political stunt.

Ardent supporters saw the photo op as a blow against evil while others saw the gesture as cynical and a ploy
By Matthew Teague in Fairhope, Alabama

On Monday when Donald Trump raised overhead a Bible – the Sword of the Spirit, to believers – he unwittingly cleaved his loyal Christian supporters into two camps. His most ardent evangelical supporters saw it as a blow against evil and described his walk from the White House to St John’s Episcopal church, over ground violently cleared of protesters, as a “Jericho walk”. The Rev Johnnie Moore, president of the Congress of Christian Leaders, described Trump in shepherd-like terms on Twitter: “I will never forget seeing @POTUS @realDonaldTrump slowly & in-total-command walk from the @WhiteHouse across Lafayette Square to St. John’s Church defying those who aim to derail our national healing by spreading fear, hate & anarchy. After just saying, ‘I will keep you safe.’” But evangelicals are not monolithic: some saw the gesture as cynical, a ploy by a president whose decisions, both private and public, do not align with biblical principles. “I guess it’s a sort of Rorschach test, then,” said Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress, who is one of Trump’s most important defenders among the faithful. “You see what you expect to see.” But that’s not true, Trump’s emerging evangelical critics say: an objective measure is contained in the very book Trump wielded. “Blessed are the peacemakers! Blessed are the merciful! It’s right there in the Sermon on the Mount,” said John Fea, a professor of American history at Messiah College. “Just read Jesus.” Trump’s photo opportunity required police to attack and push away protesters against police brutality. He walked surrounded by key civilian and military advisers, some of whom later said they were caught unaware by the stunt and the violence that preceded it. Some evangelical leaders said they felt similarly aghast, watching the event unfold. “Pelting people with rubber bullets and spraying them with teargas for peacefully protesting is morally wrong,” said Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. “What we need right now is moral leadership – from all of us, in the churches, in the police departments, in the courts, and in the White House. The Bible tells us so. So do our own consciences.” The day’s events left Moore “alarmed”, he said. The staunchest of evangelicals, 90-year-old televangelist Pat Robertson, split from Trump on Tuesday.

By Justine Coleman

President Trump is shifting after his threat to deploy U.S. troops in response to the protests over George Floyd’s death that are rocking the nation, The Associated Press reported Wednesday. White House officials told the AP that the president is privately backing off on his warnings of deploying troops in response to the sometimes-violent demonstrations. The officials said law enforcement’s response to the protests this week showed local governments should be able to quell the demonstrations. Current and former campaign and administration officials also told the news service that photos from the weekend showing fires set in Lafayette Square with the White House in the background angered the president, as did reports that he was in the White House bunker because of Friday’s protests. A senior White House official said Trump wanted an aggressive response in Washington, D.C., to serve as an example for the rest of the country. Trump announced the plans to deploy the military in the capital city on Monday and threatened to send troops to other cities if the governors did not activate the National Guard. The Defense Department has put together contingency plans for deploying the military if needed. Pentagon documents obtained by the AP described how soldiers from an Army division would protect the White House and other federal buildings if other law enforcement lost control of the protests. The Pentagon said Tuesday night that it had moved active-duty units representing approximately 1,600 troops from Fort Bragg, N.C., and Fort Drum, N.Y., to station them outside the nation's capital, putting them on heightened alert status.

By Rachel Frazin

A group of former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employees has released a report condemning the direction the agency has gone under President Trump. In the report released early Thursday, the group called Save EPA wrote that the Trump administration has been relentless in its efforts to “roll back public health and environmental protections, weaken enforcement of those protections, and cripple EPA’s capacity to address new and existing problems.” “Virtually all the changes that Trump has made have one thing in common: They help polluters and harm the public, now and in the future,” the report said. The report also documented what it described as a “slowing down” of enforcement. It said that in 2018, the number of inspections or evaluations to determine legal compliance was less than 60 percent of the annual average since 2001 and that the number of criminal cases opened was about a third of the levels reported between 2008 and 2013. It particularly critiqued the EPA’s actions with regard to climate change and pollution controls and its handling of science and laid out dozens of changes made by the agency over the past several years. “When it comes to setting back public health and environmental protection, Trump has been relentlessly thorough,” said a statement from Ellen Kurlansky, a former analyst in the EPA’s clean air program and report co-author.

In an extraordinary condemnation, the former defense secretary backs protesters and says the president is trying to turn Americans against one another.
By Jeffrey Goldberg

James Mattis, the esteemed Marine general who resigned as secretary of defense in December 2018 to protest Donald Trump’s Syria policy, has, ever since, kept studiously silent about Trump’s performance as president. But he has now broken his silence, writing an extraordinary broadside in which he denounces the president for dividing the nation, and accuses him of ordering the U.S. military to violate the constitutional rights of American citizens. “I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled,” Mattis writes. “The words ‘Equal Justice Under Law’ are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.” He goes on, “We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.” In his j’accuse, Mattis excoriates the president for setting Americans against one another. “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us,” Mattis writes. “We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.” He goes on to contrast the American ethos of unity with Nazi ideology. “Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that ‘The Nazi slogan for destroying us … was “Divide and Conquer.” Our American answer is “In Union there is Strength.”’ We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis—confident that we are better than our politics.” “When I joined the military, some 50 years ago,” he writes, “I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.”

By Zachary Cohen, Kaitlan Collins, Kevin Liptak, Vivian Salama and Jim Acosta, CNN

Washington (CNN)Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is on shaky ground with the White House after saying Wednesday that he does not support using active duty troops to quell the large-scale protests across the United States triggered by the death of George Floyd and those forces should only be used in a law enforcement role as a last resort. Speaking from the Pentagon briefing room podium, Esper noted that "we are not in one of those situations now," distancing himself from President Donald Trump's recent threat to deploy the military to enforce order. "The option to use active duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort, and only in the most urgent and dire of situations. We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act," he told reporters. Esper also distanced himself from a maligned photo-op outside St. John's Church. Wednesday's press briefing by Esper went over poorly at the White House, where he was already viewed to be on shaky ground, multiple people familiar with the matter said.

By Amanda Macias

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters at the Pentagon on Wednesday that he does not support invoking the Insurrection Act, a law from 1807 that would allow President Donald Trump to deploy active-duty U.S. troops to respond to civil unrest in cities across the country. “I say this not only as Secretary of Defense, but also as a former soldier and a former member of the National Guard, the option to use active-duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort, and only in the most urgent and dire situations. We are not in one of those situations now,” Esper said. “I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act,” he added. Meanwhile, NBC News, citing two White House officials, reported that Trump is backing off the idea of invoking the act, at least for now. “It has always been an option and remains an option,” an official told NBC. This person said things have improved “because of the influx of National Guard and the president’s pressure on governors.”

By Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

Washington (CNN) The District of Columbia National Guard is investigating the actions of its helicopters Monday night that were observed doing slow, low-level passes and hovering over crowds in an apparent attempt to disperse those who were out past the city's curfew, protesting over the death of George Floyd. The DC National Guard first announced the investigation on Tuesday, saying in a statement provided to CNN that its commanding general, Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, "directed an investigation into a June 1 low-flying maneuver conducted by one of our rotary aviation assets." In a longer statement Wednesday, the Guard said that it is investigating the use of a "medical evacuation helicopter as part of the Joint Task Force DC operation." The investigation is to ensure all the helicopters involved Monday "complied with applicable procedures and safety regulations," the Guard said. "I hold all members of the District of Columbia National Guard to the highest of standards. We live and work in the District, and we are dedicated to the service of our nation," Walker said in a statement. On Monday, crowds protested outside the White House over the death of Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis. As the city curfew was about to go into effect at 7 p.m. ET., law enforcement began pushing back the crowd using tear gas, smoke canisters and rubber bullets. A spokesman for the Pentagon claimed to CNN Tuesday the National Guard did not fire tear gas or rubber bullets. Well after the curfew, protesters were still out on the streets, and video captured by CNN showed a military helicopter hovering over a group of them, using its propellers to kick up strong wind and debris. The tactic is a show of force and commonly used by the military in overseas combat zones to drive away targets from a specific area.

White House acknowledges attorney general ordered law enforcement to expand perimeter around White House before president's photo op at church, but says it's unrelated
By Griffin Connolly

House Democrats are launching an all-out offensive against Attorney General William Barr for his “continued defiance of Congress” and “improper politicization of the Department of Justice,” the Judiciary Committee announced in a release on Tuesday. The panel’s announcement comes as the Trump administration confirmed the attorney general personally ordered law enforcement to expand the perimeter around the White House either late Sunday or early Monday, ahead of Donald Trump’s walk to a photo op at nearby St John’s Episcopal Church. Administration officials have insisted that Mr Barr’s order to expand the perimeter had no connection to Mr Trump’s photo op, where he strolled from the White House across Lafayette Square to the church and held up a bible in his right hand as photojournalists snapped pictures and TV crews shot video. Shortly before Mr Trump emerged from the White House for his walk to the church on Tuesday, horse-mounted law enforcement personnel used tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash-bang grenades to disperse a crowd that had been peacefully protesting there for hours. Mr Barr has also continued to deploy more law enforcement personnel across the country to root out violent agitators at protests against police brutality in the wake of the death of George Floyd, who died last week as a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck and back for several minutes even as Mr Floyd was saying he couldn’t breathe. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, whose committee drafted and ratified impeachment articles against Mr Trump last year, is proposing legislation to slash the budget of Mr Barr’s personal office at the DOJ by $50m, he announced on Tuesday. Mr Nadler is also scheduling multiple hearings in the coming weeks with DOJ whistle-blowers and former department officials, the panel announced. “These individuals are prepared to describe specific incidents of misconduct, as well as the unprecedented politicization of the Department of Justice under President Trump and Attorney General Barr,” the committee wrote in its press release.

By Jordain Carney

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday blocked a resolution from Democrats that would have condemned President Trump after rubber bullets and gas were used on peaceful protesters near the White House. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) tried to pass the resolution, which was introduced earlier Tuesday, by unanimous consent, meaning any one senator could block it. "If a senator objects, they should be asked if they believe Americans do not have the constitutional right to exercise the freedom of speech. ... Do they support the president's use of tear gas against people, including families, who are peacefully protesting in a public park?" Schumer said. The resolution condemns Trump for "ordering Federal officers to use gas and rubber bullets against the Americans who were peaceably protesting in Lafayette Square in Washington, DC on the night of June 1, 2020, thereby violating the constitutional rights of those peaceful protestors."  The National Guard, U.S. Park Police and Secret Service used rubber bullets and tear gas to clear demonstrators from Lafayette Square so that Trump could cross the street to St. John’s Episcopal Church, which had been set on fire by vandals the night before. The Washington Post reported that Attorney General William Barr personally ordered for the perimeter near the White House to be extended, pushing protesters away from Lafayette Square.

In an exclusive interview, Esper also said he had "no idea" about the plan to use force to disperse protesters ahead of Trump's staged visit to St. John's Episcopal Church.
By Courtney Kube and Carol E. Lee

Defense Secretary Mark Esper says he was given no notice before President Donald Trump led him and other senior administration officials to St. John's Episcopal Church for a widely criticized photo opportunity. "I thought I was going to do two things: to see some damage and to talk to the troops," Esper said Tuesday night in an exclusive interview with NBC News. Esper said he believed they were going to observe the vandalized bathroom in Lafayette Square, which is near the church. "I didn't know where I was going," Esper said. "I wanted to see how much damage actually happened." A Pentagon spokesman later told NBC News that Esper was aware the church was one of the locations where he would be viewing damage. The spokesman reiterated that Esper didn't know the president was going to use it as a photo opportunity.

By Christal Hayes - USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – Republican senators were split on President Donald Trump's decision Monday to push back protesters from an area surrounding the White House so he could visit a historic church across the street to take a photo with a Bible. "I'm against clearing out a peaceful protest for a photo op that treats the Word of God as a political prop," said Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., in a statement. While there is no right to riot or destroy property, he said, there is a "fundamental — a Constitutional — right to protest." The split reaction from Republicans came after another day of protests in the nation's capital and across the country over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in the custody of Minneapolis police May 25. Former police officer Derek Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd's death. During a Monday speech, the president threatened to send the military if cities and states did not put an end to violent protests. As he spoke from the White House, police outside forcibly removed protesters gathered in Lafayette Square with riot shields, flash bangs and chemical agents. A few minutes later, Trump walked through the park and posed for photos with a Bible outside St. John's Episcopal Church, which suffered slight damage after it was set on fire by protesters late Sunday night. Many Democrats criticized the event as a stunt while some GOP lawmakers joined them in condemning Trump's actions.

By Laura Kelly

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday criticized Chinese and Hong Kong authorities for banning a vigil marking the 1989 massacre of pro-Democracy protesters on Tiananmen Square, one day after President Trump oversaw a crackdown on protesters outside the White House. “It starts; so soon,” Pompeo tweeted. “For the first time in 30 years, Hong Kong authorities denied permission to hold the #TiananmenVigil. If there is any doubt about Beijing’s intent, it is to deny Hong Kongers a voice and a choice, making them the same as mainlanders. So much for two systems.” The secretary is expected to meet with Tiananmen Square survivors, according to the State Department. Pompeo has focused intense criticism on the Chinese Communist Party over the spread of the novel coronavirus and condemned Beijing’s actions with respect to Hong Kong, most recently certifying the territory as no longer autonomous from mainland China and laying the groundwork for Trump to impose sanctions and visa restrictions and end bilateral agreements with the U.S. Hong Kong officials denied organizers for the Tiananmen square vigil permission, citing concerns over the spread of the coronavirus. Only the semi-autonomous territories of Hong Kong and Macau have been allowed to hold annual vigils marking the events of June 3 and June 4. The approximate numbers of those killed and injured are unknown, ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand. - Pompeo criticizing China is the pot calling the kettle black.

By Evan Perez and David Shortell, CNN

Washington (CNN) Attorney General William Barr on Monday evening ordered authorities to clear a crowd of protesters that had gathered near the White House, according to a Justice Department official, minutes ahead of President Donald Trump's televised address from the Rose Garden. Barr and other top officials from agencies responsible for securing the White House had previously planned to secure a wider perimeter around Lafayette Square, a federally owned green space just north of the building, in response to fires and destruction caused by protestors on Sunday night. That plan, developed earlier Monday, would have cleared the area later used for the President's walk to the nearby St. John's Episcopal Church for a photo-op by 4 p.m. ET, the official said. But it never happened. When Barr arrived at Lafayette Square just after 6 p.m. in a scene that was captured on news cameras and elicited heckles from the large, peaceful crowd, the attorney general saw that the area had not been emptied, and told police to clear the area, the official said. If federal law enforcement was met with resistance by the protesters, crowd control measures should be implemented, Barr had said, according to the official. - Attorney General Barr violated the 1st amendment’s rights of peaceful protestor with tear gas, flash bang grenades and tear gas so Bunker Boy AKA Don the Con could have a phot op.

By Manu Raju, CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent

(CNN) Top Republican senators are defending the use of police force to clear out peaceful protesters near the White House that allowed President Donald Trump to pose with a Bible in front of a church amid the continued unrest in the United States. The stunning move prompted a visceral reaction among Democrats, who likened Trump's actions to a dictator as they prepared legislation to condemn the use of force -- including tear gas and rubber bullets -- against Americans exercising their constitutional rights to protest. But Republicans -- for the most part -- aligned squarely with the President, saying it was his right to take such action given at times the violent protests that have occurred in the United States and the need for him to demonstrate that the country would not stand for the actions of looters and "anarchists." It was the latest indication of the deeply polarized environment on Capitol Hill amid one of the most tumultuous years in American history, with the two parties at sharp odds over the President's stewardship of the multiple crises facing the country and violent protests in cities following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. - Once again Republicans show they are hypocrites and liars, if Obama did what Trump (Bunker boy) did Republicans would be crying about an abuse of power.

By Katie Rogers

“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 — People who gathered outside the White House to protest police brutality spent Monday waving signs and screaming for justice. They watched as police officers and National Guard units flooded Lafayette Square, delivering on a threat made by President Trump. And just before the city’s 7 p.m. curfew went into effect, they were hit with flash-bang explosions and doused with tear gas. It was because the president, who spent part of the weekend in a secure bunker as protests roiled, wanted to have his picture taken holding a Bible at a battered church just beyond the gates. That church, St. John’s — the so-called Church of the Presidents because every one since James Madison has attended — had been briefly set ablaze as the protests devolved on Sunday evening. After Mr. Trump’s aides spent much of Monday expressing outrage over the burning of a place of worship, Hope Hicks, a presidential adviser, eventually hatched a plan with others at the White House to have the president walk over to the building, according to an official familiar with the events. - Don the con AKA Bunker boy wants to protect your 2nd amendment rights while he tramples on your 1st amendment rights using the army tear gas and rubber bullets.

The Debrief: An occasional series offering a reporter’s insights
By Anne Gearan

The on-again, off-again saga of this year’s Group of Seven economic meeting has had several plotlines. To review: President Trump first announced he would host it himself at his Doral golf resort in Florida. Then, after criticism over his decision to use his private business as the site of a government event, the annual meeting was relocated to the woodsy Camp David retreat in Maryland. The coronavirus pandemic then led to it being rescheduled as a virtual event. But after a few weeks, Trump attempted to reverse that decision in favor of an in-person session at the White House in June. When that proposal was met with resistance from other G-7 nations, Trump said on Saturday that the whole thing is on hold until at least September. It wasn’t until that last plot twist that Trump raised what seemed the dormant, and fraught, question of whether Russia should again be included in the clubby annual meetings. The potential invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin to join the meeting would insert a poison pill into discussions about holding any meeting at all this year, when the United States is the G-7 host. Trump also proposed expanding the group’s membership to include South Korea, Australia and India, although the most he could do on his own is to invite those nations and Russia to attend this year as his guests. South Korean President Moon Jae-in accepted during a phone call Monday, White House spokesman Judd Deere said. If Trump did get his way and Putin came as his guest this fall, Trump could also be spotlighting his relationship with Russia just weeks before the 2020 election. Trump denies he received any help from Russia in the 2016 election, although U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that was one goal of Russian election interference. Those agencies have also warned Russia is likely to try again this year. - The real question is why does Trump continue to protect, promote and support Putin and Russia.

Al Jazeera English

Social media has captured thousands of encounters between protesters, looters and police. Some feature white demonstrators committing violence and vandalism, while ignoring pleas from Black protesters to stop. That has opened a tense conversation about the role of non-Blacks in the protests, who is responsible for acts of violence and destruction, and why.

By Liz Roscher - Yahoo Sports

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich doesn’t pull his punches. You may not like what he has to say, but he’ll always tell you exactly what’s on his mind. And after nationwide protests against racial injustice and police brutality over the weekend, he had quite a lot on his mind. Popovich spoke to The Nation’s Dave Zirin on Sunday, and he touched on several topics that are currently in the news. He began by talking about racism and police violence in response to the death of George Floyd in police custody, and how things continue to stay the same.

“The thing that strikes me is that we all see this police violence and racism and we’ve seen it all before but nothing changes. That’s why these protests have been so explosive. But without leadership and an understanding of what the problem is, there will never be change. And white Americans have avoided reckoning with this problem forever because it’s been our privilege to be able to avoid it. That also has to change.”

Then he moved on to leadership, lamenting the current resident of the White House, President Donald Trump.

“It’s unbelievable. If Trump had a brain, even if it was 99 percent cynical, he would come out and say something to unify people. But he doesn’t care about bringing people together. Even now. That’s how deranged he is. It’s all about him. It’s all about what benefits him personally. It’s never about the greater good. And that’s all he’s ever been.”

By Michelle Boorstein and Sarah Pulliam Bailey

The Right Rev. Mariann Budde, the Episcopal bishop of Washington, was seething. President Trump had just visited St. John’s Episcopal Church, which sits across from the White House. It was a day after a fire was set in the basement of the historic building amid protests over the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police. Before heading to the church, where presidents have worshiped since the days of James Madison, Trump gave a speech at the White House emphasizing the importance of law and order. Federal officers then used force to clear a large crowd of peaceful demonstrators from the street between the White House and the church, apparently so Trump could make the visit. “I am outraged,” Budde said in a telephone interview a short time later, pausing between words to emphasize her anger as her voice slightly trembled.

By Richard Wolffe

He incites violence from the safety of a bunker, then orders peaceful people tear-gassed for the sake of a surreal photo op. Writing from a Birmingham jail, Martin Luther King Jr famously told his anxious fellow clergymen that his non-violent protests would force those in power to negotiate for racial justice. “The time is always ripe to do right,” he wrote. On an early summer evening, two generations later, Donald Trump walked out of the White House, where he’d been hiding in a bunker. Military police had just fired teargas and flash grenades at peaceful protesters to clear his path, so that he could wave a bible in front of a boarded church. For Trump, the time is always ripe to throw kerosene on his own dumpster fire. In the week since George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officers, Trump has watched and tweeted helplessly as the nation he pretends to lead has reached its breaking point. After decades of supposedly legal police beatings and murders, the protests have swept America’s cities more quickly than even coronavirus. This is no coincidence of timing. In other crises, in other eras, there have been presidents who understood their most basic duty: to calm the violence and protect the people. In this crisis, however, we have a president who built his entire political career as a gold-painted tower to incite violence. We were told, by Trump’s supporters four years ago, that we should have taken him seriously but not literally. As it happened, it was entirely appropriate to take him literally, as a serious threat to the rule of law.

The Rev Mariann Budde says the institution aligns itself with those seeking justice for Floyd’s death
By Mario Koran and Helen Sullivan

The Episcopal bishop of Washington DC has said she is “outraged” after officers used teargas to clear a crowd of peaceful protesters from near the White House to make way for Donald Trump. Minutes after speaking in the Rose Garden about the importance of “law and order” to quell the unrest over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, Trump walked across the street to St John’s Episcopal church, where every American president since James Madison has worshipped. But not before police used teargas and force to clear the streets for Trump’s photo opportunity. Once he arrived at St John’s, Trump held up a Bible that read “God is love”, while posing in front of the church’s sign. The Right Rev Mariann Budde, the Episcopal bishop of Washington, told the Washington Post: “I am the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and was not given even a courtesy call, that they would be clearing [the area] with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop.” Trump’s message is at odds with the values of love and tolerance espoused by the church, Budde said, before describing the president’s visit as an opportunity to use the church, and a Bible, as a “backdrop”.

By Donie O'Sullivan, CNN Business

New York (CNN Business)A Twitter account that tweeted a call to violence and claimed to be representing the position of "Antifa" was in fact created by a known white supremacist group, Twitter said Monday. The company removed the account. Before it emerged the account was run by white supremacists, Donald Trump Jr., President Donald Trump's son, pointed his 2.8 million Instagram followers to the account as an example how dangerous Antifa is. "This account violated our platform manipulation and spam policy, specifically the creation of fake accounts," a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement. "We took action after the account sent a Tweet inciting violence and broke the Twitter Rules." Although the account only had a few hundred followers, it is an example of white supremacists seeking to inflame tensions in the United States by posing as left-wing activists online. The revelation of the account comes as President Donald Trump increasingly blames left-wing activists for violence occurring at protests across America. On Sunday, Trump tweeted he would designate Antifa a terrorist organization, despite the US government having no existing legal authority to do so. Antifa, short for anti-fascists, describes a broad, loosely-organized group of people whose political beliefs lean toward the left — often the far-left — but do not conform with the Democratic Party platform. Antifa positions can be hard to define, but many people espousing those beliefs support oppressed populations and protest the amassing of wealth by corporations and elites. Some employ radical or militant tactics to get out their messages. The fake account, @ANTIFA_US, tweeted Sunday, "ALERT Tonight's the night, Comrades Tonight we say "F**k The City" and we move into the residential areas... the white hoods.... and we take what's ours #BlacklivesMaters #F**kAmerica." "Absolutely insane," Trump Jr. wrote on Instagram, sharing a screenshot of the tweet, "Just remember what ANTIFA really is. A Terrorist Organization! They're not even pretending anymore." CNN has reached out to a spokesperson for Trump Jr. for comment. There is no indication whatsoever that Trump Jr. knew who was behind the account or that it was fake. Twitter said that the account was in fact linked to Identity Evropa, a white power fraternity.

By Domenico Montanaro

President Trump threatened Monday to take military action in American cities if the violent demonstrations that have been taking place in recent days aren't stamped out. "If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them," Trump said in a short statement in the Rose Garden at the White House. To do that, the president would need to invoke what's known as the Insurrection Act of 1807. The original text of the act, which has been amended several times since it was first passed, reads as follows:

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump's made-for-TV embrace of authoritarianism's imagery and tools at a brittle national moment risks unleashing toxic political forces that threaten America's democratic traditions. Trump on Monday turned security forces on peaceful protesters in front of the White House, as tear gas and rubber bullets flew, before declaring himself the "law and order" President. Then, in one of the most bizarre moments in modern presidential history, he strode across the park to stand in front of an iconic church holding a Bible aloft in a striking photo op. It was a moment of vanity and bravado -- orchestrated for the cameras and transparently political -- as Trump struggles to cope with protests sweeping the country after the killing of George Floyd and tries to cover up his botched leadership during the coronavirus pandemic. Overnight, the White House's official Twitter account released a triumphant video of the moment set to music but omitting any signs of the mayhem unleashed on the protesters. Trump appeared to be trying to project strength at a moment when his presidency seems feckless and as the nation spins out of control. If it occurred abroad and not in the White House, Americans might perceive a ridiculous self-deluding act of a wanna-be strongman. "I thought I was watching a scene from something in Turkey, and not in the United States," retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, who commanded National Guard troops in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, told CNN's Anderson Cooper. And after using St. John's Church, the "church of the presidents," which had experienced a basement fire during Sunday's demonstrations, Trump drew immediate criticism from faith leaders, including Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. "The President just used the Bible, our sacred text of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and one of the churches of my diocese, without permission, as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus," Budde said on "AC360." Trump's showmanship was motivated in part by anger at media coverage saying he had sheltered in a bunker below the White House on Friday night amid protests in Washington, CNN's Kaitlan Collins and Kevin Liptak reported. It shows how far Trump will go to protect his own thin skin and how his power plays are often motivated by assaults on his dignity. But his behavior is also alarming, considering the vast power at his command, uses of demagogic tropes and capacity to buckle the traditions and structures of civilian, democratic government. So while Trump's turn to the rhetoric of the despotic leaders he so admires had elements of farce, it opened a sinister new chapter in his presidency and a challenge to American norms.

By Ryan Browne, Alicia Lee and Renee Rigdon, CNN

As thousands across the US take to the streets for another day of protests demanding justice for George Floyd, more than 17,000 members of the National Guard are standing ready to support local law enforcement. That represents approximately the same number of active duty troops deployed in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. As of Monday, nearly half of the US has activated guard members to respond to civil unrest. On top of the District of Columbia, the 23 states that have activated the National Guard are: Arizona, Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. Additionally, about 45,000 National Guard members are supporting the Covid-19 response across all 50 states, three territories and D.C., bringing the total number of activated National Guard soldiers and airmen to 66,700. President Donald Trump said Monday in the Rose Garden that the United States is taking new measures to quell riots across the United States. "First we are ending the riots and lawlessness that has spread throughout our country," Trump said, adding that he's strongly recommended to governors to deploy the National Guard to "dominate the streets."

By Dana Hedgpeth

Federal law enforcement officers fired rubber bullets and chemicals at peaceful protesters outside the White House on Monday evening as President Trump appeared in the Rose Garden to threaten the mobilization of “thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers” to quell “lawlessness” across the country. Protesters were pushed away from Lafayette Square, where they were protesting the police-involved killing of George Floyd. Here are some significant developments:

• The ambush on protesters Monday evening at Lafayette Square began half an hour before the city’s newly imposed curfew of 7 p.m. went into effect. When the crowds were cleared, the president walked through the park to visit the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church, which had been set on fire Sunday. White House spokesman Judd Deere defended the federal actions.

• The impact of the officers’ early aggression kept protesters away from the White House as they scattered across the city. When protesters found themselves outnumbered, D.C. police asked them to sit so they could be arrested one by one, a more orderly process than the chaos in Lafayette Square. D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) took to Twitter condemned the federal agencies’ actions.

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