James Mattis Denounces President Trump, Describes Him as a Threat to the Constitution
Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic
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.
Obama urges young black people to ‘feel hopeful even as you may feel angry’ after George Floyd’s death
MJ Lee and Dan Merica, CNN
Former President Barack Obama on Wednesday personally thanked protesters in the streets across the nation following the death of George Floyd, and urged young African Americans to “feel hopeful even as you may feel angry” because he feels change is coming. In a hopeful speech, Obama said that the significant events over the last months, including the protests over the killing of Floyd and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, represent “the kinds of epic changes … in our country that are as profound as anything I have seen in my lifetime.”
Racial Unrest Is New Blow to U.S. Bid to Counter China in Africa
Moses Mozart Dzawu, Bloomberg
The killing of an unarmed African-American by a Minneapolis police officer and resulting civil upheaval have set back U.S. efforts to strengthen its tenuous relationship with Africa and counter China’s growing influence. Moussa Faki Mahamat, the chairman of the African Union Commission, joined senior officials from Nigeria, South Africa and Ghana in condemning the death of George Floyd.
As peaceful protests continue, LAPD budget could be cut by up to $150 million to reinvest in communities of color
Brittny Mejia et al., Los Angeles Times
As protests over police brutality and the death of George Floyd stretched into a sixth day, Los Angeles officials said Wednesday that they will look to cut $100 million to $150 million from the city’s police budget as part of a broader effort to reinvest more dollars into the black community. In all, Mayor Eric Garcetti pledged that the city would “identify $250 million in cuts so we can invest in jobs, in health, in education and in healing,” especially in the city’s black community “as well as communities of color and women and people who have been left behind.”
Coronavirus Stimulus Funds Are Largely Depleted After Nine Weeks
Kate Davidson and Paul Kiernan, The Wall Street Journal
Nine weeks after Congress approved its largest-ever economic relief measure to counter the coronavirus pandemic, most of the direct cash assistance aimed at keeping the economy afloat has been spent or committed. The so-called Cares Act included a projected $1.2 trillion in direct aid, ranging from expanded unemployment benefits and forgivable business loans to cash payments for households, hospitals, cities and states.
It’s the One of the Most Important Jobs in Washington. Will Anybody Take It?
Sam Brodey, The Daily Beast
It’s the highest-profile job listing in Washington these days: being the public face of one of the biggest government accountability projects in U.S. history. The gig entails five years of exhaustive work to safeguard trillions of taxpayer dollars.
White House & Administration
Barr seeks to subdue D.C. protests by ‘flooding the zone’ with federal firepower
Devlin Barrett, The Washington Post
From an FBI command center in Washington’s Chinatown neighborhood, Attorney General William P. Barr has orchestrated a stunning show of force on the streets of the nation’s capital — a battalion of federal agents, troops and police designed to restore order, but one that critics say carries grim parallels to heavy-handed foreign regimes. Barr was tapped by President Trump to direct the national response to protests and riots over police misconduct since the police-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
President Trump tried to register to vote in Florida using an out-of-state address
Manuel Roig-Franzia, The Washington Post
President Trump originally tried to register to vote in Florida while claiming his “legal residence” was in another part of the country — Washington, D.C. — according to Florida elections records. The September 2019 registration application listed Trump’s legal residence as 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Trump said he took hydroxychloroquine to prevent coronavirus, but new study shows that doesn’t work
Elizabeth Cohen, CNN
On the heels of studies showing hydroxychloroquine doesn’t help patients in the hospital with Covid-19, a new study — the first of its kind — shows the drug doesn’t work to prevent infection with the virus, either. President Trump said he took hydroxychloroquine last month, shortly after he found out that his personal valet had been diagnosed with the coronavirus.
White House physician releases memo from Trump’s latest physical
Ursula Perano, Axios
The White House physician released a memo on Wednesday summarizing data from President Trump’s latest physical exam, conducted between November 2019 and April 2020 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the White House. The White House physician found in Trump’s third physical since taking office that there have been no significant changes and that the president continues to be in healthy condition.
Trump Administration to Block Chinese Airlines From Flying to the U.S.
Niraj Chokshi and Ana Swanson, The New York Times
The Trump administration said on Wednesday that it would block Chinese passenger airlines from flying into or out of the United States starting on June 16 in response to a similar ban by the Chinese government on American companies, further escalating tensions between the world’s two biggest economies. Relations between the countries have deteriorated sharply in recent weeks as officials scuffled over the origin of the pandemic and China’s move to tighten its authority over Hong Kong, a semiautonomous city.
Trump Had Kushner Push the National Enquirer to Probe Scarborough Murder Conspiracy
Asawin Suebsaeng et al., The Daily Beast
President Donald Trump, via his son-in-law Jared Kushner, encouraged his pals at the notorious supermarket tabloid National Enquirer in 2017 to push the debunked conspiracy theory that MSNBC host Joe Scarborough murdered a female congressional aide, Lori Klausutis, knowledgeable sources confirmed to The Daily Beast. More recently, the president has displayed a bizarre obsession with the allegations, even bringing it up Wednesday morning amid nationwide protests, chaos, and growing unrest, declaring on Fox News radio that he thought Scarborough “got away with murder.”
Rosenstein says, in hindsight, he would not have signed application to surveil former Trump campaign adviser
Matt Zapotosky, The Washington Post
Former deputy attorney general Rod J. Rosenstein conceded Wednesday that, in hindsight, he would not have signed an application to continue monitoring a former Trump campaign adviser during the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and claimed he did not know of the significant problems that have since been identified with it. The comment came at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to examine the Russia probe, including flaws in applications to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Sen. Paul acknowledges holding up anti-lynching bill, says he fears it would be wrongly applied
John Wagner and Mike DeBonis, The Washington Post
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) acknowledged Wednesday that he is holding up a bill with broad bipartisan support that would make lynching a federal hate crime, saying he fears it could allow enhanced penalties for altercations that result in only “minor bruising.” Paul’s objection halted a measure that appeared on the verge of getting to the president’s desk earlier this year after more than a century of stymied attempts by Congress to pass anti-lynching legislation.
Senate panel approves legislation requiring campaigns to report foreign election help
Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb, CNN
The Senate Intelligence Committee quietly approved on Wednesday a measure that would require presidential campaigns to report offers of foreign election influence to federal authorities, a move taken in response to Russian election interference in 2016 and one that could draw the attention of President Donald Trump, committee sources say. The committee adopted the measure behind closed doors in a classified setting, adding it to the Intelligence Authorization Act, a bill setting policy for the intelligence community.
Republicans face looming unemployment dilemma
Burgess Everett, Politico
Forty million Americans are unemployed and extra unemployment benefits expire at the end of next month. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans are grappling with deep ideological divisions over what to do with the popular program in the middle of a pandemic and an election year.
Ex-State watchdog says he was fired after trying to interview Pompeo
Kyle Cheney, Politico
The State Department watchdog fired by President Donald Trump last month told lawmakers on Wednesday that he sought to interview Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about his role in an “emergency” arms sale to Saudi Arabia shortly before he was fired. In a readout of the private, virtual interview, two House committee chairs indicated that Steve Linick, the State Department inspector general, revealed he had approached two senior State officials about scheduling the interview for after the coronavirus crisis had abated.
House Judiciary panel to hold police brutality hearing next week
John Bresnahan and Heather Caygle, Politico
The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on police brutality on June 10 as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leaders push to have a police reform package on the floor by the end of the month. House Democrats — led by the Congressional Black Caucus — are considering a number of measures to respond to the national outpouring of grief and anger following the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed black man who died last week after a Minnesota police officer pinned his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes.
With no GOP input, stakeholders fear House highway bill may stall
Jessica Wehrman, Roll Call
A five-year, $494 billion surface transportation bill crafted by House Democrats received a lukewarm reception from stakeholders who warned that it lacked the bipartisan backing needed to get it passed by the time the current highway authorization expires. The bill, to be formally be introduced Thursday during the House’s pro forma session, is a behemoth: It would almost double the $287 billion highway bill (S 2302) approved unanimously by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in July.
Trump Campaign Looks at Electoral Map and Doesn’t Like What It Sees
Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman, The New York Times
President Trump is facing the bleakest outlook for his re-election bid so far, with his polling numbers plunging in both public and private surveys and his campaign beginning to worry about his standing in states like Ohio and Iowa that he carried by wide margins four years ago. The Trump campaign has recently undertaken a multimillion-dollar advertising effort in those two states as well as Arizona in hopes of improving his standing, while also shaking up his political operation and turning new attention to states like Georgia that were once considered reliably Republican.
Snapchat to stop promoting Trump’s content
Ben Collins and Dylan Byers, NBC News
Snapchat said Wednesday it would no longer promote President Donald Trump’s content in its Discover section, a move that brings the messaging company closer to Twitter’s approach in the ongoing debate over political speech. The company said in a statement that it would not “amplify voices who incite racial violence.”
Police groups break with Biden
Marc Caputo and Natasha Korecki, Politico
Joe Biden has long prided himself on being a union-friendly Democrat with a good relationship with rank-and-file cops. But Biden’s call for more national policing reforms and oversight in the wake of the death of George Floyd — and the perception that he hasn’t shown enough solidarity with law enforcement amid the ensuing nationwide protests and unrest — have created a fissure with law enforcement groups, leaving many who once supported him frustrated by what they regard as political posturing by their one-time ally.
With Steve King Gone, Does the Democrat Have a Shot in His Iowa District?
Stephanie Saul, The New York Times
The 2020 campaign had been going well for J.D. Scholten, the former minor league pitcher turned Democratic congressional candidate in Iowa. He had raised more than $1 million in a bid to unseat Representative Steve King, the nine-term Republican congressman who had alienated voters with his racist comments about immigration.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez isn’t running as a fire-starter
David Weigel, The Washington Post
On one side of the screen was the challenger, accusing her opponent of being “MIA” and ignoring the needs of her congressional district. On the other side was the incumbent, talking about her bipartisan work in Congress and her alliance with Joe Biden.
Republicans in multiple states battle to lure GOP convention after party exits Charlotte
David M. Drucker, The Washington Examiner
Top Republicans in a half-dozen states are scrambling to land the August convention to renominate President Trump after party officials abruptly pulled out of North Carolina because Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper insisted on limiting festivities due to the coronavirus. Hoping to capitalize on Charlotte’s loss, Republican leaders in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Tennessee, and Texas were furiously working the phones Wednesday, competing to convince the Republican National Committee they are best equipped to host a quadrennial presidential nominating convention that meets Trump’s standards.
Virginia governor to announce removal of Lee statue
Alan Suderman and Sarah Rankin, The Associated Press
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is expected to announce plans Thursday to remove one of the country’s most iconic monuments to the Confederacy, a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee along Richmond’s prominent Monument Avenue, a senior administration official told The Associated Press. The move would be an extraordinary victory for civil rights activists, whose calls for the removal of that monument and others in this former capital of the Confederacy have been resisted for years.
Rep. Steve King toxic to K Street
Kate Ackley, Roll Call
Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King, a pariah within his own party for racist comments and whom K Street interests worked to defeat this week, shouldn’t expect a lucrative lobbying gig awaiting him when he exits Congress. King, who lost his primary Tuesday, would be too controversial for lobbying firms, trade associations and corporations, say lobbyists and K Street headhunters, even as many former lawmakers decamp for such jobs.
Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Buddy Used His “Shadow” Sway Over the VA to Promote His Comic Book Empire
Isaac Arnsdorf, ProPublica
Two and a half years ago, top officials from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs rang the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange. Standing on the podium with them was a cheering, flexing Captain America. Spider-Man waved from the trading floor below.
Ex-UAW president pleads guilty to racketeering and embezzlement as part of ongoing probe into union corruption
Michael Wayland, CNBC
Former United Auto Workers President Gary Jones pleaded guilty Wednesday to racketeering and embezzlement, marking a major milestone in a yearslong case into corruption in one of America’s most prominent unions. Jones, 63, is the highest-ranking member of the UAW to be convicted as part of the ongoing probe into the misuse of millions of dollars, embezzlement and bribery by union officials.
Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives
Send In the Troops
Tom Cotton, The New York Times
This week, rioters have plunged many American cities into anarchy, recalling the widespread violence of the 1960s. New York City suffered the worst of the riots Monday night, as Mayor Bill de Blasio stood by while Midtown Manhattan descended into lawlessness.
Don’t send in the troops
Dan Drezner, The Washington Post
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) wrote an op-ed in the New York Times entitled “Send In the Troops,” the sole virtue of which is that the headline accurately captures his thesis. Cotton urges President Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act and use regular military forces to put down “rioters [who] have plunged many American cities into anarchy, recalling the widespread violence of the 1960s.”
Fortress Washington: Authority vs. Liberty
Mark Leibovich, The New York Times
Even in peaceful times, Washington is situated on a fine line between freedom and order, flexibility and barriers. This city of grand architecture and ever-present security forces conveys an inescapable message: This might be the seat of American liberty, but it is also not a place to be messed with.
I Spent My Career in the U.S. Navy. The U.S. Military Must Stand Up for Its Soul in This Moment
James Stavridis, Time
It is long past time to address inequality in this nation and issues like harsh, often brutal, treatment of minorities by police – especially against African-Americans. The peaceful demonstrations that erupted after the murder of George Floyd are completely understandable although the violence and destruction that accompanied some of them is not.
Research Reports and Polling
Fox News Poll: Biden ahead in Arizona, Kelly trouncing McSally in Senate race
Dana Blanton, Fox News
Republicans are rightly concerned about Arizona. A new Fox News Poll finds the state shading blue — especially in the race for the U.S. Senate, where Democrat Mark Kelly bests incumbent Republican Sen. Martha McSally by a 50-37 percent margin among Arizona registered voters.