Morning Consult Washington: Trump Agrees to Send Troops Home From D.C.

Top Stories

  • President Donald Trump agreed to begin sending home a portion of the 1,600 active-duty soldiers stationed in the District of Columbia amid protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd, temporarily easing a standoff with the Defense Department over the role of the armed forces in policing the mass demonstrations, though he reportedly spent much of the day criticizing Defense Secretary Mark Esper. Active-duty troops were never deployed in Washington during the recent protests, but National Guard forces have been, and their numbers are set to roughly double to 4,500. (The New York Times)
  • Google said Chinese hackers have targeted phishing attacks at staff members for Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential campaigns, and Iran has sought to gain access to online accounts of Trump’s campaign staffers. The Alphabet Inc. company said the attacks have not been successful, but they raise the specter that hacking efforts like the one pursued by Russia in 2016 could be carried out more widely ahead of the November elections. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Led by the Congressional Black Caucus, Democrats on Capitol Hill are set to announce legislation that would ban law enforcement officers from using racial-profiling practices and excessive force, according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The California Democrat said one measure to be unveiled would end a legal doctrine called “qualified immunity,” which shields government officials from being sued for actions performed on the job. (Roll Call)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Former Baltimore mayor participates in Invariant online event 12:00 pm
Rep. Rush, NAACP president participate in Axios event: An Epidemic of Inequality 12:30 pm
AFSCME president participates in Politico online event 9:00 am
DNC presidential primary deadline
Georgia, West Virginia hold primary elections
New Jersey governor participates in Politico online event 11:00 am
View full calendar

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Witness Who Was in Floyd’s Car Says His Friend Did Not Resist Arrest
Erica L. Green and Katie Benner, The New York Times

A longtime friend of George Floyd’s who was in the passenger seat of Mr. Floyd’s car during his fatal encounter with a Minneapolis police officer said on Wednesday night that Mr. Floyd tried to defuse the tensions with the police and in no way resisted arrest. “He was, from the beginning, trying in his humblest form to show he was not resisting in no form or way,” said the friend, Maurice Lester Hall, 42, who was tracked down on Monday in Houston, arrested on outstanding warrants and interviewed by Minnesota state investigators.

Suddenly, Public Health Officials Say Social Justice Matters More Than Social Distance
Dan Diamond, Politico

For months, public health experts have urged Americans to take every precaution to stop the spread of Covid-19—stay at home, steer clear of friends and extended family, and absolutely avoid large gatherings. Now some of those experts are broadcasting a new message: It’s time to get out of the house and join the mass protests against racism.

Authors Retract Studies That Found Risks of Using Antimalaria Drugs Against Covid-19
Jared S. Hopkins and Russell Gold, The Wall Street Journal

Two major studies casting doubt on the ability of antimalaria drugs to treat Covid-19 patients based on data from a little-known Chicago company, Surgisphere Corp., were retracted Thursday. The Lancet first pulled a study published late last month that found antimalarials provided no benefit as a treatment for Covid-19 infections while increasing the risk of heart problems and death.

Al Sharpton announces new March on Washington led by families of black people killed by police
Devan Cole, CNN

The Rev. Al Sharpton announced Thursday that he’s organizing a March on Washington in late August to mark the 57th anniversary of the historic demonstration for civil rights as protests over the death of George Floyd sweep the nation. Sharpton said the event will be led by the families of black people who have died at the hands of police officers, including Floyd’s family.

White House & Administration

Esper risks being sidelined as White House floats replacements
Lara Seligman et al., Politico

President Donald Trump is unhappy with Pentagon chief Mark Esper. Aides are gossiping about who could replace him.

Trump ignores calls for police reforms
Chris Megerian and Noah Bierman, Los Angeles Times

When George Floyd died last week after a Minneapolis police officer pinned him down with a knee on his neck, President Trump reacted much as he had in the past when a black person’s fatal encounter with law enforcement was caught on video. He declared himself disturbed by the “terrible thing” that he saw — then offered nothing in terms of policy to address enduring concerns about policing and racism.

Trump seeks to scale back environmental reviews for projects
Kevin Freking and Ellen Knickmeyer, The Associated Press

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday directing agencies to look for ways to speed up building of highways and other major projects by scaling back environmental reviews, invoking special powers he has under the coronavirus emergency. Separately Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency formally proposed overhauling how the agency evaluates new rules on air pollutants, a move critics say will make it tougher to enact limits on dangerous and climate-changing emissions in the future.

Trump Team Envisions Up to $1 Trillion for Next Stimulus Round
Saleha Mohsin and Justin Sink, Bloomberg

Trump administration officials increasingly expect to spend up to $1 trillion in the next round of economic stimulus, according to people familiar with the matter, though action on a measure is unlikely until at least next month. While officials coalesced on that limit after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told them the bill could approach $1 trillion, President Donald Trump has not made a final decision.

The Trump Administration Said It Didn’t Change Policy To Deny Housing Loans To DACA Recipients. Emails Show Otherwise.
Nidhi Prakash and Hamed Aleaziz, BuzzFeed News

The Trump administration changed housing policy to deny federally backed housing loans to young undocumented immigrants while repeatedly telling Congress there were no changes made, according to internal emails and other documents from the federal housing agency. Though the practice of denying federally backed home loans to recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program had been going on for months before, officials with the Housing and Urban Development Department made a specific internal decision by August 2018 to exclude them from the program, according to the emails and internal memos.

Adoption agency should be able to reject gay couples, Trump administration argues
Julie Moreau, NBC News

The Trump administration submitted a brief to the Supreme Court on Wednesday arguing that a taxpayer-funded organization should be able to refuse to work with same-sex couples and others whom the group considers to be in violation of its religious beliefs. The brief was filed by the Department of Justice in the case Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, which centers on the refusal of Catholic Social Services, a religious nonprofit that operates a child welfare agency in Philadelphia, to place adoptive and foster children with same-sex couples in violation of the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance.

New Trump Appointee to Foreign Aid Agency Has Denounced Liberal Democracy and “Our Homo-Empire”
Yeganeh Torbati, ProPublica

A new Trump appointee to the United States’ foreign aid agency has a history of online posts denouncing liberal democracy and has said that the country is in the clutches of a “homo-empire” that pushes a “tyrannical LGBT agenda.” In one post, Merritt Corrigan, who recently took up a position as deputy White House liaison at the U.S. Agency for International Development, wrote: “Liberal democracy is little more than a front for the war being waged against us by those who fundamentally despise not only our way of life, but life itself.”

Trump vows to campaign against Murkowski after senator’s criticism
Brett Samuels, The Hill

President Trump on Thursday pledged to campaign against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) when she’s up for reelection in 2022 after the senator told reporters she was “struggling” with whether to vote for Trump in November. “Few people know where they’ll be in two years from now, but I do, in the Great State of Alaska (which I love) campaigning against Senator Lisa Murkowski,” Trump tweeted.


New York Times Says Senator’s Op-Ed Did Not Meet Standards
Marc Tracy, The New York Times

Executives at The New York Times scrambled on Thursday to address the concerns of employees and readers who were angered by the newspaper’s publication of an opinion essay by a United States senator calling for the federal government to send the military to suppress protests against police violence in American cities. Near the end of the day, James Bennet, the editor in charge of the opinion section, said in a meeting with staff members that he had not read the essay before it was published.

Rand Paul battles Kamala Harris and Cory Booker on anti-lynching bill
Burgess Everett, Politico

The Senate’s foremost contrarian, Rand Paul, clashed with Kamala Harris and Cory Booker on the Senate floor Thursday over Paul’s opposition to a popular anti-lynching bill. The Senate could easily approve the House’s bill to make lynching a federal crime and send it to President Donald Trump for his signature.

McConnell eyes advancing Justin Walker nomination next week
Marianne Levine, Politico

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is eyeing moving forward next week on Justin Walker, President Donald Trump’s nominee to the second most powerful court in the country, according to a GOP aide. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Walker’s nomination 12-10 to the D.C. Court of Appeals along party lines Thursday.


McCarthy offers Republican-backed policing overhauls in response to George Floyd’s killing
Chris Marquette, Roll Call

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said his Republican conference is open to policing overhauls, a statement that comes after four Minneapolis police officers involved in the killing of George Floyd were charged and protests calling for justice have erupted across the nation. “George Floyd’s family deserves justice,” the California Republican said in a call with reporters Thursday, referring to Floyd, a black man who was killed as former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for well over eight minutes until he died.

Nancy Pelosi calls on Trump to provide a list of federal agencies involved in policing DC protests
Brian Schwartz, CNBC

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday called on President Donald Trump to provide a list of federal agencies that have been staffing the effort to police the ongoing protests in the nation’s capital. Pelosi, in a letter to the president, said she also wanted to know the responsibilities of all the agencies involved in the effort, including the Bureau of Prisons.


Trump said ‘we can’t do social distancing’ at convention as he made personal appeal to North Carolina governor
Annie Linskey and Josh Dawsey, The Washington Post

President Trump made his demands for the planned Republican National Convention in Charlotte quite clear to North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, who had balked at agreeing to a mass gathering of tens of thousands of delegates, allies and media. In a Friday phone call, Trump told the Democratic governor he would accept his party’s nomination in an arena filled with cheering supporters, coronavirus pandemic or not.

Ukraine found no evidence against Hunter Biden in case audit: former top prosecutor
Ilya Zhegulev, Reuters

An audit of thousands of old case files by Ukrainian prosecutors found no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Hunter Biden, the former prosecutor general, who had launched the audit, told Reuters.

Biden Says About ‘10 to 15 Percent’ of Americans Are ‘Not Very Good People’
Reid J. Epstein, The New York Times

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. told a group of black supporters on Thursday night that most Americans were good people who think the nation can be improved, while also declaring that “there are probably anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of the people out there that are just not very good people.” Mr. Biden offered his estimate during remarks in which he spoke about the importance of a president setting a positive example for the nation on racial issues.

Why Some Democrats Worry About the Whiteness of Biden’s Inner Circle
Shane Goldmacher, The New York Times

Nearly five years ago, Joseph R. Biden Jr. gathered his closest advisers to decide whether he would run for president in 2016. This was a “final judgment” meeting, as he would later describe it in his memoir, and around the room were Mr. Biden’s family and more than a half-dozen of his most trusted confidantes.

Trump campaign, RNC to resume in-person activities
Jonathan Easley, The Hill

President Trump’s reelection efforts will switch back into action next week for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown ground the campaign to a halt in mid-March. Trump Victory, the joint venture between the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, will resume some campaign activities in states that allow it, a spokeswoman told The Hill.

New York primary battles struggle to draw attention in a shaken city
Erin Durkin, Politico

One of New York City’s congressional primaries is among the progressive movement’s best hopes for a repeat of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s upset win in 2018. Another could deal a blow to that movement. In one district that touches the north end of the Bronx, a three-decade incumbent, white congressman will have to fend off a challenge from a progressive, black candidate just weeks after getting caught on a hot mic saying he “wouldn’t care” about speaking on the city’s civil unrest if he didn’t have a primary to win.


John Hickenlooper held in contempt for refusing to comply with subpoena in ethics case
Justin Wingerter, The Denver Post

In a stunning rebuke, former Democratic governor and current U.S. Senate candidate John Hickenlooper was held in contempt Thursday by the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission after refusing to comply with a subpoena and testify about his alleged violations of a state gift ban. “By failing to honor the subpoena of the commission, (Hickenlooper) has indicated a disrespect for the rule of law, disrespect for the commission, disrespect for the process, disrespect for the parties and the witnesses,” said Commissioner Bill Leone before he and other commissioners voted unanimously, 5-0, to hold Hickenlooper in contempt.

States prod nursing homes to take more Covid-19 patients
Maggie Severns and Rachel Roubein, Politico

Programs designed to help elderly people with coronavirus are creating a perverse financial incentive for nursing homes with bad track records to bring in sick patients, raising the risks of spreading infections and substandard care for seriously ill patients, according to advocates for the elderly and industry experts. Coronavirus-positive patients can bring in double or more the funding of other residents.

In win for Texas GOP officials, federal appeals panel blocks lower-court decision to allow any Texan to vote by mail
Amy Gardner, The Washington Post

A federal appeals panel Thursday rejected a lower-court decision to allow any Texas voter afraid of contracting the coronavirus to cast a mail-in ballot, a case with far-reaching implications for this year’s election that could end up at the Supreme Court. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled that it was up to the state, not the courts, to determine how to administer voting during a pandemic.


Pro-Trump Radio Host Booked Qatari Government Guests After Getting Doha’s Cash
Lachlan Markay, The Daily Beast

A popular conservative talk radio host and former Trump campaign official aired interviews with Qatari government officials and broadcast segments promoting the government as his show was paid $180,000 by a Qatari state-funded nonprofit. Documents filed with the Justice Department late last week show that the Qatar-America Institute, a nonprofit financed by the country’s embassy in Washington and other government agencies in Doha, made the payment in May 2018 to Common Sense Media Holdings LLC, the company that produces conservative pundit John Fredericks’ radio show.

Putin’s Favorite Ex-Congressman Dana Rohrabacher Is Now Pitching a Cure for COVID
Lachlan Markay, The Daily Beast

Former Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) has booked his first lobbying client, a company promising a COVID-19 cure and led by a California businessman who’s been collaborating with Rudy Giuliani on a documentary on Joe Biden and Ukraine. The company, Linear Therapies, is seeking to develop drugs that can both prevent people from getting the virus and cure them if they do.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Why Mattis and Mullen toppled their bridge of silence
David Ignatius, The Washington Post

The military establishment’s anger at President Trump’s politicization of the armed forces has been building for three years. It finally ripped open in the aftermath of Monday’s appalling presidential photo op at St. John’s Episcopal Church.

I Know Voting Feels Inadequate Right Now
Stacey Abrams, The New York Times

Voting feels inadequate in our darkest moments. I recognize that.

The Revenge of Jim Mattis
The Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal

Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s denunciation of President Trump on Wednesday isn’t surprising, but it still looks like an important political moment. Mr. Trump’s polarizing and hyper-personal governance is catching up with him, as we and so many others warned.

Trump and the Military: A Mutual Embrace Might Dissolve on America’s Streets
David E. Sanger and Helene Cooper, The New York Times

For the first three years of President Trump’s time in office, his blunt-force view of the military was confined to threatening American adversaries: “fire and fury” if North Korea challenged American troops. A warning that he would “shoot down and destroy” Iranian forces in the Persian Gulf.

Research Reports and Polling

Trump Favorability Slips Among White Catholic and Non-College Americans During National Unrest

New data from PRRI shows that 41% of Americans hold favorable views of President Donald Trump, while a 55% majority hold unfavorable views of him. These numbers are similar to Trump’s favorability in April (43% favorable, 54% unfavorable).

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