Mattis Weighs In

Ken AshfordTrump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Retired General Jim Mattis, who was Defense Secretary for the first two years of Donald Trump’s presidency, dropped a scalding indictment of his former boss, blasting him for his divisiveness, lack of leadership, and disregard for the Constitution.

In a scathing statement to The Atlantic, Mattis, who resigned after Trump publicly contradicted his recommendations about the ongoing U.S. presence in Syria, said he was “angry and appalled” after watching the events of the past week. Ever since Mattis’ departure from the Pentagon in early 2019, the pair have engaged in verbal skirmishes, trading jokes and insults at the others’ expense.

“When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution,” Mattis recalled, before turning to Trump’s militarized Monday night speech that threatened to use active-duty military forces to crackdown on the nationwide anti-police brutality protests. “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.”

Mattis also firing a barrage at current Defense Secretary Mark Esper, for his comments calling to “dominate the battlespace” of American streets during a conference call with the White House on Monday.

“We must reject any thinking of our cities as a ‘battlespace’ that our uniformed military is called upon to ‘dominate,’” Mattis cautioned. “At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict — a false conflict — between the military and civilian society. It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part. Keeping public order rests with civilian state and local leaders who best understand their communities and are answerable to them.”

But Mattis then turned his sights back to Trump and pulled no punches about his failures to live up to the role he was elected to hold.

“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try,” Mattis concluded. “Instead he tries to divide us. 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.”

It’s Not Just Trump; It’s The Whole GOP

Ken AshfordRepublicans, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

George Will is right. It’s not enough to boot Donald Trump out of office:

In life’s unforgiving arithmetic, we are the sum of our choices. Congressional Republicans have made theirs for more than 1,200 days. We cannot know all the measures necessary to restore the nation’s domestic health and international standing, but we know the first step: Senate Republicans must be routed, as condign punishment for their Vichyite collaboration, leaving the Republican remnant to wonder: Was it sensible to sacrifice dignity, such as it ever was, and to shed principles, if convictions so easily jettisoned could be dignified as principles, for . . . what?

….Those who think our unhinged president’s recent mania about a murder two decades ago that never happened represents his moral nadir have missed the lesson of his life: There is no such thing as rock bottom. So, assume that the worst is yet to come.

It has long been my belief that the Republican Party was on the brink of a devastating defeat that would ruin the party for decades. But I was always wrong. Somehow it never happened even though the demographic headwinds were always intensely against them. They kept hanging on, winning elections despite getting worse and worse.

But the same thing is true of all bubbles: they always last longer than anyone thinks they can, which makes the inevitable crash even worse. Republicans probably expected 2016 to be the year of the crash, but thanks to a desperate strategy and some good breaks, they somehow managed to eke out one more win. Unfortunately for them, the price for this was Donald Trump, who was always fated to be the doom of the party. Mitch McConnell knows this, which is why he’s so frantically filling judgeships. He knows Republicans are likely to lose in November, and it’s possible that this is finally the year that they lose the median voter too, entering the same decade-long wilderness that Democrats did in the 1980s.

Trump isn’t the only sign of this. The right these days is bereft of ideas. Literally. They have nothing new that they want to accomplish and no particular principles left. They just mechanically accede to whatever Trump happens to be saying this week. The left, by contrast, is brimming with ideas. UBI. National health care. $15 minimum wage. Child care. The revival of labor unions. Taxing the rich. The Green New Deal. Free college tuition. Decriminalization of marijuana. Criminal justice reform. DC statehood. Most of these won’t fly, but even if you’re a moderate who doesn’t care much for Bernie-esque socialism you can still sense the tumult of ideas roiling the progressive movement. There’s life and energy among progressives, while conservatives seem filled only with weariness and hatred. This is not a good foundation for four more years.

Then again, I might be wrong yet again. Maybe the Republican bubble still has some life left in it. Ask me again in November.

The Fire Of Violence Is Being Stoked… By The Right

Ken AshfordLaw, Racial Homicides, Social Media & Networking, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Let me be clear about one thing… the overwhelming majority of protests that are taking place are peaceful,

Let me be clear about another thing… looting and violence are occurring and some of it are by violent leftist protesters and much of it — particularly the looting — are crimes of opportunity.

It is also true that people in law enforcement have been hurt, killed, or injured.

I condemn all of this.

But Trump and AG Barr and others on the right are quick to condemn that all the trouble is coming from leftists, particularly, Anttfa. Trump went so far as to declare, by tweet, Antifa a terrorist organization.

Despite his position in the highest seat of national power, Trump’s tweets are (fortunately) not legally-binding. And even if they were, it wouldn’t matter — the United States has no official statute for designating domestic terrorists, a fact which has ironically served to benefit homegrown mass murderers acting on white supremacist agendas. There’s also the fact that Antifa is … not a formal organization. There is no hierarchy, no centralized leadership — it’s just individuals, occasionally clustering together, engaging in direct action. Even if you could legally designate Antifa as a domestic terrorist organization, it would be impossible to develop any sort of criteria to decide who or what qualifies as “Antifa.”

And since Antifa means “anti-fascist”, that would envelope virtually everyone who fought in World War II.

But stupid is as stupid does.

There is little sign that Antifa has been responsible for any of the violence. But right wing white supremacist groups posing as “Antifa” have been caught.

Check out this article from the prominent right wing blog Redstate.

The pro-Trump website RedState published a report Monday that was based on a tweet from a hoax “Antifa” account actually linked to a white nationalist group.

As NBC News’ Brandy Zadrozny, Emmanuelle Saliba, and Ben Collins reported Monday night, a Twitter account claiming to be a national Antifa group posted a tweet that went viral in conservative media. A Twitter spokesperson told NBC News that the account was suspended, and that the platform found it was linked to white nationalist group Identity Evropa.

Per NBC News:

The spokesperson said the account violated the company’s platform manipulation and spam policy, specifically the creation of fake accounts. Twitter suspended the account after a tweet that incited violence.

As protests were taking place in multiple states across the U.S. Sunday night, the newly created account, @ANTIFA_US, tweeted, “Tonight’s the night, Comrades,” with a brown raised fist emoji and “Tonight we say ‘F— The City’ and we move into the residential areas… the white hoods…. and we take what’s ours …”

Here’s the tweet in question:

Identity Evropa, which in early 2019 changed its name to “American Identity Movement,” is a white nationalist organization, led by Patrick Casey, that mainly organizes on college campuses across the country.

Trump campaign adviser and regular Fox News guest Harlan Hill was also duped by the faux tweet, as well as Fox Nation host Lara Logan.

“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.”

But there’s more…

There’s the Proud Boys, a well-known right wing group of armed race warriors, embedding themselves with the protesters.

You have the Boogaloo Boys. Like the Proud Boys, their goal is to start a second Civil War, as in “Civil War: Electric Boogaloo”. Hence, the stupid name. They are showing up to riot as well. They are sometimes identifiable by their Hawaiian shirts with their camo outfits.

And of course, you have unaffiliated people who see BLM protests as an opportunity to shoot:

But there’s even more…

Social media users participating in protests over the death of George Floyd have reported large piles of bricks randomly appearing at rallying sites.

Unconfirmed videos emerged on social media that claimed to show random stacks of bricks in the middle of some of these protest locations. Breaking911, a Twitter handle with nearly 700,000 followers, posted that “videos continue to surface showing protesters stumbling upon pallets of bricks or pavers in areas with no construction taking place.”

Videos of rioters stumbling on these piles prompted several theories online about their origin, ranging from them being planted there by police so rioters could face tougher charges to outside agitators trying to up the stir up more trouble.

The evidence is slack…. except for maybe this video of Boston PD in an alleyway handing bricks.

And then you have the police themselves. Aside from (possibly?) putting bricks out, many are… well… going crazy:

In Louisville, Kentucky, a police chief was fired after officers killed an African American restaurant owner, David McAtee. The officers involved in the incident had not activated their body cameras as required by department policy.

In Atlanta, Georgia, two police officers were fired on Sunday and three others were placed on desk duty after officers used Tasers on two college students who had been sitting in a car. The action violated department restrictions against excessive use of force.

“After review of that footage, Chief [Erika] Shields and I have made the determination that two of the officers involved in the incident last night will be terminated immediately,” Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said at a news conference.

A county prosecutor announced on Tuesday that arrest warrants had been issued for six Atlanta officers on charges including aggravated assault, simple battery, criminal damage to property, pointing a handgun and aggravated battery.

Police shot dead a member of a crowd in Las Vegas who had “multiple firearms who appeared to be wearing body armor”, the local police department said in a statement.

Finally…. guess who is back, after being silent for three years…. hacking from the left…

So much gaslighting and conspiracy theories, It’s hard to know what’s true.

UPDATE — earlier today:

Document Dump: Judge Sullivan Files His Brief In Flynn’s Mandamus Request

Ken AshfordCourts/Law, L'Affaire RusseLeave a Comment

COVID-19 Update: Yeah, It’s Still Here

Ken AshfordEbola/Zika/COVID-19 Viruses, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

World:

US:

NC and local:

You wouldn’t know it from the news, but we’re still in the middle of a pandemic. States are gingerly opening up, but gatherings are limited. No sports, no movies, no theater, no concerts. I personally am still working from home.

Trump, no in full campaign and fascist mode, barely talks about coronavirus. In fact….

Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the most prominent members of the White House coronavirus task force, said on Monday that he has not spoken to or met with President Donald Trump in two weeks.

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, added that that his contact with the President has become much less frequent.

Their last interaction was May 18, when Trump invited Fauci to provide medical context during a teleconference with the nation’s governors. The Task Force last met on May 28 and last held a White House press briefing on May 22.

News that the pair haven’t communicated in two weeks comes during a critical period in the US coronavirus response as all 50 states have relaxed social distancing measures even as the virus’ death toll continues to climb. As of Monday, at least 1.79 million Americans have contracted the virus and at least 104,300 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Put another way, 15,000 Americans have died since the coronavirus task force last met.

Trump Seeks Iconic Moment, Gets It

Ken AshfordConstitution, Godstuff, Racial Homicides, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Yesterday continued in the same pattern as the prior weekend. Massive peaceful protests by day, with some looting and violence as it got dark. All over the country.

But the story of the day — perhaps even the year — happened in the late afternoon in D.C.

In the span of 20 minutes, President Donald Trump manufactured a moment meant to showcase two qualities he’s never really displayed: physical courage and religious feeling.

Americans have seen little of Trump in recent days as protests over the killing of George Floyd have erupted in the nation’s cities. A president who’s cultivated a tough-guy image seemed to be intimidated, cowering inside the White House compound.

Unhappy with that narrative, Trump tried to swap in another. He wanted to signal to his core voters that he’d protect their values and keep them safe. He wanted to be seen as strong, ruthless, and pious. And he was willing to deploy the federal government’s firepower to make it happen. He also included a deliberate mention of “Second Amendment rights” that was a clear signal to every Trump supporter who has been waiting for the call to unlimber their AR-15.

So he commandeered the nation’s attention with the choreographed precision of a onetime TV showman. Late in the afternoon, Trump tweeted that he’d be making a public statement.

Minutes before he began, police converged on the peaceful protesters massed outside Lafayette Square, just north of the White House, pumping tear gas at them and pushing them back with an imposing line of officers on horseback. Nothing the crowd had done provoked the show of force, but the reason for it soon became evident.

Trump strode to a Rose Garden lectern set against a backdrop of four flags. Between explosions audible on news broadcasts, Trump proclaimed himself the president of “law and order,” calling on mayors and governors to use decisive force to defend residents and announcing he’d deploy the military to assist. He vowed to keep Americans safe while showing respect for “the righteous cries of peaceful protesters.”

But the speech was just part of the spectacle. After he finished, he said he wanted to pay homage to a “very special place.” He left the White House’s north entrance and headed on foot toward St. John’s Episcopal Church, which had been damaged by a fire set the previous night. He passed the park and crossed H Street, as the noxious gas caused some in his entourage to gasp.

The peaceful protesters whose rights Trump had championed just minutes earlier had stood in the way of his walk. For that, they became a casualty of what Trump may hope will be the enduring photo op of his presidency.

“I imposed a curfew at 7 p.m.,” Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser tweeted afterward. “A full 25 minutes before the curfew & [without] provocation, federal police used munitions on peaceful protesters in front of the White House, an act that will make the job of [city police] officers more difficult. Shameful!”

Trump’s stop at the church was brief, but suited his purpose. Arriving outside, the president stood straight and held up a Bible. “Greatest country in the world,” he said. Photographers took pictures; cable news covered it live. Perhaps voters would see him as a president in command, reclaiming streets that had been flooded with protesters minutes before.

Make no mistake: Trump caused 11 separate police agencies, including the U.S. military, to fire on peaceful demonstrators so that he could use the Bible as a prop in a photo-op.

Because much of the media was setting up in the Rose Garden for the Trump speech, they weren’t there to record the police tear-gassing and police violence. But this Australian TV crew was there, and caught it live.

Australia has asked its embassy in the United States to register its concerns with authorities there about an apparent police assault on an Australian cameraman during a protest in Washington, its foreign minister said.

Among those also unhappy, the bishop of the DC church.

As one of those priests, Rev. Gini Gerbasi, recounts, “I am deeply shaken. … I am shaken not so much by the taste of tear gas and the bit of cough I still have, but by the fact the show of force was for a photo opportunity. The patio of St. John’s, Lafayette Square, had been holy ground today. But that man turned it into a battle ground first, and a political stunt second. I am deeply offended …”

Governors aren’t impressed either:

There was no need to do this before 7 pm when the curfew was set to go — but Trump gave cops a test, and they passed.

What’s amazing to me about this video is that it was posted almost 24 hours ago from the moment I wrote this, and it has only 44,700 likes.

This morning, Joe Biden addressed the nation with a very very fine speech:

“When peaceful protestors are dispersed by the order of the president from the doorstep of the people’s house, the White House, using tear gas and flash grenades in order to stage a photo op at a noble church, we can be forgiven for believing that the president is more interested in power than in principle,” Biden said.

And the former vice president slammed Trump for using the bible and constitution as props while ignoring their messages.

“The president held up the bible. I just wish he’d open it once in a while,” Biden said. “In addition to the bible, the president might also want to open the U.S. constitution once in a while. If he did, he’d find a thing called the First Amendment.”

He urged Congress to pass legislation that would ban chokeholds, halt the transfer of military weapons to police departments, and create a “model” use-of-force standard for police across the country.

UPDATE:

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was one of those who accompanied Trump. Why was he dressed in battle fatigues? Ha ha, that’s a funny story:

A senior defense official indicates [Secretary of Defense Mark Esper] and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Milley didn’t plan to accompany Donald Trump on his walk across Lafayette Park for a photo op outside St. John’s Church yesterday. They had left the Pentagon and were en route to the FBI field office to work with the director and AG “to observe and provide leadership.” After they left, the White House requested they redirect there to update Trump.

While they were there, as that meeting concluded, the president indicated an interest in viewing the troops that were outside. And the secretary and chairman went with him to do so. That’s the extent of what was taking place and at that point they were part of the group that was with the president as he continued through LaFayette Park.

So (a) Trump tricked them into coming to the White House, (b) Trump lied to them about viewing “the troops,” and (c) they fell for it and accompanied Trump all the way to the church even though no troops were there to inspect.

Meanwhile, Trump is posing this morning for yet another religiously-themed photo op at the John Paul II shrine despite the fact that the Archbishop of Washington basically told him to go to hell:

I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people even those with whom we might disagree. Saint Pope John Paul II was an ardent defender of the rights and dignity of human beings. His legacy bears vivid witness to that truth. He certainly would not condone the use of tear gas and other deterrents to silence, scatter or intimidate them for a photo opportunity in front of a place of worship and peace.

Needless to say, Trump doesn’t care. He went to the shrine, CNN followed along dutifully, and he got his photo op for use in the fall campaign.

UPDATE: Trump tries to appeal to the people he wants to oppress…

Weekend Protests And Riots

Ken AshfordRacial Homicides, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

The weekend kicked off Friday evening with the release of the criminal complaint against Derek Chauvin, which included the horrifying detail that Chauvin kept his knee on George Floyd’s neck for nearly three minutes after Floyd was unresponsive. The weekend ended with the lights out at the White House and the news that at one point, with protesters outside the White House, Donald Trump had been taken to a bunker.

In between, people across the country protested police violence against Black people—and all too often, were met with police violence. Anyone in any doubt about the responsibility of police for the level of violence in many cities should look at the toll of journalists targeted by police for violence, with one photographer permanently losing vision in one eye after being hit by a nonlethal projectile fired by police.

Disturbingly but predictably, white supremacist groups—including “Boogaloo Bois,” who hope to start a new civil war—seized on the protests as a chance to push their agenda, including by looting and starting violence.

They weren’t alone. Donald Trump, too, was fanning the flames. On Sunday he tweeted that he would be designating Antifa a terrorist organization—even though Antifa isn’t an organized organization, and also … stands for anti-fascist. That Trump would call anti-fascists terrorists is a little too on the nose. (The Secret Service had reportedly whisked Trump away to an underground bunker).

Trump also attacked Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, claiming she wouldn’t let the police participate in responding to protests. It was a false claim, of course. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, meanwhile, had a response to Trump: “He should just stop talking.”

It was all too easy to find examples of police brutality against protesters, from the 9-year-old girl screaming in pain after being pepper sprayed to the New York City woman who suffered a concussion and seizure after a police officer threw her to the ground for no obvious reason.

● In Columbus, Ohio, Rep. Joyce Beatty and City Council President Shannon Hardin were pepper sprayed.

● In some cities, police joined protesters.

● Sunday saw new video of the lead-up to the killing of George Floyd released.

Other scenes:

This morning in a call to governors, Trump was “unhinged”:

Weekly List 185

Ken AshfordWeekly ListLeave a Comment

This was one of the darkest weeks in modern American history. The week began with Trump spinning conspiracy theories to distract from the country reaching the grim milestone of losing 100,000 Americans to the coronavirus, and ended with our country literally burning in the flames of our racial divide, with Trump throwing kerosene on the flames.

Susan Glasser, a writer for the New Yorker, noted the year 2020 has been some horrible combination of the 1918 (the deadly Spanish flu pandemic), 1929 (the Great Depression), and 1968 (the Civil Rights Movement). The heaviness, sorrow, and sheer exhaustion our country felt this week was the summation of Americans suffering, dying, and starving from the pandemic, and yet another death of a Black American at the hands of police. Trump was ill-equipped to handle any of it — let alone all at once. He golfed, tweeted, threatened Twitter for fact-checking tweets, and played upon every worse impulse in some hope of salvaging his approval and re-election prospects.

As we head into the November election, and Trump plays at every ploy he can to make voting less accessible, and raise concerns about the validity of an election with mail-in ballots, it is starkly clear that our country may hobble through to the election, but we could not withstand another four years of Trump — that would spell the end of the great American experiment.

  1. On Saturday and Sunday, in addition to golfing each day at his Sterling, Virginia golf club, Trump sent nearly 100 tweets and retweets, as more than 97,000 Americans had died of the coronavirus.
  2. It was a somber Memorial Day weekend as most Americans were stuck at home, anxious about the state of things. Trump’s tweets made no mention of lives lost or suffering, or the grim milestone of 100,000 deaths.
  3. On Saturday, Trump continued his false claim about MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, tweeting, “A blow to her head? Body found under his desk? Left Congress suddenly? Big topic of discussion in Florida.”
  4. The repeated reference was about the death of Lori Klausutis, 28, who died in 2001 after losing consciousness from an abnormal heart rhythm and collapsed, striking her head. She was discovered in Scarborough’s office.
  5. Scarborough, who was 900 miles away at the time of Klausutis’ death, and his co-host and wife, Mika Brzezinski expressed outrage. Brzezinski called Trump a “cruel, sick, disgusting person” and said he was using it to distract from the pandemic.
  6. On Saturday, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said his state was experiencing a second surge of Covid-19 cases, originating from a high school pool party. North Carolina also saw its largest single day surge.
  7. On Saturday, Santa Cruz County Health officials said four distinct Covid-19 clusters originated from Mother’s Day get-togethers two weeks before. There has been a 20% increase in positive cases.
  8. On Saturday, the Justice Department joined a lawsuit about Illinois’ stay-at-home restrictions. An appeals court upheld California’s ban on gatherings at houses of worship despite Trump’s proclamation last week.
  9. On Sunday, NYT dedicated its entire Sunday front page to listing names and information on some of the Americans who had died, with the headline: “U.S. DEATHS NEAR 100,000, AN INCALCULABLE LOSS.”
  10. On Sunday, Fox News host Chris Wallace asked Dr. Deborah Birx about a April 10 clip of her saying, “Look how much the model has changed in just a week — remember just a week ago it was 80,000, now it’s 60,000.”
  11. When Wallace pressed Birx on changing her prediction and whether the White House “underestimated” the virus, she deflected, pointing to other models that showed 2.4 million could have died with no action.
  12. Asked if she wished Trump would wear a mask, Birx said she assumed Trump is “able to maintain that six feet distance,” and Americans should wear masks in public less than six feet away “out of respect for each other.”
  13. On Sunday, Kevin Hassett, top economic adviser to Trump, told CNN “our human capital stock is ready to go back to work,” sparking anger over using the dehumanizing term.
  14. On Sunday, Trump tweeted, “Cases, numbers and deaths are going down all over the Country!” While the number of cases in early hot spots like New York were down, cases are going up elsewhere. This statement was false.
  15. On Sunday, WAPO reported rural counties now have some of the highest rates of Covid-19 cases and deaths in the country, topping even the hardest-hit New York City boroughs on a per capita basis.
  16. More than 60 million Americans live in rural areas, and have populations that are poorer, older, and more prone to health problems such as diabetes and obesity than Americans living in urban areas.
  17. Of the 25 rural counties with the largest per capita outbreaks, 20 have a meatpacking plant or a prison. Infections have also raced through immigrant worker populations, many of whom live in poverty.
  18. On Sunday, Trump also retweeted eight posts by John Stahl, a Republican who ran for Congress and lost in 2012, and who has a long history of sexist and racist posts, especially against Black women.
  19. Trump retweeted Stahl on former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams’ appearance, saying she “visited every buffet restaurant in the state,” and Biden would be a “racist” if he did not pick her for VP.
  20. Trump also retweeted about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying, “Anyone know what’s going on with PolyGrip?” and another calling Hillary Clinton “HRC the Skank.”
  21. Trump also retweeted a post of Pelosi’s face, one with a “Trump 2020” mask over her mouth and the other with silver duct tape and a caption reading, “With duct tape, she won’t be able to drink booze on the job.” Pelosi does not drink.
  22. Trump also continued his false claim about Scarborough, tweeting, “A lot of interest in this story about Psycho Joe Scarborough. So a young marathon runner just happened to faint in his office, hit her head on his desk, & die?”
  23. Trump also tweeted the U.S. “cannot have all Mail In Ballots. It will be the greatest Rigged Election in history,” claiming without evidence there will be “forgeries,” and more, adding, “Trying to use Covid for this Scam!”
  24. Trump also quoted his tweet about mail-in ballots, adding, “The Democrats are trying to Rig the 2020 Election, plain and simple!” Democrats were concerned he would try to undermine the election as Biden’s lead grew.
  25. On Sunday, in an interview with Sinclair Broadcasting recorded Friday and aired Sunday, Trump blasted Jeff Sessions, saying he “was a disaster as attorney general,” “was not qualified,” and “He’s not mentally qualified.”
  26. Trump also slammed a Columbia University study in Week 184 that found 36,000 lives could have been saved shutting down one week earlier, and 54,000 two weeks earlier, saying, “Columbia is a liberal, disgraceful institution.”
  27. Trump falsely claimed when he stopped some China flights, “They were criticizing me, sleepy Joe Biden said I’m xenophobic,” and “it’s a disgrace” Columbia has “their little group of people that tell them what to do.”
  28. Trump added, “I’m fighting the deep state. I’m fighting the swamp,” adding, “I said I was doing it. And I’m exposing the swamp. I have a chance to break the deep state. It’s a vicious group of people.”
  29. Trump described his incoming Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe as “fantastic,” adding, “now they’re being exposed. Comey is a dirty cop, McCabe, bad guy…Lisa Page and Strzok. These are the two lovers, right?”
  30. Later Sunday, after Biden’s campaign put out an ad of Trump tweeting as the death toll rose, Trump tweeted, “Sleepy Joe’s representatives have just put out an ad saying that I went to play golf (exercise) today.”
  31. Trump added, “What they didn’t say is that it’s the first time I’ve played golf in almost 3 months, that Biden was constantly vacationing, relaxing & making shady deals….& that Barack was always playing golf.
  32. Later Sunday, Trump tweeted, “Schools in our country should be opened ASAP,” referencing a segment on Fox News. Recent polls show 85% of Americans say schools should not reopen without more testing.
  33. Trump also tweeted in the late evening, just before midnight, “OBAMAGATE!” and “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
  34. On Sunday, WAPO reported the Trump regime released its coronavirus testing strategy, which held states responsible for planning and carrying out testing, with the federal government providing some supplies.
  35. The 81-page plan was not publicly released, but was submitted to four Congressional committees as required under the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, within 30 days.
  36. Despite epidemiologists saying testing is vastly inadequate, the proposal claims existing testing is sufficient. The federal government would have no role in planning, and would be considered “the supplier of last resort.”
  37. Democrats had pushed for the regime to submit a national testing plan to Congress, saying it needs to take the lead in ramping up national testing. One expert compared leaving it to the states to the Hunger Games.
  38. Public health experts disagreed with the assertion that 300,000 tests per day and only testing those with symptoms would work, saying millions of tests per day are needed.
  39. On Sunday, the White House banned entry of any non-U.S. citizens traveling from Brazil, a coronavirus hotspot, which had the second most cases (347,000). The restrictions did not apply to commerce.
  40. On Monday, Memorial Day, Trump tweeted he “will be reluctantly forced” to move the Republican National Convention if North Carolina does not ease up on social distancing restrictions to allow the site to be filled.
  41. The convention is August 24. Trump added, “Plans are being made by many thousands of enthusiastic Republicans, and others, to head to beautiful North Carolina in August,” demanding a response by the governor.
  42. The Times reported while Republicans are discussing a pared down convention, Trump had suggested holding it at a ballroom in Florida. Some suggested it was a ploy to host it at his Doral Club in Miami.
  43. Trump tweeted, “I have zero interest” in moving the RNC to his “Doral in Miami, as falsely reported by the Fake News @nytimes in order to stir up trouble,” saying the ballroom is not big enough.
  44. On Monday, Trump visited Fort Henry in Baltimore to mark Memorial Day. He did not wear a mask. He paid homage to service members responding to the coronavirus, but made no mention of the nearly 100,000 dead.
  45. Baltimore Mayor Bernard Young, a Democrat, criticized Trump’s visit during the pandemic, saying Trump “deciding to pursue nonessential travel sends the wrong message to our residents.”
  46. Joe Biden marked Memorial Day by making his first public appearance in more than two months, placing a wreath at a veterans park near his Delaware home. Biden, his wife, and entourage all wore masks.
  47. On Monday, the World Health Organization halted all clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19 patients, after the study published in the Lancet in Week 184 showed the drug does more harm than good.
  48. The WHO stopped 3,500 patients from 17 countries in trials to test the efficacy of treatment for patients who are hospitalized with Covid-19. Trump claimed he was taking the drug to prevent the disease.
  49. On Tuesday, France’s public health agency suspended its clinical trials on hydroxychloroquine for use in Covid-19, following the study published in the Lancet.
  50. On Monday, a video of a packed Sunday pool party with no masks or social distancing at the Backwater Jack’s Bar and Grill in Lake of the Ozarks went viral, in defiance of Missouri’s social distancing guidelines.
  51. On Tuesday, public health officials from Missouri and Kansas urged the party-goers to self-quarantine for two weeks. Concern grew that visitors would travel back home to Missouri and the Midwest and spread the virus.
  52. On Monday, AP reported a woman in San Francisco was arrested on suspicion of leaving notes taped to homes of Asian Americans saying if you were “born in other country, return, go back to your land immediately.”
  53. On Monday, Amy Cooper, a white woman, called the police on a Black man in Central Park, after he asked her to put her dog on a leash, saying, “I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life.”
  54. A video showed the call to police, and showed Cooper pulling her dog sharply. Franklin Templeton suspended Cooper, then after review fired her. The dog was taken back by the animal shelter over mistreatment.
  55. On Tuesday, HuffPost reported the FBI is investigating a 9-minute video of a Minneapolis police officer pressing his knee into the neck of George Floyd, a Black man who was handcuffed, as Floyd said, “I cannot breathe.”
  56. Floyd also pleaded, “My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts … (I need) water or something,” and is heartbreakingly heard calling out for his mother, saying, “Mama, Mama,” before his voice becomes a moan.
  57. Onlookers are heard saying, “How long are you going to keep your knee on his neck?” and asking to check his pulse. Five minutes into the video, Floyd going unconscious. Three other officers stood by, and did not intervene.
  58. Later Tuesday, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced at a news conference that the four Minneapolis police officers were fired over the death of Floyd. The chief did not give the officers’ names.
  59. On Tuesday, a May 21 letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey from Timothy Klausutis, husband of Lori, was made public. Klausutis plead with Dorsey to delete Trump’s tweets about his wife, saying, “My wife deserves better.”
  60. Klausutis wrote, “I’m asking you to intervene in this instance because the president of the United States has taken something that does not belong to him — the memory of my dead wife — and perverted it for perceived political gain.”
  61. Shortly after, Trump continued his tweets, saying, “The opening of a Cold Case against Psycho Joe Scarborough was not a Donald Trump original thought, this has been going on for years, long before I joined the chorus.”
  62. Trump also tweeted, “I find Joe to be a total Nut Job, and I knew him well, far better than most. So many unanswered & obvious questions, but I won’t bring them up now! Law enforcement eventually will?”
  63. On Tuesday, Twitter refused to delete the tweets, citing the policy for world leaders, saying, “We’ve been working to expand existing product features and policies so we can more effectively address things like this.”
  64. On Tuesday, the WSJ Editorial Board, in an op-ed titled “A Presidential Smear,” noted, “Trump sometimes traffics in conspiracy theories,” and added, “There’s no evidence of foul play” in the death of Klausutis.
  65. The board added, “We don’t write this with any expectation that Mr. Trump will stop. Perhaps he even thinks this helps him politically,” but “Trump is debasing his office, and he’s hurting the country in doing so.”
  66. On Tuesday, ahead of the country crossing 100,000 deaths from Covid-19, Trump tweeted, “For all of the political hacks out there, if I hadn’t done my job well, & early, we would have lost 1 1/2 to 2 Million People.”
  67. Trump added, “One person lost to this invisible virus is too much, it should have been stopped at its source, China, but I acted very quickly,” claiming many thought “I was moving far to [sic] fast, like Crazy Nancy!
  68. On Tuesday, at an event for senior citizens, Trump mused about taking insulin, saying, “I don’t use insulin. Should I be?” adding, “I know a lot of people are very badly affected, right? Unbelievable.”
  69. Asked by a reporter why he would take insulin, Trump asked surgeon general Jerome Adams to answer. Adams said, “Your body, Mr. President, actually makes insulin endogenously.”
  70. On Tuesday, the New York Stock Exchange reopened after a two month shutdown for the coronavirus. Only 80 brokers, or 25% pre-pandemic level, will be on the floor. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo rang the opening bell.
  71. On Tuesday, Trump again sniped at Biden for wearing a mask, telling reporters, “he was standing outside with his wife, perfect conditions, perfect weather…so I thought it was very unusual that he had one on.”
  72. Trump added, “But I thought that was fine. I wasn’t criticizing at all. Why would I ever do a thing like that?” Trump then told a reporter to take off his mask to ask a question, saying he was being “politically correct.”
  73. Trump also falsely claimed he could “override” governors on reopening places of worship, saying, “I can absolutely do it if I want to, and I don’t think I’m going to have to, because it’s starting to open up.”
  74. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters, “It is a bit peculiar though, that in his basement right next to his wife, he’s not wearing a mask, but he’s wearing one outdoors when he’s socially distant.”
  75. Biden told CNN of Trump, “He’s a fool,” adding, “Presidents are supposed to lead, not engage in folly and be falsely masculine,” and accusing him of “stoking deaths.” Biden put up a new profile photo wearing a mask.
  76. On Tuesday, Katie Miller, Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary, returned to work, after contracting the coronavirus. She thanked her doctors and other supporters, and added she is pregnant.
  77. On Tuesday, AP reported the DOJ defended Alabama’s absentee ballot requirement to have witnesses sign the ballot, arguing in a brief that it is not a violation of the Voting Rights Act.
  78. On Tuesday, WSJ reported the DOJ closed its investigations into Sens. Kelly Loeffler, Dianne Feinstein, and Jim Inhofe for insider-trading. In April, Loeffler’s husband made a large donation to a Trump super-PAC .
  79. On Tuesday, Christi Grimm, former Department of Health and Human Services’ principal deputy inspector general, testified before the House Oversight Committee after recently being fired by Trump.
  80. Grimm told lawmakers freedom from political intrusion is “a key safeguard for the programs we oversee,” saying IGs must “go right down the middle in providing facts and letting facts take us where they may.”
  81. On Tuesday, WIRED reported John Ratcliffe will be the least qualified director of national intelligence to serve, having no intelligence experience, and is deeply partisan and a loyalist to Trump.
  82. Ratcliffe was rejected as a nominee when his name was floated last summer when he embellished his resume. He got just 49 votes of all Republican senators last week to confirm him.
  83. A career employee for more than two decades, Grimm said she and colleagues are plowing ahead on 14 additional reviews of HHS’s response to the pandemic. She is still in charge until Trump’s nominee is confirmed.
  84. On Tuesday, for the first time, Twitter put a fact-check label on two of Trump’s tweets, a response to criticism that the platform has been too hands off on disinformation spread by Trump there.
  85. Twitter changed its policy on fact-checking due to the pandemic, saying it would remove tweets, even those by world leaders that went “against guidance from authoritative sources of global and public health information.”
  86. Since March, Twitter removed tweets by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. In March, Twitter also labeled a doctored video of Biden that was retweeted by Trump.
  87. The two tweets gave disinformation about mail-in voting, falsely claiming mail-in ballots are fraudulent. The label said, “Get the facts about mail-in ballots,” and redirects users to news articles about the claim.
  88. The label directed users to articles by CNN, WAPO and the Hill, and a page summarizing the findings of fact-checkers. Trump reacted immediately, tweeting Twitter “is now interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election.”
  89. Trump also tweeted that Twitter is saying “my statement on Mail-In Ballots, which will lead to massive corruption and fraud, is incorrect, based on fact-checking by Fake News CNN and the Amazon Washington Post.”
  90. Trump also tweeted, “Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!” The tweets were labeled, but not deleted. WAPO found of Trump’s 18,000 lies, 3,300 were in tweets.
  91. On Tuesday, Vanity Fair reported heading into Memorial Day weekend, Trump complained that he was the biggest victim of Covid-19, reportedly saying, ‘This is so unfair to me! Everything was going great.”
  92. Sources said even with 100,000 dead and 38 million unemployed, Trump still cannot see the pandemic as anything other than something that happened to him. One adviser said the problem is Trump has no empathy.
  93. Trump knows his poll numbers are bad. Internal polls show him down double digits with women over 50 in all six swing states. Those closest to Trump are concerned the election is slipping away.
  94. Trump has quietly promoted Bill Stepien as deputy campaign manager and named Stephanie Alexander the Midwest political director, demoting Brad Parscale over spending and deteriorating poll numbers.
  95. On Tuesday, a Politico/Morning Consult poll found 23% of registered voters support the use of hydroxychloroquine touted by Trump for Covid-19, and just 11% would likely take it themselves.
  96. The poll also found Trump’s approval slid to 40%, down 1 point from last week and 4 points in the past four weeks, while 57% disapprove of the job he is doing.
  97. On Tuesday, WAPO reported the Census Bureau found 34% of all Americans are now showing signs of clinical anxiety, depression, or both, up nearly double from pre-pandemic, with levels varying by state.
  98. The study also found 50% experienced a depressed mood during the pandemic, up from 25% prior. The groups most impacted were the youngest Americans and those with the lowest incomes.
  99. On Tuesday, AP reported an increasing number of coronavirus patients are developing dangerous blood clots that can cause strokes and other life-threatening problems.
  100. On Tuesday, the Arkansas Times reported two Catholic churches that held services last weekend have both suspended services, after alerting members each was attended by a person who was positive for Covid-19.
  101. On Tuesday, the CDC in new guidance cautioned about the accuracy of Covid-19 antibody tests, saying they could be wrong about half the time and should not be used for determining going back to work or school.
  102. On Tuesday, CNN host Anderson Cooper attacked Trump for promoting the Scarborough conspiracy theories and mocking Biden for wearing a mask while the death toll hit 100,000, saying, “He’s just a little man.”
  103. Cooper said, “he is just a little man despite his girth and size,” and he is “doing something that is endangering other peoples’ lives” by modeling not having to wear a mask, while Trump has medical attention they do not.
  104. On Tuesday, Fox News host Laura Ingraham attacked Biden for wearing a mask while Trump did not, falsely claiming, “now we’re reading stuff about how you can damage yourself by wearing a mask.”
  105. Ingraham claimed, “because then you’re breathing back…potentially microbes,” adding, “not everybody changes their mask every day or cleans it. They’re too busy,” and “unhygienic masks are now super-spreaders.”
  106. Later Tuesday, at a protest over the killing of George Floyd, Minneapolis police officers dressed in riot gear fired rubber bullets, tear-gas, and stun grenades at thousands of protestors marching in the streets.
  107. On Wednesday, Trump’s approval hit a two-year low in the Rasmussen daily tracking poll: 42% approve, 57% disapprove — his lowest approval since January 2018.
  108. On Wednesday, Trump threatened to shut down Twitter, tweeting Republicans believe social media platforms “totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down.”
  109. Trump repeated his false claim, tweeting, “we can’t let large scale Mail-In Ballots take root in our Country. It would be a free for all on cheating, forgery and the theft of Ballots,” adding, “Social Media. Clean up your act, NOW!!!!
  110. Hours later, Trump threatened, tweeting, “Twitter has now shown that everything we have been saying about them (and their other compatriots) is correct. Big action to follow!”
  111. Trump also sent a barrage of tweets on Obama, falsely claiming, “New papers make CLEAR that the Obama Administration SPIED, in an unprecedented manner, on the Trump Campaign and beyond.”
  112. Trump also tweeted, “Nobody would ever have believed that this level of illegality and corruption would be taking place in our beautiful USA!” and “OBAMAGATE MAKES WATERGATE LOOK LIKE SMALL POTATOES!”
  113. Trump also tweeted shortly before Scarborough’s show ended, “Psycho Joe Scarborough is rattled, not only by his bad ratings but all of the things and facts that are coming out on the internet about opening a Cold Case.”
  114. Trump also tweeted, “The Radical Left Lamestream Media, together with their partner, the Do Nothing Democrats, are trying to spread a new narrative Trump was slow in reacting to Covid 19. Wrong, I was very fast.”
  115. Shortly after, Sen. Mitt Romney tweeted, “I know Joe Scarborough. Joe is a friend of mine. I don’t know T.J. Klausutis. Joe can weather vile, baseless accusations but T.J.? His heart is breaking. Enough already.”
  116. On Wednesday, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway claimed on “Fox & Friends” that the people at Twitter doing fact checks on Trump are the “people who attack him all day long.”
  117. She also named Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of integrity, asserting that he is “constantly attacking Trump voters, Trump, Mitch McConnell, you name it.” Twitter responded, saying one person does not make the decisions.
  118. Shortly after, Conway spoke to reporters, defending Trump’s attacks on mail-in voting, saying if people can “wait in line at Georgetown Cupcake for an hour to get a cupcake” they can wait in line to vote.
  119. On Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Times reported press secretary McEnany has voted by mail in every Florida election she has participated in since 2010, for a total of 11 times.
  120. McEnany also voted in the March Florida primary by mail. Trump, who recently changed his primary residence to Florida, also voted in March by mail, even though he drove by an early polling place days prior.
  121. McEnany responded, saying, “Absentee voting has the word absent in it for a reason. It means you’re absent from the jurisdiction or unable to vote in person.” Florida does not have absentee voting — anyone can vote by mail.
  122. On Thursday, HuffPost reported Conway voted by mail in the midterm 2018 election in her home state of New Jersey. Like McEnany, Conway responded with a redirect: “That’s called an absentee ballot.”
  123. On Wednesday, the Texas Supreme Court overruled a lower court, saying lack of immunity to the coronavirus does not qualify a voter to apply for a mail-in ballot. The justices issued their ruling while working from home.
  124. On Wednesday, the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus passed 100,000. The death toll was far higher than any other nation in the world, and is the deadliest pandemic for the U.S. since the 1918 flu when 675,000 died.
  125. On Wednesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN he wears a mask to protect himself and others, and “also because I want to make it be a symbol for people to see that that’s the kind of thing you should be doing.”
  126. Fauci added a second wave is “not inevitable,” and can be prevented if states reopen “correctly,” saying, “Don’t start leapfrogging over the recommendations of some of the guidelines,” it is “asking for trouble.”
  127. On Wednesday, a peer-reviewed study published in Thorax found 80% of the passengers and crew infected with the coronavirus aboard a cruise ship had no symptoms.
  128. On Wednesday, the World Health Organization said it is still unclear if having been infected by the coronavirus provided immunity from being infected again.
  129. On Wednesday, WAPO reported a new study found the Washington state outbreak began in mid-February, not late February, and the first case was a Chinese national who traveled from Wuhan to Seattle in mid-January.
  130. On Wednesday, NBC News reported Wisconsin saw a record number of 559 new cases and 22 known deaths, two weeks after the state’s Supreme Court struck down the statewide stay-at-home order.
  131. On Wednesday, LA Times reported Harry Sentoso, 63, took a job at the Amazon delivery center in Irvine, California in late March, weeks after he lost a temporary position there. Two weeks later he died of Covid-19.
  132. Until now, no cases at the facility have been made public. Amazon workers have documented more than 1,000 cases among warehouse workers as of May 20, and 8 deaths including Sentoso across the country.
  133. On Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. rejected a lawsuit brought by conservative organization Freedom Watch and right-wing provocateur Laura Loomer over her being banned on social media.
  134. The judges unanimously ruled that Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Apple cannot violate the First Amendment because it regulates only governments, not the private sector.
  135. On Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Fox News social media should not be the “arbiter of truth.” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey fired back saying Twitter would point out incorrect or disputed information.
  136. Later Wednesday, Trump tweeted, “Big Tech is doing everything in their very considerable power to CENSOR in advance of the 2020 Election. If that happens, we no longer have our freedom,” adding, “Stay Tuned!!!”
  137. On Wednesday, Trump allies Sen. Josh Hawley and Rep. Matt Gaetz both announced they are working on legislation to strip Twitter of federal protections from liability for what is posted on its platform.
  138. On Wednesday, riots continued in Minneapolis, where protestors gathered in the early afternoon near the city’s 3rd Precinct station, where the four policeman involved in the killing of Floyd previously worked.
  139. AP reported helicopter footage showed protestors running in and out of a Target, Cub Foods, and Dollar Tree, which all showed signs of damage and looting. Fire erupted at an auto parts stores and elsewhere after dark.
  140. There was also one death, as police were called about a man lying on the sidewalk with a bullet wound. It was unclear how he died. Protestors also gathered at the home of Mike Freeman, the Hennepin County prosecutor.
  141. On Thursday, the Labor Department reported 2.1 million Americans filed for unemployment, slightly above expectations. Nearly 41 million had filed for unemployment since the pandemic hit.
  142. On Thursday, the Commerce Department reported first-quarter GDP fell at an annual rate of 5%, a bigger decline than the 4.8% first reported. Economists expect the second-quarter GDP to fall by 40%.
  143. On Thursday, Pennsylvania State Rep. Andrew Lewis announced on Facebook that he had tested positive for the coronavirus on May 20, and immediately started to self-isolate. He sought a test on May 18.
  144. Democratic lawmakers said none of their members were alerted, although several were in Lewis’ proximity at committee meetings. Republicans and staffers were told, and some who had exposure went into self-quarantine.
  145. Democrats accused Lewis of keeping the test a secret “to protect their public talking points against science and facts.” Rep. Brian Simms said, “How dare you put our lives at risk. How dare you put our families at risk.”
  146. On Thursday, Trump tweeted, “This will be a Big Day for Social Media and FAIRNESS!”
  147. On Thursday, WAPO reported Trump planned to sign an executive order rolling back the immunity that tech giants have for the content on their site, known as Section 230, which allows tech companies to police their own platforms.
  148. The order would prompt federal officials to open proceedings to reconsider the scope of the law, and could have dramatic freedom of speech implications and wide-ranging consequences.
  149. The order would also channel complaints about political bias to the Federal Trade Commission, and would require federal agencies to review their spending on social media advertising.
  150. On Thursday, Trump shared a tweet of a news story, saying, “The head of Cowboys for Trump says a good Democrat is a dead one,” and added, “Thank you Cowboys. See you in New Mexico!”
  151. On Thursday, WAPO reported as America hit the bleak milestone of 100,000 deaths, Trump, who is obsessed with numbers, held no special commemoration, or moment of silence, or collective sharing of grief.
  152. Trump last week ordered flags flown half-staff through Memorial Day weekend, but when asked Tuesday by reporters, press secretary McEnany gave no specifics of how Trump would honor lost Americans.
  153. Trump stands out from other presidents who expressed sorrow: Franklin D. Roosevelt on D-Day, Bill Clinton after the Oklahoma City bombing, Bush after 9/11, and Obama after the Sandy Hook school shooting.
  154. Finally, Thursday he tweeted, “a very sad milestone with the coronavirus pandemic deaths reaching 100,000. To all of the families & friends of those who have passed, I want to extend my heartfelt sympathy & love.”
  155. Trump also sought to shift blame for the deaths to China, tweeting, “All over the World the CoronaVirus, a very bad “gift” from China, marches on. Not good!”
  156. On Thursday, Politico reported federal and state officials have altered or hidden public health data, hindering the ability to pick up a potential surge as states start to reopen.
  157. Politico found in at least a dozen cases, health departments inflated testing numbers or deflated their death tolls by changing criteria for who counts as a coronavirus victim and what counts as a coronavirus test.
  158. Half a dozen states, including Georgia, did not differentiate between two kinds of testing. Iowa will share data on meatpacking plant infections only by request. Florida has had numerous reported allegations of data manipulation.
  159. On Thursday, the Boston Athletic Association announced that the 2020 Boston Marathon, which had been postponed until September, will be canceled for the first time in the race’s 124-year history.
  160. On Thursday, in a radio interview, Sen. Lindsey Graham urged federal judges in their mid-to-late 60s to step aside before the 2020 election, citing concern about holding the majority with Trump’s sinking poll numbers.
  161. On Thursday, WAPO reported the White House will not release formal economic projections this summer over concern the numbers would codify that the pandemic has led to a severe economic downturn.
  162. The move was unprecedented in modern history: budget experts noted past administrations have released a “mid-session review” since at least the 1970s. The document would be released months before the election.
  163. On Thursday, NPR reported Mark Short, Pence’s chief of staff, owns between $506,043 and $1.64 million worth of stocks in companies doing work related to the Trump regime’s response to the pandemic.
  164. It is unclear if Short participated in the decision making that awarded the companies with contracts or work. He has publicly mentioned companies whose stock he owns, like 3M, in public statements.
  165. On Thursday, the CDC published new projections of deaths from the coronavirus, forecasting a range of 115,400 to 134,800 deaths by June 20, with a mid-range estimate of 123,200 deaths.
  166. On Thursday, a study published in JAMA found U.S. hydroxychloroquine prescriptions surged 2,000% in March after Trump first touted it as a possible treatment for the coronavirus.
  167. Researchers found during the week of March 15 to March 21, there were 45,858 short-term prescription for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, up from 2,208 in 2019.
  168. On Thursday, WAPO reported without notice, the CDC removed warnings contained in guidance for reopening places of worship that gathering to sing in choirs could spread the coronavirus.
  169. The updated guidelines also removed reference to “shared cups,” and items like hymnals and worship rugs. Language was also added that said the guidance “is not intended to infringe on rights protected by the First Amendment.”
  170. White House officials told the Post the first version was not approved by the White House. There was concern within the West Wing that there were too many restrictions on choirs.
  171. On Thursday, CNN reported the Bureau of Prisons ordered Roger Stone to report to prison by June 30. Stone said in a court filing that he plans to challenge the reporting date as he appeals his conviction.
  172. On Thursday, Reuters reported the U.S. National Security Agency warned government partners and private companies about a hacking operation by Russia’s GRU targeting operating systems often used by industrial firms.
  173. Later Thursday, Trump signed the executive order targeting social media companies, calling it a “big deal.” Experts said it will not have much impact without congressional approval, and will be met with legal challenges.
  174. Trump told reporters, “They have had unchecked power to censor, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter any form of communication between private citizens or large public audiences,” adding, “We are fed up with it.”
  175. Asked if he would delete his account, Trump said, “if we had a fair press,” he would “do that in a heartbeat,” claiming, “There’s nothing I’d rather do” than get rid of his account, while bragging about the size of his following.
  176. Attorney General William Barr, who stood alongside Trump, said the order would not repeal Section 230, but would restore “the right balance.” Trump chimed in we may “remove or totally change [Section] 230.”
  177. Speaker Pelosi called the order “a desperate distraction from his failure to provide a national testing strategy to defeat COVID-19.” She also accused Facebook CEO Zuckerberg of “pandering to Trump.”
  178. On Thursday, Twitter called Trump’s executive order in a statement “a reactionary and politicized approach” to a landmark law, saying attempts to erode it “threaten the future of online speech.”
  179. On Thursday, protestors in Minneapolis set the 3rd precinct police station, where the four officers had worked, on fire. Police had been evacuated, and the area was left to protestors as area fires blazed.
  180. Shortly before midnight, Gov. Tim Walz called in the National Guard, which tweeted it has “activated more than 500 soldiers… Our mission is to protect life, preserve property and the right to peacefully demonstrate.”
  181. On Thursday, at least 70 were arrested in New York City at protests over the killing of Floyd, as part of national protests. Protestors said Floyd’s killing was reminiscent of Eric Garner whose last words were “I can’t breathe.”
  182. On Thursday, Courier Journal reported seven people were shot in Louisville at protests over the killing of Breonna Taylor, who was shot in her apartment by police who had the wrong address in Week 183.
  183. Shortly before 1 a.m., Trump tweeted, “I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis,” adding, there is “A total lack of leadership” by “very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey.”
  184. Trump threatened, either Frey must “get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right.”
  185. Trump added, “These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen” adding, “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
  186. Twitter added what it called a “public interest notice” to Trump’s tweet, warning that it “violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence,” and requiring users to click on it to see the tweet.
  187. Twitter said it had hidden Trump’s tweet “based on the historical context of the last line, its connection to violence, and the risk it could inspire similar actions today.” The move was approved by Twitter CEO Dorsey.
  188. The official White House Twitter account tweeted Trump “did not glorify violence. He clearly condemned it. @Jack and Twitter’s biased, bad-faith ‘fact-checkers’ have made it clear: Twitter is a publisher, not a platform.”
  189. The quote, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” was first used in 1967 by Miami police Chief Walter Headley during hearings about crime in the city, provoking anger from civil rights leaders.
  190. On Friday, state police officers arrested CNN reporter Omar Jimenez, who is Black and Latino, and his crew shortly after 5 a.m. CST. Jimenez could be seen holding up his CNN badge and saying he and his crew would move.
  191. The camera was still rolling during the arrest. Jimenez’s colleague Josh Campbell, who is white, was also there and said he was “treated much differently,” adding, “They’re asking politely to move here and there.”
  192. Shortly after, Minnesota Gov. Walz apologized, telling reporters: “We have got to ensure that there is a safe spot for journalism,” adding there is “absolutely no reason” for the arrests, and that he took full responsibility.
  193. When told about Trump’s tweet, Mayor Frey said, “Weakness is refusing to take responsibility for your own actions,” adding, “Weakness is pointing your finger at somebody else during a time of crisis.”
  194. On Friday, Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer shown in the video putting his knee on Floyd’s neck, was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
  195. In the nearly 9-minute video, in the last 2 minutes and 53 seconds Floyd is passed out. According to the complaint, Chauvin should have known “that this type of restraint with a subject in a prone position is inherently dangerous.”
  196. On Friday, Trump tried to clean up his incendiary tweet: “Looting leads to shooting, and that’s why a man was shot and killed in Minneapolis…look at what just happened in Louisville with 7 people shot.”
  197. Trump added, “I don’t want this to happen, and that’s what the expression put out last night means,” and “nobody should have any problem with this other than the haters, and those looking to cause trouble on social media.”
  198. On Friday, the White House announced a 2 p.m. press conference in the Rose Garden. Trump was flanked by six white men in his regime, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
  199. Trump announced the U.S. would terminate its relationship with the WHO, citing, “they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms.” He added the “world needs answers from China on the virus.”
  200. Trump also attacked China, saying, “They’ve ripped off the United States like no one has ever done before,” adding Beijing has “raided our factories” and “gutted” American industry.
  201. Trump also blasted China for imposing a national security law on Hong Kong, calling it “a plain violation” of its treaty, adding the regime would “begin the process of eliminating policy exemptions” for Hong Kong.
  202. Trump did not address the killing of George Floyd, the riots, or the more than 102,000 Americans dead from the coronavirus as cases and deaths started to surge again. He left abruptly without taking questions.
  203. Later Friday, Trump told reporters, “The looters should not be allowed to drown out the voices of so many peaceful protesters. They hurt so badly what is happening, and it’s so bad for the state and for that great city.”
  204. Trump said he had spoken to Floyd’s family, saying, “they were grieving.” He condemned Chauvin, saying, “It certainly looked like there was no excuse for it,” calling it a “terrible insult to police and to policemen.”
  205. Trump also claimed he did not know the origin of the “looting” and “shooting” quote, saying he had just heard it before, and added, “Certainly there were a lot of different people and there were good people too.”
  206. On Friday, the CDC announced community transmission of Covid-19 began in late January or early February, weeks earlier than the February 26 case previously thought to be the first.
  207. The first community spread is believed to be related to a Washington state patient who traveled to Wuhan, China, and developed symptoms on January 19. A cluster likely spread in the Seattle area from them.
  208. On Friday, Bloomberg reported on the spread of the coronavirus at farms. At one farm in Tennessee, all of the 200 employees were infected. There were also high rates in agricultural spots on the West Coast.
  209. The spread at farms highlighted the risk to the country’s food supply heading into the summer, the peak of the produce season. Cases were expected to keep climbing as seasonal workers pack buses to work.
  210. On Friday, Florida reported 1,212 new cases of the coronavirus, the highest number since reopening, and 49 deaths. Several states have been seeing a rising number of new cases two to three weeks into reopening.
  211. On Friday, WAPO reported according to a spokesperson for North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, Trump called him and insisted on a full Republican convention this summer with no face masks or social distancing.
  212. Cooper, a Democrat, “expressed concerns and suggested a scaled back event with fewer attendees.” The conversation happened after state health officials told the RNC they must provide a detailed plan about safety.
  213. On Friday, Politico reported German Chancellor Angela Merkel rebuffed Trump’s invitation to the G7 summit scheduled for late June in Washington, citing “the overall pandemic situation.”
  214. Trump was eager to host the summit as a show of a return to normalcy. In a heated call this week, the two leaders disagreed on several topics including NATO, a gas pipeline between Russia and Germany, and China.
  215. On Friday, Business Insider reported Trump was “furious” over Merkel’s refusal. He has tweeted about the summit last week, citing the beginning of the “COMEBACK. It would be a great sign to all — normalization!”
  216. On Friday, newly declassified transcripts of calls between Michael Flynn and former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in late 2016 were released by the Trump regime to lawmakers, who then made them public.
  217. Kislyak’s conversations were monitored by U.S. intelligence as part of intelligence gathering as Obama imposed sanctions over Russian interference. Flynn has argued that he was unfairly targeted by the FBI.
  218. Transcripts revealed they discussed sanctions while Obama was still in office. Flynn said, “I know you have to have some sort of action,” but we do not want a “tit-for-tat.” Kislyak said sentiments “are raging now.”
  219. The transcripts made clear that Russia’s decision not to retaliate were influenced by Kislyak’s conversations with Flynn. On December 31, Kislyak says their conversation two days earlier had been “taken into account.”
  220. Nowhere in the transcript does Flynn admonish Russia for interfering in the 2016 election, or that the incoming Trump regime expected Moscow to pay any price for doing so.
  221. House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff said, “These transcripts clearly demonstrate that Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn lied to the FBI and the Vice President when he denied discussing sanctions.”
  222. On Friday, the Justice Department released the seventh installment of FBI memos from the Mueller probe to CNN and BuzzFeed pursuant to a court order under the Freedom of Information Act.
  223. BuzzFeed noted, “the majority of documents released so far under the court order have been heavily redacted, leaving vast swaths of information about the case obscured.” They have asked the court to intervene.
  224. White House counsel Don McGahn told the FBI that Flynn’s “time was up” after lying to Pence, but claimed there “no way Flynn did not know he had talked about sanctions on the calls” with Kislyak.
  225. In an interview, an unidentified DCCC employee said after Russia’s 2016 hack of the DNC server, “many people” had personal income tax returns falsely filed under their names in 2017.
  226. Hope Hicks said Trump asked her to confirm the meeting Donald Jr. hosted at Trump Tower “was about Russian adoption to which she confirmed that’s what she thought it was about,” and not to say more.
  227. Rick Gates told the FBI that shortly after it was revealed that the DNC server had been hacked, Paul Manafort began orchestrating the idea that Ukraine was behind it.
  228. Later Friday, Louisville police shot a reporter covering the protests there with pepper balls during a live broadcast. Kaitlin Rust, a reporter for CBS affiliate WAVE 3 News, can be heard saying, “I’m getting shot!”
  229. Later Friday, in Washington D.C., Fox News correspondent Leland Vittert and his crew were harassed, punched, and chased out of Lafayette Park by protestors.
  230. On Friday, evening riots took place at cities across the country, including Atlanta, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Portland, Oakland, Chicago, San Jose, Detroit, and Denver. Many had arrests, shootings, and clashes with police.
  231. On Friday, several hundred protestors gathered outside the White House. Protestors persistently squared off with police until after 3 a.m., throwing water bottles in a tense display that lasted more than 10 hours.
  232. At 3:30 a.m., police issued two warnings, then a line of officers with shields advanced on the crowd, which was chanting “Black lives matter.” U.S. Park Police, Secret Service, and D.C. police all pushed the crowd to disperse.
  233. Late Friday, Gov. Walz told reporters he was aware of unconfirmed reports that white supremacists are taking advantage of the chaos unfolding in Minneapolis, including joining some of the looting.
  234. Later Friday, in a late night ruling, the Supreme Court denied a San Diego church’s request for relief from California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s directive limiting churches to 25% of their normal capacity, with a 100 person maximum.
  235. Chief Justice John Roberts joined liberal judges in a 5-4 vote, writing in the three-page opinion: “broad limits are not exceeded, they should not be subject to second-guessing by an ‘unelected federal judiciary.’”
  236. On Saturday, shortly after midnight, the Pentagon announced it was ready to send troops to Minneapolis to help contain the riots. Gov. Walz had not requested federal help.
  237. The chief Pentagon spokesman said several military units were placed on higher alert “as a prudent planning measure” if needed. Officials say they are mainly military police and would be ready on four-hours notice.
  238. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both spoke to Walz in the past 24 hours. The Pentagon said it would not deploy federal forces unless Walz asked for help.
  239. Trump urged Walz and other authorities in Minnesota to “be tough,” saying, “We have our military ready, willing and able if they ever want to call our military, and we can have troops on the ground every quickly.”
  240. Walz also imposed an 8 p.m. curfew Saturday night for Minneapolis and St. Paul, after what he described as “wanton destruction.” Several other cities including Cincinnati, Portland, and Denver also imposed curfews.
  241. On Saturday, Gov. Walz told reporters he was “fully” mobilizing the state’s National Guard to control the unrest, saying, “the situation in Minneapolis is no longer in any way about the murder of George Floyd.”
  242. On Saturday, in a series of tweets, Trump fanned discord: “Great job” by the Secret Service, “They were not only totally professional, but very cool. I was inside, watched every move, and couldn’t have felt more safe.”
  243. Trump added, “They let the “protesters” scream & rant as much as they wanted” — putting protestors in quotes — adding, “Big crowd, professionally organized, but nobody came close to breaching the fence.”
  244. Trump also again evoked from the civil rights movement when dogs attacked protestors, saying, “If they had they would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen.”
  245. Trump also attacked the mayor of D.C., a Black woman, tweeting, “On the bad side, the D.C. Mayor, @MurielBowser, who is always looking for money & help, wouldn’t let the D.C. Police get involved. “Not their job.””
  246. Mayor Bowser responded, tweeting, “I call upon our city and our nation to exercise great restraint even while this President continues to try to divide us. Our power is in peace, in our voices and ultimately at the ballot box.”
  247. Trump also falsely claimed, tweeting, “These are “Organized Groups” that have nothing to do with George Floyd. Sad!” and tweeting, “It’s ANTIFA and the Radical Left. Don’t lay the blame on others!”
  248. Trump also encouraged his supporters, tweeting, “The professionally managed so-called “protesters”… were just there to cause trouble,” adding, “Tonight, I understand, is MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE???
  249. Trump also again attacked Minneapolis Mayor Frey, tweeting he “will never be mistaken for the late, great General Douglas McArthur or great fighter General George Patton,” and “Get tough and fight..STRENGTH!”
  250. On Saturday, Politico reported mayors across the country criticized Trump’s leadership and rhetoric, accusing him of deepening America’s divides as protests spread to two dozen cities.
  251. Shortly after, asked by reporters if his tweets would stoke more racial violence, Trump said, “No no, not at all,” adding, “MAGA says make America great again. These are people that love our country.”
  252. Asked about his call for a “MAGA NIGHT” at the White House, Trump said, “I have no idea if they’re going to be here. I was just asking.” Asked if he was encouraging it, he said, “I don’t care.”
  253. Trump added, “MAGA is make America great again,” adding, “By the way, they love African American people, they love black people. MAGA loves the black people.”
  254. Trump continued, “I heard that MAGA wanted to be [at the White House to protest]…I have no idea if that’s true or not, but they love our country. Remember, MAGA, it’s just an expression, but MAGA loves our country.”
  255. On Saturday, at a brief public address, AG Barr said the criminal justice system at both the state and federal levels will continue to investigate and pursue justice in Floyd’s death.
  256. Barr claimed, “in many of our cities around the country the voices of peaceful protest are being hijacked by violent radical elements,” adding, “Groups of outside radicals and agitators are exploiting the situation.”
  257. Without offering evidence, Barr claimed violence is “driven by anarchic and far left extremist groups using Antifa-like tactics, many of whom travel from outside the state to promote the violence.”
  258. Barr warned, “It is a federal crime to cross state lines or use interstate facilities to incite or participate in violent rioting.”
  259. Shortly after, Trump tweeted, “Crossing State lines to incite violence is a FEDERAL CRIME!” threatening, “Liberal Governors and Mayors must get MUCH tougher or the Federal Government will step in.”
  260. As the week came to a close, there were 5,988,416 worldwide cases and 366,875 dead from the coronavirus. The U.S. had 1,756,304 cases (29.3%), 103,153 deaths (28.1%), and a mortality rate of 5.9%.

Protests Continue

Ken AshfordBreaking News, Racial HomicidesLeave a Comment

From last night:

And now tonight:

Omaha:

Charging Documents Of Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin

Ken AshfordCrime, Racial HomicidesLeave a Comment

Third degree murder:

After a week of escalating protests, Hennepin County attorney Michael Freeman announced that former police officer Derek Chauvin had been arrested and would be charged with manslaughter and 3rd degree murder in the death of 46-year-old George Floyd. Floyd died after being arrested for possibly passing a fake $10 or $20 bill to buy cigarettes. The arrest made headlines as onlookers videotaped the assault by police. Floyd pleaded on video that he could not breathe and was in serious distress.

The following are passages taken directly from the complaint

:– It says the initial police call was over a counterfeit $20 bill:“On May 25, 2020, someone called 911 and reported that a man bought merchandise from Cup Foods at 3759 Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota with a counterfeit $20 bill.”

— The document says Floyd was non-compliant: “Mr. Floyd did not voluntarily get in the car and struggled with the officers by intentionally falling down, saying he was not going in the car, and refusing to stand still.”

— It specifies how Chauvin knelt on Floyd: “The defendant placed his left knee in the area of Mr. Floyd’s head and neck.”

— It notes that such restraint is dangerous: “Police are trained that this type of restraint with a subject in a prone position is inherently dangerous.”

— It documents what Floyd said: “Mr. Floyd said, “I can’t breathe” multiple times and repeatedly said, “Mama” and “please,” as well. The defendant and the other two officers stayed in their positions.”

— It says Floyd had underlying health issues: “The autopsy revealed no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation. Mr. Floyd had underlying health conditions including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease.”

— It says three factors contributed to this death: “The combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death.”

Trump Chickens Out In Press Conference And Opts For More Distraction

Ken AshfordEbola/Zika/COVID-19 Viruses, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Amid a literal plague and widespread unrest over racial injustice in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Louisville, Kentucky, Donald Trump held a press conference Friday to address the nation.

It was supposed to be about Minneapolis, but he had gotten himself in hot water by quoting a white supremacist “When the looting starts, the shooting starts”.

So he pivoted.

“We will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs,” Trump announced.

That’s right—no mentions of George Floyd or Breonna Taylor, no words intended to soothe the deep wounds currently afflicting this country. No questions. Just some World Health Organization bashing and then China, China, China. Trump spent most the brief announcement painting the World Health Organization (WHO) as a tool of the Chinese government and China as an enemy of democracy and global public health (never mind cutting off WHO funding amid a global pandemic).

“The world is now suffering as a result of the malfeasance of the Chinese government,” Trump said. “China’s cover-up of the Wuhan virus allowed the disease to spread all over the world, instigating a global pandemic that has cost over 100,000 American lives and over a million lives worldwide.”

Translation: The 100,000 American deaths on my watch are all China’s fault. Trump also declared himself “100% correct” for implementing a travel ban from China earlier this year.

In short: the buck stops with China.

Declassified Flynn Transcripts Show Him Discussing Sanctions Despite Denials

Ken AshfordL'Affaire Russe, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Newly declassified transcripts, released by the incoming Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, show that President-Elect Donald Trump’s designated National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, did, in fact, discuss Obama administration sanctions with the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

During those conversations, Flynn at several points urged Kislyak to tamp down or limit to “reciprocal” any official Russian response to the newly-emplaced sanctions the Obama White House had put in place over Russian interference in the 2016 election. A Washington Post exposé in February 2017, based on a leak from an anonymous government officials, revealed that Flynn had denied discussing sanctions with the Russians. In the ensuing outrage sparked by the Post story, Flynn was fired by Trump for lying to Vice President Mike Pence about his actions. An FBI counterespionage probe questioned Flynn about the conversations, and he was ultimately charged with lying to investigators. Flynn twice pleaded guilty in court to lying to the FBI, but earlier this year sought to recant his plea. In a highly controversial move, Attorney General Bill Barr recently directed federal prosecutors to abandon the case, but the judge has yet to officially dismiss the charge.

The declassified transcripts of the calls between Flynn and Kislyak were released by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

In the calls, Flynn and Kislyak can be seen feeling each other out, trying to find common ground. But Flynn clearly communicates that he is asking for patience from the Russian diplomat for the incoming Trump administration. And his entreaties evoked comments made in 2012 by then-President Barack Obama to then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, where Obama said he would have “more flexibility” to deal with a foreign policy issue after the 2012 election.

“Please make sure that its uh — the idea is, be — if you, if you have to do something, do something on a reciprocal basis, meaning you know, on a sort of an even basis. Then that, then that is a good message and we’ll understand that message [emphasis in original],” Flynn told Kislyak. “And, and then, we know that we’re not going to escalate this thing.”

“And then what we can do is,” Flynn said, moments later. “When we come in, we can then have a better conversation about where, where we’re gonna go, us, regarding u, regarding our relationship.”

Unhinged Trump

Ken AshfordElection 2020, Polls, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

In the past few days Donald Trump has:

  • Cranked up the volume on his pointless cold wars with China and Iran
  • Turned mask wearing into a culture war campaign issue
  • Accused a TV host of murdering an intern
  • Declared war on voting by mail and accusing children of committing voter fraud
  • Insisted that James Comey and a variety of others should be in jail
  • Pushed an absurd “unmasking” non-scandal
  • Insisted that Barack Obama personally led a spying campaign against him
  • Retweeted a video saying “the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat”
  • Retweeted QAnon conspiracy theories
  • Threatened to repeal First Amendment protections for social media
  • Quoted a segregationist about how to deal with rioting by African-Americans

All of this has happened in the midst of an enormous pandemic which should be occupying all his time. Instead he’s virtually ignoring it because he can’t figure out what to do aside from handing it over to his son-in-law and then hauling out his iPhone to tweet about something he heard on Fox & Friends.

Is Trump mentally unstable? I don’t know. But he’s sure not mentally all there, is he? What kind of leader decides he can just shut his eyes to a deadly pandemic and instead spend all his time plotting revenge on enemies both real and imagined? Only a mentally infantile one. When will the Republican Party finally realize just what kind of trouble they’ve gotten us into?

The popular theory, which I don’t discount, is that Trump is reacting to the election polls, which make one thing clear: Joe Biden is winning. Either he is reacting uncontrollably, or this his his desperate attempt to latch on to something that will ignite his base or even more.

I know positive polling data makes liberals cringe, dredging up horror memories from November 2016. But that doesn’t mean we can ignore the current reality, and that current reality is that in the polls of polls, this is the state of the game: 

  • WI: +2.7 Biden
  • FL: +3.3 Biden
  • AZ: +4.0 Biden
  • MI: +5.5 Biden
  • PA: +6.5 Biden
  • NC: +1.0 Trump

And that doesn’t include Georgia, which is also in play

Let’s just take those states in which presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden leads by a big four points, and we have this: 

ScreenShot2020-05-28at11.37.01AM.png?159

Biden already has an Electoral College victory, and he’s leading in the other four gray tossup states! And as I showed several days ago, Trump is losing ground with independents on a critical issue: jobs. 

Or… maybe Trump is just unstable.

Society Coming Apart At The Seems

Ken AshfordConstitution, Racial Homicides, Social Media & Networking, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

The brutal manslaughter of George Floyd by Minneapolis policemen has become a touchstone for so many societal hot spots. The most notable, of course, is the continued racial injustice by police in communities throughout the country. This is not new of course. We have seen it repeatedly over the years. I’m not sure anything I can say will add to the glaring and obvious problem of the white-authored, systemic oppression floated on POC in this country for centuries.

But it has lead us to the brink of another issue, and one that can only be possible in the Trump Administration: an attempt to violate the First Amendment.

In the early hours of the morning, rioters took to the streets of Minneapolis-St.Paul, and burned and looted large sections of that community. Trump took to Twitter:

You see that? Twitter put a warning on one of his tweets (although it made it visible “in the public interest”). This is what it said.

When the looting starts, the shooting starts? WTF?

David Frum:

You’d think Donald Trump would have more sympathy for looters, being a looter himself. The president has helped himself to money from the U.S. Treasury, using political power to direct public money to his personal businesses. It’s not as visual as a riot, but until 2017 it would have been regarded as equally criminal.

For what it’s worth, the policy of shooting looters in unconstitutional.

As the legal scholar Orin Kerr noted, “Actually following a policy of ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts’ would violate the 4th Amendment, for starters.”  

He’s right. Tennessee v. Garner.

That case originated in Memphis, where two police officers, including Elton Hymon, were dispatched to catch a prowler. In the backyard of a house, Hymon saw a suspect he judged to be 17 or 18 run to a back fence. “Halt,” he said, “police.” The suspect tried to climb over the fence to escape. Hymon shot him in the back of the head and recovered a purse with $10 in it. He later cited a Tennessee statute that said, “If, after notice of the intention to arrest the defendant, he either flee or forcibly resist, the officer may use all the necessary means to effect the arrest.”

The Supreme Court’s holding in the 1985 case sets forth a different standard:

The use of deadly force to prevent the escape of all felony suspects, whatever the circumstances, is constitutionally unreasonable. It is not better that all felony suspects die than that they escape. Where the suspect poses no immediate threat to the officer and no threat to others, the harm resulting from failing to apprehend him does not justify the use of deadly force to do so. It is no doubt unfortunate when a suspect who is in sight escapes, but the fact that the police arrive a little late or are a little slower afoot does not always justify killing the suspect. A police officer may not seize an unarmed, non-dangerous suspect by shooting him dead. The Tennessee statute is unconstitutional insofar as it authorizes the use of deadly force against such fleeing suspects.

That is the law of the land.

The decision goes on to note that:

where the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a threat of serious physical harm, either to the officer or to others, it is not constitutionally unreasonable to prevent escape by using deadly force. Thus, if the suspect threatens the officer with a weapon or there is probable cause to believe that he has committed a crime involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical harm, deadly force may be used if necessary to prevent escape, and if, where feasible, some warning has been given.

More succinctly: Cops can’t just shoot someone looting gadgets from a Target or whiskey from a liquor store.

Trump swore to protect and defend the Constitution. He just violated that oath. When he wrote “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he implicitly urged law enforcement to adopt an approach that would transgress the Constitution, violate Fourth Amendment rights, and cause unlawful deaths. Rioting is abhorrent. Trump’s incendiary call for illegal acts is more likely to fuel than stop it––especially if any police act on his irresponsible words.

But I digress. Back to Twitter’s warning.

This comes a two days after Twitter appended a “get the facts” notice to a Trump tweet about mail-in ballots…

… and one day after Trump threatened to revoke Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act which gives social media platforms immunity from lawsuits for content posted by users.

Note that Trump explicitly tied his executive order to his displeasure with the speech of Twitter in fact-checking his tweets:

Government action in retaliation for upsetting political speech. That is core First Amendment activity and a blatant constitutional violation.

Can Twitter be accountable for any defamation that appears in their fact checks? Sure. Does the fact that they edit Trump’s tweets to include a link to a fact check mean that they are now a “publisher” for all purposes, subject to lawsuits by Trump or any Twitter user because their “status” as a “publisher” has gone poof? No. This appears to be the wet dream of “conservatives” eager to regulate speech they don’t like as long as it appears on a social media platform, but it’s no more legally accurate than any other wet dream they might have.

I know you see this everywhere — and now Bill Barr is saying it (which ought to be a clue that it’s dishonest) — but don’t take my word for it. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a useful page with some guidelines that might help educate you on the topic:

Can my commenters sue me for editing or deleting their comments on my blog?

Generally no, if you are not the government. Section 230 protect a blog host from liability for “any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.” This would include editing or deleting posts you consider objectionable, even if those posts would be protected by the First Amendment against government censorship.

Sweet, I can edit the comments on my blog to change the meaning and make commenters I don’t like seem like crazed defamers.

Not so fast. As noted above, Section 230 protects actions taken in good faith, and you may be liable for new information you create. The ability to edit comments is strongly protected, but you should not abuse that power.

Here’s a piece by Eugene Volokh, a First Amendment expert who I rarely agree with, saying the same thing:

Under current law, Twitter, Facebook, and the like are immune as platforms, regardless of whether they edit (including in a politicized way). Like it or not, but this was a deliberate decision by Congress. You might prefer an “if you restrict your users’ speech, you become liable for the speech you allow” model. Indeed, that was the model accepted by the court in Stratton Oakmont. But Congress rejected this model, and that rejection stands so long as § 230 remains in its current form.

In response to this morning’s Twitter admonishment, Trump went on a rampage, doubling down on his Section 230 repeal non-starter:

Trumpists want to be able to lie and not get called out for it. And they make themselves the victims.

Here’s an excellent Twitter exchange:

Yup. Cooke wins. But that hasn’t deterred Cruz:

Speaking of other Minneapolis riot-related First Amendment suppression, look at what else happened this morning:

It’s not even noon yet.

Oh, and we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic.