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.”
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.
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.
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.
Chevy McGee is the same “Boogaloo Boy” who, a few weeks ago, got chewed out by his mom on a livestream for his civil war cosplay. She told him to “get your fucking ass in the house, you are embarrassing me in front of the neighbors.” https://t.co/XAuc3aHkcf
And of course, you have unaffiliated people who see BLM protests as an opportunity to shoot:
This man was arrested for firing shots at a Black Lives Matter rally in downtown Salisbury. No one was hurt. @SalisburyNCPD say two were arrested. I’m waiting to get more info. I heard the shots, saw dozens of protesters scramble, police were on it quickly. pic.twitter.com/pxLJIauj43
Social media users participating in protests over the death of George Floyd have reported large piles of bricks randomly appearing at rallying sites.
We have learned of & discovered stashes of bricks and rocks in & around the Plaza and Westport to be used during a riot. If you see anything like this, you can text 911 and let us know so we can remove them. This keeps everyone safe and allows your voice to continue to be heard.
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.
BOSTON PD PLANTING BRICKS BOSTON PD PLANTING BRICKS BOSTON PD PLANTING BRICKS BOSTON PD PLANTING BRICKS BOSTON PD PLANTING BRICKS BOSTON PD PLANTING BRICKS BOSTON PD PLANTING BRICKS BOSTON PD PLANTING BRICKS BOSTON PD PLANTING BRICKS BOSTON PD PLANTING BRICKS pic.twitter.com/R5qMwsa3fY
in an attempt to disperse crowds, #DavidMcAtee, a louisville bbq chef known for serving cops free meals, was shot and killed by the police last night. he was unarmed. not only were the officers’ bodycams off, but they also left his body on the street for 12 hours. say his name. pic.twitter.com/kqOPku8iuQ
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.
“I thought [we] were going to die.” College students Taniyah Pilgrim and Messiah Young speak out after graphic video shows Atlanta police using stun guns and dragging them from their car during protest. https://t.co/nYkiImeO9Rpic.twitter.com/JxzqGth72O
“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 in the authoritarian US regime are an occupation force. In Atlanta, heavily armed cops in riot gear just came up to two young Black college students minding their business in their car, broke the window, and dragged them outpic.twitter.com/vB7AQUHJJa
So much gaslighting and conspiracy theories, It’s hard to know what’s true.
UPDATE — earlier today:
Michael Wallace. He's 18. And he thought it would be cool to counterprotest a peaceful gathering at the state house with tactical gear and a loaded/chambered AR. Michael then "accidentally" discharged his firearm. #boiseprotestpic.twitter.com/W4BIEA7V3t
Third, argues that the "presumption of regularity" attached to prosecutorial discretion is not irrebuttable and highlights just how odd this particular gov't motion to dismiss is. pic.twitter.com/D4aXmTzUUq
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….
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.
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.”
Trump: “I will fight to protect you. I am your president of law and order and an ally of all peaceful protesters, but in recent days our nation has been gripped by professional anarchists, looters, criminals antifa and others.” pic.twitter.com/e2e9d1eX48
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.
Here’s how this scene was viewed live in Australia. One of America’s closest and most dependable allies. Rendered speechless. Just watch. pic.twitter.com/IjOzgs3WYo
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 …”
Just an unbelievable use of military and police force to clear out Lafayette Park of protesters for a photo op at St John’s Episcopal Church. pic.twitter.com/ue7eCb6ZEM
Trump accompanied by Stephen Miller, Derek Lyons, Keith Kellogg, Mark Meadows, Tony Ornato, Pat Cipollone, Hope Hicks, Dan Scavino, Nick Luna, Bill Barr, Mark Esper, Kayleigh McEnany, Alyssa Farrah, Jared Kushner and (in a mask) Ivanka Trump. #DCProtestpic.twitter.com/QUAQz8KGd0
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the nation’s most prominent black GOP official, tells @politico “If your question is, Should you use tear gas to clear a path so the president can go have a photo opp, the answer is no.”
.@NYGovCuomo: “The protesters themselves have been making a very valid point: wake up America, we’re killing people based on the color of their skin … POTUS wants to make it a reality TV show of God & country. ‘Call out the military & then I go to church & hold up a Bible.'” pic.twitter.com/czmZR2G1QU
.@GovPritzker goes in on Trump: “The man is a racist, a misogynist, a homophobe, a xenophobe. He’s got to go … it’s clear that he doesn’t listen to anyone who tells him the truth … this inflammatory rhetoric is bad for the country … [he] knows no history.” pic.twitter.com/4iVW1gcqbc
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.
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.
The Attorney General is the top law enforcement officer in the country, the leader of an agency meant to protect Americans' constitutional rights.
Barr betrayed that mission by ordering the violent and systematic violation of peaceful protesters' rights. He should resign. https://t.co/aYAdggfClL
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).
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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!”
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!”
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???”
Kellie Chauvin, Through her attorney wife of former Officer Derek Chauvin the former Minneapolis Police Officer charged with murdering #GeorgeFloyd released a statement saying she is devastated by Floyd’s death, sends condolences to his family and is divorcing her husband @wccopic.twitter.com/A5n7bYgdbK
Update: Got her permission with a fuck yeah. The cop pushed her so hard at Barclays & she flung back. She is tiny. Now she’s in the ER after a serious seizure. I’m waiting for updates but have to wait outside because of COVID-19. Please keep my protest sister in your thoughts. pic.twitter.com/MqV0QJ0D8h
CNN’s @OmarJimenez, who was briefly detained during this morning’s Minneapolis protest, says his mother texted him she “feared she would be another mother who lost a black son who died in police custody.” pic.twitter.com/FnkbaeXzaz
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
FLYNN: "And 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." pic.twitter.com/eQcqH5vrZa
KISLYAK, Dec. 31: "Your proposal that we need to act with cold heads is exactly what is invested in the decision … And I just wanted to telI you that we found that these actions have targeted not only against Russia, but also against the president elect." pic.twitter.com/4lg5Cps5dM
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:
Let’s just take those states in which presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden leads by a big four points, and we have this:
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.
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.
The fire at the MPD’s 3rd Precinct was only at one corner 5 minutes ago. It’s now spread across the entire building. With no firefighters on scene… that building will likely be destroyed tonight. pic.twitter.com/t6p3Yv1KYV
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.
….These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!
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.
“Today, I am signing an Executive Order to protect and uphold the free speech and rights of the American people.” pic.twitter.com/agTIJ2KR6C
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.
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:
But this is false. Twitter is immune from being sued for things that *third parties* say on its website; Twitter is not immune from being sued for things *Twitter* says. This is also true for CNN, which can be sued for its speech, but not its commenters’. https://t.co/yIz9YtTwwx
Moreover, the NYT is permitted to delete your comments as it sees fit—without losing the liability shield that attached to them. If it responds to them, or flags them, it is liable for its own words, but not for the third party's. This is also true of Twitter. (2)
What you are doing here, @tedcruz, is similar to what Hillary Clinton does when she says that the PLCAA prevents gun manufacturers from being sued per se. It does not. It prevents them from being sued for the unapproved actions of third parties. That's Section 230, too. (4/4)
(Also, Cruz says that "Congress did that because they were 'neutral.'" This isn't true. Section 230 applies to National Review as equally as to The Nation. The purveyor does not have to be "neutral"; the question centers on the sort of speech, not its content.)
“It is the policy of the United States…to preserve the vibrant and competitive FREE MARKET that presently exists for the Internet and other interactive computer services, unfettered by Federal or State regulation.”
The attempt to retcon a vague, prefatory desire for a "free market" and "diverse" internet, "unfettered by Federal or State regulation," into a legal mandate that all websites be "neutral" or lose government protection is a silly one, and I suspect that Cruz knows it. (2/2)
A CNN reporter & his production team were arrested this morning in Minneapolis for doing their jobs, despite identifying themselves – a clear violation of their First Amendment rights. The authorities in Minnesota, incl. the Governor, must release the 3 CNN employees immediately.