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Wake Up To Politics - June 1, 2020

I’m Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from Wake Up To Politics world headquarters in my bedroom. It’s Monday, June 1, 2020. 155 days until Election Day. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.

A nation in crisis

Protests raged across the United States this weekend as peaceful demonstrations over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer descended overnight into violent unrest.  

More than 17,000 National Guard troops were deployed in 23 states and the District of Columbia in response to the protests, according to the Military Times. At least 40 mayors imposed curfews on their cities, CNN reported, although most were broken.

At least six people have been reported dead amid the widespread violence, in cities such as Louisville, Indianapolis, Detroit, and Minneapolis, according to the Washington Post; more than 4,000 people have been arrested in connection to the demonstrations, per the Associated Press.

Videos posted on social media from at least 75 cities across the nation showed law enforcement officials attempting to quell protests over police brutality by using tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets on activists, journalists, and bystanders, often provoking further tensions, according to the New York Times.

Meanwhile, as the United States was gripped by chaos throughout six straight days of protests, another crisis continued to face the country, with cases and deaths from the coronavirus marching ever upward. Nearly 1.8 million people have now been infected with the virus in the U.S., while more than 104,000 Americans have succumbed to it, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Experts have warned that the mass protests, coming just weeks after large gatherings were discouraged or prohibited, could only worsen the course of the pandemic in the U.S. and increase transmission of the virus.  

The economic anxiety sparked by the coronavirus pandemic hung in the air throughout the recent protests as well, as some of the 40 million newly unemployed Americans took to the streets to demand justice for Floyd and other black men who died in police custody. According to the Wall Street Journal, the protests have also caused new closures and damages for large and small businesses just beginning to reopen after the coronavirus-induced lockdowns.

Like by the police brutality being protested, people of color have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus and its economic implications, dying from the virus and losing their jobs at a higher rate.

As the nation reels, President Donald Trump has mostly remained out of sight, expressing sympathy for Floyd's death on Twitter but also causing further division by condemning protestors and repeatedly threatening military intervention.

Trump was reportedly rushed into the underground bunker on the White House complex Sunday night, as hundreds of protestors gathered outside the president's residence. As in other cities, the protests in D.C. turned volatile as day turned to night, when rioters smashed windows, set fires, and clashed with the Secret Service and local police.

According to NBC News, Trump has so far dismissed advice from allies encouraging him to deliver a primetime address from the Oval Office in an attempt to reassure a country in distress.

Instead, the president has continued to address Americans only by way of social media. In a stream of tweets issued this morning, Trump has mostly focused on the 2020 presidential election, referring to recent polling and attacking his likely opponent as “Sleepy Joe Biden.”

For the second consecutive day, despite a growing list of domestic crises, he has no public events or speeches on his schedule.

The Rundown

VEEPSTAKES: “Real-life events — from the outcry over the killing of black men in Minnesota and Georgia, to a mundane request for boating privileges in Michigan — are crashing into [likley Democratic nominee Joe Biden's] already fraught decision over his No. 2.”

“Multiple VP contenders with backgrounds in law enforcement are being examined in a new light amid the explosive protests after the death of George Floyd, the African-American man who was pinned under an officer’s knee in Minnesota. That incident came after the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery by a white father and son in Georgia, and a bigoted call to police by a white woman while Christian Cooper tried to spot birds in a New York City park. Other contenders have been forced to fend off embarrassing stories that could stall their chances.” (Politico)

--- Related: The latest episode of the Wake Up To Politics Podcast dives into Biden's search for a vice president and the history of selecting a VP, featuring interviews with vice presidential scholar Joel Goldstein and New York Times reporter Astead Herndon.

RACE TO 218: “Vulnerable Democratic incumbents have massively outraised their Republican challengers, national GOP groups have yet to show the ability to make up the fundraising gap, and in several key districts, some of the party’s most coveted recruits have opted not to run. Public opinion polls, meanwhile, indicate a Democratic advantage on the congressional ballot in line with what the party enjoyed in 2018, ahead of their sweeping national gains.”

Multiple nonpartisan forecasters, in fact, have worsened their outlook for House Republicans in recent weeks, arguing that those structural disadvantages, plus national political head winds for Republicans, will limit GOP House gains — and potentially allow for further Democratic pickups.” (Washington Post)

CORONAVIRUS: “Eli Lilly and Company said Monday it has started the first human trial of an antibody therapy designed to treat Covid-19.”

“The first phase of the trial will test whether the therapy is safe and well-tolerated; those results are expected in late June... If the trial ultimately shows the treatment is effective against Covid-19, it could be available by autumn, according to the Indianapolis-based company.” (CNN)


*All times Eastern

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will meet with Attorney General William Barr at 10:30 a.m., host a video teleconference with governors, law enforcement, and national security officials on “keeping American communities safe” at 11 a.m., and have lunch together at 12:30 p.m.

The Senate will convene at 3 p.m. and vote at 5:30 p.m. to confirm John Leonard Badalamenti as a U.S. District Judge for the Middle District of Florida.

The House will meet at 9 a.m. for a brief pro forma session.

The Supreme Court justices will release orders at 9:30 a.m. and opinions at 10 a.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will meet with community leaders in Wilmington, Delaware, in the morning, then hold a virtual roundtable with mayors, and attend virtual fundraisers in the evening.

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