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Wake Up To Politics - June 11, 2020

Good Thursday morning. It’s June 11, 2020. 145 days until Election Day. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.

Amid national reckoning on race, Trump remains on the sidelines

As demonstrations over police brutality and systemic racism have roiled the nation, President Donald Trump has remained largely silent on the root causes that protesters and experts say led to George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis.

Asked by a PBS correspondent last week if he had a “plan to address systemic racism,” the president responded by celebrating the state of the nation’s economy, which he said was “the greatest thing that can happen for race relations.”

One of his top aides, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, denied even the existence of such an issue in comments to reporters Wednesday: “I don’t believe there is systemic racism in the U.S.,” he said.

In his own comments on the protests, Trump has repeatedly looked past the issues undergirding them and instead ignited further tensions: from his call for the deployment of active-duty troops, to his threat that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” to his administration’s use of teargas against peaceful demonstrators, to his false claims about a 75-year-old man pushed down by police officers in Buffalo.

America is undergoing a national reckoning over racism. But President Trump has mostly remained on the sidelines.

On Wednesday, as Senate Republicans moved forward with plans to propose a police reform bill, Trump’s focus was elsewhere: on rejecting calls to redesignate military bases named for Confederate generals. “These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage,” he said on Twitter, “and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom.”

When White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany held her daily briefing moments later, she distributed copies of the tweets to the assembled journalists and welcomed questions on the topic. McEnany read from prepared news clippings to hail the soldiers of Fort Bragg, one of the bases in question, and to criticize other politicians’ records on race, from Franklin Roosevelt to Joe Biden.

“Should we then rename the Biden Welcome Center?” she asked.

But when McEnany was asked about the president’s thoughts about “a problem with institutional racism in this country and institutional racism in law enforcement,” she declined to offer a specific answer.

Today, in Dallas, Trump is slated to hold a roundtable to “discuss solutions to historic economic, health, and justice disparities in American communities.” Will he use the event as an opportunity to unveil a plan to address race relations and policing?

According to CNN, “it remains unclear.” The network reported that the White House is weighing an executive order on police reform, but it is unknown if “he’ll have made a decision” by the time of his arrival in Dallas.

Politico reported on a similar dynamic, adding that the White House is “rushing to figure out something to say on police reform” before the president’s trip. According to Politico, the executive order under consideration could include provisions such as “the establishment of a reporting system for police who misbehave, a program to train police on best practices, the potential conditioning of federal funding on the certification of police forces, and language that would limit or eliminate the chokehold.”

However, the report cautioned: “The order is in flux and, of course, is subject to change, like everything in this White House.”

The Rundown

CORONAVIRUS: “The U.S. has reached another dire landmark in its fight against COVID-19, surpassing 2 million confirmed cases on Wednesday. New coronavirus infections are rising in at least 20 states, even as restrictions on daily life continue to ease across the country.”

“More than 112,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. — the most fatalities reported by any nation, according to a tracker from Johns Hopkins University. And most experts believe those numbers underestimate the true toll.”

“The latest data also reflects the difficulty of quashing the coronavirus. While some early hot spots such as New York state have seen a sustained drop in new cases, COVID-19 hospitalizations have swelled recently in places like Texas, Arizona, Arkansas and California.” (NPR)

2020 CENTRAL: “President Trump will return to the campaign trail on June 19 with a rally in Tulsa, Okla., for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak forced most of the country into quarantine three months ago, a campaign official said Wednesday, as polls show former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. establishing a significant national lead over Mr. Trump and the president’s approval ratings plummeting.”

. . . “Trump campaign officials are unlikely to put into place any social distancing measures for rally attendees, or require them to wear masks, people familiar with the decision-making process said, adding that it would be unnecessary because the state is so far along in its reopening.” (New York Times)

FLYNN CASE: “Michael Flynn committed perjury, and his guilty plea of lying to the FBI should not be dismissed, a court-appointed adviser argued to a federal judge Wednesday, calling the Justice Department’s attempt to undo the conviction corrupt, politically motivated and ‘a gross abuse of prosecutorial power.’”

“In a formal briefing to the judge overseeing Flynn’s case, former New York federal judge John Gleeson said Flynn’s guilt ‘could hardly be more provable’ He issued a sharp rebuke of the Justice Department’s move to abandon the long-running case and called out President Trump for refusing to accept ‘settled foundational norms of prosecutorial independence.’”

“‘The Government has engaged in highly irregular conduct to benefit a political ally of the President,’ Gleeson wrote in an 82-page brief to U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan.” (Washington Post)

Correction: In Wednesday’s newsletter, I misstated the city where Police Chief Jami Resch stepped down this week. The correct city was Portland, Oregon. My apologies for the error and thanks to the readers who pointed it out.


*All times Eastern

President Donald Trump will travel to Dallas, Texas, to participate in a roundtable on “Transition to Greatness: Restoring, Rebuilding, and Renewing” at 3 p.m. and attend a fundraising dinner at 6:30 p.m.

He will then travel to his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he will spend the weekend.

The Senate will convene at 10 a.m. and continue consideration of the Great American Outdoors Act.

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

The Supreme Court justices will meet for their weekly conference.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will hold a roundtable in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on “how to make sure the economic reopening is effective and safe and gets America back to work” at 12:30 p.m.

In the evening, he and his wife Jill Biden will attend a virtual fundraiser.

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