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Wake Up To Politics - June 3, 2020

Good morning. It’s Wednesday, June 3, 2020. 153 days until Election Day. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.

A nation protests

Tens of thousands of Americans joined protests against police brutality Tuesday, the most peaceful night of the eight consecutive days of demonstrations. Although protesters defied rare curfews instituted in many major cities — including Washington, D.C., Atlanta, New York City, and Los Angeles — the U.S. saw only a handful of reports of looting, violence, or clashes with police officers.

For a night, the mayhem that has overtaken American cities for the past week mostly subsided.

The peaceful demonstrators have been urged on by family members of George Floyd, the unarmed black man whose death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer spurred the week of protests. Terrance Floyd, speaking at the site of his brother's death on Monday, said that violence is “not going to bring my brother back at all.”

Acts of civil disobedience did continue Tuesday night; according to the Associated Press, more than 9,000 arrests have been made nationwide at protests since the unrest began in response to Floyd's death.

President Donald Trump has shied away from his plan to mobilize the U.S. military to quell the protests. According to Axios, Trump is “backing off the idea of invoking the Insurrection Act,” after threatening on Monday to use the 1807 law to deploy troops throughout the country to stem the nationwide unrest.

The report said that the president hasn’t ruled out invoking the law, but that he was “pleased” with how protests have been handled in recent days — except for in New York City, which he tweeted was “lost to the looters, thugs, Radical Left, and all others forms of Lowlife & Scum.”

Both Democratic and Republican governors have largely declined to request military help, but in Washington, D.C. — where Trump can unilaterally to decide to send federal authorities — a wide variety of law enforcement agencies have been activated. According to the New York Times, “nearly a dozen federal agencies and components” flooded downtown D.C. on Tuesday night, from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Per CNN, about 1,600 active-duty troops have also been moved to the Washington area, from Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Drum in New York. “Washington, D.C., was the safest place on earth last night!” Trump tweeted Tuesday.

Meanwhile, top Trump allies have condemned his administration's decision to clear peaceful protestors from Lafeyette Park to stage a presidential photo-op. In a series of rare rebukes to the president, a number of Senate Republicans issued statements Tuesday criticizing the use of teargas against protestors so President Trump could walk to St. John's Church.

“There is no right to riot, no right to destroy others’ property and no right to throw rocks at police,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) said. “But there is a fundamental — a constitutional — right to protest, and I’m against clearing out a peaceful protest for a photo-op that treats the word of God as a political prop.”

According to Politico, other GOP critics of the move included Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), James Lankford (R-OK), and Tim Scott (R-SC). However, NBC News found a litany of other GOP senators who avoided answering questions about the action. “I didn't really see it,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said.

Trump administration officials have also sought to distance themselves from the use of force against the protestors. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who joined the president on his walk to St. John's, told NBC that he wasn't aware of the teargas being fired and didn't even know they were headed to the church afterward.

Pentagon officials emphasized to the Daily Beast that “it was the White House, not the Defense Department, that was pushing for active military might in the streets.” They also distanced themselves from the clearing of protesters in Lafayette Square, which was ordered by Attorney General William Barr, according to the Washington Post.

Even one of Trump's own White House aides (anonymously) criticized the teargassing. “I’ve never been more ashamed,” a senior White House official told Axios. “I’m really honestly disgusted. I’m sick to my stomach. And they’re all celebrating it. They’re very very proud of themselves.”

2020 election

Rep. Steve King (R-IA), a nine-term congressman with a history of racist remarks, was defeated by a Republican primary challenger. State Sen. Randy Feenstra (R-IA) easily triumphed over King, 45.7% to 36%, in Tuesday's primary election.

Feenstra had been backed by a number of top state and national Republican figures, who abandoned King and sought to minimize the threat of him losing the seat to Democrat J.D. Scholten in the fall. The state senator is now expected to comfortably dispatch Scholten, who came within three percentage points of unseating King in a deep-red district in 2018.

Since then, King was stripped of his committee assignments and party support last year, after wondering aloud to the New York Times about when terms like “white supremacist ... became offensive.”

“Steve King’s white supremacist rhetoric is totally inconsistent with the Republican Party, and I’m glad Iowa Republicans rejected him at the ballot box,” GOP chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted on Tuesday, bidding a farewell to one of her party's most controversial figures.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Tuesday delivered his first public address in months, excoriating his rival's response to the protests sweeping the nation. “I won't traffic in fear and division. I won't fan the flames of hate,” Biden promised, attempting to strike a contrast with President Trump. “I'll seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued our country, not use them for political gain.”

Speaking in Philadelphia, Biden accused the president of being “more interested in power than in principle” and in “serving the passions of his base than the needs of the people in his care.”

The former vice president also unveiled a new proposal to ban police chokeholds like the one use against George Floyd, while emphasizing other previously released plans, such as the establishment of a national police oversight board, an end to transferring military weapons to police departments, and the creation of a model use of force standard for police officers.

The Republican National Convention will not be held in Charlotte, President Trump announced after sparring with North Carolina's Democratic governor. Trump said on Tuesday that the GOP had been “forced” to relocate their convention after Gov. Roy Cooper (D-NC) said he could not guarantee the event could move forward at full capacity.

“We have been committed to a safe RNC convention in North Carolina and it’s unfortunate they never agreed to scale down and make changes to keep people safe,” Cooper tweeted in response. “Protecting public health and safety during this pandemic is a priority,”

According to the Tennessean, Republicans are eyeing Nashville as a possible new location for their August confab.


*All times Eastern

President Donald Trump will have lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at 1:15 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence will lead a video teleconference with governors on “COVID-19 response and economic revival.”

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany will hold a press briefing at 2 p.m.

The Senate will convene at 10 a.m. and hold cloture and confirmation votes on two nominees: James H. Anderson, to be a Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, and Drew B. Tipton, to be a U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Texas.

The House is not in session.

The Supreme Court is not in session.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has no public events scheduled.

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