Outrage quickly followed Donald Trump‘s comments on George Floyd during a press conference to announce 2.5m new jobs to the US economy in May, saying that he would be “looking down right now” on a great thing happening for our country.
Coronavirus, meanwhile, is still happening, with the World Health Organisation revising its guidance on face-masks and the CDC projecting more than 127,000 deaths by 27 June.
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The Independent’s John T Bennett takes a look at the chaotic week that began with rubber bullets and a photo-op and ended with a bizzaro press conference and a jaunt to Maine.
There were job growth numbers, the repeal of an Obama executive order on marine parks, production of coronavirus swabs, low-flying helicopters, and battles with his current and former staffers like Esper and Mattis.
All the while protesters protested and rioters rioted across the country following the death of George Floyd in police custody.
Take a deep dive into the abyss of news in the week that was.
If you needed any further evidence that the coronavirus lockdowns are over in practice, if not in policy, look no further than today’s White House press conference that continues to be the gift that keeps on giving.
A lot came out of the Rose Garden briefing this morning so it was easy to overlook the seats for reporters that were no longer distanced 6 feet apart to minimize the spread of coronavirus.
“I noticed you’re starting to get much closer together,” Trump said. “Looks much better, I must say.”
White House spokesman Judd Deere told The Associated Press it was for optics, not for a messaging opportunity.
“It looks better,” he said. “I would remind you that those in the (press) pool are tested, everyone is temperature-checked and asked if they have had symptoms.”
White House Correspondents’ Association president Jonathan Karl said the move put reporters’ health at risk, and CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen said on air it was “outrageous”.
Those chairs should have been much farther apart for safety.
Meanwhile, reporters covering protests across the country over the past week appear to be fine. Don’t seem to be any issues there being harmed by police or rioters.
Trump today defended New Orleans QB Drew Brees, saying he shouldn’t have apologized for his take on players kneeling during the national anthem.
The saint of the Saint’s 2010 Superbowl championship lost a little bit of his halo when telling a Yahoo Finance interview that anyone kneeling was “disrespecting the flag”.
“I envision my two grandfathers, who fought for this country during World War II, one in the Army and one in the Marine Corp. Both risking their lives to protect our country and to try to make our country and this world a better place,” Brees said.
He later bent the knee and apologized for his “insensitive” comments that completely missed the mark.
Trump, however, said Brees should have called an audible.
For The Independent’s Polarized series, Chris Riotta speaks to Gavin Kidder, a 24-year-old South Carolina voter who stopped being a Democrat after the 2016 election.
“As it is, the Democratic Party hasn’t learned anything in four years,” Mr Kidder says. “They tried with Hillary, and now they’re trying with Biden. But he’s a weak candidate, and I don’t think he has what it takes to win.”
Read the full story in our weekly series featuring Americans from all 50 states as they share their views on the 2020 elections.
Continuing his deconstruction of some of Obama’s signature accomplishments, Trump on Friday moved to undo the ex-president’s executive order establishing a conversation area off the coast of Maine.
Under the previous administration, fishing was banned in the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts off the New England coast as part of five marine monuments across the US.
Trump told a roundtable with the fishing industry today he was undoing Obama’s executive order.
“We are reopening the Northeast Canyons to commercial fishing. We’re opening it today — we’re undoing his executive order,” he said.
“They took away your livelihoods. It’s ridiculous. They took away your life. We’re giving Main back a big part of its history. A big part of its industry. And we’re giving back its fishing rights to 5,000 square miles. That’s a lot. Boy, that’s a big chunk of water.”
More than 280 former US diplomats and military leaders have denounced Trump’s use of military units to control violence in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing in a letter shared with Foreign Policy on Friday.
Drafted by the president’s former ambassador to Iraq, Douglas Silliman, Obama’s former ambassador to
Lithuania, Deborah McCarthy, and a veteran State Department diplomat, Thomas Countryman, Foreign Policy is reporting the signatories condemned use of helicopters in a low-flying “rotor wash” on protestors in front of the White House.
“Many of us served across the globe, including in war zones, diplomats and military officers working side by side to advance American interests and values,” the letter said.
“We called out violations of human rights and the authoritarian regimes that deployed their military against their own citizens.
“We condemn all criminal acts against persons and property, but cannot agree that responding to these acts is beyond the capabilities of local and state authorities.”
Trump round table in Maine to support commercial fishermen being held currently quickly turned to to reopening the US from coronavirus lockdowns.
“You have a governor who doesn’t know what she’s doing… she’s like a dictator, why isn’t she opening up?” he said of Maine Governor Janet Mills.
“She’s gonna destroy your state. I’m not a fan.”
He also threatened to raise tariffs on European Union cars if tariffs aren’t lowered on US seafood.
President Donald Trump’s inability to unify the nation at a time of grave unrest is testing his uneasy alliance with mainstream Republicans, some emboldened by Gen. James Mattis’ plea for a leader who lives up to the U.S. ideals of a more perfect union.
Murkowski’s remarks reflected the choice Republicans are forced to make about whether, and for how long, to support Trump when his words and actions so often conflict with their values and goals. Trump has responded to violence accompanying some protests following George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis by calling for more “law and order” to “dominate” even peaceful demonstrations. He has been slower and less forceful in addressing racial injustice and questions of police brutality that lie at the heart of the unrest.
Asked whether she can still support Trump, Murkowski replied: “I am struggling with it. I have struggled with it for a long time.”
The nation is on edge, and Election Day looms, with the presidency and control of the House and Senate at stake. Trump has made clear that consequences for what he considers disloyalty can be steep.
Indeed, he promised Thursday to campaign against Murkowski when she is up for reelection in 2022. “Get any candidate ready, good or bad, I don’t care, I’m endorsing,” Trump tweeted.
Most in the GOP aren’t breaking with him. Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana said Mattis’ missive was not discussed Thursday at the GOP’s lunch.
Google said state-backed hackers have targeted the campaigns of both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, although it saw no evidence that the phishing attempts were successful.
The company confirmed the findings after the director of its Threat Analysis Group, Shane Huntley, disclosed the attempts Thursday on Twitter.
Huntley said a Chinese group known as Hurricane Panda targeted Trump campaign staffers while an Iranian outfit known as Charming Kitten had attempted to breach accounts of Biden campaign workers. Such phishing attempts typically involve forged emails with links designed to harvest passwords or infect devices with malware.
The effort targeted personal email accounts of staffers in both campaigns, according to the company statement. A Google spokesman added that “the timeline is recent and that a couple of people were targeted on both campaigns.” He would not say how many.
Google said it sent targeted users “our standard government-backed attack warning” and referred the incidents to federal law enforcement.
Graham Brookie, director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, called the announcement “a major disclosure of potential cyber-enabled influence operations, just as we saw in 2016.”
The Independent’s John T Bennett takes a closer look at Trump’s hawkish language today, calling on governors to “dominate the streets” and put down protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody.
He writes: “Mr Trump used a hastily arranged press conference on a surprisingly positive jobs report to jump from topic to topic, essentially declaring the economy healed after it cratered during the pandemic with a high unemployment rate and predictions of a 20 per cent rate on Friday. But the Labor Department announced the rate dropped to 13.3 per cent from 14.7 last month. But he spoke very little about Mr Floyd or black American’s frustrations with how they feel they are treated by police departments.”
Read the full story.
Showing that it’s not just an industry thing to be so interested in today’s Trump press conference, this story from The independent’s Alex Woodward on the president’s George Floyd comments has become one of this publication’s most popular stories.
Alex writes: Donald Trump has said he hopes George Floyd is “looking down right now” and saying the decline in US unemployment announced on Friday is a “great thing that’s happening for our country”. His remarks follow Thursday’s memorial for Mr Floyd, who was killed by police on Memorial Day after an officer forced his knee on the back of his neck for nearly nine minutes while facing the ground in handcuffs.
Read the full story.
That press conference will go down as one for the ages.
But for CNN viewers they missed the good (2.5 million jobs) the bad (“Ugh, you are something else”) and the ugly (George Floyd “looking down… great day for him”).
The Hill happened to notice that while Fox News, ABC, CBS, and NBC, carried the Rose Garden briefing in full, MSNBC cut away after the first 11 minutes and CNN didn’t air any of it.
Admittedly, it’s a bit of industry naval-gazing to notice the differences in coverage. But for their viewers, they missed one of the all-time head-scratching performances.
Well that was a doozy of a press conference earlier, with an invocation of George Floyd on employment numbers, a talk-to-the-hand brush off to a reporter, a road trip to Maine, baby talk, spinning heads and some fat-shaming (faming?) to boot.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the reaction has been swift.
TL:DR coronavirus edition
- Number of coronavirus deaths in New York state is at its lowest number in weeks
- Covid-19 hospitalisations double across NYC, but recorded no deaths in the city the first day since March
- New cases rising at a rate of more than 100,000 a day over a seven-day average since 21 May, the fastest rate of increase yet
- The CDC projects more than 127,000 coronavirus deaths by 27 June
- Vaccine will be made available before effectiveness confirmed, Dr Fauci says
- The USS Theodore Roosevelt, sidelined by coronavirus, is back operating in the pacific
- The World Health Organisation is saying everyone should wear a mask outdoors
Trump now has more ex-employees speaking out about their loveless unions this week than he has ex-wives.
Ex-chief of staff John Kelly told ex-communications director Anthony Scaramucci that he agreed with ex-secretary of defence Jim Mattis.
“I agree with him,” Mr Kelly said of Mr Mattis’ warning against Trump.
Speaking on SALT Talks, Mr Kelly said Trump would either fire people he didn’t agree with or push them so hard they decide to leave, and that he was the first president who didn’t try to unite people.
“There is a concern, I think an awful big concern, that the partisanship has gotten out of hand, the tribal thing has gotten out of hand,” Mr Kelly said. “He’s quite a man, Jim Mattis, and for him to do that tells you where he is relative to the concern he has for our country.”
Mr Mattis this week called the ordering of police to clear the area around St John’s Church before a Trump photo was an order to “violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens”.
We love it when to exes get together. Now let’s have a round table with Marla Maples and Ivana Trump, please.
The will we or won’t we saga with malaria drug hydroxychloroquine seems to have no end with a new study seemingly coming out daily suggesting we should or shouldn’t keep studying its effects treating coronavirus.
A paper published in medical journal The Lancet, which lead to the halting of global trials, had to be retracted after an investigation found inconsistencies in the paper’s data.
That came after Trump famously took a two-week course in combination with zinc and vitamin D after seemingly positive clinical reports of its effectiveness.
Now scientists in the UK have halted a large trial after initial results show no evidence of benefit.
“This is not a treatment [for Covid-19],” Martin Landray, an Oxford University professor who is co-leading the so-called RECOVERY trial, said.
Can we either just put a ring on it already or move on? It hasn’t been this tumultuous since Ross and Rachel.
Conrad Duncan looks into the latest episode.
As he signed a piece of PPP legislation and drew this hot madness to a close, the president found time for a fresh spat with the redoubtable PBS reporter, who asked him how all of this represented a victory for African Americans as he had claimed, getting a withering response.
After that, Pence was given the stage to blow fresh smoke, followed by Larry Kudlow.
Trump has been joking about buying an RV and driving to New York with Melania in the trailer and also claimed to be in “perfect shape”, despite his physician releasing a report this week reporting that he is still obese.
The president’s tone of triumphalism here has been extraordinary as though the coronavirus were long-since vanquished (with 108,000 Americans dead, it very much isn’t), as he congratulates everyone from Mike Pence to Jared Kushner and the White House task force.
But there are still 20m Americans out of work, whatever he says about this being “the greatest mobilisation since the Second World War”.
This, on George Floyd, is pretty shocking.
The man is talking a mile a minute here, spinning from one subject to the next, but this is probably his most significant statement so far as he pressures state’s to reopen and continue May’s growth.
“You have a horrible hurricane in Florida, Texas, and it’s devastating. And then the hurricane goes away and within two hours everyone’s rebuilding and fixing and cleaning and cutting their grass and I’ve seen it in Texas. I’ve seen it everywhere,” he blathers.
No, me neither.
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