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The Hill’s Morning Report – Protesters’ defiance met with calls to listen

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Wednesday. We get you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver are the daily co-creators, so find us @asimendinger and @alweaver22 on Twitter and recommend the Morning Report to your friends. CLICK HERE to subscribe!

Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 104,383. Tuesday, 105,147. Wednesday, 106,181.

Legions of protesters around the country defied curfews on Tuesday while challenging President Trump’s instructions to U.S. military and other police officials to disperse demonstrators and to restore order. 


Fist-waving crowds who shouted George Floyd’s name and his final words, “I can’t breathe,” shared one message: We will be heard. The reaction from inside the White House, the Pentagon and from police in many cities: Go home or face arrest.


The Associated Press: The nation’s streets were the calmest in days, protests largely peaceful.


Elected leaders searched for ways to respond to the masses of people gathered in city after city who again protested Floyd’s death more than a week ago. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) mulled what more Congress could do to end racial bias and excessive force in policing and to encourage the president to unify a nation in pain. Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, the only black Republican in the House, joined thousands of peaceful demonstrators in Houston and put his video message on Twitter. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), accompanied by her dog and her husband, mingled with the crowd on Tuesday evening near the White House (The Hill).


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) joined many of  his GOP colleagues in saying it is too soon to consider federal legislation to mandate changes to policing techniques. State governments would be better equipped to enact changes on that front, Republicans suggest (The Hill). 


In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said he was outraged by what he called the failure on Monday night of New York City police officers and Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) to halt and arrest hundreds of people who shattered windows and looted Fifth Avenue stores. Tuesday night in New York City was more peaceful. 


Former President George W. Bush, now living in Dallas and moved by the events dominating the news coverage, issued a rare statement since leaving the White House, saying it is “time for us to listen.”


It remains a shocking failure that many African Americans, especially young African American men, are harassed and threatened in their own country,” he said (The Washington Post).


Niall Stanage: The Memo: Nation nears a breaking point.


Trump described himself on Monday as the law and order president, determined to use the military to force protesters into retreat outside the White House and in cities and towns around the country. The president’s approach, which cheers his base of supporters, has not been embraced by Democratic governors. This morning, Trump tweeted that Texas, with a Republican governor, “is in great shape.” He was responding to Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) quote that he would not be inviting the U.S. military into the Lone Star State.


The Hill: Trump stokes backlash with threat to use the military against protesters.


NBC News: Minnesota’s government files a civil rights charge against the Minneapolis Police Department. Gov. Tim Walz (D) says the probe stemming from Floyd’s death is intended to root out “systemic racism that is generations deep.” 


The Washington Post: Attorney General William Barr personally ordered law enforcement to clear protesters from Lafayette Square on Monday before Trump’s walk to St. John’s Episcopal Church. “Get it done,” Barr ordered law enforcement officials on the ground following plans that concluded late on Sunday or early Monday, according to a Justice Department official.


The administration’s approach to Floyd’s death and the protests that followed sparked new interest in the president’s powers to deploy U.S. troops onto the streets of America. He would need to invoke the Insurrection Act. Here are five things to know about the power Trump could wield (The Hill).





POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: After years of frustration, Republicans breathed a sigh of relief on Tuesday night as Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), known best for incendiary statements that have made him persona non grata to much of the party, lost his primary challenge. 


State Sen. Randy Feenstra (R) defeated King — 45.7 percent to 35.9 percent — in the contest of the night after rallying most of the GOP to his side amid fears that the party could lose the seat — and endanger Sen. Joni Ernst’s (R-Iowa) reelection chances — if King were the party’s nominee once again. In the deep red district, King won by only 3 points in 2018.


Since the last cycle, national Republicans tried to push King into political exile after he asked dismissively during an interview with The New York Times when terms such as “white supremacist” became offensive. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) stripped him of his committee assignments, rendering him nearly ineffective in representing his district, according to his opponents (The Hill).


Elsewhere, former Vice President Joe Biden swept all seven Democratic nominating contests, but was still short of officially clinching the nomination and hitting the mark of 1,991 delegates. Biden is poised to eclipse the mark next week when West Virginia and Georgia head to the polls.


The Hill: Republican Yvette Herrell to face Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) in battleground House rematch.


The New York Times: Teresa Leger Fernandez beats Valerie Plame in New Mexico House primary.


> Protest politics: Biden delivered a speech in Philadelphia on Tuesday in which he criticized the president’s handling of the ongoing protests in the aftermath of Floyd’s death, comparing his remarks to those of Dixiecrats in the 1960s. 


Biden also took aim at Trump’s photo-op outside St. John’s Episcopal Church on Monday night, saying he wished “he opened [the Bible] once in a while instead of brandishing it,” adding that the president continues to fan “the flames of hate” with his response to the asphyxiation of a police suspect and the resulting protests.


“Donald Trump has turned this country into a battlefield riven by old resentments and fresh fears,” Biden said. “Is this who we are? Is this who we want to be? Is this what we want to pass on to our children and our grandchildren? Fear, anger, finger pointing, rather than the pursuit of happiness? Incompetence and anxiety, self-absorption, selfishness?” (The New York Times).


The nation is “crying out for leadership,” the former vice president added. Biden is expected to attend Floyd’s funeral in Houston on Tuesday, according to Benjamin Crump, the attorney for the Floyd family (The Hill). 





The dichotomy between Biden’s remarks and the president’s rhetoric is striking, write The Hill’s Jonathan Easley and Amie Parnes. While Trump speaks of law and order and uses military personnel to disperse protesters outside the White House, Biden describes Trump as without empathy and eager to throw gasoline on national crises.


The Hill: Bush administration alums form pro-Biden super PAC.


The Associated Press: Trump tries religious gestures to hike support amid protests.


Jill Lawrence, USA Today: Biden’s vice presidential choice just got simpler. He needs Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) or Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.).


The Hill: Trump says he will move the GOP nominating convention planned for August out of North Carolina, blaming Gov. Roy Cooper (D) in a tweet for his reluctance to commit to a mass event during a pandemic without knowing the trajectory of COVID-19 in his state months from now. MSNBC reported that a Republican National Committee official cautioned that the nuts and bolts convention business may remain in Charlotte, but the nominating portion of the event involving the nominee “will be held in another city.”


U.S. & CORONAVIRUS: The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Brian Miller to be special inspector general for pandemic recovery, overseeing a $500 billion fund controlled by the Treasury Department. The fund, enacted in March, is intended to help airlines, national security firms and major companies that need loans during the coronavirus crisis. Miller (pictured below), who served in the White House Counsel’s Office in this administration and formerly worked as inspector general at the General Services Agency, is seen by some Democrats as lacking the independence required to oversee half a trillion taxpayer dollars. The Senate voted 51-40 to confirm him. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), who faces a difficult election in November, was the only Democrat to support his nomination (Bloomberg News and The Hill).





> Minorities and coronavirus: Here’s how researchers are working toward quantifying the disproportionate impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on minority communities (The Hill). 


> Mass protests & contagion: Demonstrations in the top 25 coronavirus hot spots in the United States mean anticipated new outbreaks of COVID-19, according to public health officials. Failure to wear masks, the use of tear gas, which produces coughing, and the close body-to-body contacts offered new pathways for the coronavirus to move (The Associated Press).


> More coronavirus legislation: The long pause McConnell envisioned this summer before the Senate might take up another large coronavirus recovery bill with Democrats may get pushed even further into the future because of national demonstrations that began last week in Minneapolis and quickly exploded, reports The Hill’s Alexander Bolton. A start to negotiations has stalled and analysts suggest a prolonged period of inaction could prove costly to Americans and the U.S. economy.  


> Federal payouts: Thousands of Americans are still waiting for their first unemployment checks after months of hoping that state benefits systems would clear unprecedented backlogs. State governments are facing increasing pressure to send out benefits while facing their own financial peril as Congress struggles to find common ground on benefits for unemployed workers and falling state revenues (The Hill).  


> Governors’ testimony: On Tuesday, lawmakers heard from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan (D), viewed as a vice presidential contender, Colorado’s Gov. Jared Polis (D) and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), who said they are preparing for a second wave of coronavirus infections. The two Democrats said they’ve been frustrated by the challenge to locate medical supplies (The Hill). Hutchinson, whose testimony was requested by GOP lawmakers, said his state has not had supply chain troubles.


 “A second wave is a real possibility come the fall and winter, which would then dovetail with the onset of the flu season,” Whitmer said as part of prepared remarks to the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. “Beyond the health implications, the economic pain associated with a second wave of COVID-19 would be tremendous should stricter stay home measures need to be considered again to contain the virus.” Live stream video of the virtual hearing is HERE.

The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: and We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!


“I am a black progressive political activist. This is my message for Congress, white allies and the movement,” by Reggie Hubbard of MoveOn, opinion contributor, The Hill.


Trump’s weak attempt to outsource strongman rule to the military, by David Ignatius, columnist, The Washington Post. 


A letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, by James N. Miller, opinion contributor, The Washington Post. 


The House will meet for a pro forma session on Thursday at 10 a.m. The full House is out of session this week. The State Department’s ousted watchdog, Steve Linick, will give a virtual interview today before members and staff of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, according to an aide working on the investigation (The Washington Post). The House Republican Study Committee, with 147 members, will hear today during a luncheon from former U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who will update conservatives about foreign policy issues via Zoom. 


The Senate will convene at 10 a.m. to resume consideration of the nomination of James Anderson to be a deputy under secretary of Defense.


The president will have lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at 1:15 p.m. at the White House.


Vice President Pence will lead a video teleconference on COVID-19  to discuss with governors at 1:30 p.m. responses to the disease its impacts on the U.S. economy. 


The Washington Post hosts a live virtual interview event at 9 a.m. with House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) to discuss “Race in America,” with opinions writer Jonathan Capehart as moderator. Information is HERE.


The Hill’s Coronavirus Report has updates and exclusive video interviews with policymakers emailed each day. Sign up HERE!


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. ET at Rising on YouTube


International: The United Kingdom warned on Tuesday that China risks “strangling” Hong Kong, calling it the “economic jewel in the crown,” if it continues to meddle with the autonomous nature of the former British colony. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that the new Chinese security law imposed on the island is in violation of the “one country, two systems” principle enshrined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration signed in 1984 (Reuters). … In Amsterdam, a peaceful crowd of thousands who turned out on Monday in solidarity with Floyd and shouted, “I can’t breathe,” was “extraordinary,” according to a comment and video posted to social media by Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group (Reuters).


Public lands: Interior Department leaders have said that moving the government’s public lands bureau to a new headquarters out West has helped them recruit more and better qualified candidates, but a deep dive into job postings shows the agency has nearly a year later failed to fill some of its top posts. The relocation of the Bureau of Land Management, announced last July, was meant to bring public servants closer to the lands they manage, leaving just 61 employees in the Washington, D.C. office. The bulk of the agency’s 10,000 employees are already serving across the West, but the relocation would move some 220 D.C.-based positions to a new headquarters in Grand Junction, Colo. while scattering the rest across existing offices. But the latest figures provided to The Hill show that just 68 of the employees slated to move have agreed to do so (The Hill). 


Nazis: The Department of Veterans Affairs announced on Tuesday that it is beginning a process to replace three German prisoner-of-war headstones in national cemeteries that feature swastikas and other Nazi texts and symbols. The headstones are located in Texas and Utah. While the VA is unable to remove the headstones, they will begin discussions about how to replace them with “historically accurate markers” that do not include swastikas and other symbols or text (The Hill).


And finally…  The Sunday comics will lend gentle voice in homage to essential workers and responders during the COVID-19 crisis. 


More than 70 comic strips and panels — ranging from Garry Trudeau’s “Doonesbury” to Jim Toomey’s “Sherman’s Lagoon” and Jeff Keane’s “Family Circus” — will each have six symbols hidden in the artwork on Sunday to honor workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. The symbols include a mask for medical workers and caregivers, a steering wheel for delivery workers, a shopping cart for grocery workers, an apple for teachers, a fork for food service workers and a microscope for medical researchers.


The project was the brainchild of “Baby Blues” co-cartoonist Rick Kirkman, who said he wanted to say “thanks” to people who put their skills to work during a time of great need. He consulted his colleagues, and the idea grew from there. (Video about Kirkman’s “Baby Blues” work with collaborator Jerry Scott HERE.) 


“Every time somebody finds or discovers one of those little symbols in the artwork, to me, I hope that evokes a little bit of gratitude that goes out into the universe,” Kirkman said (The Associated Press).




Tags Andrew Cuomo Bill de Blasio Donald Trump doug jones Elizabeth Warren Jared Polis Joe Biden Joni Ernst Kevin McCarthy Mark Esper Mike Pompeo Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Nikki Haley Steve King Tim Walz Val Demings Will Hurd William Barr

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