The Hill's Morning Report - Floyd eulogies begin; Trump-Esper conflict emerges




Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Thursday. 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. Thursday, 107,175.

The national conversation about George Floyd’s death shifted on Wednesday from protests and prosecution to prevention.


There is no shortage of assured commentary about why so many black men are killed by police each year in America. But preventing future deaths through effective policies and reforms is more complicated, judging from approaches advocated in the last 48 hours by President TrumpDonald John TrumpSecret Service members who helped organize Pence Arizona trip test positive for COVID-19: report Trump administration planning pandemic office at the State Department: report Iran releases photo of damaged nuclear fuel production site: report MORE and the administration, his predecessors from both parties, law enforcement experts and current police officials, African American clergy, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden chips away at Trump's fundraising advantage The Memo: Trump grows weak as clock ticks down Nina Turner addresses Biden's search for a running mate MORE, and House and Senate leaders who envision hearings, oversight and perhaps new appropriations.   


The Washington Examiner: Senate Judiciary Committee to hold June 16 hearing on Floyd’s death and police brutality. 


The New York Times: In Minneapolis, police use of force against black people at seven times the rate of whites, according to the city’s own data. 


This afternoon, a private memorial service for Floyd will take place at North Central University in Minneapolis. The Rev. Al Sharpton, who this week urged New York to pass specific legislation at the state level that he said would increase police accountability there, will deliver the eulogy at what will be the first of three memorial events culminating next week with Floyd’s funeral and burial in Houston, where the former bouncer lived for most of his life (Star Tribune).


NBC News: Floyd tested positive for COVID-19 on April 3, medical examiner reports.


Former President Obama, during his first on-camera remarks about the national unrest following Floyd’s death, commended the millions of American and international protesters who have called for change, racial justice and equity in law enforcement. He made no reference to Trump.


The 44th president — who mentioned the White House Task Force on 21st Century Policing he created to deliver recommendations in 2015 — urged every U.S. mayor to review use-of-force policies and to aggressively pursue an eight-point slate of police reforms that includes mandatory de-escalation of conflicts, a ban on shooting at moving vehicles, timely reporting of violent incidents and a ban on some forms of restraint used by the police. Speaking from his home in the nation’s capital during a virtual town hall event, Obama said officials in New York City and Chicago had already agreed to adopt the measures (The New York Times). 


Chokeholds and strangleholds, that’s not what we do,” Obama said.


The Hill: Obama calls for police reforms, doesn't address Trump.


The Washington Post: Attorney General William BarrBill BarrJustice Dept. considering replacing outgoing US attorney in Brooklyn with Barr deputy: report Ousted Manhattan US Attorney Berman to testify before House next week ACLU lawsuit calls on Barr to delay federal execution MORE has sought to subdue D.C. protests by “flooding the zone” with federal firepower. Included: Bureau of Prisons riot specialists who ring the White House dressed in black and displaying no bureau, branch or name (HuffPost and The Washington Post).


Former President Jimmy CarterJimmy CarterThe Memo: Trump grows weak as clock ticks down Jimmy Carter says Israeli annexation would be 'illegal' land grab Trump's mark on federal courts could last decades MORE, in a statement on Wednesday, said, “We need a government as good as its people, and we are better than this. … People of power, privilege, and moral conscience must stand up and say `no more’ to a racially discriminatory police and justice system, immoral economic disparities between whites and blacks, and government actions that undermine our unified democracy.” 


The Washington Post: All four living ex-presidents draw a sharp contrast with Trump on systemic racism.


Charges against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who pinned Floyd’s neck to the ground with his knee for more than eight minutes until the handcuffed 46-year-old stopped breathing, were upgraded on Wednesday to second-degree murder.


Minnesota Attorney General Keith EllisonKeith Maurice EllisonMinnesota lawmakers blast pharmaceutical industry lawsuit over insulin affordability law OVERNIGHT ENERGY: DOJ whistleblower says California emissions probe was 'abuse of authority' | EPA won't defend policy blocking grantees from serving on boards | Minnesota sues Exxon, others over climate change Minnesota sues Exxon, others over climate change MORE (D) also charged Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lanethe other officers who were at the scene of Floyd's death — with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. Chauvin was initially arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter on Friday by the Hennepin County attorney's office (Star Tribune).


The Associated Press: Large protests overnight turn subdued after new charges in Floyd case.


CNN: Relatively peaceful protests without looting in New York City overnight; at least 90 arrests.


NBC15: Community leaders, police, protesters danced the “Cupid Shuffle” in Lincoln, Neb., on Wednesday.


The Wall Street Journal: “Everything is Gone”: In minority neighborhoods, looting strikes a second blow to reeling businesses.


Meanwhile, Trump’s first Defense secretary, James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump insulted UK's May, called Germany's Merkel 'stupid' in calls: report Mattis urges people to wear masks in PSA about 'nasty little virus' Dozens of GOP ex-national security officials to form group to back Biden: report MORE, issued a scathing statement on Wednesday, asserting that Trump “tries to divide us.” 


“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us,” Mattis said. “We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.”


“Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens — much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside,” he continued. 


The retired Marine Corps general, who in 2018 was fired by Trump on Twitter, referenced the president’s Monday evening walk from the White House to St. John’s Episcopal Church a block away, where Trump was photographed holding a Bible after law enforcement and military police deployed chemicals to clear demonstrators from the area (The Hill).


In a series of tweets Wednesday night, Trump slammed Mattis, calling him “the world’s most overrated general.”


Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperDuckworth to block military confirmations until Esper proves Vindman will be promoted House panel votes to limit Trump's Germany withdrawal House panel votes to ban Confederate flag at Pentagon property MORE publicly broke with Trump on Wednesday during remarks to reporters about the potential need to use the Insurrection Act to mobilize the U.S. military to quell demonstrations (The Hill). Esper has come under intense criticism for his participation in the Monday stroll with Trump to the church and for describing areas occupied by protesters as “battlespace.” 


Esper said he was unaware of Trump’s plans at the time and thought the large group of administration officials was walking through Lafayette Square to “review the troops” (The Hill).


Later, after the president’s press secretary would not say whether Trump has confidence in Esper, the secretary reversed an earlier decision to return active-duty troops deployed near Washington, D.C., to their home bases (The Associated Press).


The Associated Press: Handling of street protests creates crisis for Pentagon boss.


CNN: Esper on shaky ground with the White House.





POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: Tuesday’s primary contests put Biden on the brink of the math needed to capture the Democratic presidential nomination. 


More than 400 delegates were at stake in seven states and Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. Biden now has more than 1,910 delegates, according to independent counts. He needs 1,991 delegates to formally clinch the nomination. Tuesday was one of the biggest primary nights since Super Tuesday. On Tuesday, West Virginia and Georgia will hold primary contests and are expected to push the former VP across the finish line, according to The Hill’s politics team. 


The Hill: Fox News polls: Trump trails Biden in Ohio, Arizona and Wisconsin.


The New York Times: Trump campaign looks at electoral map and doesn’t like what it sees.


Meanwhile, Biden’s search for a running mate remains a front-of-mind issue for the campaign, and Rep. Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsLiberal veterans group urges Biden to name Duckworth VP Democrats seize on Florida pandemic response ahead of general election Progressive groups urge Biden to tap Warren as running mate MORE (D-Fla.) has received a considerable amount of buzz as a potential candidate for the position. In an interview Wednesday with The Hill’s Steve Clemons, Demings reacted to the protests playing out across the country, saying the anti-terror equipment in which many police departments invested following the 9/11 attacks was never intended to be used against U.S. citizens. 


“The problem is not so much equipment that we see,” Demings said. “That equipment was never purchased to be used against citizens, the community. The equipment was designed to be used against worse than that — terrorists and terrorist responses.”


Demings, who also noted multiple times that it is Hurricane season in her home state, added a call to reinstall an office of police standards, or law enforcement standards, at the Department of Justice as part of the response to the protests. 


The Washington Post: Biden begins to map out “revolutionary” agenda, reimagining his presidency amid national upheaval.


The Hill: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezHispanic Caucus asks Trump to rescind invitation to Mexican president Nadler wins Democratic primary The Hill's Campaign Report: Colorado, Utah primary results bring upsets, intrigue MORE (D-N.Y.) endorses Rep. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelNY Working Families Party director on the state's primary House postpones testimony from key Pompeo aide about IG firing Yvette Clarke wins NY House primary MORE (D-N.Y.) primary challenger.





> Tech: Snapchat announced on Wednesday it will no longer promote Trump’s account on its Discover page (The New York Times). Snapchat’s decision, based on comments the president made elsewhere, goes further than other social media firms (Axios).  … Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Senate panel advances bill targeting online child sexual abuse | Trump administration awards tech group contract to build 'virtual' wall | Advocacy groups urge Congress to ban facial recognition technologies Facebook to launch Fourth of July voter registration drive Hillicon Valley: Facebook claims it 'does not profit from hate' in open letter | Analysis finds most of Facebook's top advertisers have not joined boycott | Research finds Uighurs targeted by Chinese spyware as part of surveillance campaign MORE continues this week to defend his company’s decision not to fact-check or remove content, including Trump’s, despite objections from company employees that the president’s recent tweet referencing looting and “shooting” incited violence (Bloomberg News and The Hill). … A New York Times review of Trump’s 139 Twitter posts from Sunday, May 24, to Saturday, May 30, found at least 26 contained clearly false claims, including five about mail-in voting that were not among those flagged as misinformation by Twitter, five promoting a false conspiracy theory about TV host Joe ScarboroughCharles (Joe) Joseph ScarboroughThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump lays low as approval hits 18-month low Cheney clashes with Trump Trump dings CNN, 'Morning Joe' ratings as Tucker Carlson sets record MORE and three about Twitter itself. Another 24 were misleading, lacked context or traded in innuendo. Upshot: More than a third of the president’s tweets over the course of one week contained dubious information.


More in Congress: GOP chairmen are carving out their turf in controversial probes stemming from the Obama administration. Senate Republicans are set to escalate their investigations on Thursday as panels will vote on dueling subpoenas that have significant areas of overlap. But Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamHillicon Valley: Senate panel advances bill targeting online child sexual abuse | Trump administration awards tech group contract to build 'virtual' wall | Advocacy groups urge Congress to ban facial recognition technologies Senate panel advances bill targeting online child sexual abuse The Hill's Campaign Report: The political heavyweights in Tuesday's primary fights MORE (R-S.C.) and Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonRepublicans fear backlash over Trump's threatened veto on Confederate names GOP senators debate replacing Columbus Day with Juneteenth as a federal holiday Senate Republicans defend Trump's response on Russian bounties MORE (R-Wis.) — who chair the Senate Judiciary and Homeland Security committees, respectively — say they are trying to avoid a jurisdictional fight as they prepare to do a deep dive into decisions stemming from the Obama era (The Hill). … Steven Linick, the ousted State Department inspector general, told lawmakers on Wednesday that he was investigating Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoIran releases photo of damaged nuclear fuel production site: report To support Hong Kong's freedom, remember America's revolution Senate passes sanctions bill targeting China over Hong Kong law MORE for allegations of misusing government resources and that he had discussed the probe with other State Department officials (The Hill).


U.S. & CORONAVIRUS: Florida now has the largest number of COVID-19 cases it has seen since mid-April (Miami Herald). Why is this a worry? Because public health officials fear the nation could experience another debilitating wave of contagion by the fall, forfeiting opportunities to get ahead of the coronavirus while the nation struggles in the absence of a proven vaccine or effective treatment. … The number of U.S. confirmed cases of COVID-19 is rising in 16 states, partially as a result of more testing (The New York Times).  In the United States, more than 1.85 million cases of the coronavirus have been reported, according to the latest data.


> Vaccine with speed: The administration selected five companies out of a pool of around a dozen firms as the most likely candidates to produce a vaccine for the coronavirus. Eager to show speed and progress, the federal government is betting that it can identify the most promising vaccine projects in preparation for manufacturing (The New York Times). The five companies are Moderna, a Massachusetts-based biotechnology firm; a combination of Oxford University and AstraZeneca; Johnson & Johnson; Merck; and Pfizer. Many scientists consider a goal of having a vaccine for COVID-19 widely available by early next year to be optimistic, if not unrealistic. Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFauci warns new coronavirus mutation may cause virus to spread more easily GOP Arizona lawmaker says Fauci and Birx 'undermine' Trump's coronavirus response Overnight Health Care: Experts fear July 4 weekend will exacerbate coronavirus spread | Texas Gov. Abbott will require masks in most of the state | Fauci warns: 'We are not going in the right direction' MORE, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been sounding more upbeat about the timeline. (A White House event about vaccine development is expected soon.)


> Testosterone and COVID-19: More studies suggest androgens (male hormones such as testosterone) appear to boost COVID-19’s ability to get inside human cells, rendering male patients more at risk of serious illness and death. Researchers are rushing to test already approved drugs that block androgens’ effects, deploying them early in COVID-19 patients in hopes of slowing the virus and buying time for the immune system to beat it back (Science).


> Ineffective treatment: The anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine did not prevent COVID-19 in a study of 821 people who had been exposed to patients infected with the coronavirus, researchers from the University of Minnesota and Canada reported on Wednesday. The trial involving two countries was the first to test whether the drug could prevent illness in people who have been exposed to the pathogen (The New York Times). Trump recently announced he took the drug to prevent infection with COVID-19 after consulting with the White House physician.





> Treasury and CARES Act: The IRS has taken a number of steps to swiftly send direct payments worth up to $1,200 per individual to households as part of federal coronavirus relief enacted by Congress and the president in March. As the Treasury Department and the IRS prepare to complete disbursement of funds, issues continue to arise. Payments recently sent to taxpayers by prepaid debit card have created confusion, and difficulties remain in getting payments to many low-income households that aren’t typically required to file tax returns (The Hill). 

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!


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The House will meet for a pro forma session at 10 a.m. Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMilitary bases should not be renamed, we must move forward in the spirit of reconciliation Pelosi: Trump 'himself is a hoax' Women must continue to persist to rise as political leaders of America MORE (D-Calif.) will hold her weekly press conference at 2 p.m. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyMcCarthy to offer bill withholding funds from states that don't protect statues McCarthy calls on Pelosi to condemn 'mob violence' after toppling of St. Junipero Serra statue The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Stagwell President Mark Penn says Trump is losing on fighting the virus; Fauci says U.S. 'going in the wrong direction' in fight against virus MORE (R-Calif.) will also hold a press conference call at 2 p.m.


The Senate will convene at 10 a.m. to resume consideration of the nomination of Michael Pack to be CEO of the Broadcasting Board of Governors.


The president at 4:30 p.m. in the Oval Office will sign an executive order about government permitting for infrastructure projects. 


Vice President Pence has no public events scheduled.


Economic indicator: The Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. will report nationwide claims last week for unemployment benefits. While the total is expected to have ebbed from previous weeks, the cumulative picture of unemployment in the United States is crushing.


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International: The U.S. government will bar Chinese passenger carriers from flying to this country, the Trump administration announced on Wednesday. The policy change begins on June 16 as the United States pressures Beijing to let American air carriers resume flights (Reuters). … The Trump administration will slap restrictions on more Chinese media outlets (Reuters).


Caribbean islands believe they have no choice but to reopen to tourists beginning this month, particularly hoping that U.S. tourists, who make up the majority of revenue-producing visitors, are willing to travel (Reuters).


● British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Wednesday that nearly 3 million Hong Kong citizens will receive a path to British citizenship as China moves to impose a new security law that could diminish freedoms on the island. Johnson said that he would upgrade the status of British National (Overseas) passports, held by 350,000 people in Hong Kong and for which 2.5 million people are eligible to apply), potentially a significant change in the British immigration system (Telegraph). Early this morning, the Hong Kong legislature passed a bill that bars insulting the Chinese national anthem as Beijing pushes to crackdown on pro-democracy protests on the populous island. Those who violate the legislation face up to three years in prison and fines up to 50,000 Hong Kong dollars (The Associated Press).





LGBTQ Pride: Scaled-back activities during June’s Pride Month are posing a challenge for groups that seek to boost fundraising and voter outreach in the lead-up to November. “We are celebrating Pride Month," Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David said in an interview with MSNBC. "But we have to also remember Pride Month has its roots in the struggle, in protest. … People were stricken at Stonewall. Because of police brutality we now have the LGBTQ civil rights movement," he added (The Hill). 


Sports: The NBA is set to approve a return-to-play plan later today, becoming the first of the major U.S. sports leagues to announce a return date. The league’s plan would bring 22 teams to Orlando and stretch from July 31 to Oct. 12 to determine seeding for the playoffs, with each team playing eight games to get there. Among the teams set to participate are the Washington Wizards as they are within six games back of the eight seed in the Eastern Conference (ESPN). 


And finally… It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by the anniversary of Elvis Presley’s breakout 1956 performance on “The Milton Berle Show,” we’re eager for some smart guesses about The King.


Email your responses to and/or, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.


What was Elvis’s first song to reach number one on the Billboard singles chart?

  1. “Hound Dog”
  2. “Heartbreak Hotel”
  3. “Love Me Tender”
  4. “Blue Suede Shoes”

In 1970, when a reporter referred to him as The King, who did Elvis say was the “real king of rock ‘n roll”?

  1. Fats Domino
  2. Chuck Berry
  3. Buddy Holly
  4. James Brown

In 1976, which famed artist scaled the fence at Graceland one evening, saw a light on at the residence and tried to knock on the front door before security interceded?

  1. Bruce Springsteen
  2. Paul Simon
  3. Mick Jagger
  4. Don Henley

Where did Elvis perform his final concert only months before his death? 

  1. Mid-South Coliseum (Memphis, Tenn.)
  2. Detroit Olympia
  3. Market Square Arena (Indianapolis)
  4. The Forum (Los Angeles)