The Hill's Morning Report - Trump wants executive order on policing; silent on pending bills

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Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday 110,514. Tuesday, 111,007. Wednesday, 112,006. Thursday, 112,924. Friday, 113,820.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpKimberly Guilfoyle reports being asymptomatic and 'feeling really pretty good' after COVID-19 diagnosis Biden says he will rejoin WHO on his first day in office Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad MORE on Thursday told a Dallas audience that he supports America’s police and the National Guard and has no regrets about battling protesters who acted with outrage following George Floyd’s killing in May.

The president, who has declared himself the “law and order president,” praised the use of tear gas and other displays of force to disperse Minneapolis protesters, calling it a “beautiful scene” and describing the Guard’s actions “like a knife cutting butter” (The Washington Post).

Trump’s event at a conservative, evangelical and predominantly white church in Texas took place as the White House weighs proposals floated in Washington and around the country in response to the killing of a handcuffed African American man by a white police officer — one of more than 1,000 such killings by police during the last year.

“If you’re going to have to really do a job, if somebody’s really bad, you’re going to have to do it with real strength, real power,” Trump said. “I said we have to dominate the streets, and I was criticized for that statement. … Well, guess what, you know who dominated the streets? People who you don’t want to dominate the streets."

Trump, who has not commented on legislative proposals that would require policing reforms, said his administration is “working to finalize” an executive order that would “encourage” rather than require police departments “to meet the highest standards” for the use of force by police officers, including de-escalation of conflicts.

“We’ll take care of our police. We’re not defunding police. If anything, we’re going the other route. We’re making sure our police are well-trained, perfectly trained, they have the best equipment,” he added.

The president, whose supporters are overwhelmingly older, white and male, according to polling since 2016, did not mention Floyd or the nation’s latest upheaval over race and unequal justice. “We’ll make no progress and heal no wounds by falsely labeling tens of millions of decent Americans as racist or bigots,” he said.

The Wall Street Journal: Trump conferred with GOP lawmakers about proposed legislation and is considering presidential action that would not go through Congress and could be reversed later.

The Hill: Trump policing executive order: “Force with compassion.”

The Hill: Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottTim Scott says he's talking with House Democrats about reviving police reform bill Public unites, Congress gridlocks — there's a better way Trump sealed his own fate MORE (R-S.C.), the only African American senator within the GOP conference, says he and others will introduce a police reform bill next week.

“This is an issue whose time has come,” Scott said Thursday on NBC’s “Today” show. The legislation he supports does not go as far as a House Democratic version, but it includes many similar provisions (The Associated Press). 

According to a draft circulated earlier this week, Scott’s measure would increase funding for police body cameras. His approach would also punish police departments by withdrawing federal grants in instances in which police use force that causes death or serious injury (The Hill).

The Hill: House Republicans hopeful about bipartisan path forward on police reform legislation.

Late on Thursday, Trump appealed to his political base by saying Democrats want to do away with police and Americans’ guns, assertions Democratic officials and candidates repeatedly deny. 

 

 

Elsewhere, debates about race, partisanship and the use of the military to quell demonstrations continued on Thursday.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley discussed with confidantes whether he should resign over his much-criticized stroll with the president while in camouflage combat fatigues for a staged photo-op in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church during protests following Floyd’s killing (NBC News).

Milley became so fired up in the Oval Office while explaining his view that using active duty troops to clear protesters was dangerous that he shook his fists to emphasize his points, according to three defense officials familiar with the meeting, according to NBC.

On Thursday during a prepared speech, Milley apologized for his actions, calling his walk with Trump a “mistake” because it cast a partisan light on the U.S. military. “I should not have been there,” he said at a National Defense University commencement ceremony.

Milley’s comments followed those of Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Key impeachment witness retires | Duckworth presses for information | Subpanel advances defense measure | Democrats press for end to military transgender ban 116 House Democrats push for end to transgender military ban following Supreme Court ruling Vindman, key impeachment witness, to retire from Army MORE, who last week initially broke with Trump in public to say he opposed the idea of invoking the Insurrection Act, which would allow the president to use the military for domestic law enforcement (The Hill). Esper, who also walked alongside Trump to St. John’s and was harshly criticized by retired U.S. military leaders for his decision, triggered new frictions with the commander-in-chief, who has mused among aides about firing Esper (The Wall Street Journal). 

The Hill: Esper on Thursday ordered a formal review of National Guard issues tied to the recent protests, seeking an internal report by July 30 about the use of the Guard to quell civil unrest, including a look at training, equipping, organizing, manning, deployment and employment of Guard forces.

The Hill: GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op.

On Wall Street, the markets erased the gains made in recent weeks amid concerns of rising cases of the coronavirus in multiple states and after comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinWhy Trump can't make up his mind on China Five takeaways from PPP loan data On The Money: Trump administration releases PPP loan data | Congress gears up for battle over expiring unemployment benefits | McConnell opens door to direct payments in next coronavirus bill MORE indicating that another stimulus injection will be needed to keep the economy afloat. 

The Dow Jones fell nearly 7 percent, while the S&P 500 dropped almost 7 percent less than a week after optimism spread across the markets following a positive jobs report. However, the jobs news turned sour on Thursday as the Labor Department reported that an additional 1.5 million Americans filed unemployment claims (The Hill). Compounding the bad news, additional 700,000 self-employed workers filed Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims (The New York Times).

CNBC: Dow futures rise 200 points as Wall Street tries to recover from its worst day since March.

However, Mnuchin insisted that despite spikes of COVID-19 in multiple states and the total number of confirmed cases eclipsing 2 million, another economic shutdown is off the table (CNN).

"We can't shut down the economy again. I think we've learned that if you shut down the economy, you're going to create more damage, and not just economic damage, but there are other areas," Mnuchin told CNBC, labeling the president’s initial decision to shut down the economy "very prudent,” adding "we've learned a lot" since then.

 



LEADING THE DAY

CORONAVIRUS: As the coronavirus surges across nearly two dozen states, most governors have no plans for new responses in the face of waves of contagion. There's no interest in bringing back stay-at-home orders, although some governors have used warnings about possible new restrictions as a way to encourage social distancing and compliance. Even the governors who have detailed metrics for reopening have shown little appetite to plan for worsening COVID-19 conditions. Public health experts say there are less drastic responses than reviving lockdowns, including aggressive contact tracing and targeted isolation of those in contact with the coronavirus. The worry, however, is that time could be short (The Hill).

Reuters: One month into reopening, and there’s no clarity about the pandemic or the U.S. economy.

The Associated Press analysis: In 21 states, numbers of coronavirus infections are rising.

“It is a disaster that spreads,” said Jay Butler, who oversees coronavirus response work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “It’s not like there’s an entire continental seismic shift and everyone feels the shaking all at once.

NBC News: Data mapped from 15 million phones shows exactly where Americans are on the move, and in some cases returning to habits of nearness akin to pre-COVID-19 levels. Public health officials emphasize that social distancing remains a key deterrent to averting infection.

> Lung transplant: A Chicago patient in her 20s who was otherwise healthy but watched COVID-19 destroy her lungs last week received a double-lung transplant, believed to be the first such procedure in the United States tied to the coronavirus. She survived the 10-hour procedure and is recovering. “She’s awake, she’s smiling, she FaceTimed with her family,” her surgeon, Ankit Bharat, said on Thursday. The patient, weakened and on a ventilator, has a long way to go. 

> Potential vaccines: In July, the first experimental COVID-19 vaccine in the United States is on track to be used in a huge study to prove if it can fend off the coronavirus, while hard-hit Brazil is testing a different vaccine candidate from China. Where to conduct crucial, late-stage human trials and how many volunteers are needed are significant decisions for health officials (The Associated Press). 

Trump on Thursday tweeted his optimism about a cure for the coronavirus: “We will…soon have a Vaccine & Therapeutics/Cure. That’s my opinion. WATCH!”

> More research: Researchers have begun a rigorous human trial to find out if plasma from COVID-19 patients who survive and develop antibodies can prevent infection and disease in people in the early hours of suspected exposure to the coronavirus. Studies of survivor plasma used to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients who are seriously ill has been inconclusive (The Associated Press). 

> Fraudulent products: The Environmental Protection Agency ordered Amazon and eBay to stop shipping at least 70 unproven and in some cases dangerous products marketed as effective for treating COVID-19 (Bloomberg News). 

> Education: Amid the pandemic, scores of U.S. Catholic schools are facing closure. Most are elementary-level schools, but the growing list also includes distinguished private high schools, and the effects are being felt in inner cities among minority students. This year’s closures will reduce the number of Catholic K-12 schools in the United States to about 6,000, down from more than 11,000 in 1970, according to the National Catholic Educational Association. Overall enrollment has plummeted from more than 5 million in the 1960s to about 1.7 million now (The Associated Press).

> State watch: In Arizona, COVID-19 is spreading to the point that the state is running out of hospital capacity (The Daily Beast). In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced indoor dining at restaurants can resume today with restrictions (WTOP). In the nation’s capital, contact tracing is ramping up, but progress against COVID-19 is not enough to move to phase two of reopening, according to District officials (WTOP). In Virginia, day care centers in the northern part of the state closest to Washington, D.C., are reopening today, accompanied by a long list of coronavirus precautions (WTOP). 

 



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

POLITICS: Biden appeared in Philadelphia on Thursday and released his plan to reopen the country after large parts were shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with some areas only just opening this week.

Biden argued that he is better set to help businesses that have been decimated by the outbreak without needing to take unnecessary health risks (The Associated Press). Among other items, the former VP vowed to ensure paid sick leave for workers, and to provide necessary COVID-19 tests and personal protective equipment for employees.

“Trump has basically had a one-point plan: open businesses,” Biden said at an event. “It does nothing to keep workers safe, to keep businesses able to stay open, and secondly it does very little to increase consumer confidence.”

Biden’s event was his latest foray into holding public events. Since he made his first public appearance on Memorial Day, the former vice president has only held events within driving distance of his home in Delaware, including multiple events in Philadelphia. On Wednesday, the president announced plans to rally supporters in Tulsa, Okla., on June 19 — a step Biden has yet to take. 

On Thursday, the Trump campaign sent a press release announcing the event, which included a disclaimer freeing the campaign of liability if anyone present contracts the coronavirus (The Hill).  

"By clicking register below, you are acknowledging that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present," the statement reads. "By attending the Rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; BOK Center; ASM Global; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors, or volunteers liable for any illness or injury."

Niall Stanage: The Memo: Trump's Tulsa decision sparks new race controversy. 

Katie Glueck & Matt Flegenheimer, The New York Times: Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says he will rejoin WHO on his first day in office Tammy Duckworth is the epitome of the American Dream Mexico's president uses US visit to tout ties with Trump MORE, emissary of grief.

> Convention: The Republican National Committee’s Executive Committee voted on Wednesday evening to adopt the 2016 GOP platform through 2024, setting off complaints from many corners of the party.

According to The New York Times, the platform includes a number of outdated references from when former President Obama was in office. Among those include a censure of the “current” president for creating “a social and cultural revolution” and a “huge increase in the national debt.” 

“The survival of the internet as we know it is at risk,” the platform says. “Its gravest peril originates in the White House, the current occupant of which has launched a campaign, both at home and internationally, to subjugate it to agents of government.”

Meanwhile, the decision over the platform also infuriated social conservatives and gay Republicans alike, according to Politico’s Gabby Orr, as it maintains in writing the party’s opposition to same-sex marriage and veiled support for gay conversion therapy. 

The platform move occurred after the GOP decided to move the convention speeches and other high profile events to Jacksonville, Fla., from Charlotte, N.C., after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) could not promise a convention without social distancing and public health measures because of the virus. Some party business will still be conducting in Charlotte to uphold the RNC’s end of the contract. The RNC officially announced the move to Jacksonville late Thursday night (NBC News). 

Reuters: Amid protests, Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisDemocrats awash with cash in battle for Senate Tammy Duckworth hits back at Tucker Carlson: 'Walk a mile in my legs' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump wants schools to reopen, challenged on 'harmless' COVID-19 remark MORE (D-Calif.) emerges as top contender for Biden's VP slot.

> Wooing voters: Senate Democrats are warning Biden against releasing a list of potential Supreme Court picks as part of his campaign as he faces calls from activists on both the right and left to follow Trump’s decision four years ago. The courts are becoming increasingly important to Democratic voters but senators say it would be a misstep to emulate Trump (The Hill).

> Unions: The labor movement is struggling to deal with police unions during the national uprising about police brutality and racial justice. Big Labor has long supported the Democratic Party, as has the African American community (The Hill). 

More politics: Following yesterday’s roundtable in Dallas, the president attended a fundraiser that netted his reelection efforts more than $10 million as he resumes in-person campaigning (The Associated Press). Meanwhile, Biden’s campaign held a virtual fundraiser on Thursday, featuring 600 individuals who gave at least $2,800 and were treated to appearances by Barbra StreisandBarbara (Barbra) Joan StreisandGeorge Floyd's 6-year-old daughter becomes Disney stockholder thanks to Barbra Streisand Former Obama Ebola czar Ron Klain says White House's bad decisions have put US behind many other nations on COVID-19; Fears of virus reemergence intensify The Hill's Morning Report - Trump wants executive order on policing; silent on pending bills MORE, John Legend and Jennifer Hudson (Deadline).

*** 

CONGRESS: A battle continued on Thursday between the White House and Congress over military bases named for Confederate officers. 

The Senate Armed Services Committee moved ahead on Thursday and approved an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would require the Pentagon to rename bases and other military assets bearing the names of Confederate leaders in the next three years. The move was notable as the president tweeted only hours earlier urging GOP lawmakers not to “fall for” changing the names (The Hill). 

“Seriously failed presidential candidate, Senator Elizabeth ‘Pocahontas’ Warren, just introduced an Amendment on the renaming of many of our legendary Military Bases from which we trained to WIN two World Wars,” Trump said. “Hopefully our great Republican Senators won’t fall for this!”

The Hill’s Rebecca Kheel reports that the House also appears likely to sign off on a related amendment when it considers its version of the annual defense bill, making it more likely that the bill including the name change will make its way to the president’s desk. On Wednesday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that Trump would veto the $740 billion bill that includes a pay raise for troops, new military hardware and other administration priorities if it includes the change. 

The Hill: Senate advances public lands bill in late-night vote. 

The Hill: Black lawmakers unveil a bill to remove Confederate statues from the Capitol.  

> Shutdown chatter: Republican senators are reviving talks about legislation to prevent a federal government shutdown. Any late-September partisan brawl over funding the government between Trump and Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSupreme Court expands religious rights with trio of rulings Congress must act now to fix a Social Security COVID-19 glitch and expand, not cut, benefits Democrats see victory in Trump culture war MORE (D-Calif.) is a potential disaster, some Republicans fear (The Hill). 

> Finally, some good news: In an encouraging development, former Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidMcConnell warns Democrats not to change filibuster rule Filibuster reform gains steam with Democrats The Hill's Morning Report - Trump wants executive order on policing; silent on pending bills MORE (D-Nev.) announced Thursday that he is in “complete remission” and is cancer free after a bout with pancreatic cancer in the past two years. 

Reid told The Washington Post’s Paul Kane that the news comes after he underwent experimental treatment and now feels “alive” after the latest development. In recent months, including prior to the Nevada caucus, Reid was largely confined to a wheelchair and needed aid in getting around. 

“I wasn’t willing to acknowledge that I was about to get hit by the Grim Reaper,” Reid said. “There’s no comparison to how I feel — I feel good. I’m alive.”

Reid, 80, has been undergoing therapy workouts four times a week and takes 20-minute cane-aided walks around his neighborhood. Notably, his hair is reportedly starting to grow back.

 



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

OPINION

We have a lot of work to do as a nation — and it starts with uniting, by Gen. (Ret.) Keith B. Alexander, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3cW1B3t 

What would curb police brutality? Take-charge police chiefs and officers, by Mike Rustigan, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3fhQ540

WHERE AND WHEN

The House will meet Monday for a pro forma session at 3 p.m. 

The Senate will reconvene on Monday at 3 p.m.

The president is at his home in Bedminster, N.J., where he has no events on his public schedule. On Saturday, Trump will be in upstate New York to deliver the commencement address to the graduating cadets at the West Point Military Academy. On Sunday, the president will celebrate his 74th birthday. 

The vice president flies to Pittsburgh this morning to participate at 11:30 a.m. in a listening session with faith and community leaders at Covenant Church. Pence will have lunch at 12:45 p.m. at a local eatery. In the afternoon, he plans to tour Oberg Industries and talk to employees there before returning to Washington.  

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ELSEWHERE

U.S. and nuclear: The United States announced Thursday it would allow international  development funds to be spent on nuclear projects, lifting a longtime prohibition on tapping anti-poverty appropriations for such a purpose (The Hill).

➔ International: The European Union (EU) called on its member countries to begin lifting travel restrictions beginning next week to allow travel throughout the 27-nation bloc. The governing body argued that the closures instituted in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus were ineffective, with the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, calling for the travel to resume by the end of the month. It wants Europe’s ID check-free travel area to be up and running again by the end of June and for nonessential travel to Europe from elsewhere to occur later (The Associated Press). 

 

 

➔ Musical rebrand: Lady Antebellum, the Grammy-winning country group, announced Thursday that it has changed its name to Lady A, citing the protests of recent weeks. The term “Antebellum” commonly refers to the pre-Civil War period before slavery was abolished. The musical troika said in a statement that they chose the name originally as a reminder of their Southern musical style and did not take into account the word’s history, deciding to move forward by their oft-used nickname (The Associated Press).

THE CLOSER

And finally …   Count up those Morning Report Quiz Winners! In a ripped-from-the-headlines tradition, savvy readers made quick work of this week’s puzzle about measurements of change reported since Sunday. 

We applaud the many victors: Gary Kalian, Patrick Kavanagh, Phil Kirstein, Stephen M. DeLuca, Ki Harvey, Daniel Bachhuber, Christopher W. Rogers, Tom Werkema, Patricia Swank, John Gill, Charlie Seymour Jr., Mary Anne McEnery, Mike Axelrod, Candi Cee, Henry Friedman, Craig Comins, Jeff Gelski, Larry Hart, Mike Roberts, Pattie Kelly, Sue Dichter, Mike Callaway, Michael Palermo and John Hayden. 

More winners: Doug Rinehart, Jack Barshay, Ludwig Kuttner, Gary Breakfield, Cynthia Whittlesey, Sammy A. Rahim, Edwin F. Hodder Jr., Chuck Traugott, Margaret Keough, B.J. Ford, Ron Wolfarth, Jon Ortiz, J. Patrick White, Tim Aiken, Marty Trussell, Caroline Fisher, “Peterlepper,” Mary Brule, Ricky Veal, Margaret O. Gainer, Ray Fleming, Peter Stewart, John Ciorciari, Terry Pflaumer, Sandy Walters, Cheryl Gibson, Pam Manges, David Anderson, William Chittam, Robert Nordmeyer, John Donato, Allyson Foster, Steve Hoch, Bob Schneiderman, Enzo De Palma and David Anderson.

They knew that Vice President Pence celebrated his 61st birthday this week.  

Extra security fencing installed at the White House stretched more than 1 mile around the acreage.

Joe Biden was happy to secure more than 1,991 pledged delegates needed to sew up the Democratic presidential nomination.

New Zealand announced on Monday it had 0 active cases of COVID-19 after the last of its coronavirus patients recovered.