The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump, GOP on defense as nationwide protests continue

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Monday. 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, 115,732.


“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”Frederick Douglass, 1886

Americans continued to spill into the streets and protest police brutality and the treatment of black people, headlined by demonstrations in Atlanta after a fatal police shooting of an African American man, as Congress debates potential police reform legislation.


Video of the shooting of Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old who was approached on suspicion of being behind the wheel of a vehicle under the influence on Friday night, prompted a new round of protests in Atlanta and led to a swift response from city officials. Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigned Saturday, while Garrett Rolfe, the officer who killed Brooks, was fired from the police force. Devin Brosnan, the other officer involved in the sobriety stop, was placed on administrative leave (The Hill).


NBC News: Brooks’s death ruled a homicide. He died after police shot him twice in the back, according to the Fulton County, Ga., Medical Examiner’s Office.


“What has become abundantly clear over the last couple of weeks in Atlanta is that while we have a police force full of men and women who work alongside our communities with honor, respect and dignity, there has been a disconnect with what our expectations are and should be, as it relates to interactions with our officers and the communities in which they are entrusted to protect,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) said at a Saturday news conference.


Protesters gathered throughout parts of the city over the weekend, and public figures questioned the two officers’ actions. 


“The question is when the suspect turned to fire the Taser, what should the officer have done?”  Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottFrom HBCUs to Capitol Hill: How Congress can play an important role Democrats unveil bill to reduce police violence against people with mental illness Liberals should embrace Trump's Supreme Court nominee MORE (R-S.C.) told CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Scott added that Brooks’s death “is certainly a far less clear one than the ones that we saw with George Floyd and several other ones.”


CNN: Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonTo end homelessness, follow the science Ben Carson attended indoor fundraiser where attendees didn't wear masks: report Building the Dream: We're in This Together MORE said on Sunday that the circumstances in Atlanta of Brooks’s shooting death by police “were not clear-cut.”


Politically, the escalating situation marks three weeks of tumult since the death of George Floyd and continues to prompt struggles among Republicans to respond to the issue. Lawmakers are expecting Scott and Senate Republicans to release a police reform measure on Wednesday, with members indicating that there could be a bipartisan path forward toward passing a bill. 


“There are approaches that are very similar and somewhat different — at the same time. I think we're going to get to a bill that actually becomes law,” Scott said on “Meet the Press.”


Scott’s legislation is expected to focus on three key issues: Localities reporting information to the Department of Justice regarding situations of “serious bodily injury and death,” de-escalation training tactics, and “drilling into officer misconduct.” However, other issues, including banning chokeholds and barring police officers’ qualified immunity from legal claims, loom large in discussions surrounding any potential bill (The Hill). 


Sunday Talk Shows: Police reform dominates.


The Associated Press: Experts hail swift moves in wake of Atlanta police shooting.


The New York Times: Five experts and organizers discuss how to change policing.


Demonstrations are expected to continue in the nation’s capital later today as protesters will take to Lafayette Square at 6:28 p.m. the two-week anniversary of the administration’s aggressive action to clear the park by using tear gas and pepper spray to allow President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska NYT: Trump had 7 million in debt mostly tied to Chicago project forgiven MORE to walk from the White House to St. John’s Episcopal Church for a photo-op. 


Elsewhere, cities across the country have moved at warp speed to push back on the appropriateness of Confederate symbols as racial tensions run high. A number of monuments honoring Confederate figures have been toppled by protesters or ordered for removal by local leaders in states including Alabama, Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana. 


The actions take place against the backdrop of a raging debate between the White House and Congress and the military over whether to rename military bases and remove Confederate statues from the Capitol (The Hill).


News4Jax: The GOP convention, to take place in Jacksonville, Fla., in August, will occur on the 60th anniversary of Ax Handle Saturday, when teenagers were beaten by white men for trying to desegregate lunch counters in segregated Jacksonville in 1960.


The Hill: “All Black Lives Matter” now appears on a long stretch of Hollywood Boulevard (pictured above).





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CONGRESS: In recent memory, a divided Congress and the hyper partisanship of modern American politics have made big, transformative legislation offering remedies and promises of social change difficult to pull off.


As Congress hunts for a deal on police reforms, gridlock is the fallback, especially in an election year when risks focus minds on Capitol Hill more acutely than rewards.


Senators are already expressing skepticism, pointing to differences among competing proposals circulating in both chambers. Republicans say they will unveil a plan this week and hold a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday focused on police brutality. But some GOP lawmakers also backed Trump’s promise of executive action, which would include recommendations for effective policing, not statutory requirements (The Hill).


House Republicans also are struggling to confront a host of racial issues that are now front and center in the 2020 campaign, The Hill’s Scott Wong reports. They feel pressured to craft a response to nationwide protests, and are divided over whether to rename Army bases named for Confederate military leaders. Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Trump says stimulus deal will happen after election | Holiday spending estimates lowest in four years | Domestic workers saw jobs, hours plummet due to COVID Hoyer lays out ambitious Democratic agenda for 2021, with health care at top CNN won't run pro-Trump ad warning Biden will raise taxes on middle class MORE (D-Calif.) and House Democrats are challenging GOP leaders to support a push to ban all Confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol. So far, House Republicans have resisted those pleas.


The Hill: Police unions face lobbying fights at all levels of government.


Elsewhere in the Senate, Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonCotton mocks NY Times over claim of nonpartisanship, promises to submit op-eds as test Barrett fight puts focus on abortion in 2020 election COVID outbreak threatens GOP's Supreme Court plans MORE (R-Ark.) privately negotiated last week with Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOvernight Defense: Dems want hearing on DOD role on coronavirus vaccine | US and India sign data-sharing pact | American citizen kidnapped in Niger Conservative operatives Wohl, Burkman charged in Ohio over false robocalls Senate Democrats want hearing on Pentagon vaccine effort MORE (D-Mass.) to push through an amendment she favored to remove the names of Confederate generals from military bases. Her idea cleared a committee vote behind closed doors. Cotton, a Trump ally, decided to help a Trump foe in an act that could lead to a showdown with the president over the defense bill. Why? Cotton last week cautioned his GOP colleagues to be more sensitive about optics on race. That triggered speculation that Cotton, who has signaled some ambition for higher office, wants to soften his unyielding image after taking heat for arguing in The New York Times that the Insurrection Act should be used to quell civil unrest by Americans exercising their First Amendment rights (The Hill).


Clarification: Cotton's negotiations to set up a process to rename military installations named after Confederate generals came after Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyBiden retains slight lead over Trump in Arizona: poll Democrats brace for nail-biting finish to Senate battle Trump expressed doubt to donors GOP can hold Senate: report MORE (R-Ariz.) indicated she would support Warren's amendment. Given that the Senate Armed Services Committee is split 14-13 in the GOP's favor, her support would have allowed Warren's amendment pass.




POLITICS: Democratic fears are on the rise over the possibility that Republicans could steal the November election, with voter suppression serving as the main point of concern after contests over the past week were marred by long voting lines and malfunctioning devices. 


In Georgia, voters in urban areas found it difficult to take part in Tuesday’s primary election, with hours-long lines, faulty voting machines and election site workers who were ill-equipped to handle problems served as a preview of coming attractions for the fall. The Hill’s Amie Parnes reports that Democrats are fearful of these issues cropping up in November and proving problematic.


“Yes, this isn’t a theoretical question,” said Eddie Vale, a Democratic strategist, when asked if Democrats should be concerned about voter suppression in the general election. “The [Republican National Committee] spent decades under a consent decree for their work suppressing minority voters and now that it has been lifted Trump and Republicans are openly bragging about being able to go back to work keeping people from voting.”


Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska Jeff Daniels narrates new Biden campaign ad for Michigan MORE recently said that voter suppression is his top worry with less than five months until Election Day. 


“It’s my greatest concern, my single greatest concern,” Biden told “The Daily Show” last week. “This president is going to try and steal the election.”


Meanwhile, consternation is rising among Republicans as one of the party’s long-held states is creating problems. Over the past couple of weeks, the president’s poll numbers have fallen in a number of battleground states, including Texas, where polls have tightened and showed Biden running neck-and-neck with the president despite the state voting for the GOP nominee in every election since 1980. 


As Jonathan Easley reports from Austin, Texas, most GOP operatives still view Trump as the favorite to carry the Lone Star State, but they’re increasingly open to the outside possibility that it could go blue. Of more concern is what could be a smaller margin of victory for the president and the ripple effect that could have on House contests. Five House Republicans are retiring at the end of 2020, with five of those seats rated as toss-ups or leaning Democratic. 


Biden’s campaign says it intends to compete in the state, with the fast-changing demographics shifting Texas from a solid GOP state to one with a purple hue.


Reid Wilson, The Hill: Wins by young progressives start reshaping the establishment.


Politico: “We’re thinking landslide”: Beyond D.C., GOP officials see Trump on glide path to reelection.


The Washington Post: Rep. Denver RigglemanDenver RigglemanSunday shows - Spotlight shifts to positive tests among Pence aides Outgoing Va. Republican: Two-party system is failing Americans Sunday shows preview: Trump, Biden gear up for final sprint to Election Day MORE (R-Va.) ousted in Virginia GOP convention after presiding over same-sex marriage.


> Senate map: Former Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperBiden and Schumer face battles with left if Democrats win big Push to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Democratic super PAC pulls remaining ads from Colorado Senate race MORE (D) may still be the favorite in the Colorado Senate contest this fall, but he’s not making it easy on himself as his bid has become rattled by an ethics investigation that could do major harm to his campaign. 


‘The kerfuffle came into full view in the past week as he found himself on the defensive in two debates with Andrew Romanoff, a progressive primary challenger, as he struggled to explain an ethics commission ruling that found that he had twice violated the state’s ban on public officials accepting gifts as governor. Hickenlooper is the overwhelming favorite in the June 30 primary, but Republicans have pounded him in recent weeks for the ethics tumult, creating headaches ahead of a likely November race against Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerDemocrats brace for nail-biting finish to Senate battle Trump expressed doubt to donors GOP can hold Senate: report The Hill's Campaign Report: 2020 spending wars | Biden looks to clean up oil comments | Debate ratings are in MORE (R-Colo).


“Look, John Hickenlooper just wrote the Republicans’ ad against him twice now,” Romanoff said in Tuesday’s debate. “The truth is that John Hickenlooper represents a threat that we cannot afford” (The Hill).


The Associated Press: GOP candidates balance pros, cons of running with Trump.




U.S. & CORONAVIRUS: Some states begin yet another week in which progress against COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and fatalities falters as business activity expands and Americans flout guidelines to wear masks, stay away from other people as much as possible in enclosed spaces, and disinfect hands and surfaces.


Florida and Texas are examples. Alabama reported a record number of new cases for the fourth day in a row on Sunday. Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Florida all had record numbers of new cases in the past three days, according to a Reuters tally. Many state health officials partly attribute the increase to gatherings over the Memorial Day holiday weekend in late May (Reuters).


As The New York Times reports, “recent data show the rate of new cases has been level in eight states, increasing in 22 states and decreasing in the rest. The increase is not simply because of more widely available testing, the experts said, noting that an especially worrisome development is a rise in hospitalizations in several states.” Deaths from COVID-19 by July 4 are expected to jump from the current 115,732 to between 124,000 and 140,000.


Reuters: Most states with rising hospitalizations and coronavirus case loads are not considering a second shutdown; they face budget shortfalls and double-digit unemployment. Many went ahead with reopenings before meeting government infection rate guidelines for doing so.


Scott Gottlieb and Yuval Levin, The Wall Street Journal: New rules for COVID-19 summer: Be flexible and vigilant.


> New York vs. New York: Infuriated by 25,000 alleged violations of public health requirements tied to COVID-19, Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoRand Paul rips 'leftwing media' for focusing on COVID-19 cases: 'Mortality rates are plummeting' Trump aide accuses CNN's Chris Cuomo of breaking quarantine while COVID-19 positive in heated interview New York surpasses half a million COVID-19 cases MORE (D) threatened on Sunday to reverse New York's phased reopening following a deluge of complaints about breaches, particularly at bars and restaurants in Manhattan and the Hamptons (Axios). “We're not going to go back to that dark place because local government didn't do its job or because some individuals exploited the situation besides the legal violation," the governor said.


A short time later, New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioDe Blasio says New Yorkers should avoid holiday travel: 'It's sad. It's very sad' Video shows NYPD officers using patrol vehicle speakers to share 'Trump 2020' message Median rent in Manhattan falls below ,000 for first time in nearly a decade MORE (D) shot back at Cuomo through his spokeswoman: “These businesses are allowed to be open per the Governor’s guidelines and we don’t believe imprisoning people or taking away their livelihood is the answer” (New York Post). Last week, New York City moved to phase one of reopening, while Long Island has moved to phase two.


> New York: America’s largest city, the epicenter of the U.S. pandemic, has been changed by the coronavirus. For how long? Into what? (The Associated Press). Several hundred thousand city residents left as the pandemic hit, particularly those with wealth and options. Many may not return (The New York Times).


Foreign Policy: The pandemic is transforming urban life. A dozen leading global experts in urban planning, policy, history and health offer predictions about how life in cities will look when the coronavirus risks recede: “Predictions of the death of cities always follow shocks like this one. But urbanization has always been a greater force than infectious disease,” said University of Toronto professor Richard Florida.


> China: The Associated Press: China reported 100 new cases of COVID-19 in Beijing in recent days, tied to a wholesale market, which was quickly closed by the government. … Global stocks fell on the news from China (Bloomberg News).


> Vaccine: Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn denied that political pressure has influenced his agency's coronavirus response. “Under no circumstances will the FDA allow political pressure to affect our decision-making and, importantly, that has not occurred on my watch," he told Politico. Hahn made the statement following reports and expert concerns that the FDA will move too quickly on potential vaccines in order to appease Trump and the White House.




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!


A deal to save Medicaid, the unemployed and state budgets, by Ezekiel Emanuel and Rahm Emanuel, opinion contributors, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/2B7bCNV 


Three mistakes the Trump campaign can fix, by Ramesh Ponnuru, columnist, Bloomberg View. https://bloom.bg/3fpodL8 


Facebook tripled safety and security teams to 35,000 people since 2016


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


The Senate will reconvene at 3 p.m. and resume consideration of the legislative vehicle for the Great American Outdoors Act. 


The president has lunch with Vice President Pence at 12:30 p.m., and will participate in a roundtable discussion on senior citizens at 2:30 p.m. 


The vice president will host a video conference with governors on the response and recovery from the coronavirus. 


Children’s Week 2020, organized by First Focus on Children, plans virtual discussions with lawmakers through June 20 to explore how Washington can better meet children’s needs. Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenDemocratic senators unveil bill to ban discrimination in financial services industry Senate Democrats call for ramped up Capitol coronavirus testing Democratic senators offer bill to make payroll tax deferral optional for federal workers MORE (D-Md.) previewed a lineup on Friday, kicking off a discussion about budget gaps that negatively impact children (HERE). Also participating this week: Reps. Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickLawmakers urge IRS to get stimulus payments to domestic violence survivors Hopes for DC, Puerto Rico statehood rise Florida Democrat introduces bill to recognize Puerto Rico statehood referendum MORE (R-Pa.), Susan WildSusan WildCongress must act to end US military aid to the Philippines Centrist Democrats got their COVID bill, now they want a vote DCCC reserves new ad buys in competitive districts, adds new members to 'Red to Blue' program MORE (D-Pa.), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.), Abby FinkenauerAbby Lea FinkenauerTrump looms over Ernst's tough reelection fight in Iowa Democrats lead in 3 of 4 Iowa House races: poll Centrist Democrats got their COVID bill, now they want a vote MORE (D-Iowa), Rosa DeLauroRosa Luisa DeLauroCongress must repeal tax breaks for the wealthy passed in CARES Act Century of the Woman: The Fight for Equal Pay Female lawmakers, officials call for more women at all levels of government to improve equity MORE (D-Conn.) and Suzan Delbene (D-Wash.). 


The Washington Post plans a live virtual discussion at 1:30 p.m. today with Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Karen BassKaren Ruth BassPorter raises .2 million in third quarter Overnight Defense: Appeals court revives House lawsuit against military funding for border wall | Dems push for limits on transferring military gear to police | Lawmakers ask for IG probe into Pentagon's use of COVID-19 funds Democrats push to limit transfer of military-grade gear to police MORE (D-Calif.) about “Race in America,” including bipartisan legislative efforts to enact policing reforms. Information HERE.


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Books: The Hill’s Niall Stanage writes his latest Memo about a memoir authored by John BoltonJohn BoltonPresident Trump: To know him is to 'No' him Obama highlights Biden's tweet from a year ago warning Trump wasn't ready for pandemic Trump's former Homeland Security adviser on COVID-19: 'We could have saved more lives with a different, faster approach' MORE, Trump’s third national security adviser, who wields strong views, never went anywhere without a yellow legal pad full of notes and, like his predecessors Michael Flynn and H.R. McMaster, was fired (or in D.C. parlance, compelled to resign). The tell-all, titled “The Room Where It Happened,” is already a preorder bestseller and will be released June 23. “I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn’t driven by reelection calculations,” Bolton writes, according to the publisher’s blurbs (The Hill). … Washington Post author Mary Jordan’s “The Art of Her Deal: The Untold Story of Melania TrumpMelania TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: One week from Election Day | Biden looks to expand map | Trump trails narrowly in Florida, Arizona Melania Trump focuses on coronavirus in return to campaign trail Watch live: Melania Trump holds MAGA event MORE,” reports that the first lady used Trump’s election to renegotiate her financial standing in a prenuptial agreement for herself and for the couple’s son, Barron. Melania Trump’s spokeswoman dismissed the book as “fiction” without addressing the details (The New York Times). … Author and former CNN managing editor Mark Whitaker writes for The Washington Post about “the surprising success of serious books about racism.” 





Tech: Police use of facial recognition technology marketed by tech firms may now change because of the Black Lives Matter movement, writes Washington Post tech columnist Geoffrey Fowler. “It’s one of the most powerful surveillance tools ever invented. … It also opens a slippery slope to a world of supercharged policing that’s likely to disproportionately impact people of color through misidentification or just more surveillance of minority communities.” … Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google and Amazon are all moving to expand their reach and influence, and view the global slump and coronavirus pandemic as business opportunities (The New York Times). 


➔ International: Russia today sentenced a former U.S. Marine, Paul Whelan, on charges of espionage to 16 years in prison, under protest from the United States (The Wall Street Journal). Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Dems want hearing on DOD role on coronavirus vaccine | US and India sign data-sharing pact | American citizen kidnapped in Niger McEnany appears on Fox in 'personal capacity' as Trump campaign adviser US signs satellite data-sharing pact with India, warns of Chinese threats MORE is planning to meet this week with Chinese officials in Hawaii, according to reports (The Hill, CNN, Politico). …  Ahead of July 4, the United Kingdom is reviewing its social distancing guideline to keep individuals six feet apart. That date is when the government could be ready to allow bars, restaurants and hair salons to reopen. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the review on Sunday, adding that the U.K.’s progress against the coronavirus has given the government “room to maneuver” on the guideline (Reuters). … AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish multinational company, signed a contract with France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands to supply the region with up to 400 million doses of its potential COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine is still undergoing clinical trials and deliveries would start by the end of the year (Reuters). … French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronChechen leader: Macron's stance on Muhammad cartoons 'forcing people into terrorism' Turkey's Erdoğan calls for boycott of French goods after Macron defends Muhammad cartoons Two students were paid to identify slain French teacher, authorities say MORE says he will not remove statues or “erase” names in history (Reuters).


And finally … One side effect of stay-at-home orders has been the invitation to wildlife to reclaim the quiet greenscapes and wild areas abandoned by humans for months. Bears, usually wary of people, appear bold this spring and early summer after humans (and all the trash and noise they create) vanished indoors for months, according to wildlife experts. Bears explored into the void.


Humans are now crawling out of their coronavirus dens in the United States, and the bears are suddenly being spotted. On Sunday in Washington state, a family found a pair of bears on their front lawn. On Friday, police cars tracked a black bear through a Washington state cemetery. Another loped through a golf course on Thursday (Daily Voice). 


In Pennsylvania, the Upper Chichester Township Police Department last week posted a video of a large bear moving briskly through well-manicured yards and asked citizens to call 911 if it was seen again. The Elk Township Police Department in New Jersey posted a Saturday photo of a black bear thought to be cruising around Gloucester County over several days (NJ.com). 


“At least everyone is keeping socially distant!” police posted on Facebook as they repeated warnings for residents to stay away from the animal.