White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway defended the lawsuit against John Bolton, after the Trump administration claimed the former national security adviser’s upcoming book was “rife with classified information.”
“It’s kind of remarkable to have a book be published while people are still in office,” Conway told reporters at the White House, even though a number of former Trump advisers have already published books about their time working for the president.
The senior adviser mockingly said to the journalists, “It is actually precious and adorable, how pro-John Bolton you all are now. It’s really cute.”
Conway argued Bolton’s book represented a threat to the presidency itself and to national security. “I would just think that it’s very important to the nation’s security, not even the president himself, but for the presidency itself and the nation’s security to make sure the review processes have been completed,” Conway said.
The publisher of Bolton’s book, Simon & Schuster, has said the lawsuit “is nothing more than the latest in a long-running series of efforts by the Administration to quash publication of a book it deems unflattering to the president”.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo made another noteworthy announcement during his coronavirus briefing: he is ending the daily briefings this Friday.
“These daily briefings, while fun, take a lot of time,” the Democratic governor told reporters. “And I’m going to finish the daily briefings on Friday.”
Cuomo has held more than 100 daily briefings since the state’s coronavirus crisis started. The briefings made the New York governor one of the most recognizable faces of the US response to the pandemic.
Cuomo noted that 17 New Yorkers died of coronavirus yesterday, the lowest number since the start of the crisis. Overall, the state has lost more than 24,000 people to the virus.
Cuomo makes Juneteenth a holiday for state employees
New York governor Andrew Cuomo is signing an executive order to make Juneteenth a holiday for state employees, he announced at his daily coronavirus briefing today.
The Democratic governor also said he hoped to introduce legislation to make Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in America, an official state holiday next year.
Cuomo’s announcement comes one day after Virginia governor Ralph Northam announced he would also be proposing legislation to make Juneteenth a state holiday.
The June 19 holiday has attracted more attention this year because of the George Floyd protests and Trump’s initial decision to hold his first campaign rally in more than three months on Juneteenth. The president later decided to delay the rally until June 20.
House Democrats are criticizing Senate Republicans’ police reform bill for not explicitly banning controversial policing practices like chokeholds.
“If they really wanted to get rid of chokeholds, they’d just ban chokeholds,” Democratic congressman Gerry Connolly said in a tweet. “Our bill does it. It’s not that complicated.”
House Democrats’ police reform bill bans both police chokeholds and no-knock warrants, but Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has crticized the legislation as overreaching.
This MSNBC graphic summarizes some of the major differences between the House and Senate bills on police reform:
One of the most substantial differences is that the House bill explictly bans certain policing practices, such as chokeholds and no-knock warrants. The Senate bill, on the other hand, incentivizes police departments to ban such practices through the distribution of federal funds.
Democrats have said the Republican bill, as well as the executive order signed by Trump yesterday, do not go far enough to address officers’ misconduct.
Meanwhile, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has said Democrats are trying to “federalize” policing and has made clear that the House bill has no future in the Senate.
Those arguments foreshadow what a difficult task it will be for the two parties to negotiate on police reform and try to get a bill approved by both chambers.
The Guardian’s Sam Levine provides an update on a controversial voter fraud case in Texas:
Crystal Mason, the Texas woman sentenced to five years in prison for illegally voting even though she didn’t know she was ineligible, is asking a state appeals court to reconsider a March ruling upholding her punishment.
In March, a 3-judge panel for Texas’ 2nd court of appeals unanimously upheld that sentence, writing that whether or not Mason knew she was ineligible to vote was irrelevant to whether she was guilty of a crime.
In a June 1 filing, Mason’s attorneys asked the full court to reconsider the ruling. They argued Mason technically did not vote because her provisional ballot was rejected and that any ambiguity in the law should be seen in her favor. They also noted the March ruling could be used as a basis to prosecute thousands of Texans in upcoming elections.
Federal law requires election officials to offer anyone unsure of their voter eligibility a provisional ballot at the polls. Any voter who casts a ballot in good faith but turns out to be ineligible could be prosecuted under the court’s reasoning, Mason’s lawyers wrote. More than 11,000 provisional ballots have been rejected in Mason’s county since 2014.
Mason’s case has drawn national attention because of the severity of her sentence. Mason cast a provisional ballot in the 2016 presidential election while she was on supervised release, which is like probation, from a federal felony related to inflating tax returns (Texas does not allow people convicted of felonies to vote until they have entirely finished their sentences).
She has always maintained she didn’t know she couldn’t vote and only cast a provisional ballot when poll workers offered her one after they couldn’t find her on the rolls. Election officials never counted her provisional ballot, but in 2018 she was convicted of illegally voting anyway.
The appeals court on Tuesday asked Texas to respond to Mason’s request by June 26.
House minority leader Kevin McCarthy praised senator Tim Scott’s police reform bill, saying the legislation would improve relationships between “hardworking cops” and the communities they serve.
McCarthy has complained that Democratic leaders have blocked Republicans from negotiations over the House police reform bill, but the Democrats already have enough co-sponsors to pass the legislation.
At Senate Republicans’ press conference today, Scott noted there were a number of overlaps between the Senate and House bills. However, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer has already said Scott’s bill does not go far enough to address police misconduct.
Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer sharply criticized Republicans’ police reform bill, but he appeared to leave the door open to debating the measure next week.
Democrats hold 47 seats in the Senate, which would be enough to block the motion to proceed on the legislation if they are unified in opposition to taking up the bill.
Senator Tim Scott said at Senate Republicans’ press conference today, “If we don’t have the votes on a motion to proceed, that means that politics is more important than restoring confidence in communities of color in the institutions of authority.”
Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer is already criticizing Republicans’ police reform bill, saying the legislation does not include meaningful changes to address misconduct.
“We’ve only had the bill for a few hours and are reviewing it,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “But what’s clear is that the Senate Republican proposal on policing does not rise to the moment.”
The New York Democrat said the bill’s “greatest flaw” was that it is “missing real, meaningful accountability for individual officers’ misconduct.” “This bill will need dramatic improvement,” Schumer said.
Democrats have called for banning qualified immunity so that police officers can be held accountable for misconduct in civil court, but Republican senator Tim Scott described that proposal as a “poison pill.”
Senator Tim Scott noted there were overlaps between his police reform bill and House Democrats’ bill, particularly on issues like the duty to intervene and police chokeholds.
“The legislation is already bipartisan,” the Republican senator said of his bill. “The question is, can we get bipartisan support?”
Scott added moments later, “If we don’t have the votes on a motion to proceed, that means that politics is more important than restoring confidence in communities of color in the institutions of authority.”
A reporter noted Republicans have not been using the word “systemic racism” to describe the problem with policing, as many Democrats have. She asked if that would impede negotiations between the two parties.
Scott, the only black Republican in the senator, emphasized the two bills shared many similarities and added, “We’re not a racist county. We deal with racism because there’s racism in the country.”
Senator Tim Scott took several reporters’ questions about his police reform bill. Asked if he was worried about the effort losing momentum if it is not passed next week, Scott said, “I don’t think the nation is going to allow us to lose the momentum.”
The Republican senator added he hoped Trump would support the bill as well. “I hope the president will join forces and jump on board,” Scott said.
Scott noted Trump was “the most presidential I’ve seen him” yesterday, as he met with families who had lost loved ones to police brutality.
Republican congressman Pete Stauber, a former police officer, will lead the effort on the House side to get senator Tim Scott’s police reform bill passed.
While introducing Stauber at the press conference, Scott noted Stauber had been shot in the head on the job in 1995.
Stauber said he was “devastated” by the video of George Floyd’s last moments, which showed a white police officer kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
“What I saw in that video goes against everything I stood for as a police officer,” Stauber said. “George Floyd’s life mattered. And the best way to honor his memory is by enacting meaningful and lasting change within policing.”
Republican senator Shelley Moore Capito said Tim Scott’s police reform bill represented an opportunity to be “pro-civil rights and pro-law enforcement.”
One of their Republican colleagues, Ben Sasse, added that the legislation would “restore and build more public trust” between law enforcement and communities of color.
Sasse also said the bill was an opportunity to use technology to address the issue of police brutality, noting officers are already being held more accountable thanks to cell phones.
Senate to vote on police reform bill next week, McConnell confirms
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has confirmed the chamber will vote on senator Tim Scott’s police reform bill next week.
The House will also vote on Democrats’ police reform bill next week, but McConnell has said that bill is a non-starter in the Senate.
“We’re serious about making a law here,” McConnell said. “This is about coming together and getting an outcome.”
There are some similarities between the two police reform bills, but the House bill is much more sweeping than the Senate version.
Senate Republicans unveil police reform bill
Senate Republicans are holding a press conference to unveil their police reform bill in response to the police killing of George Floyd.
Senator Tim Scott, who led the group who crafted the bill, said Americans are too often asked to choose between supporting the police and supporting communities of color.
“This is a false, binary choice,” Scott said. “If you support America, you support restroring the confidence that communities of color have in instiutions of authority.”
Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate, later added, “We believe that the overwhelming number of officers in this nation are good people.”
A one-page summary distributed to reporters showed the bill would call for reporting use of force and no-knock warrants, de-escalation training and incentivizing chokehold bans.
This is Joan Greve in Washington, taking over for Martin Belam.
A Tulsa judge has denied a request to block the Trump campaign from holding a campaign rally this Friday, despite concerns that the large indoor event could intensify the spread of coronavirus.
Some of Tulsa’s residents and businessowners had asked Judge Rebecca Nightingale to intervene in order “to protect against a substantial, imminent, and deadly risk to the community,” but she declined to do so.
Many Democratic lawmakers and public health experts have expressed concern about holding the rally in the 19,000-seat BOK Center, but the Trump campaign appears determined to move forward.
Even Tulsa’s Republican mayor has expressed some concerns about the rally. “Do I share anxiety about having a full house at the BOK Center? Of course,” mayor GT Bynum said in a statement last night.
“As someone who is cautious by nature, I don’t like to be the first to try anything. I would have loved some other city to have proven the safety of such an event already.”
In England, soccer is re-starting today, playing in front of empty stands due to coronavirus restrictions. Some teams are filling the grounds with cardboard cut-outs of fans and celebrities so it doesn’t look so bleak.
Donald Trump is expected to feature in the crowd at a match due to be played in Cheltenham on Monday night – possibly the only match he’ll be seen at for some time since he has said he will no longer watch domestic matches after US Soccer repealed rule requiring players to stand for anthem. Shaquille O’Neal is also among those whose presence will be felt in the crowds in England.
Players in the country’s top division, the Premier League, will have their names on their shirts replaced with the slogan Black Lives Matter for one round of games. London-based side Tottenham Hotspur just posted a picture of their squad taking the knee before the re-opening matches.