Arizona governor orders bars, gyms and theaters closed
Today so far
California governor continues rollback of reopening plans
White House doubles down on “Russian bounties” defense
Supreme court strikes down abortion restriction in major victory for campaigners
Florida scientist says state asked her to change data because reopen plan was ‘already made’
Trump retweets video of white couple pointing guns at protesters
Kari Paul here, logging off for the evening. Here is the top news of the hour.
- Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced a bill that would put extend and expand a nationwide moratorium on evictions.
- The House passed the most dramatic expansion of the Affordable Care Act, which is unlikely to move any further but is emblematic of its stance on healthcare access and significant nonetheless.
- Jerome Powell, the new chair of the Federal Reserve, is slated to speak to Congress tomorrow and seems to be poised to ask for more aid money.
- The Arizona governor has ordered bars, gyms and theaters closed as the state deals with a surge in Covid-19 cases following its reopening.
- A bombshell report from CNN outlined how more than a dozen officials close to the president say his classified calls to heads of state to be “abominations” that show Trump poses “a danger to national security of the United States”.
The story, which the Guardian has not independently verified, is based on interviews with more than a dozen staffers with close contact to Trump. More details:
- Trump was “consistently unprepared” for calls, and overpowered easily by other leaders. He knows very little about history or politics and would “almost never” read briefing materials prepared for him by the CIA and NSC staff in advance of his calls with heads of state.
- It’s not getting any better: there was little evidence that the President became more skillful or competent in his telephone conversations with most heads of state over time.
- Ignoring his own advisors, Trump spoke with autocratic leaders frequently. Trump was described as “inordinately solicitous of Putin’s admiration and seemingly seeking his approval”.
- Advisors were particularly concerned about the frequency of the calls with Turkish president Recep Erdogan – in which he pressed Trump for policy concessions and other favors. Erdogan was so easily able to reach Trump that insiders began to worry he had access to the US president’s schedule.
- Trump was particularly disrespectful to female heads of state, including Theresa May and Angela Merkel. His calls with them were called “near-sadistic”. Merkel was reportedly unbothered by Trump’s severe tactics while May reportedly became flustered and upset in response to his bullying.
- One person familiar with “almost all” of Trump’s conversation with major players including Russia, Turkey, Canada, Australia and western Europe described the calls cumulatively as ‘abominations’ and said if members of Congress heard them they would “no longer be able to retain confidence in the President”.
- Trump used calls with other heads of state to advance his own personal agenda. He frequently trashed his predecessors, particularly Barack Obama and George W. Bush. As one source said: “There was no sense…of the United States as an historic force with certain democratic principles and leadership of the free world … The opposite. It was like the United States had disappeared. It was always ‘Just me’.”
Calls that Donald Trump makes to foreign leaders have consistently alarmed US officials, a new report from CNN found.
Hundreds of classified calls with heads of state have gone so poorly that insiders including his former secretaries of state and defense, two national security advisers and his longest-serving chief of staff say Trump poses “a danger to national security of the United States”.
CNN interviewed dozens of officials who have listened to Trump’s calls in real time or have been consistently provided transcripts of the calls during his tenure.
They said Trump is frequently unprepared to discuss or unknowledgeable about serious issues, “abusive to leaders of America’s principal allies”, and “outplayed” in his conversations with powerful leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan.
Two different sources told CNN Trump was “delusional” when talking with foreign leaders. From the report:
The sources said there was little evidence that the President became more skillful or competent in his telephone conversations with most heads of state over time. Rather, he continued to believe that he could either charm, jawbone or bully almost any foreign leader into capitulating to his will, and often pursued goals more attuned to his own agenda than what many of his senior advisers considered the national interest.
The report found Trump most frequently speaks with Erdogan – who calls the White House as often as twice a week and has a direct line to Trump. He reportedly bullied allies including Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom he called “stupid”.
Arizona governor orders bars, gyms and theaters closed
Arizona governor Doug Ducey has rolled back state pandemic reopening processes and ordered bars, nightclubs, gyms, movie theaters and water parks around the state to be closed for at least 30 days starting Monday night.
Following the expiration of Ducey’s stay-at-home orders in mid-May, most bars and nightclubs in Arizona reopened and the number of new cases of Covid-19 began to climb again.
On Sunday, Arizona health officials reported 3,858 more confirmed coronavirus cases – the most reported in a single day in the state so far and the seventh time in the last 10 days that daily cases surpassed the 3,000 mark.
Since the pandemic began, 74,500 cases and 1,588 deaths stemming from the virus have been reported in Arizona.
Ducey also has ordered public schools to delay the start of the classes at least until 17 August. Most school districts had planned to start the school year in late July or early August.
Both orders could be extended if the number of new Covid-19 cases continues to grow.
Jerome Powell, the new chair of the Federal Reserve, is slated to tell Congress tomorrow that the battle with Covid-19 and its economic fallout will be long and hard-fought.
“The path forward for the economy is extraordinarily uncertain and will depend in large part on our success in containing the virus.” He adds: It’s “hard to capture in words” the lives upended.
He said the economy re-opened sooner than expected, leading to a modest recovery in recent weeks. But the push to do so has made the number of recent infections surge.
Powell signaled that more aid money may be needed, though Congress has already committed nearly $3 trillion in aid.
The central bank’s Main Street lending facility – which has yet to be tapped for pandemic relief – may prove valuable “in the months ahead” he said.
On Monday the House passed in a vote of 234-179 the most significant expansion of the Affordable Care Act since its inception in 2010.
The vote for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act was largely symbolic as it is unlikely to pass in the Senate. Even if it did, Donald Trump would immediately veto it, the White House said on Monday.
Still, the move is one Democrats can point to in the midst of a pandemic and an election year to underscore the difference between its approach to health care and that of the Republican party.
The legislation would expand central elements of the the ACA, including eligibility for insurance subsidies to those at higher incomes.
It would also pressure more than a dozen states to expand Medicaid coverage and reverse some of the impact the Trump administration has had on the law in the past four years.
From the Washington Post:
The hours of debate before the vote allowed Democrats to point out, again and again, that the Trump administration is seeking to invalidate the ACA in a lawsuit before the Supreme Court that was initiated by a group of Republican attorneys general who contend the entire law is unconstitutional.
“As lives are shattered by the coronavirus, the protections of the Affordable Care Act are more important now, more than ever,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Noting that both Trump and congressional Republicans promise to preserve the law’s protections for people with preexisting medical conditions, she said: “Oh really? Then why are you in the United States Supreme Court to overturn them?”
Senator Elizabeth Warren on Monday introduced a bill that would put a nationwide moratorium on evictions for one more year and expand existing protections to include more renters.
Moratoriums against eviction have been passed across the US as the economy reels from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. But as many of those are set to expire soon, housing advocates have predicted a “tsunami of evictions” and a potential spike in homelessness.
The bill from the Massachusetts senator would expand the current federal eviction moratorium so it includes most renters and protect them for one year from March 27, 2020.
“Renters who have lost their job or had their income reduced shouldn’t have to fear losing their homes in the middle of a pandemic,” Warren said in a statement to Vox. “Housing is a human right and an absolute necessity to keep families safe during this crisis, and Congress must step in now to help keep people in their homes.”
Hello, readers! Kari Paul in San Francisco here to give you the news for the next few hours. Stay tuned for updates.
Today so far
- The supreme court released a huge decision on a law that severely restricted abortion. The court struck the law down, saying that it already ruled a similar law unconstitutional in 2016. Chief justice John Roberts sided with the liberal judges in the ruling.
- The White House in a press briefing continued to double down on defenses that Donald Trump did not know about bounties that Russia allegedly placed on coalition forces, including US troops, in Afghanistan.
- California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, said that the state will continue to roll back its reopening plan, citing an alarming rise in new cases in certain counties in the state.
- Reddit and Youtube announced, as a result of revised hate speech policy, multiple rightwing and white supremacist communities and channels would be removed from the platforms. The move comes after criticism that social media platforms allow hate speech to go unchecked.
Kim Gardner, the head prosecutor for the city of St Louis, Missouri, denounced on Twitter the couple who pointed guns at protesters who were walking by their mansion when protesting against racism and police brutality. Gardner also said that her office is working to investigate the incident.
Video of the scene went viral and was retweeted by Donald Trump.
The protesters marched past the mansion on their way to the mayor’s house, where they were calling for her resignation after she listed the names and addresses of several people who wrote letters to her asking her to defund the police in a Facebook live video. The mayor has since apologized and removed the video from Facebook.
The man who was seen pointing a rifle at the protestors has spoken about the incident, saying that he and his family were frightened by protestors who broke down iron gates that said “no trespassing” and “private street”.
St Louis is known for its deep history of redlining, with a street that runs horizontally through the city gaining the nickname “Delmar Divide” for dividing the predominantly rich and white area of the city in the south from the predominantly black and poor residents to the north of the divide.
California governor continues rollback of reopening plans
The Guardian’s Mario Koran reports from California:
California is now in the midst of trying to “toggle back” on plans to reopen after case numbers and hospitalizations flare up in sections of the state, said California governor Gavin Newsom today.
Redflags have been raised on a number of metrics, including “disturbing trendlines” in positivity rates, hospitalizations and ICU admissions attributed to Covid-19.
Over the weekend, Newsom ordered closed bars and nightclubs in nine counties, including Los Angeles, which has nearly 100,000 cases — the most of any region of the state.
Particularly hard hit is Southern California’s Imperial County, where an outbreak is taxing the region’s hospital system. In recent weeks, health officials have had to move roughly 500 patients into neighboring regions, taxing their hospital systems, too.
Newsom today urged Imperial County to reissue a stay-at-home order that had been previously lifted, and leveled the threat of a heavier hand if they chose not to take the advice.
“If they are unsuccessful in building consensus around going back into the stay-at-home order frame, the state of California will assert itself and make sure that happens,” Newsom said.
Imperial County wasn’t the only area singled out. In Sacramento County, health officials are attributing a sudden spike to an increase in family gatherings. In San Bernardino, officials say an uptick is related to outbreaks in jails, combined with community spread.
Of particular concern within the state’s correctional system is San Quentin prison, where positive cases have topped 1,000. More than 40% of the prison’s population is deemed “medically vulnerable” and particularly susceptible to health complications from Covid-19.
Already the state has released roughly 3,500 inmates early, prioritizing release for medically vulnerable inmates, those with little time remaining on sentences and inmates convicted of non-violent crimes. Newsom said today another 3,500 have been identified as potentially eligible for early release, too.
A key question facing both state officials and inmates is securing housing for those in consideration for early release, and not making “a bad situation worse by releasing someone who’s not ready to be released”.
Reddit announced today that it will ban about 2,000 communities on its site that violate its new content policy that explicitly bans hate speech. The banned communities, called “subreddits” on the platform, include popular pages like r/The_Donald, which consisted of discussions and memes support Donald Trump, and r/ChapoTrapHouse, a left-wing forum.
The website’s new policy reads: “Remember the human. Reddit is a place for creating community and belonging, not for attacking marginalized or vulnerable groups of people. Everyone has a right to use Reddit free of harassment, bullying, and threats of violence. Communities and people that incite violence or that promote hate based on identity or vulnerability will be banned.”
Youtube, another website that has come under criticism for offering a platform to extremists, also said today that it will ban several prominent white supremacist channels, including those run by David Duke and Richard Spencer. The company said that those channels violated its bans on hate speech.
New Jersey governor Phil Murphy said that the state will not allow restaurants to accept customers for indoor dining, citing “knucklehead behavior” from people not practicing social distancing as the reason.
New Jersey began its reopening phase 2 June 15, allowing bars and restaurants to offer outdoor dining. Murphy unveiled over the weekend a plan to allow indoor dining at limited capacity as the next step, but on Monday said he will not go forward with the plan.
“We have seen spikes in other states driven, in part, by the return of patrons to indoor dining establishments, where they are seated, and without face coverings, for significant periods of time,” he said. “We are also moved to take this step because of what we have seen in some establishments across the state of late.”
Local reporters said that crowds outs bars and restaurants, especially along the shores of the state, were huge, with few people wearing masks.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo said he is considering rolling back similar plans to reopen indoor dining in New York City, also because of reports that people are not practice social distancing in the state.
In a statement emailed to campaign supporters, the Trump campaign said today’s Supreme Court decision to strike down a Louisiana anti-abortion law “is disappointing to say the least” as it denied “women the protection they need in times of crisis”.
“Five unelected Supreme Court Justices decided to insert their political agenda in place of democratically determined policies. This case underscores the importance of re-electing President Trump, who has a record of appointing conservative judges, rather than Joe Biden, who will appoint radical, activist judges who will legislate from the courts,” said the statement.
It might be worth noting the obvious that all Supreme Court justices are “unelected” and are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate, including the two judges Trump himself appointed, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, who both voted to uphold the Louisiana law.
A statement from Joe Biden’s campaign struck a similar call to action, telling supporters that individual states have been passing restrictive abortion laws and that the candidate will “codify Roe v. Wade and my Justice Department will do everything in its power to stop the rash of state laws that so blatantly violate a woman’s protected, constitutional right to choose.”
Barack Obama is struggling to complete his White House memoirs, according to the New York Times.
In a long piece about Obama’s developing role in the campaign to defeat Donald Trump at the polls in November, and quoting an “associate” of the 44th president, the paper quoted Obama as saying: “Let’s just say my golf game is going a lot better than my book.”
On leaving the White House in 2017, Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, received a whopping $65m for his memoir and her autobiography. Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming, followed in 2018 and became a world bestseller.
“She had a ghostwriter,” Obama reportedly “told a friend who asked about his wife’s speedy work”.
“I am writing every word myself, and that’s why it’s taking longer.”
According to the Times, the book will not appear before the 2020 election and a manuscript of between 600 and 800 pages may be split into two volumes, in order for at least some of it to be on sale by Christmas.
The Art of the Deal, Crippled America or any other book “by” Donald Trump, this is not. As the Associated Press put it at the time of the book deal, “Barack Obama is widely regarded as one of the finest prose stylists among modern presidents, and his million-selling Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope are considered essential to his rise to the White House.”
Hallie Golden reports from the self-proclaimed Capitol Hill Organized Protest (Chop) zone in Seattle:
A Fox News reporter has been accused of pushing a protester on Monday morning at the occupied area in Seattle known as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (Chop).
Derrick Drungo, an activist at CHOP who witnessed the incident, told The Guardian the reporter then got in his truck and protesters surrounded it, asking for an apology. Activists said the reporter’s personal security detail came out and tried to pepper spray them, and the group moved a concrete barrier in front of the truck to stop him from leaving.
The reporter later got out of the car and another man with Fox tried to move the truck. While driving very slowly, the man hit Drungo.
“I got back in front of the car and the driver kept driving,” Drungo told the Guardian.
“My hands were up in the air, and he hit me six times. I told him to stop,” He added.
White House doubles down on “Russian bounties” defense
At a press briefing just now, reporters fired off questions to White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany about reports that Trump had knowledge that Russia offered bounties to Taliban militants to fatally attack Western coalition troops, including some from the US.
Top administration officials, including members of Trump’s national security council, have been discussing the Russian bounty offer for months, the New York Times first reported.
McEnany doubled down on the Trump’s defense that he nor vice president Mike Pence were briefed on the Russian bounties and there is “no consensus” from the intelligence community that the news is true. Members of Congress are reportedly being briefed on the news this afternoon.
McEnany declined to answer specific questions on why Trump and Pence were not briefed on the bounties before.
The press secretary turned questions about the bounties into an opportunity to bash the New York Times and the Washington Post, who also reported on the bounties. McEnany repeated claims that the reports are “unverified” and part of the “failed Russia reporting of the New York Times”.
A vigil held in the memory of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old who black man who was killed by police in Aurora, Colorado, turned violent when police pepper began to pepper spray the crowd, saying that those at the vigil were unlawfully gathering in front of a police station.
Here’s a look at the scene: