Trump Vows to Veto Defense Bill Over Amendment to Rename Military Bases Named After Confederates

President Donald Trump vowed to veto a $740 billion defense spending bill unless Congress drops a proposed amendment to rename U.S. military bases named after Confederate leaders.

As the country faces ongoing social unrest over the death of George Floyd, the public debate continues on whether Confederate figures deserve to be publicly honored with statues or major instillations bearing their names. Amid these calls for racial justice, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has proposed an amendment for the Defense Authorization Bill that would require the names of Confederate leaders to be completely scrubbed from several military bases over the next 3 years.

Trump has repeatedly defended monuments honoring Confederates in recent weeks, and on Tuesday night, he used his racially-charged insult for Warren again while promising to veto the bill if her amendment gets through.

[Mediaite]

Trump Says He May End Housing Desegregation Rule

President Donald Trump said he may get rid of a fair housing rule originally designed to desegretate neighborhoods, which some say in practice simply means building more housing. His administration has been trying to revise an Obama-era regulation on how to enforce the Civil Rights-era law; opponents say it’s an effort to weaken the rules.

Trump in a Twitter post though suggested he may want to go further. “At the request of many great Americans who live in the Suburbs, and others, I am studying the AFFH housing regulation that is having a devastating impact on these once thriving Suburban areas,” Trump said in a tweet. “Not fair to homeowners, I may END!” Trump didn’t offer additional details about his plans.

[Bloomberg]

Trump Tweets Video of St. Louis Couple Aiming Guns at Protesters

President Donald Trump on Monday retweeted a widely scrutinized video of a St. Louis couple aiming guns at a protest march.

The couple, who are White, stood in front of their home, both armed with guns, shouting back and forth with a march that included Black Lives Matter protesters, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. One of the people was aiming a gun directly at demonstrators, who were marching on the home of Mayor Lyda Krewson to demand her resignation after she read aloud names and addresses of protesters who wanted to cut police funding.

Trump retweeted the ABC News video without comment, appearing to endorse the couple’s stance. The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Sunday, Trump retweeted a video of his supporters arguing with critics in Florida, including one who shouted “white power.” Trump later deleted his tweet, and the White House said he hadn’t heard the phrase.

The president on Monday also retweeted a series of wanted posters from U.S. park police seeking to identify people suspected of vandalizing statues near the White House.

[Bloomberg]



Trump Tweets, Thanks Florida Supporter Chanting ‘White Power’

Donald Trump tweeted a video of someone in a golf cart shouting the racist slogan, “White Power” and others yelling, “Fuck Trump” on Sunday morning. The video was originally posted by the Twitter handle Fifty Shades of Whey, which noted that the seniors of The Villages in Florida were “protesting against each other.” Trump was seemingly unaware that those protesting against him, who were holding up signs that accused him of racism, were apparently also residents of The Villages. Nevertheless, the president thanked area denizens in his post, writing, “Thank you to the great people of The Villages. The Radical Left Do Nothing Democrats will Fall in the Fall. Corrupt Joe is shot. See you soon!!!”

[The Daily Beast]

Update

Trump deleted the tweet and claimed he wasn’t aware. This is problematic for two reasons. First, the “white power” chant occurs in the first few seconds of the video. Second, why is a President sharing content without vetting it?

Trump targets individual anti-racism protesters in post-golf tweetstorm

The leader of the free world went after individual anti-racism protesters on Saturday.

Trump escalated his war on protesters by posting “attempt to identify” wanted posters of protesters who allegedly vandalized a statue of former President Andrew Jackson.

The statue is in Lafayette Square, which was the scene of the gassing of peaceful protesters so Trump could hold a photo-op posing with a Bible.


[Raw Story]

Trump defends officer who shot Rayshard Brooks as police call in sick

Donald Trump has defended the police officer who shot dead Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta, as a number of officers called in sick after their colleague was charged with murder.

Garrett Rolfe, a white officer, shot Brooks, who is black, twice in the back as Brooks pointed a police Taser stun gun in his direction while running away. Rolfe faces 11 charges over the killing.

A significant number of officers did not show up for work on Wednesday night, the city’s police department said. Atlanta’s mayor suggested the city may have to call in officers from other jurisdictions.

Brooks’s death has prompted protests in the city and elsewhere as it emerged that Brooks, 27, was 18ft from Rolfe, and running away, when he pointed the Taser – which prosecutors say Rolfe knew was not functional – before being shot.

The protests over Brooks’s death have added to demonstrations against racism and police brutality across the country following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month, where the 46-year-old was killed when a white police officer kneeled on his neck.Advertisement

Amid the outrage, Trump appeared on Fox News, where he defended Rolfe and appeared to criticize Brooks.

“You can’t resist a police officer, and if you have a disagreement, you have to take it up after the fact,” Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity. “It was out of control – the whole situation was out of control.”

Trump said police had been treated unfairly in the US.

He said: “It’s up to justice right now. It’s going to be up to justice. I hope he [Rolfe] gets a fair shake, because police have not been treated fairly in our country. But again, you can’t resist a police officer like that.”

The Atlanta police department sought to downplay the number of officers who did not report for duty, but admitted there were a significant number of absences.

“Earlier suggestions that multiple officers from each zone had walked off the job were inaccurate,” the department said in a tweet. “The department is experiencing a higher than usual number of call-outs with the incoming shift. We have enough resources to maintain operations & remain able to respond to incidents.”

Atlanta’s mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, told CNN there were enough officers to cover the city, but said the department may have to call in police from other agencies.

She said: “We have other partners … so, we will be fine.”

The most serious charge against Rolfe, felony murder, carries a sentence of life in prison or the death penalty, should prosecutors choose to seek it.

On Thursday, a video interview that Brooks had conducted in 2019, as part of a project about criminal reform, was shared by the company Reconnect.

In it, Brooks described how the criminal justice system treats many people unfairly. He said: “Some people, they get a tap on the wrist [from the authorities]. But some people don’t.”

Brooks discussed how people who had spent time in jail were treated on their release. He said: “You get treated like an animal. Some of the system could look at us as individuals; we do have lives, you know.”

He added: “I’m trying, I’m not the type of person to give up. I’m going to keep going till I make it to where I want to be.”

Brooks’s funeral is due to take place at a church in Atlanta on Tuesday. Actor and director Tyler Perry, who lives in the city, has offered to pay for the funeral.

In an article for People magazine, Perry said he was grappling with how to explain racism in the US to his five-year-old son.

He wrote: “I know that as his father, a black man in America, it is my duty to prepare him for the harsh reality that awaits him outside of the watchful eyes of his loving parents. It will be a hard, heartbreaking conversation, but one that I must have and will have soon.”

[The Guardian]

Trump says he made Juneteenth ‘very famous’

President Trump said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that he made Juneteenth, the annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery, “very famous” by originally scheduling a campaign rally on the date.

“I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous,” Trump told the Journal in an interview Wednesday, referencing the news coverage of the planned rally that was moved to a later date. “It’s actually an important event, an important time. But nobody had ever heard of it.”

Trump was widely criticized for scheduling the rally on June 19 in Tulsa, Okla., the site of one of the bloodiest acts of racial violence in 1921, with many critics charging that it was a racially insensitive decision.

Trump eventually postponed the rally, acknowledging “many” of his African American friends and supporters had reached out asking him to change the date.

Juneteenth has been a day to mark the end of slavery in the United States for more than 150 years and is recognized as a holiday in 47 states and the District of Columbia.

Trump told the Journal that a black Secret Service agent informed him of the meaning of Juneteenth. He also claimed he polled those around him and none had heard of the annual holiday. Trump was surprised to learn from an aide during the interview with the Journal that the White House put out a statement marking the occasion last year.

“Oh, really? We put out a statement? The Trump White House put out a statement?” Trump said. “OK, OK. Good.”

Trump’s Tulsa rally is scheduled to take place on Saturday evening, marking his first campaign rally since March. It is expected to draw a substantial crowd to Tulsa’s BOK Center, raising concerns about the potential for the event to spread the novel coronavirus. The campaign plans to conduct temperature checks and distribute masks and hand sanitizer to attendees.

The Trump campaign’s announcement of the rally coincided with nationwide protests over the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man. Trump’s handling of and rhetoric on the demonstrations has also come under sustained scrutiny in recent weeks.

Trump, who signed an executive order Tuesday to incentivize police reform, acknowledged in the Journal interview that there is “some” systemic racism in the United States but asserted that the country had made substantial progress in rooting out racism from its institutions.

“I’d like to think there is not” systemic racism, Trump told the Journal. “But unfortunately, there probably is some. I would also say it’s very substantially less than it used to be.”

[The Hill]

Trump Defends Confederate Monuments in ‘Police Reform’ Speech: ‘We Must Build on Our Heritage, Not Tear it Down’

At a White House event on police reform, President Donald Trump seemed to reference the recent destruction of Confederate monuments by protesters, but again made clear he favors preserving those memorials to the pro-slavery South.

During remarks on what the White House calls his “Executive Order on Safe Policing for Safe Communities,” Trump concluded a riff on the coronavirus crisis by saying, of a potential vaccine, that “even without it, it goes away.”

“But if we had the vaccine, and we will, if we had therapeutic or cure, one thing is sort of blends into the other, it will be a fantastic day and I think that’s going to happen, and it’s going to happen very soon,” Trump added.

“Americans can achieve anything when we work together as one national family,” he continued. “To go forward we must seek cooperation not confrontation, we must build upon our heritage, not tear it down. And we must cherish the principles of America’s founding as we strive to deliver safe, beautiful, elegant justice. And liberty for all.”

Trump’s remarks in the Rose Garden were for the purpose of announcing an executive order that was prompted by nationwide protests over the police killing of George Floyd — a strange setting for Trump to renew his longtime defense of the Confederacy and its symbols.

[Mediaite]

Trump erases health care protections for transgender patients during Pride Month

Just two weeks into Pride Month — and on the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting — the Trump administration announced that it is rolling back Obama-era health care protections for people who are transgender. The rule, announced Friday, will impact transgender patients’ ability to fight against discrimination by doctors, medical facilities and health insurance providers. 

Former president Barack Obama’s administration changed federal health care guidelines in 2016 to expand sex-based protections based to include protections based on gender identity, “which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female.” His administration also pushed for discrimination protections for those who have had abortions. 

But the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a statement on Friday saying the final rule is based on “the plain meaning of the word ‘sex’ as male or female and as determined by biology.”

“All of these are essentially legislative changes that the Department lacked the authority to make,” the administration said of the 2016 changes in the final rule. “They purported to impose additional legal requirements on covered entities that cannot be justified by the text of Title IX, and in fact are in conflict with express exemptions in Title IX.”

In the summary of the final rule, HHS responded to several comments that criticized the lack of protection for people who do not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth. In one response to the comments, HHS compared gender identity to political affiliation. 

“For example, in the unlikely event that a healthcare provider were to deny services to someone based solely on his or her political affiliation, the Department would not be able to address such denial of care under Section 1557,” HHS said. “Unlike other bases of discrimination, the categories of gender identity and sexual orientation (as well as political affiliation) are not set forth in those statutes.”

The rule summary also argued that health care based on sex assigned at birth, rather than gender identity, is necessary for health care, and insinuated that transgender health care may be confusing for providers.

“The 2016 Rule risked masking clinically relevant, and sometimes vitally important, information by requiring providers and insurers to switch from a scientifically valid and biologically based system of tracking sex to one based on subjective self-identification according to gender identity,” the summary said. “…The 2016 Rule’s mandate cannot answer, for example, how a provider is to determine whether or when a transgender individual is entitled by law to be referred to a women’s mental health support group, a men’s mental health support group, either group, or both at the same time.”

Roger Severino, director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights, maintained in the announcement that “HHS respects the dignity of every human being.”

“…and as we have shown in our response to the pandemic, we vigorously protect and enforce the civil rights of all to the fullest extent permitted by our laws as passed by Congress,” Severino said. “We are unwavering in our commitment to enforcing civil rights in healthcare.”

Transgender individuals have long faced discrimination in health care. A quarter of the 28,000 individuals who took the U.S. Transgender Survey reported that they have experienced an insurance issue because of their gender identity. Even more respondents reported that they have experienced verbal harassment, been refused treatment, or had a health care provider who did not know how to properly treat transgender individuals. 

Thousands of survey participants also reported they were denied routine health and sexual health screenings. Those who are transgender are more likely than the general U.S. population to be uninsured, according to the survey. 

The American Civil Liberties Union quickly responded to the administration’s announcement, writing on Twitter that the rule “will embolden health care discrimination against transgender people, those seeking reproductive health care, and many other individuals who need health care — all while a global pandemic is occurring.”

“Politicians have no business coming between us and our health care,” the organization added.

The announcement also came at the end of a week where two black transgender women were murdered. So far this year, at least 14 transgender or gender non-conforming individuals have been fatally shot or killed by other violent means in the U.S., according to the Human Rights Campaign

[CBS News]

Trump calls use of tear gas, other force on Minneapolis protesters a ‘beautiful scene’

President Donald Trump praised the use of tear gas and other force to disperse Minneapolis protesters, calling it a “beautiful scene” and describing the National Guard’s actions “like a knife cutting butter.”

“I’ll never forget. You saw the scene on that road … they were lined up. Man, they just walked straight. And yes, there was some tear gas and probably some other things,” Trump said in opening remarks at a roundtable on policing and race. “And the crowd dispersed and they went through. By the end of that evening, and it was a short evening, everything was fine.”

Trump’s event at a conservative, evangelical and predominantly white church in Dallas on Thursday afternoon came as the White House has yet to announce what new measures it might support in response to the protests against racial injustice that have gripped the nation since the killing of George Floyd by a police officer.

Trump did not mention Floyd by name in his remarks but suggested the work of confronting bigotry and prejudice will “go quickly and it’ll go very easily.”

“But we’ll make no progress and heal no wounds by falsely labeling tens of millions of decent Americans as racist or bigots,” the president said.

He has largely criticized the protests that took place in cities across the United States, including Minneapolis, where Floyd was killed. Minnesota’s Gov. Tim Walz activated its National Guard after three nights of protests and violent riots; on Thursday, Walz endorsed a package of sweeping police reforms.

In response to the national reckoning over police brutality and America’s systemic racism, Democrats unveiled sweeping police reform legislation, and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only black Republican member of the Senate, is spearheading proposals in his chamber.

Trump offered some broad outlines of the steps he might embrace to answer the national demand for action. He told the roundtable participants he was working on an executive order to “encourage police departments nationwide to meet the most current professional standards for the use of force, including tactics for de-escalation.”

He defended police officers and slammed calls to “defund” them, saying it means people want to get rid of law enforcement. Most advocates use the term to mean the reallocation of police budgets to social services including housing and education.

“We have to respect our police. We have to take care of our police. They’re protecting us. And if they’re allowed to do their job, they’ll do a great job,” Trump said. “And you always have a bad apple. No matter where you go, you have bad apples and there not too many of them.”

Hours after the event, Trump weighed in on the debate in more provocative terms. “The Radical Left Democrats: First they try to take away your guns. Then they try to take away your police!” he tweeted.

The president’s more concrete actions in the past 24 hours appear aimed at his political base rather than the multiracial nation he governs.

That includes publicly rejecting the idea of renaming military bases whose names honor Confederate military figures — an idea that had been under consideration at the Pentagon — and threatening a federal response to “ugly Anarchists” protesting in Seattle.

Trump’s campaign released an ad Wednesday focused on his self-proclaimed credentials as a law-and-order president while seeking to cast Biden as overly supportive of those who have protested Floyd’s death.

“Antifa destroys our communities. Rioting. Looting. Yet Joe Biden kneels down,” the narrator says, as footage of Biden kneeling at a church in Wilmington, Del., is superimposed over images of violent protests.

Biden, who held an event Thursday in Philadelphia related to recovering economically from the coronavirus crisis, issued a statement ahead of Trump’s trip to Dallas questioning the president’s motives.

“For weeks we’ve seen President Trump run away from a meaningful conversation on systemic racism and police brutality,” the former vice president said. “Instead, he has further divided our country. Today’s trip to Texas won’t change any of that. President Trump is more interested in photo ops than offering a healing voice as our nation mourns.”

[Philadelphia Inquirer]

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