Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said he was comfortable with renaming military bases named after Confederate generals.
“I can only speak for myself on this issue, if it’s appropriate to take another look at these names,” McConnell said on Capitol Hill, per a Wall Street Journal reporter. “I’m personally okay with that, and I’m a descendant of a Confederate veteran myself.”
The Senate armed services committee has approved an amendment to the annual defense authorization bill that lays out a plan to rename the bases within three years, but Trump has said he would “not even consider” renaming the bases.
However, McConnell expressed caution about removing certain statues from the Capitol, as House speaker Nancy Pelosi has called for.
“What I do think is clearly a bridge too far is this nonsense that we need to airbrush the Capitol and scrub out anybody from years ago who had any connection to slavery,” McConnell said.
The Senate leader noted that eight presidents had owned slaves, although Pelosi specifically called for the removal of 11 statues representing leaders of the Confederacy.
Amnesty International has released a statement sharply criticizing the police reform executive order signed by Trump this afternoon.
“President Trump’s Executive Order amounts to a band-aid for a bullet wound, and the public will not be easily fooled by half measures when this moment is calling for transformational change of policing,” said Kristina Roth, the senior program officer for Amnesty’s criminal justice programs.
“The United States needs much stronger national standards to provide parameters on the use of force and restrict the use of deadly force, to ensure accountability when these boundaries are breached by law enforcement officers.”
The White House has released the text of the police reform executive order that the president just signed in the Rose Garden.
The order makes clear that police departments will have to meet new credentialing standards to receive federal funds from the justice department.
The credentialing bodies will be required to review departments’ protocols on issues like “policies and training regarding use–of-force and de-escalation techniques; performance management tools, such as early warning systems that help to identify officers who may require intervention; and best practices regarding community engagement.”
The order specficially asks credentialing bodies to confirm that “the State or local law enforcement agency’s use-of-force policies adhere to all applicable Federal, State, and local laws” and that “the State or local law enforcement agency’s use-of-force policies prohibit the use of chokeholds … except in those situations where the use of deadly force is allowed by law.”
However, the order only incentivizes departments to review their policies on use of force and chokeholds but does not require them to do so. Critics of the order were quick to say it did not go far enough to address police brutality.
A new report documents more than 2,000 black victims of racial terror lynchings killed between the end of the civil war in 1865 and the collapse of federal efforts to protect the lives and voting rights of black Americans in 1876.
The report from the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), Reconstruction in America, shows that during the 12-year period of Reconstruction, a reign of terror was unleashed by Confederate veterans and former slave owners in a brazen effort to keep black people enslaved in all but name.
Technically freed slaves were lynched at an average rate of almost one every two days – eliminating the hope that Emancipation offered millions of black people and effectively terrorizing them into submission.
The report is a prequel to EJI’s groundbreaking 2015 research that identified and recorded more than 4,400 black victims of racial terror lynchings from the post-Reconstruction period, 1877 to 1950.
The new report allows that grim tally to be further expanded with the addition of the 2,000 documented victims from the Reconstruction era itself – bringing the total number of documented cases of black people who were supposedly free yet were lynched in the most sadistic fashion to a staggering 6,500 men, women and children.
Today so far
Here’s where the day stands so far:
- Trump signed his executive order on police reform. The president said in a largely unscripted Rose Garden speech that the order would incentivize police departments to ban chokeholds, except when an officer’s life is at risk, by establishing a new credentialing system. Critics were quick to say the described order fell far short of the reforms needed to prevent police brutality.
- Trump privately met with families who had lost loved ones to police brutality shortly before signing the executive order. However, the families did not attend the Rose Garden event, and the president interestingly chose to sign the order surrounded by law enforcement officials after weeks of protests against police brutality.
- A new poll indicates Joe Biden is pulling farther ahead in Michigan. The Detroit Free Press poll showed Biden leading the president by 16 points in Michigan, which Trump carried in 2016 and will almost certainly need to win again to secure a second term.
The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.
Trump’s Rose Garden speech about his police reform executive order included many apparently unscripted comments on everything from school choice to coronavirus.
At one point while applauding the work of scientists working to develop a coronavirus vaccine, the president accidentally said scientists had previously created an AIDS vaccine.
“They’ve come up with the AIDS vaccine,” Trump said, before quickly trying to backtrack. “Or the AIDS — and as you know, there are various things, and now various companies are involved — but the therapeutic for AIDS. AIDS was a death sentence, and now people live a life with a pill.”
Of course, there is no vaccine for AIDS, although treatment for HIV, which causes AIDS, have led to dramatically improved outcomes for such patients.
Trump signs police reform executive order
Trump has now signed the executive order on police reform, surrounded by law enforcement officials who were invited to the Rose Garden event.
The visual struck some as odd, considering the president had privately met with families who lost loved ones to police brutality moments before the event and the order comes after nationwide protests in response to the police killing of George Floyd.
Trump said the order would, among other things, incentivize police departments to ban chokeholds except when an officer’s life is at risk by establishing a new credentialing process for departments.
However, the administration will likely be asked for more clarification on how to determine when an officer’s life is at risk, considering many criminal justice activists have complained that reasoning is too broadly applied to justify police violence.
Trump appears to have veered off his prepared remarks and started delivering a campaign-style speech boasting about his leadership.
The president started discussing his work on historically black colleges and universities and then moved on to discussing school choice, which he called the “civil rights of all time in this country.”
Trump also claimed that Barack Obama and Joe Biden, now the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, “never even tried” to address police reform. In reality, the Obama administration launched a number of initiatives around the issue.
Trump blamed police brutality on a small number of police officers, even though criminal justice activists have argued police brutality is a reflection of systemic racism.
“They’re very tiny,” Trump said of the officers responsible for police brutality. “I use the word tiny. It’s a very small percentage. But nobody wants to get rid of them more than the really good and great police officers.”
The president also insisted the country wants “law and order,” a phrase he has frequently invoked on Twitter since the start of the George Floyd protests.
“Americans want law and order. They demand law and order,” Trump said. “Some of them may not even know that is what they want.”
Elaborating on the details of his police reform executive order, Trump said the department of justice would prioritize federal grants to police departments that pursue high standards on the use of force.
The president added that the order would incentivize departments to ban police chokeholds, except for instances where an officer’s life is at risk.
Trump also pledged more resources for “co-responders,” such as social workers, who can help officers respond to calls related to homelessnness, mental health issues and substance abuse.
Trump said his police reform executive order would be focused on ensuring “the highest professional standards to serve their communities.”
The president criticized the defund the police movement, lashing out against those who have called for reenvisioning the country’s public safety systems.
“Without police, there is chaos. Without law, there is anarchy,” Trump said. “Law and order must be further restored nationwide.”
Trump has taken the podium in the Rose Garden, and he said he had just privately met with several families who lost loved ones to police brutality.
“All Americans mourn by your side,” Trump said to the families, who were not present for the Rose Garden event. “Your loved ones will not have died in vain.”
The president applauded the work of attorney general William Barr, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and Republican senator Tim Scott, who is working to craft a police reform bill.
“We are going to pursue what we said,” Trump said vaguely. “We will be pursuing it, and we will be pursuing it strongly, Tim, right? Okay.”
Trump to soon sign police reform executive order
Reporters and guests have gathered in the Rose Garden for Trump’s event, where the president is expected to sign an executive order on police reform.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and Republican congressman Louie Gohmert and Jim Jordan were spotted among the guests of the event.
There was no microphone set up, suggesting the president did not intend to take questions after signing the executive order.
Trump similarly declined to take questions at two recent Rose Garden events, even as reporters shouted questions at the president about the George Floyd protests.
The House will vote on a bill to make Washington, DC, a state next Friday, weeks after the federal government’s response to protests in the capital city sparked criticism.
House majority leader Steny Hoyer said the chamber would vote on the statehood bill, HR 51, on June 26, marking the first time since 1993 that the House has held a vote on the issue.
With 220 co-sponsors, the bill is expected to pass the Democratic-controlled House. This would be the first time either chamber has passed the statehood bill.
“This will be an historic vote,” House speaker Nancy Pelosi said. “This deprivation of statehood is unjust, unequal, undemocratic and unacceptable.”
But the bill will be dead on arrival in the Senate, considering majority leader Mitch McConnell is an ardent opponent of statehood. Trump has also said statehood will “never happen,” expressing concern about the overwhelmingly Democratic city getting two senators.
The vote comes weeks after federal authorities’ handling of the George Floyd protests in DC, combined with Trump’s efforts to take over the city’s response to the demonstrations, reenergized the statehood debate.
Senate majority whip John Thune also said the Senate could vote on a police reform bill as soon as next week.
“I think the leader is going to try and move it as soon as it’s ready to move, as quickly as possible,” the Republican senator told reporters. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he would do that at some point again, potentially, next week.”
Senator Tim Scott, who is leading a group of several senators working to craft the legislation, said yesterday he thought it would be a mistake to delay voting on the bill, which is expected to be unveiled tomorrow.
“If the House is voting next week — I think it is — I think us waiting a month before we vote is a bad decision,” Scott said.
House Democrats intend to vote on their sweeping police reform bill next week, and it already has enough co-sponsors to pass the chamber.
Senate majority whip John Thune said it is “perhaps time” to rename the military bases named after Confederate generals.
The South Dakota Republican said it would likely be difficult to remove senator Elizabeth Warren’s amendment from the annual defense authorization bill. Warren’s amendment lays out a plan to rename the bases wthin three years.
“It’ll probably take 60 votes to get out,” Thune told reporters on Capitol Hill. “This is a debate whose time has probably come. I think we’ll listen to where people in the country are.”
Thune acknowledged Senate Republicans did not want to risk a veto from Trump, who is staunchly opposed to renaming the bases. But he added, “We have to proceed here, and right now we’ve got a provision in the bill that, at least for right now, looks like that’s going to be maybe the new position.”