with Mariana Alfaro
In addition to the worst public health crisis since 1918 and the worst economic crisis since 1933, Trump now faces the worst civil unrest since 1968. One week after George Floyd’s death in police custody on Memorial Day triggered a wave of protests, more cities have imposed curfews and more states have deployed the National Guard to restore order than at any time since immediately after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
As much as any other moment of his presidency, now is a time when Trump would benefit from being able to draw upon a reservoir of public trust or goodwill. But he has squandered the benefit of the doubt. A new 384-page book from the Fact Checker staff of The Washington Post, which goes on sale Tuesday, tells the story of how Trump became “the most mendacious president in U.S. history.”
“Donald Trump and His Assault on Truth: The President’s Falsehoods, Misleading Claims and Flat-Out Lies,” by Glenn Kessler, Sal Rizzo and Meg Kelly, presents not just a catalog of false claims but a thematic guide to Trump’s assault on the very existence of objective reality. There are chapters on the president’s false claims related to the economy, immigration, the Ukraine affair and foreign policy. One chapter lays out Trump’s 10 most egregious and important false claims, including his denials that he knew about hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election.
One of the central insights of the book is that Trump’s whoppers have become bigger and more frequent since he took office. Originally, The Post planned to track all of Trump’s falsehoods in a database during only his first 100 days in office. The Fact Checker team documented 492 false claims in that stretch, about six a day. Editors decided to continue the project as a public service and because of popular demand. It’s become more and more time-consuming for the full-time team of four journalists: The president’s speeches got longer, he tweeted more frequently and he gave more interviews to friendly right-wing outlets that rarely challenged him. Now, they often lose nights and weekends to what they describe as “the depressing task of wading through the president’s forest of falsehoods.”
So far this year, Trump is averaging 22 false claims a day in the Fact Checker database. He’s on track to make nearly 25,000 false statements by the end of the term. Whether he gets there will depend partly on how many campaign rallies he holds this fall. A 56-page appendix of the book is an anatomical investigation of a single Trump rally from last December in Battle Creek, Mich., during which the president made 120 statements of fact that were either false, mostly false or unsupported by evidence. That was two-thirds of all the claims the president made during a two-hour monologue.
Another insight from the book is that October is the most dangerous month for the truth vis-à-vis Trump. In October 2018, before the midterm elections, the president tallied 1,205 claims. It stands to reason that this fall, when his own name will be on the ballot, the fact checkers will be as busy as ever.
The volume of Trump’s falsehoods is so overwhelming that I had forgotten several of the weirder examples, such as claiming that his father (who was born in the Bronx) emigrated from Germany, until I read the book. The president has claimed on four occasions that Barack Obama had such a bad relationship with the Philippines when he was president that the country’s leaders wouldn’t let Air Force One land during an official visit, forcing him to circle around Manila. He has also claimed that half the people in a room cried when he signed a repeal of an Obama regulation at a White House ceremony. But there’s a video of the event, and every eye is dry. The Fact Checker team has noticed that when Trump inserts the word “sir” into a story he’s telling, it’s almost always a tell that what he’s saying is a fairy tale.
The immigration chapter lays out how Trump routinely exaggerated early in his presidency how sharply apprehensions had fallen at the southern border to make the case that his immigration policy was working. Later, using the same data set, he cherry-picked numbers to boast about how many people had been arrested as they tried to cross the border, which he touted as a sign of success. When arrest numbers went down again in 2019, Trump once again flipped the script to tout the decline as a sign of success.
Kessler is a just-the-facts-ma’am straight shooter in the tradition of Joe Friday. The Fact Checker feature, with its now iconic Pinocchio ratings, launched in 2007, and the Brown- and Columbia-educated Kessler took charge in 2011 after a tour on the diplomatic beat. His late parents emigrated from the Netherlands, where they had grown up under the yoke of Nazi occupation. They taught him to abhor Orwellian assaults on objective reality.
As a business reporter for Newsday in 1990, Kessler co-authored one of the first major articles about how Trump’s financial holdings were not nearly as valuable as he claimed. So when Trump announced his candidacy in June 2015, he knew Trump would be both a fact-checker’s dream and nightmare. But he acknowledges now that he was unprepared for “the tsunami of untruths” that he has encountered over the five years that have followed. “Trump said many things that his supporters already believed to be true, so he sounded like the first politician who actually told the truth,” Kessler observes in the book.
During the Obama years, Kessler’s team fact-checked 200 statements by the president. They were often complex because that president was careful with his language, especially when speaking from a script, and used the inter-agency process to vet his speeches. Obama hated getting a Pinocchio so the White House press staff would often produce factual backup for statements when asked about them.
In contrast, the Trump press shop almost never responds to the Fact Checker team’s inquiries. But Trump has brought up The Post’s Pinocchio ratings in public about 20 times, usually to complain that he thinks they’re overly nitpicky. He has also highlighted when Democratic politicians get fact-checked by the team.
“I have to tell you, I have to be always very truthful because if I’m a little bit off, they call me a liar,” Trump said at the Battle Creek rally where he made 120 inaccurate statements. “They’ll say, he gets a Pinocchio. The stupid Washington Post. They’re Pinocchio!”
More on the Trump's response to the crises
Protesters clashed with police outside the White House for a third night in a row.
With darkness came mayhem. “American flags and parked cars and buildings were lit ablaze — including St. John’s Church, a historic landmark opened in 1816 and attended by every president since James Madison. Firefighters quickly extinguished the basement fire, which police said was intentionally set,” Rebecca Tan, Marissa Lang, Antonio Olivo, Rachel Chason and John Woodrow Cox report. “Vandals and looters roamed throughout the city, scrawling graffiti and targeting dozens of businesses well after [Mayor Muriel Bowser’s] 11 p.m. curfew began. … The smell of fire hung heavy in the air, and shattered glass speckled the pavement. Gone were the windows of the Lafayette Building, home to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs … At the Capitol, protesters shouted at police, who stood masked and silent around the property’s perimeter … D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham — who noted that 11 of his officers were injured Saturday, including one who fractured a leg after being hit by a brick — blamed the violence and vandalism on a small group and said his officers were prepared to handle any further unrest.”
- Secret Service agents abruptly rushed Trump to the underground bunker at the White House that has rarely been used since the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as protesters gathered outside the executive mansion on Friday night. Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman report in the New York Times that “Trump and his family have been rattled” by the protests.
- “America’s enemies revel in the chaos [and] America’s allies see a president further withdrawing U.S. leadership,” writes Dan Balz. “The American carnage that Trump promised in his inaugural address to end is literally and figuratively on the doorstep of the White House, for all the world to see.”
“Never in the 1,227 days of Trump’s presidency has the nation seemed to cry out for leadership as it did Sunday, yet Trump made no attempt to provide it. That was by design,” reports Phil Rucker. “Trump and some of his advisers calculated that he should not speak to the nation because he had nothing new to say and had no tangible policy or action to announce yet, according to a senior administration official. … Some on Trump’s reelection campaign team, as well as some White House staffers, have been pushing for the president to deliver an Oval Office address, and he could decide to do so later in the week. But aides first want him to embark on a listening tour of sorts to develop constructive ideas.”
The administration intensified its effort on Sunday to pin blame for violent demonstration on the far-left “antifa” movement, which is short for anti-fascist. The president tweeted that he will designate the radical leftist movement a terrorist organization, and Attorney General Bill Barr asserted that it and other groups are committing “domestic terrorism.” Matt Zapotosky, Robert Klemko and Jacqueline Alemany report that Trump cannot, for practical and legal reasons, formally designate antifa a terrorist organization, and neither he nor his attorney general has made public specific evidence that the far-left movement is orchestrating the protests. “The idea of antifa ‘masterminding’ what’s happening over the last few days — if you know anything about the subject — is ludicrous,” said Mark Bray, a historian and author of the 2017 book “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook.”
“Over the past couple of days, numerous advisers both inside and outside the White House have urged the president to tone down his violent rhetoric,” per Axios’s Jonathan Swan. “The biggest source of internal concern was Trump's escalatory tweet, ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts.’ Some advisers said it could damage him severely with independent voters and suburban women. … Even aides who usually laugh or shrug their shoulders at Trump's more outrageous tweets considered this one a problem. … One adviser said they saw it as the president's worst moment since Charlottesville.”
Barr was also attorney general during the Los Angeles riots in 1992, which began when four policemen were acquitted after beating Rodney King on video. Barr chalked the rioting up to “opportunistic” gang activity and said it was not “the product of some festering injustice,” according to a new profile that the NYT magazine posted this morning.
In the face of civil unrest, past presidents have defused tensions by granting an audience to protesters. “Obama met with activists in the Oval Office in 2014 amid demonstrations over the killing of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri,” Peter Nicholas reports in the Atlantic. “Richard Nixon was a self-styled law-and-order president, too, who in 1971 talked about hiring teamsters’ union ‘thugs’ to rough up Vietnam War protesters. Yet Nixon also left the White House early one morning in 1970 and made a surprise trip to the Lincoln Memorial, where he spoke to students protesting the war. Nixon told them: ‘I know probably most of you think I’m an SOB. But I want you to know that I understand just how you feel.’”
Trump was desperate to change the subject from the coronavirus during the month of May. Bob Costa, Rucker, Yasmeen Abutaleb and Josh Dawsey interviewed 57 administration officials, outside advisers and experts with detailed knowledge of the White House’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic for a ticktock about the president’s job performance during the month of May: “The White House’s coronavirus task force, which Trump toyed with disbanding in early May, is now mostly idle and has scaled back meetings to once a week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention became increasingly isolated from the rest of the government, trashed privately by the president and ostracized by the White House. The government’s top infectious-disease expert, Anthony S. Fauci, was largely kept out of the spotlight.”
- “He’s been over coronavirus for a long time,” said one veteran Trump adviser, who described the president as fixated instead on having “a fistfight” with Joe Biden.
- “The killer for [Fauci] was when Brad Pitt played him on ‘Saturday Night Live,’” said a former administration official familiar with the president’s views. “Trump really can’t stand it when you get bigger and more popular than him. … Getting you off TV is the way he brings you down.”
- “He’s never at fault for anything. It’s Fauci’s fault. It’s China’s fault. It’s Obama’s fault. It’s always someone else, somewhere else,” said David Lapan, a former Department of Homeland Security official in the Trump administration.
Fred Hiatt, the editorial page editor, notes that Republican senators privately recognize that Trump is a danger to the republic, but they’re afraid to meet the fates of former colleagues Bob Corker and Jeff Flake. “It is not too late to say so. It is not too late to help save your country, and maybe your self-respect,” Hiatt writes. “Five years ago, could any of you have imagined excusing a leader who praised white supremacists, called his former opponent a criminal and a ‘skank,’ mocked the weight and appearance of your fellow leaders? Could you have imagined tolerating a president who sought to bend law enforcement, diplomacy and intelligence collection to his personal needs and whims? You know, you all know, that he has imperiled the country and cost thousands of lives with his contempt for science and expertise.”
Biden faces his own leadership test.
“Biden won the Democratic primaries because of his overwhelming support from black and suburban voters, a coalition that skewed older and more conservative than the youthful and multiracial protesters marching in cities and towns across the country. Biden’s campaign acknowledges that beating Trump will require him to keep those older voters motivated while also appealing to the young and disaffected Americans who the campaign fears will sit out this election if they don’t connect with him,” Annie Linskey and Cleve Wootson report. “Abdul-Aliy Muhammad, a Philadelphia civil rights activist who recently started a bail fund for people arrested during George Floyd protests, said many younger people have abandoned the political process. ‘You hear so much less about the election now because they don’t think the political system works for them. That’s why they’re in the streets,’ he said. … Trump has tried to stoke that sentiment among African Americans.” (Obama published a piece on Medium this morning with ideas for “how to make this moment the turning point for real change.”)
At least six people were killed as demonstrations devolved into mayhem.
“As the violent and chaotic weekend drew to a close, officials in more than two dozen cities had imposed sweeping curfews, including in Minneapolis and St. Paul, the epicenter of the crisis. Governors in 26 states called in the National Guard,” Isaac Stanley-Becker, Felicia Sonmez and Katie Mettler report. “Gunfire rang out from Detroit to Indianapolis to Chicago to Omaha — places where authorities said people were slain in shootings connected to the protests. But there were also scenes of peaceful assembly, as well as of police officers kneeling in solidarity and protesters placing themselves before store fronts to prevent looting and brawling at odds with the message of nonviolence.” Police arrested about 4,100 people in U.S. cities over the weekend, per the AP. About 150 protesters were arrested on Sunday night in Minneapolis for breaking curfew, and a tanker truck driver who barreled toward protesters filling the Interstate 35 West bridge was arrested.
Law enforcement tactics turned more aggressive.
“On Saturday night, police in several cities ratcheted up their use of force — wielding batons, rubber bullets and pepper spray in incidents that also targeted bystanders and journalists,” David Fahrenthold and Devlin Barrett report. “In Minneapolis, videos posted online showed police officers yelling, ‘Light ’em up!’ before firing paint projectiles at residents as they stood on a front porch of a home. No one in the group appeared to be seriously injured. … Col. Matt Langer, head of the Minnesota State Patrol, acknowledged that the actions by his officers ‘aren’t particularly pretty’ but called them necessary.”
- A civilian was shot and killed in Louisville when authorities opened fire following a confrontation between a group gathered in a parking lot and law enforcement. (Meagan Flynn)
- In Omaha, Neb., James Scurlock, a black 22-year-old, was killed in a struggle with a business owner. (Alex Horton)
- In New York, police were filmed yanking down protesters’ masks, driving into crowds and appearing to point guns at protesters. Mayor Bill de Blasio's 25-year-old daughter, Chiara, was among the hundreds arrested. (CBS New York)
- Two Atlanta police officers were fired for using excessive force. The mayor ordered the firings after reviewing body camera footage of the traffic stop of two young African Americans. After ordering two students out of their vehicle, one officer repeatedly smashed the driver’s window with a baton before tasing the driver. The other officer tased the passenger. Both people in the vehicle screamed for the officers to stop. (Journal Constitution)
- A Florida police officer was suspended after a video showed him shoving a kneeling woman during a protest in Fort Lauderdale. (Katie Shepherd)
- Houston's mayor apologized to a woman trampled by a police officer’s horse during a protest. Footage shows the officer sounded a whistle, but the woman did not appear to notice the sound. (Houston Chronicle)
- Dallas's police chief defended the heavy use of tear gas by her officers. (Dallas Morning News)
- Protesters who ignored Detroit’s 8 p.m. curfew were aggressively cleared out of the area surrounding the city’s police headquarters. A loud explosion caused many protesters to scatter, as officers continued using tear gas. Many demonstrators who refused to leave were arrested. (Free Press)
- In Hamilton County, Ohio, deputies flew a “thin blue line” flag after a U.S. flag was “stolen.” The replacement provoked fierce backlash on social media, because the flag is synonymous with the Blue Lives Matter movement. The sheriff’s office said the flag was flown to honor a Cincinnati police officer shot during a Saturday protest. (Alex Horton)
- In addition to Minnesota, the Defense Department is conducting surveillance to track uprisings in New York, Ohio, Colorado, Arizona, Tennessee and Kentucky. (The Nation)
Confederate statues were targeted in Richmond, Charleston, Raleigh and other Southern cities.
“The statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, which towers over Monument Avenue in Richmond, was covered with graffiti, including the phrases ‘No More White Supremacy, ‘Blood On Your Hands’ and ‘Black Lives Matter,’” Lynda Robinson reports. “The Stonewall Jackson, JEB Stuart and Jefferson Davis memorials were also defaced. A noose hung from the statue of Davis … The United Daughters of the Confederacy headquarters was set on fire early Sunday morning. The blaze was extinguished by Richmond firefighters. … At the University of Mississippi, the phrase ‘spiritual genocide’ and blood-red handprints were scrawled on the sides of a Confederate monument on the campus.” Video showed protesters in Birmingham, Ala., tearing down a monument to a Confederate naval captain on Sunday night, tying a rope around the statue’s neck and heaving it to the ground.
The world is watching.
“In London, hundreds defied rules against large gatherings Sunday to rally at Trafalgar Square and mass outside the new U.S. Embassy on the south bank of the River Thames,” William Booth and Loveday Morris report. “Demonstrators there and in Berlin waved signs reading ‘I can’t breathe’ … About 1,500 people took part … ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,’ read one sign. … In Canada, several thousand people rallied in Toronto on Saturday to denounce racism and demand answers in the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, 29, who fell from a balcony apartment while police were in her home Wednesday.”
Some officers marched and knelt with protesters, creating dissonant images.
“From New York to Des Moines to Spokane, Wash., members of law enforcement — sometimes clad in riot gear — knelt alongside protesters and marched in solidarity with them. The act has become synonymous with peaceful protests in recent years after football player Colin Kaepernick knelt as part of his protests against police brutality on unarmed black citizens,” Hannah Knowles and Isaac Stanley-Becker report. “A video circulating widely on Facebook captured two people in uniform joining a kneeling crowd in Queens. ‘Thank you!’ cheered members of the crowd. The officers remained as a circle of people began to chant names of black Americans killed in infamous recent cases. … Acceding to the demands of protesters brought a rebuke in some places. In downtown Washington, a black officer who knelt was yanked from the crowd by his supervisor, and he returned standing to the line forming to hold back the demonstrations.”
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced the state’s attorney general, Keith Ellison (D), would take over the prosecution of Derek Chauvin, the officer charged with Floyd's murder. Walz did so at the request of Floyd's family, community activists and some members of the Minneapolis City Council, the Star Tribune reports. Chauvin is expected to make his first court appearance on June 8. So far, he’s the only officer to face criminal charges in Floyd’s death.
Minneapolis police have rendered people unconscious with neck restraints 44 times since the beginning of 2015, an NBC News analysis found. Officers used neck restraints at least 237 times during that span, records show. A lack of publicly available data from other departments makes it difficult to compare Minneapolis to similarly sized cities, but experts believe the number of individuals who lost consciousness as a result of these restraints is unusually high.
Quote of the day
“Mr. Floyd died in our hands, and so, I see that as being complicit,” Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said at a Sunday evening news conference. (CNN)
Amid the protests, African Americans feel a private grief.
“The whole city still smelled like fire, but Yvonne Passmore wanted to survey the damage wrought by days of violent protests. So she stood beside three neighbors in South Minneapolis, all of them black, all of them trying to process what had happened the past few days, and months, and years. ‘First, we had the coronavirus, which is wiping us out,’ said Passmore, 65, pushing down her mask so she could breathe a little better. ‘And now it’s this,’” Holly Bailey, Annie Gowen, Vanessa Williams and Jose Del Real report. “This is what they agreed on: They were scared. They were mad. They were exhausted. … The accumulated anger has been evident in the protests … Less visible is the private weariness and anguish felt by many black people in the country, some of whom are either too fearful for their health to join the protests or who may disagree with the methods of some of the most riotous demonstrators.”
“This isn’t just about George Floyd,” said Passmore. “This is about years and years of being treated as less than people — and not just by police. It’s everything. We don’t get proper medical. We don’t get proper housing. There’s so much discrimination, and it’s not just the justice system.”
Customers rushed to the rescue of one of Richmond’s oldest black-owned business as protests turned violent.
Waller & Company Jewelers was “founded in 1900 by the grandfather of the current owner, Richard Waller Jr., 82, who rushed to the downtown shop when the burglar alarm went off around 2 a.m.,” Greg Schneider and Laura Vozzella report. “Thieves had emptied several display cases full of watches and jewelry. They hadn't touched the merchandise Waller is most known for: panhellenic gear with symbols of the Divine Nine, historic black sororities and fraternities. Members of the Greek-letter groups began arriving at the shop later Sunday, drawn by the thought that Waller needed help. By midmorning, 100 or more men and women from the service groups were on the sidewalk outside, hoping to clean up glass, nail boards or do anything else. But Waller didn't have plywood yet, and there wasn't much for them to do. So they got out their wallets. ‘They were like, 'Okay, we're going to buy you out,’’ said Leonetty Gray, 39, Waller's niece and a local schoolteacher who grew up helping at the store. Five at a time, the masked fraternity brothers and sorority sisters entered the shop and loaded up on purchases: T-shirts, flip-flops, hats — whatever Panhellenic memorabilia they could find.”
At least a dozen journalists were injured this weekend while covering the protests.
MSNBC anchor “Ali Velshi knew almost instantly what had happened when he felt a sharp pain in his leg Saturday night in Minneapolis: He’d been hit with a rubber bullet fired by police,” Paul Farhi and Elahe Izadi report. "In some cases this weekend, it was protesters who targeted journalists: A Fox News crew was punched and harassed outside the White House early Saturday; a crowd defaced the facade of CNN headquarters in Atlanta. But much of what has transpired against reporters was perpetrated by police. CNN cameraman Leonel Mendez and producer Bill Kirkos were both hit by rubber bullets as they were covering the street protests in Minneapolis Saturday evening, suffering minor injuries. … Vice News reporter Michael Anthony Adams shouted nearly a dozen times that he was a member of the media … ‘I don’t care,’ said one officer, ordering Adams to the ground. As Adams lay face down, showing his press badge, he was hit by a blast of pepper spray. …
“Los Angeles Times reporter Molly Hennessy-Fiske wrote that several journalists in Minneapolis shouted ‘press’ and waved credentials but were nonetheless cornered and chased by police spraying tear gas and firing rubber bullets. One hit her photographer colleague, Carolyn Cole, in the face. … Reuters TV cameraman Julio-Cesar Chavez was filming police about 8 p.m. Saturday when they began firing. ‘I’ve been hit in the face by a rubber bullet!’ he said on camera. … Journalists weren’t even safe in their cars. Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter Ryan Faircloth had blood running down his face as he said on camera that he was ‘just trying to get out of the area’ when a police tear-gas round shattered a car window."
“In some parts of the country, police detained journalists, including HuffPost reporter Christopher Mathias, who wore a press badge while on assignment to cover protests in Brooklyn. … In Michigan, Detroit Free Press senior news director Jim Schaefer said on Twitter that several of his reporters were pepper-sprayed by police, and an officer slapped a live-stream camera out of the hand of a photographer … An officer in Louisville on Friday night pointed a gun containing pepper balls at a local TV news cameraman as reporter Kaitlin Rust screamed on live TV, ‘I’m getting shot!’ … Louisville police spokeswoman Jessie Halladay said the department was trying to identify the officer who fired at them." (CNN President Jeff Zucker is not ruling out a run for mayor of New York next year. “New York City is going to need a very strong mayor in the aftermath of this, and I always like a challenge,” he told Times media columnist Ben Smith.)
The coronavirus remains
The crowded protests have sparked concerns about fresh coronavirus outbreaks.
“The rules of the covid-19 pandemic, so recently learned at considerable inconvenience, have been discarded on the streets in recent days. Protesters frequently find it impossible to stay six feet apart, to avoid hand-to-hand contact or to dodge the respiratory droplets of their shouting, chanting comrades amid the swirling chaos. And because the virus can be spread by people with no symptoms, it can be impossible to figure out whom to avoid,” Lenny Bernstein reports. “Officials are clearly worried about the possible impact of the protests on the health crisis. As of Sunday, the United States had recorded 1.7 million coronavirus infections and 103,000 covid-19 deaths — a disproportionate number of them black and brown people. … Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) urged her city’s demonstrators to seek tests for the virus as soon as possible. … On the other hand, several circumstances play to the protesters’ benefit, experts said. The most critical is being outside; open space and breezes dilute and disperse the virus.”
In the D.C. region, leaders are concerned protests will wipe out progress the region has made toward reopening. “There’s about a 14-day incubation period, so, two weeks from now, across America, we’re going to find out whether this gives us a spike and drives the numbers back up or not,” said Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R). Bowser, the D.C. mayor, urged protesters to self-isolate. The two elected leaders’ comments came as the last D.C. suburbs prepared to gradually reopen their economies starting today, marking the end of a nearly two-month shutdown. Montgomery and Prince George’s counties will allow retail businesses to offer curbside pickup and restaurants to begin outdoor seating, following similar moves in the District and Northern Virginia on Friday. (Fenit Nirappil)
California, Texas and South Carolina reported new single-day highs for new cases, and several other states reported surges of infections over the weekend. California set a record with 3,705 new cases and has set new highs in three of the past four days. Meanwhile, Texas reported 1,949 new cases, surpassing the previous record (set Thursday) of 1,855. North Carolina has had its highest numbers in three of the past four days, with 1,185 new cases Saturday. Mississippi also experienced peaks this weekend, with a high of 439 on Saturday after reaching 418 on Friday. (Kareem Copeland)
Most Americans still favor controlling the outbreak over reopening the economy.
Nearly 6 in 10 Americans believe the outbreak has had a severe economic toll on their communities, but a majority still says controlling the spread is more important than reopening the economy, according to the new Post-ABC News poll: 57 percent of Americans overall and 81 percent of Democrats say trying to control the spread of the coronavirus is most important right now, even if it hurts the economy. Republicans have shifted: 27 percent of Republicans agree with that, while 66 percent of them say restarting the economy is more important, even if it hurts efforts to control the virus. (Scott Clement and Dan Balz)
Desperate retailers are asking the Fed and Treasury for emergency help.
“As they reopen stores full of merchandise from March that no one will want in June, retailers are struggling to make room for summer goods trapped in overstuffed warehouses. With five big retailers having filed for bankruptcy in May, some of the industry’s survivors can’t get financial backing for their holiday season orders,” David Lynch and Abha Bhattarai report. “Retailers have to decide what to do with their leftover March goods and a glut of seasonal gear while they place their bets on what consumer spending will look like in six months. … Weakness in the roughly $3.8 trillion retail sector could ripple across the wounded U.S. economy, hobbling prospects for a rapid recovery."
From the Andes to Tibet, the virus seems to be sparing populations at high altitudes.
“The relative dearth of cases and deaths in the internationally connected but high-elevation region [of Cusco in Peru] has prompted speculation here that the coronavirus gets soroche, the Quechua word for altitude sickness," Simeon Tegel reports. "Similar results have been seen elsewhere in the Andes, and in Tibet. Scientists warn that the apparent pattern might not last, but the as-yet-unexplained phenomenon has them intrigued. Researchers are starting to investigate a possible relationship between the coronavirus and altitude.”
- Hong Kong police canceled the city’s annual vigil for Tiananmen Square victims for the first time in 30 years, citing coronavirus concerns. But that seems like an excuse. (Adam Taylor)
- China said it is sending 30 million testing kits a month to Africa, plus 10,000 ventilators and 80 million masks. (Teo Armus)
- The U.S. sent Brazil two million dozes of hydroxychloroquine for use against the virus, despite medical warnings about the risks of using the drug. The two countries will also conduct a joint research effort, and the United States will also send 1,000 ventilators to Brazil. (Reuters)
- Raising kids in a dilapidated Venezuela was already hard, and the pandemic made it worse. Nicolas Maduros’s government has imposed one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, and there’s no timetable for a return to school. (Mariana Zúñiga)
- A top Italian medical official said the virus is losing potency and, “clinically,” does not exist in Italy anymore. (Reuters)
- Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan tested positive for the virus but said he’s asymptomatic and will be working from home. Armenia, with a population of 3 million, has 9,282 confirmed cases and 131 fatalities. (Isabelle Khurshudyan)
- Manila ended a two-month lockdown with a ferocious traffic jam, caused by insufficient public transportation. Officials said limited transportation is necessary to curb the spread of covid-19, but critics are bracing for an even worse spike in cases from the clusters of stranded people. (Regine Cabato)
- Queen Elizabeth II was spotted outside for the first time since lockdown measures were implemented in Britain. The 94-year-old was photographed riding a black pony around Windsor Castle, where she has been isolating since March 23. (Jennifer Hassan)
Social media speed read
Biden canceled a scheduled (virtual) speech to the Maine Democratic Party and left his basement in Delaware to visit a protest site near his house:
We are a nation in pain right now, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us.— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) May 31, 2020
As President, I will help lead this conversation — and more importantly, I will listen, just as I did today visiting the site of last night's protests in Wilmington. pic.twitter.com/0h2ApbKT0C
Meanwhile, Trump fanned the flames:
There really is a tweet for everything:
In addition to the violence, there are poignant images like this from across America:
The scene at George Floyd’s memorial in Minneapolis right now pic.twitter.com/ubormxfKZQ— Andrew Kimmel (@andrewkimmel) June 1, 2020
Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) got pepper sprayed while trying to mediate between a protester and police:
I’m ok. Was just trying my best to deescalate the situation. https://t.co/7HtXR2os0y— Joyce Beatty (@RepBeatty) May 30, 2020
“I’m a grandmother, I’m an elected official, but I’m a black woman first and I felt the pain,” Beatty told NBC4. “So I was there on the edge of the sidewalk when it all happened, wanting to support and feeling the need to protect this young sister. She was very vocal, but that’s freedom of speech. To push and shove and use a bicycle against her, I just think there could have been a better way.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the acting chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said three countries are using the protests to fan the flames of division on social media:
Tonight seeing VERY heavy social media activity on #protests & counter reactions from social media accounts linked to at least 3 foreign adversaries.— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 31, 2020
They didn’t create these divisions. But they are actively stoking & promoting violence & confrontation from multiple angles.
Videos of the day
After SpaceX's successful launch on Saturdya, NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken docked with – and boarded – the International Space Station on Sunday:
Trevor Noah shared his thoughts on Minneapolis:
And John Oliver rebutted Trump’s false claims about mail-in voting: