with Mariana Alfaro

Many current and former members of the armed forces are disturbed that Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, joined President Trump during his photo op at St. John’s Church after peaceful protesters were forcibly removed from Lafayette Square. The Army general also ruffled feathers by touring downtown Washington later Monday night in his combat fatigues, as helicopters buzzed overheard and the city took on the feel of a war zone. In a cleanup effort, Pentagon aides have said Milley didn’t know he was going to the photo op, and he has now sent a memorandum to all the service chiefs to emphasize his support for keeping the Pentagon as far away from politics as possible.

“Every member of the U.S. military swears an oath to support and defend the Constitution and the values embedded within it,” Milley writes. “This document is founded on the essential principle that all men and women are born free and equal, and should be treated with respect and dignity. It also gives Americans the right to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly. … Please remind all our troops and leaders that we will uphold the values of our nation, and operate consistent with national laws and our own high standards of conduct at all times.” 

Scrawled in his own handwriting, Milley added this note: “We all committed our lives to the idea that is America – we will stay true to that oath and the American people.” 

The killing of George Floyd in police custody, the protests that followed and the ensuing crackdown have combined to generate a heated national conversation about those values “embedded” in the Constitution and, as Milley puts it, “the idea that is America.”

The events of the past week have both deepened and exposed rifts between those who serve in uniform and their commander in chief, as well as between the police and those they have sworn to protect. They’re also raising questions about the role of the free press in American society.

America is a nation of laws – but also norms. It’s a republic that’s thrived because of institutions, but those are ultimately only as strong as the people who lead them. The laws, the norms, the institutions and their leaders are all under intense strain against the backdrop of the worst civil unrest since 1968, the worst economic crisis since 1933 and the worst public health crisis since 1918.

The “idea” that Milley referred to is not a cliche. Its meaning has been forged over the 244 years since American began her experiment with self-governance by declaring independence from King George in 1776 and then the 155 years since the Civil War ended slavery. The United States has struggled ever since to live up to the lofty rhetoric of its founding documents. Indeed, it is the failure to live to up the Jeffersonian ideals that sparked the unrest last week, as millions of African Americans and their white allies decided they were fed up with unarmed black men being killed in police custody.

“We all bear the scars of history, of oppressors and the oppressed,” said Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel, the chief of the National Guard, in his own memo to the troops. “We cannot erase this legacy, but we can listen, we can learn, and we can be better. We must be better. Everyone who wears the uniform of our country takes an oath to uphold the Constitution and everything for which it stands. If we are to fulfill our obligation as service members, as Americans, as decent human beings, we have to take our oath seriously. We cannot tolerate racism, discrimination or casual violence. We cannot abide divisiveness and hate. We cannot stand by and watch.”

The role of the military

Former secretary of defense Jim Mattis, a retired four-star Marine general, has bitten his tongue for years when asked about Trump. But Trump crossed Mattis’s Rubicon this week. “When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution,” Mattis wrote in a three-page statement released Wednesday night. “Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens — much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.”

Mattis joined several other former national security officials, including retired Navy admiral and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen, who have decried the militarization of the response to protests. Mattis said this is setting up “a false conflict between the military and civilian society” and “erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part.”

“We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square,” Mattis wrote. “We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution. At the same time, we must remember Lincoln’s ‘better angels,’ and listen to them, as we work to unite.”

Referring to Trump, Mattis continued: “We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.” Trump responded by calling Mattis “the world’s most overrated general” and falsely claiming on Twitter that he fired him in December 2018. In fact, Mattis resigned in protest over Trump’s announcement that he would pull all U.S. troops out of Syria. 

Quote of the day

“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us,” Mattis said in his statement. “We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.”

Defense Secretary Mark Esper distanced himself from Trump on Wednesday, saying that it is unnecessary to invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807, which would give the president widespread latitude to deploy active-duty troops to U.S. cities, even over the objections of governors and mayors. Esper also insisted that he did not know he was walking with the president for the photo op at St. John’s until they arrived. And he said that “in retrospect,” he would not have characterized American urban centers as a “battlespace” that the military can “dominate.”

Esper’s remarks frustrated the president, senior administration officials said. “The officials said that Esper met with Trump at the White House, and that Trump was counseled not to fire the defense secretary,” Dan Lamothe, Missy Ryan, Paul Sonne and Josh Dawsey report

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany declined to offer an endorsement of the Pentagon chief during a press briefing after he met with Trump. “With regard to whether the president has confidence in Secretary Esper, I would say that if he loses confidence in Secretary Esper, I’m sure you all will be the first to know,” McEnany said. “So, guys, as of right now, Secretary Esper is still Secretary Esper. And should the president lose faith in him, we will all learn about that in the future.”

Esper also sent a memo to DOD personnel this week emphasizing the need to stay out of politics. “I ask that you remember at all times our commitment as a department and as public servants to stay apolitical in these turbulent days,” the secretary wrote.

The role of the Fourth Estate

The New York Times faces a staff insurrection of its own over the editorial page’s decision to run an op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.). Dozens of Times journalists, and the union that represents them, have publicly rebuked their employer for giving a platform to the senator as he calls for Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act. Cotton argues that an “overwhelming show of force” is needed to “restore order to our streets.” Times reporters, columnists, editors and support personnel have tweeted the identical message: “Running this puts Black @nytimes staffers in danger.” The paper reports that three Times journalists told editors that sources wouldn’t send them information because of the op-ed.

From the Times’s China correspondent:

It’s shocking to see the rank-and-file challenge management in this way, but it also raises deep questions about the trend toward advocacy inside elite newsrooms that deeply troubles traditionalists. Editorial pages are distinct from newsrooms. They are supposed to be marketplaces of ideas where people from across the ideological spectrum can stake out positions. Serious newspapers run a wide range of perspectives, including those that may make people who write for them feel uncomfortable. That’s how it has always worked.

Editorial page editor James Bennet replied to the blowback by noting that he has an obligation “to our readers to show them counter-arguments, particularly those made by people in a position to set policy.” He tweeted several links to pieces he’s recently edited about the need for police reform. “We understand that many readers find Senator Cotton’s argument painful, even dangerous,” Bennet tweeted. “We believe that is one reason it requires public scrutiny and debate.”

But Cotton’s op-ed touched a nerve among a younger generation, predominantly people of color, at the Gray Lady. Times opinion columnist Jamelle Bouie said it’s because Cotton’s essay is a “call for military force against Americans.” Nikole Hannah-Jones, who won a Pulitzer Prize this year for her “1619″ project, said that she’s “deeply” ashamed “as a black woman, as a journalist [and] as an American” that her employer gave voice to Cotton. Roxane Gay, a contributing op-ed writer for the Times, tweeted: “We are well served by robust and ideologically diverse public discourse that includes radical, liberal, and conservative voices. This is not that. His piece was inflammatory and endorsing military occupation as if the constitution doesn’t exist.”

Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger sent a note to staff this morning trying to lower the temperature. “I believe in the principle of openness to a range of opinions, even those we may disagree with, and this piece was published in that spirit,” he wrote.

The role of the police

Former president Barack Obama held a virtual town hall on police brutality on June 3, in light of George Floyd’s death and the associated nationwide protests. (The Washington Post)

In his first public remarks since Floyd’s death, former president Barack Obama emphasized the need for local police departments to implement reforms proposed by a task force he appointed after Michael Brown was shot by a white police office in Ferguson, Mo., six years ago. “To bring about real change, we have to both highlight a problem and make people in power uncomfortable, but we also have to translate that into practical solutions and laws,” Obama said during a virtual town hall hosted by his nonprofit, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance. “And every step of progress in this country, every expansion of freedom, every expression of our deepest ideals has been won through efforts that made the status quo uncomfortable.”

Attitudes are definitely changing. A majority of Americans — 57 percent — think police are more likely to use deadly force against a black person than a white person, up from 43 percent in 2016, according to a CBS News poll published this morning. Majorities of Democrats, independents and Republicans said they do not believe the use of force against Floyd was justified. 

“People of power, privilege, and moral conscience must stand up and say ‘no more’ to a racially discriminatory police and justice system, immoral economic disparities between whites and blacks, and government actions that undermine our unified democracy,” former president Jimmy Carter said in a statement issued Wednesday.

Bill Clinton posed four questions in his own statement: “If George Floyd had been white, handcuffed, and lying on the ground, would he be alive today? Why does this keep happening? What can we do to ensure that every community has the police department it needs and deserves? What can I do?”

“We can’t honestly answer these questions in the divide and conquer, us vs. them, shift the blame and shirk the responsibility world we’re living in,” Clinton continued. “People with power should go first—answer the questions, expand who’s ‘us’ and shrink who’s ‘them,’ accept some blame, and assume more responsibility. But the rest of us have to answer these questions too.”

Police keep using force against peaceful protesters, prompting criticism of their tactics and training. 

“Demonstrators were protesting outside the Austin Police Department over the weekend when officers fired a beanbag round, striking a pregnant woman in the crowd. ‘My baby!’ she cried out in a video that circulated widely online. The next day, officers again fired a beanbag round as a demonstrator threw rocks and bottles at police. The round struck a 20-year-old black protester standing near the man throwing objects, leaving him in critical condition,” Mark Berman and Emily Wax-Thibodeaux report. “The incidents in Austin and others like them have echoed in cities across the country. … While some incidents have led to discipline for officers involved, the wave of episodes has just as often gone unpunished. … Police chiefs leading departments in many big cities — including the District, Boston, Seattle and San Francisco — signed a letter this week saying that not every force can immediately terminate officers.” This is often because of collective bargaining agreements with powerful unions that are designed to protect cops, including the dirty ones.

  • As protests continue in Atlanta, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) promised to review her city's police use-of-force policies. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  • The Los Angeles Police Department’s budget could be cut by up to $150 million, money that would then be reinvested in communities of color, according to a new plan announced by Mayor Eric Garcetti (D). (Los Angeles Times)
  • The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., police officer who was suspended for shoving a kneeling woman during a protest had already been reviewed for using force 79 times during 3½ years on the force, according to the Miami Herald and the Sun Sentinel.
  • “The no-knock warrant for Breonna Taylor was illegal. Police departments continue to violate an important Supreme Court ruling — and judges keep letting them," Radley Balko writes.
  • Brandon Saenz, a Dallas man, lost his left eye in a protest after he was hit with so-called less-lethal ammunition, meaning rubber or pepper balls. Now he and his family are demanding the Dallas police chief find the officer responsible. “I just want my justice,” said Saenz, 26. (Dallas Morning News)
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison on June 3 increased the severity of the charges against the officers involved in the death of George Floyd. (Reuters)
Minnesota authorities upgraded murder charges against the officer who pinned Floyd and charged three others. 

“Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison (D) acknowledged the uphill battle in prosecuting murder charges against police officers, who rarely are convicted of on-duty killings, but said he is confident that the facts of the case support the charges,” Brittany Shammas, Kim Bellware and Brady Dennis report. “Derek Chauvin, the 44-year-old white officer who was captured on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as the black man pleaded for air, now faces a charge of second-degree murder, in addition to the third-degree murder charge officials filed last week. Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng, who were fired along with Chauvin in the wake of the incident, face charges of felony aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. … Bail for all four was set at $1 million. … The charges carry maximum sentences of as many as 40 years for all four officers.”

  • Melissa Borton, a Minneapolis woman, recalled a 2007 run-in with Chauvin during a traffic stop. Chauvin, “without a word,” reached inside her car, unlocked the door and began pulling her out while she was still strapped in with her baby and her dog in the car, Borton alleged. She didn’t think she’d disobeyed any laws. She asked Chauvin and a second officer why she was being detained, and they said her van matched a description. They let her go without further explanation 15 minutes later. The incident “tainted every experience I’ve had with the police since then,” Borton said. “I lived to complain. George Floyd didn’t.” (Los Angeles Times)
  • Bringing the spring's big story lines together, we learned that Floyd tested positive for covid-19 in early April. The autopsy report does not cite the virus as a factor in his death. It says the victim probably had “asymptomatic but persistent” positivity from an infection, according to the Star Tribune.
  • A memorial service for Floyd will be held this afternoon in Minneapolis.
In New York, a disciplinary review panel found that dozens of officers deserved more serious punishment.

The report by New York City’s Commission to Combat Police Corruption offered a rare glimpse into the police force’s opaque disciplinary system, which shields police disciplinary records from public view, the City reports. Democrats in Albany are trying to repeal the long-standing state law, known as 50-A, that keeps these records confidential. According to the commission’s findings, 11 New York Police Department officers should have been fired for misconduct, while 31 others merited “dismissal probation” that could allow for termination over any infraction. None of these actions were taken.

  • More than 230 current and former staffers for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) signed a letter demanding that he live up to the promises of police reform that he ran on, which they say drew them to come work for him.
  • Meanwhile, de Blasio demanded that Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) apologize to the NYPD for saying the department didn’t do its job during Monday night's looting. Cuomo blamed the mayor and the police for not preventing mass looting in Manhattan. (CNN)
One problem in Washington this week is that it’s not clear whom many of the armed men on our streets work for. 

They won’t tell protesters or reporters which agencies they are with. 

“The idea that the federal government is putting law enforcement personnel on the line without appropriate designation of agency, name, etc. — that’s a direct contradiction of the oversight that they’ve been providing for many years to local police and demanding in all of their various monitorships and accreditation,” former New York City police commissioner William Bratton told Philip Bump.

Dennis Kenney, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York with expertise in police response to protests, said the way civilians were treated before Trump’s Monday walk to the church reminded him of when he advised a government minister in Yemen that he should use a soft touch on protests. The minister refused and, in six months, could not safely travel anywhere beyond his home and his office. “The heavy hand is a smack in the face, and the danger is that it may make things worse,” Kenney told Devlin Barrett. “It really does communicate something about where those who are in charge think our society sits right now. We’re in the process of demonstrating to the people who are out in the streets that they are right to be there.”

“I’m a cop. I won’t fight a ‘war’ on crime the way I fought the war on terror.” 

Patrick Skinner, a former CIA operations officer who is now a police officer in his hometown of Savannah, Ga., writes a thoughtful piece for our Sunday Outlook section: “We need to change our mind-set about what it means to ‘police’ in America. At this moment of maximal national tension and outrage, when national leaders are calling the streets of America a ‘battlespace,’ with police officers as warriors who should ‘dominate’ and give ‘no quarter,’ I am telling whoever will listen: Police are not warriors — because we are not and must not be at war with our neighbors. What we now see deployed in many cities and towns is anti-policing. It’s the death of true community police work and, too often, the death of our neighbors.”

The latest on the protests

Thousands of protesters chanted George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s names as they marched near the White House on June 3. (The Washington Post)
Crowds in D.C. began dwindling early this morning after a sixth night of protests.

“By 1 a.m. Thursday, the large, peaceful crowds of thousands that had roamed from the U.S. Capitol to the White House protesting systemic racism had largely dispersed. About 200 marchers continued through the city, playing music as they went,” Kyle Swenson, Fredrick Kunkle and Steve Thompson report. “Near the White House, a sparse crowd remained — with nearly as many journalists as protesters. A shirtless man held a baseball bat and a campaign sign for D.C. Council member Trayon White. A woman yelled at U.S. Army officers to ‘Quit your job.’”

More than 10,000 people have been arrested in the week of protests since Floyd’s death, according to an Associated Press tally. Police tear-gassed a large crowd in New Orleans as they crossed a bridge connecting the city to Jefferson Parish. After a relatively calm evening of protest, officers launched the gas after a small group of protesters provoked shield-wearing officers, according to the police department.

In Los Angeles, police in riot gear handcuffed close to 100 protesters who broke the 9 p.m. curfew. In New York, three officers were recorded beating a cyclist with batons in the street as he tried to get away amid a curfew crackdown. Police in Huntsville, Ala., shot tear gas and rubber bullets at peaceful protesters because officials said a permit for the demonstration had expired an hour earlier and protesters refused to leave. Meanwhile, Philadelphia’s largest march ended peacefully, with a prayer, shortly after curfew.

Other major cities ended their curfews after protests remained peaceful late into the night. In Detroit, Police Chief James Craig said he would not get in the way of anyone marching peacefully after curfew, the Detroit Free Press reported. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) said she canceled a curfew after she and the city’s police chief met with community leaders, Hannah Knowles reports.

Richmond's iconic Robert E. Lee statue is coming down. 

“Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) plans to announce Thursday that he will remove the towering statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from its site on Monument Avenue and put it into storage,” Gregory Schneider and Laura Vozzella report. “Word of the pending announcement set off jubilant roars among thousands gathered at the foot of the edifice. … ‘Who said our protests were useless? Who said our protests were stupid?’ [said] Mel Shelton, 27, a Richmond musician. … ‘Look what we’ve done! We are leading the rest of the country.’”

D.C. Officer Carlton Wilhoit explained why he knelt before protesters.

“When Wilhoit showed up for duty that day, he didn’t know he was going to kneel,” Theresa Vargas writes. “Then, during his shift, hours before he headed to the protests, a young white man berated him for wearing that uniform. Wilhoit was still thinking about that encounter … when he found himself standing on a D.C. street in front of about 60 protesters who pleaded, ‘Kneel for us.’ He knew then, he says, that he had to press a knee to the pavement. ‘For me, kneeling was the right thing to do,’ the 29-year-old says. ‘At the end of the day, I’m black first. If I were to lose my job today or tomorrow, or if I were to choose a different career path, one thing that would still remain when I take this uniform off is I’m a black man.’”

Young protesters in D.C. have implored officers to acknowledge them and their cause. “One fist,” Adam Lenssa, an 18-year-old black protester, shouted at a black Secret Service member, raising his hand and asking the officer to do the same. “Is that too much to ask for? Do you have no heart? One fist! Please, one fist!” Instead, the agents lurched forward, shoving the demonstrators. (Michael Miller)

The White House is still not telling the truth about what happened.

Trump was rushed to a secure bunker in the White House on Friday evening after a group of protesters hopped over temporary barricades set up near the Treasury Department grounds, according to arrest records and people familiar with the incident,” Carol Leonnig scooped. “The security move came after multiple people crossed over fences that had been erected to create a larger barrier around the White House complex around 7 p.m. Secret Service officers detained at least four protesters. … The events contradict the president’s claim Wednesday that he went to the bunker simply to inspect the secure location.”

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany falsely claimed during a Wednesday briefing that authorities were acting in self-defense when they removed protesters from Lafayette Square. “Video footage, news reports and accounts from witnesses on the scene that night, however, show the event was largely peaceful before the administration’s use of force,” Ashley Parker and Robert Costa report. “Another point of contention was the vehement denial by the White House, the Trump campaign, the Defense Department and the U.S. Park Police that tear gas had been used to help disperse the protests — despite real-time, firsthand accounts of a thick yellow smoke cloud hanging above the crowd, with protesters coughing, crying and even vomiting. … The Park Police said the chemical agents they deployed against the crowd included ‘pepper balls’ and ‘smoke canisters,’ items the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website defines as ‘riot control agents (sometimes referred to as ‘tear gas’).’’

The White House tweeted — and then deleted — a video containing several misleading clips about protesters. It said anarchists staged bricks to incite violence at protests sparked by Floyd's death. Yet there's no evidence, as of now, that protesters planted bricks at protests. Fact Checkers Meg Kelly and Elyse Samuels give these claims Four Pinocchios.

The coronavirus remains

Scores of coronavirus testing sites have been forced to close because of vandalism. 

About 70 sites across the country have had to close because of destruction from civil unrest. “According to HHS figures, at least nine health centers in five states have been damaged in the past nights of unrest, including in Sacramento, Denver and Philadelphia, as well as in Minnesota,” Amy Goldstein reports. “And at least six health centers in five states were closed because of their proximity to protests. The 70 testing sites — out of 424 in the program — that closed because of unrest are in 17 states, plus the District.” The virus has killed at least 105,000 people in the United States, and at least 1,843,000 cases have been reported.

Unemployment claims for the last week of May were 1.9 million.

That’s the lowest since the coronavirus started spreading widely back in March, a sign that the economy may no longer be in free fall. “The Department of Labor, which released the data, also noted that gig and self-employed workers filed fewer initial claims last week — 620,000 compared to 1.2 million the previous week — under the expanded federal program that grants them benefits,” Eli Rosenberg and Heather Long report. “The slowing in jobless claims doesn’t mean the United States has any less deep of a hole to dig itself out of. The weekly numbers on Thursday are still more than double the pre-coronavirus record of 695,000 set in October 1982, as they have been every week since mid-March this year. Unemployment rates by state are highest in Nevada (25 percent), Maine (23 percent), Michigan (23 percent), Hawaii (20.6 percent) and New York (19 percent).”

  • The Senate passed a bill to increase flexibility for businesses participating in the Paycheck Protection Program. (Erica Werner
  • As the virus took jobs and sickened workers, many teens have started working full time. (Robert Klemko)
  • Millions of Americans are skipping payments on mortgages, auto loans and other bills. Many are getting help from all kinds of lenders to keep up. (NPR
The global race for a vaccine could lead to this generation’s Sputnik moment. 

“The same day in mid-March that the United States launched human testing of its first experimental coronavirus vaccine, scientists in China announced their own trial would begin. Days after a company unveiled the partial data from the first U.S. human tests last month, a complete report of the Chinese trial was published in a prestigious medical journal,” Carolyn Johnson and Eva Dou report. “The nation that produces the first safe and effective vaccine will gain not only bragging rights but also a fast track to put its people back to work, a powerful public health tool to protect its citizens and a precious resource to reward allies.”

  • Hydroxychloroquine failed to prevent healthy people from getting the virus in a clinical trial. (Laurie McGinley and Ariana Eunjung Cha)
  • The Trump administration banned flights by Chinese airlines beginning later this month. The change is in response to China’s refusal to allow U.S. carriers to resume service to China. (Lori Aratani and Michael Laris)
Latin America had time to prepare for the virus. It couldn’t stop the inevitable.

“For a time, early in the pandemic, when Latin America was mostly a spectator watching outbreaks in China, then Europe, then the United States, there was hope that when the coronavirus arrived here, things would be different. The climate was warmer. The people were younger. The governments had more time to study the mistakes made elsewhere, and to prepare,” Terrence McCoy reports. “Weeks later, more than a million people have been infected, tens of thousands are dead, and those hopes are gone. … More than 31,000 [have died in Brazil]. … Peru has now confirmed twice as many infections as China. Mexico has suffered more than 10,000 deaths. Officials in Chile, now in the throes of one of the world’s most explosive outbreaks, warn that the hospital system in Santiago is teetering at capacity. The World Health Organization has declared Latin America the new epicenter of the global pandemic.”

Rebel threats, secret burials and shuttered hospitals mask the spread of the pandemic in Yemen. Health experts say the outbreak is dramatically larger than the almost 400 cases and 87 deaths reported by official sources. In the worst-case scenario, the virus could ultimately infect about 28 million Yemenis — nearly the entire population — and cause at least 65,000 deaths. (Sudarsan Raghavan)

Other news that should be on your radar

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on June 3, former attorney general Rod J. Rosenstein contradicted a number of GOP theories about the Mueller probe. (The Washington Post)
Rod Rosenstein said he would not sign the application to surveil Carter Page knowing what he does now.

The former deputy attorney general conceded during an appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee that, in hindsight, he would not have signed an application to continue monitoring the former Trump campaign adviser during the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He also claimed he did not know about the significant problems that have since been identified with the investigation by the DOJ inspector general. But Rosenstein defended his appointment of Bob Mueller as special counsel. “I do not believe the investigation was a hoax,” Rosenstein said of the Russia probe. This was the first hearing of the GOP inquest into those who investigated the president and his men. (Matt Zapotosky)

  • During a closed-door interview with lawmakers, ousted State Department inspector general Steve Linick confirmed that his office was looking into allegations that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife asked staff to do personal errands for them, as well as the administration’s bypassing of congressional approval for arms sales to Saudi Arabia. (Karen DeYoung and Carol Morello)
Trump is growing more worried about his reelection.

“Trump is facing the bleakest outlook for his re-election bid so far, with his polling numbers plunging in both public and private surveys and his campaign beginning to worry about his standing in states like Ohio and Iowa that he carried by wide margins four years ago,” the New York Times reports. “In private, Mr. Trump has expressed concern that his campaign is not battle-ready for the general election. … In private polling conducted by Mr. Trump’s campaign, the president is now well behind Mr. Biden.”

  • Fresh Fox News polls show Joe Biden ahead in Arizona and Wisconsin, with Ohio a toss-up. Biden leads Trump 49-40 in Wisconsin, 46-42 in Arizona and 45-43 in Ohio. A Quinnipiac University poll has Trump and Biden neck and neck in Texas, 44-43. With polls increasingly showing the election tilting away from Trump, he’s started to claim they’re invented.
  • Trump tried to register to vote in Florida using an out-of-state address. “A month later, Trump resubmitted his application to use a Florida address and in March he voted by mail in Florida’s Republican primary. The revisions complicate Trump’s own record as a voter at a time when the president has made unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud in mail-in balloting,” Manuel Roig-Franzia scoops.
  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) endorsed Jamaal Bowman’s primary challenge against her Democratic colleague Rep. Eliot Engel in the Big Apple, a day after the incumbent was caught on a hot mic saying he wanted to speak at a news conference about police brutality only because he faces a primary challenge. (Politico)

Social media speed read

Some scenes from downtown D.C.:

The CBS affiliate in D.C. shared an image of canisters collected by its journalists:

Videos of the day

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, shared her sadness about racial divisions in the United States, telling students at her former high school that she felt moved to speak out after Floyd's death:

And Amber Ruffin, a writer for “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” spoke out against police violence: