with Mariana Alfaro

On Memorial Day in 1927, President Trump’s father was arrested as 1,000 white-robed Klansmen marched through Queens. A contemporaneous news account said Fred Trump was detained “on a charge of refusing to disperse from a parade when ordered to do so.” It’s never been completely clear what role he played, but a flier passed around the neighborhood before the Ku Klux Klan assembled said that they were protesting “Native-born Protestant Americans” being “assaulted by Roman Catholic police of New York City.” Donald Trump has always denied that his late father was arrested or had anything to do with the KKK.

On Memorial Day in 2020, George Floyd was killed in the custody of Minneapolis police. An officer, who has been fired and faces murder charges, kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Floyd's death has triggered two weeks of growing global protests against police brutality.

On Sunday, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) joined about 1,000 demonstrators in Washington for a peaceful march toward the White House. As they passed the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, a cantor with a megaphone led the crowd of Christians – organized by local evangelical churches – in singing the hymn “This Little Light of Mine.”

Romney told The Washington Post that he was there to “to make sure that people understand that black lives matter.” The senator’s surprise appearance, in dark jeans and an N95 mask that allowed him to mostly blend into the crowd, came a day after he tweeted a photograph of his late father, George Romney, joining a civil rights protest when he was governor of Michigan in the 1960s.

“If you know anything about Mitt Romney, you know how much influence his dad has on him to this day,” said Matt Waldrip, the chief of staff in Romney’s Senate office. This “wasn’t about Mitt Romney honoring his dad, but it was about the man Mitt Romney is because of his dad.”

All of us are indelibly influenced by our relationships with our fathers – or lack thereof. Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford were shaped profoundly by the absence of their fathers. Ronald Reagan was deeply affected by his father’s alcoholism. George W. Bush became the second man in American history to follow his father’s footsteps into the Oval Office. Like his dad, he took the United States to war with Iraq. Unlike his dad, he won a second term.

Donald Trump, born into immense wealth, joined the family’s real estate business. His two eldest sons now work for him at the Trump Organization, from which the president has refused to divest himself. 

The shadow of George Romney has loomed especially large over Mitt Romney at every step of his life, according to many people who know him and have worked for him. Both men had successful careers in business before running for office. Ultimately, both ran unsuccessfully for president. Twice, in Mitt’s case, though he won the GOP nomination in 2012. George lost his quest for the GOP presidential nomination in 1968 to Richard Nixon, who appointed him as housing secretary and then repeatedly undermined him from the White House.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on June 7 participated in a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Washington, D.C., alongside hundreds of evangelicals. (The Washington Post)

Romney is the only GOP senator – out of 53 – known to have participated in the Black Lives Matter protests. A retiring House member, Rep. Will Hurd (R-Tex.), joined another march last week in the Lone Star State. “The protesters marched from the U.S. Capitol’s reflecting pool along Pennsylvania Avenue in a demonstration planned by a handful of evangelical churches in the D.C. region, including some of the most prominent. Organizers said they did not know that Romney planned to attend until they saw him. Romney said that he attended the Christians’ rally before the march,” Michelle Boorstein and Hannah Natanson report

Romney, his party’s nominee for president just eight years ago, was also the only Republican member of Congress, in either chamber, to support Trump’s impeachment this year for abuse of power over his pressure campaign to allegedly coerce the Ukrainian government to launch investigations of Joe and Hunter Biden. Though he did so reluctantly, knowing that the president’s acquittal was a foregone conclusion, he now has the distinction of being the sole senator in U.S. history to vote for convicting a president of his own party.

Romney said in February that his father’s memory weighed heavily on him. Throughout the Senate trial, he said he was guided by his father’s favorite verse of Mormon scripture: “Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good.” Explaining his vote, Romney added: “I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty, to the best of my ability, believing that my country expected it of me.”

Last week, Romney said former defense secretary Jim Mattis’s letter chastising Trump was “stunning and powerful”: “General Mattis is a man of extraordinary sacrifice. He’s an American patriot. He’s an individual whose judgment I respect, and I think the world of him,” Romney told reporters at the Capitol, as other Republican lawmakers distanced themselves from the retired four-star Marine Corps general. “If I ever had to choose somebody to be in a foxhole with, it would be with General Mattis. What a wonderful, wonderful man.”

Romney has made clear to associates that he will not vote for Trump. In 2016, he wrote in his wife Ann’s name on the ballot rather than vote for Hillary Clinton. It’s not clear whether he’ll do that again in November, according to Sunday’s New York Times.

The president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., tweeted on Sunday that no one cares who Romney votes for, using an expletive. He referred to the 2012 GOP standard-bearer as “Mitt RINOmney,” an acronym for Republican in name only. Trump Jr. also falsely claimed that Romney “begged” for the president’s endorsement when he sought his Senate seat in 2018.

In contrast, Matt Romney, one of the senator’s five sons, retweeted his dad’s selfie from the protest. “We are proud of you for getting out there and letting people see where you stand,” he tweeted, adding the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. 

Fred Trump died in 1999 at 93. George Romney died in 1995 at 88. Donald Trump and Mitt Romney are both 73. Romney joined the protests more than a week after Trump went to the White House bunker during a protest outside. While Romney declares unequivocally that “black lives matter,” Trump has called himself “your president of law and order,” decried “THUGS” and – repeating an infamous quote from a racist sheriff from the 1960s – tweeted that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

Many Democrats who demonized Romney in 2012 have reappraised him as he has resisted the excesses of Trumpism. Eight summers ago, when he was vice president, Joe Biden warned a crowd in Virginia in dire terms of what would happen if Romney won. “They are going to put y'all back in chains,” Biden claimed.

Former secretary of state Madeleine Albright apologized to Romney last year for mocking his claim during that campaign that Russia represented the biggest geostrategic threat to the United States. “Welcome to the right side of history,” Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett tweeted on Sunday after the march.

Lis Smith, who ran the Obama rapid response operation against Romney in 2012, pushed back against the praise for her old foe. “He actively sought vocal Birther Trump’s endorsement, didn’t denounce radical elements in his own party (see Steve King) and wouldn’t even stand up to rando questioners who accused [Obama] of treason,” she tweeted.

Other Obama alumni said Romney still deserves praise. “Whatever you think of how he got here, [there’s] something especially poignant that he’s doing this outside the house he spent a good chunk of his life trying to occupy, and which he knows he never will now,” said Patrick Dillon, a deputy political director in Obama’s White House and the husband of Biden’s campaign manager, Jen O’Malley Dillon. “I’ve never liked the version he thought he needed to be in campaigns, and he’s a Republican to his core; but it’s also true that, in governing, he’s clearly tried in his way to serve something higher than just partisanship. … I’ll take my lumps from friends who think otherwise.”

Divided America

On June 7, nine City Council members, who form a veto-proof majority, announced plans to disband the Minneapolis Police Department. (The Washington Post)
A movement to slash funding for police departments is gaining traction.

“Though long a concept floated among left-leaning activists and academics, officials from Washington to Los Angeles are now seriously considering ways to scale back their police departments and redirect funding to social programs,” Derek Hawkins, Katie Mettler and Perry Stein report. “On Sunday, nine members of the Minneapolis City Council announced they were seeking to dismantle the city’s police department … [Congressional] Democrats on Monday are expected to release a sweeping reform package aimed at curbing excessive force. … A 2017 book, ‘The End of Policing’ by Alex S. Vitale, a sociology professor at Brooklyn College, has become something of a manual for how such efforts might work. In it, Vitale argues that policing has ballooned out of control during the past 40 years, becoming a tool not just to combat crime but to deal with homelessness, mental illness and youth violence among other issues. The goal of reining in law enforcement was not to create a situation in which 'someone just flips a switch and there are no police,' he told NPR last week, but to re-envision of the role of police in society. …

“Speaking on Fox News Sunday, acting Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf called defunding police ‘an absurd assertion.’ On ABC News Sunday, he said he does ‘not think that we have a systemic racism problem with law enforcement officers across this country.’ Attorney General William P. Barr said on CBS News’s ‘Face the Nation’ that he believes there is no systemic racism in policing but that he understands why African Americans distrust officers ‘given the history of this country.’ 

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) said last week that he would reverse his plan to boost spending for the LAPD by instead redirecting $250 million from across the city’s budget toward programs for health care, jobs and ‘peace centers.’ As much as $150 million would come from the police department … [New York Mayor Bill de Blasio] said his administration was committed to shifting funding from the New York Police Department to youth initiatives and social services. … In Portland, Ore., the superintendent of schools and the mayor both agreed last week to remove police officers from the city’s schools and move more than $1 million budgeted for school resource officers into community programs."

In D.C., protesters painted “Defund the police” next to the “Black Lives Matter” street art that had been sanctioned by the mayor. On Sunday morning, staff from the city repainted the D.C. flag from the original mural but they did not touch the "defund the police" message. “Black Lives Matter D.C. tweeted the original mural commissioned by the city ‘is a performative distraction from real policy changes,’ adding the mayor has consistently been on the wrong side of ‘BLMDC’ history. ‘Black Lives Matter means defund the police,’ the organization said,” per Rebecca Tan, Michael Miller, Rachel Chason, Samantha Schmidt and Teddy Amenabar

Experts are not as optimistic as protesters that this will be a moment of reckoning for American policing.

“There are signs that Floyd’s killing might not be the watershed moment that civil rights advocates are hoping for,” Kimberly Kindy and Michael Brice-Saddler report. “The extraordinary facts of the May 25 incident — the gradual loss of consciousness of a handcuffed man who cried out for his deceased mother with his final breaths — distinguishes it from the more common and more ambiguous fatal police encounters that lead to debate over whether use of force was justified. And the politics of police reform that have squashed previous efforts still loom: powerful unions, legal immunity for police and intractable implicit biases. ‘We have 400 years of history of policing that tell me things tend not to change,’ said Lorenzo Boyd, director of the Center for Advanced Policing at the University of New Haven. ‘It’s a breaking point right now, just like Trayvon Martin was a breaking point, just like Michael Brown was a breaking point. But the question is: Where do we go from here?’”

  • Over the past 60 years, more spending on police hasn’t necessarily meant less crime. Even in recent years, as national spending on policing per person has dropped, crime has not risen. (Philip Bump)
Tensions continue to deescalate, with some notable exceptions. 

“The demonstrations, which were initially marked by confrontations and violence, have become more peaceful even as several cities saw their largest ever crowds,” Felicia Sonmez, Matt Zapotosky and Meryl Kornfield report. “Trump announced Sunday morning that he was ordering National Guard troops to begin withdrawing from the nation’s capital, the morning after more than 10,000 people marched through the District in what was mostly a festive day of demonstrations. … [De Blasio] cited the weekend’s protests, which took place with no major clashes between police and demonstrators, in announcing an immediate end to his city’s curfew, which had been set to expire Monday morning. … Officials in Chicago, Dallas, Sacramento, Indianapolis, Orlando and Buffalo also announced Saturday that they would lift their curfews, citing few instances of violence and arrests. …  Trump is set to hold a roundtable with law enforcement on Monday … Biden is expected to meet privately with members of Floyd’s family in Houston. Biden is also recording a video message that will play at the funeral … He is not planning to attend the service, citing his Secret Service detail and not wanting to disrupt it.”

  • Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said all out-of-state members of the National Guards will be out of D.C. within 48 to 72 hours, and all the active-duty troops that were on alert outside the city have returned to their home bases. (Paul Sonne)
  • Chicago police were filmed using aggressive tactics against some protesters over the last week, including an officer pulling a woman from a car at a mall on the Northwest Side, shoving her to the ground and then appearing to place his knee on her neck. Her family is calling for a criminal investigation. Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said he “relieved two of the involved officers of their police powers pending an external investigation.” (Mark Guarino)
  • A Fairfax County officer in Virginia was charged after using his stun gun on a black man without provocation, police said. (Justin Jouvenal and Emily Davies)
  • A man shot one person and drove into a crowd of protesters in Seattle. Police took a suspect into custody and recovered a gun. The victim, a 26-year-old protester, is in stable condition at the hospital. (Meagan Flynn)
  • A Pittsburgh man was arrested after he allegedly left a backpack of molotov cocktails during a protest. Matthew Michanowicz, 52, faces federal charges for illegal possession of an unregistered destructive device. (Timothy Bella)
  • Workers in Philadelphia removed a mural depicting former mayor and police commissioner Frank Rizzo, who has been seen as a symbol of police brutality for decades. Rizzo built a reputation as the “toughest cop in America” after using aggressive policing tactics, especially against the LGBT community and communities of color, during the 1960s and 1970s. (Katie Shepherd)
George Floyd will be laid to rest next to his mother. 

“It is a heartbreaking homecoming for friends and family who describe Floyd as a dreamer who wanted desperately to be in the NBA, to make it big, to forge a new life away from the poverty and the violence. And despite his successes — becoming the first of his siblings to graduate high school and go to college — there were setbacks, arrests, and, in the end, a death that galvanized protests across the globe,” the Houston Chronicle reports. “Floyd’s mother, known to everyone as ‘Miss Cissy,’ brought her children with her to meet her new boyfriend’s parents in Houston. They never left. … His mom’s tiny home was a hub, a refuge for anyone who needed a place to stay, a shower or a meal. … ‘He always talked about how his goal was to build his mom a house when he was old enough,’ [said his aunt, Angela Harrelson]. She missed him terribly after he moved, family members said. She died in May 2018. Raising five kids on her own in a cramped apartment, she tried to protect them from violence.”

New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet resigned, and his No. 2 was reassigned.

“The announcement comes three days after Bennet acknowledged that he had not read, before publication, a controversial op-ed from Sen. Tom Cotton (R.-Ark.) headlined ‘Send in the Troops,’ which called for military intervention in U.S. cities where protests over police brutality have ignited violence,” Travis Andrews and Elahe Izadi report. “Bennet’s resignation is a stunning end to a tenure during which he expanded the editorial page roster and saw one of his writers win a Pulitzer. The younger brother of Sen. Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.), he previously had a long career on the Times news staff, as White House correspondent and Jerusalem bureau chief. Bennet, 54, was considered one of the potential internal candidates in contention to succeed Executive Editor Dean Baquet, who plans to step down in a few years. … Colleagues said he broke down in tears during a meeting with one staffer, saying that he felt he had let his colleagues down.”

  • “There were real mistakes here,” Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger said in an interview, adding that he sees a need for a larger rethinking of how the Times handles op-ed pieces. “I’ve increasingly concluded that it’s broken.”
  • Kathleen Kingsbury, who joined the editorial page staff from the Boston Globe in 2017, will be interim editorial page editor, at least through the presidential election in November.
  • Stan Wischnowski, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s top editor, resigned after the newspaper ran a piece with the headline “Buildings Matter, Too.” Meanwhile, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette photojournalist Michael Santiago claims that the newspaper barred him and another reporter from covering protests because they are seen as biased for being black.
Protesters in Europe are pushing for a reckoning with racism in their own countries. 

“In London, protesters gathered outside the U.S. Embassy on Sunday for a second day of demonstrations. In Germany, ‘silent demonstrations’ on Saturday drew 150,000 people … And in Rome, protesters pointed to far-right campaigns against migrants and the industries that they say exploit them in off-the-books jobs,” Chico Harlan, Loveday Morris and Michael Birnbaum report. “Floyd’s killing has … struck a particular chord in Europe, where leaders have struggled to integrate a wave of migrants and refugees from Africa and the Middle East over the past seven years. … The protests bucked guidelines against large events … Organizers in Rome reminded the mask-wearing protesters to keep their distance from one another, but given the size of the crowd — several thousand — it was impossible to comply. … 

“In Bristol, protesters on Sunday pulled down a statue of the slave trader Edward Colston. Demonstrators in Brussels denounced racism in the United States and in Belgium, where citizens of African and Middle Eastern descent say they routinely face discrimination. Police estimated that 10,000 people, most of them in masks, packed central Brussels. They crowded in front of the Palace of Justice — a symbol both of the rule of law and injustice because its construction allowed the 19th-century monarch King Leopold II to dominate the Brussels skyline while he presided over a brutal rule in Congo in which as many as 10 million people died. Protesters have called for a deeper reckoning with Belgium’s colonial past, including tearing down the statues of Leopold that still stand in most big Belgian cities.”

Back in Minneapolis, Somali refugees see unwelcome echoes of the country they fled.

“Minnesota is home to more than 57,000 Somalis, the largest concentration in the country. Somalia collapsed into anarchy after the military regime led by Mohammed Siad Barre was overturned in 1991. Rival warlords vying for power threw the country into a civil war,” the New York Times reports. “Recent warnings by Trump about shooting looters and bringing in the military to quash protests, they said, had the ominous sound of an authoritarian regime. ‘I couldn’t distinguish between being in Somalia and being in St. Paul,’ said Omar Jamal, 45, who works in a sheriff’s office in St. Paul and who came to the United States in 1997. Observing the heavy presence of security forces and armored police, he said, ‘I realized that the U.S. is not much different from the country I came from.’”

Quote of the day

“Graduates, anger is a powerful force. It can be a useful force. But left on its own, it will only corrode, and destroy, and sow chaos — on the inside and out. But when anger is focused, when it’s channeled into something more — that is the stuff that changes history,” former first lady Michelle Obama said on Sunday in a virtual commencement address to the Class of 2020.

The coronavirus remains

Chanting "White coats for black lives," protesters in face masks, hospital scrubs and lab coats took to the streets of D.C. on June 6. (The Washington Post)
The virus was the kindling, and police brutality lit the fire. 

“The protests mean exposure to the virus and potentially accelerating its spread. The virus has killed more than 109,000 Americans, including a disproportionate number of blacks,” Marc Fisher, Peter Jamison and Ava Wallace report. “Far from being separate crises, the deadly epidemic of covid-19 … and the sudden explosion of street protests against police violence are intimately connected, according to protesters and public and mental health professionals. ‘People are so pent-up with frustration from being inside for so long,’ said Patricia Newton, chief executive and medical director of the Black Psychiatrists of America, which has about 2,000 members. …. 'When people feel hopeless, they feel they have nothing to lose and caution goes to the wind.’ … It’s not that protesters don’t know that gathering in large crowds is likely to further spread the virus. Rather, they often view that reality through a blend of fatalism and idealism."

The protests have marked a dramatic end to social distancing. “What a way for a quarantine to end. What a whiplash rebound for the public square. What an abrupt shift from one dangerous reality to another,” Maura Judkis writes. “‘If you told me in February that in the next three months I was going to see no strangers whatsoever, and then my first intimate contact with strangers would be in the back of a prison bus, I’m not sure what I would have said,’ says Jackson Loop, a 28-year-old Californian. … For Cat Brooks, co-founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project in Oakland, Calif., the sudden leap from social distancing to social in-the-midst-ancing was ‘terrifying and beautiful.’ Terrifying, because she has asthma — if tear gas does not wreak havoc on her lungs, covid-19 could. Beautiful, because of the solidarity and the electric feeling of being surrounded by thousands of people determined to make themselves heard.” 

  • A study published this morning estimates that stay-at-home orders and other restrictions prevented 60 million coronavirus infections in the United States. A separate study from the Imperial College London estimated that the shutdowns saved approximately 3.1 million lives in 11 European countries and dropped infection rates by an average of 82 percent. (Joel Achenbach)
  • A protester who did not wear a face mask while attending a large rally in Lawrence, Kan., last Sunday tested positive for the virus on Friday. Local officials have asked all other protesters to self-monitor for symptoms. (Annie Gowen, Joel Achenbach and Chelsea Janes)
  • New York City is beginning the process of reopening today, following a drastic drop in the daily number of new cases. Hundreds of thousands of people who work in the retail, manufacturing and construction industries will be able to return to their jobs, and subway service will return to normal. New Yorkers still won’t be able to get their hair cut, work out at a gym or dine inside a restaurant. (Antonia Farzan)
  • Arizona coronavirus cases surged weeks after reopening, straining the state’s largest health-care system. State health officials reported 1,438 new cases on Sunday, following a week of record highs, with an unprecedented 1,579 new cases disclosed on Friday. (Farzan)
  • Marny Xiong, the chairwoman of the St. Paul Board of Education and the daughter of Hmong refugees, became Minnesota's first elected official to succumb to covid-19. She was 31. (Star Tribune)
The coronavirus exposed Louisville’s racial divide. Two police killings revealed its depth. 

“Ninth Street separates the East End from the West End. Locals say that few cross it,” Roman Stubbs, Jesse Dougherty and Ava Wallace report. “The East End is mostly white, a mix of affluent and working class, home to the city’s three major hospitals and a vibrant restaurant row. The West End is mostly black and mostly poor, home to neighborhoods stunted by urban renewal and a dearth of social services. The coronavirus sharpened the differing experiences for black and white people in Louisville. But the shooting deaths of [Breonna] Taylor and [David] McAtee showed the persisting depth of the divide.”

Front-line workers continue grappling with the enormity of what they’ve witnessed. 

“Doctors, nurses and emergency medical technicians are supposed to be the superheroes of the pandemic. … But despite the accolades, many confide that the past months have left them feeling lost, alone, unable to sleep. They second-guess their decisions, experience panic attacks, worry constantly about their patients, their families and themselves, and feel tremendous anxiety about how and when this might end,” Ariana Eunjung Cha, Ben Guarino and William Wan report. “Worried that the coronavirus might leave a whole generation of health-care workers with post-traumatic stress disorder, many hospitals and ambulance companies have brought in grief counselors via Zoom and started weekly mediation sessions, prayer circles and other support services. … Gregory Hinrichsen, a clinical psychologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, said the mental, emotional and physical burdens borne by health-care workers have been overwhelming. ‘It’s something that is hard to take straight on,’ he said. ‘Like looking at the sun. You know it’s there and glance at it. But you don’t stare at it for hours at a time, day after day. That’s what working during the virus has been like for some.’”

  • Some covid-19 patients who were taken off ventilators are taking days or even weeks to wake up. “When they do regain consciousness, many face the need for months of cognitive and physical rehabilitation, and some might never return to their previous level of functioning,” Dan Hurley reports.
  • Dozens of coronavirus victims who died at home alone during the pandemic laid undiscovered for up to two weeks, doctors revealed as the death toll in Britain surpassed 40,600 deaths. (Jennifer Hassan)
  • Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro is limiting access to data to conceal the surging death toll in his country. The Health Ministry had maintained detailed data on the disease’s spread, which has infected about 672,000 people and killed nearly 36,000. But that information disappeared from a government website on Saturday, replaced by a daily tally that shows only the numbers from the previous 24 hours. (Terrence McCoy)
  • With no active cases, New Zealand lifted all social distancing requirements. Though restrictions on international travel will remain, officials have been discussing the possibility of opening a “travel bubble” with Australia and other Pacific nations. (Teo Armus)
  • At least half of all recently confirmed cases in Singapore are asymptomatic, adding to concerns that a rapid reopening could worsen the situation. The high ratio of asymptomatic cases in Singapore may partially be due to increased testing. (Rick Noack
  • In Tokyo, temperature checks and silent lunches are the new normal as schools reopened. (Simon Denyer)
  • The FDA said some N95 masks made in China should not be reused, reversing its previous guidance on the subject, “in response to public health and safety concerns.” (Antonia Farzan)
Food banks and other key programs have received a fraction of allotted coronavirus money. 

“The Cares Act directed $850 million for food banks, but less than $300 million has been sent out so far … That’s despite unprecedented demand, with the number of people served at food banks increasing by more than 50 percent from a year ago,” Erica Werner reports. “Similarly, Congress appropriated $9 billion in March for the Community Development Block Grant and Emergency Solutions Grant programs, which fund health facilities, child care centers, and services for seniors and homeless people, among other things. Only about $250 million of that money has been obligated. In another example, $100 million dedicated specifically to help nursing homes certify compliance standards for issues like infection control remains unspent two months after it became law as part of the Cares Act. Another $100 million to help ensure access to broadband for Americans in rural parts of the country also remains unspent.”

The election

On June 7, Attorney General William P. Barr and other administration officials defended President Trump's handling of widespread protests over policing. (The Washington Post)
The brander-in-chief is searching for a new reelection message. 

“Trump is running for reelection to ‘Keep America Great’ — at least according to the hats he sells on his campaign website, the signs waved by his supporters and the television ads he’s airing in key states,” Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey and Ashley Parker report. “But in recent weeks he has retreated to contradictory slogans with a less triumphant ring, repeatedly reviving his 2016 motto ‘Make America Great Again!’ and trying out new catchphrases like ‘Transition to Greatness!’ and ‘The Best Is Yet to Come,’ a Frank Sinatra lyric etched on the crooner’s tombstone. Phrases such as ‘Promises Made, Promises Kept,’ once a cornerstone of the reelection campaign, have been subsumed by current events. Economic messaging still used by the campaign online, including boasts about low unemployment, is now woefully out of date. The search for a slogan, which Trump confidants say he is likely to resolve in the coming weeks, is a symptom of the president’s larger problem: The booming economy that he assumed would be his chief argument for reelection has foundered for the moment, a casualty of a coronavirus crisis he initially downplayed and more recently has sought to move beyond. …

"On issues compelling to most Americans — health, economy and national unrest about police violence — Trump has offered few new proposals, relying on pointed warnings that Democrats and their liberal ideas would make the country worse. On Friday, asked whether he had a plan to address systemic racism that has sent millions of Americans to the streets — some in view of the White House — he replied:That’s what my plan is: We’re going to have the strongest economy in the world.' The president and his top political advisers met Thursday afternoon to discuss how Trump should make his case and how he could improve his standing among voters … Trump was also presented with ‘tough’ swing state polls from his political team in the Oval Office. … 

The campaign also has been working to soften the edges of Trump’s more aggressive statements about the need to ‘dominate’ the protesters causing chaos on the streets. Two days after police used force on Trump’s behalf to clear a plaza outside the White House of peaceful protesters, the campaign posted a video called ‘Healing, not Hatred’ that coupled memorial images to George Floyd with words of sympathy Trump delivered last week after the launch of a U.S. space capsule. The ad has been removed by Facebook, Instagram and Twitter following a complaint from the copyright holder of an image.”

  • “Trump's top political advisers, in a private meeting last week, said their boss needs to add more hopeful, optimistic and unifying messages to balance his harsh law-and-order rhetoric,” Axios reports. “During a meeting of top political advisers at campaign headquarters on Thursday afternoon, the president's 2016 campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, raised a question that many close to the campaign have been asking themselves recently: ‘What's our message?’”
  • The White House is considering having Trump address the nation on race this week. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson suggested in a CNN interview that Trump would further address Floyd’s killing in the days to come.
  • A new CNN poll finds Trump’s approval rating down seven points, to 38 percent, since last month. Trump’s approval rating is “roughly on par with approval ratings for Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush at this point in their reelection years,” CNN notes. Both lost.
  • Eight in 10 voters believe that things are out of control in the United States, according to an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll, which shows that majorities remain concerned about the spread of the novel coronavirus, pessimistic about the economy returning to normal before next year and down on Trump's ability to unite the nation. (NBC)
  • The rush to accommodate remote online voting is leading to concerns that it may open new opportunities for the Russians, or other foreign actors, to hack the vote. The Department of Homeland Security called expanded online voting “high risk” in a report last month. Online voter registration systems, which were among the chief targets of Russian hackers in 2016, are also under scrutiny.  (NYT)
Colin Powell endorsed Biden and called Trump a danger to the republic.

The secretary of state under George W. Bush and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under George H.W. Bush called Trump a chronic liar who had “drifted away” from the Constitution. “We’re not the country of just the president, we have a Congress, we have a Supreme Court,” Powell said, lamenting the silence from Republican members of Congress and lauding the retired military officials who have spoken out since the photo op at Lafayette Square last Monday night. “But most of all we have the people of the United States, the ones who vote. The ones who vote him in and the ones who vote him out. I couldn’t vote for him in 2016. I certainly cannot in any way support President Trump this year.” Trump hit on Twitter, calling Powell “a real stiff.” Powell also voted twice for Obama. (Carol Morello and Laurie McGinley)

John Bolton plans to publish his book later this month. 

“Bolton, who served as national security adviser from April 2018 to September 2019, plans to publish ‘The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir’ on June 23, after embarking on a media tour to promote the book the weekend before,” Josh Dawsey and Tom Hamburger report. “The White House has not formally signed off on the tome, and officials in the Trump administration have delayed the book for months due to a classification review process led by the National Security Council. … Bolton is planning to publish even if the White House does not give publication approval, people familiar with his thinking say, and believes he has removed all classified material.” 

Social media speed read

A military Humvee parked outside the Old State House, the site of the Boston Massacre in 1770:

The attorney general said pepper spray is not a chemical irritant. The producer of the product that was used in Lafayette Square, after Barr gave orders to clear the crowd, begs to differ:

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), the civil rights icon battling cancer, stopped by the protest in D.C.:

NBA legend Bill Russell took a knee:

Todd Winn, a Utah Marine veteran, stood alone outside the state capitol for more than three hours in support of the Black Lives Matter movement: 

Meanwhile, Trump’s deputy press secretary took a break from D.C.:

And the virus brought a new crowd to South Korea’s baseball stadiums: 

Videos of the day

Barack Obama recorded a 15-minute commencement address for 2020 graduates. Read the transcript here. Watch below:

John Oliver discussed how the histories of policing and white supremacy are intertwined: