with Brent D. Griffiths

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The Policies

WHERE REPUBLICANS ARE NOW: It’s been 18 days since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis — and President Trump has yet to announce what specific new policies he might support in the wake of the protests across the country demanding law enforcement reform, even as Republicans on Capitol Hill dive into the details. 

Trump, during a meeting with law enforcement officials and local business owners at an evangelical and predominantly white church in Dallas yesterday, broadly outlined what an executive order to address policing might look like but did not commit to any significant proposals. 

  • “We're working to finalize an executive order that will encourage police departments nationwide to meet the most current professional standards for the use of force, including tactics for de-escalation,” Trump said. “Also, we’ll encourage pilot programs that allow social workers to join certain law enforcement officers so that they work together.”
  • “We’re not defunding police. If anything we’re going the other route,” Trump added. “We’re going to make sure our police are well trained, perfectly trained, they have the best equipment.”
  • Trump, praising the use of tear gas and other force to disperse Minneapolis protesters as a “beautiful scene,” pushed back on the idea that there's a systemic problem within law enforcement: “We have to respect our police. We have to take care of our police. They’re protecting us. And if they’re allowed to do their job, they’ll do a great job,” Trump said. “No matter where you go, you have bad apples and there are not too many of them.”

Many Republicans and the president's inner circle have been increasingly concerned that Trump's comments and positions have failed to grasp the moment — as majorities of Americans from both parties say the police need to do more to address racial inequities. 

  • “At a time when much of the country appears to be moving in a different direction, President Trump has charged into a series of fights over the nation’s racist legacy — gambling that taking divisive stances on Confederate symbols and policing will energize his mostly white supporters in November,” our colleagues Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey report. “But many Republicans and even some of Trump’s own advisers worry that the approach risks further alienating voters who have already started to abandon him, including college-educated whites, and to harden opposition to him among minorities.”

Republicans on the Hill are signaling support for specific changes: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) indicated that there are certain elements of House Democrats’ ambitious police reform package that Republicans support. Notably, McCarthy indicated that he would back a national ban on police chokeholds a measure included in the Democratic bill. 

  • “I think there’s a lot of concepts that we agree upon,” McCarthy told reporters. In America, no one should be judged by the color of their skinand no one should be judged by the uniform they wear.” 
  • House Republicans are crafting their own proposal to address police misconduct right now: “The House GOP’s bill, according to McCarthy, will focus on three main areas: better police training, holding bad officers accountable and making more data about law enforcement publicly available,” Politico's Melanie Zanona and Heather Caygle report. 

And a Senate Republican proposal authored by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) is expected to be rolled out at the beginning of next week.The tentative framework for Scott’s bill overlaps partially with the broader Democratic effort, which would institute a federal ban on police chokeholds and restrict ‘no-knock’ search warrants, mandate a federal database of law enforcement misconduct, and allow private citizens to more easily sue abusive cops, among other measures,” Mike DeBonis and Seung Min Kim report. “Scott’s proposal, according to a summary circulated Tuesday on Capitol Hill, would adopt a less coercive approach, using the leverage of federal grant funding to encourage states and local jurisdictions to improve their training, track police misconduct, use body cameras and more.”

  • Signs of agreement: Republicans are starting to coalesce around proposals to make lynching a federal hate crime. And a new national database to record use-of-force incidents around the country “is a concept both parties support as a way to track potential police misconduct and ensure officers cannot simply transfer from one department to another without public disclosure of their records,” the Associated Press’s Lisa Mascaro reports.  
  • GOP leadership on Capitol Hill has been loud about the need for change amid the national dialogue on police brutality and racism: “The killing of black Americans like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor have accelerated important conversations,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said, adding that lawmakers are “preparing to add to the conversations surrounding law enforcement with our own serious proposal.”  

Some Republicans are throwing their weight behind individual bills. Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul is “filing legislation to prohibit police officers across the country from using no-knock warrants like the one that led to the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor,” according to the Courier Journal's Phillip Bailey and Tessa Duvall. “Under the bill, federal law enforcement officers would be required to provide notice of their authority and purpose before they could execute a warrant.”

  • How Paul came around: “After talking with Breonna Taylor's family, I've come to the conclusion that it's long past time to get rid of no-knock warrants,” he said. “This bill will effectively end no-knock raids in the United States.”

There's also a growing rift between Trump and Republicans on the Hill over Confederate symbols. Trump has come out loudly against renaming military bases named after Confederate commanders even though the Republican-led Senate Armed Services Committee this week approved an amendment to a massive defense policy bill that would require the Pentagon to remove the names of Confederate generals from military assets within three years, per Felicia Sonmez and Paul Kane. The White House has indicated Trump would veto the entire National Defense Authorization Act if it includes language that would rename the bases.” 

  • On Trump's opposition, committee member Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) said: “We'll work that through. The message is that if we're going to have bases throughout the United States, I think it should be with the names of individuals who fought for our country…. This is the right time for it. And I think it sends the right message.” 
  • On the House side, McCarthy said he was open to the prospect, and Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), an Air Force veteran, is co-sponsoring a stand-alone House measure to require new names within a year: “As the most diverse and integrated part of American society, it is only right that our installations bear the names of military heroes who represent the best ideals of our Republic.”

And Trump's choices for his own events have caused a stir. Trump declared at the Dallas event that the nation’s problems with racism will be solved “very easily. It will go quickly and it will go very easily.” 

  • Excluded from the event?: Dallas county's three top law enforcement officials, who are all black, from an event that at times felt much like a campaign rally, albeit far smaller than usual for Trump,” according to Dallas News's Todd Gillman and Gromer Jeffers Jr. 
  • “Some Republicans and Trump allies were also upset after realizing the president’s team had scheduled his first campaign rally since coronavirus outbreak for Juneteenth in Tulsa,Ashley and Josh report. That's “the June 19 holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. The Oklahoma City is the site of the 1921 Tulsa massacre, one of the worst episodes of racial violence in the country’s history.” 
  • Several people familiar with the planning said the date was unintentional,” our colleagues note. “Some allies warned against moving ahead with the rally, but other Trump aides said they were not overly bothered about the historical significance and that Trump himself is 'not at all concerned' about safety implications, whether from the coronavirus or protesters.”

At the Pentagon

TRUMP'S BREACH WITH MILITARY BRASS WIDENS: “The extraordinary quarrel between [Trump] and the nation’s military leadership intensified as the Pentagon’s top general publicly apologized for appearing alongside the president in a church photo opportunity minutes after federal authorities forcibly removed peaceful protesters from the area,” Philip Rucker, Missy Ryan and Dan Lamothe report.

  • Milley's mea culpa: “As many of you saw the results of the photograph of me in Lafayette Square last week, that sparked a national debate about the role of the military in civil society,” Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a prerecorded message. “I should not have been there. My presence in that moment, and in that environment, created the perception of the military involved in domestic politics.”

For his part, Trump has praised the use of force using colorful language: He described the National Guard’s actions against Minneapolis protesters as "like a knife cutting butter,” Colby Itkowitz and John Wagner report. And he had this to say about the protesters dispersed outside the White House:

And it's Trump's turn, again: “This will be the backdrop for Trump’s visit Saturday to the U.S. Military Academy at U.S. Military Academy, where he will deliver a commencement address to 1,105 graduating cadets. Milley is not expected to accompany the president — nor is Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, a U.S. Military Academy graduate who also has clashed with the president over his handling of the protests,” Phil, Missy and Dan write.

  • There are concerns about what he'll say: “Trump’s words at U.S. Military Academy will be parsed for signs of how closely they reflect U.S. Military Academy’s leadership values. Will he further politicize the military by delivering a self-indulgent, campaign-style speech, like the one he gave before a Boy Scout Jamboree in 2017? Or will he deliver a more traditionally presidential address that honors the military’s long-protected independence from political affairs?”

In the Media

“SHE IS … MUCH MORE LIKE HIM THAN IT APPEARS, That's what The Post's Mary Jordan writes of first lady Melania Trump in her soon-to-be-published book on Trump “The Art of Her Deal: The Untold Story of Melania Trump.” 

Our colleague Jada Yuan obtained a copy of juicy 286-page book before it goes on sale Tuesday.

Here are some of highlights from the book, per Jada:

The first lady's delay in coming to the White House in 2017 wasn't because of Barron: She was renegotiating her prenup. By 2018, Melania had finally reworked the deal to her liking. Among the biggest items, proof that Barron would be on equal footing with Ivanka, Don and Eric. “She wanted proof in writing that when it came to financial opportunities and inheritance, Barron would be treated as more of an equal to Trump’s oldest three children,” Mary writes.

She actively encouraged Trump's political aspirations: Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone, Mary writes, says Melania was the one who told Trump to stop talking about running for the White House and actually do it. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said the future first lady was Trump's first call on the plane after every rally. “She always had commentary to give him, and I think that tells a lot about what he thinks of her.” 

The first couple are a pair of loners: “They are both fighters and survivors and prize loyalty over almost all else. … Neither the very public Trump nor the very private Melania has many close friends. Their loner instincts filter into their own marriage,” Mary writes.

  • They sleep in separate bedrooms at the White House and whenever they travel: “They also seem to love each other, according to people who witnessed their early courtship, and others who have seen their relationship in the White House go from frosty to warm again,” Jada writes.

They both bend the truth: Mary traces this back to Melania's modeling days, which she began at age 7. Her mythmaking extends to everything from how many languages she speaks fluently to her lack of a bachelor's degree from a highly competitive architecture program at the University of Ljubljana, the latter of which she once claimed to have in sworn testimony. 

  • Perhaps not too shockingly, this also includes the often-repeated story of how the future first-couple met: “Jordan found little evidence even of the story of how they met — he saw her at a club during Fashion Week in 1998 with a more famous model, but was fixated on Melania, who refused to give him her phone number. Multiple sources, including a German modeling agent she was working for that year, told Jordan that they had heard Melania was already dating Trump before the timeline they laid out,” Jada writes.

The Campaign

IT’S OFFICIALLY JACKSONVILLE: “The Republican National Committee announced Thursday that [Trump’s] renomination speech and other convention festivities will move to Jacksonville, Fla., from Charlotte, after the original site refused to go along with Trump’s demands for a crowded large-scale event amid the coronavirus pandemic,” Annie Linskey reports.

The party is now operating on an unprecedented time crunch: “The change means that the GOP will have roughly 70 days to plan a series of events that typically take two years to work through," our colleague writes.

There will also be some awkward moments with the platform: The Republican National Committee made the decision to stick with its 2016 platform as is, least they have to shuttle delegates back and forth from Charlotte to make changes to the party's guiding principles. But that decision makes for some pretty surprising sections since the 2016 platform included a number of condemnations of then-President Obama who was referred to as “the president” or “the current administration.” And, well, you see where this is going, Aaron Blake has all the details.

  • One section decries the massive increase in the national debt: “The huge increase in the national debt demanded by and incurred during the current Administration has placed a significant burden on future generations,” the platform reads. The problem is both the deficit and debt have soared under Trump. “Even before the trillions of dollars spent to stimulate the economy during the pandemic, the national debt had increased from $19 trillion to more than $23 trillion, keeping it on pace to be near that $30 trillion mark by 2026,” our colleague writes. Ouch.

THERE'S NOW A COVID WARNING FOR TRUMP RALLIES: “The sign-up page for tickets to [Trump’s] campaign rally in Tulsa next week includes something that hasn’t appeared ahead of previous rallies: a disclaimer noting that attendees ‘voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to covid-19’ and agree not to hold the campaign or venue liable should they get sick,” Felicia Sonmez reports.

Here's what it looks like:

The People

WALL STREET’S WORST DAY SINCE MARCH: “The stock market slid sharply, with the Dow Jones industrial average shedding 1,861.82 points, or 6.9 percent, as suddenly renewed fears about the coronavirus’s impact on the economy startled Wall Street and the White House,” Rachel Siegel, Thomas Heath and Jeff Stein report. The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all recorded their biggest one-day losses since March.

  • What’s happening: “The market had become more optimistic and more enamored over a V-shaped recovery in recent weeks,” Jeffrey Kleintop, chief global investment strategist at Charles Schwab told our colleagues. “Anything that would disrupt that view was a vulnerability. And that’s exactly what we’ve seen in the last day and a half.”

The White House blamed the Fed for the slide: Trump, who has recently deemed Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell as “most improved player” returned to bashing Powell’s prediction of a long recovery in need of government assistance. “The Federal Reserve is wrong so often,” the president tweeted.

  • Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow went even further: “I do think Mr. Powell could lighten up a little when he has these press offerings. You know, a smile now and then, a little bit of optimism, okay?” Kudlow said on Fox News. “I’ll talk with him, and we’ll have some media training at some point.”

But a slight bounce back might be in order today: “Dow Jones Industrial Average futures implied an opening gain of about 600 points. S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 futures also pointed to a positive open,” CNBC’s Fred Imbert and Eustance Huang reported earlier this morning.