with Brent D. Griffiths
🚨BREAKING: “North Korea blew up a liaison office it operated with South Korea, following through on a threat the Pyongyang regime issued days earlier as military tensions ramp up on the peninsula,” our Min Joo Kim reports from Seoul.
- More details: “The joint facility in the North Korean border city of Kaesong — which the two sides opened in 2018 as a de facto embassy in the absence of formal diplomatic relations — was demolished shortly before 3 p.m. local time, the South's Unification Ministry said.”
- N.K. confirms: “A short time later, as smoke billowed near the heavily defended border, North Korea's state radio reported ‘complete destruction’ of the complex. In response, South Korea reinforced its military preparedness and surveillance, the semiofficial Yonhap News Agency reported,” per Min Joo.
- Some context: “The demolition of the building, which is located on North Korean territory and had no South Koreans working there, is largely symbolic,” according to the Associated Press's Kim Tong-Hyung and Hyung-Jin Kim. “But it’s still likely the most provocative thing North Korea has done since it entered nuclear diplomacy in 2018 after a U.S.-North Korean standoff had many fearing war. It will pose a serious setback to the efforts of liberal South Korean President Moon Jae-in to restore inter-Korean engagement.”
‘THREAD THE NEEDLE’: President Trump plans to take executive action today to address a national clamor for massive changes to police departments after George Floyd's death. But the new measures are likely to fall well short of calls by Black Lives Matter protesters around the country, many of whom want to “defund the police” to radically overhaul how law enforcement works and prevent more police killings of black people.
The White House teased the police reforms as “revolutionary” measures from a president who “has been about change.” Senior administration officials told reporters on a conference call the order would allow local police departments to tap into federal grant money for better use of force training, and would also strengthen a national database of police misconduct.
- “And so what we want to do is thread the needle on having more cops, community police, but at the same time, build trust with the community,” a senior administration official explained. “And that’s what this reform effort is all focused on.”
- Trump plans to announce the measures today at noon in the Rose Garden, “where he is likely to be joined by law enforcement officials, as well as family members of people who have been killed by police,” according to our colleague David Nakamura.
More money? The order will seek to create new federal funding incentives for local police departments to create or update their credentialing and certification process around a set of “best practices.”
- “So you don’t necessarily have to demonize [police] or withdraw funds, but if you create an equal system based off best practices, there's going to be more so a race to create the best application to get access to the funding,” an official described. “Which is why we're prioritizing the funding, rather than trying to do anything that would seem like we're trying to defund police departments.”
The order also calls for improving information sharing to better track police who have excessive use of force complaints. “There should be a place for people to know about people’s backgrounds so we can keep bad cops out,” a senior administration official added. The measure also calls for creating a “co-responder program” to help “pair local police with mental health experts to respond more holistically to reports of crime in communities and in dealing with suspects,” according to Dave.
Asked if the president will address the issue of racism and bias in policing, a senior administration official demurred and responded that today's event “is about working with law enforcement and the families of those who have been killed, unfortunately, and trying to bring people together with policy that will bring the country forward.”
Official notice of Trump's announcement came amid mixed messages from the Senate on when exactly lawmakers will deliberate legislative action on police reform. Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) predicted the GOP's police reform package from Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) is likely to slip to next month.
- “I think it has enough support if we can get a process to move it, possibly,” Thune told Politico's Andrew Desiderio and Burgess Everett of Scott's bill. “But I would say at this moment probably unlikely in this work period — July, more likely.”
- However, later in the day, the Hill's Jordain Carney reported “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wants to vote on a police reform bill before senators leave for the July 4 recess,” according to three Republican senators.
- “If senators don't pass a bill before July 4, the Senate wouldn't be able to act on police reform until at least July 20, when they are scheduled to return from the break,” per Carney.
- Scott says waiting is a bad idea: “Without the bill becoming law — whether it’s my bill or some other version of some other bill — then we’ve kind of failed the moment,” Scott said Monday. “Us waiting a month before we vote is a bad decision. So I hope we are willing to take up legislation and just get on the record. If it fails, it fails.”
The White House said Trump will call “on Congress to hopefully pass legislation that can make a difference” and Scott told reporters he had a “positive” phone call with Trump over the weekend. But we don't know what kind of bill Trump would actually sign off on.
Qualified immunity: What is clear is the president considers anything aimed at reversing qualified immunity a “non-starter,” according to a senior administration official. Qualified immunity is a legal doctrine shielding police officers from being held legally liable for damages sought by those whose constitutional rights have been violated.
- The Supreme Court passed on reconsidering qualified immunity yesterday: “The justices declined to hear eight separate cases presenting reconsideration of the doctrine of qualified immunity that establishes protection from lawsuits for government officials, particularly police officers,” according to our colleagues Robert Barnes and Ann Marimow.
Legislation from congressional Democrats seeks to end qualified immunity. And former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, supports reforming qualified immunity, although his police reform agenda was panned in a letter signed by over 50 liberal groups.
- “More than 50 progressive grass-roots groups have signed a letter to [Biden], criticizing his response to the wave of protests over police brutality and criminal justice and saying his proposal to increase spending on a community policing program is ‘not the answer,’” the New York Times's Astead Herndon first reported.
- “The letter pointed to Biden’s recent promise to add $300 million for community policing programs, a plan that activists say would undermine their efforts to push for systemic changes, such as defunding police forces,” according to our colleague Annie Linskey.
- “It is a slap in the face to black folks,” LaTosha Brown, the head of Black Voters Matter, told Annie. “We’re in the middle of the largest uprising and protests against policing and unfair and unjust policing, and the biggest supporters to your campaign have been black people, and you come out and say you’re going to reward the police? What message does that send? ”
From the Courts
GORSUCH WRITES HISTORIC SCOTUS RULING ON LGBTQ RIGHTS: “The Supreme Court ruled that a landmark federal civil rights law from the 1960s protects gay and transgender workers, a watershed ruling for LGBTQ rights written by one of the court’s most conservative justices,” Robert Barnes reports.
- More details: “[Justice Neil M.] Gorsuch and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joined the court’s liberals in the 6-to-3 ruling. They said Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination ‘because of sex,’ includes gay and transgender employees.”
- The ruling is a reminder the court can still deliver surprises: It wasn't even the only surprise of the day. “Even though the court’s conservative majority has been strengthened, it announced that it was turning down a batch of challenges from gun rights groups eager to expand Second Amendment rights. And it rejected the Trump administration’s request to review California’s attempts to provide sanctuary to undocumented immigrants,” our colleague writes.
Trump's balancing act: “Trump ran for president four years ago with a conflicted message on gay rights meant to simultaneously broaden his appeal and fire up his base. He vaguely embraced the rhetoric of social progress while also saying he would ‘seriously consider’ a Supreme Court justice who would once again outlaw same-sex marriage,” Michael Scherer reports. As for the ruling, the president offered, “They ruled and we live with their decision.” He added, “a very powerful decision actually.”
- Appeasing both sides may be difficult: Some conservatives were incensed by the decision. “Carrie Severino, the president of the Judicial Crisis Network and one of the most vocal defenders of Trump’s court picks, reacted with outrage to Gorsuch’s ruling, calling it a disappointment to the memory of Justice Antonin Scalia, whom Gorsuch replaced, ‘for the sake of appealing to college campuses and editorial boards,’" our colleague writes.
- Senate Republicans largely shrugged: “The Republican Party seemed generally supportive of both the substance and process by which the Supreme Court extended Civil Rights Act protections to gay, lesbian and transgender workers … Plus, the decision could take from Congress a divisive social issue — five months before the 2020 elections,” Politico's Everett and Marianne LeVine report.
In the Agencies
GUIDELINES IGNORED AS CORONAVIRUS CASES CLIMB: “Ten states — Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas — hit new highs for hospitalized patients on Sunday, according to data maintained by The Washington Post,” Lenny Bernstein, Rachel Weiner and Joel Achenbach report.
- Local health officials are under attack: “Two associations of local health officials released a statement warning that ‘public health department officials and staff have been physically threatened and politically scapegoated,’ and ‘the vital work of public health departments is also being challenged.’”
Meanwhile, an influential model predicts 200,000 Americans dead by October: The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington “raised its estimate by 18 percent from 169,890 and said Florida would be among the hardest hit states, with an estimated 18,675 deaths, up 186 percent from a previous estimate of 6,559 on June 10,” Reuters's Andrew Hay reports. The news comes as many states continue reopening.
That would mean almost 87,000 more deaths over the next four months:
CDC says patients with underlying conditions are 12-times more likely to die: “The data is consistent with earlier reports showing the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on people with underlying medical conditions. The report also highlighted the disease’s stark disparities between whites and minority groups,” Lena H. Sun writes of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.
The FDA pulled its emergency approval for hydroxychloroquine as a covid treatment: “The Food and Drug Administration withdrew its emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, drugs that [Trump] repeatedly promoted for treatment of covid-19, reversing a decision that led to harsh criticism it had put politics ahead of science,” Laurie McGinley and Carolyn Y. Johnson report.
Rep. Ilhan Omar's father died of coronavirus complications: “No words can describe what he meant to me and all who knew him,” Omar (D-Minn.) wrote on Twitter.
Outside the Beltway
ATLANTA BECOMES CENTER OF PROTESTS: “Relatives of Rayshard Brooks — the 27-year-old man fatally shot by an officer outside a Wendy's here last week — called for law enforcement reform during an emotional news conference, as hundreds of demonstrators marched in the streets to protest another black man's death at the hands of police,” Fenit Nirappil, Matt Zapotosky and Miranda Green report from the city.
- The latest: “The demonstrations were more peaceful on Monday, as thousands marched through downtown Atlanta streets, culminating in a rally outside the state capitol.”
The mayor announced efforts to change police policies: Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) said “she was signing a series of administrative orders calling for changes in police policies, including requiring officers to use de-escalation techniques before using deadly force and imposing a duty on police to intervene if they see their colleagues using unreasonable force," our colleagues write.
Trump on Monday called Brooks's death “very disturbing” and a “terrible situation.” But, according to our The Post's Nakamura, "Trump spent more time denouncing the takeover of several city blocks in Seattle by protesters who have sealed off streets, as local police officers abandoned a precinct. Trump lambasted Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, both Democrats, and threatened federal action if they failed to ‘do the job.’
- “The governor has to call out the troops, call out the National Guard, has to do something,” Trump said. “The problem about what is happening in Seattle is that it spreads to other cities. We’re not going to let it happen.”
In the Media
WHAT ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Trump threatens Bolton over soon-to-be published book: “Trump said that former national security adviser John Bolton could face criminal liability if his memoir is released, asserting that the book contains classified material,” Tom Hamburger and Josh Dawsey report.
- White House officials say the president is livid about the book and is pushing his staff to block it: “I will consider every conversation with me as president highly classified,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “So that would mean that, if he wrote a book and if the book gets out, he’s broken the law, and I would think that he would have criminal problems. I hope so.”
Investigation finds NOAA leadership erred in handling of Trump's Sharpie arc: “An investigation conducted on behalf of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has found that agency leadership violated its scientific integrity policy through actions that led to the release of a statement that backed [Trump’s] false statement about the path of Hurricane Dorian, according a new report,” Andrew Freedman and Jason Samenow report. No punishments have been proposed.