The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The Daily 202: Trump balloting machinations heighten fears of 1876 redux

with Mariana Alfaro

Not long before he died in 2005, William Rehnquist wrote an excellent history of the disputed presidential election of 1876. The Stanford-educated chief justice became deeply fascinated in the subject while leading the Supreme Court during its deliberations in Bush v. Gore, the decision that settled the 2000 election in George W. Bush’s favor.

Rehnquist understood that little, if anything, is truly unprecedented. History may never repeat itself exactly, but there are always echoes. While Bush v. Gore is top of mind because it happened in our lifetimes, the chicanery of 1876 might soon become more salient.

President Trump’s escalating and preemptive attacks aimed at undermining the legitimacy of the November election are generating growing fears of a looming constitutional crisis. The president reiterated on Thursday that he may not honor the results should he lose reelection, reaffirming his extraordinary refusal to commit to a peaceful transition of power. 

In an interview with Fox News Radio, Trump said he would agree with a Supreme Court ruling that Democratic nominee Joe Biden won the election but without it, the vote count would amount to “a horror show” because of fraudulent ballots. He’s also continuing to agitate to get whomever he nominates onto the Supreme Court confirmed before November so that she can vote in his favor. There is no evidence to support Trump’s claims about widespread fraud.

Rehnquist’s book was entitled “Centennial Crisis” because 1876 was the country’s 100th birthday. Gov. Samuel Tilden (D-N.Y.) won more votes than Gov. Rutherford Hayes (R-Ohio) in the election, but four states sent rival slates of electors to Congress. Democrats had won control of the House in the 1874 midterms while Republicans controlled the Senate and the White House. That is the same balance of power as now, although both parties are very, very, very different. 

To referee the dispute, a 15-member commission was formed with seven Democrats, seven Republicans and an independent. But one of the five Supreme Court justices on the commission, an independent, was induced to quit by being offered a Senate seat. He was replaced by a Republican. This gave the GOP an 8-to-7 edge on the committee, which used it to Hayes’s advantage. But Democrats threatened to use parliamentary shenanigans in Congress to block the certification process.

There were widespread fears of a second Civil War. The outgoing president, Ulysses Grant, mobilized troops and made contingency plans for martial law in case there were dueling inaugurations.

Ultimately, the outcome of the presidential election was hashed out during a secret meeting at a D.C. hotel called Wormley’s. In a particularly odious deal, now known as the Compromise of 1877, Democrats agreed to let Republicans hold on to the White House if Hayes would commit, for all intents and purposes, to end Reconstruction and withdraw federal troops from Southern states that had been in rebellion, where they were deployed to protect the rights of freed slaves.

“Military withdrawal brought lynchings, voter suppression and segregation,” said Richard Kreitner, the author of “Break It Up: Secession, Division, and the Secret History of America's Imperfect Union.” 

“The truly terrifying legacy of the 1876 electoral standoff isn’t only how close the crisis came to triggering a new outbreak of catastrophic violence but the solution American politicians came up with to avoid it: to avert another constitutional breakdown and resort to arms, the greatest advances for liberty and equality in human history were all but repealed,” Kreitner wrote in an essay this month for our Sunday Outlook section. “A renewal of the founding bargain — Northern silence in exchange for Southern allegiance — endured and underwrote America’s rise as a world power. What deals might today’s political leaders ink to end a similar crisis this time around? It may not be too soon to ask. As in 1876, constitutional breakdown would be disastrous, but so would a desperate, panicked insistence on compromise at any cost.”

Trump, Hayes and Bush are three of the five American presidents who took control of the Oval Office despite losing the popular vote. The others are John Quincy Adams and Benjamin Harrison.

A flurry of recent stories in outlets from New York magazine to the New York Post and the New York Times have started highlighted parallels from 2020 to 1876.

Bart Gellman described the Compromise of 1877 as “an unsettling precedent for 2021” in his widely discussed story this week for the Atlantic: “According to sources in the Republican Party at the state and national levels, the Trump campaign is discussing contingency plans to bypass election results and appoint loyal electors in battleground states where Republicans hold the legislative majority. With a justification based on claims of rampant fraud, Trump would ask state legislators to set aside the popular vote and exercise their power to choose a slate of electors directly. … Republicans control both legislative chambers in the six most closely contested battleground states. Of those, Arizona and Florida have Republican governors, too. In Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, the governors are Democrats. … 

“Rival slates of electors could hold mirror-image meetings in Harrisburg, Lansing, Tallahassee, or Phoenix, casting the same electoral votes on opposite sides,” Gellman warned. “Each slate would transmit its ballots, as the Constitution provides, ‘to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate.’ The next move would belong to Vice President Mike Pence.”

Democratic state attorneys general strategized among themselves on what to do if the president refuses to accept the result and said they were most concerned that his drumbeat of unfounded accusations about fraud could undermine public confidence in the election,” Phil Rucker, Amy Gardner and Annie Linskey report. "In North Carolina, the State Board of Elections is preparing to relocate its Election Day operation to the state’s Emergency Operations Center. The state board considered evacuating its workforce on Wednesday after a woman called accusing Democratic board members of trying to steal the election and warning that she and about 1,000 other conservatives were on their way to protest … In Wisconsin, state Elections Commission spokesman Reid Magney said he was on an election security call with federal officials several weeks ago in which an FBI official assured election administrators that any deployment of military or law enforcement for election monitoring would be illegal and would not happen. … Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) said she has had discussions about how to police voter intimidation in a way that doesn’t make the problem worse.

Voters interviewed in Michigan, Indiana and North Carolina expressed uncertainty about whether mail-in ballots would be counted and dismay about the president’s willingness to challenge the results. ‘I’m afraid he’ll do whatever he wants,’ Socorro Herrera, 36, who is unemployed, said as she cast her ballot Thursday in Waukegan, Ill., a community north of Chicago. … In Warren, Mich., voters expressed similar disbelief. ‘To go against all norms, that’s what upsets me,’ said Deborah Grimaldi, 66, a retired sewing machine operator. ‘It’s like he wants to be a king or a monarch.’”

  • Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D): “If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in suing Trump and his administration dozens of times, it’s that when he threatens to cross democratic boundaries and constitutional norms, he usually does — and when he denies it, it often turns out he was actually doing it all along."
  • Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap (D): “Categorically and emphatically, when you have public officials casting doubt on the process, it’s incredibly corrosive. I cannot describe that with enough vehemence. It’s nearly a criminal or treasonous act. We hold a sacred trust, and it is our job to make people feel like they’re protected in their decision-making, as the authors of our future.”
  • Bill Galston, chair of the Brookings Institution’s Governance Studies Program: “For the first time in my life, and maybe for the first time since the Civil War, the fate of constitutional democracy in the United States is on the line, and it’s on the line because the president has put it there. It is a clear and present danger.”

Senate Republicans tried to deflect Trump’s challenge to the foundation of American democracy as bravado. “Most Republicans tried to dodge how they would respond if the president refused to accept the results if he lost and stoked violence among his supporters, either calling it a hypothetical they would not contemplate or saying Trump just talks like that but does not follow through on such threats,” Paul Kane and Rachael Bade report. "‘The president says crazy stuff. We’ve always had a peaceful transition of power. It’s not going to change,’ Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said. Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) credited the controversy to Trump’s tendency to speak in ‘very extreme manners occasionally’ and dismissed the latest controversy as part of that trend. … 

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) has reached out to GOP colleagues to encourage them to hold the line for democracy. Murphy said Republicans are in denial that the president would ever ignore the results of the election. But Democrats, he said, are trying to get them to acknowledge that every absentee ballot should be counted, fearful that the president could try to head off the results by contesting mail-in ballots. … In interviews, along with statements and social media posts, more than two dozen Senate Republicans pledged support for a peaceful transition should Biden win, yet [Mitt] Romney was the only one who, again without naming Trump, took on his statements. 'Any suggestion that a president might not respect this constitutional guarantee is both unthinkable and unacceptable,” Romney tweeted late Wednesday. … Many Republicans tried to blame Biden for the issue following Hillary Clinton’s suggestion that the 2020 nominee should not concede until all the ballots are counted."

FBI Director Christopher A. Wray told the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Sept. 24 that foreign mail-in ballot interference “would be a major challenge." (Video: The Washington Post)
FBI director says it would be a “major challenge” for a foreign country to commit widespread voter fraud by mail.

Chris Wray's testimony before the Senate Homeland Security Committee again put him at odds with repeated assertions by the president who appointed him. Wray added the United States has not experienced large-scale voter fraud by mail or other means. “The FBI director, seemingly aware that his comments about election interference last week angered the president, said he was ‘in no way minimizing’ any threat to ballots. Changing the outcome of a federal election ‘would be a major challenge for an adversary,’ he said, adding that the FBI ‘would investigate seriously’ if it saw indications of such an effort,” Devlin Barrett reports.

The FBI warned cyber threats could slow voting but promised they won't prevent it. The Bureau and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said in a statement they have no reporting to suggest cyber activity has prevented a registered voter from casting a ballot, compromised the integrity of any ballots, or affected the accuracy of voter registration information: “However, even if actors did achieve such an impact, the public should be aware that election officials have multiple safeguards and plans in place — such as provisional ballots to ensure registered voters can cast ballots, paper backups, and backup pollbooks — to limit the impact and recover from a cyber incident with minimal disruption to voting.

Bill Barr's hyper-politicized Justice Department appears to be coordinating with the White House on communications.

“The Justice Department alarmed voting-law experts Thursday by announcing an investigation into nine discarded ballots found in northeastern Pennsylvania, a case immediately seized upon by the Trump campaign as evidence of a dark Democratic conspiracy to tamper with the presidential election,” Barrett reports. Initially, DOJ announced that all nine votes were for Trump and then said there were actually seven. The president had already seized on the announcement as he hit the campaign trail. “Before the U.S. attorney’s statement, White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany told reporters that there would be an announcement about the case. … A statement issued by the local district attorney earlier in the week expressed confidence that the investigation would be ‘successfully resolved so it will not have an impact on the integrity of the election process,’ a degree of assurance absent from the U.S. attorney’s announcement. …

‘It’s wildly improper, and it’s truly unconscionable,’ said Justin Levitt, a former Justice Department official who is now a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. Levitt said that the investigation itself is worthwhile but that it was a baldly political move to announce the probe with partial facts — which officials then had to scramble to correct — while describing which candidate was selected on the ballots. ‘That is the tell, and it says this was not an act of law enforcement, this was a campaign act, and it should mean the end of the career of whoever approved the statement,’ said Levitt. Richard L. Hasen, an election law professor at University of California at Irvine, said he could not recall ever seeing such an announcement. ‘The Justice Department should not be a political tool, and this is a story that is going to be manipulated by the president to say his votes are being thrown out,’ Hasen said.”

Barbara Lagoa refused to recuse herself on a key voting rights case that could swing the outcome in Florida.

The Florida judge identified this week by Trump as a finalist to succeed Ginsburg made a broad ethical promise last year when the Senate confirmed her to the federal bench. “Lagoa wrote that a judge must recuse herself when her impartiality might reasonably be questioned and said she would step away from any case involving her past work as a judge. Then came a case this year involving a referendum that Floridians approved to restore the voting rights of former felons and a law that the Republican-controlled legislature then passed setting a major limitation: Only felons who don’t owe money to the state can vote,” Aaron Davis and Ann Marimow report

"When the matter resurfaced before her on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, Lagoa did not recuse herself. Instead, she and another Trump appointee, who also had been a state judge in Florida, penned a 25-page order rejecting calls for their disqualifications … They became the deciding factor in a 6-to-4 ruling that overturned a lower-court finding that the payment provision amounted to an unconstitutional poll tax that discriminates against poor former prisoners. The reversal is expected to keep many of the 85,000 felons who had registered to vote in the swing state from casting ballots in November. Trump won the state in 2016 by fewer than 113,000 votes. … 

"Democrats say her actions should prompt heavy scrutiny about how she would conduct herself on the high court, beginning with a possible appeal of the Florida case, as well as challenges that would undoubtedly flow from a disputed or razor-thin presidential election result. … Lagoa may also face recusal questions about cases involving her husband, attorney Paul C. Huck Jr., and his law firm, Jones Day. The firm has long represented the Trump campaign. Trump, who continued his assault on mail-in balloting this week, left little doubt that he seeks to fill the Supreme Court vacancy in part to help him win reelection in the event the outcome winds up in the courts.”

Trump’s Supreme Court choice is still widely believed to be Judge Amy Coney Barrett. He will announce his final decision tomorrow. “White House officials have asked several members, both Democratic and Republican, of the Senate Judiciary Committee if they would like to meet personally with the nominee starting next week,” Seung Min Kim reports. “GOP leaders are privately aiming for a final confirmation vote just days before the Nov. 3 election, with confirmation hearings starting the week of Oct. 12. That timetable is subject to change.”

“Naked ballots” are the new “hanging chads.” 

The top election official in Philadelphia is warning that a minor technicality in a state Supreme Court ruling this week could cause as many as 100,000 mailed ballots to be rejected statewide in November, a potentially significant statistic for a state that Trump won by 44,000 votes in 2016. “Lisa Deeley, the Democratic chairwoman of Philadelphia’s election board, warned in a letter to lawmakers this week that the court’s requirement of an additional envelope for voters to mail back with their ballots could disenfranchise tens of thousands of voters in her city and many more statewide,” Michelle Ye Hee Lee reports. “At issue is the use of ‘secrecy envelopes,’ which are designed to protect the privacy of the voter. A voter returning an absentee ballot must insert the ballot into the secrecy envelope, and then insert that envelope into a larger envelope that carries the mailing address and postage. 

“For the state’s primary election, local election officials were allowed to accept ballots that were returned without the inner envelope — commonly referred to as ‘naked ballots’ — to accommodate the surge of voters in Pennsylvania who cast absentee ballots for the first time because of the coronavirus pandemic. But under last week’s court ruling, ballots sent back to election officials without the inner envelope will be rejected, with no opportunity for voters to rectify the problem to make sure their vote is counted. … Pennsylvania is one of roughly 16 states that require such an inner envelope, according to a tally by the National Conference of State Legislatures.”

This is already the most litigated election in memory. “In Pennsylvania and Ohio, there are lawsuits about where voters might be able to drop off their ballots,” the New York Times notes. “In Michigan, legislation is pending concerning whether voters will have the ability to fix any problems with their mail-in ballots. In North Carolina, elections officials signed an agreement to extend the deadline for receiving mail ballots by six days, and Republicans immediately pledged to try to overturn it.”

A federal judge barred the Trump administration from ending the 2020 census a month early.

“In U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Judge Lucy H. Koh issued a preliminary injunction preventing the administration from winding down the count by Sept. 30, a month before the scheduled completion date of Oct. 31. She also barred officials from delivering completed population data to the White House on Dec. 31 rather than the April 2021 delivery date that had previously been set out,” the Times reports. “The ruling came after evidence filed this week showed that top Census Bureau officials believed ending the head count early would seriously endanger its accuracy. In one July email, the head of census field operations, Timothy P. Olson Jr., called it ‘ludicrous’ to think a curtailed population count would succeed. A second internal document drafted in late July said a shortened census would have ‘fatal data flaws that are unacceptable for a constitutionally mandated national activity.’ 

The administration ordered the speedup anyway. Critics immediately said it would lead to drastic undercounts, particularly for low-income areas and communities of color, which are least likely to respond to the census. … That was widely seen as an effort to ensure that Mr. Trump — and not [Joe Biden], should he win the presidential election — controls census figures that will be used next year to reallocate seats in the House of Representatives and draw thousands of political boundaries nationwide. … Mr. Trump ordered in July that unauthorized immigrants be removed from population totals used for reapportionment, a move that would create a whiter, less urban and presumably more Republican population base for distributing House seats. His directive has already been rejected as illegal by a federal court, a ruling the Justice Department said it will appeal. …

On Monday, the inspector general of the Commerce Department said the compressed schedule threatened the reliability of both the head count and the data processing and error checks that follow it. The report quoted unnamed senior census officials as saying the early deadlines have forced shortcuts in reviews of data and other quality-assurance steps that ensure a reliable population count. The report also said the Census Bureau was forced to shave a month off its head count because it had been ordered by unnamed higher-ups in the Trump administration to deliver data to the White House by Dec. 31, and could devise no other way to meet that goal.”

Quote of the day

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) criticized Senate Republicans for focusing more on the Supreme Court vacancy than the coronavirus crisis. “It is 100 percent, ends justify the means, classic Washington behavior,” Baker complained. (Boston Globe)

The coronavirus

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called for more “targeted” aid for small businesses before the House Financial Services committee on Sept. 22. (Video: Reuters)
After years of promising his own health-care plan, Trump settles for just rebranding Obamacare. 

“Trump capped his fruitless four-year journey to abolish and replace the Affordable Care Act by signing an executive order Thursday that aims to enshrine the law’s most popular feature while pivoting away from a broader effort to overhaul the nation’s health insurance system,” Toluse Olorunnipa reports. “The order declares it is the policy of the United States for people with preexisting health conditions to be protected, avoiding the thorny details of how to ensure such protections without either leaving the ACA, or Obamacare, in place or crafting new comprehensive legislation. Trump announced the move during a trip to North Carolina, outlining his ‘vision’ for revamping parts of the nation’s health care. During the speech, which came shortly before a campaign swing to Florida, Trump barely veiled the political nature of his intent."

Trump also dubiously pledged to send $200 drug discount cards to 33 million Medicare recipients in the weeks before the election. The president didn’t include “specifics about how the government would pay for it or which of the nation’s Medicare recipients would receive it. White House officials said the price tag, about $7 billion, could be paid for through an experimental program to lower Medicare drug prices that remains merely a proposal,” Amy Goldstein, Yasmeen Abutaleb and Josh Dawsey report.

Nancy Pelosi abruptly changes course by restarting a push for coronavirus aid amid signs the economy is flagging. 

The House speaker “moved to assemble a new coronavirus relief bill to form the basis for renewed talks with the White House, amid mounting pressure from moderates in her caucus and increasingly alarming economic news,” Erica Werner and Rachael Bade report. “Pelosi (D-Calif.) has more recently focused on an additional $2.2 trillion in aid — a figure Republicans say is still too high. But in a meeting with House Democratic leaders Thursday she said the new bill would be around $2.4 trillion, because of urgent needs arising from restaurants and airlines. … Pelosi asked key committee chairs to get to work on putting together the bill … She suggested the legislation could come to a vote on the House floor even if no bipartisan deal is reached. … 

“Pelosi had resisted demands from moderates in her caucus to narrow her ambitions or put a new bill on the floor, insisting that Republicans should be the ones to offer new concessions. … Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa), a freshman lawmaker who flipped a Republican-held seat in 2018, was gathering signatures from other lawmakers Thursday on a letter to Pelosi that said in part: ‘We write to you now to implore you to bring a revised and streamlined COVID-19 relief package to the floor next week. Americans are counting on us; they cannot wait any longer.’ … The window for action is narrow … Congress is supposed to adjourn at the end of next week through the election, although lawmakers could be called back to vote on a deal. … 

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reiterated in an appearance before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday that he saw the need for more stimulus and was prepared to resume talksHe has also said that the White House would support another round of stimulus checks for Americans, something Democrats have also said they want to authorize. … Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell agreed that more assistance is needed.Republicans dismissed Pelosi’s move as insincere, noting that she was increasing her asking price from $2.2 trillion to $2.4 trillion before talks had even begun.” 

  • Publicly traded companies that received taxpayer-backed small business loans to pay their employees used that money instead to pay Wall Street investors with dividends and share buybacks. (Aaron Gregg)
  • Across the country, fruit growers blocked coronavirus testing of seasonal farmworkers and told those who caught the coronavirus to keep it quiet, according to thousands of pages of state and local records. (Laura Reiley and Beth Reinhard)
  • Trump’s planned rally at a Virginia airport tonight poses a coronavirus risk, local health officials warned. The event at the Newport News airport almost certainly violates the state’s 250-person limit on public gatherings.  (Laura Vozzella)
  • Michael Caputo, the assistant secretary of Health and Human Services who took a leave of absence last week after publicly accusing his colleagues of sedition, said he has been diagnosed with metastatic cancer. He had surgery last week to remove a lump on his neck. (Buffalo News)
  • A member of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar’s security detail tested positive for the virus this week. (Politico)
  • To better understand the magnitude of the pandemic’s death toll in the U.S., a Post simulation shows what would happen if all reported covid‑19 deaths in the country happened around your address.
United to be the first U.S. airline to offer covid-19 tests for passengers. 

Starting Oct. 15, United customers traveling between San Francisco and Hawaii will have the option of taking a coronavirus test before they board their flight. A negative result would allow them to skip the mandatory 14-day quarantine requirement for travelers headed to the state,” Lori Aratani reports. “The pilot program will launch at the same time United begins ramping up service to Hawaii. … United customers will have the option of taking either a rapid test at the airport or a self-collected mail-in test before their departure, and will be responsible for paying the cost of the test. The rapid test, with results available in about 15 minutes, will cost $250 and the mail-in test $80.”

  • The Pac-12 Conference announced a return of its fall football season on Nov. 6. The conference will play a seven-game schedule, including a conference title game scheduled for Dec. 18. The conference also announced its basketball season will start Nov. 25. (Emily Giambalvo, Matt Bonesteel and Des Bieler)
  • A coronavirus vaccine being developed by the Chinese pharmaceutical company SinoVac will be ready for worldwide distribution by early next year, its CEO said. The vaccine is one of four in China still undergoing a third and final round of testing. If the vaccine, dubbed CoronaVac, makes it through Phase 3 of clinical trials, the company said it will apply to the FDA to sell it in the U.S. (Teo Armus)
  • Maryland's Prince George’s County will keep its pandemic restrictions in place, even as the D.C. region notches a week of falling infections. (Rachel Chason, Dana Hedpgeth and Ovetta Wiggins)
  • For the first time in 114 years, New York City canceled its New Year’s Eve bash in Times Square. The city will instead hold a digital celebration to ring in 2021. (CBS News)
  • Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival is also being delayed for the first time in 108 years. The Sambadrome, normally home to a massive annual parade organized by the League of Samba Schools, has now become a homeless shelter. (Armus)
  • Leaders in Europe and Canada are emphasizing the risks ahead for their countries as they head into cooler months with case counts growing again and populations already fed up with pandemic restrictions. (Emily Rauhala)
  • An Italian couple has become known as the “Romeo and Juliet” of the lockdown after they met from their balconies. They are now engaged. This all happened in Verona – the same city where the Shakespearean play took place. Except it’s a happy ending. (Sydney Page)

Divided America

Demonstrators gathered across Louisville on Sept. 24 to protest the grand jury decision in the Breonna Taylor case made a day earlier. (Video: The Washington Post)
Protests over the Breonna Taylor decision continue in Louisville for a second night. 

“Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, posted an illustration of her daughter on Instagram on Thursday with the caption, ‘It’s still Breonna Taylor for me #ThesystemfailedBreonna,'” Maria Sacchetti, Derek Hawkins and Griff Witte report. "Lawyer Ben Crump said that the family — expected to speak at a news conference Friday — was ‘devastated’ and that relatives had been informed by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron of the decision only 10 minutes before it was announced publicly. Crump was among the growing number of people Thursday — including the state’s Democratic governor — calling for Cameron to release more information about his findings and the grand jury’s decision-making. … Grand jury proceedings are closed to the public, and Cameron, a Republican, said Wednesday that he would not release a full grand jury report at this time because of an ongoing criminal case against one of the officers.”

Protesters nationwide said they were feeling despair and outrage that the police officers responsible for the deaths of Black people — such as Eric Garner in New York, Philando Castile in Minnesota and a host of others — would not be held accountable,” Mark Guarino, Erin Chan Ding, Cleve Wootson Jr. and Annie Gowen report. “Crystal McGee, a housing and voter registration activist in Chicago, said the result of the Taylor case left her feeling disgusted and depressed, but not surprised. ‘It could easily put me in the position of no hope for my family. But I refuse to do that,’ said McGee, who is Black. 'I have to believe that there’s going to be an answer soon, because if I don’t, I’m going to crack up.’ … 

"In Buffalo, a man drove a ­pickup truck into a crowd of protesters. In Seattle, 13 people were arrested Wednesday evening and multiple officers were injured … In Chicago, four separate protests unfolded during a long night … NaSeita Luckett, 24, decided to join the Chicago marchers for the first time ... Luckett, who is Black, said she had one reason: ‘I’m tired, like every Black American.’… In Minneapolis, a city that has been on edge since Floyd was killed there, around 3,000 people gathered Wednesday night outside the state capitol building in neighboring St. Paul.”

  • A Seattle police officer who rolled his bike over a protester’s head has been placed on leave. (Timothy Bella)
  • Rep. Attica Scott (D), Kentucky’s only Black female legislator, was arrested on a felony rioting charge at a protest in Louisville. It is unclear if she was released on bail or is still in custody. (Jaclyn Peiser)
  • Louisville protesters said a White man wearing brass knuckles threatened them outside the First Unitarian Church, which had been designated as a refuge. (Derek Hawkins
  • A new AP-NORC poll found support for racial injustice protests is declining: 44 percent of Americans disapprove of the protests in response to police violence against Black Americans, while 39 percent approve. In June, 54 percent approved.
  • A Black Whataburger employee said she lost her job after a customer complained she was wearing a Black Lives Matter mask at work. (Teo Armus)
John Bolton’s attorneys urge a federal judge to halt Trump’s efforts to seize proceeds from his memoir.

The former Trump national security adviser’s legal team accused White House aides of improperly trying to stall publication of the book because it reveals unflattering material about the president. “U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth of Washington, D.C., voiced doubt,” Spencer Hsu reports. “The oral argument came after a lawyer for the career government official who conducted the initial review for classified information in Bolton’s manuscript contended in a letter to the court that Trump aides had ‘commandeered’ the process, then erroneously claimed the memoir contained classified information and failed to propose edits to facilitate publication. … 

The government acknowledged that after Ellen Knight, the National Security Council’s senior director for records access, concluded Bolton had completed required edits so that the book contained no classified information, national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien Jr., whom Trump appointed to succeed Bolton, ordered an additional review — a move Knight and government attorneys called unprecedented. “O’Brien tapped another new appointee, Michael Ellis — the NSC’s senior director for intelligence and a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) — who received his classification authority March 1 and was not officially trained on it until the day after he completed the Bolton manuscript review,” Hsu reports.

Social media speed read

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) is running a bizarre ad on television saying that she's more conservative than Atilla the Hun. Her Republican rival responded this way:

Two mirrored, heart-wrenching images, decades apart: 

Videos of the day

Seth Meyers took a look at Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transition of power:  

Stephen Colbert said Trump wants to undermine Americans’ faith in the election: 

Happy Friday! The Post's Food Host Mary Beth Albright recreates Teddy Roosevelt's mint julep in this episode of “All the Presidents’ Drinks": 

Recreate Teddy Roosevelt's mint julep on this episode of All the Presidents’ Drinks with Food Host Mary Beth Albright. (Video: The Washington Post)