The White House said that President Donald Trump will not change his plan to travel to New Jersey this weekend despite a new order by the governor requiring visitors who have been in states with high numbers of coronavirus cases to quarantine for 14 days.
- “The president of the United States is not a civilian,” said a White House spokesman when asked about Trump’s compliance with the quarantine order given his travel Tuesday to Arizona, which has seen a rise in the rate of its Covid-19 cases.
- New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, along with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, announced that visitors from states with large numbers of coronavirus cases would be required to quarantine for two weeks, or face fines.
The White House said Wednesday that President Donald Trump will not change his plan to travel to New Jersey this weekend despite a new order by the governor requiring visitors who have been in states with high numbers of coronavirus cases to quarantine for 14 days.
“The president of the United States is not a civilian,” said White House spokesman Judd Deere, when asked about Trump’s compliance with the quarantine order given his travel Tuesday to Arizona, which has seen a rise in the rate of its Covid-19 cases.
“Anyone who is in close proximity to him, including staff, guests, and press are tested for COVID-19 and confirmed to be negative,” Deere said in a statement.
“With regard to Arizona, the White House followed it’s COVID mitigation planto ensure the President did not come into contact with anyone who was symptomatic or had not been tested,” the spokesman added.
“Anyone traveling in support of the president this weekend will be closely monitored for symptoms and tested for COVID and therefore pose little to no risk to the local populations.”
Trump is the commander in chief of the U.S. military, but he has never been a member of the military.
The president is expected to travel this weekend to his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. In past visits to the club, he has flown on Air Force One to airports in Newark and Morristown.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, along with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, on Wednesday announced that visitors from states with large numbers of coronavirus cases would be required to quarantine for two weeks, or face fines.
“This is the smart thing to do. We have taken our people … through hell and back,” Murphy told reporters during a conference call Wednesday.
A spokesman for Murphy declined to comment on the White House’s statement about Trump’s visit to the Garden State.
Cuomo during the same conference call with Murphy said: “We worked very hard to get the viral transmission rate down. We don’t want to see it go up because a lot of people come into this region and they can literally bring the infection with them.”
“Because what happens in New York happens in New Jersey and happens in Connecticut,” Cuomo said.
At least eight people who worked on the advance team for Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, have tested positive for Covid-19, two of whom were Secret Service agents. Two of the other people who tested positive did so after working at the rally, in contrast to the other six, whose test results came before the event occurred.
Aaron Zelinsky, in testimony before House lawmakers, detailed conversations among senior DOJ officials about the longtime Trump associate.
A federal prosecutor offered lawmakers on Wednesday a roadmap to investigate alleged political interference in the sentencing of longtime Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone.
Aaron Zelinsky, one of four lead prosecutors in the Stone case, told the House Judiciary Committee that senior officials — including the head of the Justice Department’s public corruption unit — freely discussed concerns that they were being pressured to go easy on Stone during sentencing.
The massive retail condominium owned by Kushner Companies at 229 West 43rd Street in Midtown Manhattan is headed for a Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) foreclosure auction scheduled for June 30, according to an auction notice from JLL, which is marketing the sale.
The auction— which fast-tracks the foreclosure timeline — is being pursued by one of the property’s mezzanine lenders, Paramount Group, under the entity 229 WEST FUND VIII LP. Paramount had provided a $70 million mezzanine loan as part of larger refinancing in 2016.
The 251,000-square-foot asset will be sold at a “as is, where is” basis — all cash — at a password-protected virtual Zoom UCC auction that had previously been postponed and was originally scheduled for April 30, according to the listing, which was published by Commercial Mortgage Alert.
A representative for Kushner Companies was not immediately available to answer a request for comment. Officials at Paramount declined to comment.
Kushner made a splash with its $296 million purchase of the condo in the fall 2015, receiving a $470 million appraisal not long after closing the acquisition and then subsequently locking in a $370 million debt package a year later to refinance the asset (Kushner bought it from Africa Israel USA, a U.S. subsidiary of Israeli investment firm Africa Israel Investments, at a 7.53 percent cap rate, according to data from CoStar Group.) That package included a $285 million commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) loan from Deutsche Bank as well as Paramount’s $70 million mezzanine loan and a separate $15 million mezz loan from SL Green Realty Corp., as CO previously reported.
A representative for SL Green did not respond to an inquiry.
In the middle of an unpredictable and volatile retail market last year that spilled into the early part of this year, that $285 million CMBS loan was sent to its special servicer KeyBank last December due to income struggles caused by tenancy financial troubles. Its transfer came after Kushner failed to fund “a shortfall on the loan’s debt service payments and required reserves,” according to a previous statement from Kroll Bond Rating Agency (KBRA) that was reported by CO. The loan itself — which had been previously watchlisted in Sept. 2017 — is split among four CMBS conduit transactions, including the JPMDB 2017-C5, the CD 2016-CD2, the CD 2017-CD3and the CGCMT 2017-P7. At the time of the transfer, Kushner had also defaulted on the building’s junior mezzanine debt and was in negotiations with that lender, according to KBRA.
Not long after Kushner’s purchase, tenancy issues began to set in, muddying its cash flow outlook. In the first two years, the landlord had unfruitful experiences with two different celebrity chefs. Guy Fieri’s Guy’s American Kitchen closed in 2017 after a 5-year-long stint at the location. And the landlord had also gotten embroiled in a lawsuit in early 2018 over leased space and rent payments with chef Todd English’s operating company Outstanding Hospitality Management. English had been selected to oversee a food hall there that never came to fruition.
These misses, coupled with eventual troubles with two of its largest tenants — experiential attractions in Gulliver’s Gate and National Geographic’s Ocean Odyssey — culminated in the special servicing transfer of the $285 million senior mortgage earlier this year.
Gulliver’s Gate, an exhibition space showcasing miniature sites of global attractions and famous pieces of real estate, filed for bankruptcy last October to overhaul its debt and possibly stave off an eviction at the site, per court filings reported at the time by Debtwire. In December, it was reported that Kushner, eager to take back the occupied space, which spans nearly 46,000 square feet, sought permission from a bankruptcy judge to reignite the eviction process, citing significant back rent owed by Gulliver’s. Prior to this dispute, in Dec. 2018, it had agreed to a reduced rent to ensure Gulliver would remain operational at the location through March 2024, but according to court filings and Debtwire’s reporting, Gulliver breached that agreement with continued missed monthly payments. In January, CO reported that Gulliver’s was still not paying rent, according to information from KBRA. CoStar has pegged Gulliver’s lease expiration at January 2031.
National Geographic operated a sea life exhibit at the site called Ocean Odyssey, which had defaulted on its lease and eventually came to an agreement with Kushner in the spring last year for reduced monthly payments — as of January, National Geographic was still struggling under that rate, according to servicer watchlist commentary.
Even so, as of last December, Kushner was able to stay above water with its senior debt service payments. Three days after the company fell $28,000 short on a $1.3 million payment to senior bondholders on Dec. 6, it came through with the money to cover, according to the servicer’s watchlist notes from December previously reported by CO.
The property’s remaining “performing” tenants include bowling alley Bowlmor — just over 31 percent of its rentable area — Guitar Center, which has leased about 11.3 percent of the space at the basement level, bar and restaurant The Ribbon, Haru Sushi and Los Tacos.
The former White House press secretary has a memoir in the works. But let’s not forget her talent for fiction
Donald Trump may not like reading, but he has inspired a lot of people to take up writing. Anyone remotely connected to the president appears to have an exposé of the Trump administration forthcoming. That includes Sarah Sanders, the former White House press secretary; her book, Speaking for Myself, will be released later this year.
Sanders has remained loyal to the president; instead, she directs barbs at the former national security adviser John Bolton, who most certainly has not. In an extract of her book given to the politics site Axios, she describes Bolton as being “drunk on power” and forgetting that “nobody elected him to anything”.
It is a shame Sanders has written a memoir, because she has a talent for fiction. During her two-year tenure as press secretary, Sanders proved herself a smooth and shameless liar. She maintained a straight face while arguing that Trump, who has repeatedly glorified violence, had never encouraged violence against anyone. She claimed that Trump’s firing of the FBI director, James Comey, had support from “countless members of the FBI”, before admitting under oath that this statement “was not founded on anything”.
When Sanders was not spouting outrageous untruths, she did not seem to know what to do with herself. Daily media addresses were the norm before her reign; she killed them off and set a White House record when she went 94 days without holding a proper press briefing. In short, she collected a taxpayer-funded salary while openly holding taxpayers in contempt.
Nonetheless, a publisher has rewarded Sanders with a book deal. Shame on everyone involved in this. Sanders has started a new chapter of her life, but there does not appear to have been any character development.
- Arwa Mahdawi is a Guardian columnist
Americans have had enough …
… and are marching for justice in unprecedented numbers. In small towns and big cities across the country, thousands of people are giving voice to the grief and anger that generations of black Americans have suffered at the hands of the criminal justice system. Young and old, black and white, family and friends have joined together to say: enough.
The unconscionable examples of racism over the last weeks and months come as America’s communities of color have been hit hardest by the coronavirus and catastrophic job losses. This is a perfect storm hitting black Americans. Meanwhile, the political leadership suggests that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”. The president who promised to end the “American carnage” is in danger of making it worse.
At a time like this, an independent news organisation that fights for truth and holds power to account is not just optional. It is essential. Because we believe every one of us deserves equal access to fact-based news and analysis, we’ve decided to keep Guardian journalism free for all readers, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay. This is made possible thanks to the support we receive from readers across America in all 50 states……
SOURCE: The Guardian
The US Secret Service on Monday evening told members of the White House press corps to immediately leave the White House grounds, a highly unusual decision that did not immediately come with an explanation.
Chief Justice John Roberts is under the microscope as the Supreme Court prepares to issue its first major ruling on abortion rights in the Trump era, which will give the clearest indication yet of the court’s willingness to revisit protections that were first granted in Roe v. Wade.
The tie-breaking vote may rest with Roberts, and the case stands to test his role as the court’s new ideological center as well as his allegiance to past rulings.
A decision could come as early as Monday, following a blockbuster week at the court. Roberts joined narrow majorities last week to extend civil rights protections to gay and transgender people and block the Trump administration’s plan to end a deportation shield for young undocumented immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy.
But the abortion rights case differs from the others in a key respect. Whereas the LGBT and DACA disputes asked the justices to interpret the meaning of federal law, the Louisiana case asks the justices to weigh their own past rulings on abortion.
Roberts’s image as an “institutionalist” justice dedicated to honoring prior Supreme Court opinions, especially recent ones, is now on the line.
One ruling in particular — the court’s 2016 decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt — looms large over the Louisiana case. It also raises the stakes for the reputations of both Roberts and the court.
The court in Hellerstedt ruled 5-3 to strike down a Texas law that required abortion-performing doctors to be authorized to admit patients at a nearby hospital. Roberts dissented on technical grounds from the majority, which said the Texas law was unconstitutional because its burden on a woman’s right to an abortion outweighed any medical benefit.
While Roberts’s vote was not decisive in the Texas dispute, he may hold the tie-breaking vote in the Louisiana case. What complicates matters is the fact that the Texas law that the court struck down in Hellerstedt is nearly identical to the Louisiana law now under review.
Even if you didn’t know that President Trump’s Saturday night rally in Tulsa was sparsely attended, a wordless video clip that circulated through Twitter on Sunday morning told the whole story: The president returned to the White House late at night and departed Marine One with his tie loose around his neck, a crumpled MAGA hat in his hand, with a bearing that was dejected, desultory, and defeated
CONTINUE READING HERE
Fewer than 6,200 people attended President Trump‘s campaign rally at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday night, well below the arena’s capacity of roughly 19,000, according to the Tulsa Fire Department.
Andrew Little, the department’s public information officer, told The Hill that a fire marshal recorded the tally at around 7:30 p.m., noting that the figure applied to scanned tickets from the event. The number did not account for members of the media, campaign staff and those in box suites.
A Trump campaign official told The Hill that 12,000 people went through metal detectors at the rally.
Iowa was not on anyone’s bingo card of 2020 battlegrounds.
Donald J. Trump carried the state by nine percentage points in 2016, and a year ago prominent Democrats in the state passed up the chance to challenge Senator Joni Ernst, a popular Republican seeking re-election.
But with the political ground shifting precariously under Mr. Trump amid multiple crises, Iowa is unexpectedly in play in the presidential and Senate races this year, moving Republicans to high alert. Democrats, who a few years ago were shrouded in despair that their party might never again appeal to white working-class voters, are energized.
A poll published by The Des Moines Register and Mediacom on Monday showed Mr. Trump with only a one-point lead in the state over former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. The poll revealed a deep erosion of support for the president among white women without college degrees, voters who were key to his 2016 coalition across a swath of Midwestern swing states.
The same survey showed that Ms. Ernst, a rising star in her party in her first term, was narrowly trailing her little-known Democratic challenger.
Theresa Greenfield, the Democratic Senate nominee who emerged from a primaryon June 2, is running primarily on a biography with parallels to the one Ms. Ernst used to introduce herself to Iowans six years ago: Both grew up on farms, and both have made promises to show Washington their scrappy values of hard work and self-reliance.
But Ms. Greenfield is turning Ms. Ernst’s celebrated anti-establishment catchphrase against her rival.
“Senator Ernst told Iowans in 2014 she was going to be independent and different and she was going to ‘make ’em squeal,’” Ms. Greenfield said in an interview, echoing a television ad six years ago in which Ms. Ernst said she would take a knife to federal spending the way she castrated hogs on the farm. “The bottom line is nobody’s squealing except Iowans.”
Ms. Ernst declined an interview request. But her advisers noted that Ms. Greenfield, a businesswoman and political newcomer, was riding the crest of more than $7 million in positive TV ads by liberal outside groups.
“This is Greenfield’s high-water mark,” said David Kochel, a senior adviser to the Ernst campaign. He promised that the Democrat would soon face a barrage of negativity. “Forty percent of Iowans don’t have an opinion of Theresa Greenfield,” he said. “We’re here to help.”
In the Des Moines Register poll, Mr. Trump led Mr. Biden 44 percent to 43 percent among likely voters, the latest in a wave of national and state polls showing the president’s prospects for re-election at their most precarious all year.
Although the road to the White House in November will not hinge on Iowa, with its meager six electoral votes, the tightness of the race in the state is an ominous sign for Mr. Trump in other Midwestern battlegrounds like Ohio and Wisconsin, which also have large electorates of older and rural voters, and white voters without college degrees.
ByContributing Opinion Writer
Suppose there had been a leak from the Supreme Court early Thursday morning: The court was about to issue its long-awaited decision in the DACA case on the fate of nearly 700,000 young immigrants known as Dreamers; the vote was 5 to 4; and the majority opinion was by Chief Justice John Roberts. But the leaker didn’t know, or wouldn’t say, which way the case came out.
Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets.
Among the Dreamers and their supporters, hearts would have been in their throats. This was the chief justice, after all, who two years ago wrote the opinion upholding President Trump’s Muslim travel ban, and who five years before that wrote the opinion dismantling the Voting Rights Act. The vote in both was 5 to 4. Why wouldn’t the conservative chief justice defer to the president’s decision to end a program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, that his predecessor had instituted by executive action without even seeking Congress’s approval?
But the president’s allies would have had ample reason to be anxious. Wasn’t this the chief justice who just a year ago wrote the majority opinion that by a vote of 5 to 4 blocked the president’s plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census? The proposal failed the essential requirement of administrative law for “reasoned decision making,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote in that case. He dismissed the administration’s proffered good-government rationale as pretextual; or, as the dictionary puts it, “dubious or spurious.”
Now, of course, we know that it was the Chief Justice Roberts of the census decision, which an enraged President Trump came within inches of defying, who arrived on the scene in time to save the Dreamers. His opinion assured readers that in holding that the administration’s effort to undo DACA was invalid, the court was not endorsing the program. That is conventional administrative law talk — and the case, as the chief justice framed it, was a conventional one about administrative procedure.
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — President Donald Trump launched his comeback rally Saturday by defining the upcoming election as a stark choice between national heritage and left-wing radicalism. But his intended show of political force amid a pandemic featured thousands of empty seats and new coronavirus cases on his own campaign staff.
Trump ignored health warnings to go through with his first rally in 110 days — one of the largest indoor gatherings in the world during a coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 120,000 Americans, put 40 million out of work and upended Trump’s reelection bid. The rally was meant to restart his reelection effort less than five months before the president faces voters again.
“The choice in 2020 is very simple,” Trump said. “Do you want to bow before the left-wing mob, or do you want to stand up tall and proud as Americans?”
Trump unleashed months of pent-up grievances about the coronavirus, which he dubbed the “Kung flu,” a racist term for COVID-19 that originated from China. He also tried to defend his handling of the pandemic, even as cases continue to surge in many states, including Oklahoma.
He complained that robust coronavirus testing was making his record look bad — and suggested the testing effort should slow down.
“Here’s the bad part. When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more cases,” he said. “So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down.’ They test and they test.”
In the hours before the rally, crowds were significantly lighter than expected, and campaign officials scrapped plans for Trump to address an overflow space outdoors. When Trump thundered that “the silent majority is stronger than ever before,” about a third of the seats at his indoor rally were empty.
Trump tried to explain away the crowd size by blaming the media for declaring “don’t go, don’t come, don’t do anything” and by insisting there were protesters outside who were “doing bad things.” But the small crowds of pre-rally demonstrators were largely peaceful, and Tulsa police reported just one arrest Saturday afternoon.
Just hours before the rally, Trump’s campaign revealed that six staff members who were helping set up for the event had tested positive for the coronavirus. Campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said that “quarantine procedures were immediately implemented,” and that neither the affected staffers nor anyone who was in immediate contact with them would attend the event.
Singer Pink, a longtime critic of President Donald Trump, mocked him for the smaller-than-expected crowd at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma Saturday night. The singer joked that she “sold that same place out in five minutes” and called the event a “donkey show.” The crowd was so unexpectedly small that Trump’s campaign canceled a speech to the “overflow” crowd outside the center because the crowd was not big enough.
The Trump re-election campaign was expecting a crowd so big that not everyone could get into the 19,000-seat BOK Center. They even set up a full stage outside the venue so Trump and Vice President Mike Pence could both speak to the “overflow” crowd. Video shows the Secret Service breaking down the outdoor stage, which even had a bulletproof shield standing in front of the lectern where Trump would have spoken.
Trump’s campaign blamed the decision to cancel the “overflow” event on protesters. “President Trump is rallying in Tulsa with thousands of energetic supporters, a stark contrast to the sleepy campaign being run by Joe Biden from his basement in Delaware,” campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a statement to NPR. “Sadly, protestors interfered with supporters, even blocking access to the metal detectors, which prevented people from entering the rally. Radical protestors, coupled with a relentless onslaught from the media, attempted to frighten off the President’s supporters. We are proud of the thousands who stuck it out.”
Pink has made it clear over the years she is not a fan of Trump. In a series of tweets on June 1, the “Beautiful Trauma” singer mocked Trump’s response to the protests of police brutality and systemic racism, calling him a “coward and a racist and just like everything else you’ve attempted in your life, A COMPLETE AND UTTER FAILURE.” She said she could not wait to “vote you out in November.”
The “Sober” singer also shared a long video on Twitter earlier this month, wondering how anyone could consider themselves a patriot while supporting Trump. She said Trump “doesn’t govern, respect or represent half our country.” Pink and husband Carey Hart also attended a Black Lives Matter protest, with both wearing face masks to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. When people bombarded her post with “All lives matter” comments, she wrote to one person, “Why are some white people so threatened by fairness? It shows how small you are.”
“TRUTH” By The Way Of “FACTS” With A Lot Of “Common Sense”…..Papa Mike
Trump has conflicted thoughts on the NFL restarting. Trump tweeted his support of the league’s safety precautions Friday, but reiterated he would not watch football in 2020 if players are allowed to kneel during the national anthem.
Trump’s comments come a day after Dr. Anthony Fauci threw cold water on the idea football would be played this year. Fauci said players would have to be kept in a bubble and tested every day to ensure the league was safe.
The president disagreed with Fauci’s pessimism, essentially telling Fauci to stop talking about the NFL.
Tony Fauci has nothing to do with NFL Football. They are planning a very safe and controlled opening. However, if they don’t stand for our National Anthem and our Great American Flag, I won’t be watching!!!
While Trump’s tweet initially comes off as supportive of the NFL, he chastises the league in his second sentence. It’s far from the first time Trump has indicated he won’t watch the NFL if players are allowed to kneel. Trump has consistently criticized the league for how it has handled player protests.
Trump told New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees he would regret apologizing for his anthem comments, questioned why Roger Goodell said “Black Lives Matter” in a video and once again weighed in on Colin Kaepernick.
Trump hit many of the same notes in 2016, when Kaepernick started peacefully protesting police brutality and racial injustice in the United States. If Trump’s actions back then are any indication, he’ll have a lot more to say about the NFL in 2020, especially considering the league isn’t likely to reverse course on allowing players to kneel during the season.
In a letter to the House clerk, Pelosi directed the immediate removal of portraits depicting the former speakers: Robert Hunter of Virginia, James Orr of South Carolina and Howell Cobb and Charles Crisp, both of Georgia. The portraits were to be removed later Thursday.
Trump is losing the women’s vote to Joe Biden by a historic margin that has not been seen in more than 50 years, according to new research.
It was a 19-point disparity between the two rivals earlier this year, and Hillary Clinton had a 14-point lead in polls leading up to the 2016 election, won by Trump.
Democrat Lyndon Johnson won the women’s vote by 24 points in 1964 when he toppled Barry Goldwater, according to CNN, but Biden has a chance to surpass that number.
Women have generally leaned to Democratic candidates, but that trend has intensified with Trump.
“We think it’s a reflection of a trend that started quite some time ago, with the gender gap, that really accelerated after Trump got elected, interestingly,” Morley Winograd, a senior fellow at USC’s Annenberg School Center on Communication Leadership and Policy, told US News in May.
ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta’s police chief resigned Saturday hours after a black man was fatally shot by an officer in a struggle following a field sobriety test. Authorities said the slain man had grabbed an officer’s Taser, but was running away when he was shot.
Police Chief Erika Shields stepped down as the killing of 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks sparked a new wave of protests in Atlanta after turbulent demonstrations that followed the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis had simmered down.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced the police chief’s resignation at a Saturday news conference as roughly 150 people marched outside the Wendy’s restaurant where Brooks was fatally shot late Friday. The mayor also called for the immediate firing of the unidentified officer who opened fire at Brooks.
“I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force and have called for the immediate termination of the officer,” Bottoms said.
She said it was Shields’ own decision to step aside as police chief and that she would remain with the city in an undetermined role. Interim Corrections Chief Rodney Bryant would serve as interim police chief until a permanent replacement is found.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is investigating the shooting, said the deadly confrontation started with officers responding to a complaint that a man was sleeping in a car blocking the restaurant’s drive-thru lane. The GBI said Brooks failed a field sobriety test and then resisted officers’ attempts to arrest him.
Political pigs are flying. The latest polling suggests the race for the presidency in the state of Texas is a dead heat between President Donald Trump and Vice President Joe Biden.
I spent decades practicing politics in Texas, so when these kind of Lone Star aberrations hit the headlines, I often get asked about them. “Is Texas,” they ask, “really in play for the Democrats?” And I usually respond that it’s just a cyclical fever dream for Democrats, finishing the conversation with a polite, “Call me back in 10 years.”
Texas is a very conservative state. The last time its voters chose the Democratic candidate for president was 44 years ago—for Jimmy Carter, a peanut farmer from Georgia. To put things in perspective, the Democratic party, for much of the 20th century, held sway across much of the South. And in Texas, there really was no Republican Party to speak of. Sure, it was a two-party state. But you were either a liberal Democrat or, more likely, a conservative Democrat. That said, I can guarantee you that if Texan Lloyd Bentsen, the four-term Democratic senator, were around today, he’d be a Republican.
Ann Richards, a Democrat, won the Texas governorship in 1990 because she was tough as nails and as charismatic as a movie star. But she ran for office when the hinge of party politics was beginning to swing Republican, and if it were not for an inept campaign by her opponent, Clayton Williams, she might not have prevailed. As it was, however, she only delayed the inevitable. Because when George W. Bush came to town four years later and tipped his hat to Richards, his message was essentially: “I respect Ann Richards, I’m just offering a conservative alternative.” And that was all it took.
The Republican tsunami in the Lone Star State was swift and total. After Richards was elected in 1990, the overwhelming majority of statewide constitutional officeholders were Democrats. Eight years later? All statewide seats were held by Republicans. Conservative Democrats, it turned out, finally did have an alternative. And when Bush blew the bugle of compassionate conservatism, former conservative Democrats lined up and said, “Yeah, that’s what I am. Count me in.” I know. I was one of them. For years I helped run a public affairs consulting firm—with Richards as one of my partners, no less—and worked with politicians on both sides of the aisle. But just as Bill Clinton had spoken to blue and red-state voters as a fellow good old boy, W. spoke to me, loud and clear.
The fact that the polling is even close in Texas should be a four-alarm fire for Team Trump. The electoral map makes it plain as day: If they’ve got even a hint of trouble in Texas, then they’ve got way bigger problems in a lot of other states that are even more telling as presidential bellwethers. If Trump loses Texas and its seismic 38 electoral votes—a state he won by a hefty nine points in 2016—then it’s all over, Baby Blue.
Biden spoke to the Texas Democratic Convention this weekend and declared, “We have a real chance to turn the state blue.” But here’s the key for Team Biden. Don’t get distracted by the big, shiny object of Texas. Don’t waste valuable time and resources there. It’s big. It’s expensive. It’s a place where Democrats’ dreams have been dashed for decades. (A young couple named Bill and Hillary Clinton helped run the Texas operation for George McGovern, with Bill’s Oxford roomie Strobe Talbott, and came up with bupkes.) Democrats in 2020 instead need to keep the focus on Arizona, North Carolina, Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Ohio, Iowa, and Maine wouldn’t hurt either. And let’s not forget Minnesota and, yes, even Georgia.
The bottom line is that if Texas were to truly be in play in November—a very big if—then Biden wouldn’t even need Texas because he’d be winning by, oh, 400-plus electoral votes. In other words: by a landslide. So for goodness’ sake, don’t mess with Texas.
Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, apologized Thursday for his role in President Donald Trump’s controversial church photo op last week, saying he shouldn’t have been at the scene.
“As many of you saw, the result of the photograph of me at Lafayette Square last week, that sparked a national debate about the role of the military in civil society,” Milley said in a prerecorded address to the National Defense University. “I should not have been there. My presence in that moment, and in that environment, created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.”
“As a commissioned, uniformed officer, it was a mistake, that I have learned from, and I sincerely hope we all can learn from it,” he continued. “We who wear the cloth of our nation come from the people of our nation. And we must hold dear the principle of an apolitical military that is so deeply rooted in the very essence of our Republic. And this is not easy. It takes time and work and effort. But it may be the most important thing each and every one of us does every single day.”
Milley’s comments come nearly two weeks after the president oversaw a harsh response to peaceful protesters who gathered outside the White House, which was met with condemnation by Democrats, criticism from a handful of Republicans, and pushback from retired military leaders, including Trump’s former Defense Secretary James Mattis.
Moments after authorities forcefully cleared the area of protesters, Trump walked with military leaders through from the White House through Lafayette Square to St. John’s Episcopal Church, which was damaged by a fire during protests earlier in the week. He stood in front of the church, held up a Bible, and had a few photos taken before returning to the White House. Moments before the crackdown, Trump vowed to use military might to curtail rioting.
Milley, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Attorney General William Barr and others accompanied Trump to the church.
Speaking with NBC News, Esper said he thought the walk from the White House would be “to see some damage and talk to the troops.” The following day, he said he did know they were embarking on a trip to the church but that he did not know “exactly where we were going when I arrived at the church and what the plans were once we got there.”
Amid criticism from Republican senators and others over the forceful clearing of protesters and the photo op, Trump tweeted, “You got it wrong!” and pointed to initial comments from U.S. Park Police. “If the protesters were so peaceful, why did they light the Church on fire the night before? People liked my walk to this historic place of worship!”
Barr, in an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation,” pointed to violence at previous protests as reason for why the protesters needed to be pushed back, adding that those in attendance last Monday “were not peaceful protesters.”
“This was not an operation to respond to that particular crowd,” Barr said. “It was an operation to move the perimeter one block.”
The crackdown and Trump’s walk to the church minutes later “were not connected,” Barr said.
A federal court in New York City determined that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent may no longer arrest immigrants at courthouses in New York State. U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoffdeclared the policy “illegal” in a massive blow to the Trump administration on Wednesday.
“Recent events confirm the need for freely and fully functioning state courts, not least in the State of New York,” the 24-page opinionbegins. “But it is one thing for the state courts to try to deal with the impediments brought on by a pandemic, and quite another for them to have to grapple with disruptions and intimidations artificially imposed by an agency of the federal government in violation of long-standing privileges and fundamental principles of federalism and of separation of powers.”