Virus, Protests, Trump’s Angry Words Darken US July 4th Weekend

Protesters raise their fists during a small rally against racism in the US next to the Washington Memorial in Washington, DC, on July 4, 2020, ahead of the Independence Day celebrations. - Wide spread national protests over police brutality and systemic racism have taken place following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP)
Protesters raise their fists during a small rally against racism in the US next to the Washington Memorial in Washington, DC, on July 4, 2020, ahead of the Independence Day celebrations. – Wide spread national protests over police brutality and systemic racism have taken place following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP)

 

 

The United States marked its Independence Day on Saturday in a somber mood, as a record surge in coronavirus cases, anti-racism protests and an angry speech from President Donald Trump have cast a shadow over what normally are festive celebrations.

Popular beaches on both coasts — normally packed on July 4th — were closed as California and Florida suffer alarming surges in COVID-19 infections.

“You should assume everyone around you is infectious,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti warned.

Across the country, Main Street parades have been canceled, backyard barbecues scaled down, and family reunions put off amid worries about spreading the virus on a day when Americans typically celebrate their 1776 declaration of independence from Britain.

Florida said Saturday it had marked a new daily high in confirmed virus cases at 11,458 — far more than any other state — and Miami Beach imposed a curfew and made mask-wearing mandatory in public. Yet some Florida beaches remained open.

The US virus death toll is fast approaching 130,000, roughly one-quarter the world’s total.

 

A US flag flies as fireworks explode above the Mount Rushmore National Monument during an Independence Day event attended by the US president in Keystone, South Dakota, July 3, 2020. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP)

 

Fireworks canceled

Fireworks displays are typically a high point of the holiday, but an estimated 80 percent of the events, including in cities like Indianapolis, Atlanta and Nashville, have been canceled this year.

Some locales are urging people to watch fireworks from their cars.

But other Americans, weary of lockdowns or simply defiant, carry on as if the deadly pandemic were a thing of the past.

Continuing a year of confusingly mixed signals, local officials in Washington have discouraged residents from massing on the National Mall for the capital’s fireworks display.

 

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump attend Independence Day events at Mount Rushmore in Keystone, South Dakota, July 3, 2020. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump attend Independence Day events at Mount Rushmore in Keystone, South Dakota, July 3, 2020. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)

Trump, fresh from his appearance Friday before the monumental sculpture of four presidents on Mount Rushmore, plans to take in Saturday’s “Salute to America” in Washington, complete with military music and flyovers, from a White House balcony.

He and his wife, Melania, released a video message wishing Americans “a very, very happy Fourth of July.”

Trump was optimistic on virus trends that have health officials deeply concerned. “We got hit with this terrible plague from China,” he said, “and now we are getting close to fighting our way out of it.”

Trump’s address at the Washington festivities will pay tribute to health care workers, police and the military, White House spokesman Judd Deere told AFP.

Social distancing would be observed, he added — in contrast to the practice at Mount Rushmore.

 

‘Violent mayhem’

While presidents’ July 4th speeches traditionally are uplifting affairs that emphasize patriotism and national unity, Trump in South Dakota angrily lashed out at protests that have erupted since unarmed African American George Floyd was killed by police.

Facing a tough re-election battle in November and eager to mobilize his political base, Trump denounced “violent mayhem” on US streets, though most demonstrations have been peaceful, and accused protesters of waging “a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children.”

Trump’s presumptive opponent in the fall, Democrat Joe Biden, struck a sharply different tone, tweeting Saturday: “Our nation was founded on a simple idea: We’re all created equal. We’ve never lived up to it — but we’ve never stopped trying. This Independence Day, let’s not just celebrate those words, let’s commit to finally fulfill them.”

 

A woman sits near her umbrella during a small rally against racism in the US next to the Washington Memorial in Washington, DC, on July 4, 2020, ahead of the Independence Day celebrations. - Wide spread national protests over police brutality and systemic racism have taken place following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP)
A woman sits near her umbrella during a small rally against racism in the US next to the Washington Memorial in Washington, DC, on July 4, 2020, ahead of the Independence Day celebrations. – Wide spread national protests over police brutality and systemic racism have taken place following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP)

Protests have continued in many US cities since Floyd’s killing in May, and more than a score of demonstrations were taking place Saturday in Washington, including a George Floyd Memorial March and a Black Lives Matter protest.

All the demonstrations, in theory, should be over before the night’s celebration on the Mall, set to start at 6:40pm (22H40 GMT).

Health officials have been bracing for a new spike in virus cases after this weekend.

Some link the latest flareup to the delayed result of widespread celebrations during the Memorial Day holiday in late May, and to the reopening of some states’ economies starting around that time.

And they see this weekend as a potential tipping point — in the worst case, a replay of the post-Memorial Day resurgence.

 

 

-AFP

Iran Puts Out Arrest Warrant For Donald Trump, Seeks Interpol’s Help

U.S. President Donald Trump participates in a meeting of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board in the East Room of the White House on June 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP
U.S. President Donald Trump participates in a meeting of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board in the East Room of the White House on June 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

 

Iran said Monday it has called for Interpol to help arrest President Donald Trump and 35 other US officials for the January killing of its top general in an American drone strike.

Tehran prosecutor Ali Qasi Mehr, quoted by state news agency IRNA, said 36 US political and military officials “involved in the assassination” of General Qasem Soleimani “have been investigated and were ordered to be arrested through Interpol”.

“These people have been charged with murder and terrorist acts,” he said.

“At the top of the list is US President Donald Trump, and his prosecution will continue even after the end of his term,” said the prosecutor, referring to his bid for re-election in November.

Qasi Mehr, quoted on the judiciary’s Mizan Online official website, said “the Iranian judiciary has issued arrest warrants against the 36”.

He called for the international police agency Interpol to issue red notices, which are not arrest warrants but issued for those wanted for prosecution or sentencing.

Interpol, however, told AFP that any such intervention would be contrary to its constitution, without directly confirming it had been contacted by Iran.

Under Article 3 of the constitution, “it is strictly forbidden for the Organisation to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character”, said the agency based in the French city of Lyon.

“Interpol would not consider requests of this nature.”

Trump ordered the killing of Soleimani in a January 3 drone strike near Baghdad international airport.

Soleimani, a national hero at home, was “the world’s top terrorist” and “should have been terminated long ago”, Trump said at the time.

Brian Hook, the US pointman on Iran policy, scoffed at the Iranian request to Interpol as a “propaganda stunt”.

“Our assessment is that Interpol does not intervene and issue red notices that are based on a political nature,” he told a news conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

“This has nothing to do with national security, international peace or promoting stability,” Hook said.

“We see it for what it is. It’s a propaganda stunt that no-one takes seriously and makes the Iranians look foolish.”

The killing of Soleimani, who headed the Quds Force, the foreign operations arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, provoked massive outpourings of grief at home.

Iran retaliated by firing a volley of ballistic missiles at US troops stationed in Iraq, but Trump opted against responding militarily.

While the attack on the western Iraqi base of Ain Al-Asad left no US soldiers dead, dozens suffered brain trauma.

 

AFP

US Thinks Russia Spies Aided Taliban Attacks

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with industry executives on the reopening of the U.S. economy in the State Dining Room May 29, 2020 in Washington, DC. Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images/AFP
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with industry executives on the reopening of the U.S. economy in the State Dining Room May 29, 2020 in Washington, DC. Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images/AFP

 

 

US intelligence has concluded that a Russian unit offered rewards to Taliban-linked militants to kill troops of the US-led coalition in Afghanistan, The New York Times reported Friday.

The purported bounties gave incentives to the guerrillas to target US forces, just as President Donald Trump tries to withdraw troops and end America’s longest war.

The newspaper, citing anonymous officials, said that Trump was briefed on the findings in March, but has not decided how to respond.

It said that militants were believed to have collected bounty money, but that it was unclear whether specific killings of US troops were under suspicion.

The newspaper quoted a Kremlin spokesman saying only that Russia was unaware of the accusations.

Russia has a tortured history in Afghanistan, where the former Soviet Union in its final years was bogged down in a devastating fight against Islamic guerrillas, then backed by Washington.

But Russia has more recently been accused by the United States of quietly providing small arms to the Taliban.

The New York Times said there were different theories on why Russia would support Taliban attacks, including a desire to keep the United States bogged down in war.

It said that the Russian unit may also be seeking revenge over the US killing of Russian mercenaries in Syria, where Moscow backs President Bashar al-Assad.

According to the newspaper, the Taliban operation was led by a unit known as the G.R.U., which has been blamed in numerous international incidents including a 2018 chemical weapons attack in Britain that nearly killed Russian-born double agent Sergei Skripal.

US intelligence concluded that Russia intervened in the 2016 presidential election in a bid to assist Trump, including through manipulation of social media.

Trump has scoffed at the findings and sought a warmer relationship with President Vladimir Putin, even as his administration keeps imposing sanctions over Russia over its actions on Ukraine.

 

-AFP

Trump Signs Order ‘Protecting’ Monuments As Crowds Topple Statues

WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 19: U.S. President Donald Trump signs a signed the executive order on DOT deregulation, during a meeting with his cabinet in the East Room of the White House on May 19, 2020 in Washington, DC. Earlier in the day President Trump met with members of the Senate GOP. Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP

 

 

US President Donald Trump on Friday signed an executive order pledging to enforce prosecution for protesters who vandalize public memorials, as he announced he was skipping a weekend at his New Jersey golf resort to ensure “LAW & ORDER” in Washington.

Trump’s order follows a wave of civil unrest across America triggered by the killing of unarmed African American George Floyd, who died while a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck.

In some cities, protesters have pulled down or vandalized statues and memorials of historical figures — such as Confederate leaders — who defended slavery.

“I just had the privilege of signing a very strong Executive Order protecting American Monuments, Memorials, and Statues – and combatting recent Criminal Violence,” Trump tweeted.

“Long prison terms for these lawless acts against our Great Country!”

He added: “I was going to go to Bedminster, New Jersey, this weekend, but wanted to stay in Washington, D.C. to make sure LAW & ORDER is enforced.”

In Washington, protesters have pulled down a statue of Confederate general Albert Pike, while others this week were unsuccessful in their attack on a statue of President Andrew Jackson, a slave owner, near the White House.

Those who have pulled down or defaced monuments “seek nothing more than to destroy anything that honors our past and to erase from the public mind any suggestion that our past may be worth honoring,” the White House said.

The order calls for “enforcement of laws that carry firm penalties of incarceration for those found guilty of desecrating public monuments” — without announcing any new regulations.

“President Trump will never allow violence to control our streets, rewrite our history, or harm the American way of life,” the White House said.

The White House announced the cancellation of Trump’s weekend trip to Bedminster just hours before he was due to board Air Force One, as concerns grew over a new surge in coronavirus cases across the country.

Judd Deere, a presidential spokesman, had said only that the cancellation had “nothing to do with” new 14-day quarantine recommendations made by New Jersey’s governor for people travelling to the state from areas where infection rates were high.

Trump held a rally on Tuesday in Arizona, a state that is suffering from a surge in cases.

 

 

-AFP

Trump Cancels Weekend Golf Retreat As US COVID-19 Cases Surge

US President Donald Trump walks to board Air Force One prior to departure from Austin Straubel International Airport in Green Bay, Wisconsin, June 25, 2020. SAUL LOEB / AFP
US President Donald Trump walks to board Air Force One prior to departure from Austin Straubel International Airport in Green Bay, Wisconsin, June 25, 2020. SAUL LOEB / AFP

 

US President Donald Trump on Friday made a last-minute cancellation of a weekend trip to his New Jersey golf course as concerns grew over a new surge in coronavirus cases across the country.

Just hours before he was due to board Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base outside the capital, the White House announced the scrapping of the trip to Bedminster without offering any explanation.

Judd Deere, a presidential spokesman, limited himself to saying that the cancellation had “nothing to do with” new 14-day quarantine recommendations made by New Jersey’s governor for people travelling to the state from areas where infection rates were high.

Trump held a rally on Tuesday in Arizona, a state that is suffering from a surge in cases.

The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut on Wednesday announced the implementation of a 14-day quarantine for anyone who has recently been in a state with high infection rates.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he was not trying to prevent people entering from other states, since states have no mechanism for closing their borders, but did warn that anyone not respecting the quarantine rules could face penalties

 

AFP

Trump Administration Asks US Supreme Court To End Obamacare

A photo combination created on May 9, 2020 of former US President, Barack Obama and current US President, Donald Trump.
A photo combination created on May 9, 2020 of former US President, Barack Obama and current US President, Donald Trump.

 

 

US President Donald Trump’s administration asked the Supreme Court Thursday to strike down Obamacare, which has provided health insurance to tens of millions of Americans.

The third challenge to the landmark law, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, comes as the United States records some of its highest coronavirus infection rates since the contagion hit the country.

Under Obamacare, millions of Americans are required to buy health insurance or face a tax penalty.

But in 2017 Congress eliminated the fine for people who failed to sign up — known as the individual mandate — removing a key part of former President Barack Obama’s policy.

The Department of Justice (DoJ) argues “the individual mandate is not severable from the rest of the Act.”

Because of that “the mandate is now unconstitutional as a result of Congress’s elimination … of the penalty for noncompliance,” it said in a late filing.

As a result “the entire ACA thus must fall with the individual mandate.”

The DoJ also argues that ACA coverage protecting people with pre-existing conditions — rules that mean insurers cannot refuse customers because of their age, gender, or health status — should also be overturned.

The Supreme Court will hear the case in its next term starting October, but US media reported that it is unlikely to be examined before the presidential election in November.

Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi condemned the Trump administration’s move and called it an “act of unfathomable cruelty” during the pandemic.

She claimed if passed 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions could lose the ACA’s protections, and as many as 23 million citizens could be left without any insurance.

“There is no legal justification and no moral excuse for the Trump Administration’s disastrous efforts to take away Americans’ health care,” she said.

The US has been particularly badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic — and unlike Europe and parts of East Asia, has never climbed down from its peak.

Twenty-nine states are now experiencing fresh surges, with almost 40,000 new cases recorded, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

US health officials now believe based on antibody surveys that about 24 million people may have been infected at some point — 10 times higher than the officially recorded figure of around 2.4 million.

 

 

-AFP

Twitter Censors New Trump Tweet Targeting Protestors, Labels It ‘Abusive’

President Donald Trump speaks at a press conference on COVID-19, known as the coronavirus, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, March 13, 2020. Trump is declaring coronavirus a national emergency. SAUL LOEB / AFP

 

Twitter on Tuesday hid a tweet from President Donald Trump in which he threatened to use “serious force” against protestors in the US capital, saying it broke rules over abusive content.

The move appeared to be the first by Twitter against the president for an “abusive” tweet. In a growing dispute, the platform has recently labeled other Trump tweets as misleading and violating its standards on promoting violence.

“There will never be an ‘Autonomous Zone’ in Washington, D.C., as long as I’m your President. If they try they will be met with serious force!” Trump tweeted.

The action by Twitter requires users to click through to read the Trump tweet, with a tag on the message that it “violated the Twitter rules about abusive behavior” but that it would remain visible “in the public’s interest.”

Trump’s tweet referred to the police-free district created by protesters in Seattle, in Washington state, two weeks ago, which has sparked outrage among conservatives.

Twitter’s move escalated the battle between the White House and social media firms which Trump has accused of bias against conservatives, despite his own large following.

The president has already signed an executive order which could lead to more government oversight of social media firms, despite doubts about its legal authority.

The Trump administration has also signaled it wants to overhaul a law that gives online services immunity from content posted by others, a move which could open the floodgates to litigation.

Twitter said in a statement to AFP it took the action Tuesday because the tweet violated its policy against abusive behavior with “a threat of harm against an identifiable group.”

Twitter’s policy in dealing with world leaders in most cases calls for violating messages to be labeled — which limits its reach and prevents others from liking or retweeting it — but leaves the tweets available because if they relate to “ongoing matters of public importance.”

 

AFP

Trump To Extend US Work Visa Freeze To Year-End: White House

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a press briefing about coronavirus testing in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 11, 2020 in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a press briefing about coronavirus testing in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 11, 2020 in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

 

 

US President Donald Trump will prolong a ban on US employment permits to year-end and broaden it to include H-1B visas used widely in the tech industry, the White House said Monday.

A senior administration official told journalists the move would affect 525,000 jobs in the US, which is currently reeling from a high unemployment rate caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump had repeatedly touted a strong economy, but now finds himself desperate for a political boost ahead of the November election.

The executive order, signed Monday afternoon, will extend and widen the 60-day freeze Trump placed on new work permits for non-US citizens two months ago.

The administration official said the new order would extend to the end of 2020 and include H-1B visas provided to 85,000 workers each year with special skills, many of them joining the US technology industry.

It will also cover most J visas, common for academics and researchers, and L visas used by companies to shift workers based overseas to their US offices.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai — whose company has been a leading beneficiary of the H1-B visa system — said he was “disappointed” by the announcement.

“Immigration has contributed immensely to America’s economic success, making it a global leader in tech,” he wrote on Twitter.

The move comes as Trump feuds with Silicon Valley after tech titans Twitter and Snapchat censored or hid posts by the president they claimed incited violence or were misleading.

Last month Trump signed an order seeking to strip social media giants of legal immunity for content on their platforms in a move slammed by his critics as a legally dubious act of political revenge.

– ‘Prioritize’ valuable workers –
The official said the order was necessary to respond to soaring unemployment that resulted from the COVID-19 shutdown.

The official also stressed the H-1B visa freeze was temporary while the program is restructured, shifting from an annual lottery that feeds coders and other specialists to Silicon Valley to a system that gives priority to those foreign workers with the most value.

Trump “is going to prioritize those workers who are offered the highest wages,” as an indicator that they can add more value to the US economy, the official said.

“It will eliminate competition with Americans… in these industries at the entry level, and will do more to get the best and the brightest.”

The move also freezes most H-2B visas — used each year for about 66,000 short-term, low-skilled jobs in landscaping, food and hospitality industries — and H-4 visas, which allow spouses of other visa holders to work.

Exemptions will apply to seafood processing plants and to au pairs, who offer families household help like childcare.

In addition, the official said the government is issuing new regulations that will make it much harder for tens of thousands of asylum seekers waiting for their court hearings to work legally in the meanwhile.

With often a two-year wait for a case to be reviewed, the administration sees many people apply for asylum mainly to be able to acquire work permits.

South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, normally a firm Trump supporter, criticized the decision and tweeted: “Those who believe legal immigration, particularly work visas, are harmful to the American worker do not understand the American economy.”

He added that he feared the president’s decision “will create a drag on our economic recovery”.

Layoffs caused by the coronavirus pandemic in the US passed 45.7 million last week, and although many jobs will come back as the country reopens, there are worries that some have been irrevocably lost by the heavy financial impact on businesses and local governments.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warned earlier this month that unemployment could still be 9.3 percent nationwide at the end of the year, an improvement from the current 13.3 percent but still devastatingly high.

 

 

-AFP

Trump Fires US Prosecutor Who Investigated His Allies

(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 10, 2019, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman speaks during a press conference in New York City. Johannes EISELE / AFP

 

 

A high-profile US prosecutor who investigated allies of Donald Trump has been fired by the president after refusing to quit his job, Attorney General William Barr said Saturday.

Geoffrey Berman, who was head of the powerful Southern District of New York attorney’s office, had refused to step down despite Barr’s announcement late Friday that the prosecutor was resigning.

“Because you have declared that you have no intention of resigning, I have asked the President to remove you as of today, and he has done so,” Barr said in a letter to Berman that was widely circulated by US media.

Barr accused Berman of having “chosen public spectacle over public service.”

Berman had investigated associates of the president, including overseeing the prosecution of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and probing advisor Rudy Giuliani’s efforts to discredit Trump’s political opponents.

AFP

Supreme Court Rejects Trump Bid To End Young Immigrant Protections

Protesters hold signs at a rally to defend DACA on September 5, 2017 in New York. BRYAN R. SMITH AFP
Protesters hold signs at a rally to defend DACA on September 5, 2017 in New York. BRYAN R. SMITH AFP

 

The US Supreme Court dealt President Donald Trump’s efforts to choke off immigration a fresh blow Thursday when it rejected his cancellation of the DACA program protecting 700,000 “Dreamers,” undocumented migrants brought to the United States as children.

The high court said Trump’s 2017 move to cancel his predecessor Barack Obama’s landmark Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was “arbitrary and capricious” under government administrative procedures.

The judgement on a five-to-four vote, with Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the court’s four liberal members, stressed that it was not an assessment of the correctness of the 2012 DACA program itself.

Instead, they said the Trump administration had violated official government procedures in the way they sought to quickly rescind DACA in September 2017 based on weak legal justifications.

The ruling suggested there are legal administrative methods Trump could cancel DACA, putting the onus back on the administration if it wants to pursue the issue.

 

‘The American way’

Immigration champions and Dreamers cheered the narrow ruling.

“Eight years ago this week, we protected young people who were raised as part of our American family from deportation,” Obama tweeted.

“Today, I’m happy for them, their families, and all of us. We may look different and come from everywhere, but what makes us American are our shared ideals.”

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the ruling prolonged the life of a program she said was supported by three-quarters of Americans, Democrats and Republicans alike.

“This way is the American way and I’m very proud of it,” she said.

Jesus Contreras, a Houston paramedic under DACA who came to the US from Mexico as a child, said he had prepared for the worst.

“I know it is not the end of the battle,” he said.

“We still have to fight for legislation but right now it is a good feeling to know that we are protected and safe at least for now,” he said.

 

Campaign issue 

On Twitter, Trump turned the decision into a call to support him in the November presidential election so that he can appoint more conservative justices to the high court.

“These horrible & politically charged decisions coming out of the Supreme Court are shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives,” Trump wrote.

“We need more Justices or we will lose our 2nd. Amendment & everything else. Vote Trump 2020!”

 

Anti-immigrant policy

The decision came three and a half years after Trump entered office promising to halt almost all immigration and to expel the more than 10 million people estimated living in the country, many for decades, without legal immigration documents.

The Obama administration had sought to address this issue in 2012 with the DACA policy offering protection at renewable two-year periods, including authorization to work, to people brought into the United States illegally as children, and then growing up here.

DACA, and the subsequent DAPA program — Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents — were executive actions by Obama to eliminate the constant threat of deportation for more than 4 million undocumented migrants.

Obama ordered the programs due to Congress’s inability to pass the so-called Dream Act, which would have created a law offering essentially permanent residency to millions of immigrants long settled in the country, families with homes, businesses, and professions.

Trump cancelled DAPA just after coming to office and then went after the more established DACA, but immediately faced a series of court battles over it.

 

-AFP

US Shooting: Police Have Not Been Treated Fairly In Our Country – Trump

FUS President Donald Trump speaks at a press conference on COVID-19, known as the coronavirus, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, March 13, 2020. SAUL LOEB / AFP

 

 

Donald Trump said Wednesday that US police have “not been treated fairly” and appeared to defend a white officer charged with the murder of a black man.

Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe was charged with murder Wednesday for shooting African American Rayshard Brooks in the back, and aggravated the case by kicking the 27-year-old as he lay on the ground bleeding.

The death of Brooks came less than three weeks after George Floyd died while being pinned down by Minneapolis police officers, fuelling a national uproar and anti-police brutality protests across the country.

“I thought it was a terrible situation, but you can’t resist a police officer,” Trump said of Brooks’ death in an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity.

“I hope he gets a fair shake because police have not been treated fairly in our country.

“But, again, you can’t resist a police officer like that. And they ended up in a very terrible disagreement and look at the way it ended. Very bad. Very bad.”

Trump also mentioned Floyd, saying he had been unable to watch the nearly nine-minute clip of Floyd’s death.

“Who could watch that?” he said.

On Tuesday Trump issued an order to improve policing — calling for a ban on dangerous chokeholds — but he has stopped well short of demands made at nationwide protests against racism and police brutality.

Critics, including the Democrat speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, have derided his efforts.

“The president’s weak executive order falls sadly and seriously short of what is required to combat the epidemic of racial injustice and police brutality,” she said in a statement this week.

Trump derided the Democrats during the Fox News interview, claiming: “They do nothing and they want to defund and they want to abolish, they want to abolish police departments.”

AFP

Bolton Claims Trump Pleaded With China For Re-Election Help

 

Donald Trump pleaded with China’s leader Xi Jinping for help to win re-election in 2020, the US president’s former aide John Bolton writes in an explosive new book, according to excerpts published Wednesday.

Trump met with Xi at a summit last June when he “stunningly turned the conversation to the US presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win,” former national security advisor Bolton claims in his upcoming tell-all.

In excerpts published by The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, Bolton writes that Trump stressed the importance of America’s farmers and how “increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat” could impact the electoral outcome in the United States.