Dec 17, 2019

Trump administration says Armenian genocide bill does not change its position

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The State Department said in a statement Tuesday that the Senate's resolution formally recognizing Turkey's genocide of the Armenian people does not change the Trump administration's position on the issue.

Why it matters: The statement will likely please Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has said that the Senate's resolution will harm U.S.-Turkey relations. Prior to its passage, three separate Republican senators blocked the resolution at the request of the White House.

What they're saying: “The position of the Administration has not changed. Our views are reflected in the president’s definitive statement on this issue from last April,” wrote State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus in a two-sentence statement.

  • Context: President Trump's April 24 statement commemorating Armenian Remembrance Day called the mass killings "one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century,” but stopped short of labeling them a genocide.

Go deeper: White House directed block of Armenian genocide resolution

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Obama praises young protesters, urges mayors to pursue police reforms

Former President Barack Obama called on all mayors to review their use-of-force policies and commit to policing reform in a virtual town hall Wednesday hosted by the Obama Foundation's My Brothers Keepers Alliance.

Why it matters: Obama has addressed the killing of George Floyd and the nationwide protests that followed on social media and in a Medium post, but this was his first time speaking about the past week's events on camera. His voice will add weight to the growing pressure on local, state and federal officials to pursue policing reforms.

James Mattis condemns Trump as a threat to the Constitution

Mattis on Fox in Septemnber 2019 in New York City. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis condemned President Trump for making a "mockery of our Constitution" in a statement to The Atlantic on Wednesday, saying he was "appalled" at the president's response to mass protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing.

Why it matters: Trump’s former defense secretary had refrained from publicly criticizing his former boss since resigning in 2018.

American society is teetering on the edge

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The COVID-19 pandemic, record unemployment and escalating social unrest are all pushing American society close to the breaking point.

The big picture: Civilizations don't last forever, and when they collapse, the cause is almost always internal failure. Even in the midst of one of our darkest years, the U.S. still has many factors in its favor, but the fate of past societies holds frightening lessons for what may lie ahead.