May 29, 2020

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

🚨 Bulletin: Twitter said early today that a tweet by President Trump about the Minneapolis protests "violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence." Details below.

1 big thing ... America enraged: Minneapolis burns

Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Demonstrators demanding justice burned a Minneapolis police station and took control of the streets around it last night, heaving wood onto the flames, kicking down poles with surveillance cameras and torching surrounding stores.

  • The crowd was protesting the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man whose life was snuffed out Tuesday by a white Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on his neck for about eight minutes.
  • Four officers have been fired, but no one has been charged.
  • Marq Claxton of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance said on MSNBC that the actions were an effort to "force the world to listen to the cries of a community that feels under siege ... that black men and women are threatened by law enforcement on a daily basis."

For hours, no firefighters or police officers were seen anywhere around the protest.

  • TV reporters on the scene said they heard no sirens — just honking by demonstrators.
  • People threw fireworks at the flaming precinct, and the crowd cheered.
  • A liquor store was engulfed, and CNN reported that a smoke shop and a Target had also been torched.
@MNNationalGuard

Explaining officers' retreat, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey told a news conference at 1:30 a.m. local time: "As situations started to escalate more and more, as we saw more and more people breach the perimeter, ... it became obvious to me that safety was at risk."

  • "Brick and mortar is not as important as life."

An Arby's, boarded up for protection, was broken into and a dozen people swarmed the entrance, MSNBC's Morgan Chesky reported from outside.

  • "That is really the scene, block by block, in this part of the city," he said.

The context: Eddie Glaude, chair of Princeton's Department of African American Studies, said the violence reflected distrust of government and police, as the nation copes with a pandemic that has brought massive unemployment and loss of life.

  • "We’re on the cusp of a kind of desperation in this country," he said on MSNBC during live coverage of the pandemonium.

The bottom line ... Former NAACP President Ben Jealous said on MSNBC: "This is what it looks like when justice has been denied for a long time."

How it's playing ...

(Minneapolis) Star Tribune
2. Minneapolis in pictures

Photo: Julio Cortez/AP

Above: A protester carries a U.S. flag upside down, a sign of distress, next to a burning building yesterday amid fury over the death of George Floyd.

Below: A woman who has been tear gassed is assisted by other demonstrators as Minneapolis police try to move the crowd Wednesday night.

Photo: Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune via Getty Images
Photo: John Minchillo/AP

Above: Protesters gather in front of the burning 3rd Precinct station of the Minneapolis Police Department.

Below: The view from the roof of the precinct building.

Photo: John Minchillo/AP
3. New overnight: Twitter says Trump broke rule "about glorifying violence"

With cable news showing Minneapolis ablaze, President Trump tweeted at 12:53 a.m.:

@realDonaldTrump

Twitter soon added this warning that you have to click through before you can read the tweet:

@realDonaldTrump

Why it matters, from Axios' Ina Fried in S.F., who was the first to report Twitter's action: This is stronger than the fact check Twitter added earlier this week to two Trump tweets about mail-in voting. This is a barrier that shields the tweet, rather than an attached note.

  • The move exacerbates tensions between Trump and Twitter over the company's authority to label or limit his speech — and the president's authority to dictate rules for a private company.
  • The decision to label Trump's tweet was made by teams within Twitter. CEO Jack Dorsey was informed of the plan before the tweet was labeled, Twitter told Axios in the wee hours.

The context: Slate's Will Saletan points out that "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" was a threat in 1967 by Miami Police Chief Walter Headley to use dogs and shotguns in a "get tough policy" in the city's slums.

At a news conference, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey was asked about Trump's tweet calling him "very weak." The mayor replied:

  • "Weakness is refusing to take responsibility for your own actions. Weakness is pointing your finger at somebody else during a time of crisis."
  • "Donald Trump knows nothing about the strength of Minneapolis. We are strong as hell!"
  • "Is this a difficult time period? Yes. But you better be damned sure" — the mayor pounded the lectern — "that we're gonna get through this."
4. Military would help dole out vaccine

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Now that there are glimmers of hope for a coronavirus vaccine, governments and nonprofits are hashing out plans for how doses could be distributed — and who would get them first, Axios' Eileen Drage O'Reilly writes.

  • Part of America's plan is to tap into its military knowledge to help distribute the coveted vaccine.

Why it matters: Potential game-changer vaccines will be sought after by everyone from global powers to local providers.

How it works: In President Trump's May 15 announcement of Operation Warp Speed — the official effort to accelerate the fight against the pandemic he said that "when a vaccine is ready, the U.S. government will deploy every plane, truck, and soldier required to help distribute it to the American people as quickly as possible."

  • Stephen Morrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said: "The military are, in essence ... a hyper-planning institution and they're logistics. And they have a reach and a capacity unlike other institutions."

While specific details are unknown, public health experts say officials may build on the current seasonal flu vaccine system that distributes large numbers of vaccines to hospitals, clinics and providers over a short period of time.

  • "That's the same framework we're going to want for COVID-19," said Andy Pekosz, professor of microbiology and immunology at Johns Hopkins University.
  • People may need multiple doses, spaced weeks apart, and the whole process will likely take "many, many months," Pekosz said.

The first vaccines may go to front-line health workers and high-risk groups.

5. Protests spread nationwide; 7 hit by gunfire in Louisville

Photo: Pat McDonogh/Louisville Courier Journal via Reuters

This protester faced down a line of Louisville Metro police in the middle of Jefferson Street last night, during a demonstration over the police shooting of an unarmed black woman in March.

Seven people were hospitalized with gunshot wounds amid destruction and anger on the city's downtown streets, the Louisville Courier Journal reports:

  • "Gunfire erupted after hundreds of protesters took to the streets demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, who in March was shot and killed in her apartment by Louisville police — one of several deaths of unarmed African Americans drawing national attention in recent weeks."

In Chicago, Police Superintendent David Brown condemned the police actions that led to death of George Floyd and ordered new mandatory training.

  • On the South Side, the Chicago Tribune reported, several dozen marchers carried signs that read: "BLACK LIVES MATTER" ... "WE DEMAND POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY" and "GEORGE FLOYD'S LIFE MATTERED."

Outrage over Floyd's death has spread across the country:

  • In Phoenix, pepper spray was used on demonstrators as hundreds gathered, with chants of: "I Can't Breathe!" (Arizona Republic)
  • In Manhattan, police made 50 arrests at a "violent rolling protest" for Floyd, and several cops were hospitalized with concussions. (Daily News)
  • In L.A., crowds protested George Floyd's death for the second evening in a row. (L.A. Times)
  • In Memphis, protesters rallied against police brutality for the second night in a row. (Commercial Appeal)
  • In St. Paul, across the Mississippi River from Minneapolis, police in riot gear faced protesters.
6. Trump social media order plays to his "keyboard warriors"

Watched by Attorney General Barr, President Trump held up yesterday's New York Post before signing an executive order targeting social-media giants. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump's executive order, swiping at legal protections that shield social media companies from liability for users' content, is partly a play to the right-wing "keyboard warriors," as he calls them, who promote him online.

  • Why it matters: Trump views Twitter and Facebook as essential to his political success, and he wants to bully Twitter into submission.
  • And he knows that his online base is animated by charges that Big Tech is biased against conservatives.

Behind the scenes: Axios' Jonathan Swan reports that Trump often talks to deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino, his in-house social media guru, about the army of meme producers who make constant content to burnish the president's image and attack his enemies.

  • Trump readily rattles off the individual names or stage names of some of these producers.

The bottom line: A senior administration official conceded that Trump is frustrated that he can’t unilaterally make much of a dent on Twitter through executive fiat, so he resorts to his usual combination of threats and bluster.

7. Data du jour: Virus' unequal toll
Reproduced from Kaiser Family Foundation; Chart: Axios Visuals

As the coronavirus pandemic wears on, almost half of all African American, Latino, and low-income Americans are having trouble paying their bills, including medical bills, notes the Kaiser Family Foundation's Drew Altman.

8. 41 million jobs lost in 10 weeks
Data: U.S. Employment and Training Administration via FRED; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios
9. First look: Trump courts Asian American vote amid coronavirus

President Trump arrives at a campaign rally in Colorado Springs in February. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

The president's re-election campaign will debut its "Asian Americans for Trump" initiative with a virtual event tonight, courting a slice of the nation's electorate that has experienced a surge in racism and harassment since the pandemic began, Axios' Alayna Treene reports.

  • The big question: How receptive will Asian American voters be in this moment? Trump has stoked xenophobia by labeling COVID-19 the "Chinese virus" and the "Wuhan virus" and equating Chinatowns in American cities to China itself.

Lara Trump, a senior campaign adviser and the president's daughter-in-law, will host the virtual rollout on Team Trump Online, the campaign tells Axios.

  • The program will highlight ways Trump has helped Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) communities — and small businesses — during the pandemic, via the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program, a campaign official told Axios.

Share this story.

10. You need a smile: Virtual spelling bee

SpellPundit via AP

SpellPundit, a virtual spelling bee designed to replace the canceled Scripps National Spelling Bee, went off without a hitch, but without much drama last night, AP's Ben Nuckols reports.

  • After the two other remaining spellers went down, 14-year-old Navneeth Murali confidently took down the winning word, Karoshthi, an ancient, cursive script of Aramaic origin used in India and elsewhere in central Asia.

"I knew all the words in the bee," he said. "I just didn’t want to be overconfident, because you never know what can happen in a spelling bee because no one knows the dictionary completely."

Mike Allen

📱 Thanks for reading Axios AM. Please invite your friends to sign up here.