Jun 3, 2020

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 516 words, a 2-minute read.

Situational awareness: President Trump is furious with Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Jonathan Swan reports, citing a source familiar with the president's thinking.

  • Trump is especially infuriated that Esper's statement today opposing the Insurrection Act was a written statement and, therefore, wasn't an improvised mistake.
  • Trump thinks Esper's comments were weak and that he's been trying to curry favor with the media because he's unhappy with coverage of his walk with Trump across the park after it was forcibly cleared.
1 big thing: The road to justice

George Floyd's brother visits the scene of his death on Monday. Photo: Star Tribune via Getty Images

All four of the former police officers involved in the killing of George Floyd face criminal charges, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said this afternoon.

Why it matters: The U.S. has been rocked by nine days of nationwide protests calling for justice.

The charges:

  • Charges against Derek Chauvin have been upgraded to second-degree murder. He's the officer who put his knee on Floyd's neck and kept it there for almost 9 minutes despite pleas that Floyd couldn't breathe.
  • Thomas Lane, J.A. Kueng and Tou Thao were charged with aiding and abetting murder.
  • All four were fired by the Minneapolis Police Department last week.

The big picture: There is a long history in the U.S. of police not being charged or being acquitted despite killing black men.

  • “Every single link in the prosecutorial chain must be strong, because trying this case will not be an easy thing. Winning a conviction will be hard,” Ellison said.
  • Floyd family attorney Benjamin Crump called the charges "a significant step forward on the road to justice, and we are gratified that this important action was brought before George Floyd’s body was laid to rest."
  • "That is a source of peace for George’s family in this painful time."
  • "Attorney General Ellison has informed the family that his office will continue to investigate and will upgrade the charges to first-degree murder if the evidence supports it."

What's next: The former presidents have been speaking out, with President Jimmy Carter releasing a statement today that joins George W. Bush's statement yesterday.

  • Former President Barack Obama will address the nation at 5 p.m. ET.
2. Pic du jour
Photo: Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP

Protesters greet members of the National Guard during a march along Hollywood Boulevard.

3. Catch up quick
  1. Chinese passenger airlines will be banned from flying to the United States starting June 16. The U.S. has accused the Chinese government of preventing U.S. airlines from resuming flights to China. Go deeper.
  2. The World Health Organization will resume its hydroxychloroquine trial after its safety committee found "there are no reasons to modify the trial protocol." Go deeper.
  3. Snapchat will no longer promote Trump's account on its "Discover" page of curated content after his tweets about the racial justice protests. Go deeper.
  4. Florida bars and clubs will be allowed to reopen on Friday. Go deeper.
  5. Former Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein acknowledged that there were "significant errors" in the FBI's applications for wiretaps on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, but said that each application that he approved "appeared to be justified based on the facts that it alleged" at the time.
  6. 🎧 Today's Pro Rata podcast features Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch, founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Listen here.
4. Virus revives obituaries

Emily DiPalma Aho looks over photographs and memorabilia of her father, a WWII veteran who died last month after contracting the coronavirus at Holyoke Soldiers' Home in Massachusetts. Photo: Charles Krupa/AP

Coronavirus has ushered in a new wave of interest in obituaries, AP reports.

  • Why it matters: “Obituaries are essentially stories that allow us to make human connections with strangers,” said Adam Bernstein, who manages obituaries for WashPost.
  • “We’re all stuck at home, yearning for human connection we really haven’t had for a long time, and obituaries provide that kind of contact.”

The bottom line: “It sounds a little insipid to say we’re valuing life more,” said Mo Rocca of CBS News.

  • “But maybe we are.”
Mike Allen