May 26, 2020

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 476 words, a 2-minute read.

Situational awareness: Four Minneapolis police officers have been terminated after the death of a black man in police custody.

  • The FBI will investigate possible civil rights violations after video emerged of an officer kneeling on the man's neck for several minutes, ignoring protests that he couldn't breathe.
1 big thing: Trump's pandemic obsession

Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Twitter is sorry about, but won't delete, tweets from President Trump that baselessly accuse Joe Scarborough of murder.

  • "Please delete those tweets," widower Timothy Klausutis wrote CEO Jack Dorsey last week, in a letter obtained by N.Y. Times columnist Kara Swisher. "My wife deserves better."

Between the lines: It's a sad state of affairs when the natural reaction is to hope for a social media company to intervene, rather than expecting a public official to desist.

Trump has spent recent weeks falsely suggesting that Scarborough, a former Republican congressman from Florida, murdered Lori Klausutis.

  • Klausutis died suddenly in 2001 after losing consciousness from an abnormal heart rhythm and hitting her head on a desk. There were no signs of foul play, and her death was ruled an accident.
  • “A blow to her head? Body found under his desk? Left Congress suddenly? Big topic of discussion in Florida … and, he’s a Nut Job (with bad ratings). Keep digging, use forensic geniuses," Trump tweeted this weekend.

“We are deeply sorry about the pain these statements, and the attention they are drawing, are causing the family,” a Twitter spokesperson said today.

  • “We’ve been working to expand existing product features and policies so we can more effectively address things like this going forward, and we hope to have those changes in place shortly.”

The bottom line: White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany repeatedly defended Trump today, denying that he bears responsibility because "this is not an original Trump thought."

  • "Joe Scarborough — if we want to start talking about false accusations — we have quite a few we can go through.... This morning or yesterday Mika accused the president of being responsible for 100,000 deaths in this country. That's incredibly irresponsible," McEnany said.
  • "They should be held to account for their falsehoods.... It's Joe Scarborough that has to answer these questions," she added.

Read the full letter to Twitter.

2. Minneapolis mourns
Photo: Jim Mone/AP

Mourners in Minneapolis gather near the site where a black man died in police custody last night. A bystander's video showed the man pleading that he could not breathe as a white officer knelt on his neck.

  • The man's death immediately drew comparisons to the case of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died in 2014 in New York after he was placed in a chokehold by police and pleaded for his life, saying he could not breathe. (AP)
2. Catch up quick
  1. Trump administration: Mike Pence's press secretary returns to work.
  2. States: New York reports lowest number of new coronavirus deaths since March.
  3. Business: Amazon is looking to invest in local podcast content — Why Hertz crashed.
  4. Public health: The final data for remdesivir is in, and its benefits are rather limited.
  5. Politics: DOJ closes insider trading probes of 3 senators, but not Richard Burr.
  6. Space: How to virtually watch SpaceX's historic crewed launch.
3. New J.K. Rowling

Photo: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images

J.K. Rowling is publishing a new story called “The Ickabog,” free to read online, targeted at kids ages 7-9, AP reports.

  • The “Harry Potter” author said today she wrote the fairy tale for her children as a bedtime story over a decade ago.
  • Set in an imaginary land, it is a stand-alone story “about truth and the abuse of power."

Rowling said the draft of the story had stayed in her attic while she focused on writing books for adults.

  • “As I worked to finish the book, I started reading chapters nightly to the family again,” she said.
  • “’The Ickabog’s first two readers told me what they remember from when they were tiny, and demanded the reinstatement of bits they’d particularly liked (I obeyed).”
Mike Allen