Tuesday's politics & policy stories

Former Joint Chiefs chairman "sickened" by Trump's St. John's photo op

Police use tear gas on protesters outside St. John's Episcopal Church near the White House on June 1. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Retired Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007 to 2011, wrote in an op-ed in The Atlantic Tuesday that he was "sickened" to see the National Guard use physical force on peaceful protestors to clear a path for President Trump's photo op at D.C.'s historic St. John’s Episcopal Church on Monday.

Why it matters: Mullen's op-ed is a rare condemnation of the president by a four-star admiral and the former highest-ranking officer in the U.S. armed forces. It comes amid widespread criticism Democrats and a handful of Republicans over Trump's decision to take the photo.

Elizabeth Warren joins George Floyd protestors outside White House

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) joined protestors outside the White House on Tuesday calling for justice for George Floyd, according to reporters on the scene.

The big picture: Protests near the White House drew large crowds on Tuesday, even with a 7pm curfew in place and a military presence on the ground in the nation's capital.

National Park Service defends clearing of protesters outside White House

U.S. Park Police in Lafayette Square. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The National Park Service said in a statement Tuesday that while it "is committed to the peaceful expression of First Amendment rights," it "cannot tolerate violence to citizens or officers or damage to our nation’s resources that we are entrusted to protect."

Why it matters: The statement comes one day after NPS officers and U.S. Secret Service were accused of using physical force and tear gas to disperse peaceful protestors outside the White House so that President Trump could visit St. John's Episcopal Church for a photo op.

Trudeau silent when asked to react to Trump's actions against protesters

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was silent for about 20 seconds when asked to react to Monday's scenes from outside the White House, where police officers forcefully removed peaceful protesters to make way for a Trump photo op in front of St. John's Church.

What he's saying: "We all watch in horror and consternation at what is going on in the United States," Trudeau said after the long pause, declining to specifically react to Trump's threat to deploy the military on U.S. soil.

American carnage

Protesters race up a hill to avoid tear gas in Philadelphia, June 1. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

The list of victims has swiftly grown since George Floyd died in police custody just eight days ago.

The big picture: Protests against police brutality have turned into a showcase of police brutality, with tear gas and rubber bullets deployed against crowds. The police have the arsenals at their disposal, but we're also seeing law enforcement officers becoming targets.

McConnell blocks resolution condemning Trump's actions against peaceful protesters

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blocked a resolution introduced by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday that would have condemned the use of tear gas and rubber bullets against peaceful protesters outside the White House on Monday in order to allow President Trump to walk to St. John's Church.

What they're saying: "Justice for black Americans in the face of unjust violence, and peace for our country in the face of looting, riots, and domestic terror. Those are the two issues Americans want addressed," McConnell said on the Senate floor.

George W. Bush breaks silence on George Floyd

George Bush in Michigan in 2009. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Former President George W. Bush (R) wrote in a statement Tuesday that he and his wife, Laura, are "anguished" by the death of George Floyd, and said that "it is time for America to examine our tragic failures."

Why it matters: It's a stark juxtaposition when compared to fellow Republican President Trump's response to current civil unrest. While Trump has called for justice in Floyd's death, he's also condemned violent protestors and threatened to deploy military personnel if demonstrations continue.

Minnesota files civil rights charge against police over George Floyd's killing

Police spray protesters with pepper spray during a demonstration outside the Third Police Precinct on Wednesday in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) announced an investigation on Tuesday into the conduct of the Minneapolis Police Department over the past decade, alongside a civil rights charge into the killing of George Floyd.

The big picture: Complaints of excessive force brought against the city's law enforcement officers "have become commonplace, especially by African-American residents," the New York Times reports.

GOP senators scold Trump over St. John's photo op

Sen. Tim Scott. Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

Republican lawmakers are weighing in on President Trump's decision to tear gas and physically clear peaceful protesters from outside the White House on Monday in order to stand in front of the historic St. John's Episcopal Church for a photo.

The state of play: While some Republicans are backing the president's actions and condemning protesters, others have criticized the decision and called for improvement.

Man who drove toward Minneapolis protesters released without charges

A tanker truck drives into thousands of people on 35W North Bound highway during a protests over the death of George Floyd on Sunday in Minneapolis. Photo: Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A man who was arrested after authorities claimed he sped toward protesters in Minneapolis with a tanker truck Sunday was released from jail without charges on Tuesday pending further investigation, according to the Hennepin County Attorney's Office.

What's happening: State officials said on Monday the incident didn't appear to be intentional, the Star Tribune reports. Public safety commissioner John Harrington said the driver may not have realized the Interstate 35W Bridge was closed before he nearly struck protesters and sent others running.

Nadler announces DOJ whistleblowers to testify on agency's "politicization"

Rep. Jerry Nadler at a New York City press conference on June 2. Photo: Scott Heins/Getty Images

House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) announced on Tuesday that Justice Department whistleblowers and former agency officials are expected to testify on what he deemed "the unprecedented politicization" of the DOJ under Attorney General Bill Barr and President Trump.

Driving the news: Nadler listed Barr walking with Trump and other administration officials to Washington, D.C.'s historic St. John’s Episcopal Church on Monday as an example of Barr's "unacceptable" behavior. The photo op was made possible by military police and park rangers using tear gas and physical force on peaceful protestors to clear the area.

Cuomo: The NYPD and NYC mayor did not do their job Monday night

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York Police Department Tuesday, calling their lack of protection for people and personal property "a disgrace."

The big picture: New York City is on its seventh day of protests for George Floyd's death and overall law enforcement killings, with massive crowds day and night. The city was one of the worst affected in the U.S. for looting, including Macy's flagship store and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

6 Atlanta police officers charged in excessive force case

Police officers advance after firing tear gas during a demonstration on May 31 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Six Atlanta police officers were charged after video footage emerged showing they pulled two students from a car during Saturday night protests in response to the death of George Floyd, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said in a Tuesday press conference.

The state of play: Body camera footage released by law enforcement on Sunday depicts officers using excessive force to arrest 22-year-old Messiah Young and his girlfriend, Taniyah Pilgrim, per AP. An officer used a stun gun on Pilgrim as she tried to exit the car and then police pulled her from the vehicle.

Julián Castro endorses Joe Biden for president

Julián Castro introduces Sen. Elizabeth Warren at an event in February. Photo: Ronda Churchill/AFP via Getty Images

Julián Castro, who ended his presidential campaign in early January, endorsed Joe Biden today with a call for "real reform to address our broken policing system."

Why it matters: Castro’s endorsement comes as protests against police use of excessive force, especially in communities of color, have wracked the country for the past week, triggered by the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. Throughout the primary, Castro made police reform a central part of his campaign.

ICE and border agents deployed to help with protest enforcement

Police near the White House during George Floyd protests. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Immigration agents have been deployed to assist federal, state and local law enforcement amid intensifying protests over the police killing of George Floyd, immigration agency officials confirmed to Axios.

Why it matters: Local protests in cities across the U.S., a number of which have turned violent, have incited a strong federal response from agencies including the National Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) — and President Trump himself.

Updated Jun 2, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden: George Floyd's last words are "a wake-up call for our nation"

Former Vice President Joe Biden meets with clergy members and community activists during a visit to Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Del. on June 1, 2020. Photo: JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

Vice President Joe Biden is calling George Floyd’s dying words “a wake-up call for our nation,” and criticized President Trump’s decision to unleash tear gas on peaceful protesters outside the White House, in a civil rights speech from Philadelphia on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Biden in the address drew a sharp contrast between himself and Trump, whose first remarks addressing nationwide unrest Monday highlighted law and order, extreme demonstrations of militarized “strength” and other blustery threats.

The business of tear gas

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

U.S. forces yesterday used tear gas on peaceful protesters outside the White House gates, prior to a declared curfew, clearing a path for President Trump to visit a riot-damaged church for a photo opportunity.

The state of play: Two of the largest U.S. producers of tear gas are owned by private equity firms, but those firms have no interest in discussing their ownership.

Jun 2, 2020 - Technology

Twitter acts against violent messages

Screenshot: Axios

As Facebook employees criticized the company for not moving against Trump's posts, Twitter took more action Monday against those using its platform to promote violence.

Driving the news: The company suspended a fake Antifa account linked to a white nationalist group and also flagged a tweet from Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) that it said glorified violence.

Secret Service blocks off area surrounding White House after protests

Secret Service agents and a new fence keep protesters out of Lafayette Park. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The U.S. Secret Service has closed the streets immediately on all four sides of the White House, with an agent telling Axios they'll remain closed "probably until the riots become peaceful, or stop."

Why it matters: Protesters near the White House were aggressively dispersed with tear gas and shields last night, before President Trump walked across Lafayette Park to St. John's Church. This decision will presumably force any protests to take place farther from the White House.

Poll: 54% of Americans say they support George Floyd demonstrations

Security forces face protesters in Lafayette Park in Washington on June 1. Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

54% of Americans say they support demonstrations decrying the death of George Floyd that have convulsed the country during the past several days, according to a Morning Consult survey of nearly 2,000 U.S. adults

By the numbers: Those who support the protests include 69% of Democrats and 49% of independents, while Republicans were split over the demonstrations, with 39% in support and 38% opposing them.

States push back on Trump's promise to send in military to quell street violence

President Trump leaves the White House on foot to go to St John's Episcopal Church across Lafayette Park in Washington, DC on June 1, 2020. Photo :Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump said in his Rose Garden remarks: "If a city or a state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them."

The big picture: Legal experts say the president has the authority under the Insurrection Act of 1807 to dispatch the military to states that are unable to put down an insurrection or are defying federal law, AP explains.

Protesters successfully wait out D.C. police siege

Rahul Dubey, the man who welcomed protesters into his home. Screenshot: Twitter

Rahul Dubey received a round of applause Tuesday morning after sheltering protesters from police overnight in his Washington, D.C., home, according to ABC 7.

Why it matters: Dubey invited more than 100 people into his house after a "human tsunami" poured down Swann Street followed by police, who were pushing the group and firing chemicals, according to the Washington Post.

Corporations line up for protesters

Screenshot: Twitter

Nike, Twitter, WarnerMedia, Netflix and Citigroup are among the corporations to publicly back the protesters in recent days, The N.Y. Times reports.

Why it matters: "Major companies are often wary of conflict, especially in a polarized time. They tend to be afraid of offending their customers and associating their brands with sensitive subjects," Tiffany Hsu wrote.

What it was like when police used tear gas to clear a path for Trump

President Trump walking back to the White House. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Moments before President Trump began his Rose Garden address, a mass of law enforcement suddenly marched forward in Lafayette Park, across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House.

Why it matters: It was a jarring scene as police in the nation's capital forcefully cleared young men and women gathered legally in a public park on a sunny evening, all of it on live television.

Trump goes full law-and-order

Photo: Tom Brenner/Reuters

President Trump's final decision to speak in the Rose Garden last evening as protests raged outside the gate was made only hours before, reflecting chaos on both sides of the fence.

Why it matters: Trump’s ultimate remarks fell where his instincts always were: blunt, brutal law and order, with extreme demonstrations of militarized “strength” and blustery threats.

Police officers targeted during unrest across U.S.

Law enforcement officers were targeted in several cities during tense standoffs overnight.

What's happening: A police officer was shot on Las Vegas Strip late Monday, per AP. No further details were immediately available. In St Louis, four police officers were struck by gunfire while standing near a line in after a peaceful demonstration, Police Chief John Hayden said early Tuesday.

Amid racial unrest, a test at the polls

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Eight states plus D.C. are holding primary elections today following a week of intense protests across the country over the brutal police killing of George Floyd.

Why it matters: It's the first major test for voting since the national outcry. Concerns over civil unrest and the police — as well as the coronavirus and expanded absentee voting — could reduce the number of voters showing up in person but heighten tensions for those who do.

Axios-Ipsos poll: America’s big racial divide on police, virus

Data: Ipsos/Axios survey; Note: ±3.2% margin of error; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

A new Axios-Ipsos poll finds that America has a massive racial gulf on each of our twin calamities — trust in police, and fear of the coronavirus.

St. John's clergy: Trump used church as prop, Bible as symbol of division

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Current and former clergy of the historic St. John's Episcopal Church expressed furor and confusion over President Trump's visit on Monday, which he claimed was to honor the establishment after George Floyd protestors sparked a small fire on the property Sunday night.

The big picture: Park rangers and military police deployed tear gas and physical force to disperse peaceful protestors from Lafayette Square, which sits north of the White House across Pennsylvania Avenue, so Trump could walk to "pay respects" to the church. A former St. John's rector on the scene revealed in a Facebook post that she was left "coughing" from the tear gas.

Cops in Dallas and D.C. trap protesters en masse

D.C. protests on Monday. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Law enforcement in Washington, D.C., and Dallas, Texas, spent Monday night kettling in crowds that were protesting the death of George Floyd.

  • "A kettle is when police box in a crowd of people and give them nowhere to go, usually a precursor to a mass arrest," tweeted Matt Pearce of the L.A. Times. "The problem is when they do that while also using force. There's nowhere to go for safety."

In photos: George Floyd protests continue to grip the nation

Protests over the death of George Floyd continued to spread across America on Monday as President Trump threatened to deploy military personnel if civil unrest continued.

The state of play: Protests have faced striking violence, including the use of tear gas, flash bangs, physical force and rubber bullets by law enforcement. Fires sparked as part of demonstrations have engulfed businesses and public property. Mayors have imposed curfews to curb protestors from late-night demonstrations.

Dems react to Trump's threat to deploy military amid state protests

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer during a press conference in the Capitol in April. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer joined Democratic governors Monday night in slamming President Trump for vowing to deploy military personnel if civil unrest continues, accusing him of "ripping" the country apart.

What they're saying: "The President’s continued fanning of the flames of discord, bigotry and violence is cowardly, weak and dangerous," the top Democrats said.

Military helicopters use "show of force" vs. D.C. protesters

Police presence during protests in Washington, D.C. on Monday. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Military helicopters in Washington, D.C., on Monday used a wind-blowing tactic to disperse protest crowds, and videos posted to Twitter showed civilians shaking beneath the gusts.

  • The "show-of-force" involves lowering a helicopter so close to the ground that it kicks up dirt and debris, driving targets away from the area. The N.Y. Times notes that it's often used by low-flying jets in combat zones.

Twitter adds warning label to Matt Gaetz tweet against antifa

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

A tweet by Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz (R) has been flagged with a warning label after violating the platform's rules against "glorifying violence" by calling for the far-left antifa groups to be hunted like "terrorists."

What he's saying: Gaetz, a relentless ally of President Trump, tweeted Monday: "Now that we clearly see Antifa as terrorists, can we hunt them down like we do those in the Middle East?"